Page 627

to face east in support of the 35th Division. By 1000 General Dager was reshuffling CCB to take over the CCA positions. The first reinforcement dispatched by CCA was the 51st Armored Infantry Battalion, which hurried in its half-tracks to back up the thin line of the 2d Battalion. Here the combination of fog and woods resulted in a very confused fight, but the 2d Battalion continued to hold in its position while the enemy panzer grenadiers, probably from the 2d Regiment of the 1st SS Panzer, seeped into the woods to its rear. The headquarters and heavy weapons crews of the 3d Battalion had meanwhile fallen back to the battalion command post in the Losange chateau southwest of Lutrebois. There the 51st Armored Infantry Battalion gave a hand, fighting from half-tracks and spraying the clearing around the chateau with .50-caliber slugs. After a little of this treatment the German infantry gave up and retired into the woods.

During the morning the advance guard of the 167th Volks Grenadiers, attacking in a column of battalions because of the constricted road net, crossed the Martelange-Bastogne road and reached the edge of the woods southeast of Assenois. Here the grenadiers encountered the 51st. Each German attempt to break into the open was stopped with heavy losses. General Hoecker says the lead battalion was "cut to pieces" and that the attack by the 167th was brought to nought by the Jabos and the "tree smasher" shells crashing in from the American batteries. (Hoecker could not know that the 35th Division artillery was trying out the new POZIT fuze and that his division was providing the target for one of the most lethal of World War II weapons.)

The main body of the 1st SS Panzer kampfgruppe appeared an hour or so before noon moving along the Lutremange-Lutrebois road; some twenty-five tanks were counted in all. It took two hours to bring the fighterbombers into the fray, but they arrived just in time to cripple or destroy seven tanks and turn back the bulk of the panzers. Companies I and K still were in their foxholes along the road during the air bombing and would recall that, lacking bazookas, the green soldiers "popped off" at the tanks with their rifles and that some of the German tanks turned aside into the woods. Later the two companies came back across the valley, on orders, and jointed the defense line forming near the chateau.

Thirteen German tanks, which may have. debouched from the road before the air attack, reached the woods southwest of Lutrebois, but a 4th Armored artillery observer in a cub plane spotted them and dropped a message to Company B of the 35th Tank Battalion. Lt. John A. Kingsley, the company commander, who had six Sherman tanks and a platoon from the 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion, formed an ambush near a slight ridge that provided his own tanks with hull defilade and waited. The leading German company (or platoon), which had six panzers, happened to see Company A of the 35th as the fog briefly lifted, and turned, with flank exposed, in that direction. The first shot from Kingsley's covert put away the German commander's tank and the other tanks milled about until all had been knocked out. Six more German tanks came along and all were destroyed or disabled. In the meantime the American tank destroyers took on some accompanying assault guns, shot up three of them, and dispersed the neighboring grenadiers.

At the close of day the enemy had taken Lutrebois and Villers-la-BonneEau plus the bag of three American rifle companies, but the eastern counter-attack, like that in the west, had failed. Any future attempts to break through to Assenois and Hompre in this sector would face an alert and coordinated American defense.

The III Corps Joins the Attack

Despite the events of the 30th there was no thought in the mind of General Patton that Millikin's III Corps-would give over its attack toward St. Vith, scheduled to flesh out the Third Army offensive begun by Middleton. General Millikin would nonetheless have to alter his plans somewhat. It had been intended that the 6th Armored Division, coming in from the XII Corps, would pass through the 4th Armored (which now had only forty-two operable tanks) and set off the attack on 31 December with a drive northeast from the Bastogne perimeter. The 35th Division was to parallel this drive by advancing in the center on a northeast axis, while the 26th Division, on the corps' right wing, would turn its attack in a northwesterly direction. The 4th Armored expected to pass to Middleton's corps, but the latter agreed on the night of the 30th that Gaffey's command should continue its support of the 35th Division. Whether the 35th could shake itself free and take the offensive was questionable, but General Baade had orders to try. The 26th Division was now deployed in its entirety on the north side of the Sure