Page 589

from the woods where the Americans were deployed; German infantry had crept in close to the American tanks and their covering infantry. Four of the Shermans fell to the enemy bazooka men in short order and two were crippled, but the crippled tanks and one still intact managed to wheel about and head for Manhay. The armored infantry company asked for permission to withdraw, got no answer, and finally broke-the survivors turning toward Manhay.

A thousand yards or so farther north stood another 7th Armored roadblock, defended by an understrength rifle company and ten medium tanks which had been dug in to give hull defilade. Again the Americans were deceived by the Judas Goat Sherman leading the enemy column. When almost upon the immobile American tanks the Germans cut loose with flares. Blinded and unable to move, the ten Shermans were so many sitting ducks; most were hit by tank fire and all were evacuated by their crews. The American infantry in turn fell prey to the grenadiers moving through the woods bordering the road and fell back in small groups toward Manhay.

It was now a little after 2230, the hour set for the 7th Armored move to the new position north of Manhay. The covering elements of the 3d Armored had already withdrawn, but without notifying CCA of the 7th. [5] The light tank detachment from Malempre had left that village (the grenadier battalion from the 4th Regiment moving in

[5] This failure is confirmed in the XVIII Airborne Corps Inspector General Report of Investigation, CCA, 7th Armored, Manhay, 24-25 December 1944, dated 6 January 1945.

on the tankers' heels), the support echelon of CCB, 9th Armored, already had passed through Manhay, and the headquarters column of CCA, 7th Armored, was just on its way out of Manhay when the American tanks that had escaped from the first roadblock position burst into the latter village. Thus far the headquarters in Manhay knew nothing of the German advance-although a quarter of an hour earlier the enemy gunners had shelled the village. A platoon commander attempted to get two of his medium tanks into firing position at the crossroads itself, but the situation quickly degenerated into a sauve qui peut when the leading panzers stuck their snouts into Manhay. In a last exchange of shots the Americans accounted for two of the panzers but lost five of their own tanks at the rear of the CCA column. Thus Manhay passed into German hands.

The medium tanks and armored infantry that had started to follow the light tank detachment out of Malempre circled around Manhay when they heard the firing. Working their way north, the road-bound tanks ended up at Werbomont while the riflemen moved cross-country to reach friendly lines about two thousand yards north of Manhay. There Colonel Rhea, commanding the 23d Armored Infantry Battalion, had formed a defense on the hills bordering the highway to Werbomont and Liege. All this while Major Brewster and the task force astride the highway south of Manhay had been under fire, but the enemy had refused to close for a final assault. It soon became apparent, however, that this small American force was on its own and that the Germans were in strength to the rear. Brew-