As part of the German thrust towards Antwerp in the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944, the Belgian Town of St Vith became the site of a battle between the advancing German forces and the Americans who were positioned near the town. The Americans were caught off guard by the surprise German offensive, leading to the encirclement of a significant number of American troops situated on the Schnee Eifel ridge, to the east of St Vith, on 17 December. Breakout attempts proved futile and on 19 December the roughly 7,000 trapped Americans surrendered. Meanwhile, the Germans were closing in on St Vith where the Americans had formed a makeshift horseshoe-shaped defensive line around the town. The bad winter weather made logistics and tank movement difficult for both sides and hindered the effectiveness of the German panzer units in the area. A change in weather, which hardened the waterlogged ground on 23 December, facilitated an American withdrawal from the town.
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