The commander of the 21st Army group, Bernard Montgomery, situated on the North where German troops were attacking, was holding the British XXX corps in reserve, hoping to create a big defensive front against the advancing German troops on the West side of the Meuse. His descission to retreat from St. Vith blocked the idea of US commanders Hodges and Ridgeway to use the town as a starting point to attack Malmedy and encircle the 6th Panzer Divison. In this case, the Germans could not penetrate US Lines.
German troops kept attacking the area during the night. Around 2.00hrs a battalion attacked the town of Rodt from the rear. In the nine hour battle, the 928th Grenadiers Battalion succeeded in widening the penetration. CCA and CCB got driven apart when Rodt was captured at 11.35hrs.
CCB pulled back to Hinderhausen to secure the escape route to Vielsalm. The new line was completed and strengthened, by adding several units. At this time contact with CCA on the northwest was lost.
During the day, the command post of CCB was moved to Commanster. The line was held by the 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron on the left (led by Lt Col. Boylan); the 31stTB in the center (led by Lt Col. Erlenbusch) and 17thTB on the right/south (led by Lt Col. Wemple). The railroad between St. Vith and Crombach formed the boundry between the 31stTB and 17thTB.
The 23AIR was situated east of Crombach. Some of the men, a bazookaman and a machinegun squad, wanted to mine a railroad underpass (probably at Weissenweg), but they did not have any mines. At 17.00hrs Germans attacked the underpass, with support of tanks. The bazookaman fired at the tanks, but the shot bounced off. Reason enough to retreat to the north, where the men met guys of the 31rdTB. Other units also retreated. Artillery kept firing at the railroad track until they too had no other option then to retreat, together with the 17thTB.
At 18.45hrs the town of Crombach was overrun and accupied by German troops. Lt. Colonel Wemple of the 17thTB and most of his men managed to fight their way out the next day.
CCB of the 9thID became under attack at the same time. They retreated to Braunlauf and kept in contact with CCB/7thAD.
At Poteau the Germans tried to outflank the right of CCA.
At 22.15hrs the north side was attacked, but this one was driven off.
In the complete area it became eminent, that the7thAD, 9thAD, remnants of
the 106th and other remaining troops were getting encircled. German troops broke through on all terrains and were heading for the Salm River and places like Trois Ponts and Grand Halleux. The US troops were getting trapped on the east side of that Salm River.
The order to withdrawl was given by Fieldmarshall Montgomery himself: “You have accomplished your mission, a mission well done. It is time to withdraw.”
Non combat cars were retreated right away, followed by a part of the artillery battalions. The 7th and 9thAD were still battling with German troops, so their withdraw was delayed. But, the German troops engaged the 82nd Airborne sector at Salmchateau and the Armore Divisions had to get out, or else they were going to be to late.
23rd december >>>>>