The roadblock up at the Crossroads was being badly mauled and Col. Richardson sent me up there to see what the situation was. When I got up there in the late afternoon I found that the Crossroads had been completely wiped out. A few of the men were trying to hold the line. One of them was Lt. Robert Bryan of I Company, 32nd. I talked with him and he told me He had lost all five of his tanks when the Crossroad was overrun. He made it through the war and now lives in Huston, TX. When I called Lt. Col. Richardson and told him that the Crossroads had been overrun, He called A Company of the 509 Paratroop Regiment that had been attached to the 3 AD, and also the remainder of tanks of H Company, third Battalion, 32nd Reg., Which was six M-4 Shamans. When I got back to Manhay Lt. Col. Richardson had Assembled them and told us our orders were to retake the Crossroads.
We moved out of the Manhay area shortly after dark, and by the way the sunset in December at Manhay just after 4:00 PM. After arriving at the Belle Haie crossroads our lead tank got hit by enemy fire. After proving I decided we could not advance and got permission from Richardson to set up a defensive position in the vicinity of Belle Haie. We had no problems the rest of the night of the 23rd, but early in the morning of the 24th. The Germans made a prove to come through our position. We had what was considered the poorest location in the world for an Armored unit. We were just about on the bottom of a steep hill, but with a cut in the road and the forest on each side, the enemy was channeled down the road, and we were able to stop any advance they tried to make. That morning I did get one Air Force strike of P47s over the Crossroads area, and apparently they did quite a bit of damage.
In the afternoon of the 24th, I was sent a company of men from the 289th. Infantry Regiment of the 75th. Infantry Division. The Company Commander brought his Company up and after I briefed him and gave him orders, He assured me he took no prisoners. He took off across open field that was white as snow. They never made it to the line of departure. I found out later; that was their first day in combat and had never heard a gun fired in anger. If I had known at the time, that the Company had not seen combat, I would have given them more instruction and leader ship.
The instructions had been coming through out the day we were going to be relived and change of orders to withdraw from our roadblock later on in the day of the 24th. Later on in the evening I got orders that there had been some change in orders and I was to hold the roadblock at Belle Haie until further notice. Later I got a report that we would hold at all cost. Sometime after midnight I got orders to get out if you can, but don't come straight back to Manhay, try going to Malempre, which I did. Several people have written up and including myself that I did not make it to Malempre but chose to come out on foot with the Colonel's permission. I went out on foot and got all the troops out of there and ended up in Bra early Christmas morning of the 25th. I made contact with the Regimental Task Force of the 82nd. Airborne Division there.
It might be noted I went up to the crossroads under the 18th. Airborne Core and while I was there, reversed back to the Seventh Core, and when I pulled out on the night of the 24th. my unit was part of the Seventh Core but the area that I was defending was that of the 18th core. A big fiasco took place and the Seventh Armored Division was supposed to set up a defensive position North of my position on hill 570, between my position and Manhay, and I was to pull back through them. General Montgomery came up into the area that day and decided to straighten the line. He pulled the 504th. Regiment of the 82nd. Division and part of the Ninth Armored Division that was in Malempre and elements of the Seventh Armored Division was to the rear and North of my position back to the North of Manhay to set up a new defensive position. All of this was unkowned to me and my orders were to hold until further orders. I had reported about dark that the enemy had bypassed me on my right flank to the town of Odeine and was crossing the crossroads ¾ mile to my rear but I had nothing to protect that crossroad. History will show that the 2nd. SS Panzer Division that I had been holding up with my small Task Force over 24 hours had gotten to my rear and moved into the Manhay area while the seventh and ninth Armored Divisions and the 82nd. Airborne Division was reorganizing a new defensive line and history will show that it was nothing but chaos and confusion took place in the Manhay and Grandenmier area that night of the 24th. and the morning of the 25th.
I got safely back to the Bra Area and got transportation to move back to our Division boundary late in the evening of the 25th. I got transportation to pick up the troops and then I reported to Division Headquarters.