This book has been compiled from official and unofficial sources to afford men who have been in combat with the 393rd Infantry a review of the Regiment’s action in the European Theater of Operations. With emphasis placed on the unit rather than individual action, the book has omitted stories of personal heroism. Names of men in pictures have been purposely omitted. To each man. who fought with the 393rd Infantry belongs credit for the hard-fought battle. To him belongs also the privilege of relating his deeds. Some five thousand men participated with the regiment in combat – to each this book is the background of his own fight. Effort has been made to show action of every section that comprises an infantry regiment in combat. A sincere endeavor was made to encompass all who played a part in building a fighting team. If you are able to recall some of the joy and hell you experienced with the regiment, the 393rd Infantry in Review is a success.
Ernest W. Fritz
United States Army – 1945
On the fateful day of December 7, 1941, the 99th Infantry Division was a Reserve Unit, a paper division. It has never been called into active service, but with lightning speed plans were made for activation. A tar-paper camp in Mississippi was planned and designated as its post. Maj Gen Thompson Lawrence was assigned as Commanding General. The vast machinery was begun to form a fighting team of 15.000 men. Gen Lawrence said in his activation day speech : The history of the 99th Infantry Division will be written by you. The greatest responsibility of your life is the preparation and the fight of this division against the enemy’.
The 393rd Infantry Regiment was activated as part of the 99th Infantry Division on November 15 1942 at Camp Van Dorn, near Centerville, Mississippi, under the command of Col William B. Yancey. The Executive Officer was Lt Col L. W. Meinzen. The Officer cadre was formed from Regular Army, Reserve Corps, and graduates from the Fort Benning Officer Candidate School; the Enlisted cadre came from the 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division. Arriving in late November and December 1942, most recruits came through reception centers in New Cumberland, Penn; Fort Meade, Md; and Camp Perry, Ohio. A few came from Southern States. Thirteen weeks of basic training began on January 4 and was followed by a cycle of furloughs in the Spring and Summer while the Regiment engaged in unit training and several two and three day field problems. The second week in August began D Series Maneuvers on the Van Dorn Reservation followed by large scale maneuvers beginning the first week in September and lasting through November 16. The 99th Division participated in the Louisiana war games with three other Divisions : the 84th Infantry Division, the 102nd Infantry Division, and the 103rd Infantry Division in the unpopulated areas between Alexandria and the Texas border. After the final problem, a river crossing on the Sabine, the Regiment moved by motor and train to Camp Maxey, Paris, Texas, on the November 18 and November 19.
Several hundred men left the Regiment while on maneuvers to join the 85th Infantry Division and the 88th Infantry Division scheduled for early shipment overseas. At Maxey, small unit training became greatly intensified with courses, problems, and tests conducted over carefully chosen terrain for squads and platoons and their leaders. In March began a concentrated effort to get each man POM (Preparation for Overseas Movement) qualified. Individual and crew-served weapon firing for qualification and familiarization was a requisite of the program as well as Special Battle Courses : Infiltration Course, Close Combat Course, and Village Fighting. Meanwhile the Regiment was losing large quotas of men to join other units for shipment overseas and in March and April large numbers of reinforcements from Army Specialized Training Program arrived. The Regiment won the EI Streamer in July when more than 60 % of the unit had passed successfully the required test for Expert Infantrymen, and in July Lt Col Jean D. Scott assumed command of the Regiment. Regimental field problems were held in southern Oklahoma hills the last two weeks in July. The month of August found the Regiment receiving additional men from training units to bring the unit up to T/0 strength, busy packing and crating equipment and impedimenta for movement to an unknown staging area and thence into combat.
At 0130 on September 10 1944, the 393rd Infantry Regiment began movement from Camp Maxey, Texas to staging area at Camp Miles Standish, Mass. Eight trains going over three main routes carried troops and TAT Equipment, the last train leaving at 1600 on September 11.
Each man passed the IG Inspection, received several shots in the arm. Letters were censored for the first time. Passes to Boston and other towns in a 50 mile radius were issued. Many men made their last long distance call home. Then,things were going pretty fast for the regiment. Loading at Boston, Ship Chow, Double Time, Ships Drill, at Long Last and finally we were boarding trains in England. On October 10 and 11, we arrived in camps that had not been occupied since D Day. With mattress covers and straw-made pads for cots everyone set up living quarters. Of course it was raining. It was England. Training was resumed with intensity and conditioning marches were the order of the day, rain or shine. Toward the end of the month of October, Battalions made a three day bivouac in areas about 10 kilometers from camp.
On November 2 the Regiment began movement by truck and railroad to Southern English Ports, boarded LST’s on November 3 after spending the night in Camp C-13, a British Checking Station, and landed at Le Havre, France one day later. Motor movement was begun immediately across France with elements of the Regiment bivouacking on the night of November 4-5 in the vicinity of Rouvay, France. On November 5, at 1900, the Regiment continued the move by truck convoy to an assembly area in Saint-Jean-Sart, in the vicinity of Aubel, Belgium. Forward elements began arriving there on the evening of November 6 and other elements arrived throughout the following two days. At Aubel, most men heard and saw their first buzz bomb (V-1) go overhead. The weather was cold, and the snow began. We were reminded of news reel pictures of the Finnish Front. But everyone was confident, the greatest thing of our lives was before us. Weeks and months of arduous training were to be put to the test. We had passed all the maneuvers. Now it was the real thing. There was excitement, unrest, tension. The 393rd Infantry Regiment was entering combat.
Movement from Aubel was made on November 10. Front line positions about three and one-half miles East of Krinkelt – Rocherath, Belgium covered approximately 8,000 yards along the International Highway between Belgium and Germany. We took the road and passed thought Battice, Petit-Rechain, Verviers, Mangombroux, Jehanster, Polleur, Tiège, Sart-Lez Spa, Cockaifagne, Francorchamps, Malmedy, Baugnez, Waimes, Witzfeld, Butgenbach, Weywertz, Krinkelt, and finally Rocherath just alongside the International Highway, the actual German Bundestrasse 265 (B-265) Schleiden to Losheimergraben and Lanzerath. Relief of the 39th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division on these positions was completed on the morning of November 11 and original assignments to sectors put the 3rd Battalion on the left (North) and the 2nd Battalion was initially in Regimental Reserve. However, many shifts in relief occurred through the following weeks. Between November 13 and December 11, A Company was attached to the 395th Infantry Regiment. Service and Headquarters Companies were in Krinkelt and Anti-tank platoons were attached to Battalions while AT Company headquarters was also in Krinkelt. Cannon Company established positions just northeast of the town behind the reserve Battalion area. The Germans on the east side of the International Highway were established in concrete pillboxes surrounded by dragon’s teeth, tank traps, huge iron road-gates, wire entanglements and anti-personnel mine fields. Despite this elaborate defensive set-up, our patrols went daily into hostile territory and often they returned with prisoners identifying the enemy units as elements of the 277.-Volksgrenadier-Division.
99-ID – Initial Positions – 393-IR, 394-IR, 395-IR
CP Dakota : Command Post established by Capt R. M. Holman at the Southern end of Krinkelt and operated from November 10 to December 18, 1944.
The Dead Horse : Movie theater where three showings daily provided recreation for troops rotating to Krinkelt on 24 hour passes. Name ‘Dead-Horse’ theater commemorates an unfortunate work horse which was mistaken by a night sentry for an enemy patrol and killed.
The Church in Krinkelt is a towering terrain feature of the vicinity. In the evening of December 17 1944 the Germans sneaked a tank through our forward elements and set up in front of the church, built a huge bonfire and harassed troop movements through the night and the following day. Snipers and burp gunners fired from windows.
Several casualties resulted from patrols worming their way through enemy mine fields and some from German Artillery. The most threatening menace during November was the weather since cold rains and slushy snows kept the entire area a sea of mud. Trench foot and exposure caused many evacuations and foot inspections became a necessary part of the routine. After a few weeks, arctics arrived and casualties from such causes decreased. Troops contrived various means of keeping dry and warm. Some platoons built underground huts just in back of the lines where men rotated to dry off.
Buzz Bomb Lands in Rocherath
V-1 Robot Bombs, reportedly headed for Liège, were a familiar sound flying overhead through the days and nights at Krinkelt (the frequency was increased later at Elsenborn, however) making targets for AA Units in the vicinity. Some were shot down over our sector and one landed in Rocherath demolishing several buildings in the vicinity and making a crater twelve feet deep. A few days later a crippled Mosquito Bomber returning from a raid over Germany crashed into a house setting it afire and causing one death – other men were severely burned. The pilots had bailed out and one of them alighted in the 370th Field Artillery area.
The Attack Began
The Regiment’s first offensive began on December 13 and was an attack to the north and east coordinated with a push by the 2nd Infantry Division on the north of the 395-IR to seize the town of Hellenthal in Germany and so cause a crumbling of the Siegfried Line to the south. The 2/393 was placed under Division control and moved to a forward assembly area between the 395-IR and our 3rd Bn at H hour (0800) December 13. The 1st Plat of E Co led the attack to secure objective (A) in their zone. The 3rd Bn attacked to the north to secure Rath Hill, and the 1st Bn staged a feint attack to the east. The advance of the 2nd Bn through deep snow and rough terrain and against stiff resistance from strongly defended pillboxes continued for two days. Supply and medical evacuation were difficult, and they taxed the efforts of Maj Cole and Maj Morgan and their staffs to the utmost. The work of WOJG Hervey in getting supplies was cited by the Regimental Commander.
Higher headquarters praised the work of Col Peters and his battalion. The offensive action was progressing better than expected. Although there were a number of casualties, everyone was optimistic. The Krauts could not hold out much longer. Several companies organized pools for V-E Day. There was a feeling of something big in the air. The attack was interrupted by the Great German offensive in the Ardennes in the early morning of December 16, 1944.
At 0530, on December 16 1944, this once regarded static front became an inferno of bursting shells of every conceivable type and caliber. The Krauts plastered our entire Regimental area with a gigantic barrage that lasted for two hours. And at 0730, while it was still dark, hordes of infantry charged our positions screaming and yelling like madmen as flares and huge searchlights hunted out targets for them. The main thrusts struck at the boundary between the 1st and 3rd Bns and hit the southern Regimental flank. The Great German counter-offensive that turned into the Battle of the Bulge, was on. Dakota Doughs scrambled out of their sacks to pour lead and mortar shells into the charging columns but despite the heavy toll they took, great and overwhelming numbers infiltrated through the positions. C Co on the extreme south fought desperately but by 1000 two platoons were reported overrun and the third resisting but unable to hold much longer. The same condition existed in B Co’s area, next company to the north, and in K Co’s which was north of B Co. In a matter of a few hours three companies had been badly cut up by the surprise attack, and there was little reserve to send to their aid.
2/393-IR, the normal Regimental Reserve, was engaging the enemy in the north where they had three days before begun an offensive. A Co was sent to assist B Co and the Mine Platoon of the AT Co rushed to the scene of C Co. I and L Companies regrouped to form a 3rd Bn reserve and perimeter defense of the Bn CP and I Co of the 394-IR rushed to the scene of K Co. Thus the lines were partially restored. Then the Germans threw in more reserves in a smashing attack. Columns of armor started assaulting our positions. Aid stations were already over-flowing with wounded, communications began to fail because enemy artillery had knocked out our vehicles, cut our telephone lines, and damaged our radios. Battalion ammunition piles began to dwindle and treacherous artillery on supply routes made re-supply almost impossible, some ammo trucks got through but at least one jeep loaded with mortar shells is known to have received a direct hit and disappeared. Evacuation of wounded over the shelled roads was possible only because ambulance drivers disregarded the great danger. The 3rd Bn Aid Station was crowded with casualties and with no means to evacuate them, the Battalion Surgeon and his section elected to remain with their wounded when the unit withdrew. The Germans were pounding our defenses relentlessly and despite the terrific artillery barrages laid against them by Cannon Co and the 370th Field Artillery Battalion they kept coming, crawling over their own dead, large combat patrols roving the rear areas. Cooks, clerks, drivers, and mechanics picked up cold rifles and crawled in foxholes to engage the enemy in close combat. The Krauts kept coming. We captured a few prisoners and interrogation revealed that this was an all out offensive, that they will be in Paris by Christmas and that the Americans and English will be driven from the mainland by New Years because nothing will stop us now.
The 394-IR captured Von Runstedt’s order which verified the magnitude of the offensive. At 1500, Dec 16, the 3/23-IR (2-ID) was sent to our assistance. They dug in positions about 2,000 meters east of Krinkelt where the I and R had been holding off huge combat patrols that had infiltrated our forward elements. The two battalions were cut off from communications except for radios of the artillery and Cannon Company’s forward observers, who were calling for artillery concentrations less than 50 yards from their own locations. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were completely surrounded and the 1st had been reduced to a handful of men resisting desperately to protect their CP from capture. The 3rd fought its way through to the rear and established positions on the left of the 3/23-IR (2-ID). Patrols harassed preparations all through the night of Dec 16/17, and the following morning the attack was resumed with greater intensity. Around the clock the men had fought off one attack after another, patrols of 50 and more continued to infiltrate and harass troops in the rear. All through the day the attacks were repulsed, then great columns of armor, crawling with shouting infantry, charged the positions. They were met by Bazooka teams, Tank Destroyers, and artillery and only one of them got through. It pulled into the town of Krinkelt, built a bonfire in front of the church and fired into houses and down the streets. The 2nd Bn moved down to take up positions on the north of the 3d Bn. The new Main Line of Resistance just east of Krinkelt held and early Monday, December 18, orders were received for the 393-IR to pull back to Elsenborn and regroup.
Having fought gallantly and stubbornly since 0530 on Dec 16, the worn-out doughs, dragging whatever equipment was handy, which was for most only a rifle, began withdrawal on the morning of the Dec 18, through or around Krinkelt, back to Wirtzfeld. The motors followed the good road back to Elsenborn and all troops assembled in large open fields and then walked over the muddy trails, past batteries of artillery pouring steel into advancing German columns as fast as shells could be shoved in the breech. The 1st Battalion had still not regained contact and was given up as lost but what was left of it found and fought its way back to Elsenborn arriving there about midnight, and the guys, tired, exhausted, hungry, began digging in for the defense of the Elsenborn Sector.
The Hot Shoulder at Elsenborn
Elements of the 2nd Infantry Division withdrew through our feverishly prepared dug-in positions around Elsenborn on the night of December 19. At the time the 3/393-IR with I Co 394-IR attached was on the right and two companies of the 324th Engineers Combat Battalion on the left. On the morning of December 20, the Krauts attacked with infantry and armor but were repulsed by artillery and small arms. Again at 1700 that evening they sent several tanks loaded with infantry smashing into our positions. The tanks ran over some foxholes in the L Co’s sector and played havoc for a short while but were finally repulsed with very heavy losses in personnel and deserting six self-propelled guns in the draw in front of our positions, later destroyed by our patrols. Another attempt on December 21 was likewise stalemated. Then on the 28, they made a desperate attempt to break up our defenses when they sent strong columns of infantry and armor in an assault. Massed artillery was fired into the enemy and after a skirmish, he turned and fled. Enemy artillery was heavy and several casualties were exacted, communications were difficult to keep in operation because shrapnel cut wires and damaged radios. Air bursts made covered foxholes essential. Patrolling was aggressive with a patrol leaving as soon as one returned with some captured prisoners, others noted enemy installations and called artillery on them. In conjunction with a VII Corps drive on our south a reinforced platoon from E Co made up a combat patrol which staged a demonstration, advanced 2000 yards to the east against strong resistance and returned to our lines.
The Monschau Forest Drive
On January 30, at 0300 the S2nd Battalion jumped off with E Co in the lead, advanced through waist deep snow and bitter winds over the open fields and attacked the point of the woods just before daylight. The Germans resisted with heavy small arms, machine gun, mortar and artillery fire from their sheltered positions. Easy Company’s advance was halted and F Co moved in to assist. Despite heavy artillery concentrations poured into the German positions, entrance to woods was continually denied them by the enemy who possessed wide fields of fire and excellent observation of the 2nd Battalion in open terrain. The deep snow made maneuvering practically impossible and the battle continued through the whole day. The 3rd Battalion was committed that evening, taking up positions in the opposite side of the woods. A coordinated attack was staged with the 2nd Battalion at 0200 in the morning when both battalions entered the woods and cleared this strong point of enemy. The 1st Battalion went to relieve the 2nd and the advance continued northward, as the enemy fled back to the Siegfried Line. Many mined and booby trapped areas were encountered in the long push through the dense woods to the cross roads seven kilometers north.
Here the leading battalions were pinched out of the drive by the 2nd Infantry Division and the 394th Infantry Regiment. Then on February 1, movement on foot was begun back to original positions. The exhausted troops walked over the snow choked fields and drifted trails (broken line) too numb to be glad to be living-tired, cold, exhausted and hungry, they streamed back through Elsenborn, back to their foxholes to sleep … and for the first time in 84 days the regiment was not in contact with the enemy. On February 4 and 5, after two days policing up the scene of the attack in the woods, the regiment moved to positions about two kilometers east of former positions, relieving the 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division. The 2nd Battalion relieved elements of the 82nd Airborne Division.
The enemy still held pillboxes in the 2nd Battalion Sector and plans were made to seize them. G Co staged an attack at 1550 on February 7 using one rifle platoon supported by artillery and three-inch TD guns. After a sharp encounter the men were able to get within 50 yards of the fort but concentrated artillery fire and supporting fires from nearby pillboxes forced the platoon to withdraw. On February 10, F Co staged a surprise attack at 0630 using hand grenades, flame-throwers, and satchel charges. Pillbox Number 1 fell at 0800. G Co launched an attack on Pillbox Number 2 on February 11, with a rifle platoon reinforced with bazooka teams, satchel charges, flame-throwers and at 1430 the pillbox and occupants, 33 EM and 2 Officers, surrendered. A rifle platoon of I Co staged a similar attack on the remaining pillbox at 0645, February 12 and in 15 minutes the 28 EM and 2 Officers were headed for the PW cage and our troops took up positions in the fort. Patrolling during these seven days was very active. On dark nights our patrols penetrated German positions as far as three kilometers to reconnoiter and harass enemy positions in Ramscheid, Giescheid, and Kamberg tossing hand grenades and firing into houses occupied by enemy troops.
(Source Photo : www.ahrdorf.de)
After being relieved on positions in the Siegfried Line by the 273rd Infantry Regiment of 69th Infantry Division on February 12, the 393-IR pulled back to a concentration area in the vicinity of Born, Belgium. While waiting for assignment to a rest area the battalions furnished details of 500 men to help engineers repair the badly damaged roads and highways that had been torn by shell fire and aerial bombing during the Battle of the Bulge. For the first time since entry into combat we could have open fires. What morale builders they were, too. The ground was damp, but the weather was fair. Clothes were dried out. All troops were paid for the month of January. A few small games in every company … a few sent money home. This was the life … meeting and knowing the men of another platoon. Inspections started … Col Pete spruced up his rat-top battalion … Capt Mucha was shining up those guns after three months of brilliant firing … Capt Maertens has his AT Company in good shape … and Maj Cole was not only looking after his own detachment but the welfare of the entire regiment. Everyone felt better. The worst was certainly over. We had taken a terrible beating, but we had come back, and in every sense of the word, we had changed from Battle Babies to Combat Veterans.
On February 19, the regiment began movement by motor and on foot from Born to Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. The first ten miles of the journey the troops marched because roads were impassable to heavy vehicles. This was a rugged march over muddy, crater-holed roads. Entrucking at Malmedy, the doughs rode the remainder of the trip, going through Verviers. In a concentration area around Henri-Chapelle, the troops were bivouacked and billeted in buildings. Passes were issued to some lucky ones who visited Brussels, Verviers, Jayhawk (VII Corps) Rest Camp, and Paris. Engineer shower units were located in nearby towns where clean clothing was issued. GI’s had a rest and some recreation and a Command Inspection on February 27 was held. It seemed almost impossible that it was only three short months ago that the 393-IR bivouacekd here. Hardly the same outfit. The outstanding Platoon and First Sergeants were now Lieutenants … Henderson, Orlando, Harbeck, Keyser, Finer, Juhl, Sergeant, Lowry, Romero were a few. There were new faces in every company. But a common cause made all the new replacements veterans after a few days. The Division Commander visited troops, making a short address to express his compliments for the ” … brilliant and successful defensive action and … now we shall soon be on the offensive. On March 1, the regiment was alerted to move across the Roer River.
The 393rd Infantry Command Post in Elsdorf, Germany, received a direct hit with an aerial bomb, killing or seriously wounding several enlisted men and officers of S-2, S-3 Sections and Headquarters Company
Early on the morning of March 1, in a drizzling rain the Regiment convoyed to Elsdorf, passing through Aachen, on the two-lane highway and through part of Düren, to join the 3rd Armored Division in a drive to the Rhine River. At Elsdorf the battalions took up positions along the Erft Canal. Weather cleared in the evening and a full, bright moon brought increased enemy air activity during the night and the following day with bombing and strafing missions over our positions and along the Main Supply Route. On the afternoon of March 2, we began crossing the Erft Canal in the vicinity of Glesch. The 3rd Battalion leading, advanced and passed through the 4th Cavalry Group at Buchholz and continued the advance to capture Neurath and eighty German prisoners. The 1st Battalion moved to Bedburg and the 2nd remained in Buchholz. The following day the 2nd Battalion captured the high ground south of Allrath, the 1st passed through the 3rd and captured a large aluminum plant, Erftwerk, and continued on to seize Machhasen. Then the 2nd Battalion moved to Wevelinghoven relieving the 4th Cavalry Group. The 1st Battalion captured Neukirchen and 2nd Battalion took Hulchrath the next day. Task Force Leuders was formed of the 99th Recon Troop, D Co of the 786th Tank Battalion, A Co of the 629th Tank Destroyer Battalion and G Co, to make a lightning thrust to capture Norf. After a sharp encounter with enemy armor, they seized Derikum, as the battalions followed mopping up towns along the way. That night the 3rd Bn moved into Derikum and the following day, March 5, K Co seized Grimlinghausen which ended all organized resistance in our sector west of the Rhine River.
Above : (L) Over the Cologne Plains some Doughs of 393d rode tanks in lightning assaults on dug-in enemy positions. (R) The 2nd Battalion moves into position to prepare defense against possible counter-attacks. Bellow : (L) 3rd Battalion in column formation waits for orders to move up. Artillery had been hot along this road. (R) Men of H Co demonstrate firing across the Rhine with a German 12-CM (120-MM) Mortar captured by G Co.
(L) 1st Battalion man eats a K Ration as they advance on town in the Remagen Bridgehead. (R) Tanks and Tank Destroyer’s augment Antiaircraft protection for troops crossing the Remagen Railroad Bridge.
Following the swift shuttle of the 99th from the vicinity of Düsseldorf to the south of Bonn with the capture of the Ludendorff Railroad Bridge in Remagen, the 393rd established a Command Post in the administration building of a small college where plans for crossing the Rhine River were immediately layed.
The Remagen Bridgehead
With the sudden capture of the Ludendorff Bridge by the 9th Armored Division, the 99th Division was quickly moved from its concentration area along the Erft Canal and the Rhine to an area in the vicinity of Arzdorf, south of Bonn. The 393rd moved on the night of March 9-10 in a drizzling rain through towns still flaming and smoldering from vicious air and artillery assaults, closing in the new area about 0400 on March 10. Plans for crossing the River and exploiting the bridgehead were immediately begun and the following night troops began crossing under heavy bombardment from huge guns and aircraft. No one who crossed that bridge in the first few days will ever forget the experience. The enemy did everything he could to hit the bridge. Foot elements and a few supply vehicles of the regiment crossed first. Later on, the artillery came over. More casualties were sustained in the crossing than at any time since the January offensive in the Monschau Forest. Many were sickened by dead man’s corner – the intersection just before the bridge where a company of MP’s directed traffic. When one MP fell, another took his place. For days and nights everything the III Corps of the First Army had crossed that bridgehead none will ever forget it.
The Ludendorff Railroad Bridge
The Ludendorff Railroad Bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen was used by the 393rd on March 11 to cross the historic barrier and secure through hard fighting a seizable portion of the bridgehead extending to the Wied River. The artillery on the small town at the approach, on the bridge itself, and on the opposite side was constant and deadly. Aircraft made several attempts to crash our defenses and bomb the bridge out of existence, but before the bridge fell a few days later, several floating bridges were already in operation. When our crossing was completed, the 99th Infantry Division was the first full division on the east side of the Rhine River. There were combat teams of other divisions, however, the 9th Armored Division, the 9th Infantry Division, and the 78th Infantry Divisions. It had been a terrible fight. Few felt the war was over, but no one could see how it would continue much longer. Casualties still were evacuated, and all men were still tense and alert. But the 393rd Infantry had done a lot of fighting and a lot of killing since November 8.
After Action Report – Daily Journal – Bridgehead at Remagen
At 1256 on March 7, a task force of the US 9th Armored Division broke out of the woods onto the bluffs overlooking the Rhine River at Remagen, and saw the Ludendroff Bridge standing intact over the Rhine. Lt Col Leonard E. Engeman, the task force commander, had under his command :
– 1 platoon of the 89th Recon Squadron
– the 14th Tank Battalion (B and C Companies)
– the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion
– 1 platoon of B Company, 9th Armored Engineer Battalion
(Statement of Lt Col Engeman, CO, 14th Tank Battalion)
Beyond the river lay the heartland of Germany, and presumably the organized defenses of the Rhine. Col Engeman’s original orders were to capture Remagen and Kripp. However, in a meeting between the CGs, 9-AD and CCB-9-AD, it had been decided that if the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen were passable, CCB would grab it. This information had been sent to Col Engeman. (AAR – 14-TB, March 1945, p 8). At about 0230 on March 6, the III Corps CO, Maj Gen Milliken, had remarked to Maj Gen Leonard over the phone, You see that black line on the map. If you can seize that your name will go down in history, or words to that effect. This referred to the bridge. The plan of assault as formulated by the column commander and as subsequently executed was an attack on Remagen by one company of dismounted infantry and one platoon of tanks followed by the remainder of the force in route column and supported by assault guns and mortars. This plan obviated the necessity of moving any vehicles within the column prior to the time of attack. The plan further provided that the assault tank platoon should move out 30 minutes after the infantry, with the two forces joining at the east edge of town and executing a coordinated attack for the capture of the bridge.
As enemy troops and vehicles were still moving east across the bridge at the time (1256), the column CO requested time fire on the bridge with the dual purpose of inflicting casualties and of preventing destruction of the structure. This request was refused due to the difficulty of coordinating the infantry and artillery during the assault on the town. (Col Engeman, CO, 14th Tank Battalion). A Co, 27-AIB, moved out at 1350 following the trail. At 1420, the 90-MM Plat, A Co, 14-TB, left the woods and started down the steep, twisting, tree-lined road that enters Remagen. (Maj Cecil E. Roberts, S-3, 14-TB). The tank platoon arrived at the edge of the town before the infantry and, meeting no resistance, continued on into the town. The infantry, upon arriving at the edge of town, was able to see the tanks already moving toward the bridge, so it followed along the main road running southwest through the center of Remagen. The town appeared deserted – the only resistance encountered was a small amount of small-arms fire from within the town and sporadic fire from 20-MM flak guns which enfiladed the cross streets from positions along the east bank of the river. (Lt John Grimball, 1st Plat, A Co, 14-TB). The tank platoon reached the west end of the bridge at 1500 followed shortly by the company of infantry. By 1512, the tanks were in position at the western end of the bridge and were covering the bridge with fire. At the same time, a charge went off on the causeway near the west end of the bridge, followed shortly by another charge two thirds of the way across. The first charge blew a large hole in the dirt causeway which ran from the road up to the bridge; the second damaged a main member of the bridge and blew a 30-foot hole in the bridge structure. A hole in the bridge floor which the Germans were repairing made the bridge temporarily impassable for vehicles.
The assault guns and mortars began firing white white phosphorus (WP) on the town of Erpel at this time (1515) in an attempt to build up a smoke screen over the bridge. A strong, upstream wind prevented complete success, but partial concealment of the assaulting force was accomplished. ( AAR, 14-TB, March 1945, p. 3). The use of burning white phosphorus demoralized the defenders and drove them to cover. The remainder of A Co, 14-TB, arrived at the bridge and went into firing position downstream from the bridge. The 27-AIB, less A Co, dismounted in the town and prepared to assault the bridge. At 1520, a captured German soldier reported that the bridge was to be blown at 1600 that day. This information, which appears to have been widely known, was substantiated by several citizens of Remagen.
(In order to evaluate properly the initial decision to establish a bridgehead over the Rhine and the subsequent decisions of higher commanders to exploit the operation, it is necessary to understand the plan of operation at the time. The mission of the 9-AD was to go east to the Rhine, then cut south, and establish bridgeheads over the Ahr River preparatory to continuing south for a linkup with the 3-A Army. CCB-9-AD, was on the north and east flank of the division, charged with accomplishing the division mission within the zone of the combat command. The task force commanded by Col Engeman was, of course, one of the striking forces of the combat command. No specific orders had been issued to anyone to seize a Rhine bridge and attack to the east. The decision to cross the bridge and to build up the bridgehead required a command decision at each echelon – a decision which was not as obvious as it appears at first glance.
It is probable that very few places along the whole stretch of the Rhine were less suited for a large-scale river crossing. From a tactical standpoint, the Remagen Bridge was on the north shoulder of a shallow salient into the enemy side of the river. The ground on the east bank rose precipitously from the river and continued rising through rough wooded hills for 5000 meters inland. The primary road net consisted of a river road and two mountain roads, any of which could be easily blocked. From a supply and reinforcement viewpoint, the bridge site was near the southern, army boundary. Only one primary road ran into Remagen from the west, and that road did not run along the normal axis of supply. Furthermore, there had been no build-up of supplies at the crossing site in anticipation of a crossing at that point. As previously stated, therefore, the decision was not so obvious as it first appears. The possibility of putting a force across the river only to have the bridge fall and the force annihilated approached the probable. A negative decision which would have ignored the possibility of seizing the bridge while insuring the accomplishment of the assigned mission would have been easy. Probably the most important observation noted on the whole operation is that each echelon of command did something positive, thereby demonstrating not only a high degree of initiative but also the flexibility of mind in commanders toward which all armies strive but which they too rarely attain).
At 1550, A Co, 27-AIB, reached the east bank of the river, closely followed by B and C Cos. (AAR, 14-TB, March 1945 and AAR, 27-AIB, March 1945). The crossings were made under sporadic fire from 20-MM flak guns and uncoordinated small-arms fire from both sides of the river. The guns of A Co, 14-TB, drove the German defenders from the bridge road surface and from the stone piers of the bridge. In addition, the tanks engaged the flak guns on the east bank which were opposing the crossing. (Lt John Grimball, 1st Plat, A Co, 14-TB). On gaining the far shore, A Co, 27-AIB, turned downstream and began sweeping Erpel. B Co scaled the cliffs immediately north of the bridge and seized Hill 191 while C Co attacked toward Orsberg. (Maj Cecil E. Roberts, S-3, 14-TB). Troops from B Co, 9-AEB, moved onto the bridge with the assault infantry. These engineers, moving rapidly across the bridge, cut every wire in sight and threw the explosives into the river.( AAR, CCB-9-AD, March 1945, p 9). No effective repairs of the bridge could be accomplished until dark, however, due to extremely accurate and heavy fire from the snipers stationed on both banks of the river.
As the leading elements reached the far shore, CCB received an order by radio that missions to the east were to be abandoned : Proceed south along the west bank of the Rhine. At 1615 the CG, CCB, received an order issued to his liaison officer by the division G-3 on March 7 at 1050, ordering CCB to seize or, if necessary, construct at least one bridge over the Ahr River in the CCB zone and continue to advance approximately five kilometers south of the Ahr; halt there and wait for further orders. Upon receiving this order, Gen Hoge decided to continue exploitation of the bridgehead until he could confer with the CG, 9-AD. By 1650, the division and CCB commanders had conferred at Birresdorf, and the division commander directed CCB to secure and expand the bridgehead. (AAR, 9-AD, March 1945), Task Force Prince at Sinzig to be relieved by CCA and Task Force Robinson on the north to be covered by one troop, 89th Recon Squadron; division responsible to the west end of the bridge. ( Statement Maj Gen Leonard). This released for the bridgehead forces the following units :
– C Co, 656-TDB
– Troop C, 89th Recon Squad
– 1st Bn, 310-IR
– 1 Plat, B Co, 9-AEB
Provisions were made to guide these units to their areas, and a time schedule of crossing was drawn up.
The command post of the bridgehead force was set up in Remagen, 200 yards west of the bridge at 1605. CCB command post was established at Birresdorf at 1200. At 1855, the bridgehead commander received orders from CCB to secure the high ground around the bridgehead and to mine securely all roads leading into the bridgehead from the east. In addition, he was informed that the necessary troops required to perform this mission were on the way and that the division would protect the rear of the task force. (AAR, 14-TB, March 1945). A dismounted platoon from D Co, 14-TB, swept the area between the railroad and the woods on the high ground west and south of Remagen. This job, which was completed at 2040, silenced the flak guns and drove out the snipers who had been harassing the engineers working on the bridge. Late in the evening American Air intercepted a German order directing a heavy bombing attack on the bridge to be made on March 8 at 0100. However, the bad weather prevented the German planes from getting off the ground.
During the night, the two roads leading into Remagen from Birresdorf on the west and Sinzig on the south, as well as the streets of the town, became clogged with traffic; first by units of the combat command being hurriedly assembled, and later by reinforcements being rushed up by III Corps. The night was rainy and very dark, which necessitated great efforts from all concerned to keep traffic moving at all. The bridge repairs, completed by midnight, permitted one way vehicular, traffic. A Co of the 14-TB, less its 90-MM platoon, crossed successfully; and C Co, 656-TDB, followed. The leading tank destroyer slipped off the temporary runway on the bridge in the darkness and became wedged between two cross members of the structure, thereby halting all vehicular traffic for a period of three hours. By March 8 at 0530, when the tank destroyer was finally towed off the bridge, the traffic jam was impeding movement as far back as Birresdorf. During the next 24 hours, the following units crossed the bridge :
March 8 at 0015
– A Co, 14-TB, less one platoon
March 8 at 0200
– 52-AIB, dismounted, started across the bridge
March 8 at 0700
– 1st Bn, 310-IR crossed
March 8 at 0715
– 14-TB, less A Co
– 47-IR (9-ID) crossed
Following the 47th Infantry Infantry, the 311th Infantry Regiment (78-ID) crossed the river.
During the night of March 8-9, traffic congestion in Remagen became so bad that only one battalion of the 60th Infantry was able to cross the river. One cause of the increased traffic difficulty was the almost continuous artillery fire falling on the bridge and bridgehead, and the air strikes in the area. The command of the bridgehead changed twice in 26 hours. At 0001, March 8, the CG, CCB-9-AD, Gen Hoge, assumed command of the forces east of the Rhine. During the night of March 7-8, he moved to the east bank all command posts of units having troops across the river, so that a coordinated fight could continue even if the bridge were blown. At 0235 on March 9, the CG, 9-ID, Gen Louis A. Craig, assumed command of the bridgehead forces, and directed the operation until the breakout on March 22. By the time the 9-ID assumed command of the bridgehead, it had become a major effort. The activities which then dominated the scene were threefold :
(1) the close-in protection of the bridge and the building of additional crossings
(2) the enlarging of the bridgehead
(3) the reinforcing of the troops east of the Rhine. In order to understand correctly these problems and their solution, it is necessary to hark back several days and study the progressive situation
March 6 1945
In the 9-ID’s zone the 47-IR drove approximately 3 miles past Heirmerzheim, a gain of 5 miles. The 60-IR attacked through the 39-IR and also advanced approximately 5 miles to Buschhoven, which was captured. CCA and CCB of the 9-AD attacked to the southeast early in the morning, and continued the attack through the day and night to advance 9 or 10 miles. Although CCA was held up for a number of hours at the city of Rheinbach, it captured that place during the late morning and by midnight had taken Vettelhoven and Bolingen. CCB captured Miel, Morenhoven, and by 1530 had entered Meckenheim. The 78-ID’s 311-IR, which had crossed the corps southern boundary into the V Corps zone in order to perform reconnaissance and protect the corps south flank, was relieved early by elements of the V Corps and attacked to the east. The regiment advanced up to 5 miles to Merzbach, Quechenberg, Loch and Eichen. As a result of the changes of corps boundaries that had been directed by US 1-A during the night of March 5-6, the direction of attack was changed to the southeast, with consequent changes in division boundaries and objectives. The 1-ID’s southern boundary was moved south so that the city of Bonn fell within the division zone, and the division was directed to seize Bonn and cut by fire the Rhine River bridge at that place. The southern boundary of the 9-ID was also turned southeast so that the cities of Bad Godesberg and Lannesdorf became its objectives. The 9-AD was directed to seize Remagen and crossings over the Ahr River in the vicinity of Sinzig, Heimerzheim, and Bad Neuenahr. The 78-ID was directed to seize crossings over the Ahr River at Ahrweiller and areas to the west of Ahrweiller, and was instructed to continue to protect the III Corps right flank. All divisions were directed to clear the enemy from the west bank of the Rhine in their respective zones, and all artillery was directed that Proximity or Delay fuses only would be used when firing on Rhine River bridges.
During the night of March 6-7, the 9-AD was directed to make its main effort toward the towns of Remagen and Bad Neuenahr, and was informed that closing to the Rhine River at Mehlem was of secondary importance. By 1900, the 1-A, commanded by Lt Gen Courtney H. Hodges, requested the Army Air Force not to bomb either Bonn nor Bad Godesberg. It was also requested that all the Rhine River bridges in III Corps zone be excluded from bombing, although no objection was made to attacking ferry sites, pontoon bridges, boats, or barges being used to ferry men and equipment across the Rhine. The III Corps command post opened at Zülpich at 1200.
March 7 1945
Corps continued its rapid advance of the preceding day and drove from five to 12 miles along its entire front to seize the railroad bridge across the Rhine at Remagen, as well as a number of crossings over the Arh in the vicinity of Sinzic, Bad Neuenahr, Heimerzheim, and Ahrweiler. On this day, enemy resistance appeared to collapse, and opposition was scattered with no apparent organized lines of defense. The little resistance encountered was confined to towns, where small groups defended with small-arms fire, although at Heimerzheim and Bad Neuenahr the enemy defended stubbornly. At 1400, the III Corps was assigned a new mission when Maj Gen W. B. Kean, Chief of Staff, 1-A, visited the corps command post at Zülpich with instructions directing the corps to advance south along the west bank of the Rhine and effect a junction with the 3-A, which was driving north toward the Rhine at a point only a few miles south of the III Corps right flank. A message cancelling this mission was received at the III Corps HQs at approximately 1845 when Brig Gen T. C. Thorsen, G-3, 1-A, in a telephone message, directed that Corps seize crossings on the Ahr, but do not move south of the road, Kesseling – Staffel – Ramersbach – Konigsfeld, except on 1-A order. A second telephone call from the 1-A at approximately 2015 informed III Corps that it had been relieved of its mission to the south, but that the III Corps was to secure its bridges over the Ahr, where it would be relieved as soon as possible by elements of the 2-ID (V Corps).
In the zone of the 9-ID, the 60-IR attacked in the direction of Bonn, while the 39-IR continued to attack toward Bad Godesberg. By midnight, after advances of several miles, elements were in position to attack Bad Godesberg and other objectives to the south along the Rhine. To the south, in the zone of the 79-ID, the 309-IR attacked through the 311-IR, and advanced from 8 to 10 miles against light resistance to seize crossings over the Ahr River. The 9-AD, having been given the mission of seizing Remagen and crossings over the Ahr, moved out in the morning with CCA on the right and CCB on the left. CCA was to seize crossings at Bad Neuenahr and Heimerzheim, while CCB was to take Remagen and Kripp then seize crossings over the Ahr at Sinzig and Bodendorf. CCB consequently attacked in two columns, one in the direction of each of its objectives, with 1/310-IR, and a tank destroyer company covering the left flank. Although CCA met stiff opposition at Bad Neuenahr, CCB met practically none and captured Sinzig and Bodendorf by noon with bridges intact, and by 1530 had captured Remagen, against light opposition. Upon finding the bridge at Remagen intact, Col Leonard Engeman, commanding the north column of CCB, seized the bridge.
First news of the seizure of the bridge arrived at the III Corps CP at approximately 1700 when Col James H. Phillips, Chief of Staff, received a telephone call from Col Harry Johnson, Chief of Staff, 9-AD. Col Phillips was informed that the bridge was taken intact, and was asked for instructions. At this time, the corps commander was at the command post of the 78-ID, and although the 1-A had given no instructions regarding the capture of the bridge, Col Phillips gave instructions for the 9-AD, less CCA, to exploit the bridgehead as far as possible, but to hold Sinzig. Col Phillips then relayed the information to Gen Milliken, who confirmed these instructions and immediately made plans to motorize the 47-ID (9-ID) and dispatch it to Remagen. The 311-IR (78-ID) was alerted for movement to the bridgehead. III Corps was presented with the problem of making troops available for immediate employment in the bridgehead. The greater parts of all three divisions were engaged. As an expedient, units had to be moved to the bridgehead in the order in which they could be made available. In order to achieve effective control and unity of command, it was decided to attach all units initially, as they crossed the river, to CCB (9-AD), for securing the initial bridgehead. As a result, the 47-IR, having been motorized, became attached to CCB (9-AD), at 2100; and the 78-ID was instructed to have the Commanding Officer of the 311-IR, with necessary staff officers, report to the CG, 9-AD.
The 78-ID was told that the III Corps would furnish trucks to the regiment at 0100 on March 8, and that movement would be upon call of the CG of the 9-AD. The 1-A, on being notified of the day’s developments, confirmed the decision to exploit the bridgehead. A telephone call to the III Corps from the 1-A at 2015 included the information that the 7-AD was attached to the III Corps immediately, for use in relieving the 9-ID; that elements of the 2-ID (V Corps) would relieve the 78-ID and CCA of the 9-AD as soon as possible; that a new V Corps – III Corps boundary was placed in effect immediately; and that the 1-A was sending a 90-MM AAA Battalion, a treadway bridge company, and a DUKW company to the III Corps. Maj Gen Robert W. Hasbrouck, CG, 7-AD, was instructed to immediately move one combat command, reinforced by one battalion of infantry, to an area Miel – Morenhoven – Buschhoven – Dünstekoven, where it would become attached temporarily to the 9-ID. In turn, the 9-ID was informed of these arrangements, and was directed that the 60-IR, after relief by CCA, 7-AD, would become attached to the 9-AD.
Other considerations were the need for artillery support, the protection of the bridge against enemy air action and sabotage, the construction of additional bridges, and the problems of signal communication. The signal plan had been built around an axis of advance to the south and did not envisage a need for extensive communications in the Remagen area. Artillery plans also needed quick revision. By 2230, one 4.5-inch Gun Battalion (115-MM), one 155-MM Gun Battalion, and one 8-inch (204-MM) Howitzer Battalion were in position, ready to deliver fire. Heavy interdiction fires around the bridgehead were planned. By 0300 (March 8) the 482-AAA-AW Battalion had established defense of the bridge. Assurance was given by 1-A that air cover would be provided from any base on the continent or in the UK from which planes were able to leave the ground. Visibility during the day was fair, with low clouds and scattered rains throughout. Heavy rains fell during the night.
March 8 1945
Activity on March 8 was concerned primarily with reinforcing the troops across the river as rapidly as possible, expanding the bridgehead, and clearing the enemy from the west bank of the Rhine. East of the Rhine the enemy took no concerted action. No counterattacks were launched and no organized defenses were encountered. Kasbach and Unkel were captured, and at the day’s end, the 1/310-IR, was fighting in Linz. The 47-IR crossed the river in the afternoon and went into positions northeast of the 52-AIB. The 78-ID was directed at 0200 to cancel all attacks which had been scheduled for this day, and to hold the Ahr River bridgehead until relief had been effected by the 2-ID. Maj Gen Walter M. Robertson, CG, 2-ID, had visited the 78-ID command post, and had stated that the relief could be completed no earlier than 0815 of that day. At this time the 309-IR was the only regiment under control of the 78-ID which was actually engaged. The 310-IR had previously been attached to the 9-AD, with which it was currently operating, and the 311-IR, having been alerted for movement on the preceding night, had been assembled and was prepared to move by 0500. Movement of the 311-IR began during the morning and by late afternoon the regiment closed in the bridgehead area, where it became attached to the 9-AD.
At 0945, the 309-IR was alerted for movement to the bridgehead, when instructions were issued to Maj Gen Edwin P. Parker, CG, 78-ID, directing that the 309-IR, upon relief by the 2-ID, be assembled and marched on secondary roads to an area designated by Maj Gen Leonard, CG, 9-AD. Parker, was instructed that control of his regiments would be returned to him as soon as he was prepared to assume command of his zone of action in the bridgehead area. At 1755, the relief of the 309-IR was completed, and at that time, control of the zone of the 78-ID passed to the Commanding General, 2-ID. At 1815, two battalions of the 309-IR were ordered to move within seven hours, and the regiment began crossing during the night, closing in the bridgehead area on the following day. Movement of the 7-AD into the zone of the 9-ID continued throughout the day; and at 1235, CCA had closed in the area and became attached to the 9-ID. The 1/60-IR, had been assembled by afternoon and had crossed the river by early morning of March 9. CCB-7-AD, became attached to the 9-ID at 1100, and was directed to move during the afternoon to relieve the 39-IR. At 1715, the CG, 7-AD, assumed command of the zone, and all 7-AD elements, plus those units of the 9-ID remaining in the zone, passed to his control.
The anticipated attachment of the 99-ID made it doubly important that some agency be given the responsibility of staging and moving troops west of the Rhine. Consequently, the CG, 9-AD, was directed to continue to perform this function. The Commanding Generals, 9-ID and 9-AD, operated as a team, one furnishing troops to the other as called for. The III Corps set up the priority for the movements of troops available west of the Rhine as rapidly as they could be disengaged, and established a tactical command post at Remagen to :
(1) expedite information to corps
(2) give advice for solution of rising problems
(3) closely supervise engineer operations
(4) supervise traffic and control roads
A traffic circulation plan was placed in effect in which eastbound traffic moved on northerly roads, which were not under enemy observation, and westbound traffic moved on southerly routes. Thus, loaded vehicles ran less risk of receiving artillery fire. In order that bridge traffic would not be interrupted by westbound ambulance traffic, it was decided that casualties would be returned by LCVPs, DUKWs, and ferries, which were soon placed in operation. Because of poor weather conditions – the day was cold with rain and low overcast – fighters and fighter-bombers were grounded and were unable to furnish cover protection for the bridge. However, the enemy attempted 10 raids over the bridge with 10 aircraft, 8 of which were Stukas. By afternoon, however, the 482-AAA-AW Battalion had three batteries at the bridge site with 3 platoons on the east and 3 platoons on the west bank of the river, while the 413-AAA Battalion (90-MM) went into positions on the west bank; and of the 10 attacking aircraft, 8 were shot down.
Because of the air attacks and the artillery fire, the engineers at the bridge site requested that smoke be employed, and requests were again made of 1-A for a smoke generator unit. Because none was available at this time, however, smoke pots were gathered from all available sources. The 9th Armored Group was ordered to furnish CDLs (search lights mounted on tanks) to assist in protecting the bridge against floating mines, swimmers, riverboats, etc., and depth charges were dropped into the river at five-minute intervals during the night to discourage swimmers bent on demolishing the bridge. By the end of the day, the forces in the bridgehead consisted, soon to be joined by the 309-IR en route, of the :
– 27th Armored Infantry Battalion
– 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion
– 14th Tank Battalion
– 47th Infantry Regiment
– 39th Infantry Regiment
– 1/60th Infantry Regiment
– 1/310th Infantry Regiment
– 2/310th Infantry Regiment
– C Co, 656th Tank Destroyer Battalion
– Troop C, 89th Recon Squadron
– 1 Plat, B Co, 9th Armored Engineer Battalion
– 1.5 bats, 482nd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
III Corps Operations Directive No. 10 was published, which established three objectives, known as lines Red, White, and Blue. The seizure of line Red was to prevent small-arms fire from being delivered on the bridge area; when line White had been reached, observed artillery fire would be eliminated; and the seizure of line Blue would prevent medium artillery fire from being delivered on the bridge sites.
March 9 1945
On the third day of the bridgehead operation, enemy opposition east of the Rhine stiffened considerably, as elements of the 11.-Panzer-Division were contacted on the front. Enemy troops had been reported moving on the autobahn with lights on during the night. Although the 311-IR made good progress to the north, where it made gains of from 2000 to 3000 yards, strong resistance was met in the south and center of the bridgehead, and the enemy attacked with infantry, tanks, and aircraft. Fire of all types was received, and heavy artillery fire landed in the vicinity of the bridge. During the early afternoon, a direct hit on an ammunition truck which was crossing the bridge caused considerable damage, placing the bridge out of operation for several hours. On the west of the Rhine, all organized resistance ceased; and at 1125, the 7-AD was able to report that its zone had been cleared of the enemy from boundary to boundary and to the river. Relief of the 60-IR was completed early in the afternoon, and at 1300, that regiment was relieved of attachment to the 7-AD. The regiment, the 1st Battalion of which had crossed to the east of the Rhine the preceding day, closed in the bridgehead during the early morning hours of March 10. The 39-IR, having captured Bad Godesberg, was relieved by elements of the 7-AD by 1800, and prepared to move into the bridgehead on the following day. The 7-AD was directed to outpost islands in the Rhine River, opposite Bad Honnef, and to prevent movement of enemy upstream toward the bridge sites.
Of the 78-ID, all but the 309-IR and elements of the 310-IR, attached to CCA, 9-AD, had crossed the Rhine on March 7 and March 8. The 309-IR, having begun its movement across the river on March 8, closed in the bridgehead late in the afternoon of March 9, and at 0930, elements of the 2-ID were moving into position to relieve the 310-IR (-) in the Ahr River bridgeheads. That relief was completed at approximately 1600. By March 10 at 0400, the 310-IR had crossed completely, and the only elements of the 78-ID remaining west of the Rhine at that time were the division artillery and spare parts.
During the morning the 9-ID CP’s opened at Erpel. The CG, 9-ID, was directed that elements or the 78-ID currently attached to the 9-ID would revert to control of the CG, 78-ID, at a time and place agreed upon by the two division commanders, and that the CG 78-ID, would assume control of the north sector of the bridgehead. The CG 9-ID, was instructed early in the morning to continue the attack and to seize line White. At 1015, the 99-ID commanded by Maj Gen Walter E. Lauer became attached to the III Corps, and during the late afternoon the division began to move into an assembly area in the vicinity of Meckenheim. By midnight, the 393, the 394 had closed in the area, and the 395 was en route. Instructions were issued directing :
(1) that the 99th Infantry Division (artillery), with the 535th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion; the 629th Tank Destroyer Battalion; the 786th Tank Battalion attached would cross the Rhine, commencing at March 10 at 2030 March
(2) that the division would pass through elements of CCB-9-AD, and attack to the south
(3) that one infantry regiment (minus one battalion) was not to be committed except on III Corps orders. This regiment, the 395-IR, was to move to an assembly area within one hour’s marching distance of the bridge site, and was to close there by the evening of March 11
Elements of the 9-AD, which were holding its bridgehead across the Ahr, were directed :
(1) to be prepared to move east of the Rhine on III Corps orders
(2) to continue to protect bridges over the Ahr River
(3) to maintain contact with the 2-ID (V Corps) on the corps south flank
The III Corps Engineer was directed to assume control of all engineer activity at the bridge site, thus relieving 9-AD engineers of that responsibility. At the time, two ferries were already in operation, and a third was nearing completion. Construction had been started on March 09, (1030) on a treadway bridge at, and it was planned that a heavy pontoon bridge would be built upstream at Kripp. A contact boom, a log boom, and a net boom, designed to protect the bridge from water-borne objects, were under construction upstream from the bridge. Early in the day. the 16-AAA-G (Antiaircraft Artillery Group) was directed to employ all antiaircraft artillery units for the protection of the bridge, and consequently the antiaircraft defense of the bridge site was strengthened by the arrival of two additional battalions. The 109-AAA-G Bn (Gun Battalion) became operational on the west bank of the Rhine. The 634-AAA-AW Bn (Automatic Weapons) and went into position on the east bank. The corps command post opened at Rheinbach at 1220.
At the close of the day, the forces in the bridgehead had been strengthened by the arrival of the 309-IR, the remainder of the 310-IR, the 60-IR, and additional antiaircraft protection. The antitank defense of the bridgehead had been bolstered by the tank destroyers accompanying the regimental combat teams. Although no artillery – or at best an occasional battery – had as yet moved east of the Rhine, the artillery of the divisions, as well as corps artillery, supported the operation from positions on the west side. The day was cold, with visibility restricted by a low overcast which continued throughout the day. No fighter-bombers flew in support of the bridgehead, but medium bombers flew several missions.
March 10 1945
The expansion of the bridgehead continued against stiffening resistance. Very heavy resistance was encountered in the area northeast of Bruchhausen, and strong points which delayed the advance were encountered in the entire zone. Fire from small arms, self-propelled weapons, mortars, and artillery was received. In the north, the 311-IR attacked Bad Honnef. The 309-IR, in the northeast portion of the corps zone, advanced some 2000 yards to the east after repulsing one counterattack, and in the center sector the 47-IR received sharp counterattacks which forced a slight withdrawal. The regiment, assisted by the 2/310-IR, repulsed these counterattacks, however, and during the afternoon the 3/310-IR, followed by the 52-AIB (attached to the 310-IR), attacked through the 47-IR and advanced up to 1000 yards. The 60-IR, in the southeast, attacked and gained about 1500 yards. CCB-9-AD, 1/310-IR, and 27-AIB, plus elements of the 60-IR, attacked south and reached a point about 700 yards south of Linz, capturing Dattenberg en route. The movement of the 9-ID across the Rhine was completed at 1825, when the 39-IR closed in the bridgehead, in an assembly area in the vicinity of Bruchhausen. The CG, 9-ID, requested that he be relieved of responsibility for the security of the railroad bridge and bridging operations at Remagen, and consequently the 14th Cavalry Group was directed to assume that responsibility. Instructions were issued directing the group to move to an assembly area in the vicinity of Mechenheim – Arzdorf – Ringen – Geldorf on 11 March.
The 99-ID closed in its assembly area west of the Rhine early in the morning and at 1530 one regimental combat team was directed by the corps to move into the bridgehead. The 394-IR began to cross the Rhine during the night, and at 2100 the corps directed that the remaining two infantry regiments plan to arrive at the bridge on the following morning. III Corps directed that the 99-ID plan to take over in the southern sector of the bridgehead. III Corps Artillery, reinforced by V and VII Corps Artillery, fired heavy interdiction and counterbattery missions during the day.
March 11 1945
The attack to enlarge the bridgehead progressed slowly against continuous stubborn resistance. Few gains were made in the north and central sectors. The 394-IR had completed crossing early in the morning, attacked to the south through CCB-9-AD, and gained up to 3000 yards, capturing Leubsdrof and Ariendorf. Elsewhere in the bridgehead, some local objectives were taken and a number of counterattacks, supported by tanks, were repulsed. The 394-IR, the first of the 99-ID units to move into the bridgehead, completed its crossing early in the morning and became attached to the 9-ID at 0730. At 0830, the Assistant Division Commander, 99-ID, opened an advanced command post with the command post, 9-ID. By noontime, the 393-IR had closed east of the Rhine. The 395-IR moved out during the early morning hours to an assembly area in the vicinity of Bodendorf, and at approximately 1230 its 1/395-IR had crossed the Rhine, to be followed during the day by the 2/395 and 3/395. The division command post opened at Linz, and at 1400 the CG, 99-ID, assumed control of the southern sector, at which time he assumed command of the 393-IR and 394-IR. As the attack of both regiments progressed to the south and southeast, elements of CCB-9-AD, were relieved in the line and began to assemble, preparatory to going into III Corps reserve. The 27-AIB assembled in the vicinity of Unkel. 1/310-IR, was detached from CCB-9-AD, and reverted to control of the 9-ID at 1200. A Co, 656-TDB, and the 60-AIB were attached to CCB-9-AD. The 395-IR was attached to the 9-ID effective at 1200 and designated as bridgehead reserve.
The CG, 78-ID, assumed control of the northern portion of the bridgehead at 0900, and at the same time assumed command of the 309-IR and the 311-IR, both of which were attacking. The 310-IR, however, remained attached to the 9-ID, in whose zone it was heavily engaged. The 39-IR, which was operating in the zone of the 78-ID, became attached to that division. Effective at 1100, C Co, 90th Chemical Battalion, was attached to the 39-IR. III Corps directed the 78-ID units currently operating in the zone of the 9-ID, and the 9-ID elements operating in the zone of the 78-ID, to be relieved and returned to their respective divisions as soon as operational conditions permitted. It was directed that details of relief would be agreed upon by the division commanders concerned. The 60-AIB, which had been attached to CCB-9-AD, remained on a two-hour alert on the west bank of the Rhine. The 9-ID, having turned over control of the greater portion of the bridgehead to the commanding generals of the 78-ID and the 99-ID by 1400, continued its operations with the 47-IR and 60-IR plus the 310-IR. CCB-9-AD, and the 395-IR remained attached to the 9-ID.
The artillery of both the 9-AD and the 7-AD fired in support of the bridgehead, while the 7-AD took position on the island in the Rhine. On the east side, the 78-ID discovered a highway bridge leading to the island and sent patrols to that island, whereupon the 7-AD was relieved of that mission. In the vicinity of the bridge sites, the enemy made desperate attempts to knock out the railroad bridge and prevent operation of the treadway. The treadway was opened to traffic at 0700, but because of several damaged pontoons, was able to handle only light traffic initially. Artillery fire was heavy throughout the night of March 10-11 and the morning of March 11. At approximately 0515, the railroad bridge was placed in operation again after having been temporarily closed because of damage from artillery fire. Although it remained in operation throughout the day, the movement of traffic was hazardous because of heavy interdiction fires. During the night of March 11, an enemy noncommissioned officer with radio was captured near the bridge.
The heavy pontoon bridge at Kripp was ready for operation at 1700, but was damaged by an LCVP, and it was 2400 before the bridge was reopened. It was planned to divert traffic to the bridge beginning March 12 at 0500. The DUKW company and three ferry sites continued to be employed. The antiaircraft defenses of the bridges were strengthened during the day. The 634-AAA-AW Bn became operational on the west bank of the river. Three batteries of the 376-AAA-AW Bn went into position on the west side of the river and one on the east. Heavy concentrations were instrumental in breaking up several German counterattacks. The day was cool with intermittent rain.
March 12 1945
All three divisions attacked to expand the bridgehead in the face of very aggressive and determined enemy resistance. Opposition was encountered from tanks, infantry, self-propelled guns, and fire of all types. A number of counterattacks were repulsed. In the north, the 309-IR was forced to defend in position, and the 311-IR received two counterattacks. At 1200, the 1/310-IR, was detached from the 9-ID and reverted to control of the 78-ID. The battalion was then attached to the 311-IR. At 2300 the 60-AIB was also attached to the 311-IR because of the strong enemy pressure in the regimental zone. The 39-IR (attached to the 78-ID) attacked, but made little progress. In the central sector, the 9-ID made slow progress, although the 60-IR attacked to the outskirts of Hargarten, where heavy fighting took place. The 310-IR (minus 1st Bn), after reaching its objective received a counterattack and was forced to withdraw.
In the south, however, the 99-ID met lighter opposition initially. The 393-IR advanced up to 3000 yards to capture Ginsterhahn and Rothekreuz. On the high ground north of Honningen strong resistance consisting primarily of self-propelled weapons and small-arms fire was encountered. The 395-IR remained in assembly areas under operational control of the 9-ID until 1300, at which time it came under III Corps control as corps reserve. The 39-IR attacked toward Kalenborn. The rugged terrain and determined defense prevented the regiment from reaching its objective. At 1800, CCB-9-AD, was detached from the 9-ID and came under III Corps control. The 60-AIB, upon closing in the bridgehead area at 2300, was attached to the 78-ID, where it became attached to the 311-IR.
The 7-AD (Artillery), reinforced by fires from the division tanks and attached tank destroyers, fired in support of the 78-ID, while the 9-AD (Artillery) supported the operations of the 99-ID. Up to this point in the operations, the artillery had been able to support the division operations from west of the river with excellent results, and by remaining west of the river had eased the resupply problem. On this day, four field artillery battalions, two belonging to the 9-ID and one each to the 78-ID and the 99-ID, crossed the river; and a schedule which contemplated the crossing of six additional artillery battalions was set up for March 13. A marked decrease in enemy artillery activity was noted during the night of March 11-12 and during the following day. During the period of March 12 at 0600 to March 13 at 0600, the enemy increased his efforts to destroy the bridges by aerial assault. A total of 58 raids were made by 91 planes, 26 of which were shot down and eight of which were damaged.
The 14-CG (Cavalry) assumed the responsibility of guarding the bridge and controlling traffic in the bridging area. The 16-BFB (Belgian Fusiliers Battalion), scheduled to arrive in the III Corps area on March 13, was attached to the 8th Tank Destroyer Group, which had been charged with the responsibility of guarding rear areas. At 1315, the III Corps command post moved from Rheinbach to Bad Neuenahr.
March 13 1945
Expansion of the bridgehead continued to be slow because of extremely difficult terrain and stubborn and aggressive enemy resistance, which included several infantry counterattacks supported by armor. In the south-central sector the enemy employed an estimated 15 tanks, and in the northern area approximately 2100 artillery rounds were received. The terrain in this area consisted of steep slopes, heavily forested areas, and a limited road net, which restricted gains to approximately two kilometers. The 78-ID’s 311-IR made the day’s greatest gains – approximately 2000 meters – after repulsing a counterattack of battalion strength. The 309-IR and 39-IR made some progress, and by dusk the 39-IR had secured observation of the town of Kalenborn. In the center of the III Corps zone, the 9-ID attacked along its entire front and made small advances. The 60-ID cleared Hargarten and continued to advance toward St Katherinen, but the 310-IR (minus 1st Bn), with the 52-AIB attached, met heavy resistance from tanks, mortars, and artillery and was unable to take its objective.
The 99-ID moved out early in the morning, with the 393-IR attacking to the east. At 1300, the 2/395-IR, was released from III Corps reserve and reverted to division control. At 1715, III Corps was notified that the 393-IR was being held back because of the fear of overextending its lines. III Corps directed that the attack be pushed to secure the objective. The division was informed that an advance on the part of the 393-IR would assist the advance of the 60-IR (on its left) and that should the need arise, the remainder of the 395-IR would be released from corps reserve and returned to the division. This was done at 1800, although it was directed that one battalion be held in regimental reserve and not be committed except by authority of the corps commander. During the morning, prior to the release of the 395-IR from corps reserve, both the 395-IR and CCB-9-AD, were directed to prepare counterattack plans for employment in any portion of the corps zone. Routes and assembly areas were to be reconnoitered, and CCB was further ordered to be prepared for attachment to any infantry division through which it might pass.
In an effort to further protect the bridge against enemy waterborne attack, V corps, (Maj Gen Clarence R. Huebner), was informed at 1700 that it was vital to use the utmost vigilance along the river to prevent enemy swimmers, mines, boats, or midget submarines from moving downstream. III Corps dispatched technical experts to the zone of the 7-AD, where construction of a cable across the river was under way to assist in converting that cable into torpedo boom. One platoon (four CDLs) from C Co, 738-TB, was attached to the 7-AD, and the division was instructed to maintain observation and protection on the river and boom 24 hours per day. The two military bridges remained in operation throughout the day, but the railroad bridge was closed in order to make permanent repairs necessitated by the damage caused by the initial attempt to blow the bridge, and subsequent damage caused by enemy artillery fire and heavy traffic. The ferry sites, DUKWs and LCVPs remained in operation, but three heavy pontoon battalions were relieved of attachment to III Corps over the objection of the corps engineer, who requested that the corps be permitted to retain at least one.
At 2300, the 9-ID requested artificial moonlight for its operations on the night of March 14-15, and III Corps arranged to have four lights released to the control of the division on the following morning. The enemy again made a desperate bid to knock out the bridges. Ninety planes made 47 raids between March 13, 0600 and March 14, 0600. Twenty-six planes were destroyed and nine damaged. Enemy artillery activity continued light, but III Corps Artillery, assisted by V and VII Corps Artillery, fired heavy counter-battery programs. The 400-AFAB and the 667-FAB were relieved of attachment to the 9-AD and were attached to the 9-ID and the 99-ID respectively. The 9-AD was directed to reinforce the fires of the 99-ID. The 7-AD was directed to reinforce the fires of the 78-ID. The day was cool and clear with good visibility. Six missions were flown in close support of corps, and P-38s flew continuous cover over the bridge sites.
March 14 1945
The attack to expand the bridgehead continued, but progress was again slow because of stubborn enemy resistance and rugged terrain. Although there was no appreciable lessening of resistance, counterattacks were fewer in number and smaller in size than during the past several days; and while resistance in the north was generally light during the first part of the day, opposition became increasingly heavier during the afternoon. The central sector showed a marked decline in small-arms fire, although artillery and mortar fire was particularly heavy. In the south, progress was slowed by what was described as moderate to heavy artillery fire. One counterattack by 40 to 50 dismounted enemy was broken up by friendly artillery fire. In the zone of the 78-ID, the 39-IR attacked at 0630 with Kalenborn as objective. It was planned that upon seizing this objective, the regiment would return to control of the 9-ID. The objective was not taken, and the regiment remained attached to the 78-ID throughout the day. The attack of the 311-IR and 309-IR progressed slowly. The 309-ID reached its objectives (1/309, positions near Himberg; 2/309, high ground south of Aegidienberg; and 3-309, ground in the vicinity of Rottbitze. 3/309 was driven off, but resumed the attack to retake its objective after severe hand-to-hand fighting.
In the center, the 9-ID attacked toward Notscheid, Lorscheid, and Kalenborn. Although Lorscheid was entered and some ground was gained toward Notscheid, extremely stiff resistance, which included tanks, rockets, and automatic weapons fire, prevented extensive gains. The 52-AIB received counterattacks during the afternoon by infantry supported by approximately ten tanks.
In the south, the 99-ID attacked with the 393-IR and advanced about 1500 yards. At 1620, III Corps released the 2/395-IR, to division control. The 2/395-IR, began the relief of elements of the 393-IR and continued the attack. At 1700, the 2/393-IR, passed to III Corps reserve. Patrols from the 394-IR, which was situated on the high ground north of Honningen, entered the north edge of that town. The 7-AD completed construction of a double cable across the Rhine. CCB-9-AD, remained in III Corps reserve, and the 89-CRS (Cavalry) continued to maintain observation close on the west bank of the Rhine. At 2200, information was received that 1-A was sending a barrage balloon unit of 25 balloons and 80 men to the bridgehead area to afford further protection against attacks by aircraft. III Corps Artillery continued to support the operations, principally by firing counter-battery programs, assisted by V and VII Corps Artillery. Three additional field artillery battalions of division artillery crossed the river. During the day, information was received from 1-A that the 1-ID (VII Corps) would cross the river through the III Corps zone commencing March 15. It was decided that foot troops would be ferried across the river in LCVPs while other elements of the division would cross on the bridges and ferries. 1-A further directed that on March 16 at 1200, control of the 78-ID would be assumed by VII Corps (Maj Gen J. Lawton Collins). At that time the boundary in the bridgehead between the III Corps and the VII Corps would become effective. Orders were issued to the 78-ID directing it to select assembly areas for two combat teams of the 1-ID, which would be occupied on March 15 and March 16.
March 15 1945
As the attack continued and the 78-ID and 9-ID neared the autobahn, enemy resistance in the central sector continued to be stubborn, although it decreased somewhat in the north and south. The 78-ID attacked early, and its 311-IR made advances of up to 2000 yards; while the 39-ID at the close of the day had advanced more than 1000 yards to capture Schweifeld, where it received several counterattacks. The 309-IR by the days end had advanced to within one mile of the autobahn, and had observation of that road.
The 9-ID cleared Notscheid and Lorscheid, although the 60-IR and the 47-IR encountered strong opposition throughout the day. The enemy strove bitterly to resist advances to the autobahn, employing tanks, self-propelled weapons, automatic weapons, and small-arms fire. In the zone of the 99-ID, however, the enemy showed signs of weakening, as the division made good gains and reached its objectives. Hahnen and Hesseln were cleared, and advances of more than 1500 yards were made. At 1200, the 2/393-IR, was released by III Corps to division control, and the 3/395-IR, became corps reserve. III Corps directed that the battalion be motorized and moved to a position from which it could be readily employed. Orders were received from the 1-A that the 7-AD was not to be employed in the bridgehead. CCB-9-AD, remained in corps reserve. The 14-CG (Cavalry) maintained defenses of the bridges, and controlled traffic at the crossing sites. Both military bridges remained in operation throughout the day, and repair work was continued on the railway bridge. It was determined that a sag of from six inches to one foot had taken place, and that extensive work would have to be done before the bridge would be ready for use. The ferries, DUKWs and LCVPs continued to operate. Enemy air activity over the bridge decreased sharply, as only seven raids by 12 aircraft were reported between March 15, 0600 and March 16, 0600. Of the 12 planes, two were destroyed and two damaged. Supporting aircraft flew two missions for III Corps; armed reconnaissance was conducted to the corps front, and P-38’s flew continuous over the bridge.
During the day, the 26-IR (1-ID – VII Corps), completed its crossing, closing in the bridgehead at about 1500. The regiment moved north, and it was planned that the 18-IR would cross the river on March 16. 1-A issued a Letter of Instruction, dated March 15, which established a new boundary between the III Corps and the VII Corps and designated three objectives :
the initial objective
III Corps was directed to continue the attack to secure the initial bridgehead, but no advance was to be made past that point except on 1-A order. The boundary between the III Corps and the VII Corps was to become effective at March 16, at 1200, at which time control of the 78-ID was to pass to the VII Corps.
As a result of these instructions issued by 1-A, III Corps published Operations Directive No. 16, which confirmed fragmentary orders already issued, announced the new boundaries and objectives, and directed a continuation of the attack to secure the initial objective. It contained these additional instructions :
(1) The 60-AIB would be detached from the 78-ID effective March 16, at 1800 and would revert to the control of CCB-9-AD, in corps reserve
(2) B Co, 90-CMB (Chemical) was relieved of attachment to the, 78-ID
(3) the 170-FAB (155-MM Howitzer) was attached to the 99-ID, effective March 16
(4) the 7-AD and the 9-AD would continue their present missions
March 16 1945
Although enemy resistance continued stubborn in the central sector, where he resisted bitterly the advance to cut the autobahn, lighter resistance in the south permitted the 99-ID’s 393-IR to advance some 4000 yards to the Wied River. The 394-IR advanced approximately 2000 yards to the south and entered Bad Honningen, where house-to-house fighting took place during the night. The 395-IR (minus the 3rd Bn, which remained in corps reserve) attacked to the east to secure the high ground west of the Wied River, capturing three small towns. At the close of the day, the 99-ID had, on its south, reached the initial objective established by army and at one point had crossed it to secure dominating terrain.
In the 78-ID zone, the advance to cut the autobahn continued. At approximately 0200, the CG, 78-ID, requested the use of two tank platoons to be employed in his attack to the north in the vicinity of Ittenbach. The 9-AD consequently was ordered to send two tank platoons. The attack was successful; and at approximately at 1415, the 309-IR was astride the autobahn. At 0930, the 39-IR to the control of the 9-ID, at which time the III Corps and the VII Corps boundary became effective. The 60-AIB was to have reverted to command of CBB-9-AD. Its employment during the day prevented this, and permission to retain the battalion temporarily was requested by the CG of the 78-IR, and was granted by the corps. The 60-AIB and the two tank platoons were returned to CBB-9-AD on March 17. The 9-ID in the center of the bridgehead continued its attack early in the morning. By the close of the day, it was fighting in Strodt and had captured Kalenborn and another objective in the vicinity. The 39-IR, upon relief, reverted to control of the CG 9-ID. At 0930, the 310-IR reverted to control of the 78-ID.
At 2230, the 1-A gave permission to have the 99-ID continue the attack to the south if the III Corps so desired, and 99-ID was directed on the following morning to continue the attack to the south. The 18-ID (1-ID) closed in assembly areas east of the Rhine at about 1300.
March 17 1945
In the northern part of the bridgehead, the expansion continued, advancing from 1000 to 3000 yards against enemy resistance that maintained its stubborn attitude. In the southern part of the zone, greater gains were made against a disorganized enemy. In the zone of the 9-ID, opposition was encountered from self-propelled guns and tanks supported by infantry, with the enemy using villages and towns as strong points. In the 99-ID zone, bitter house-to-house fighting took place in Bad Honningen, but elsewhere only small groups were encountered in towns and in isolated strong points. The 99-ID attacked to the south, and both the 393 and the 394-IRs moved up rapidly, advancing 2000 and 3000 yards respectively. The 393-IDd Infantry Regiment on its left secured the high ground immediately west of the Wied River, while on its right it seized Solscheid. Elements of the 394-IR were engaged in house-to-house fighting in Bad Honningen until mid-afternoon. Other elements drove south to take hills in the area. The 18-CRS (Cavalry) was attached to the 99-IR in anticipation of a further movement south.
Due to the success of the attack in the zone, and the desire to secure the commanding terrain along the general line Solscheid – Rockenfeld – Hammerstein, permission was requested for that objective. It was also suggested to 1-A that it would be desirable to secure the high ground in the vicinity of Rahms. The 1-A approved, and on the following day, March 18, instructions were issued which called for a limited objective attack to the south. The 9-ID advanced from 1000 to 2000 yards to the east crossing the autobahn. Strodt was captured, but the high ground to its east, although frequently assaulted, was only partially occupied. Vettelschloss was cleared during the night. As there was evidence of a pending counterattack in that vicinity, it was requested by the division that the 52-AIB remain under control of the 9-ID until the situation cleared up. Permission was granted. The enemy attempted to destroy the bridges with two as yet unused devices :
Four swimmer saboteurs towing explosives tried to reach the bridges but were either killed or captured; and V Bombs made their appearance, six falling in the vicinity of the bridges.
The 32-CRS (Cavalry) continued its mission of protecting the bridges. Disaster overtook the sorely abused railway bridge at approximately 1500, when, with no warning, it buckled and collapsed, carrying with it a number of engineer troops who had been making repairs in an attempt to put it back in operation. In the morning, CCB-9-AD, was directed to assemble in the general area Ohlenberg – Ockenfeld – Linz (exclusive)- Dattenberg, and to revert to the control of the 9-AD effective March 17 at 2400. The 60-AIB, plus the tank platoons which had been attached to the 78-ID, returned to the control of the 9-AD during the day. The 52-AIB was ordered to revert to the 9-AD as soon as operational conditions permitted. The 9-AD was instructed to prepare plans for the employment of CCB in any sector of the III Corps zone east of the Rhine River.
The III Corps Artillery supported corps operations by a heavy counter-battery program, long-range interdiction and harassing fires, and heavy close support fires upon call of the divisions. On this day, Maj Gen James A. Van Fleet assumed command of III Corps. From March 18 to March 22, all divisions within the bridgehead attacked to the east and regrouped their forces for the anticipated break-through to come. By this time the autobahn was cut, thus denying the enemy its use. The bridgehead had been expanded to a point where it no longer was considered a bridgehead operation, and a large-scale breakthrough was in the making.
(Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower & Gen Omar N. Bradley) This film documents the US Army and its allies’ battle to capture the bridge at Remagen and cross the Rhine River into Germany. It has many combat scenes and recounts along with subsequent tactical events. Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley along with renowned military officials discuss the military gain of the capture with regard to the ensuing conduct of the war in Europe.
Having crossed the Rhine River at Remagen, the Regiment (393-IR) swung south and the 1/393-IR relieved the 3/60-IR on positions about 2000 meters east of Linz. The 2/393 and the 3/393 remained in reserve but the following day at 0700 the 1/393 and 2/393 jumped off to the east attacking against very stubborn resistance, advancing about 1000 meters capturing the villages of Rothekreuz, an important crossroads, and Ginsterhahn respectively. The 1/393 repulsed three counter-attacks the same day at Rothekreuz and on March 13, seven tanks staged a daring counter-attack at Ginsterhahn, entered the town but were met by 2-393 and K Co who held their fire until the armor and pig-a-back infantry were sure targets, then opened up with such murderous fire that the tanks turned tail and fled. Another counter-attack in the 1-393 sector was likewise thwarted the night before when A Co caught a Mark V lurking in the brush and knocked it out with Bazooka fire. Thus a main north-south road had been secured. Meanwhile 3/393 mopped up rear areas capturing prisoners and equipment, and a squad-size patrol from F Co went two miles behind enemy lines to a hill northeast of Ginsterhahn to harass enemy installations and observe activity.
Elements of the 395-IR passed through the patrol on March 14 attacking east from our north flank and the 2/393 went into Corps Reserve. On March 15, the 1/393 and the 3/393 turned the direction of attack to the southeast and seized the towns of Hesseln and Krumscheid after heavy fighting. That night at four minutes past midnight I Co captured Girgenrath and at 0600 both battalions again jumped off, 3/393 capturing Bremscheid, Over, and Muscheid against moderate resistance. 1-393 met stiff defenses at a stone quarry south of Frorath and G Co on the south flank encountered tough fighting at a dug-in strong point near Weissenfels. On March 17, the final objectives west of the Wied River were captured after a desperate stand by the Germans. The 3-393 seized Hausen and the surrounding territory and the 1-393, after repulsing another counterattack of armored vehicles, jumped off to capture Stopperich by evening.
Thus the bridgehead had been secured and for five days the Regiment consolidated positions, built up supply dumps east of the Rhine and harassed enemy movements and installations east of the Wied River with artillery and mortar fire in preparation for crossing of the Wied and further attacks into the heart of Germany. At the Regimental Observation Post on hill overlooking the Wied River, forward artillery and mortar observers direct WP shells into the town of Niederbreitbach to burn and to smoke the enemy out. GI on right observes results through 20 power scope, while the Cannon Company forward observer looks on. The support of our own artillery, the Cannon Company, was highly regarded by the whole regiment. The continuous and accurate fire of Capt Mucha’s guns was equaled by the morale and discipline of his company.
When the 38-IR relieved the 2/393 on the South on March 21, the Regimental front in the bridgehead extended only over the 3/393 Sector around Waldbreitbach. Patrols had previously picked a site where the Wied River could be waded and crossing operations began at midnight, March 22, when A Co entered Waldbreitbach without artillery preparations and took the enemy by complete surprise. C Co and B Co followed with their D Co support and turned south to take Niederbreitbach and the high ground between the two villages. The 2/393 crossed and began driving up steep slopes to take Kurtscheid, and the 3-393 followed on the heels of 1/393 mopping up isolated strong points and by-passed small groups who were delaying our advance with sniper and flak fire from the hills. Kurtscheid was captured at 2000 that night. The 2/393 and 3/393 captured Honnefeld and Bonefeld respectively on March 24 when the 7-AD began to pour long columns of tanks across the Wied. On March 25, the 2/393 made a wide circling movement out across the autobahn and captured Grossmaischeid as the other two battalions advanced east mopping up the area between. The following day the regiment began the race across Germany at the heels of the powerful 7-AD Spearheads.
March 25, in conjunction with the 12th Army Group Offensive aimed at the heart of Germany, the 393-IR began to exploit a major breakthrough by mopping up behind the 7-AD as it swept eastward against disorganized resistance. Motorized patrols advanced far in advance of the regiment, capturing hundreds of Germans, freeing slave laborers from confinement and liberating hundreds of Allied POW’s from their concentration camps. Partially prepared road blocks dotted the roads but most of these were in the initial stages and constituted no delay in our advance. No organized resistance was encountered until Wetzlar was reached where the 1-393 entered the city under small arms and mortar fire, and captured this home of the famous Leica Camera.
Men of B Co advance in Wetzlar over the bridge which leads to the world famous Leica Camera Factory. Some resistance was met in this town but it did not delay the advance. “Souvenir hunting” in this city was especially good.
The advance continued for four days extending 85 kilometers from Kurtscheid to the Bieber River when the 393-IR halted its advance on orders from higher headquarters. In every town and village white flags waved from the housetops and German civilians lined the streets to gape at the might of the American Forces as they sped through in hot pursuit of the enemy. On March 29, 30 and 31 the regiment continued mopping up isolated groups of enemy between Wetzlar and Giessen and conducted rehabilitation and maintenance of unit vehicles in preparation for further offensive action. On April 1, the regiment began motor movement northward through Marburg to a concentration area about 10 kilometers north of that town and then on the April 3, it moved about 20 kilometers northwest to the vicinity of Schwarzenau in preparation for attacking and cleaning out the Ruhr Pocket. This had resulted from the junction of the 9-A on the north and the 1-A on the south, trapping thousands of the Wehrmacht in the Ruhr industrial valley.
(1) Switchboards were set up temporarily as the regiment raced across Germany. The communications section was kept busy. (2) Armor achieved the initial break-through that routed the Jerries after Doughs had cracked the defenses before the Wied River. (3) Constant moving kept wire teams busy installing new communications whenever the CP stopped for the night. (4) Mail call was held just before this motorized patrol took off to mop up isolated enemy pockets. The best part of each day. (5) The 393-IR CP was established in fifty-two different locations during operations against the Germans. (6) The advance was so swift and prisoners so numerous that they were simply disarmed and sent to rear concentration areas un-escorted.
Wetzlar, Germany, March 30 1945. Old Glory flies over the Nazi Party House, making ultimate Victory for the Allies seem a swifter approaching reality. A familiar sight in this vicinity was the long continuous stream of airplanes, shuttling gasoline to the speeding armor ahead of us.
(1) 1/393-IR was mopping up isolated enemy in the advance to Wetzlar when C Co found this train load of American POW’s. (2) Nearly three-hundred Americans who were ill from malnutrition and bearing large festering sores from the filth and lice they were forced to live with. (3) These prisoners had been deserted by the retreating Germans on a railroad siding after a desperate attempt to remove them from their confinement in Limburg as the liberating American columns swept eastward. (4) Evacuation of the severest cases began immediately by the battalion and Regimental Medical Sections; (5) others waited in Army care until transportation was available. (6) The 1-393 Chaplain conducted Services, thanking God for their delivery from further Nazi abuses.
In the vicinity of Schwarzenau the battle to clear out the Ruhr Pocket began on April 5 after the relief of the 47-IR (9-ID). The regimental advance ran generally along the north and west sides of the Lenne River. Attacks were launched against Musse and Aue by the 1-393 meeting very stubborn defenses and against Wingeshausen by the 3/393, while the 2/393 followed in the sector of the 1/393 protecting the southern flank. On April 7, the 2/393 passed through the 1/393 to attack Oberhundem where stiff resistance was met. Enemy tanks were knocked out, counter-attacks repulsed and many road blocks had to be cleared under fire as the advance continued under constant shelling from artillery. The 3/393 captured Ernestus and Halberbracht on April 10, with about 300 prisoners including 150 German soldiers in a hospital at Halberbracht. The next day all three battalions jumped off in the attack, 1/393 seized Melmeck, 2/393 took an objective about a mile north of there and 3/393 captured Elspe after hard fighting. The advance, resisted by every weapon the Germans could muster including direct fire from AAA guns, continued to Päsel capturing over seven towns and villages. And then an 8 kilometer advance was made on April 11 seizing Neuenrade and intervening towns. By the close of operations on April 16, Altena and surrounding territory had been captured as well as thousands of prisoners and large amounts of enemy supplies and material.
On April 15 1945, the surrender of the 130.-Panzer-Lehr-Division was accepted by the 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division in Altena at 1900. This, making a total of 14,638 German Prisoners taken in the Ruhr Pocket.
(1) Infantrymen advance on the burning town of Aue after an artillery preparation that routed some of the enemy. (2) As the doughs passed the smoking ruin in Aue, they were going forward to capture Musse. Snipers still caused many casualties. (3) Machine-gun support to the advancing foot sloggers picks a spot with concealment from enemy OP’s and a good field of fire. (4) This German motocyclist waited too long before deciding to take off. Already the 3/393 is pushing on through Lenhausen to new objectives. (5-6) Oberhundem was strongly defended and an air mission was flown over the town in support of the 2/393 attack that captured the town before nightfall on April 7. Left center is a crossroads that was a favorite target for enemy artillery during our short stop there. (7-8) C Company doughs move into temporary defensive position around Oberhundem protecting the left flank of the Division and remaining alert for possible heavy enemy counter blows. At right, men warm hands before a small fire where they are heating their rations. (9) Lenhausen was tough resistance. After a destructive blow of artillery had been placed on the objective, it was easy. (10) In Karlshutte members of the I and R Platoon rescued these four 86th Infantry Division Medics who had been taken prisoner the night before. (11) I Company doughs ride pig-a-back from Duetmecke to mop up isolated groups of enemy in the drive northwest. (12) This was a familiar scene-all Germany was like this. As General Patton said : A war memorial in every town.
The handling of thousands of prisoners who surrendered in the Ruhr Pocket constituted a real problem. Fields around Neuenrade and Altena were filled to over-flowing with disarmed Germans of the Panzer Lehr Division. Officers and high-ranking noncoms were happy to be prisoners when they realized the jig was up. Whole companies were led into American hands by the commanders bearing white flags and large numbers of Officers and Enlisted Men surrendered, driving up to the PW cage in their own vehicles and dismounting as if they were going to a movie.
The Germans destroyed this huge Long-Tom before deserting it in the Ruhr Pocket. It is believed that this is one of the guns used to shell our positions on the West of the Rhine and harass our operations in establishing the Remagen bridgehead.
SECRET motor convoy into the THIRD ARMY Sector near Bamberg. Beginning around midnight of April 17, the drive lasted for about 16 hours. K rations were the day’s menu and the motor train stopped en route to brew a cup of instant coffee. Following a few days of relaxation and rehabilitation during which time screening operations of the area were continued. The Regiment moved to a forward assembly area near Plockendorf, 12 kilometers south of Nuremberg to take refresher training in assault boat tactics and to take precautions against lice.
Following a long march by foot and motor, the 2/393 was first to start the crossing of the Danube River in assault boats after a 15 minute artillery preparation. The crossing of foot elements was completed at 1325. At 1650 the battalion had captured Eining after a struggle against small arms, mortar and artillery fire. The 1/393 and the 3/393 crossed the same afternoon and began driving southeast. All three battalions launched a vigorous drive the following day, capturing 28 towns in their drive to the Inn River.
On April 30, the 1/393-IR and 3/393-IR had pulled up to the banks of the Isar River. 3/393 (I Co and L Co) began infiltrating troops onto an island in the vicinity of Landshut. Enemy defenses were stubborn and artillery heavy. The 1/393 and 2/393 began crossing the Isar south of Landshut that night and captured the town on May 1, taking over 600 prisoners. On May 2, the 393-IR was racing toward the Inn River and a Task Force was reconnoitering routes and crossing sites when orders were received from higher headquarters to cease further advances. The 393-IR assembled south of Vilsbiburg preparing for further offensive action but on May 5 the Regiment moved to Landshut to assume responsibility for the security of surrounding territory. In Landshut on May 8, the official announcement of Victory in Europe was made.
Occupation began on May 11 and with slight variations and shifts with other units from time to time the area controlled by the 393-IR is shown generally on this sketch map. The biggest shift took place when the 2/393 pulled in from the west around Aschaffenburg to the position shown on map in the southern part of the Sector which had formerly been occupied by the 1st and 2nd Provisional Battalions. Troops manned road blocks and guard posts at bridges, underpasses, and factories. They constantly patrolled the area by motor and picked up Prisoners of War and high-ranking Nazi officials.
Lt Robert E. Freed who served as Personnel Officer from the Bulge until the 393rd was inactivated. He was responsible for the records of every man and officer in the regiment :
– his pay
– his mail
– his awards
– his assignments
– his service record.
Lt Freed and his UPS won the respect and admiration of the entire regiment.
Lt Col Logan Clarke accepts command of the 393rd Infantry from Col James K. Woolnough on May 6 1945 in Landshut, Germany. Col Clarke came from the 924th Field Artillery Battalion and Col Woolnough went to the Operations Division, War Department, Washington, D.C.
At Kahl in the 1st Battalion Occupation Area Able Company raises the hand-sewn Stars and Stripes given them by the Sisters of Peter and Paul Church to express their appreciation for the liberation of Germany from the Nazi Doctrine.
On August 23 1945, the regiment moved into the field near Gemunden am Main, a distance of only a few miles from the occupation area. We were relieved of all duties by the 79-ID. Officially, the division had been alerted for return to the United States. New men arrived from almost every unit in the 3-A until the strength was close to 3500 enlisted men and 185 officers. Dates were still moved up, and early morning of September 1, the regiment began movement by motor and “40 and 8’s” to the Calas Staging Area at Marseille, France. Perfect weather, adequate transportation facilities, and the French countryside all contributed to the air of excitement of going home. The personnel of the regiment consisted of officers and enlisted men from the :
1st Infantry Division
2nd Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division
5th Infantry Division
76th Infantry Division
79th Infantry Division
83rd Infantry Division
90th Infantry Division
102nd Infantry Division
103rd Infantry Division
various Corps and Army Artillery units
There were few old men of the 393rd left – only a handful of officers and under one hundred enlisted men. The entire character of the regiment was changed. Few knew Col Yancey and what it had meant to serve under him. Only one or two remembered the bleak, winter days at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi. The SS Argentina and its green eggs were unknown.
The 393rd Infantry Regiment was literally what the War Department had directed a vehicle for returning high point personnel to the United States. The regiment was commanded by Lt Col Cecil R. Everett, having assumed command on August 29. Lt Col Clarke, popular Regimental Commander, and Lt Col Peters, 2/393 CO during the entire period of the regiment’s overseas duty, remained in Germany with the 79-ID. When the regiment left Germany the Battalions were commanded by Lt Col Raymond J. Lewis, Lt Col Jack W. Ward, and Lt Col Charles B. Bryan. The stay at Calas was brief and uneventful. 53 men classed as essential were literally taken off the ship at the last moment on orders from ETO Headquarters due to low points. Sgt Fritz and Cpl Rogers, who were responsible for the compilation of this book, left us. UPS, under Lt Freed, worked continually for sixty hours to get rosters and passenger lists ready for embarkation. Since there was no electricity, this necessitated the use of 330 candles in one night.
On September 11, the entire regiment boarded the SS Admiral Capps, a Navy Transport. Brig Gen Frederick H. Black, the Division Commander, was aboard. There were few who remembered that he commanded troops of the 393d Infantry on the voyage to Europe. A smooth crossing, fairly good food, much excitement made the trip interesting. The 393d Infantry was on the way home !
At Hampton Roads, Virginia, the SS Admiral Capps docked on September 20. We were whisked away to Camp Patrick Henry a few miles away. The same day by General Order No. 50, Headquarters Army Service Forces, Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, the 393rd Infantry Regiment was inactivated. All personnel was transferred to Reception Stations and Separation Centers. A cadre of the Regimental Commander, the three Battalion Commanders, and the Personnel Officer was formed for final disposition of records. All records were filed and boxed for storage, and by the time the Personnel Section had endorsed each man’s service record, the trains were ready to pull out. It was all over in four days. The final Morning Reports were submitted :
Record of Events : Unit inactivated by Special Orders No. 50 Army Service Forces, 20 Sept. 45. All personnel transferred. This is the final Morning Report.
So, the 393rd Infantry that was activated in tar paper barracks in Mississippi three years before – the regiment that achieved a fine training record during the Louisiana Maneuvers and at Camp Maxey, Texas – the fighting team that went overseas in October 1944 to meet the strongest assault of Hitler’s winter offensive in December, 1944 – the regiment that took one hell of a beating during the Battle of the Bulge, only to show its guts by reorganizing and carrying the war to the very heart of Nazidom, to the Rhine, the Remagen Bridgehead, the Ruhr Pocket, Nuremberg, the Danube River, Landshut … the 393rd Infantry Regiment … after 3 years of federal service, had concluded a glowing episode in the highest traditions of the United States Army.
Prepared by the Record of Events Section, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division, and passed by the Unit Intelligence Officer.
Edited by Sgt Ernest W. Fritz
Photographed by Cpl John Rogers Jr
Published by Lt Robert E. Freed
Cpl John Rogers, Jr. (all except) Signal Corps Photos, Pfc Sigurd E. Steen, 1/Sgt Vernon Selders
Art Work : (in the original publishing) Pfc Frank Brady, Pfc Albert Petrik
Copyist : Pfc Dean Bramon
Note from EUCMH
The 393rd Infantry in Review was published and distributed by the Historical Association, 393d Infantry Regiment, 1164 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah. The Articles of Association were drawn and approved at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia the 21st of September 1945. The following officers were appointed by Special Orders No. 133, Hqs. 393 Infantry, APO 499, US Army :
Lt Col Cecil R. Everett, President
Lt Col Raymond J. Lewis, Vice-President
Lt Col Charles B. Bryan, Vice-President
Lt Col Jack W. Ward, Vice-President
Lt Robert E. Freed, Secretary Treasurer
Unit Commanders of the 393rd Infantry Regiment (during combat)
S-1 Capt Karl W. Yolk, Jr
– 1/Lt Ernest E. Thompson
S-2 Maj Don Davis
S-3 Maj Elmer Schmierer
– Maj Richard L. Belt
S-4 Maj George N. Morgan
– Maj William H. Beacham
Personnel Officer Capt Richard C. Turner
– 1/Lt Robert E. Freed
HQs Co Capt Rensselaer M. Holman
– Capt Jacob W. Gravely
– Capt Donald L. Driscoll
Canon Co Capt Daniel Mucha
Antitank Co Capt George K. Maertens
– 1/Lt Robert A. Cronk
Personnel Officer Capt Richard C. Turner
– 1/Lt Robert E. Freed
Service Co Capt William H. Beacham
– Capt Aaron Nathan
Medical Det Maj Milton J. Cole
393rd Infantry Regiment – 1st Battalion
Lt Col Matthew L. Legler
Lt Col Charles E. Ward
Maj Richard L. Belt
Lt Col Larry H. Leidenheimer
HQs Co Capt Robert J. Eckman
– Capt Leroy A. Stenborg
A Co Capt Joseph D. Jameson
– Capt Joseph A. Carnevale
B Co Capt Thomas G. DeBerry
– Capt Henry B. Jones
C Co Capt Aaron Nathan
– 1/Lt Stanley L. Sine
– 1/Lt Dale H. Metz
– 1/Lt James H. McGourty
– Capt Paul V. Fogleman
D Co Capt Harry R. Bangs
– 1/Lt J. C. Steen
– Capt Louis W. Bratton
393rd Infantry Regiment – 2nd Battalion
Lt Col Ernest C. Peters
HQs Co Capt Carl S. Swisher
E Co Capt Carl S. Miller
– Capt Donald L. Driscoll
– 1/Lt Roy Engelbretson
– 2/Lt Edward J. Orlando
– Capt Daniel C. Sutherland
– 1/Lt Donald G. Ross
– Capt George R. Dufresne
F Co Capt J. R. Edwards
– 1/Lt Wilfred J. Fridel
– Capt James K. McCaslin
– 1/Lt Joseph Kagan
G Co Capt William R. Smith
– 1/Lt Paul R. Walgren
– 1/Lt Julius Weisglass
– 2/Lt William L. Probeck
– Capt Curtis C. Noblitt
H Co Capt Joseph W. Nelson
393rd Infantry Regiment – 3rd Battalion
Lt Col Jack G. Atten
Lt Col Oliver W. Hartwell
Lt Col Elmer Schmierer
HQs Co Capt Wayne E. Shannon
I Co Capt William B. Coke
– Capt George K. Maertens
K Co Capt Jacob W. Gravely
– Capt Max N. Andrews
– Capt Stephen K. Plume
– Capt Felix W. Salmaggi
– 1/Lt Edward F. Irick, Jr
L Co Capt Paul V. Fogleman
– Capt Rolland L. Neudecker
– Capt Floyd 0. Jones
M Co Capt Roger C. Nielsen
– Capt John E. Veneklasen
Medal of Honor
On a December day, in 1945, two months after the 393rd Infantry was inactivated, a soldier of Capt Fogleman’s L Company stood before President Harry S. Truman and received the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary bravery and extreme devotion to duty during the Battle of the Bulge. Staff Sergeant Vernon McGarity was representative of the 393rd Infantry. Following is the official citation :
Staff Sergeant Vernon McGarity, a squad leader with Company L, 393d Infantry, was painfully wounded in an artillery barrage that preceded the powerful counter offensive launched by the Germans near Krinkelt, Belgium, on the morning of December 16, 1944. He made his way to an aid station, received treatment, and then refused to be evacuated, choosing to return to his hard-pressed men instead. The fury of the enemy’s great Western Front offensive swirled about the position held by Sgt McGarity’s small force, but so tenaciously did these men fight on orders to stand firm at all costs that they could not be dislodged despite murderous enemy fire and the breakdown of their communications.
During the day, the heroic squad leader rescued one of his friends who had been wounded in a forward position, and throughout the night he exhorted his comrades to repulse the enemy’s attempts at infiltration. When morning came and the Germans attacked with tanks and infantry, he braved heavy fire to run to an advantageous position where he immobilized the enemy’s lead tank with a round from a rocket launcher. Fire from his squad drove the attacking infantrymen back, and three supporting tanks withdrew. He rescued, under heavy fire, another wounded American, and then directed devasting fire on a light cannon which had been brought up by the hostile troops to clear resistance from the area.
When ammunition began to run low, Sgt McGarity, remembering an old ammunition hole about 100 yards distant in the general direction of the enemy, braved a concentration of hostile fire to replenish his unit’s supply. By circuitous route the enemy managed to emplace a machine gun to the rear and flank of the squad’s position, cutting off the only escape route. Unhesitatingly, the gallant soldier took it upon himself to destroy this menace single-handedly. He left cover, and while under steady fire from the enemy, killed or wounded all the hostile gunners with deadly accurate rifle fire and prevented all attempts to reman the gun. Only when the squad’s last round had been fired was the enemy able to advance and capture the intrepid leader and his men.
The extraordinary bravery and extreme devotion to duty of Sgt McGarity supported a remarkable delaying action which provided the time necessary for assembling reserves and forming a line against which the German striking power was shattered.