The CCB stayed in position at the Steinebrucke bridge. There was still hope the 423rd regiment would find a way to escape their entrapment.
A platoon of Engineers would finally blown this bridge on this day, because of building up German troops on the other side of the bank. After that, they retreated to the defensive line with the 7th Armored Division and the 424th regiment/ 106thID.
Around 07.00 hrs the horse shoe shaped defensive around St. Vith was completed, with all kinds of troops who made it to St. Vith. CCB/7thAD had worked all night to clear the road between Vielsalm and St. Vith. The defensive line extended from Hunningen to Weisenbach, guarded by men of the 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 38thAIB, elements of the 81st and 108th Engineer Battalions and a company of the 23rd AIB.
Company A/ 31st TB stayed on the high ground in the east and the remainder of CCB stayed on the high ground on the west and were ready to counterattack.
At 02.00 hrs the First German attack was concentrated on the 7thAD/ Reserve Command to the north of the town. The 1st SS Panzer Division/ Leibstanderte Adolf Hitler attacked with such force that the Reserve Command Headquarters had to retreat to Poteau.
Around 08.00hrs CCB was hit hard by a well coordinated attack by infantry and tanks. For a short time, the town of Hunningen was lost, but was recaptured by a very aggressive counterattack by CCB with three medium tank companies and a tank destroyer company from the 31stTB and a company of the 811th TDB (coming from CCB/ 9thAD). The crossroads was retaken and seven tanks, an armored car and 100 german infantry got killed during the attack. On the east also a counterattack was made to restore the lines.
On the Northeastern side, an M8 took out a Tiger tank. According to the story, the Tiger bypassed the M8, overlooking it. The M8 sneaked behind it and tried to get as close as possible, so it could penetrate the thin backside of this monster. The Tiger noticed the approaching M8 and a race against time began: the Tiger trying to get the turret swung to the M8 and the M8 speeding up to get as close as possible. The M8 won, pumping three 37mm rounds into the tank.
At the Poteau area, TF Mayes of the 14th Cavalry Group, was moving put
from Poteau in the northern direction of Recht, when his column of vehicules run into troops of Kampfgruppe Hansen. A short, but hard fight broke out and the road offered no escaproute. The men escaped back to the direction of the village. During the next hours, the village came under heavy fire and all communication was lost. The order was givne to retreat in the direction of Vielsalm.
The Germans used the burning column of the 14th Cavalry for a propaganda film, displaying the succesfull German attacks on American lines for the homeland. The pictures and film were later captured by the 30thID and became World famous. Poteau later became the scenerey of heavy fightings and was retaken by the Americains.
Around 9.30 hrs the Germans attacked the lines of B company/ 31stAIB, starting with incoming 88’s. The attack lasted hours. According to a member of B company, the attacking Germans were paratroopers, supported by a tank. The Germans had many losses and the tank got knocked out.
Around 10.00 hrs troops from the 23rdAIB and elements of the 31stTB got seperated from the rest of the battalion by German combat patrols on the west from Poteau. Two service companies stayed at Petit Thier (3km’s from Poteau) during the night and were ready to move to their battalions when they were attacked. They managed to get out and moved to the south, where they reached Krombach. These German troops appeared the same ones who showed up earlier in the morning in Recht and pushed through Poteau, putting the CCB in danger. 31stTB/company D was placed between Poteau and St Vith, 1km west of Rodt. And CCA was moved from Beho to Poteau and was ordered to retake the town. But the German troops dug in tanks and infantry and wanted to hold the Poteau crossroads, because of its vital importance.
CCA attacked Poteau for the first time at 13.20 hrs. But the deadly fire from German side made them withdraw.
Division headquarters ordered CCA to seize the town later.
When darkness fell in, CCA attacked again. This time with succes: hard fightings took place, house to house fightings by infantry against high skilled men of the Leibstandarte.
Although Von Manteuffel did not succeed in taking St Vith this day, he was
determined to seize it. The reason was the railroad, running from east to the west, from the Rhine to the Ardennes. It was found out later that the whole Ardennes operation was based upon this railroad and it’s roadnetwork leading to Liege and Antwerp. Instead of making a centre attack, German troops got around St Vith from the north and south side, trying to surround the 7thAD troops.
At 22.30 hrs another German attack was repelled.
It was clear to the American troops: there was an enormous German army on route, and they were right in the middle of it…..
19th december >>>>>