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were corrected by photo interpretation, for the terrain, admirably suited for delaying action, was
as much of an obstacle is the enemy. [Page 5]
Consisting of many steep and unrelated hill masses rising in some instances to 2000 feet and
covered with large dense evergreen forests, the country was made more difficult by ice and deep
snow.  Movement was canalized largely to roads and observation and fields of fire were poor
short of the East-West line through BASTOGNE.
The Division sector was further complicated by the presence on its own right flank of
dominating ground Northeast of the WILTZ RIVER, where most of the enemy artillery was
concentrated and from where he could place fire on the Division as it assaulted directly along the
WILTZ-BASTOGNE ridge road.  Of the principal roads, the enemy had fought hard to keep
open this most direct route to Germany.
Confronting the Division was a well-equipped enemy with better than average training and a
fairly high state of morale.  Successive defense lines were dug-in foxholes along high ground and
in the dense forests.  Most of the troops were armed with automatic weapons.  Mobile reserves
including SS Panzer Units were available.
In some ways more formidable than the enemy was the weather.  The temperature hung only a
few degrees above zero and frostbite and trenchfoot were paramount concerns of commanders. 
For several days it had snowed without letup and the white barrier piled in deep drifts, blocking
roads and making rapid cross-country movement out of the question.  Impossible, too, was
concealment for the infantry with their dark clothes silhouetted against the clean white
landscape.  How to get armor forward on the icy routes and up the steep slopes posed another
problem.  And a last disconcerting item was the gray and forbidding sky, harboring more snow,
which precluded the use of CUB observation planes, still grounded near THIONVILLE.
Now H-Hour approached and after a night of disturbed, half-frozen sleep, the Infantry stirred
numb bodies into welcome action.  No artillery preparation was fired as the Division struck.
9 January 1945
357th Infantry:
Attacked at 0950 with two Battalions abreast, Companies F, E and A in assault from left to right. 
Initial resistance was light as the surprised enemy was overrun by what PWs later stated was
thought to be a strong patrol action.  South of BERLE the enemy in Prepared [Page 6] positions
stiffened his resistance.  Following a 10 minute artillery preparation by 343rd, 344th and 345th
FA Battalions, Company A assaulted across the open ground from the South while a task force
composed of one platoon Company E, one platoon tanks and one platoon TDs flanked from the
direction of BAVIGNE.  Company B supported by fire.  By dark BERLE and 80 PWs were
captured including the Battalion CP of 929th Bicycle Battalion.
359th Infantry: