tially an artificial division and coincided neither with the compartmentalization of the terrain, naturally divided as it was by the Ourthe River, nor with the manner in which the German attack was developing.  The ebb and flow of the battle on Christmas Day may best be understood by tracing the movements of three German divisions: the 2d Panzer, the Panzer Lehr, and the 116th Panzer. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the attempted movements, for the day came bright and clear, bringing the American and British air forces into the skies over the Bulge in one of the greatest demonstrations of tactical ground support ever witnessed by American troops.
By the morning of the 25th the advance kampfgruppe of the 2d Panzer had been split in two, in part by a loss of direction during the night march toward Dinant, in part by the activity of American tank patrols operating out of Ciney, where CCB of the 2d Armored had established its base for future operations. The 2d Panzer reconnaissance battalion and a part of the German artillery column had bivouacked near Foy-Notre Dame, only four or five miles from the bridges at Dinant. Major Cochenhausen, who commanded the main column, including a tank battalion and a regiment of panzer grenadiers, halted at daylight in the woods southwest of Conneaux-perhaps 5,000 meters behind the detachment in Foy-Notre Dame.
Lauchert, the division commander, was acutely aware of the perilous situation confronting his forward troops and knew they had to be reinforced and resupplied at once. His orders, however, were to use the rest of his division to protect the right flank of Luettwitz' XLVII Panzer Corps in the Marche sector until the incoming 9th Panzer Division could take over the task. Since the Americans in and around Marche seemed quiet, Lauchert proposed to Luettwitz that he be relieved of this security mission. While Panzer Lehr attacked west of Marche to reopen the road, Lauchert wanted to switch the main body of his division back through Rochefort, then push northwest to the troops in what German reports already were calling the Conneaux Pocket. At first Luettwitz would not listen to the importunate Lauchert. Probably the refusal made no difference. As Lauchert himself admits, the air was so thick with Allied Jabos that his tactical units could not move during the daylight hours, nor was there a German interceptor plane to be seen this far to the west.
In the early afternoon Manteuffel and his chief of staff visited General Luettwitz. The latter once more proposed that the forward echelons of the 2d Panzer be withdrawn-although he was well aware that such a decision was beyond the power of the Fifth Army commander-and once again was refused. Something might be done, however. Since a kampfgruppe of the 9th Panzer was finally at hand and could be used to relieve Lauchert in the Hargimont sector facing Marche, the 2d Panzer commander received permission to carry out his relief operation. All day long radio reports from Cochenhausen had told of bitter fighting, heavy losses at the hands of
 The present chapter will be concerned only with the battles fought by those troops of the VII Corps which were *west* of Hotton on 25 December. The next chapter will deal with the remaining combat elements of Collins' corps as these played their part in the XVIII Airborne Corps' fight farther east.