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The Ardennes Battle of the Bulge

The Ardennes Battle of the Bulge

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Published by Bob Andrepont
United States Army history of the Battle of the Bulge.
United States Army history of the Battle of the Bulge.

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 07, 2011
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06/09/2014

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When the 4th Armored tanks reached
the Bastogne perimeter on 26 De-
cember, the contact between McAuliffe’s
command and the Third Army was
dramatic and satisfying but none too
secure .

1 The road now opened from
Assenois to Bastogne could be traversed
under armed convoy, and for the mo-
ment the Germans in this sector were
too demoralized by the speed and sharp-
ness of the blow to react in any aggres-
sive manner. The two main highways
east and west of the Assenois corri-
dor, however, still were barred by the
Seventh Army and such small detach-
ments as could be hurriedly stripped
from the German circle around Bas-
togne. Continued access to Bastogne
would have to be insured by widening
the breach and securing the Arlon high-
way-and perhaps that from Neufchâ-
teau as well-before the enemy could
react to seal the puncture with his
armor. (Map X)
The main weight of Gaffey’s 4th
Armored, it will be recalled, lay to the
east of Assenois on the Arlon-Bastogne
axis. On the right of the 4th Armored
the 26th Infantry Division was eche-
loned to the southeast and on 26 Decem-
ber had put troops over the Sure River,

1 The 4th Armored attack toward Bastogne is
described in Chapter XXI, pp. 523–32, 547–55.

but the only direct tactical effect this
division could have on the fight south of
Bastogne would be to threaten the
Seventh Army line of communications
and divert German reserves. 2 The gap
between the 26th Infantry and the 4th
Armored Divisions, rather tenuously
screened by the 6th Cavalry Squadron,
would be filled by the 35th Infantry
Division (Maj. Gen. Paul Baade) , which
had just come up from Metz and had
orders to attack across the Sure on 27
December. 3 If all went well this attack
would break out to the Lutrebois-Har-
lange road, which fed into the Arlon
highway, and proceed thence abreast of
the 4th Armored.
West of the Assenois corridor the left
wing of Gaffey’s command was screened,

2 The earlier operations of the 26th Division on
the right flank of the III Corps are discussed in
Chapter XXI. pp. 540–47.
3 The 35th Division had suffered heavily in the
Lorraine battles (for which see Cole, The Lorraine
Campaign,
ch. XII, passim) and General Gay
persuaded Patton not to throw the division into
the Ardennes fight until other Third Army divi-
sions in better condition had been committed.
(The AAR’s of the 35th Division in the early
phases of the Ardennes are so abbreviated as to
be practically useless. Fortunately the story is
told in considerable detail in the combat inter-
views. The published histories of the division’s
activities are very good. See Miltonberger and
Huston, 134th Infantry Regiment: Combat History
of World War II
(Washington, n.d.); Combat
History of the 134th Infantry Regiment
(Baton
Rouge, 1946); and The 35th Infantry Division in
World War II
(Atlanta, n.d.).

THE THIRD ARMY OFFENSIVE

607

but rather lightly, by scratch forces that
General Middleton had gathered from
his VIII Corps troops and what remained
of Cota’s 28th Division. On the after-
noon of 26 December General Patton
assigned CCA, 9th Armored, which was
near Luxembourg City, to the III
Corps with orders that it be attached
to the 4th Armored and attack on the
left to open the Neufchâteau-Bastogne
highway. The 9th Armored Division’s
CCA was relieved that same afternoon
by CCA of Maj. Gen. Robert W. Grow’s
6th Armored Division.
Although the enemy troops around
Assenois had been broken and scattered
by the lightning thrust on the 26th,
the III Corps’ attack on the following
day met some opposition. The 35th
Division, its ultimate objective the Long-
villy-Bastogne road, had more trouble
with terrain and weather than with
Germans, for the enemy had elected to
make a stand on a series of hills some
five thousand yards beyond the Sure.
On the left the 137th Infantry (Col.
William S. Murray) trucked through
the 4th Armored, crossed the tankers’
bridge at Tintange, and moved out cross-
country in snow six inches deep. The
2d Battalion drove off the German out-
post at the crossroads village of Surré,
but to the west the 3d Battalion, de-
filing along a draw near Livarchamps,
came suddenly under fire from a pillbox
which checked further movement. The
320th Infantry (Col. Bernard A. Byrne)
had to make its own crossings at the
Sure, one company wading the icy river,
but Boulaide and Baschleiden, on the
single road in the regimental zone, were
occupied without a casualty. Thence the
3d Battalion pushed on toward the north.
In the 4th Armored zone CCR

shepherded trucks on the Assenois road
while CCB and CCA continued the foot-
slogging pace north toward Bastogne.
The armored infantry and the two rifle
battalions of the 3 18th marched through
the snow, fighting in those woods and
hamlets where the German grenadiers
and paratroopers–now with virtually no
artillery to back them up–decided to
make a stand. CCB made its attack from
west of Hompré against troops of the
15th Panzer Grenadier Division, here
faced about from Bastogne; by nightfall
its patrols had reached the 101st Air-
borne perimeter. CCA, farther from
the point of impact on 26 December,
had a rougher time although the com-
manders of the two battalions from the
15th Parachute Regiment confronting
the Americans had been captured in
battle the previous day. When the 51st
Armored Infantry Battalion moved to-
ward the village of Sainlez, perched on
a hill to the front, the enemy para-
troopers made such good use of their
commanding position that the Shermans
had to enter the action and partially
destroy the village before the German
hold was broken. The defenders flushed
from Sainlez moved east and struck the
1st Battalion of the 318th, which had
cleared Livarchamps, in the rear, start-
ing a fire fight that lasted into the
night. American battle casualties in this
sector were high on the 27th, and about
an equal number of frost bite cases
plagued the infantrymen who had now
spent six days in the snow and wet.
While the 4th Armored and its at-
tached troops pressed forward to touch
hands with the Bastogne garrison, the
perimeter itself remained in unwonted
quiet. General Taylor went into the
city to congratulate McAuliffe and re-

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