109th Infantry, relieving it in place. There was no artillery preparation (nor were there any certain targets) for the surprise attack.
The two assault regiments, the 319th Infantry on the left and the 318th Infantry on the right, went forward fast on this cold cloudy morning, tramping over a light blanket of snow which had fallen during the night. In two hours the 319th Infantry (Col. William N. Taylor) reached Vichten and relieved the 109th; as the regiment moved on toward Merzig the first few rounds of small arms fire came in. The 318th Infantry (Col. Lansing McVickar) headed for Ettelbruck, constricted to column formation by the Alzette River on the east and a high ridge on the west. South of the bridgehead town enemy shellfire briefly stopped the advance until the German guns were quieted by counter-battery from the 314th Field Artillery Battalion.
The cannonading was brought on by a peculiar circumstance. The 352d Volks Grenadier Division (General Schmidt) on this morning was advancing along the Diekirch-Ettelbruck-Merzig highway in front of but at a right angle to the American advance from the south. Schmidt was under the impression that his division had broken through the American line and was now marching through undefended, unoccupied country. The 914th Regiment had just entered Ettelbruck when the 318th Infantry appeared. It was the artillery regiment of the 352d, bringing up the tail of the division east of the town which ran afoul of the Americans. Quite obviously the Germans did not expect an attack from this direction. The 914th faced left and deployed