PARIS -- Halted on the northern flank by counterattacking American doughboys, the Germans have struck across the entire width of Northern Luxembourg and rammed two strong spearheads 30 miles into the U.S. lines in Southeastern Belgium to encircle the road junction of Bastogne, moving within 37 miles of historic Sedan.
Tonight, Allied Supreme Headquarters reports covering the situation through late Wednesday, revealed that the Nazis had gained nine to 20 miles from their last reported positions on the central sector of the 60-mile breakthrough front.
Front dispatches covering Friday's fighting said the Nazi northern wing had been halted after a maximum penetration of 40 miles into Belgium below Liege.
Advance is slowed
The situation on the central sector was described as "critical" by a First Army spokesman, although Berlin and several divisions of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army, swimming up from the Saar basin front, had slowed down the German advances in that area.
The Nazi southern prongs were contained in the Echternach area, 18 miles northeast of Luxembourg City, after a gallant American regiment turned back an attack by a full German division after 48 hours of fighting which began Saturday morning. The city, however, was outflanked to the north.
A First Army officer said the biggest battle of the war, precipitating "the greatest slaughter man has ever known," would be necessary to halt the German drive.
Heavy snow, deep mud and swollen rivers were hampering the German advance. It was said at SHAEF, that Allied ability to control the situation was better than at any time since German Field Marshal Karl Gerd von Rundstedt sent his armies on the attack last Saturday.
Nazis swing attack
Dispatches said that Rundstedt stopped in the north at a point 20 miles short of the Meuse River, had swung the main weight of his drive into the central sector.
Overrunning most of Northern Luxembourg, the Germans broke across the border from the encircled town of Wiltz to fling a siege arc around Bastogne, on the Liege-Arion Road, previously cut 27 miles to the north at Werbomont.
Another spearhead, gaining 20 miles from previous reports, went over the Ourthe River and entered the town of La Roche, 13 miles northwest of Bastogne, in the Germans' farthest westward penetration of the week-old drive. La Roche is 30 miles south of Liege.
The Germans, it was disclosed, drove on beyond both La Roche and Bastogne. The direction of their advance was not revealed. At La Roche the enemy was within 11 miles east of Marche, an important four-way junction on the Liege-Sedan and Bastogne-Brussels supply roads. Beyond Bastogne, the Germans were 37 miles northeast of the Sedan Gap through which they drove in the 1940 break-through into France.
Gain of 10 miles
SHAEF gave no report on the Nazi column which reached the Liege-Arion road at Werbomont, 14 miles south of Liege, on Tuesday, but dispatches indicated that force had moved 10 miles westward before being halted by the counterattacking Americans.
Along that northern break-through tip the Americans were revealed to have retaken Malmedy after losing it and a dispatch said one veteran American infantry division already had retaken some lost territory in the north. The Americans also continued to hold stubbornly contested St. With, at the southeastern corner of the base of the Nazi salient, but the Germans were both west and northwest of it, seeking soft spots in the strengthened U.S. lines.
Headquarters reported that between noon Tuesday and noon Wednesday a heavy concentration of enemy armor was observed in the general area around Malmedy as well as around Monschau, at the northern end of the lines in Germany.
Bad weather continued to curtail air activity and dispatches predicted that when the week-long fog lifts Allied warplanes would unleash one of the biggest drives of the war.
Berlin, reporting that Patton's forces had slowed the Nazi advance, said, "the Americans succeeded in slowing down the German drive but they were unable to cut across the direction of the German push."
The enemy claimed that Patton's men, in moving up to the Belgian-Luxembourg sector, had abandoned all their bridgeheads across the Saar River except one opposite Saarlautern. The Nazis claimed that the Germans already had annihilated or "decimated beyond value" at least even American divisions.
Claim 25,000 prisoners
The Nazis claimed the number of Allied prisoners taken had soared to 25,000 and that the number of killed and wounded was "many times higher."
Despite rain and fog, American fighter-bombers flew 112 sorties over the southern sector while British medium bombers hit an unspecified communications center behind the enemy lines.
Days-old headquarters reports said the Americans had recaptured the town of Stavelot, on the northern edge of the Germans' right wing, and that severe fighting was in progress for Malmedy to the northeast. Those towns form the chief Allied anchor points protecting Liege.
A heavily-censored dispatch from Jack Fletcher, United Press correspondent with the First Army, said a "smashing German attack drove an American armor back in the center of the salient but a strong Yank force was still battling the panzers in the area."
Tanks, tank destroyers, artillery and bazooks knocked out 55 German tanks in a battle southwest of St. Vith and northwest of Vlanden on Thursday.