December 18, 1944

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The 101st Airborne was generally under the command of General Maxwell Taylor but he happened to be back in the US on leave when the offensive began.  General Anthony McAuliffe, divisional artillery officer, was placed in command in Taylor’s absence.

When arrival of the paratroopers in Bastogne accelerated on December 18, the activity was mistaken by the German General Fritz Bayerlein as a counterattack build-up .  Instead of pushing into Bastogne within the crucial window of time before the 101 had fully arrived, Bayerlein held-off a raid into the village buying vital time for the Allies to regroup.

Also on the 18th, Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division (Commanded by Col William L. Roberts) set-up three roadblocks leading to Bastogne.    Team Desobry led by Major William R. Desobry took the northern route near Noville.  Team Cherry led by Lt. Col. Henry T. Cherry took the northeast entry at Longvilly.  And Team O’Hara led by Lt. Col. James O’Hara took Wardin in the east.  See Map.

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Dec. 18th

Hell of a long ride, without lights after dark,[1] say there’s lots of Jerries around here.[2]

Guess I’ll sleep now, Pattons[3] the ole man is here with me.

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Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. The ride from Mourmelon France to Belgium was about 125 miles but took approximately 14 hours over bumpy terrain in pitch dark.  Since 1939, Allied occupied territories enforced strict “blackout” policies such as covering all doors and windows with heavy curtains.  Street lights and all outside lighting was turned off or dimmed.  These regulations were an attempt to avoid aerial bombings.  Further travel delays were caused by roadblocks from fallen trees hit by explosives.
  2. “Jerries” was a derogatory name used for Germans.
  3. Individual unidentified.  Cannot refer to General George S. Patton Jr. who was commander of the Third Army, then engaged in Southern Germany.  Patton’s Third Army began making its way towards the Bulge immediately but would not arrive until December 26, 1944.

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