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Bitter, bloody fighting against vast numerical and armor superiority... M1s and carbines versus tanks... tanks that couldn’t be seen... cold foxholes... colder snow... no air support... never the welcome roar of friendly planes... it was man against machine, and a certain knowledge that victory could be bought only with blood... but still they fought on.
Monty was the curtain raiser to the show at Flamierge, which felt the initial blast of our artillery just before nightfall on January 4, 1945. The fighting was still hotly contested around Houmont. Second Battalion men of the 194th Infantry had to take Hill 460 and then push on. Renaumont sprang another tank episode - one that forced us back to consolidate and to destroy patrols. Recrival, Hubermont and Millimont were villages gained only after heavy losses by the 194th’s fighting doughs. This was January 7th. It seemed even colder. It was bleak, miserable, and numbness from the cold began to envelop your entire body, paralyzing action. But this was the day that brought good news - welcome relief that elements of the 513th were making rapid headway during the mid-morning toward the artillery blasted village of Flamierge. It was taken by Coutts’ third battalion. Another enemy concentration point was felled. But the Jerries came around by the back door of Flamisoulle at noon that day and pushed the 513th out, regained the spot for a few short hours only to lose it again at 1715 to the same third battalion fighters, while members of the first and second battalions of the same regiment were engaging storm troopers in the surrounding woods.
Another counterattack came the following morning - Nazi tanks, scores of them - hungry for revenge, rolling in like juggernauts for the kill, imposing heavy casualties on the first and second battalions and forcing them to withdraw to the 507th area to reorganize. For the second time, the vital little spot of a few dwellings, a café or so, and a half-destroyed church, were lost to the Germans. The 193rd Infantrymen were meeting heavy fire south of Flamisoulle, which forced their withdrawal to Mande St. Etienne, and the 507th sluggers still maintained their defensive position in Monty - scene of a fixed bayonet charge by the second battalion of the 513th Parachute Regiment that will be indelibly hewn in the memory of those who survived.
The division was suffering more casualties by the hour - men were asking for their hands to obey the impulses of their minds - to kill - to avenge. The 513th men began reorganizing west of Flamierge and 194th and 507th skytroopers continued to successfully fend off tank patrols. Defenses improved as positions were consolidated. Prisoners were taken for interrogation and an enemy withdrawal was evinced throughout the sector. It was only after long, hard, bitter fighting - fighting that cost the division many a seasoned veteran - that the entire outfit was able to advance and push forward to the L’Ourthe River sector, where a linkup with the British 51st was effected.
Flamierge - the streets covered with rubble, dead, every conceivable type of German ammunition - spent and unused - gave mute testimony to the determined resistance that had been overcome. The 17th’s introduction to total war had been no easy one. Every trick of the training phase had been required, plus plenty of guts and the indomitable American will.
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