TO THE DEFENSIVE
The German counteroffensive in the ARDENNES started on 16
December and, on 18 December elements of the 3rd Armored Division
were on their way to meet the attacking German columns as they
Combat Command "A" was the first of the Spearhead's
elements to move south out of the AACHEN area. This command,
Hq Detachment, Combat Command "A"
32nd Armored Regiment (- 1st Bn.)
3rd Bn., 36th Armored Infantry Regt.
67th Armored FA Bn.
Company "A", 23rd Armored Engineering Bn.
Company "A", 45th Medical Bn.
Detachment of Co. A, Maintenance Bn.
1st Plat., Co. A, 738th Tank Bn., (SP) ME
was detached from the Division and attached to V Corps. They
cleared the area near BUSBACH at 1200 and moved into new assembly
areas near EUPEN as mobile reserve. They remained attached to
V Corps until 1530 on 21 December, when they were reattached
to the 3rd Armored Division and started moving to the Division's
sector near GRANDMENIL. During this period, General Hickey's
force was charged with the defense of Eupen.
There was one combat job to be done; this was handled by part
of the Combat Command's infantry. A few German paratroopers (part
of the force whose mission was to cut the EUPEN-MALMEDY road)
were in the woods along the west side of this road just south
of Eupen. The infantry quickly liquidated this force, taking
a few prisoners and a considerable amount of ammunition and light
weapons, principally machine guns and mortars, which had been
dropped to the surrounded paratroopers.
Combat Command "B" was detached from the 3rd Armored
on 19 December and attached to V Corps, initially with the mission
of protecting VERVIERS. When they arrived in assembly areas,
they were attached to XVIII Corps (Airborne) and committed to
action in the La GLEIZE-STAVELOT sector on 20 December.
TASK FORCE LOVELADY
2nd Bn., 33rd Armored Regiment
B Co., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt.
Platoon, Rcn. Co., 33rd Armd. Regt.
Platoon, B Co., 23rd Armd. Engineer Bn.
was attached to the 30th Infantry Division on 20 December
and was given another infantry company (E Co., 120th Infantry).
The job assigned this Task Force was to move south from FONT
DE LORRAIN, which had been reached without making contact, and
establish a roadblock on the LA GLEIZE-STAVELOT road east of
La GLEIZE at main road junction and to assist in the capture
of STAVELOT, where the 30th Division was already fighting.
As the Task Force moved south, they met an enemy convoy of several
ammunition trucks, two 150mm towed guns and a towed 75mm field
piece at the junction of their route with the La GLEIZE-STAVELOT
highway. This convoy was destroyed and a block was established
as ordered. The Task Force then continued south and reached a
road junction near TROI FONTS, where they intended to turn east
toward MALMEDY. Here they met enemy anti-tank fire and lost the
four leading tanks of the column. Since the enemy seemed to be
concentrated in some strength between this point and MALMEDY,
Lovelady set up another roadblock here and left Major Stallings,
his executive officer, in charge of this critical position. For
support, another block was set up further to the north of GRAND
COO. These three road blocks employed all of the infantry of
the Task Force except the attached E Company, 120th.
When the situation had developed to this stage, Lovelady was
ordered to move east from PETIT COO across the high ground to
PARFONDROY and cut off the road south of PARFONDROY at its junction
with the La GLEIZE-STAVELOT highway. (All these operations were
parts of a general attack bent on retaking STAVELOT and establishing
a strong defensive line running generally east and west just
south of STAVELOT. On the morning of 20 December Task Force "Lovelady"
moved out in the attack toward PARFONDROY, following the secondary
road across the hill from PETIT COO. A heavy ground fog covered
this movement, and the town was reached without incident. It
was here that Colonel Lovelady's forces found evidence of German
atrocities against civilians. They discovered the bodies of several
murdered women, children and old people in some of the buildings.
On 21 December, the Task Force held its positions while the STER-PARFONDROY
area was consolidated. Patrols from Stalling's roadblock found
that the enemy occupied the high ground to his northeast. When
Lovelady was ordered on the next day to take this hill, he found
that he could not use the road on which he had entered PARFONDROY
since it was cut by the enemy. To further complicate the situation,
the enemy had attacked from the woods of PETITE COO, overrun
the battalion aid station and cut the road leading south to Stalling's
On 23 December Lovelady had got his forces back to GRAND COO
in position to attack south, clear the enemy from the high ground
and open the road to Stallings. The attack started that day but
only reached PETIT COO. Then another infantry company was attached
to the Task Force from the 30th Division, and on 24 December
the enemy position was overcome. Late that afternoon the Task
Force was relieved in position and reverted to control of Combat
Command "B", assembling, again, near SPA.
Meanwhile, the other Task Force of Combat Command "B",
Task Force "McGeorge" was fighting just to the west.
On the morning of 20 December, Task Force "McGeorge"
attacked south from La REID in two columns. General Boudinot
had assigned these columns (McGeorge on the east and Jordan on
the west) the joint mission of passing through elements of the
30th Division at COUR and CHEFNA and clearing the road from STOUMONT
to La GLEIZE. Jordan was to take STOUMONT, then turn east and
join McGeorge in La GLEIZE. The fighting strength of each column
consisted of a company of tanks and a company of armored infantry,
Jordan's column on 20 December met no opposition until they were
just north of STOUMONT, where enemy tanks and anti-tank guns
stopped their advance. On the next day Jordan's force was attached
to the 119th Infantry Regiment (30th Division) and the attack
on STOUMONT was resumed (Jordan had withdrawn slightly during
the night), but little progress was made until 22 December when
a coordinated attack by a battalion of the 119th, plus Company
F, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment supported by the tanks of Task
Force "Jordan", was launched following a heavy artillery
preparation by the 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion. This
attack took both STOUMONT and the adjoining town of ROUAT.
McGeorge was having trouble trying to get into La GLEIZE. He
was stopped by tanks and anti-tank tire on his main route and
on all the routes that he attempted to use to bypass the opposition,
but he continued to press his attack.
On 24 December Jordan's force had reached a point near the western
edge of La GLEIZE, having continued the attack to the east from
STOUMONT. From here a battalion of the 119th Infantry Regiment
launched a coordinated attack on the town with Jordan's tanks
and assault gun platoon supporting the three infantry companies
while the fourth infantry company moved in an envelopment to
the north. McGeorge continued his attack from the north and east.
Jordan's troops forced the town, capturing or destroying twenty-six
enemy tanks, four self-propelled guns, and taking 150 prisoners.
The battalion of the 119th took an additional 300 prisoners.
On 25 December Task Force McGeorge assembled with the remainder
of Combat Command "B" near SPA.
Back in the STOLBERG area, the 3rd Armored Division shorn of
about two-thirds of its combat strength was attached to XVIII
Airborne Corps at 1145 on 19 December and was ordered to move
to the vicinity of HOTTON-LE GRAND PRE.
At 1145 on 20 December all elements had closed in this area after
an all night march through STOLBERG, AACHEN, VERVIERS, AYWAILLE,
Upon arrival, orders were issued to attack south and southeast
from the vicinity of HOTTON-LE GRAND PRE, destroy all enemy in
the zone and secure the road from MANHAY to HOUFFALIZE. The attack
was made by the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance (reinforced) in three
columns. The left column followed the MANHAY-HOUFFALIZE road.
The right column followed a secondary road parallel to the OURTHE
River on the east of this river and the center column went through
EREZEE, AMONINES, DOCHAMPS, SAMREE, etc.
LEFT COLUMN, LT. COL. KANE
Hq. 1st Bn., 32nd Armd. Regt.
(One Co. M-4's)
D Co., 83rd Rcn. Bn.
A Battery, 54th FA Bn.
AA Sect. from 486th AA (AW) Bn.
3rd Plat., Co. C, 83rd Rcn. Bn.
1 Sq., Engr. Rcn. Plat., 23rd Engr.
RIGHT COLUMN, LT. COL. HOGAN
Hq. 3rd Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt.
A Co., 33rd Armd. Regt.
A Co., 83rd Rcn. Bn.
1st Plat., Co. C, 83rd Rcn. Bn.
A Battery, 54 FA Bn.
Section of 486th AAA Bn.
CENTER COLUMN, LT. COL. ORR
B Co., 83rd Rcn. Battalion
2nd Plat., Co. C, 83rd Rcn. Bn.
1 Co. M4's from 3rd Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt.
B Battery, 54th FA Bn.
Section of 486th AAA Bn.
The attack was launched at 1220 on 20 December and advanced
initially against no resistance. As the center column approached
SAMREE, they met heavy artillery and encountered resistance of
infantry supported by tanks. But they succeeded in getting a
patrol north of SAMREE and down to the objective line. This patrol
set up a block on the La ROCHE-VIELSALM road just east of where
it crosses the MANHAY-HOUFFALIZE highway. The vicinity of this
road junction was the scene of much hard fighting that followed
for the next month. The right column (Hogan) reached a point
near the OURTHE River 3-1/2 kilometers due south of SAMREE, where
it was ordered to coil for the night. The left column reached
the MANHAY-HOUFFALIZE road just west of MALEMPRE and was ordered
to establish contact with the 82nd Airborne Division at HEBRONVAL.
Division Reserve following the center task force sent the 1st
Battalion of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, less one company,
to reinforce Orr and stabilize the situation at SAMREE.
The 83rd Armored Field Artillery battalion was attached to
3rd Armored Division at 1100 on 20 December.
So far, so good. The attack to the southeast by the Spearhead's
relatively light forces may be called, with some reason, a bold
bluff. How well this move succeeded in screening the assembly
and deployment of VII Corps, may be gauged by the story of the
actions that followed.
ENEMY ORDER OF BATTLE
For a clearer picture of the part played by the 3rd Armored
Division in stopping the German Ardennes offensive, it is well
to consider the actions of those elements of the enemy force
which were met, in whole or in part, by the 3rd Armored from
20 December to the time when the German offensive power was spent,
about the end of December. The following account of enemy intentions
and movements is based entirely on intelligence information available
at Division level. It may not agree in detail with more precise
interpretations which will no doubt be made as more and more
material is collected, but it will serve to outline the enemy's
operations with sufficient clarity for the purpose of this account.
It is interesting, moreover, to take a "back-sight"
on just what was known about the enemy while the battle was in
Two Panzer Armies were, by 20 December 1944, attacking west and
northwest with the probable objective of enveloping the American
and British forces in Belgium, Holland and northwestern Germany.
On the left of the offensive, the Fifth Panzer Army, consisting
of XL, VII and LVIII Panzer Corps, was apparently directing its
efforts to secure a bridgehead across the MEUSE River and to
drive on toward ANTWERP. On the right, the Sixth SS Panzer Army,
made up of the I and II SS Panzer Corps, was thought to be directing
its main effort toward LIEGE, with a possible further objective
The boundary between these two armies during this period of action
was in the vicinity of the highway running from HOUFFALIZE via
crossroads 576853 to MANHAY and north of AYWAILLE.
In the Fifth Panzer Army, the LVIII Panzer Corps was on the right
flank. It operated west of the HOUFFALIZE-MANHAY highway and
north from the vicinity of SAMREE and La ROCHE. Two of its divisions,
the 116th Panzer and the 560th Volksgrenadier, were attacking
in the HOTTON GRANDMENIL sector.
In the Sixth Panzer Army, the II SS Panzer Corps was operating
on the left (western) flank adjoining the HOUFFALIZE-MANHAY highway.
However, its main effort at the beginning of these ten days was
in the direction of VIELSALM, and as yet none of its divisions
were north of the crossroads 576853 along the boundary route.
Composition of the LVIII Panzer Corps included the 116 Panzer,
560 Volksgrenadier Division, 62 Volksgrenadier Division. II SS
Panzer Corps included 2nd SS Panzer Division and 9th SS Panzer
When the 3rd Armored attacked on 20 December in the sector HOTTON-MANHAY,
they were opposed by the 116th Panzer Division on the west and
the 560th Volksgrenadier on the east, which were likewise attacking.
After the 116th failed to seize HOTTON (21-23 December) and penetrate
farther to the northwest, elements of the 560th were used to
bolster the attack. This latter unit had been fighting on the
east of the 116th in the area between DOCHAMPS and the boundary
highway. Beginning on 23 December, it was shifted farther west,
assisting and then relieving the 116th, which then attacked on
the west side of the OURTHE River and MARCHE. On the same date,
the pivotal crossroad 576753 was attacked and bypassed by elements
of the 2nd SS Panzer Division. The boundary highway had now become
the main axis of advance for the II SS Panzer Corps, and, in
successive attacks (23-25 Dec.), the 2nd SS Panzer Division reached
MANHAY and GRANDMENIL. However, by the following day, its efforts
were spent, and American troops reoccupied first GRANDMENIL and
then MANHAY. Likewise, on 26 December the 560th was organized
into two Combat Commands with the mission of holding at all costs
on the west of the 2nd SS Panzer between the OURTHE and AISNE
The consolidation of the 2nd SS Panzer Division position south
of MANHAY and GRANDMENIL and the organization of the 560th south
of HOTTON and SOY left a gap between the two armies. Into this
gap, with an axis of advance SAMREE-DOCHAMPS, thence north through
the BOIS DU PAYS, the 12 SS Panzer Division was committed on
the night of 27-28 December. The immediate objective of this
Division was to cut the HOTTON-GRANDMENIL road and seize the
town of GRANDMENIL. This may have been an effort to shake loose
the defense in the GRANDMENIL-MANHAY sector in order to provide
a penetration through which the SS Panzer Army could proceed
toward LIEGE. The attack failed to accomplish its immediate objective,
and any plans for more extensive operations were therefore abandoned.
By 30 December, the American forces had established a secure
line of defense south of the HOTTON-MANHAY road. No further major
effort was made to break through this sector.
Within their sector, the 3rd Armored Division engaged four
German divisions. Captured documents, prisoner interrogation,
and intelligence reports from adjacent and higher headquarters
give us considerable detailed information about these divisions.
The 116th Panzer Division had the apparent mission of reaching
the MEUSE and striking for Antwerp. Its tanks and infantry worked
together in Combat Commands. On 20-21 December it struck at SAMREE,
and then drove north to DOCHAMPS. Here the bulk of its leading
elements turned west to DEVANTAVE, then north to BEFFE, TRINAL,
MELINES and the HOTTON-SOY highway. On the day and night of 20
December, elements of the 116th contacted Task Fore "Orr"
near SAMREE and north of DOCHAMPS. Other elements first bypassed
and then contacted Task Force "Hogan" west of DEVANTAVE
and in the vicinity of BEFFE.
The strength on 20 December was about three-fourths its full
strength (125) in tanks and a proportional number of other vehicles.
Personnel was a little more complete. Their zone on 21 December
was the SAMREE-DOCHAMPS-AMONINES road inclusive to the OURTHE
River on the west.
It is believed that elements of the 560th Volksgrenadier Division
worked with the 116th to hold DOCHAMPS against Task Force "Orr"
and Task Fore "Kane" 21-23 December, while other elements
held strong positions at BEFFE and fought against Task Force
"Hogan" at MARCOURAY. Combat Command "Bayeux",
elements of the 16th Panzer Regiment and the 60th and 156th Panzergrenadier
Regiments reached TRINAL on 21 December, cut the HOTTON-SOY road
and attacked HOTTON, holding a roadblock at a road junction just
west of SOY. This roadblock held against Combat Command "R"
(3rd Armored Division) while the rest of the German Combat Command
attempted to take HOTTON. Probably operating under the general
instructions to bypass all possible resistance, they attempted
to bypass Combat Command "R" at SOY, but were apparently
unwilling to proceed until HOTTON and the river crossing there
The other Combat Command held DOCHAMPS from 21 to 23 December
and fought Task Force "Orr" to take AMONINES, but failed.
Losses in the 116th began to mount up, and on 23 December they
apparently gave up the idea of seizing HOTTON and penetrating
the American lines in that vicinity.
The 560th Volksgrenadier Division operated on 20 December in
the sector SAMREE-DOCHAMPS road, east to the HOUFFALIZE-MANHAY
The 560th began to relieve the 116th on 23 December. The 116th
then crossed the OURTHE somewhere south of HOTTON and went into
position south of HAMPTEAU, MENIL and perhaps MARENNE. On 24-25
this movement was completed, and for the next ten-day period
the 116th faced elements of the American 84th Infantry Division
and 2nd Armored Division and made no progress. Infantry companies
were down to forty to fifty men and tank losses were proportional.
On 22 December a regiment supported by tanks (probably from 116th
Panzer Division) attacked Task Force "Orr" in DOCHAMPS.
This was probably the 1128th since the 1129th was in WY in zone
of the 116th Panzer, and the 1130th replaced Combat Command "Bayeux"
astride the HOTTON-SOY road.
2nd and 3rd Battalions, Headquarters Company, and the anti-tank
company of the 116th Panzer were attached to 1130th at time of
relief. The bazooka teams of the anti-tank company were split
up among the infantry companies of the 1130th Infantry Regiment.
Company strengths were about 70 men.
The general plan appeared to be for the 560th to attack in conjunction
with the 2nd SS Panzer Division on the east, take AMONINES, and
cut the HOTTON-MANHAY road near SOY, but they lost their grip
on the HOTTON-SOY road on 25 December and failed in the AMONINESS
attack against Task Force "Orr" after which they abandoned
the offensive on 26 December and reorganized on a defensive line:
WERPIN, TRINAL, MAGOSTER, to the AISNE River south of AMONINES,
thence east along the valley towards road junction (500869).
The last offensive action in this sector was a local attack against
1st Battalion, 289th Infantry Regiment (American), which gained
nothing. Losses had been heavy.
THE 2nd SS PANZER DIVISION "DAS REICH"
Mission: Apparently, with the 6th SS Panzer Army and the LVIII
Corps of the Fifth Panzer Army halted and contained strongly,
it was decided to commit the 2nd SS Panzer Division and send
it up the highway from HOUFFALIZE, through MANHAY, WERBOMONT
and AYWAILLE toward LIEGE. Army boundaries were shifted to give
the attacking division the road net. The strength of American
forces in this sector was probably miscalculated.
Elements of the 2nd SS Panzer Division attacked the roadblock
at crossroads (576853) on 22 December, bypassed and overran this
block on 23 December and took ODEIGNE. They pushed on up the
highway and attacked Task Force "Richardson's" roadblock
at BELLE HAIE, and attacked FREINEUX 23-24 December.
On 24-25 December a battalion of infantry from the 355th Panzer
Grenadier Regiment and 15-20 tanks seized MANHAY and GRANDMENIL.
Another column of infantry and tanks attacked at 1130 on 25 December
to secure OSTER and the road net, but American air support and
artillery defeated this push. Elements of the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier
Regiment pushed north of MANHAY on 25 December and encountered
Combat Command "B", 7th Armored Division, and were
A force of thirteen tanks and an unknown number of infantry tried
to push north from GRANDMENIL, but on 26 December, the whole
force was driven out of the town completely. Tank losses were
heavy. Ten were lost between MANHAY and GRANDMENIL alone. The
infantry surrendered in large numbers. (One fourth were Hungarians,
Italians, or Slovaks.) After MANHAY was retaken by the American
7th Armored Division on 27 December, the bulk of 2nd SS went
on the defensive in the vicinity of GRANDMENIL-MANHAY. The 3rd
SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment was sent west to DOCHAMPS on 27
December to furnish a combat group for the newly arrived 12th
SS Panzer Division on its west flank. The Sixth SS Panzer Army
now took over more of the Fifth Panzer Army's sector, at least
as far as the SAMREE-DOCHAMPS highway.
On 28 December, 1st Battalion, 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment
attacked from TRINAL towards AMONINES, which was held by Task
Force "Orr". Three tanks and five artillery pieces
supported the attack. Heavy artillery concentrations broke up
the attack and the Battalion suffered over two hundred casualties.
This attack, which was coordinated with the attack of the 12th
SS Panzer Division to the east, was the last offensive action
of the 2nd SS in this sector for the period.
THE 12th SS PANZER DIVISION "HITLER JUGEND"
On 26 or 27 December this Division moved into the center of
the HOTTON-MANHAY sector in the vicinity of DOCHAMPS, between
the 560 Volksgrenadier Division and 2nd SS Panzer Division. The
apparent mission was to break the American defensive position
in the vicinity of GRANDMENIL and allow the attack to continue
to the north. On the night of 27-28 December, the 25th SS Panzer
Grenadier Regiment attacked north. The 1st and 2nd Battalions,
which penetrated the American lines through a gap, planned to
capture the town of SADZOT and cut the east-west highway to the
north thereof. In the fighting that followed (27-29 incl.), these
two battalions were defeated and suffered very high casualties.
The 26th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment was not committed. (Probably
as a result of the failure of the 25th to take their objective.)
No further offensive action was undertaken by the 12th SS.
PRESSURE ON DIVISION ZONE
On 21 December, Combat Command "A" was reattached
to the 3rd Armored and started to move into assembly areas near
GRANDMENIL. The additional force was most welcome, since the
enemy was applying heavy pressure throughout the Division zone.
Late on the afternoon of 20 December the Division Command Post
moved to EREZEE, leaving its Signal Company, Headquarters Company
(except for necessary operating personnel) and Headquarters Company
and E Company, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion in HOTTON to follow
the next morning. During the night, a force of enemy, later estimated
to be an infantry company supported by seven tanks and a mortar
platoon, moved northwest and occupied the high ground between
SOY and HOTTON overlooking HOTTON. At about 0730 on 21 December
this force fired a brief mortar preparation on HOTTON and started
to move into the town with four tanks followed by a few foot
troops. Available for defense were only machine guns, bazookas
and one M-4 tank. The enemy tanks got into town all right, and
destroyed six engineer bridge trucks and several lighter vehicles,
but two were knocked out, and the crew abandoned a third undamaged.
By noon the town was quiet.
Combat Command "R" was ordered to move his force via
SOY to HOTTON to repulse enemy action there but was unable to
get through a German roadblock just west of SOY. A force of four
medium tanks and three light tanks accompanied by about twenty
infantrymen succeeded in reaching HOTTON by bypassing the SOY
roadblock to the north. Under the command of Major Fickesson,
executive officer, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion, a defense
was set up in HOTTON, and, except for patrol activity, there
was no further action at HOTTON that night.
The main force of Combat Command "R" remained engaged
at the SOY roadblock for the rest of the period.
Task Force "Hogan" moved out at 0800 on 20 December
to seize the crossings of the OURTHE between GOUFY and HOUFFALIZE
and to contact friendly elements on his right. He met strong
enemy elements and engaged tanks and infantry supported by heavy
artillery and mortar fire and was unable to gain his objectives.
Due to the fact that he was in danger of being surrounded, he
was ordered to withdraw north of BEFFE.
Over on the left, Kane had made the contact with the 82nd Airborne
at HEBRONVAL, and beat off a determined attack by tanks and infantry
at this road block.
Orr, in the center, reinforced by 1st Battalion, 36th Armored
Infantry Regiment (- I company), continued his attack on SAMREE
against increased enemy pressure. Enemy tanks and infantry with
supporting weapons countered in force, and Orr was forced to
withdraw north about a kilometer.
The 3rd Armored was further reinforced by the attachment of the
1st battalion of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment on 22
December, also the 643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion (Towed).
Very early (0130) on the morning of 22 December, Combat Command
"A" closed into assembly areas astride the MANHAY WERBEMONT
TASK FORCE "DOAN"
32nd Arm. Regt. ( - 1st & 3rd Bn's)
3rd Bn., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt. (- Co I)
1st Plat., Co. A, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
1st Plat., Rcn. Co., 32nd Armd. Regt.
67th FA Bn.
was ordered to move to the main highway junction seven kilometers
north of MARCHE, cut the MARCHE-BASTOGNE road, and gain the line
SAINT HUBERT-LA ROCHE and establish road blocks at intersections
in this area. Doan cut this road at HARGIMONT and about 5 kilometers
east thereof by 1615. Combat Command "A" also furnished
a tank company and an infantry company from Task Force "Richardson"
to reinforce Combat Command "R" in the SOY area.
In BEFFE, Hogan was receiving strong attacks from both the north
and southeast. He was very short of gasoline, and cut off from
supplies. After beating off determined attacks all day, Hogan
fought his way to MARCOURAY, which was on high ground and generally
better suited to the defense, where he secured the town and set
up an all-round defense. Arrangements were made to drop supplies
to him by air the following day.
Kane continued to defend his road blocks south of MANHAY and
pressed his attack on DOCHAMPS, where the enemy defended strongly
with artillery, mortars and small-arms fire. He reached a position
about one thousand yards north of the town and was stopped.
Task Force Orr received reinforcements consisting of one tank
platoon and one infantry platoon from Combat Command "A"
and continued to advance southwest. He repelled a strong counterattack
and secured AMONINES.
In HOTTON, elements of Combat Command "R" plus Division
Headquarters Company; Signal Company; and Battalion Headquarters
Co., 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion received an infantry attack
at about 2230. The attacking force, according to a prisoner taken,
was two companies. Some penetration was made, but the town has
On 23 December several changes in troop lists were made. The
3rd Armored reverted to control of VII Corps. The 290th Regimental
Combat Team of the 75th Infantry Division was attached (One battalion
moved into the Division area on the night of 23-24 - remainder
followed at first light.) The 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion
and the 188th Field Artillery (155mm howitzer towed) were attached.
Task Force "Doan" was attached to the 84th Infantry
Combat Command "R" continued with its mission of clearing
the SOY-HOTTON road. One Company, 1st Battalion, 517 Parachute
Infantry Regiment, plus one platoon of medium tanks was sent
from SOY northwest through NY, then south into HOTTON, arriving
about 0400. The mission of this force was to attack east from
HOTTON toward SOY and meet the force attacking west from SOY.
Their presence in HOTTON relieved the pressure on HOTTON, but
their attack met very stubborn resistance just east of the town
and, at the end of the period, had not advanced past the edge
of town. The force attacking west also met heavy resistance,
it advanced very slowly south of the road but was pinned down
north of the road.
Kane continued to attack DOCHAMPS, but enemy resistance stiffened.
His attack was made from north to south up a smooth open hillside.
The defending force was equal to his own. Logically enough, the
attack failed. Over to the east, his roadblock on the highway
was heavily attacked by infantry and tanks which succeeded in
cutting the road between the block and MANHAY. Six medium tanks
and one company from the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion were
sent from Task Force "Richardson" to restore the block,
and Richardson took over the sector from Kane. The block was
further attacked and at 1958 was overrun. Richardson succeeded
in establishing and holding a block three kilometers further
north in a defile at BELLE HAIE.
Task Force "Hogan" remained surrounded in MARCOURAY.
C-47's attempted to drop supplies to him, but missed.
Task Force "Doan's" blocks received heavy pressure
throughout the day, but they all held firmly.
Task Force "Orr" continued to attack Southwest, he
was engaged throughout the period, and succeeded in securing
the town of AMONINES.
With the attachment of the 289th Regimental Combat Team (75th
Division), the 730th Field Artillery Battalion and two companies
of the 87th Chemical Battalion (4.2 Mortar) on 24 December, and
the return of Combat Command "B" on Christmas day,
General Rose had under his command a force approaching Corps
strength. In addition to the organic elements of the Division,
there were two complete Regimental Combat Teams, two battalions
of parachute infantry, four battalions of artillery, two tank
destroyer battalions and two companies of 4.2 mortars. Division
Artillery controlled nine battalions of artillery.
On 24 December the north flank of the German salient was stabilized
along most of the line. However, the best intelligence information
available indicated that the enemy was regrouping and massing
preparatory to continuing his attack to the north with at least
part of his main effort directed at the 3rd Armored Division
sector. Accordingly, the Commanding General, VII Corps ordered
the establishment of a strong defensive line (See Sketch No.
20) tying in firmly with the 7th Armored Division (XVIII Corps)
near GRANDMENIL on the east and with the 84th Infantry Division
in the vicinity of MELREUX on the west flank.
To establish this line, it was necessary to attack south in the
Combat Command "R" sector and withdraw Richardson's
roadblock, on the left, narrowing the sector from MANHAY to GRANDMENIL.
The withdrawal operation was to be conducted after dark in coordination
with the 7th Armored Division. Combat Command "A" now
controlled the entire left sector and Combat Command "R",
The 290th Regimental Combat Team attacked in the zone of Combat
Command "R" to secure the main line of resistance,
already described, at 2330 and made good progress against light
resistance. Other elements of Combat Command "R" cleared
the SOY-HOTTON road.
Task Force "Hogan" remained cut off. Air supplies dropped,
missed him again.
At 2230 elements of Combat Command "B", 7th Armored
Division started moving back to the proposed defensive line in
the vicinity of MANHAY, and a contact point, at the railroad
station in the south edge of GRANDMENIL was agreed on. Richardson
was to withdraw his roadblock forces beginning at about 2330
and act as the contacting element.
At about the same time 7th Armored Division elements started
moving back through MANHAY, eight enemy tanks and some infantry
moved northeast out of ODEIGNE, and got behind Richardson's roadblock.
These tanks moved rapidly on MANHAY, which was then full of traffic
and not very strongly defended, and soon got into the town and
opened fire on several houses and vehicles.
As soon as Richardson saw that he would not be able to defend
MANHAY successfully with his headquarters personnel and the light
tank platoon attached, he issued orders to Major Brewster at
the roadblock to withdraw to the northeast through MALEMPRE and
rejoin him. He then moved his headquarters to GRANDMENIL, where
Task Force "Kane" had a headquarters, in order to warn
Kane and assist in stopping enemy tanks already moving from MANHAY
toward GRANDMENIL. Meanwhile, Brewster, in attempting to withdraw
through MALEMPRE, met tank and small arms fire in the town and
was fired on from the rear. Two of his four tanks were hit and
destroyed. He was forced to abandon and destroy his remaining
vehicles and withdraw his troops - two platoons, H Company, 32nd
Armored Regiment; one company, 509th Parachute Infantry; and
one company, 75th Infantry Division - on foot. The majority of
this force succeeded in fighting through to friendly lines. Enemy
tanks and infantry occupied MANHAY and GRANDMENIL by 0330 on
On Christmas Day, Combat Command "B" reverted to division
control and assembled in the Division area, except for Task Force
"McGeorge" which moved to the Combat Command "A"
In the morning Combat Command "A" attacked to secure
the objective line (proposed MLR), and Task Force McGeorge, (2nd
Battalion, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment less Company E; F &
I Companies, 33rd Armored Regiment; Company A, 33rd Armored Regiment;
2nd Platoon, D Company, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion) attacked
with a tank and an infantry company to retake GRANDMENIL and
restore roadblocks to the east thereof. Tank, anti-tank and heavy
weapons fire from the town stopped McGeorge's advance initially.
The remainder of the force was committed with infantry leading.
Eventually, on 26 December, the 3rd Battalion, 289th Infantry
Regiment (75th Division) was also committed to this attack and
the town was secured at 1800. The Combat Command objective line
was reported taken by the 289th Infantry Regiment.
Combat Command "B" sent a tank company and an infantry
company to secure the Division right flank by occupying the high
ground and crossroad in the vicinity of MELREUX. This objective
was secured against little opposition, and a firm link was established
with the 84th Infantry Division. Combat Command "R"
reached its objective line after overcoming small arms and artillery
fire, which necessitated the commitment of 1st Battalion, 517th
Parachute Infantry to assist the 290th Infantry Regiment.
COURAGE OF TASK FORCE HOGAN
In MARCOURAY Hogan prepared to destroy his equipment and infiltrate
back to friendly lines after dark.
Attempts had been made by the 54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion,
whose battery C was with Task Force "Hogan", to fire
medical supplies into MARCOURAY in smoke shells; but the supplies
were damaged beyond use.
Two attempts to supply the surrounded Task Force by air failed.
After long and tedious preparations involving complicated arrangements
through G-4 channels and dissemination of instructions from Army
to Task Force, the planes carrying the supplies missed the targets.
A German officer had visited Hogan at his Command Post and demanded
surrender, threatening the surrounded Task Force with attack
by three divisions and two Corps of Artillery. Hogan refused
this ultimatum, and continued to defend his position. "I
figured it would take at least a Regiment to kick us out, and
apparently they (the enemy) didn't consider it worthwhile,"
be said later.
Meanwhile the troops of Task Force "Hogan" beat back
many enemy patrols, taking a few prisoners. They were in position
to observe the enemy's movements and direct artillery fire on
his columns and on his installations.
Casualties suffered in MARCOURAY were relatively light, but the
situation looked almost hopeless when the Division Commander
ordered Task Force "Hogan" to destroy all equipment
in place and return on foot to the American lines.
All equipment had to be destroyed without burning or demolition
to avoid attracting attention. Motors were run without oil and
with sugar added to the gasoline. Sand and dirt was put into
transmissions and other moving parts. Weapons were rendered useless
by destroying and burying certain parts. When this was finished
about dark, the Task Force started north in groups of twenty
at twenty minute intervals with only individual arms and such
personal equipment as they felt able to carry over the ten miles
of wooded, snow-covered mountains. The wounded had to be left
behind. A medical officer, a dental officer, and several aid
men volunteered to stay with them. The prisoners were guarded
by one of the less seriously wounded.
By noon of the following day, all but a few of the four hundred
had returned safely and reequipping was under way.
In a letter of commendation to Lt. Col. Hogan, Major General
Collins, C. G. VII Corps said, in part, "Acting with the
characteristic spirit of the 3rd Armored Division, Task Force
"Hogan" had pushed out in front ..., the entire VII
Corps was thrilled with your refusal (to surrender) and with
your continued fight which contained the German forces and prevented
their joining in the battle farther north.
" ... Your indomitable courage and leadership not only assisted
in checking the German advance to the north, but resulted in
saving some four hundred men from capture. Equipment can always
be replaced, but not such men."
On 26 December Task Force "Kane" was withdrawn from
their positions south of the main line of resistance of Combat
Command "A" under heavy fog cover along trails thru
The Division front then seemed pretty solid except for the left
flank where contact had not been made with the 7th Armored Division.
There were four enemy tanks in dug-in positions on the high ground
about one half kilometer due north of the road junction at GRANDMENIL
still causing considerable trouble. Contact had to be made by
patrol at the GRANDMENIL road junction.
Combat Command "B" took over Combat Command "R"
sector on the 27th December. The Division front was now held
by the 290th Regimental Combat Team on the right and the 289th
Regimental Combat Team in the Combat Command "A" sector
in the left. The defenses were improved and some elements of
the 3rd Armored conducted what maintenance and rehabilitation
was possible in assembly areas near the front lines.
There was only one action of note on the 3rd Armored Division
front on 28 December. It started soon after midnight on 27 December
and developed into a somewhat confused battle in and around SADZOT
in Combat Command "A"'s sector. The troops refer to
this action as "The Sad Sack Affair". It is discussed
at some length here because it was typical of many of the confused
actions that, together, make up the Ardennes campaign.
By the night of 27 December the defensive line in Combat Command
"A"'s sector was established by the 1st and 2nd battalions
of the 289th Infantry Regiment (75th Division) with the 1st Battalion
on the right (west). The exact position of the 1st Battalion
was not determined. Its right flank was tied in with Task Force
Orr near AMONINES. Its left flank was reported to be fifteen
hundred yards to the west of the contact point with patrols on
the point (this patrol was probably eight hundred yards farther
to the west). The 2nd Battalion was securely established along
a line from the south edge of GRANDMENIL through La FOSSE and
thence southeast along the edge of the BOIS DU PAYS to the point
where contact should have been established with the 1st Bn. There
existed, therefore, a gap between the 1st and 2nd Battalions
as General Hickey knew. Due to a virtual breakdown of communication
in forward elements and faulty location reports, and particularly
to the nature of the information, the extent of the gap was not
At this time, the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion was assembled
west of EREZEE along the main highway, and remnants of Task Force
"Richardson" were between them and EREZEE.
At about 0200 the 54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, which
was in position north of SADZOT with forward elements in the
town, reported that enemy were in SADZOT and in the woods south
of the town. (The infantry battalions on the line had been sending
in negative reports up to within an hour of this time.) In SADZOT,
C Company, 87th Chemical Battalion, a platoon of Tank Destroyers
and forward elements of the 54th were resisting the attack.
General Hickey immediately sent the 509th Parachute Infantry
Battalion south with instructions to secure SADZOT and protect
the artillery positions. All three companies were committed in
a short time. One held a reserve position north of the town,
while the other two companies executed a double envelopment to
the east and west. Elements were sent into the town itself while
the main forces planned to join to the south thereof.
Task Force "Richardson", reduced to 2 platoons of infantry,
a medium tank company at one-half strength, and a light tank
company at full strength was alerted and moved to BRISCOL. They
were told they might have to assist the 509th. Fighting continued
that night, and, when the Commanding General of Combat Command
"A" arrived in SADZOT about 0830 on the morning of
28 December, he discovered that SADZOT had not been completely
lost as previously reported. Elements of the 87th Chemical Battalion
in the town resisted the enemy strongly and held several houses
in the north part of town. By 1100 the enveloping companies of
the 509th joined south of the town.
The enemy force in this attack was identified as two companies
of sixty to seventy men each from 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment,
12th SS Panzer Division. Their losses, killed, wounded or captured
were about ninety men.
There was still sniper fire in the woods as far north as the
east-west road through GRANDMENIL, so strong patrols were ordered
to comb the woods to determine enemy positions and strengths.
The 509th and Task Force "Richardson" continued to
protect, the artillery positions by a defense line south of SADZOT.
Before the patrols finished their work, the 2nd Battalion, 112th
Infantry (28th Division) was attached to Combat Command "A".
The Commanding General planned to use them to close the gap between
the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 289th by moving them south
and then east behind the 1st Battalion, 289th. This movement
got under way after dark. The 1st Battalion, 289th reported that
the tail of the column of 2nd Battalion, 112th passed its east
flank at 2000 hours. At this time, communication failed and runners
had to be used. The exact position of the 2nd Battalion, 112th
was not determined that night, but it was known that they had
not made contact with the 2nd Battalion, 289th. Patrols sent
from the 2nd Battalion, 289th, to try to make the contact, found
enemy on the ridge in the gap.
At about 0900 on 29 December, the executive officer, 289th, who
was with 2nd Battalion 112th, reported that he could see friendly
troops about four hundred yards away. He thought they were the
2nd Battalion, 289th, but it developed later that they were elements
of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion and Task Force "Richardson"
south of SADZOT. The Battalion had missed its direction and formed
a line running from the east flank of the 1st Battalion, 289th,
almost due north, to the defenses south of SADZOT. This fact
was not known until much later. The Combat Command plan called
for two leading companies to close the gap and the third company
to face north toward SADZOT to resist any attempt of the enemy
to break out of the trap. It was not known how many of the enemy
had slipped in.
Thinking the gap was effectively closed. General Hickey ordered
the 509th to attack southeast from SADZOT with the trail toward
La FOSS as a right boundary.
This attack began early on the morning of 29 December, supported
by some light tanks of Richardson's force. They advanced about
twelve hundred yards and met an enemy attack by the remaining
two companies of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment supported
by two 75mm anti-tank guns.
Three of the light tanks were lost, but the paratroops soon overran
the enemy guns and inflicted severe losses. The shock of this
engagement was considerable, and the 509th withdrew slightly
about noon to reorganize. At this time, A Company, 83rd Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion, which was screening south of the highway
from HAZEILLE to GRANDMENIL, was committed to the attack. It
was coordinated with the attack of the 509th and started about
1800. Very light resistance was met.
The same night, the 2nd Battalion, 289th, was issued some illuminating
mortar ammunition and flares, and these were used to assist the
2nd Battalion, 112th, in correcting its position and making contact
with the 2nd Battalion, 289th.
While these movements were in progress at 1600, the responsibility
for the sector passed from the 3rd Armored Division to the 75th
Infantry Division. General Hickey, however remained in command,
his forces being attached to 75th Division. On the morning of
30 December, the lines were well established and Combat Command
"A" moved with the rest of the Division to assembly
areas in the vicinity of OCQUIER and OUFFET.
From 30 December to 2 January, the 3rd Armored remained in assembly
areas in the OCQUIER-OUFFET area and rested and refitted preparatory
to the launching of a counter offensive aimed at liquidating
the German's Ardennes salient.
ALLIED COUNTER OFFENSIVE
3-19 January 1945
On 3 January, VII Corps started a new offensive to the southeast
with the 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions abreast, followed by the
84th and 83rd Infantry Divisions. The objective of this attack
was to drive rapidly to the southeast, with the armor leading,
seize HOUFFALIZE and its vital road net, and join up with the
Third Army coming up from the south, thereby pocketing elements
of the German Army that had penetrated further to the west before
they could be withdrawn.
In the zone of the 3rd Armored, the attack was made with Combat
Commands "A" and "B" abreast. Combat Command
"B" was on the right (west) of the zone. Each Combat
Command moved out to the attack in two Task Force columns:
C COMD. "A" (BRIG. GEN. HICKEY):
Hq, 32nd Armd. Regt.
2nd Bn., 32nd Armd. Regt.
3rd Bn., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt.
1st Plat., A Co., 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
1st Plat., A Co., 703rd TD Bn.
54th Armd. FA Bn.
3rd Bn., 32nd Armd. Regt.
2nd Bn., 330th Inf. Regt.
2nd Plat., A Co., 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
2nd Plat., A Co., 703rd TD Bn.
62th Armd. FA Bn.
C COMD. "B" (BRIG. GEN. BOUDINOT):
Hq, 33rd Armd. Regt.
1st Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt. (- 3rd Plat., Co A)
2nd Bn., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt.
2nd Plat., Co. D, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
2nd Plat., Co. B, 703rd TD Bn.
3rd Plat., Rcn. Co., 33rd Armd. Regt.
83rd Armd. FA Bn.
2nd Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt. (- 3rd Plat., Co. B)
3rd Bn., 330th Inf. Regt.
1st Plat., Co. D, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
1st Plat., Co. B, 703rd TD Bn.
2nd Plat., Rcn. Co., 33rd Armd. Regt.
1st Plat., AT Co., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt.
391st Armd. FA Bn.
In addition to the organic elements of the Division, the strength
was bolstered by the attachment of the 330th Infantry Regiment
(83rd Division) and three artillery battalions: the 83rd Armd.,
991st (S. P. 155 Guns), and the 183rd (155 Hows.). Each Combat
Command had two battalions of infantry and two battalions of
artillery in direct support. If a penetration could be effected
quickly, it was felt that the forces were in sufficient strength
and depth to drive very rapidly to the objectives CHERAIN and
BOUVIGNY, bypassing enemy pockets of resistance and leaving them
for the 83rd Division to mop up. That was how it had worked all
the way from the SEINE to the SIEGFRIED LINE back in August and
September. On this occasion, however, there were several factors
that prevented a duplication of that performance. The weather
conditions were such as to preclude effective close support by
air, and affected adversely the use of our potentially overpowering
artillery. To secure its maximum effect, this artillery must
have good visibility and flying weather for its air observation
planes. Snow and ice slowed vehicular movement to a marked degree
and in many cases rendered the columns roadbound. Cold weather,
in itself, was an obstacle. It reduced efficiency somewhat by
rendering ordinary physical tasks harder to perform. In addition,
the German had been given time (30 December to 3 January) to
establish a fair system of defense in depth, which he continued
to improve as he began to sense the American intentions. The
cumulative effect of these conditions resulted in the division
of the offensive into three phases.
The first phase covers the period from 3 to 9 January inclusive.
During this phase the Division fought its way slowly against
strong rearguard action, reaching a line PROVEDROUX-OTTRE-REGNE
cross roads (576853).
The next phase runs from 9 to 13 January. During this period
the Third Armored was passed through by the 83rd Infantry Division
whose mission was to continue the attack to the southeast through
the heavily wooded area that ran across the 3rd Armored zone
in a band three to four miles deep beginning at the line reached
by the 3rd Armored on 9 January. They were to establish a bridgehead
on the south side of this woods on a line BOUVIGNY-BACLAIN-MONT
This line was not reached in its entirety when the 3rd Armored
resumed the attack on 13 January, beginning the third phase of
the action. This phase was characterized by many bitter battles
of attrition against strong enemy positions centered around the
little towns and villages, culminating in the seizing of BRISY
and the high ground in that vicinity north of the OURTHE River,
on 19 January. On 20-21 January, the division was relieved by
elements of the 4th Cavalry Group, and the 84th Infantry Division
and moved to assembly areas in the BARVAUX-DURBY area for rest
The attack started on 3 January.
Minefields and roadblocks covered by both small arms and anti-tank
fire slowed the first day's advance. Task Force "Lovelady"
got into and secured MALEMPRE after moderate fighting. Task Force
"Doan" cleared FLORET and moved south on the main LIERNEUX
highway, clearing a defended minefield in the wooded defile southeast
of FLORET. They reached the GROUMONT Creek, where they found
the bridge was out, and stopped for the night.
The next day the attack was resumed.
South of MALEMPRE, where the road enters the woods, Task Force
"Lovelady" struck a minefield covered with heavy fire
of all types. Lovelady pushed his infantry on ahead and started
to clear the field. Meanwhile, Task Force "McGeorge"
had bypassed a blown bridge over HEID Creek, reached JEVIGNE,
where they made contact with elements of Combat Command "A",
and drove on to BANEAUX which they took from the enemy's infantry
Task Force "Richardson" fought through JEVIGNY toward
LANSIVAL. They encountered a minefield north of LANSIVAL, which
they breached and moved on in to secure the town. Task Force
"Doan" fought to secure a bridgehead over the GROUMONT
Creek where they had stopped the previous afternoon. When this
bridgehead was established by the infantry to the depth of about
four hundred yards, the bridging operation was almost complete.
At this time, Task Force "Hogan" (3rd Battalion, 33rd
Armored Regiment; 1st Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd
Div.; 1st Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 330th Infantry Regiment;
1st Platoon, Company B, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion; and
1st Platoon, Company C, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion), was
moved to the vicinity of MANHAY with the mission of advancing
south down the main highway from there and securing Cross Roads
(576853). Division boundaries were adjusted to accommodate this
attack, which was to begin on the morning of 5 January. This
new sector was given to Combat Command "R".
Elements of the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion patrolled
the Division zone between the advancing columns, encountering
many anti-personnel mines and rounding up a few prisoners.
On 5 January, Task Force "Doan" passed through its
bridgehead and moved on through the town of La VAUX. When they
had done this, a part of the infantry was sent west to assist
Task Force "Richardson" in its attack on LIERNEUX which
was in progress and getting hotter. The 1st Battalion, 36th Armored
Infantry Regiment, was replaced by the 3rd Battalion, 36th, having
suffered heavy casualties.
Task Force "Richardson" was counterattacked by tanks
and infantry early in the morning, but the attack was defeated,
and Richardson resumed the attack on LIERNEUX hampered by extremely
poor visibility. Heavy artillery and mortar fire continued on
his position north of the town. He succeeded in getting tanks
and infantry into the north and west part of the town.
Task Force "McGeorge" continued to attack from BANEAUX
and worked tanks into position to support by fire Richardson's
attack from the west. The infantry of Task Force "McGeorge"
worked through the woods toward the town.
Major Stallings took over Lt. Col. Lovelady's command when Lovelady
was evacuated for sickness. He continued the attack to the south
but failed to get out of the woods due to continuing heavy opposition,
and very limited visibility.
In Combat Command "R", Task Force "Hogan"
encountered strong dug-in infantry and anti-tank positions but
was able to advance to a point on the main road near BEL HAIE,
where the enemy had forced Task Force "Richardson's"
roadblock on 24 December.
On. 6 January, Task Force "Doan" mopped up in LAVAUX
and La FALAISE and moved south out of the town. The bridge south
of the town was blown. This was bridged and the Task Force moved
on, reaching the intersection of several secondary roads about
one and one-half kilometers northeast of VERLEUMONT where they
coiled for the night and sent strong patrols toward GRAND SART.
Task Force "Richardson" secured LIERNEUX by noon and
attacked to reach the high ground south of the town. The infantry
elements were able to gain the objective, but the tanks were
stopped by mines. The work of clearing these mines started after
Task Force "McGeorge" supported Task Force "Richardson"
during the first part of the day and then continued to advance
and seized a commanding hill two kilometers south of LIERNEUX.
Task Force "Stallings" got out of the woods in the
morning and advanced all the way down to FRAITURE. Here there
was considerable house to house fighting. An enemy battalion
scheduled to make a relief the following day had been surprised
by the Task Force and about 300 prisoners were taken.
Task Force "Hogan" continued to advance against moderate
opposition. Felled trees blocked the only available road, so
the infantry was sent on ahead. This infantry force reached the
objective cross road and work on clearing the road for the tanks
The 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion continued to sweep the division
area in rear of the advance elements.
At this time, new orders were issued to continue the attack on
the following day to secure an objective line just north of the
next wooded area, running generally PROVEDROUX-OTTRE-REGNE-CR
(576853). When this line was secured, the 83rd Infantry Division
was to pass through the 3rd Armored and attack through the woods,
then the 3rd Armored would resume the attack.
On the morning of 7 January, Task Force "Richardson"
entered VERLEUMONT in the face of considerable small arms fire
and artillery fire. Before noon the town was cleared of enemy
and the Task Force started to move in two battle groups, one
east toward SART and the other south to seize the high wooded
hill about one kilometer to the south. Both of these forces were
stopped by mine fields just at the edge of the town. Before these
fields could be breached, Task Force "Doan" had succeeded
in driving the enemy from GRAND SART and SART. Task Force "Richardson",
therefore, continued south with the whole force reaching the
high ground east of HEBRONVAL. A holding force of infantry was
left on the wooded hill south of VERLEUMONT.
Task Force "Doan" started toward GRAND SART. They met
and overcame an enemy outpost strong point about one kilometer
west of the town and continued. The town itself was protected
by a mine field covered by strong anti-tank positions. An attempt
was made to bypass the town to the south under cover of a smoke
screen laid by artillery but this approach was also well covered
by anti-tank fire. Continued pressure finally forced the enemy
garrison to retire, and Doan's column continued through SART,
cleaning it up on the way, to positions just south of the main
highway through REGNE and SALMCHATEAU near its junction with
the road running north to LIERNEUX.
Task Force "McGeorge" advanced on REGNE, and, with
the support of Task Force "Lovelady" (Lovelady had
returned to duty) from the northwest, secured the town about
noon. Task Force "Lovelady" remained in the town to
secure it, and Task Force "McGeorge" moved on to the
high ground east of BIHAIN, just south of the new objective line.
Task Force "Hogan" got the road north of its objective
cleared of mines and felled trees and moved tanks down to the
objective. Roadblocks were established south of the cross roads,
and patrol contact was made with the 2nd Armored Division on
the right and with Task Force "Lovelady" on the left.
On 8 January, Doan continued to attack toward PROVEDROUX, meeting
dug in infantry, anti-tank and artillery fire. PROVEDROUX was
secured and "buttoned up" by nightfall. Richardson
continued his attack through JOUBIEVAL, which was well defended,
and reached his objective by dark.
Task Force "Lovelady" remained in REGNE. Col. Welborn
took command of Task Force "McGeorge", when McGeorge
was wounded. Task Force "Welborn" attacked east to
secure HEBRONVAL and then south to OTTRE. They encountered two
mine fields and some anti-tank and small arms fire, but by 1705,
OTTRE was secured.
Task Force "Hogan" continued to defend at the cross
roads. Hogan's infantry battalion (1st Bn. 330th Inf. Regt. 83rd
Div.) was relieved by 1st Bn. 333rd Inf. Regt. 84th Div.
The objective line was secured, and arrangements were made for
the 83rd Infantry Division to attack through the 3rd Armored
lines the following day.
On 9 January, Task Force "Doan" continued some mopping
up business in the PROVEDROUX area and maintained' contact with
the 82nd Airborne Division on the left.
Task Force "Lovelady" moved to HEBRONVAL, while the
remainder of Task Force "Welborn" moved from HEBRONVAL
Task Force "Hogan" was relieved by elements of the
84th Infantry Division and moved to REGNE.
The 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion moved into FRAITURE.
On the night of 10-11 January, the 75th Infantry Division relieved
the 82nd Airborne Division on our left. Their mission was to
defend the line of the SALM River and protect the left flank
of the VII Corps.
COMBAT COMMANDS ON THE ATTACK
On 11 January elements of the 83rd Infantry Division directed
their attack against LANGLIR and PETITE LANGLIR. The 3rd Armored
issued Field Order 22. The mission was to secure the CHERAIN
area and cut the roads in that locality. Combat Command "B"
was to make the attack and was assigned the initial objective
of the high ground northeast of BACLAIN. The Division Commander
directed that Combat Command "B" clear the enemy in
the MONT LE BAN area only sufficiently to allow the passage of
the column, then proceed rapidly to secure CHERAIN. After which,
they would secure the entire division objective which included
VAUX, STERPIGNY, BHISY and RETTIGNY.
Combat Command "A" was ordered to protect the left
flank, and Combat Command "R" to be prepared to move
on to the objective if the attack of Combat Command "B"
On 11 January, the 1st Battalion of the 389th Infantry Regiment
started moving into Task Force "Doan's" sector to assume
responsibility for the sector, while the 83rd Division was heavily
engaged in the center of the zone.
Task Force Hogan, consisting of 1st Bn. 330th; H Company, 33rd
Armd. Regt.; 1st Plat. Co. C, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn., was committed
on the right with the mission of attacking south from BIHAIN
at 1600 to secure the line of the LANGLIR CREEK from PISSEROTTE
to a point two kilometers east thereof. The Task Force met little
resistance and secured the stream crossing on the objective line
at 1900. Hogan was ordered to button up there and prepare for
the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to pass through him
the next day. At dark, the enemy counterattacked with infantry
supported by three tanks. This attack was defeated and one enemy
tank was destroyed. A second counterattack by infantry at 2100
was also beaten off.
The 83rd Reconnaissance moved from REGNE to BIHAIN, where "A"
Company was attached to Task Force "Hogan" to assist
in outposting the position there.
Hogan's fairly easy advance to PISSEROTTE indicated that it might
be possible to side slip the enemy's main defenses, which appeared
to be in the center of the division zone, and get far enough
south to cut the east-west roads north of HOUFFALIZE, which the
Germans were using to evacuate the part of their forces which
remained west of HOUFFALIZE and were in danger of being cut off.
Combat Command "B" started to move into the LANGLIR-PETITE
LANGLIR area, but there was still fighting in the LANGLIR area
so the move was delayed.
When the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion moved through
Task Force "Hogan", progress was slow. The road south
of BIHAIN was blocked by knocked out enemy vehicles which had
been destroyed by our artillery and supporting aircraft. Enemy
artillery, mortar and rocket fire was heavy throughout the period.
An advance of about one kilometer was made along the wooded trails.
It became apparent that the 83rd Division was not going to reach
the objective line assigned on 6 January in time for the proposed
attack of the 3rd Armored on 13 January to proceed as planned.
Accordingly a new Field Order was issued, (F. 0. 23) directing
an attack with Combat Commands abreast to secure CHERAIN, VAUX,
SOMMERAINE and the high ground northwest of SOMMERAINE. Combat
Command "B" was to seize CHERAIN; Combat Command "R"
to take VAUX, SOMMERAINE and the high ground.
Composition of forces for this attack was:
COMBAT COMMAND "R" (COL. HOWZE):
1st Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt.
3rd Bn., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt. (- 1 Plat. Co. I)
Plat. Co., C 23rd Armd. Engr.
Plat. Co., C 703rd TD Bn.
83rd Armd. Rcn. Bn.
Plat., Co. C, 703rd TD Bn.
3rd Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt.
1st Bn., 330th Inf. Regt.
Plat., Co. I, 36th Armd. Inf.
Plat., Co. C 23rd Armd. Eng. Bn.
Plat., Co. C 703rd TD Bn.
COMBAT COMMAND CONTROL
54th Armd. FA Bn.
Co. C, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn. (- 2 Plt's)
Co. C, 703rd TD Bn. (- 3 Plt's)
COMBAT COMMAND "B" (BRIG. GEN. BOUDINOT):
2nd Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt. (- 3rd Plat. Co. B)
3rd Bn., 330th Inf. Regt.
1st Plat., Co. B, 703rd TD Bn.
2nd Plat., Co. B, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
2nd Plat., Rcn. Co., 33rd Armd. Regt.
391st Armd. FA Bn., Direct Support
3rd Bn., 33rd Armd. Regt.
2nd Bn., 36th Armd. Inf. Regt.
2nd Plat., Co. B, 703rd TD Bn.
1st Plat., Co. B, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn.
3rd Plat., Rcn. Co., 33rd Armd. Regt.
83rd Armd. FA, Direct Support
COMBAT COMMAND CONTROL
Co. B, 23rd Armd. Engr. Bn. (- 2 Platoons)
Co. B, 703rd. TD Bn. (- 2 Platoons)
Rcn. Co., 33rd Armd. Regt. (- 2 Platoons).
When the attack started on 13 January, Task Force "Kane"
advanced initially on a very poor trail that required a great
deal of engineer work to make it usable. The enemy held MONT
LE BAN in such strength that a company of infantry was left to
contain it while the rest of Task Force "Kane" bypassed
to the west.
Task Force "Yeomans" met moderate resistance all day.
By 1700, two companies had secured the high ground northwest
of SOMMERAINE, while the rest of the force proceeded south to
cut the CHERAIN-SOMME-RAINE road at its junction with the MONT
LE BAN road. They were soon in position to fire on this road,
and before midnight Yeomans was joined by elements of Kane and
a secure roadblock was established. The last of the enemy's main
escape routes was cut. Task Force "Hogan" remained
in BIHAIN and attempted to establish contact with the 2nd Armored
Division in PISSEROTTE without success.
Task Force "Lovelady" attacked from LANGLIR toward
LOMRE along the road. In the woods north of LOMRE, they were
stopped by felled tree obstacles with booby traps. When this
was cleared, a coordinated attack was launched on LOMRE, which
was strongly held. By 2200 the town was occupied and secured,
and a strong roadblock force (a company of infantry) was astride
the BACLAIN-MONT LE BAN ROAD in the edge of the woods just east
of MONT LE BAN.
Task Force "Walker" reached a bridge north of BACLAIN
that was blown and prepared to bridge it.
On the morning of 14 January, Walker encountered a mine field
after crossing the stream, which was defended by anti-tank, small
arms and supporting fires. When this was reduced, the Task Force
launched a coordinated attack on BACLAIN and occupied and secured
Meanwhile, Task Force "Lovelady" met tanks and anti-tank
fire as they attacked south from LOMRE. They bypassed MONT LE
BAN to the east and reached a point about one thousand yards
north of CHERAIN at the end of the day's fighting.
Task Force "Kane" on the north and Task Force "Hogan"
on the west launched a coordinated attack on MONT LE BAN at 1330.
By 1500 the town was seized. Kane secured the town until relieved
by Task Force "Miller" of Combat Command "A",
while Hogan reorganized, and at 2400, launched an attack to take
Task Force "Yeomans" had attacked toward VAUX at 1040,
but very heavy artillery and mortar fire forced them to withdraw
to their roadblock on the CHERAIN-SOMMERAIN road. There the Task
Force reverted to Division control and was ordered to hold.
Many enemy columns were spotted moving east and northeast out
of HOUFFALIZE. The weather had cleared somewhat and both air
and artillery worked them over.
Orders were issued for Combat Command "A" to assemble
in the MONT LE BAN area as soon as it was cleared to protect
the division rear and maintain contact on the right and left.
The objectives were changed slightly. Combat Command "B"
was assigned the CHERAIN-STERPIGNY-RETIGNY area. Combat Command
"R" the VAUX-BRISY area. Task Force "Yeomans"
was ordered to clear enemy from its zone (principally SOMMERAIN).
Task Force "Hogan's" night attack on VAUX was unsuccessful,
but during the day they fought their way into the town against
heavy enemy fire and secured the town on the night of 15 January,
after about thirty hours of sustained attack.
Task Force "Yeomans" attacked SOMMERAINE from the east,
but was unable to penetrate its defenses.
BITTER FIGHTING TO THE END
Enemy opposition became very heavy in the whole division sector
on 15 January. Tanks, anti-tank guns, small arms fire and very
heavy artillery and mortar fire were met all day. Losses in this
day's fighting were severe.
On the night of 14-15, Task Force "Lovelady" had been
driven out of his position just north of CHERAIN and had withdrawn
about one kilometer north.
The plan for the day of 15 January called for Task Force "Orr"
and Task Force "Miller" (Combat Command "A")
to take over BACLAIN and MONT LE BAN; Task Force "Kane"
to pass through Yeomans and take the high ground south of BRISY;
Task Force "Welborn" (Formerly Task Force "Walker")
to attack through STERPIGNY, thence to RETIGNY, allowing Lovelady
to come into CHERAIN under reduced pressure. However Task Force
"Kane" was able to advance only a short distance and
Task Force "Welborn" got only into the western edge
of STERPIGNY. Task Force "Lovelady" attempted to advance
on CHERAIN. Again they ran into mines in a defile. Anti-tank
guns caught the vehicles in column, and at 1530 they had NO medium
Adding fuel to a fire that was already hot enough, an enemy column
moved into STERPIGNY to reinforce the garrison there, whereupon
Task Force "Richardson" from Combat Command "A"
was attached to Combat Command "B" and committed to
the STERPIGNY fight, but the situation remained virtually static.
Only the western edge of the town was taken.
Task Force "Lovelady" was relieved in place by Task
Force "Bailey" (a company of medium tanks and a company
of infantry from Combat Command "A"). Lovelady's badly
depleted force moved back into the Combat Command "A"
area to refit and reorganize.
When Welborn and Richardson continued the attack on STERPIGNY
on 16 January, another enemy column attempting to enter the town
from the east was dispersed by artillery. Anti-tank and small
arms fire started coming into the town from the woods to the
northeast which was thought to be clear. The town itself was
secured, but direct fire continued to come in.
Task Force "Hogan" was ordered to send a force into
CHERAIN in the morning. He was able to get only infantry into
the town because of a blown bridge between VAUX and CHERAIN.
This force met little resistance. Having fought stubbornly for
days, the enemy then withdrew. Task Force '"Bailey"
was sent into the town to relieve Task Force "Hogan's"
Infantry and secure the town to allow Hogan to assemble his whole
force in VAUX for an attack on BRISY in conjunction with Task
Task Force "Kane's" attack toward BRISY was stopped
cold by heavy fire of all types. When Task Force "Hogan"
got their infantry back out of CHERAIN, they attacked toward
BRISY to assist Task Force "Kane", but were also stopped
after a very short advance.
Task Force "Yeomans" secured SOMMERAIN, forcing the
enemy to withdraw south.
By 17 January, Task Force "Hogan" was reduced to twelve
medium and ten light tanks. The Infantry Battalion (1st Bn.,
330th Inf. Regt.) was down to one hundred and twenty-five riflemen.
Task Force "Kane" had eleven medium and seventeen light
tanks left. The infantry strength, including Battalion Headquarters
Company, was three hundred and eleven. Both of these task forces
held their positions as did Task Force "Yeomans" in
SOMMERAIN. Task Force "Richardson" continued operations
over in STERPIGNY.
Task Force "Welborn" attacked from CHERAIN to secure
the first hill to the southeast there, a distance of about one
thousand yards. On the first attack, elements of the force succeeded
in reaching the objective, but were forced to withdraw. The second
attack carried to the hill and Task Force Welborn held there.
Elements of the 4th Cavalry Group took over the sector from VAUX
west to the division boundary on 18 January, relieving Yeomans,
Kane and Hogan.
On 18 January, Task Force "Richardson" continued to
attack to secure the east edge of the woods east of STERPIGNY.
When they secured this objective line, Combat Command "A"
in two task forces. Task Force "Doan" and Task Force
"Lovelady", assembled in the vicinity of STERPIGNY
preparatory to continuing the Division's attack south. It was
planned that Doan should seize RETTIGNY, RENGLEZ and the high
ridge south of these towns while Lovelady screened his advance
and protected his left flank along the wooded ridge southeast
of STERPIGNY. Task Force "Kane", of Combat Command
"R", was to attack south from CHERAIN and take BRISY
and the dominating hill to the south thereof. Richardson secured
his objective and the scheduled attack moved rapidly against
very light resistance. Both objectives were taken on the afternoon
of 19 January. The next day the division started moving northwest
to rest areas centering around BARVAUX and DURBUY.
The portion of the German salient west of HOUFFALIZE had been
liquidated, but the enemy had conducted an efficient withdrawal.
The effort had cost him heavily, but he had succeeded in withdrawing
a very large part of his forces not expended in the fifteen days
of bold offensive fighting in December and the stubborn rearguard
actions of 3-16 January. In rare cases was he forced to give
ground where the loss would seriously endanger the extrication
of his carefully hoarded armor without inflicting severe losses
on the attacking force.
During a rest period there is plenty of work to do. The "rest"
means that you are not in contact with the enemy. New reinforcements
have to be fitted into their places and given additional training.
New equipment has to be tested, and there is maintenance work
in whatever quantity time permits. It is a time of rest, though.
The tension of battle is gone. There is time for a few movies
and recreational convoys to nearby cities, and there is time
to count the score.
The decisive fighting in the Ardennes salient lasted from 16
December 1944 to 16 January 1945.
For this period there are two sets of concrete figures that can
be juggled at will to propagandize either our cause or the German.
They are the losses of men and material on each side. A third
item for speculation: "what did Von Rundstedt's gamble gain
or lose?", does not concern us directly in this outline.
Taken separately, loss figures may be used to prove almost anything.
Together they serve only to emphasize that it was a hard fight.
Here they are.
During the period 16 December to 16 January, the 3rd Armored
Division suffered 1,473 battle casualties, of this number 21
officers and 166 enlisted men were killed in action. The rest
were wounded or missing.
Battle losses in vehicles were as follows:
A carefully prepared day to day estimate of losses inflicted
on the enemy for this period totals up to:
PRISONERS (actual count)
The estimated vehicular casualties inflicted counting only
those known to have been destroyed are:
||TANKS (31 were Mk V's)
AT & AA GUNS
Next Chapter: The Rhineland