Desperately In Need Of Fan Belts As Well As Ammuntion And Gas. Richardson
Radioed For An Airdrop. No Aircraft Availableí Was The Laconic Reply. A Few
Minutes Later Came Even Worse News. The Germans
Had Launched A Surprise Attack Forty Miles To His Rear And He Might
Be Cut Off.
Now Richardson Could Only Dig In And Hope The Germans Lying In Wait Out Front Would Not Attack. They Were Just As Leery Of Him And Did Nothing. But At Dusk Richardson Was Presented With Another Problem: "Big Six" General Maurice Rose, The 3rd.Armored Division Commander Was Coming Up To Inspect Task Force Richardson And Wanted Someone To Meet Him. Richardson Radioed Back That He Couldnít Even Spare A Jeep. Donít Send Big Six This Way!" He Warned And Abruptly Signed Off.
Rose Was About Five Miles To Richardsonís Right, Temporarily Attached To Task Force Welborn. Colonel John Welborn Had Just Been Informed By The Air Force That Four Tiger Tanks Ahead Had Been Destroyed By P-47s, And He Moved On Confidently. Nothing Happened For A Few Miles but As The Americans Were Rolling Along A Barren Rise, Heavy And Accurate 88mm Fire Suddenly Hit The Column Head On .The Four "Destroyed" Tigerís Were Very Much Alive. They Had Been Hit Only By Napalm And Not The Usual Killers-500-Pounders.Welborn And The First Three Tanks Rumbled Safely Ahead Into A Defilade Of A Creek Bottom, but The Next Seven Were Rapidly Picked Off Like Sitting Ducks.
General Rose, The Son Of A Rabbi. Was An Aggressive Commander. He Had A Stern, Hansome Face And Wore Riding Breeches And Shining Boots. He Was A Half Mile Behind The Burning Tanks, And After Learning That The First Three Had Successfully Broken Through, He Radioed For Help From Task Force Doan, Which was Following.
But Seven Or Eight Tigers Had Just Come Out Of The Southeast, Cutting ting Off The Rear Of Task Force Welborn And Blocking Doanís Advance. This New German Force Had Already Knocked Out A Tank Destroyer And Several Personnel Carriers. Except For The First Three Tanks. Task Force Welborn Was Now Completely Surrounded. Ahead Were Four Tigers Visible On A Hill Astride The Road; Behind Were Seven More, Firing And. Slowly Moving Up The Column; And On Either Side German Infantry Men Were Hiding In The Woods.
At Dusk, After The Last p-47s Had Departed, A Group Of Nine Tigers, Three Abreast And Three Deep, Suddenly Poked Out Of The Woods To The Left And Ahead Of The Cut-Off Column, and Slowly Moved Down The Road, Raking All The Vehicles And Machine-Gunning The Ditches, Rose And His Party Were Trapped, With Tigers Front And Rear Systematically Destroying Everything In Sight. The Only Light Now Was From A Burning American Vehicle. No Move Was Good, However There Was No Choice But To Move. It Was" A Wild Scene From Danteís Inferno," Though I Colonel Frederic Brown, The Division Artillery Commander. He Advised Rose To Cut Through The Woods On The Left In Spite Of Small Arms Fire, In Order To Get Around The Tanks Blocking The Rear. But Rose Pointed Out That There Was No Tank Fire Ahead Where Welborn Had Turned-The Four Tigerís Ahead Must Have Withdrawn. Therefore, It Was Safer, He Argued, To Go Right Out Of The Light Of The Burning Column and Then Forward To Join Welborn."
So The Generalís Party-Two Jeeps And An Armored Car Followed By A Messenger On A Motorcycle-Swung Out Of Line Of The Blazing Tanks Ad Headed Towards Welborn. After A Mile They Came To A Junction. Up A Road To The Right They Could See The Dim Outlines Of One Of His Tanks. The Rose Column Turned Off The Main Road-Which Led To Task Force
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