least enforce delay at the Meuse. There remained, of course, the possibility that German armor might reach the Meuse somewhere along its length in sufficient strength to gain by force what no longer could be won easily by stealth or surprise.
The Meuse Seems Within Reach
By Christmas Eve the German counteroffensive showed signs of losing cohesion. The outlines of the over-all strategic plan still were discernible, but the higher field commands had begun to extemporize: in a word the German armies had commenced to "react" to the moves made by the enemy or in supposition of what those moves might be. True, some German troops were very close to the Meuse and the advance to the west still had considerable momentum, but the initiative was gradually slipping from German fingers and could not be regained unless the German armies held the Marche plateau as a wider base for the final drive to and over the Meuse.
A resume of decisions made in the higher German headquarters between 22 December and the night of the 24th will show what was happening. On the 22d OB WEST prepared for Jodl an intelligence appreciation which said that a major Allied counterattack from the north and south by reserves from the