Page 614

fixed at Remagne, five miles west of the Neufchateau-Bastogne highway. The LVIII Panzer Corps, possibly as a sop to Hitler, was allowed to continue its fruitless attacks in the Ourthe sector, but with the Fuehrer Begleit out of the picture these quickly dwindled away. Manteuffel made his old comrade Luettwitz responsible for the defensive western front and took a new corps headquarters, which had been sent up from the OKW reserve, to handle the Bastogne operation. This, the XXXIX Panzer Corps, was commanded by Generalleutnant Karl Decker, a very experienced officer with a reputation for prudence combined with determination. Decker, despite protests by Luettwitz, was placed under the latter, and for a few days the German order of battle would show an "Army Group Luettwitz."

Manteuffel counted on the Fuehrer Begleit to carry the main burden of the counterattack south of Bastogne. The brigade had about forty Mark IV tanks plus an assault gun brigade of thirty tubes, and its infantry had not been bled white as in the rest of the armored formations. In addition, Manteuffel had been promised the beat-up 1st SS Panzer Division, the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division, and the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, parts of these formations being scheduled to reach Decker on 28 December. Advance elements of the Fuehrer Begleit did arrive that morning, taking station in the Bois de Herbaimont north of the MarcheBastogne road, but the Allied Jabos were in full cry over the battlefield and Remer could not bring all his troops forward or issue from the forest cover. Time was running out for the Germans. As early as the night of the 27th Rundstedt's staff believed that unless Remer could make a successful attack at once it was "questionable" whether the Bastogne gap could be sealed. Manteuffel later would say that this job could have been done only by counterattacking within forty-eight hours.

On both sides of the hill, then, the troops were being moved for a set piece attack on 30 December. Would either opponent anticipate the ensuing collision? German intelligence officers did predict that the 6th Armored Division soon would appear between the III and XII Corps. The OB WEST report of 27 December reads: "It is expected that the units of the Third Army under the energetic leadership of General Patton will make strong attacks against our south flank." Within twenty-four hours this view altered: The First Army was said to be having difficulty regrouping and still showed defensive tendencies; therefore, even though the Third Army was in position to attack, it probably would not attack alone. [10] The American intelligence agencies had practically no knowledge of any German units except those immediately in contact. Of course some kind of counterattack was expected, but this, it was believed, would come when bad weather cut down friendly air activity. The weather did turn foul late on the 28th and the word went out in the American camp: Prepare for an armored counterattack, enemy tanks are in movement around Bastogne.

[10] The German estimate of the opposing forces and Allied reserves moving into the Ardennes may be traced in the daily Ic. Feindlagekarten attached to the OB WEST KTB.