Indeed, his weakened 3d Battalion was already earmarked for use in the event the enemy turned north on the secondary road running from Stoumont directly to Spa and the First Army headquarters. And the presence of artillery once again showed what it could do to alter the course of battle. The XVIII Corps commander thus had an entire airborne division, more than half of an armored division, and a reinforced regimental combat team to employ in checking a further westward drive by the Germans assembled in the La Gleize-Werbomont-Stoumont area. The moment patrols had established the proximity of the large German force Sutherland was alerted, and he promised a tank company as reinforcement first thing in the morning.
The first tank facing the enemy fell to an antitank gun; in the darkness three more were set aflame by Panzerfausts in the hands of the infiltrating enemy infantry. Momentarily it looked as if this indeed was the German intention. The grenadiers and paratroopers were checked by fire from the American lines as they crossed the open fields. Thereafter the 30th had orders to link up with the 82d Airborne at Trois Ponts and prepare to join in the XVIII Airborne Corps advance by pushing south. Acting under orders to reach Cheneux as quickly as possible and seize the Amblève bridge, the 504th commander, Col. Reuben H. Tucker, 3d, sent Companies B and C of his 1st Battalion hurrying toward the village. Finally the assault died down. The morning came with a dense fog floating out from the Amblève River. The 117th Infantry, first of the 30th Division regiments to be fed into the line, had been deploying on the morning of 18 December around Malmédy. While Hobbs was on the phone trying to convince the army staff that he must have the tanks, his chief of staff, Colonel Stephens, was being bombarded by army demands that some part of the 119th should be pulled out and shifted north to cover the road to Spa and First Army headquarters.
John Leinen, who braved enemy fire to keep the defenders of the annex supplied with ammunition, later received the DSC. The 1st Battalion, 119th Infantry, was to continue the drive to enter the town from the west (after recapturing the sanatorium and the high ground flanking the entrance). By midnight of 17 December approximately 60,000 men and 11,000 vehicles were on the move to reinforce Hodges' First Army. 15 To this forthright opinion there was little to add. Three threatened areas were known to be in the newly assigned zone of operations: the Amblève River sector, where the 119th Infantry was deployed; the Salm River sector, especially at Trois Ponts where a lone engineer company still barred the crossings (although this information was unknown to the 82d); and the general area north of the Ourthe. Here the matter rested in the lap of the weather gods. The 1st Battalion, it will be remembered, dismounted in an assembly area about three miles northwest of Stoumont, where Colonel Sutherland located the regimental command post. Stoumont and the American lines lay on a bald hill mass rising on the north bank of the Amblève. Patrols working due north reached the 119th Infantry on the road west of Stoumont and reported that the countryside was free of the enemy. The 2d Battalion would swing wide through the woods north of the town, block the escape route to La Gleize, and then attack from the east.
An additional question plagued the 30th Division: where was the 7th Armored? Although there was little direct help that the 82d Airborne Division could give the 30th Division while the Germans still held Stoumont, it had aided the attack north of the Amblève on December by soldering the southern link in the bank around Kampfgruppe Peiper and by beating off the relief detachments of the 1st SS Panzer Division who were trying to lever an opening in this ring. The moment the leading American assault waves could be discerned through the darkness the enemy opened an intense, accurate fire.
The 197th Field Artillery Battalion, assigned the direct support mission, did not reach firing positions in time to help the 3d Battalion. Already set forth have been the engagements in the Stoumont sector with two battalions of the 119th Infantry committed. His object, thus far unachieved, was to climb out of the valley confines and resume the westerly advance toward Huy and the Meuse. Not all the Americans fell back, however. Hobbs's diagnosis of the problem as "the physical proposition of human beings" may have been a truism but it was sound. River where a vague and ill-defined German movement had been reported. The 1st SS Panzer troops trapped to the west were closely engaged, and as yet Peiper had no orders which would permit a retrograde movement. Stavelot belgium 1944 archive HD stock video footage clips and photos. In the midst of a discussion of new plans, word came in that the First Army liaison planes scudding under the clouds had seen the German armor moving north from Trois Ponts in the direction of La Gleize and Stoumont.
Four U.S. infantry divisions and one armored division were scheduled to arrive on the Continent in December, with an equal number slated for January. Although without artillery support, Colonel Frankland launched his attack at Stavelot. This proved to be only a route march, for the Germans were nowhere about.8 By midnight the 505th had a battalion each in the villages of Haute-Bodeux and Basse-Bodeux, effectively backstopping the small American force which still held Trois Ponts. About 1530 the leading platoon of the conglomerate company taken from the 740th Tank Battalion arrived, but the additional infantry for which Colonel Sutherland had pleaded were not forthcoming. Two days before the Ardennes attack the SHAEF operations section submitted a plan calling for a strategic reserve of at least three divisions. Earlier in the day Hobbs had assured the corps commander that if the 82d Airborne cleared out the south bank of the Amblève no further help would be needed. About noon word reached Samrée that the 3d Armored Division was sending a task force to the town. At this point, therefore, the road was effectively blocked against further American or future German counterattacks. The reserve, commanded by Col. Robert L. Howze, Jr., was made up of an armored infantry battalion, two companies of light tanks and one of mediums, plus a company of engineers. About 1600 Herlong started east, Company C advancing on both sides of the road and tanks moving in the center.
About thirty men from Company B were captured as the battle eddied through rooms and hallways, and the attackers finally gained possession of the main building. Before trucks could arrive for the 119th Infantry Stavelot had fallen to the enemy. 20th, had endangered Peiper's only remaining foothold on the south bank of the Amblève. One of the disabled tanks was turned sidewise to block the narrow road, while Companies B and C moved up the hill north of this improvised barrier to seize a sanatorium which overlooked the road and the town. The concept, quite clearly, was to amass a force capable of exploiting a success on any sector of the Allied front without diverting divisions from other parts of the front. His recommendation, made to the Sixth Panzer Army commander, that the group be reassembled and committed as an ordinary combat unit was accepted, and the capture of Malmédy was assigned as its first mission.
Tapes mark safe passageway. Indeed, so confused was the situation into which Ridgway, TROOPS OF 325TH GLIDER INFANTRY MOVING THROUGH FOG TO A NEW POSITION, had been thrust that at midnight on 19 December he was forced to send an urgent message to Hodges asking for information on any V or VIII Corps units in his zone. Its 1st Battalion (Lt. Col. Ernest Frankland), under orders to occupy Stavelot, circled through Francorchamps to approach the town from the north. To the west at Stavelot, a detachment from the rearward march echelons of the 1st SS Panzer Division made an abortive attempt to cross to the north bank of the Amblève preparatory to reopening the route leading to Kampfgruppe Peiper. The 1st Battalion and its accompanying tank company from the 740th Tank Battalion pushed along the road from the west while Task Force Jordan (Capt. The 1st Battalion had not long to wait. From this point on the immediate reinforcements needed to meet and halt the German counteroffensive would have to come from the armies in the field. Peiper's bridgehead was gone. It is unlikely that the responsible American commanders slept soundly on the night of the 16th, but as yet they had no real appreciation of the magnitude of the enemy attack. Despite the presence of a few German aircraft which picked up the column early in the move and hung about dropping flares or making futile strafing passes, the leading regiment closed by midnight. Despite this rag-tag appearance Skorzeny's command was composed of tough, picked men, abundantly armed with automatic and heavy weapons.
Since the companies B and C, had suffered very severe losses from the waist-high fire of the German .20-mm. On Dec. 16, 1944, the Nazi Army took their last, desperate shot at turning the tide of the western front of World War 2.
All roads leading to Malmédy had been blocked by mines and barricades or were barred by outpost detachments. self-propelled flak pieces while making the assault across the open ground around the village, Colonel Tucker ordered in G Company and in the hours after midnight effected some reorganization. Such a delay was out of the question. Before the German tanks could make headway, planes from the 365th Fighter Group, reinforced by the 390th Squadron (366th) and the 506th Squadron (404th), plunged in, crippled a few enemy vehicles, and drove the balance to cover, leaving the infantry and tank destroyers to carry out the cleanup inside Stavelot on more equitable terms. Colonel Tucker ordered the 1st Battalion commander (Lt. Col. Willard E. Harrison) to take the two companies and try a night attack. But Peiper knew by this time that his supply line had been cut at Stavelot.
At 1035 the 30th Division commander, who was in Sutherland's command post, called the First Army headquarters to ask for the 740th Tank Battalion. Not more than a half hour later the Germans swarmed in under a sharp barrage of rocket fire. The 3d was backed up by light 3-inch towed tank destroyers belonging to the 823d Tank Destroyer Battalion, two 90-mm.
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