Extract from an article written by Gary Schreckengost and originally appeared in the January 2001 issue of "World War II."
After its bloodletting in the Hürtgen, the 28th Division was
sent to the Ardennes, which Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower
considered to be a quiet area where new divisions could receive experience and
battle-weary units could rest. There, what was left of the division began to
take in thousands of new recruits to replace the casualties lost during the
summer and fall campaigns. But although the Ardennes was considered a quiet
sector, the men still held positions on the front line. The 28th’s portion of
the front was a 25-mile-long sector that was more than three times the area an
infantry division was normally expected to defend. The 110th was assigned the
vulnerable center section of the line. To make the task even more challenging,
the regiment held this portion of the front with only two of its three
battalions, the 1st and 3rd. The regiment’s remaining battalion, the 2nd, was
held behind the lines at Donnange and Wiltz, where it served as the division’s
only infantry reserve.
Totally cut off, overwhelmed and out of ammunition, the
defenders of Clervaux now tried to escape from the battle area using the wooded
draws around the town for cover. Fuller was forced to leave his second-story
command post when a German tank began pumping artillery rounds into the first
floor. There was no formal order of retreat. Fuller, what was left of his staff,
and some wounded riflemen went out a back window of the hotel and climbed a cold
steel ladder up the face of the windblown cliff that overlooked Clervaux. As
they were exiting the building, they could hear the thud of German jackboots on
the floor below.
"As the Shermans advanced through Clervaux, Sergeant Frank Kushnir exacted some revenge from the Germans who were now firing point-blank into American positions. Armed with a bolt-action M1903 Springfield sniper rifle in a tower of the chateau, Kushnir took the opportunity to kill a few careless Germans who were’smoking and joking’ outside their armored vehicles instead of safely inside with the hatches shut."
Although the manpower was badly needed elsewhere, Lauchert was forced to leave an entire battalion behind to mop up opposition at the chateau. By the afternoon of December 18, totally out of ammunition and with the chateau burning and crumbling around them, the gallant defenders of ‘Fort Clervaux’ finally surrendered.
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