After the Battle of Manhay, the Americans withdrew to Grandmenil.
Colonel Richardson arrives at the first buildings of Grandmenil. From this place he can see how Manhay is illuminated by bombing and artillery shelling. The German Panthers are advancing Grandmenil. At that moment, Richardson discoveres two M10 tank destroyers from Company C of the 629th Battalion heading in his direction. Richardson immediately order them to take a defensive position, because the German Panthers approaching on the road of Manhay.
During a brief gunfight, both sides lose two tanks. Supply Troops of Task Force Kane left Grandmenil in the direction of Erezée.
The situation is hopeless for the Americans without the support of infantry. Richardson asks artillerysupport, wich is located in the Erezée area.
A few seconds later, Grandmenil is struck by an artillerybarrage with Time On Target grenades.
Franz Frausscher, Hauptscharfuehrer; 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, is in Manhay and grabs a pair of binoculars and a folder with maps out of a Sherman. He drives with panther #431 towards Grandmenil followed by several Panthers. He drives through some anti-tank barriers.
Before entering Grandmenil, the road splits into two roads (Bomal direction) and Frausscher hesitates. He remains on the main road to the village Grandmenil.When he’s approaching the crossroads Frausscher suddenly hears an explosion behind him. Tank 4 is hit by a grenade and is on fire. By the light of the fire, he sees on the right side of the road a Sherman, who has shot. The Sherman is disabled. In tank 4 four die. The radioman escapes from the burning tank. Frausscher feels trapped: he is the only tank who passed the crossroads and he cannot reverse, because the burning tank is in his way. Frausscher deviates to the left and drive into a meadow, which lies full off mines. There are already four disabled tanks with broken tracks. Here Frausscher waits a while and at one point he hears the roar of engines. From his left his vehicle on the road approaching.
He aims his tank at the crossroads, not knowing whether they’re German or American vehicles. He recognizes at the last minute, three Sherman tanks and gives the order to fire as the first tank aproaches the intersection. His gunman refuses, because he does not see the target. He finally fires but the shells miss their target and the Shermans increase their speed and districts to the left. Frausscher see the seriousness of the situation: further advance their objective (Erezée), with only a few tanks and without infantry support, is hopeless. But he is orderd t o go to Erezée. After consultation with Lieutenant Alfred Hargesheimer he found only 2 choices: back to Grandmenil and then to the west or setting up a defensive line in the forest.
Hargesheimer decided to set up a defensive line, against the meaning of Frausscher who wanted to go back to Grandmenil, because of the danger they were in. When Hargesheimer pointed out two American soldiers, he demands that they surrender. Hargesheimer was shot and injured on his shoulder. Then it was decided nevertheless to go back to Grandmenil.
After Richardson has left Grandmenil, he was on the way to Erezée when he meets soldiers of the 75 th infantry division who are on their way to Grandmenil. There they have to set up a defense line.
During their progress they’re passed by vehicles who retreat from the front. They hear the roar of cannons from the surrounding hills and hitting rockets into Grandmenil and Manhay.
Colonel Richardson tells the men that the Germans are in Grandmenil and they will clear the way. The infantry sets up an ambush Trou Loup (the Wolfgap), wich lies in the woods between Grandmenil and Briscol.
At 03.00 a German column arrives. In Front a Sherman tank is driving, loted by the Germans, with behind it eight Panthers. Because of the Sherman, the Americans get confused. (According to veteran Paul Frohmader there were thirteen tanks)
One of the German tank commander shouts an order and the Americans realize that tanks are Germans . The tanks begin shooting at the soldiers, who tried to creep away in the trenches and foxholes. A soldier, Richard F. Wiegand, fires his bazooka and shoots the front Panther who is disabled. A short battle follows, with many casualties, including Richard F. Wiegand. The German column can not pull up and the Germans withdraw to Grandmenil. (For the complete story: Trou de Loup)
On the 24th of december it becomes very clear, that the U.S. 7th army corps, with the 75 th division, suffers because of the German attack. There are indications that the Germans have sent all their troops to the Grandmenil-sector Manhay and trying to find a breakthrough. If the Germans succeed, the 2nd SS corps by panther can poke at Liege, Marche en Famenne and Namur.
The 75th corps is attached to the 517th Airborne Corps, and ordered to set up a defensive line with Combat Command A in the east of Grandmenil.
The 289th Regimental Combat team is on this day attached to the 3rd Armored Division. At 13.30 they were ordered to take Briscol and left Palenge on foot and with engines. Between Petit Han and Barvaux they were joined with vehicles of the 3rd Armored Division.
It is already dark when the last troops of the combat team arrived in Fanzel.
On December 24, the 75th infantry division arrives at the battlefield of Grandmenil.
In the afternoon tanks arrive. The tanks are part of TF McGeorge of the 1st battalion, 33th regiment of armored vehicles, combat command B. This group was resting near Spa, after fighting in the La Gleize region.
On December 25 the tanks arrive at 10.00 hours in Barvaux and then go towards Grandmenil.
The group contains: Company D and F, 36th Infantry Regiment, Company A, 33th regiment of tanks stuart, Company F and I sherman tanks 33th Regiment, 2nd Platoon D Company 23th Battalion engineers.
The 3rd batalion occupies an orchard on the corner of the village. It is a clear, cold night with bright moon and it takes not long before it starts to freeze.
Colonel Douglas B. Smith, commanding officer 289th combat team, receives at 20.00 hours his mission from Combat Command A, which is located in Heyd.
The 289th combat team, is ordered to set up a front of 10,000 yards seize, running from the South to the west from Grandmenil to Erezée.