The companies moved with negligible opposition as far as the roadblock manned by elements of Co B, 83rd Rcn Bn, where further forward movement was halted by intense small arms fire from infantry dug in on the high ground to the right (472848) and tanks and small arms fire from the edge of the woods at (491850-496896).
Forced to withdraw by this fire, the infantry moved back on foot, and a roadblock, covered by 57 mm AT guns was set up at RJ (475864). The withdrawal was covered by the three assault guns of the reconnaissance company.
During the afternoon of 21 December the enemy infiltrated through the woods to the right, or west, and up the draw to the east of the roadblock, making its position untenable. Contact was broken with the enemy and all units of the task force fell back to Amonines, where perimeter defenses were set up. Apparently the enemy believed the withdrawal to have been greater than it was, because just before dark a Volkswagon drove through the task force outposts and into Amonines. Captured, the occupants of the Volkswagon declared they believed their own regimental CP was in Amonines.
At 212200 Dec a column of enemy vehicles moved north from Dochamps on the road, and was driven back with the loss of two tanks and nine armored cars when it ran into the southern defenses of Amonines. During the night the enemy was active with patrols in the vicinity of the village, but no further attack was made on the task force position.
Ordered to attack again the next morning at daylight, Lt Col Orr decided to use A Co, 36th AIR, as the attacking force, spearheaded by the three medium tanks left to the task force and three light tanks of the 83rd Armd Rcn Bn Co C; 36th AIR remained in Amonines as reserve, while the third platoon of Co B, 83rd Armd Rcn Bn, moved southwest from the town to provide another attacking force and to give flank protection.
At RJ (462869) the armored spearhead of the main attack, with a tank-dozer as the lead vehicle, met an enemy column of armored cars and infantry and was forced to halt. The enemy column also stopped when the tank-dozer knocked out the lead armored car with 75 mm fire. While this action was taking place, an enemy force of infantry, supported by tanks, moved on to the high, cleared ground at (471878) and stopped.
Although this was obviously an attacking force, it never moved forward from this position for unknown reasons. (Lt Col Orr said it was possible that the enemy was puzzled by his tactics in attacking that morning and was led to believe he had greater forces at his disposal.)
Meanwhile, the advancing platoon of B Co, 83rd Armd Rcn Bn sighted an enemy column of trucks and armored vehicles at RJ (445858), and this threat, plus the enemy forces to the south and east, caused the task force to withdraw again to positions at Amonines. All defensive positions were occupied by nightfall. Constant enemy pressure was exerted from the southeast, along the Dochamps road, all night 22-23 December, and 12 separate attacks were repulsed by TF Orr's defenses on that side of Amonines. The column that had been seen to the southwest by the reconnaissance platoon offered no direct threat to the positions in Amonines, however, moving north over roads to the west of the village throughout the afternoon and night of 22 December. This column succeeded in cutting the Hotton-Soy road, but was attacked and destroyed by reserve forces of CCR.
On 23 December TF Orr was informed that it was to hold its positions until relief by elements of the 75th Infantry Division. As a result, defensive positions were strengthened and dug in. There was no intense enemy action in the vicinity for three days, as the main force of the enemy attack in that direction apparently was spent.
On 27 December, guided by officers from TF Orr, the relieving elements of the 75th Division moved into positions on either side of Amonines and the task force withdrew to the 3rd Armd Div assembly area.
In order to man the defenses around Amonines adequately, Lt Col Orr was forced to use tankers of the 33rd AR dismounted as infantry, and roadblocks in the eastern and northeastern sections of the defense, at (464883) and (454891) were manned by cooks, and drivers of the infantry half tracks.
Enemy units identified during the period 19-28 December included elements of the 11th Pz Div; 12th SS Pz Div, and 560 VGR Div. Prisoners taken during the period totaled 14, while enemy dead were estimated at 150 and enemy wounded at 100. (Estimates by Maj James T. Owen, Jr., S-3 36th AIR.)
The task force suffered seven EM killed, three officers and 45 EM wounded and 12 EM missing.
Back to Phase II