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Ardennes - Alsace Campaign by Blackhawk Films.; Eastin-Phelan Corporation

By Blackhawk Films.; Eastin-Phelan Corporation

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While the XVIII Corps battled the Sixth Panzer Army’s last attempts to achieve a northern breakthrough, the VII Corps’ 3d Armored and 84th Infantry Divisions held the line’s western end against the LVIII and XLVII Panzer Corps. These units had become Model’s new main effort, swinging wide of Dietrich’s stalled attack, and they now had elements about 5 miles from the Meuse. Upon finding the 2d Panzer Division out of gas at the German salient’s tip, Collins on Christmas Day sent the 2d Armored Division, with heavy air support, to encircle and destroy the enemy force.

After four days of vicious fighting the XIII SS Corps’ initial offensive had stalled. The XC and LXXXIX Corps attacked near Bitche with four infantry divisions abreast. Advancing through the Low Vosges, they gained surprise by forgoing artillery preparations and by taking advantage of fog and thick forests to infiltrate Task Force Hudelson. As in the Losheim Gap, the defending mechanized cavalry held only a thin line of strongpoints; lateral mobility through the rough snowladen mountain roads was limited.

To prevent being trapped from the rear, the 7th Armored Division began pulling out of its advanced positions around 2130. The other American units around the town conformed, folding into a tighter perimeter west of the town. Ridgway wanted St. Vith’s defenders to stay east of the Salm, but Montgomery ruled otherwise. The 7th Armored Division, its ammunition and fuel in short supply and perhaps two-thirds of its tanks destroyed, and the battered elements of the 9th Armored, 106th, and 28th Divisions could not hold the extended perimeter in the rolling and wooded terrain.

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