After Action Report – 11th Armored Division
March 1 – 31, 1945
First Breakthrough to the Rhine
1 Mar - 9 Mar
On 1 March the VII Corps was pushing eastward through a gap in the Siegfried Line to the Kyll river. On a broad front the 87th, 4th, and 90th Inf Divs, 6th Armd Div, and 6th Cav Group, from north to south, were all seeking a toehold on the east bank of the Prum River from which a dash to seize crossings over the Kyll River could be made.
In the center with Prum secured, the 4th Inf Div led the Corps. A small bridgehead across the river at Prum began to look like the most favorable springboard from which to launch a rapid thrust for a bridge across the Kyll River.
In Corps Reserve, the 11th Armored Division (less CCA) was regrouping in preparation for an attack through the 4th Inf Div early 3 March to capture the high ground north of Gerolstein and seize crossings over the Kyll River between Ober Bettingen and Gerolstein. CCA, under operational control of the 87th Inf Div, was committed defensively on the Corps north flank, blocking the Losheim Pass from the vicinity of Manderfeld. As a whole the Division was slightly under-strength, with 622 officers and 9,786 enlisted men. No significant shortages of combat equipment existed.
The return to Division control of CCA being problematical, alternate, flexible plans for accomplishment of the assigned Corps mission had to be formulated. Te terrain for armored combined arms action being favorable, and the delaying effect of a single bridge crossing bottleneck being appreciated, the basic constitution of a very strong CCB for accomplishment of the Division mission was arrived at. To this command were assigned tank and armored infantry battalions for the basic constitution of two balanced task forces. It was contemplated, in the event CCA became available, to launch the attack with the major combat commands abreast, CCB making the main effort on the south flank. Both combat commands were to be supported by centrally controlled artillery, which in any event could throw its full weight in behind CCB.
Operations Memo #30 had accordingly been issued at 2300, 28 February, directing a movement to an assembly area west of the Prum River, and preparations for an attack at H-hour on 3 March through the 4th Inf Div to seize the Division objective. Organization of the major combat units was crystallized as follows:
CCA CCB Hq & Hq Co CCA Hq & Hq Co CCB 42nd Tk Bn 41st Tk Bn 63rd AIB 22nd Tk Bn (-A Co) A Co 56th Engr Bn 21st AIB A Troop 41st Cav Rcn Sq 55th AIB A Co 705th TD Bn 705th TD Bn (-A Co) C Btry 575th AAA Bn B Co 56th Engr Bn A Co 81st Med Bn B Troop 41st Cav Rcn Sq Det 133rd Ord Maint Bn A Btry 575th AAA Bn B Co 81st Med Bn Det 133rd Ord Maint Bn
CCR Division Artillery Hq Res Comd Hq & Hq Btry Div Arty 41st Cav (-A & B Trps) 490th AFA A Co 22nd Tk Bn 491st AFA 492nd AFA B Btry 174th FA Bn D Btry 575th AAA Bn
CCA was directed, upon release from 87th Inf Div by Corps, to move to an assembly area near Washeid. CCB was directed to move at 0630 1 March to an assembly area in the vicinity of Selierich-Hersheid and Hontheim prepared to attack early 3 March. CCR was to follow CCB to its assembly area around Buchet. Div Arty was directed to move its elements to an assembly area near Neidermehien.
During 1 March these moves were accomplished: CCB arrived at 1445; CCR and Div Arty arrived in their respective areas around 1600. CCA remained committed under operational control of the 87th Inf Div. The Division Forward Command Post moved from Wilwerdange, Luxenbourg to Hersheid, Germany, opening at 1615.
Shortly before midnight information was received from the 4th Inf Div that a Bailey Bridge was ready for traffic at Prum.
2 March 1945
At a mid-day conference between the Corps Commander, CG 4th Inf Div, and CG 11th AD, the lack of a sufficient bridgehead east of the Prum River to allow for re-deployment of armored troops was considered and a decision to postpone the attack until 4 March arrived at. In the meantime the 4th Inf Div was to enlarge the bridgehead while the 11th AD completed arrangements for passing through the infantry.
In preparation for the attack, a reconnaissance by CCB and Div Arty was made, the 492nd AFA Bn moved into defiladed positions east of the Prum River and engineers cleared and repaired the narrow, twisting road through Prum and across the bridge. The 4th Inf Div, meanwhile, was making only very limited gains east of the Prum River.
At this time the German 5th Parachute Dev and elements of the 34th Volksgrenadier Div were disposed along the high ground east of the Prum River. Their operations, according to the 4th Inf Div, were characterized by determined resistance. Heavy small arms, automatic weapons, rocket artillery, and mortar fire were being received along the front. The enemy was using an unusually large number of machine guns well dug in, and both AT and AP minefields were abundant. Tanks and SP guns were also operating in the area. Enemy morale was better than the Wehrmacht average.
Shortly after noon Operations Memo #26 was received from VIII Corps confirming the verbal 3 March attack orders issued 28 February. At 2100, through a telephone call from VIII Corps, arrangements for delaying the attack until 4 March were revoked and the Division was ordered to initiate its attack not later than 1200 3 March. The receipt of Corps Operations Memo #27 an hour and a half later confirmed the 11th AD mission and provided for a general renewal of offensive action all along the Corps front to capture the high ground west of the Kyll River and effect a junction with the XII Corps near Hens born. In the 11th AD zone the 4th Inf Div was to assist the attack, protect the north flank between Gondelsheim and Oos, and follow the advance of the 11th AD, prepared to mop up and occupy the high ground west of the Kyll River.
The operation then appearing to be firm, all units were alerted, traffic control through the wreckage of Prum and across the bridge provided for, and a request for an all-morning road priority made of the 4th Inf Div. Before midnight FO #15 was on the way to all division elements covering he mission of attacking at 1200, 3 March to establish a bridgehead across the Prum River, advancing through the 4th Inf Div to capture the high ground west of the Kyll River, and seizing crossings of the Kyll in the vicinity of Gerolstein. Troops were distributed as follows:
CCB CCR Hq & Hq Co CCB A Co 22nd Tk Bn 41st Tk Bn 22nd Tk Bn (-) Division Artillery 21st AIB Hq & Hq Btry Div Arty 55th AIB 491st AFA 705th TD Bn (-A Co) 492nd AFA B Co 56th Engr Bn D Btry 575th AAA Bn B Trp 41st Cav 333rd FA Gp A Btry 575th AAA Bn B Co 81st Med Bn Det 133rd Ord Bn
Division Troops Division Trains Fwd Ech Div HQ Hq & Hq Co Div Trns Div Hq Co Rear Ech Div Hq 151st Armd Sig Co 133rd Ord Bn (-) Res Comd 81st Med Bn (-) 56th Armd Engr Bn (-) 381st Trk Co 44th Engr Bn (-) 575th AAA Bn (-) 659th Trk Co
CCB was directed to attack in depth at 1200, 3 March, establish a bridgehead across the Prum, advance along the axis Prum-Budesheim and seize the Division objective. CCB was also instructed to protect the Division south flank and protect the north flank from Oos inclusive to the east. Dev Arty, with the 491st and 492nd AFA Bns in direct support of CCB, and the 333rd FA Gp in general support, was to support the attack with preparations and massing of fires as requested by the CO, CCB. CCR was directed to be prepared to move east of the Prum River and follow CCB by bounds on Division order. The 575th AAA Bn was to provide anti-aircraft protection around the bridge east of Prum.
3 March 1945
The 4th Inf Div launched an attack at 060 and had captured Weinsheim with elements proceeding to the east and south of the town to improve the bridgehead by 1030.
In coordination with the 4th Inf Div, Division TCP’s were placed in operation at critical points in Prum and on the Prum bridge site before daylight. At 0700, CCB initiated its move across the Prum River. By noon both infantry battalions were in position and the tank battalions were across the River. Supporting artillery was delayed in favor of the movement of a 4th Inf Div Tank Company. A 1230 CCB initiated movement through forward elements of the 4th Inf Div. Due to continued movement of foot elements the exact location of 4th Inf Div front lines could not be determined and the jump off was delayed temporarily. CCB launched its attack at 1255, without the benefit of artillery, to get clear of the infantry forward elements. The enemy met the Division attack with light to moderate resistance. A 1400, CG 11th AD requested CG 4th Inf Div to freeze the infantry troops in place, and by 1505 the northern task force of CCB had shaken loose to reach high ground. At this point extensive use of mines by the enemy delayed the advance. One minefield east of Hill 543 cost the Division three medium tanks. At 1655 the southern task force of CCB entered Fleringen, and at 1715 the town was cleared and the high ground east of the town secured and organized. Engineers removed more mines along roads than the Division had encountered in any previous operation. The day’s action constituted a six km advance on a two km front.
Div Arty, in support of CCB, fired 56 missions, expending 1,064 rounds during the half-day’s operation. Four enemy tanks were destroyed by artillery fire. At 1500, the 491st AFA displaced forward to positions east of the Prum River to closely support the following day’s operations.
The 14th and 15th Parachute Regiments and Kampf Gruppe Kegel, all of the 5th Parachute Div, opposed the Division advance during the day. AT guns, mortars, and tanks were used to augment a defense based on well-chosen terrain features. A total of 56 PW’s were captured.
A Co 22nd Tk Bn, in Division Reserve, was moved forward to an assembly position near Taffel late in the afternoon. CCA remained under operational control of the 87th Inf Div.
4 March 1945
CCB resumed the attack at 0630, moving forward against moderate resistance on the south and heavy resistance on the north. Wallersheim and Budesheim were cleared of the enemy by 1200 and 1400 respectively, representing a 4.5 km advance. Continuing to the east the high wooded ground three km west of the Kyll River was secured late in the afternoon. By1610, leading elements were at the edge of the woods 1.5 km west of the Kyll opposite Lissingen. Artillery, mortar, and AT fire from east of the river halted further advances. Dismounted patrols sent forward to feel out the situation along the river were pinned down short of their goal by intense automatic weapon and small arms fire. The command destroyed five enemy tanks, six 88mm guns, and captured 70 PW’s in this action.
CCA was released to Division control and movement to an assembly area west of the Prum River and north of CCB’s zone was initiated at 1500. The 41st Cav (-A Trp) was turned over to CCR on arrival at Buchet. A skeleton force was left in place pending relief by the 87th Inf Div. Slowed down by intermittent rain and snow, the combat command closed in Wascheid area at 2400.
Div Arty supported the CCB action throughout the day. Battalions were alternately displaced forward to maintain constant close support of the rapidly moving advance. The 490th AFA returned with CCA and was released to Div Arty control.
4th Inf Div elements followed up the advance closely, scouring wooded areas, and taking over the occupation of captured towns. Leading elements reached Budesheim by 1850. North of CCB’s path of advance progress was slowed by action in heavy woods.
With the availability of CCA now to consider, late in the afternoon plans were prepared for completion of the Division mission. Coordination with the plans of the 4th Inf Div was effected through command and staff channels. The enemy reaction in the vicinity of Lissingen indicated strong defensive positions east of the Kyll in the vicinity of Gerolstein. Terrain here was also unfavorable, offensive action being canalized in a narrow valley dominated by a commanding ridge on the east side of the river. The plan adopted accordingly was directed toward more favorable crossing sites to the north between Ober Bettingen and Nieder Bettingen. CCB was directed to hold its Lissingen positions with a skeleton force, assemble in the vicinity of Budesheim, and on order renew its attack to the north and east to seize the Bettingen crossings of the Kyll River. In the hope of being able to seize a bridge intact by fast surprise action, the 4th Inf Div agreed to push rapidly eastward with their elements north of CCB to seize and secure early 5 March two wooded hills north of the Oos river crossing. This assistance to the CCB attack was designed to preserve the element of surprise and avoid the bogging down of the armored thrust through the necessity of making a preliminary river crossing before the final objective was reached. Div Arty’s support mission was unchanged. CCA was ordered forward to the Budesheim-Wallersheim area pending developments. Division troops were scheduled for movement to Rommersheim.
At 2320, FO #14 was received from VIII Corps directing an attack to clear enemy in a prescribed zone and seize the west bank of the Rhine River from Andernach to Sinzig both inclusive. The 11th AD was ordered to spearhead the attack making a crossing of the Kyll River, and thereafter advancing on an axis Budesheim-Kelberg-Mayen to capture Andernach. The order allowed the crossing over the Kyll River to be made in the zone of and in conjunction with the 4th Inf Div. The 4th Inf Div was instructed to assist in the Kyll River crossing of the 11th AD.
On a three division front, the 87th, 4th, and 90th Inf Divs were to follow, assist the 11th AD where necessary, and clear their respective north to south zones.
5 March 1945
CCB left a screen opposite Lissingen and moved north from the Budesheim area ready to move through elements of the 4th Inf Div upon their capture of the two dominating hills just north of Oos. A Co 22nd Tk Bn was released from CCR and returned to its parent battalion. The 4th Inf Div attack failed to accomplish its assigned mission by noon. CCB sent a tank task force north to the Oos crossing and found the bridge blown. Automatic weapon and small arms fire prevented any engineer work at the site until the 4th Inf Div mission could be completed. No by-pass could be located. Late in the day the easternmost critical hill still remained to be captured by the infantry. Plans were made for renewal of the attack at first light 6 March. The Lissingen screening force was passed through by the 90th Inf Div late in the afternoon as a result of a shift of boundaries to the north which gave the 90th an opportunity to force the Gerolstein crossing site by appropriate infantry action.
Div Arty moved forward during the morning to Budesheim. The bulk of the artillery was also brought forward and shifted to the north where the full weight of all six battalions could be used to cover the planned Bettingen crossing sites.
CCA rolled up to the Budesheim-Wallersheim area. Movement was initiated at 1200; the command closing in the new area by 1830.
The Division Command Post moved to Rommersheim by echelon, opening at 1030. The 56th Armd Engr Bn followed to the same location. Trains HQ moved to Hersheid and the 133rd Ord Maint Bn moved to Prum as trailing elements were gathered up for the long push ahead.
Early in the evening the problem of forcing a crossing of the Kyll River and then continuing rapidly to the east was discussed by telephone with the 4th Inf Div and HQ VIII Corps on a command level. A verbal modification of the Division mission was arrived at which called for seizing the high ground west of the river opposite the Bettingen sites and assisting the 4th Inf Div in the crossing itself. At 2330, FO #16 was accordingly issued specifying that the Division was to secure high ground on the west bank of the Kyll River, then pass through a bridgehead to be established by either the 4th Inf Div or 90th Inf Div and attack east along the axis Kelberg-Mayen to capture Andernach. Combat commands were to be abreast with CCB on the right. Axial ridge routes were selected and designated Red and Blue with Red Route on the south. The order of march and composition of troops was as follows:
Blue Route Red Route CCA CCB 333rd FA Gp Div Arty Fwd Ech Div Hq CCR
CCA CCB Hq & Hq Co CCA Hq & Hq Co CCB 42nd Tk Bn 41st Tk Bn 63rd AIB 22nd Tk Bn (-A Co) A Trp 41st Cav Rcn Sq 21st AIB A Co 705th TD Bn 55th AIB A Co 56th Armd Eng Bn 705th TD Bn (-A Co) A Btry 575th AAA Bn B Co 56th Armd Engr Bn A Co 81st Med Bn B Trp 41st Cav Rcn Sq Det 133rd Oed Maint Bn A Btry 575th AAA Bn B Co 81st Med Bn Det 133rd Ord Maint Bn
Division Artillery CCR Hq & Hq Btry Div Arty Hq Res Comd 490th AFA Bn 41st Cav (-A & B Trps) 491st AFA Bn 56th Armd Engr Bn (-) 492nd AFA Bn 991st Trdwy Br Co 333rd FA Gp A Co 22nd Tk Bn D Btry 575th AAA Bn
Division Troops Division Trains Fwd Ech Div Hq Hq & Hq Co Dic trns Div Hq Co Rear Ech Div Hq 151st Armd Sig Co 81st Med Bn (-) 575th AAA Bn (-) 133rd Ord Maint Bn (-) 381st QM Trk Co 659th QM Trk Co
Division Artillery was organized as follows:
Red Route Blue Route Hq Div Arty 333rd FA Gp 491st AFA - direct support 490th AFA - direct support 492nd AFA - general support 58th AFA- general support 174th FA - general support 771st FA - general support D Btry 575th AAA (-1 Plat) 1 Plat D Btry 575th AAA
At 0435 the second critical hill north of Oos was occupied by elements of the 4th Inf Div. CCB resumed its attack at 0630. Task Force Sagaser doubled back to the west through Duppach and then attacked northeast to seize Ober Bettingen at 1500. The bridge over he Kyll River was blown by the enemy as troops entered the town. Moderate resistance and rain-soaked terrain were the principal obstacles en-route. At least 200 men of the German 5th Parachute Div were dug in on the high ground across the river. Man of these men were armed with sniper rifles, limiting activity around the crossing site. Shortly before dark, however, dismounted infantry forded the river and forced them out of their defensive positions to establish a small bridgehead. Meanwhile, Task Force Wingard, crossing an engineer-constructed bridge at Oos, attacked northeast through Kalenborn and Roth against light to moderate resistance to capture Nieder Bettingen at 1100. The bridge across the Kyll at this point was found to be blown. Infantry elements waded the stream to establish a bridgehead to the south near Dohm. Two medium tank companies forded the river successfully, but during the night the ford became impassable.
Although a limited bridgehead was established by each Task Force neither could be expanded rapidly due to rugged wired-in positions, wet weather, and elaborate AT defenses including AT ditches, mines, and abates. During the seizure of crossing sites and actual crossing of the river heavy fire from tanks, AT guns and mortars from the east side of the river was received, as the 5th Parachute Div defended the river line with fanatical fury.
Div Arty continued to support CCB throughout the period. Enemy strong-points on the east bank of the Kyll River around Hillesheim were the principal targets. Up to noon 37 missions, involving an expenditure of 86 rounds were fired. Concentrated fires were maintained throughout the afternoon and night to cover the crossings made.
Following on foot, the 4th Inf Div was scheduled to relieve CCB, expand the established bridgeheads, and build a bridge at Nieder Bettingen during the night 6-7 March. Troops for the relief had not arrived on the scene up to midnight.
The Division Advance Command Post moved to Budesheim during the day. CCR moved to Fleringen, arriving at 1630. The 56th Armd Engr Bn was directed to move to Oos early 7 March prepared to construct a bridge at Ober Bettingen.
At 2000 word was received from VIII Corps that the 90th Inf Div had captured Gerolstein, and work was immediately started on an alternate plan to pass CCA through the 90th Inf Div, crossing the Kyll River at Lissingen. CCA went on a 2-hour alert for this possible crossing, and one platoon of A Troop 41st Cavalry was dispatched at 2300 to the bridge site to ford the river and reconnoiter routes to the east. 90th Inf Div Engrs meanwhile were constructing a bridge over the Kyll River at Lissingen. CCA Engineers worked through the night bridging craters in the river approach road west of Lissingen.
7 March 1945
During the early morning hours of 7 March, B Company 56th Engrs worked feverishly to complete a bridge over the Kyll River at Ober Bettingen. Trouble with approaches, abutments, and wet weather complicated the work. Completion time estimates were periodically moved forward, until at 1200 the bridge was still not ready. Between three and four in the morning elements of CCB on the east side of the Kyll were relieved by 4th Inf Div units. An enemy counterattack during the relief was repulsed. To assist in expanding the bridgehead and direct attention from the bridge construction going on at Ober Bettingen, a CCB task force composed of infantry elements and the two medium tank companies on the east side of the river opposite Dohm was organized to renew the attack north to Hillesheim. Completion of the bridge at Lissingen changed the situation, however, and at 1330 CCB was ordered to cease river crossing operations and move south to follow CCA across the Kyll River in the 90th Inf Div zone.
Following the capture of Gerolstein on 6 March, the 90th Inf Div was able to complete a Bailey bridge across the Kyll River at Lissingen during the night, and at 0600, CCA was ordered to march on the Lissingen bridge site and attack through the 90th Inf Div bridgehead in the direction of Kelberg. By 1030, Task Force Ahee of CCA had started crossing the bridge and the combat command passed through the lines of the 90th Inf Div along the axis Lissingen-Gerolstein-Pelm. Intermittent rain and snow had made a quagmire of the country side. At Pelm a roadblock was by-passed by taking an alternate route through Kirchweileer and Hinterweiler. First contact with the enemy was made two miles east of Pelm at 1300. Light resistance was encountered at Hinterweiler where 100 PW’s were captured. The breakthrough was started at Dockweiler where on Mark VI and one Mark IV were destroyed and numerous infantry killed of by-passed. Dreis and Boxberg were taken against light to moderate resistance, but heavy resistance in the form of nebelwerfer, mortar, automatic weapon, and anti-tank fire held up TF Ahee at Kelberg. This critical road center, on the master ridge between the Kyll and Rhine valleys, was the last hope for an enemy stand. Artillery was brought forward and additional infantry asked for to continue the attack. A combined tank-infantry attack, supported by artillery, was quickly launched. The town was seized at 1820 to complete the breakthrough. Enemy losses in the action included four tanks, numerous wheeled vehicles and 207 personnel. Our own losses included five tanks and 14 casualties, including the task force commander. With the clearing of Kelberg at 2015, CCA was directed, on account of blinding darkness, to suspend the attack for the night, coil up trailing elements, and resume the advance at 0600, 8 March. Temporary defensive positions around the town were posted, and B Company 63rd AIB was sent forward a mile east of Hunnerbach to seize stream crossings and established a line of departure for the next day’s operation.
In the day’s operation, CCA knocked out six German tanks and captured 800 PW’s which were evacuated through Division channels. Many hundreds of enemy troops who offered to surrender were saved to the rear for evacuation by the follow-up infantry division, as it was evident after the capture of Kelberg that the enemy was in a disorganized and confused state. The enemy was still capable of inflicting casualties, however, as evidenced by the action of an enemy AT gun on CCA’s flank which was passed by leading elements. Several engineer vehicles, two light tanks, a medium tank, and a halftrack of Task Force Brady were knocked out before the gun and crew were destroyed.
CCB, during the afternoon, withdrew all troops from the east side of the Kyll River, and assembled north of Budesheim. About 1600 leading elements started east from Budesheim for the Lessingen crossing, trailing CCA. The narrow one-road bottleneck, continuous rain, and the necessity for constant road repairs slowed movement to a snail’s pace. After dark vehicles had to be individually guided across the several treadway bridged craters along the steep-banked river approach road, further slowing movement.
Div Arty supported CCB along the Kyll river early in the day. With the arrival of the 4th Inf Div Arty reorganization ensued to comply with the support plan for the breakthrough to the Rhine. The 490th AFA and 58th AFA Bns were formed into Groupment Davitt and shifted to the south. The 333rd FA Group, including the two medium towed battalions, was detached by VIII Corps. Groupment Davitt accompanied CCA across the Kyll and supported the advance from Pelm to Kelberg. Principal fires were laid on Kelberg during the attack and around the town after nightfall. Div Arty Hq with the 491st and 492nd AFA Bns, initiated movement across the Kyll with CCB.
Late in the day, due to the major alteration of plans, CCA was ordered to turn north at or west of Kelberg and continue to the east on the Blue Route through Hannebach to Brohl. About 1945, word was received that the 4th Armd Div had reached the Rhine in the XII Corps zone to the south and the 9th Armd Div had also reached the Rhine in the V Corps zone to the north.
Pressing verbal orders were received from VIII Corps during the evening that all combat elements would be moved east of the Kyll River prior to daylight. The long, single, rain-drenched column moved slowly through the night as the fight against road obstacles continued. From Third Army insistent orders were also passed down to complete the advance to the Rhine not later than 8 March at all costs. Just before midnight the situation improved somewhat as CCB elements started o coil off the road far enough east to be clear of the infantry and on high drained ground where at least some vehicles did not become hopelessly bogged down.
8 March 1945
So rapid was the Division’s exploitation this period that organized enemy resistance vanished rapidly. Previously prepared enemy positions were unmanned or crushed. Some AT and small arms fire was received from the flanks, but thousands of the enemy voluntarily gathered along the axis of advance and were waved to the rear for evacuation. Surrendering German soldiers poured into Kelberg.
CCA moved out at daylight with A Troop 41st Cavalry leading, followed by TF Brady. Enemy resistance at Beisborn was contained by A Troop as TF Brady bypassed it. Leading elements reached Mayen at 1325. A viaduct over the main road at the west edge of Mayen was blown and TF Brady was forced to bypass on a cross-country route while A Company 56th Engr Bn installed treadway for the remainder of the command. Troops entered and seized the city against scattered resistance shortly thereafter. Contact was established with the 4th AD six km east of Mayen at 1815 and a temporary operational boundary established between divisions. The command assembled in the vicinity of Plaidt for the night. TF Brady was sent toward Andernach to determine enemy dispositions. Forward elements reached Miesenheim at 2300 and assembled for the night.
Moving throughout the night, CCB cleared Gerolstein at 0300 as the bulk of the command coiled near Kirchweiler. At daylight movement was resumed to Kelberg, following CCA. The heavy column soon dropped the bottom out of the undrained secondary road east of Pelm. Repairs ere made by individual vehicle crews en-route. Heavy vehicles bogged down as shoulders gave away along the narrow route. Rain fell continuously. Movement was reduced to a walking pace until the good highway was again reached near Dockweiler. Shortly after noon the CCB column turned north just east of Kelberg and attacked northeast on the axis Mullenbach-Kempenich. Two enemy pillboxes were reduced, one SP gun knocked out and 200 PW’s captured as CCB broke through the lightly held defensive crust north of Kelberg and pushed forward rapidly along the good road. A complete 200-bed German hospital unit was overrun at Nurburg. Nearby resistance from enemy troops being bottled up between the First and Third Armies was encountered in he vicinity of Hannebach shortly after dark. Attempts to bypass this resistance were unsuccessful. Twenty artillery pieces were seized intact, and an enemy horse-drawn column including some 35 vehicles was overtaken, split in two, and destroyed by fire on the approach to the town. At least 150 prisoners were accumulated in small groups along the route during the action and marched toward Kelberg. The command coiled, re-supplied, and prepared to resume the attack at daylight the following day.
Division Troops and CCR, following CCB, cleared the Kyll River by dawn and fought separate vehicles through the bottomless bypass east of Pelm throughout the day and into the night. An advance Division command post was operated from Kelberg throughout the day.
9 March 1945
CCB resumed its attack at dawn with the command divided into two task forces. TF Wingard moved through Nieder Durenbach-Nieder Zissen and Nieder Lutzingen against light resistance and reached the high ground overlooking the Rhine River near Brohl at 1210. TF Sagaser moved through Kempenich and Wehr to capture Burgbrohl. Resistance during the day was scattered and light. Roadblocks in towns were the principal obstacles. Troops of the 9th Armd Div had seized the Remagen bridge across the Rhine River to the north and firing could be heard from that direction. A reconnaissance company of the 705th TD Bn was sent north from Burgbrohl to contact these elements of the First Army, but were unsuccessful. The day’s action netted about 3,500 prisoners from the twelve towns captured, including Major General Viebig, CG of the 227th Volksgrenadier Division and his staff. One hundred 75mm horse drawn artillery pieces and at least fifty motor transport vehicles were overrun or destroyed.
During the night and morning of 9 March, CCA reorganized and re-supplied, in preparation for renewal of operations to seize the Division final objective. Patrols returning from the outskirts of Andernach early in the morning reported some resistance encountered and no surrender offered. A strong infantry task force was organized for the attack. At 1330, the attack was launched and the west bank of the Rhine river reached through Andernach by 1545. Troops met considerable isolated resistance from various sectors of the city. Many snipers were active, and mortar and artillery fire fell on the city from the NW and from the east bank of the Rhine. A total of at least 700 prisoners were captured. Five hundred head of horses, uncounted wagons and motor transport, and large quantities of miscellaneous materiel abandoned on the west bank of the Rhine were recovered.
CCR was directed to operate a prisoner of war collecting point at Kelberg after reaching the town about 0600. Unescorted German soldiers in small groups and in lots up to 100, walking back along the routes of advance, were temporarily caged and evacuation to the rear initiated. Leaving a Cavalry troop to continue this function, CCR moved forward to Mayen during the afternoon. A clearing operation in this large city netted 300 additional prisoners.
Division troops, including the Division command post, reached Kelberg at 0100. Following CCA, such elements moved on to Mayen during the morning, closing at 1330. Military Government promptly took over supervision of the civilian authorities. Motorized elements of the 90th Inf Div followed closely, occupying towns along the main route of advance until Mayen was reached late in the day.
With the seizure of Andernach at 1545, the assigned Division mission had been accomplished, although the time allowed had been exceeded. Reiterating this mission in part and calling for further local action, VIII Corps Operations Memo #30 was received at 1600. Seizure of bridges across the Rhine; lateral contact, particularly to the north; and a general clearing operation were ordered.
Brigadier General Kilburn was relieved as Division Commander on the arrival of Brigadier General Dager from the 4th Armored Division about mid-afternoon.
Since 7 March at 1000 when leading elements of CCA started crossing the Kyll river at Lissingen, an advance of 40 miles in 51 hours had been made to capture Andernach on the Rhine River. From Kelberg, CCB gad advance 36 miles n 24 hours to the Rhine River at Brohl. The muddy memories of difficulties and delay incident to the Kyll river crossing had been overshadowed by the accelerating breakthrough and exploitation action that followed. In its first action of this type some 33 towns, including Mayen and Andernach, had been captured by the Division. Large quantities of enemy materiel, including six tanks, 100 horse drawn artillery pieces, and uncounted hundreds of horse and motor transport had been overrun and captured or destroyed. At least 10,000 prisoners, from a large number of dissolving enemy units, including a Division Commander and his staff, were corralled and evacuated.
10 March 1945
At 0500, VIII Corps Operations Memo #31 was received, covering a shift southward of the First-Third Army boundary, and developing the Corps mission further. All other divisions were directed to clear assigned zones between the Kyll River and a north-south line through Mayen, The 11th AD was ordered, in addition to the mission assigned on 9 March, to move elements south of the new Army boundary and defend the Rhine River in the Corps zone. On completion of clearing operations.
Confirming verbal orders issued, 11th AD Operations Memo #32 was distributed at 1000. To minimize movement, the Division zone was initially parceled out to CCA, CCB, and CCR based on current locations. CCA, along the Rhine River, was directed to clear its zone, defend the river line, and maintain lateral contacts. CCB, in the north and NW portion of the zone, was directed to establish and maintain contact with V Corps elements to the north, clear its zone, and subsequently move south to conform to the Army boundary change. CCR was charged with clearing a southwestern zone in the Division area.
Although CCA had captured and occupied a portion of the city of Andernach on the afternoon of 9 March, sporadic resistance was still put up by civilians and hold-out SS troops. During the early morning a number of the enemy attempted to escape across the Rhine River in barges but direct fire from tanks destroyed the barges and drowned several hundred enemy troops. A small pocket of enemy troops on wooded high ground west of Andernach was liquidated. The town of Eich was cleared by the Cavalry, and by afternoon all resistance in Andernach had cease. On the south flank CCR of the 4th AD was contacted along the Rhine at Zurnette about 1430 Evacuation of still accumulating prisoners was initiated. Military Government personnel discovered a number of Displace Person slave labor camps near Andernach in taking over the city government.
CCB initiated mopping-up operations in its zone and made contact with the 2nd Inf Div at Dedenbach around 1400 to close the trap between the First and Third Armies. Contact was also made with he 9th Armd Div at Bad Neuenacher about 1a600. the towns of Wassenach, Wehr, Niederzissen, Bell, Kell, and Ober Durenbach were cleared. A second German hospital unit was taken over in Maria Laach.
CCR entered and cleared Ettringen, Ober Mendig, Bieder Mendig, and Thur. The command post moved to Kottenheim at 1300, after its clearance.
Favorable weather and considerable repair having made roads from Kyll again serviceable, Division Trains moved from west of the Kyll to rejoin the Division. Trains Hq closed in Mayen at 1630.
The contact made by CCB during the day with elements of the First Army sealed a tremendous trap along the west bank of the Rhine River from which additional thousands of German prisoners were taken by following infantry divisions.
11 March 1945
Mopping up and assembly of units continued during this period.
CCA stabilized the situation at Andernach and cleared Nichenrich, Kretz, Namady, and Kruft. CCB regrouped preparatory to moving south into its assigned area. Elements of the command systematically cleared ten towns. Elements of V Corps relieved CCB troops at Brohl, Niederlutzingen, and Burgbrohl about 1800. Negative reports on intact bridges across the Rhine River were received from both major commands during the day.
Division Artillery was assigned an area in the vicinity of Ober Mendig for later assembly. Groupment Davitt, from positions in the vicinity of Plaidt, continued target of opportunity and harassing fires along the east bank of the Rhine opposite Andernach. CCR cleared the woods between Ettringen and Ober Mendig.
The Division command post was moved from Mayen at 1500 and reopened at Nieder Mendig about 1600. Trains HQ arrived in its assigned portion of Nieder Mendig at 1130; the 81st Medical Bn moved to Ober Mendig; the 133rd Ord Maint Bn arrived in Nieder Mendig; and the 56th Armd Engr Bn continued its move to Ettringen during the afternoon, to complete the concentration of Division control and service elements.
12 March 1945
CCA completed clearing its zone at 1200 and established a command post at Kruft about 1600. Patrols were continued through the afternoon. CCB cleared Forhich, Kempenich, Engein, Galenberg, and Weibern capturing approximately 100PW’s, to complete clearing its zone at 1225. Simultaneously, relieved troops were moved into the prescribed area south of the new Army boundary.
CCR completed clearing its area and concentrated in and about Kottenheim before noon. Limited patrolling was continued. Div Arty Hq moved to Ober Mendig at 1430. The 491st AFA Bn assembled in Rieien at 1410, and the 492nd AFA Bn arrived at Ober Mendig shortly thereafter. The 490th and 58th AFA Bns continued to support the defense along the Rhine River line.
A 56th Armd Engr Bn patrol initiated route reconnaissance south and east to the Moselle River in anticipation of further action in such directions. The 991st Treadway Bridge Company was released to the 1102nd Engineer Combat Group at 1555.
Operations Memo #32, HQ VIII Corps, received at 1600, directed the relief of the 111th AD along he Rhine by the 6th Cavalry Group on the north and the 87th Inf Div on the south. An expansion of the Corps zone to the south along the Moselle River indicated impending action to seize Coblenz, at the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine Rivers.
When relieved, the 11th AD was to assemble in Corps reserve, maintaining contact with the First Army on the north flank and protecting the Corps north flank. It was further directed that all cities, towns and villages within the assigned divisional area be periodically checked and cleared of enemy stragglers. The assembly area assigned to the division was generally in the vicinity of Nieder Mendig.
Operations Memo #33 was accordingly issued at 2030, allocating major unit assembly areas and assigning tactical responsibilities. CCCA was directed to return B Company h AIB to CCB and elements of the 41st Cavalry except A Troop to CCR. CCB was directed to maintain contact with the 2nd Infantry Division to the north and to protect the Corps north flank. Div Arty (less 491st AFA Bn) was directed to support the Rhine River line defense.
13 March 1945
Alternate plans were initiated on this date for commitment of the Division in connection with the Coblenz operation. Confirming the regroupment incident thereto, Operations Memo #34 was issued a 1130, listing the assignment of troops as follows:
CCA CCB 42nd Tk Bn 41st Tk Bn 63rd AIB 21st AIB A Trp 41st Cav D Trp 41st Cav A Co 56th Engr B Co 56th Engr Bn A Co 705th TD Bn B Co 705th TD Bn C Btry 575th AAA Bn A Btry 575th AAA Bn C Co 81st Med Bn B Co 81st Med Bn A Co 133rd Ord Maint Bn B Co 133rd Ord Maint Bn
CCR Division Artillery 22nd Tk Bn 490th AFA Bn 55th AIB Bn 491st AFA Bn 492nd AFA Bn D Btry 575th AAA Bn Det 133rd Ord Maint Bn
Division Troops Division Trains Fwd Ech Div Hq Rear Ech Div HQ Div Hq Co 81st Med Bn (-) 151st Armd Sig Co 133rd Ord Maint Bn (-) 56th Armd Engr Bn (-) 381st QM Trk Co 41st Cav Rcn Sq (-) 659th QM Trk Co 575th AAA Bn (-) 705th TD Bn (-)
CCA continued to occupy Andernach and maintained routine patrols along the river front throughout the first half of the day. Periodic contacts were made with the 4th AD on the south flank. Elements along the Rhine River were relieved by the 6th Cav Gp at 1330. Plans for withdrawal of troops to the designated assembly area were perfected.
CCB maintained contact with the 2nd Inf Div on the north. Maintenance and rehabilitation were initiated. B Company rejoined the 55th AIB Bn at 2000.
Groupment Davitt continued t support the Rhine River defense operation, firing approximately 500 rounds on targets of opportunity. Div Arty (less 491st AFA Bn) moved up into position to coordinate and reinforce the defense with two additional battalions. The 253rd AFA Bn, directing supporting 6th Cav Gp, was tied in to the support plan.
CCR moved to its Langenfeld-Kirchesch-Waliesch assembly area at 1545. Contacts were established with 55th AIB and 22nd Tk Bn preparatory to assuming jurisdiction over these troops.
14 March 1945
The Division completed its assembly in Corps reserve this period, maintained contact with the 2nd Inf Div on the north, and all elements concentrated on maintenance of materiel. CCA’s 63rd AIB moved to Thur at 1305.
Information receive from adjacent units began to show the pattern for the Third army operation to follow. Contacts with the First Army on the north were solidifying from the Kyll to the Rhine. Expansion of the Remagen bridgehead showed no heavy pressure on the south flank which might have indicated a supplementary crossing of the Rhine in the vicinity of Andernach. To the south a large pocket between the Moselle and the Rhine separating he Third and Seventh Armies remained to be liquidated before the Rhineland Campaign could be called complete. Third Arm’s XII Corps was already in the process of crossing the Moselle River in the neighborhood of Treis. VIII Corps on the Army’s northern flank was also turning to the SE. The 11th AD planned and prepared for what was sure to be a significant part in this operation.
15 March 1945
At 0945 FO #15, VIII Corps, dated 2230 14 March was received. The order directed the 87th Inf Div to make an attack H-hour D-day to capture Coblenz. The 11th AD was directed to remain in Corps reserve and to reconnoiter routes and prepare plans to repel any counterattacks within the Corps zone or from the north flank.
Divisional units were principally engaged in rehabilitation and maintenance activities. CCA’s 42nd Tk Bn moved into the assembly area at Ettringen. CCB completed movement into its area and opened its command post at Ober Mendig. Div Arty (less 491st AFA Bn) fired 16 missions, expending 225 rounds, in support of the 6th Cav Gp.
Enemy aircraft were active in the area during the period but no casualties were received.
Major unit control over all troops assigned 14 March was made effective at 1200. In conformance with the Corps order received earlier in the day, verbal orders were issued charging CCA with responsibility for repelling any counterattacks in the Corps zone, and CCB with responsibility for repelling all possible counterattacks from the north flank.
16 March 1945
At 1035 a telephone message from VIII Corps informed the Division that it was on a 4-hour alert status for movement, and directed that the G-3 report to HQ XII Corps for instructions. XII Corps advised G-3 that the 11th AD would pass to its control at 1200 for a breakthrough and exploitation operation, involving a crossing of the Moselle River at Bullay and a push to the Rhine River at Worms.
XII Corps had under its control (north to south) the 2nd Cav Gp, 90th Inf Div, 4th Armd Div, 5th Inf Div,89th Inf Div, and 76th Inf Div. The mission of the Corps was to seize the west bank of the Rhine River between Mainz and Worms. At the time of attachment of the 11th AD, the 4th AD had broken through the enemy’s defenses south of the Moselle River and was approaching Bad Kreuznach with the mission of seizing Mainz. The 5th Inf Div was mopping up following the 4th AD. The 90th Inf Div on the left and the 89th Inf Div on the right had small bridgeheads over the Moselle River established. XX Corps was on the XII Corps south flank.
As confirmed later in the day by XII Corps Operational Directive #88, the 11th AD was directed to cross the Moselle River at Bullay beginning at 1200,17 March, pass through the 89th Inf Div’s bridgehead, and operate on the right of the 4th AD to seize Worms on the Rhine River and any bridges across the Rhine River which were intact. The 355th Inf Regt of the 89th Inf Div was placed under operational control of the Division for close follow-up purposes. The 33rd FA Brigade, composed of the 58th FA Bn, 945th FA Bn, and the 775th FA Bn was directed to reinforce the Division.
In order to carry out this plan, it was necessary for the 11th AD to move forty km to the south that night to an assembly area near Lutzerath and Buchel. At 1400 major unit commanders were verbally warned of the general plan and a march order issued. The only change in the composition of troops was the attachment of the 490th AFA Bn and B Troop 41st Cav to CCA; and the 491st AFA Bn and C Troop 41st Cav to CCB.
Confirming verbal orders, Operations Memo #36 was issued at 1900 outlining the plan for the river crossing and attack. The zone of operation assigned the Division for its second breakthrough to the Rhine was from 20 to 25 km wide. Extending SE from the Moselle River 40 km to the Nahe River the zone then turned east for 70 km to the Rhine at Worms. The Nahe, Glan, and Alsenz River lines were assigned as intermediate successive objectives. Based on an estimate of he situation, two axes of advance were chosen, along which the entire Division was to be employed in a balanced block formation. From map reconnaissance, the routes chosen were designed to allow for mutual support, and followed ridges, avoided villages, and favored a firm footing wherever practicable.
The following order of march across the Moselle River Bridge was specified:
CCB plus 491st AFA Bn CCR CCA plus 490th AFA Bn 705th TD Bn Div Arty (-) 56th Armd Engr Bn (-) 33rd FA Brig (-) 355th Inf Regt Div HQ TAC Div HQ Main 41st Cav Rcn Sq (-) B Trains
Thereafter a formation of combat commands abreast was designated, with CCB on the right. He order of march along the two axes specified was set up as follows:
Route A Route B CCA CCB 33rd FA Brig Div Arty (-) Div Hq TAC 41st Cav Rcn Sq (-) 56th Armd Engr Bn (-) CCR 1 Bn 355th Inf Regt 705th TD Bn (-) Div Hq Main 355th Inf Regt (-1 Bn)
The 33r FA Brigade, with the 58th AFA Bn and the 775th FA Bn was placed in general support of CCA, while Div Arty with the 492nd AFA Bn and the 945th FA Bn was directed to provide general support for CCB.
CCR was directed to be prepared for clearing bypassed areas and to protect the exposed Division south flank. The 355th Rgt was directed to advance along both axes as above specified, prepared to op up bypassed areas, or to seize and secure critical intermediate river crossing points. The 41st Cav Rcn Sq (-) was directed to follow CCB, prepared to establish and maintain liaison with the 10th AD of XX Corps on the Division’s right flank.
A detailed traffic control plan, coordinated with the 89th Inf Div, was set up to insure unimpaired movement across the Moselle River at the Bullay Bridge. To streamline the Division during the breakthrough, major units were directed to allow A Trains only east of the Moselle River, with B Trains prepared to follow on order.
The march to the Lutzerath-Buchel assembly area was initiated at 1700. CCA led out, after the column had been strafed by enemy fighter bombers while forming. The 33rd FA Brigade joined in behind CCA en-route. The Division command post, following, left Nieder Mendig at 2100. CCB, Div Arty, 41st Cav, CCR, and Division control and supporting troops subsequently fed into the line of march in order. The night march was impeded by extreme darkness, heavy countermarching military traffic, narrow streets through towns, and steep grades through the Endert River canyon. CCA coiled for the night near Driesch with the command post opening there at 2105. The balance of the Division was still en-route at the close of the period.
17 March 1945
Major combat elements of the Division completed assembling in the Lutzerath-Buchel area during the early morning hours and immediately initiated final preparations for the Moselle River crossing and a second breakthrough to the Rhine River. CCA completed its move at 0130, CCB at 0630, and CCR at 1000. The Division command post opened at Lutzerath a 0130. Staff liaison with the 89th Inf Div was established at 0300.
To insure a smooth flowing river crossing, the Engineers established a radio network and MP guard set-up for traffic coordination and control through the Bullay bridge site bottleneck. At 1115 the 89th Inf Div reported that the route to Bullay was clear, and assurance was given that the 11th AD would have road priority through the infantry elements south of the river after 1200.
At 1120 CCB started rolling down into the Moselle River valley towards Bullay. Leading elements crossed the bridge at 1200. Some traffic delay, due to assembly area regrouping, delayed following elements temporarily, but the whole of the command cleared the bridge by 1500.
At 1430 verbal orders were received from XII Corps not to proceed beyond establishing a bridgehead across the Nahe River without further orders. The 4th AD had run into stiff opposition along the Nahe River near Bad Kreuznach.
On the Division front elements of the German 159th and 264th Volksgrenadier Divisions manned a series of well selected roadblock defense positions. Light infantry weapons and some demolitions were available to implement what initially developed into a number of stand and run delaying actions.
About 1600, CCA was directed to continue its attack as far as Gemunden and CCB to set Rhaunen as its goal for the day. At 1720 verbal orders were relayed down to the Division from Third Army to continue the attack as far as possible that night. Such a directive was subsequently issued to both CCA and CCB through several alternate means available.
First contact was made by CCB at Altay about 1530. Reducing a roadblock, the town was passed through to gain the high ground east of the Moselle River valley and break loose through the shallow 89th Inf Div bridgehead. Lauzenhausen was seized at 1600. The command was delayed by a blown railroad underpass and small arms fire near Buchenbeuren shortly thereafter. A long, steep bank, 20-foot cut perpendicular to the axis of advance prohibited maneuver around this obstacle. Supported by artillery and tank fire, dismounted infantry attacked across the obstacle, pushed south to clear the woods beyond, and established a small bridgehead after dark. Engineers brought treadway forward and initiated repairs to the blown bridge while the remainder of the command reorganized and prepared for the next day’s operation. C Troop 41st Cav was released to Squadron control and C Company 56th Armd Engr Bn attacked during the day.
CCA, meanwhile, had moved B Troop 41st Cav ahead with CCB’s column to establish contact along CCA’s axis of advance. The remainder of the command started for the bridge at 1440. By 1815 the trailing elements had cleared. The head of the column passed through he 89th Inf Div bridgehead and climbed out of the Moselle valley to reach Kappen at 1540 without resistance. Kirchberg was approached at 1645 where the first resistance, consisting of a defended roadblock and enemy infantry in woods 3 km to the north, held up the advance. Task Force Ahee deployed, attacked, and by 1745 all resistance had been overcome. At 1930 the command post opened at Kappel. Patrols were sent south into Kirchberg, and Kludenbach was captured during the night, as trailing elements climbed slowly out of the Moselle valley and coiled for the night in the vicinity of Kappel. B Troop was released to the 41st Cav and an additional attached Combat Engineer Company made available during the day.
Div Arty and the 33rd FA Brig, although officially under Division control for concentrated emergency use, to all intents and purposes operated as organic elements of the two major commands commencing with the Moselle River crossing movement. Div Arty, integrated into the CCB column, and closed at 1600. The 33rd FA Brig following the CCA column, went into positions in the vicinity of Kappel after nightfall.
On reaching the high ground east of the Moselle the 41st Cav swung south from the CCB route and initiated an advance along a separate route on the south flank of the Division, seizing Lotzburen at 1712 and Wahlenau against light resistance. CCR initiated its river crossing movement at 2000, reached Bullay about 2245, and was still en-route at midnight. At the end of the period all combat elements of the Division had crossed the Moselle River and were headed for open country beyond the 89th Inf Div bridgehead.
18 March 1945
Both CCA and CCB resumed the attack at 0600 and advanced rapidly throughout the day. Increasing resistance, built around a well organized demolition and roadblock system, varied from isolated sniper activity to scattered heavy mortar, small arms, artillery and anti-tank fire.
On the NE flank, CCA’s leading cavalry elements passed through Kirchberg without incident and first encountered desistance in the form of intense mortar fire near Dickensheid. This was quickly neutralized by artillery fire and progress resumed over an alternate route to the east, with TF Ahee In the lead. Bypassing a blown bridge at Gemunden, the command reached Gehlweiler at 0925 where the direct fire of two 150mm guns, nebelwerfer, small arms, and mortar fire was encountered. Infantry elements cleared Gehlweiler while tanks neutralized the heavy weapon fire. Continuing the advance, a blown bridge at Gehlweiler was bypassed. Elements of CCA established lateral contact with 5th Inf Div forces north of Gemunden at 1110. Konigsau was approached at 1330 where again roadblocks, a blown bridge, and mortar fire necessitated local action. Kellenbach was entered at 1420 against light resistance. Two blocks created by blasting the hillside into the road near Dhaun slowed the command’s progress until 1700 when dismounted infantry bypassed the obstacles to enter Simmern. The town was cleared and high ground dominating Simmern and the Nahe River secured by 2000 to complete the day’s progress.
In CCB’s sector, engineers completed laying treadway across the blown railroad underpass at Buchenbeuren in time to permit resumption of the attack at 0600. Gesenrother was reached at 0655. A stiff local action developed as CCB’s advance elements pushed through a deep canyon approaching Rhaunen. Forcing the enemy to retreat, the command overtook a fleeing German column as it climbed out of the canyon to the south of Rhaunen, destroying 20 miscellaneous vehicles plus several anti-tank and 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. One hundred German soldiers were taken prisoner. Side-stepping the main canyon road for a ridge route to the SW, Sulzbach was taken at 0915 and Griebelscheid at 1215. Bergen was seized at 1530 against light resistance to place the command on dominating terrain overlooking Kirn and the Nahe River.
Bridges over the Nahe River had been destroyed by German demolition squads before considerable retreating enemy troops and transport had an opportunity to cross. Capitalizing on the enemy’s misfortune, a fighter-bomber strike, coordinated on the ground by CCB’s Tactical Air Liaison Officer, destroyed scores of German horses, horse-drawn transport, motor vehicles and enemy soldiers in the narrow choked streets of Kirn. Following up the air strike CCB assaulted Kirn from the SW at 1745 to complete the round-up of hundreds of disorganized and demoralized forces isolated there. Meanwhile another air strike was directed against retreating enemy horse-drawn transport columns east of the Nahe River with devastating results. Tanks and infantry began mopping up in Kirn at 1900 and dismounted elements crossed the river, covered by artillery fire, to protect the bridge site for engineer repair work. During the night such forces were relieved by following elements of the attached 355th Inf Regt. Late in the afternoon reconnaissance elements located a ford across the Nahe River east of Kirnsulzbach and a small task force crossed the river at 1820 to establish a bridgehead and secure the high ground south of Kirn, completing the day’s action.
Meanwhile, on the left flank, the 4th AD had assaulted Bad Kreuznach successfully and established crossings over the Nahe River at several points. The 10th AD, on the right, was reported to have progressed from the vicinity of Birkenfeld across the Nahe also, to Baumholder. To the rear, late in the day, the 89th Inf Div had been ordered to resume its advance, mopping up in the Division zone.
Progressing slowly on the Division’s SW flank, the 41st Cav reported no contact during the morning, while the two troops released the night before from CCA and CCB were rejoining. Hottenbach was reached at 1200. At 1625, the Squadron was blocked temporarily by a blown bridge near Herrstein. Much abandoned horse-drawn equipment there gave evidence of the enemy’s hasty withdrawal. Pushing forward, the Squadron reached the Nahe River near Fischbach at 2015 to find another blown bridge. A command post was established at Herrstein for the night.
CCR, following CCB’s axis of advance, completed its river crossing march to an assembly area near Hahn and at 1400 bounded forward to Laufersweiler for the night. The 705th TD Bn completed its march across the Moselle to Atlay at 0650 and remained in such location with reconnaissance out to the SW for protection of the Division rear throughout the day.
Following the major unit B trains, the main Division command post, leaving Lutzerath at 1300, marched to Kirchberg, arriving at 1715. The 56th Armd Engr Bn, with attached elements, followed. Both major commands were equipped with extra bridging material and an additional line company during the day to combat the growing blown bridge problem. Construction during the day soon exhausted much reserve material, however, and urgent requests for additional bridging were made to Corps.
In the absence of a release from XII Corps to continue the attack, plans were made late in the evening to gather up the Division along the Nahe River line while the major commands were completing the establishment of a solid bridgehead the following day. The elements of the 355 Combat Team following CCA and CCB were attached to these major units for closer coordination of action. The 41st Cav was directed to attempt lateral contact with the 10th AD at Baumholder. CCR, to which the 705th TD Bn was attached for movement, was ordered forward to Griebelscheid. Division Troops were to be moved to Kirn, at least. Division Trains were to come forward to Kirchberg.
A 25 km advance had been made by the Division during the day; and undetermined amount of enemy materiel destroyed; and 700 prisoners taken. The German 9th, 79th, and 559th Volksgrenadier Divisions and two Panzer Divisions were added to the battered units in contact. Demolished bridges and strong positions on dominating terrain south of the Nahe River indicated that a decisive coordinated defense would be made by the enemy the following day.
19 March 1945
A TWX was received from XII Corps at 0135 directing a continuation of the attack, but shifting the Division’s final objective to the west bank of the Rhine river south of Worms. The 4th AD was assigned the mission of seizing Worms proper and the west bank of the Rhine north of the city. The 90th Inf Div was to take up the attack on Mainz. Corps also specified that the 11th AD would not advance beyond a line between Oberweisen-Kirchheim, Bolanden-Mornheim-Ballheim and Eisenbeg until released by further Corps orders. Directives to continue the attack as far as the prescribed restraining line were relayed to CCA and CCB. CCB was warned of a possible diversion to assist CCA in crossing the Nahe River.
CCB’s spectacular drive of more than 30 km, greatly assisted by well-coordinated fighter-bomber support operating immediately in front of the armor, highlighted the day’s action.
Utilizing the Kirnsulzabach ford, remaining combat elements of CCB, lid by the 491st AFA Bn, started crossing the Nahe River at 0440. The attack was resumed at daylight. Pushing forward rapidly against air strike softened resistance, the spearheading 41st Tank Bn seized Schmidthachenbach at 0800 and gained the high ground south of the Nahe River around the west flank of the static enemy defense position. Thus breaking through the last strong position the enemy had time to man or transport to reach, progress accelerated as the exploitation began. Hundsbach at 0957 and Raumbach at 1115 were passed through in rapid succession. Meisenheim and the first bridge intact across the Glan river fell at 1215. Orders to hold up the attack with a view toward assisting CCA were received as the leading elements entered Gangloff at 1245. Approximately 1,000 German troops, principally from the 352nd VG Div, were overtaken in this locality and a request made for assistance in handling them. On assurance that CCA was fording combat elements until a bridge across the Nahe River could be constructed, CCB was ordered to resume the attack at 1300. With several air strikes adding to the destruction and confusion of other rapidly retreating enemy columns the hard-pressed enemy found no time for manning roadblocks or demolishing further bridges. Pushing ahead over side ridge roads the town of Nusbach was seized at 1500 and Rudolph-Kirchen fell at 1545. Rockenhausen on the Alsenz River was seized and cleared at 1750, a second intact bridge and the locality secured, and the command commenced to coil for the night.
CCA’s TF Ahee, upon clearing a roadblock north of Simmern at 0030 and completion of a treadway bridge, moved into the town for the remainder of the night. Small forces were dispatched at daylight in an effort to seize crossing sites over the Nahe River. An attempt to rush the bridge near Martinstein at 0745 failed when it was blown up by the enemy as the lead 1/4 ton truck of the 42nd Tk Bn Recon Platoon was making the crossing. A combat patrol was sent east along the north bank of the river as far as Sobernheim by 0830 but this bridge was also blown before it could be secured and intense mortar and small arms fire was encountered at the crossing site. Meanwhile, the bulk of CCA was engaged in the reduction of an enemy pocket still holding out in the vicinity of Rohrbach. On learning of the attachment of the 1st Bn of the 355th Combat Team, this element was committed against the Rohrbach pocket and the column moved forward to Simmern. About 1130 pressing orders for progress were relayed to the command.
CCA’s Task force Ahee forded the stream with full-track vehicles near Martinstein about 1100 and resumed the advance. Artillery neutralized the heavy mortar fire encountered. Infantry crossed the river mounted on tanks. The TF fought its way down the Nahe river valley through the enemy main defense line at Herxheim and advanced up and out of the valley to the SE, encountering considerable direct fire from AT Guns, small arms, and automatic weapons. Meisenheim was reached about 1635 where contact was established with elements of CCB. Held up by orders from CG, CCA until the trailing combat elements could rejoin, TF Ahee sent dismounted infantry east of the Glan river at 1700 to protect the bridge then being used by trailing CCB troops. At 1605 CCA’s TF Brady, mounting personnel on full-track-laying vehicles, started fording the Nahe River and continued along the axis of advance securing towns in the rear of TF Ahee. At 2140 a 96-foot treadway bridge was completed across the Nahe river near Marinstein and wheeled traffic moved forward through the night.
CCR, following the axis of CCB, marched at 0900 from Laufersweiler to Griebelscheid, arriving at 1200. On orders from Division at 1400, a fast column of 55th AIB Bn elements was dispatched forward to Gangloff to take over the crippling horde of German soldiers that had surrendered to CCB. Remaining elements, with the assistance of the 705th TD Bn, cleared the towns of Odenbach, Rehborn, Raumbach, and Becherbach, along CCB’s route of advance, to reach Meisenheim at 2100.
The 41st Cav Rcn Sq, delayed at a necessary ford across the Nahe reached Mittelreidenbach at 0800, and advanced to Sien by 1200. Meeting light resistance and capturing numerous prisoners, the Squadron passed through Hoppstaden, reached Kappeln at 1245, Medard at 1500 where a bridge across the Alsenz River was secured, and Odenbach at 1550. Lateral contact to the south was surprisingly established with artillery elements of the 12th Armd Div near Langweiler at 1655. During the day’s action a German medical station was overrun and captured intact at Schweinscheid. Outflanked and helpless, the remnants of an artillery unit equipped with four 150 mm guns, and four AT guns were captured near Breitenheim at the close of the day.
During the day the 10th AD turned south and no contact was established. Up from the south came the 12th AD, however, elements of which reached Worsbach and turned east during the day. In the Division rear the 89th Inf Div completed clearing up to the Nahe River line. On the north flank, the 4th AD gathered its forces east of the Nahe River and at 1100 started an attack through Alzey towards Worms. CCB of the 4th AD had reached Wendelsheim at 2000 to place the leading elements roughly the same distance from Worms as the corresponding major unit of the 11th AD. Overhead, reports from Tactical Reconnaissance flights indicated that all bridges across the Rhine in the Division zone were blown.
In order to maintain constant contact with XII Corps the Division command post was retained in Kirchberg during the day. An advance party prepared Meisenheim for occupancy. The hoped for release to continue the attack all the way to the Rhine did not materialize. Information was developed from XII Corps that the restraining line would not be lifted until a clear-cut lead over the 4th AD could be established, or further progress coordinated with the 4th AD advance. Verbal orders were issued to CCA and CCB to continue the advance as far as the restraining line the following day. Modified routes of advance were also prescribed to stop CCA short of the Rhine River, and direct CCB’s action to a military airport along the west bank of the Rhine just south of Worms, in the event that orders were not changed allowing the Division to go into Worms proper.
The 56th Armd Engr Bn supervised bridge building at Kirn and Martinstein during the day. An ordered Bailey Bridge did not reach Kirn until 1500. An estimate of completion by 2330 was not met. CCB Trains accordingly were diverted to the Kirnsulzbach ford. To speed the movement of trains and service elements plans were also made to open the main road between Rhaunen and Kirn. Material for a necessary Bailey Bridge was requested of higher headquarters. It was necessary to install treadway in a dozen places along CCA’s route of advance to accommodate wheeled traffic, including the Nahe River bridge. Much valuable time was lost, allowing the enemy sufficient slack to demolish more bridges, while Bailey and treadway material was brought up from hundreds of miles to the rear. The 56th moved forward by bounds during the day, closing at Deslock after dark.
Trains Hq arrived at Kirchberg at 1015. the 133rd Ord Maint Bn followed to arrive at 1400. The 81st Medical Bn moved to Rhaunen.
During this day’s action, the Division continued to encounter extensive demolitions, AT guns, mortars, bazookas, nebelwerfer, and some 4.7 mm rockets as the enemy tried desperately to defend the Nahe River line. Thousands of German soldiers were overrun and captured from 13 general headquarters and 14 separate divisional units. Evidence of a complete disruption of enemy defensive dispositions was clear late in the day, as bridges were captured intact, units surrendered en masse, and artillery and medical units were overrun.
20 March 1945
Holding communications with Corps intact as long as possible, in the hopes of a lift order on the restraining line, the command post started forward from Kirchberg at 0830 in order to maintain absolutely essential contact with advance combat elements, and with a good prospect of reestablishing Corps contact at Meisenheim. En-route a report from CCB received at 1115 indicated arrival on the restraining line at 1104. From CCA a report was received at 1215 indicating arrival on the restraining line at 1135. Reporting these facts to XII Corps, a release was obtained to continue to the Rhine River south of Worms provided the route from Alzey to Worms reserved for the 4th AD was not crossed, unless the 4th AD was unable to make any progress. At 1245, about the time of arrival at Meisenheim, orders went forward to CCA and CCB to continue the attack along the alternate southern routes designated the night before. CCR was ordered forward to Rockenhausen to clear the main supply route and protect the Division rear pending the follow-up action of the 89th Inf Div. At 1500, following CCR, the Fwd Ech and Div Troops moved to Winnweiler where the command post was established at 1800 for the night. About 2100 all artillery was ordered forward within range of the Rhine as the situation indicated possible sharp action to clear the west bank the following morning.
Continued relentless advances against isolated local resistance offered by a highly disorganized and confused enemy marked the action this period.
Remnants of enemy forces on the high ground south off the Nahe River attacked the rejoining elements of CCA during the night, further delaying the gathering of forces at Meisenheim. A command post was established for the night about 0200 at Meddersheim. Resuming its attack at 0700, CCA’s Task Force Ahee followed CCB’s route to Rockenhausen and then moved through a dangerous gap between two high wooded hills unimpeded until reaching Dannefels at 1105 where stubborn resistance was encountered. Roadblocks, defended by infantry with AT guns, were neutralized by artillery and tank fire while dismounted infantry attacked. First Battalion of the 355th RCT, catching up with TF Ahee, was engaged by dug-in enemy on the high wooded ground dominating the axis of advance just west of Dannefels and went into action. Both local actions were successful. Elements of TF Ahee then turned south through Jacobsweiler and Steinbach to establish lateral contact with CCB. Advance elements reached Dreisen at 1135 where contact was again made with CCB and arrival at the Corps restraining line reported. Resuming the advance Marnheim was seized and passed through and Albisheim taken by 1547. A blown bridge was encountered north of defended Harxheim at 1655, which could not be bypassed. Continuing east just north of the Pfrimm River through scattered resistance contact was made with elements of the 4th AD just north of Monsheim at 1710 where the bridge was also found to be blown. In conformance with XII Corps orders to stay south of he main route into Worms reserved for the 4th AD further progress to the east was halted. Turning south, infantry crossed the Pfrimm dismounted and seized Monsheim. Engineers spanned the river by 2230 and the remainder of TF Ahee closed in Monsheim. CCA’s remaining elements cleared and assemble for the night in the Marnheim-Albisheim-Harxheim area. The command post opened at Manheim around 2130.
CCB’s long run of the day before and lack of bridges behind it to bring forward trains delayed re-supply and refueling until early morning. Jumping off at 0900, attack elements crossed the Alsenz River and advanced rapidly to reach Winnweiler at 0931; Boorstadt at 1040; and Dreisen at 1050, where lateral contact with CCA was established. Reaching the Corps restraining line near Golheim at 1055 the command coiled awaiting clearance to proceed. On order, CCB resumed its attack at 140 with the mission of capturing the airfield south of Worms. Pushing forward swiftly, Laudersheim was seized at 1555 and Heppenheim taken at 1800. Upon seizing and clearing favorable terrain two km south of Horchheim at 1825, within four km of the Rhine River, the command coiled for the night and prepared for a decisive attack on the airport the following morning.
CCR scoured the Gangloff area during the morning, rounding up 225 additional German soldiers. Continuing forward on its mop-up mission along the CCB route an enemy hold-out pocket was discovered in some woods north of Ginsweiler . Local action netted an additional 91 prisoners. Clearing Nussbach, Rudolphskirchen, Dormoschel and Dornbach as it progressed, a total of 604 more PW’s were captured during the day. The command post was established in Rockenhausen at 1900.
The 41st Cav Rcn Sq advanced rapidly beginning at 0700 against light resistance. Elements of the 12th AD were contacted in Hefersweiler at 1115, and the 94th Inf Div in Lonsfeld at 1300. The Squadron seized Ramsen at 1350 and forward elements ended up in the road center of Grunstadt along the Corps boundary at 1800. A command post was established at Eisenberg about 1800. 903 PW’s were captured during the day. The 705th TD Bn following CCR and clearing assigned towns, moved slowly east to reach Dormoschel at 1730.
21 March 1945
Information was received before daylight that the 4th AD had entered and seized Worms at 0135.
Completion of the Division’s assigned mission at 0800, when CCB seized the airport south of Worms and reached the west bank of the Rhine River in a brief, sharp action highlighted the operational activity this period.
At 0700, CCB launched a combined arms assault on the final objective. The defending German garrison gave way as CCB’s forces converged rapidly on the large military installation. By 0800 the airport had been seized and the west bank of the Rhine reached. Mopping-up operations were initiated at once and completed within an hour. Considerable enemy air activity failed to influence the action.
At 0955, XII Corps Operational Directive #91 was received, outlining plans for clearing the Corps zone of all remaining resistance and directing regroupment of Corps troops in preparation for an early crossing of the Rhine River. It was contemplated therein that XX Corps would relieve elements of the 11th AD and 4th AD south of a general line Oppenheim-Bad Kreuznach. Specifically, the 11th AD was directed to clear all enemy from its zone east of the Glan river and to make preparations for assembly west of the Alsenz River. The 355th RCT was to be released to the 89th Inf Div in place at 1200. Developing further the above directive, a confirming TWX was received from Corps at 1030, ordering the Division to relieve elements of the 4th AD in Worms and vicinity without delay and not to interfere with the northwestward withdrawal of the 4th AD from the vicinity of Worms. Based on these Corps directives, verbal orders were dispatched to the major units by liaison officer with overlays specifying zones of responsibility for clearance of the enemy. CCB was directed to establish immediate contact, relieve the 4th AD in Worms as early as practicable, and to clear the city.
At 1400 Operations Memo #40 was issued, confirming and modifying the morning’s verbal order. CCA was charged with clearing a zone adjacent to its northern axis of advance, east of the Alsenz River to the Rhine. CCB, to which the 41st Cav was attached, was directed to clear Worms and a zone along the south flank as far west as the Alsenz river. CCR, augmented by the attachment of the 705th TD Bn, was ordered to complete clearing the Division zone between the Glan and Alsenz rivers. Unchanged support missions were assigned to the artillery, the 33rd FA Brigade being warned, however, that a river crossing support mission was impending. The 56th Engineers were directed to open up and maintain two axial east-west routes in the Division zone.
Contact with the 4th AD was established and CCB entered Worms at 1205. No elements of the 4th AD were discovered in the ruined city, which was cleared of some 200 unresisting enemy soldiers. Worms being unfit for occupancy, all elements of the command moved south and west of Worms to assemble near Weinsheim. Clearing villages in the area late in the afternoon a total of 100 additional PW’s was taken. During the day lateral contact was maintained to the south with the 94th Inf Div.
Continuing along the Division south flank, the 41st Cav moved without incident through Bokrenheim to the Rhine river just north of Rokheimer Canal, arriving at 1100. The Squadron was attached to CCB at 1400 and initiated a patrol and lateral contact mission.
CCA continued clearing its area of remaining German soldiers in the morning. By 1200, fourteen towns were thoroughly searched and cleared. The 1st Bn 355th Inf and A Company 285th Engr Bn were released to their parent units at 1200, and the 33rd FA Brigade ceased support of CCA’s operations at 1400. During the afternoon Gauersheim, Albisheim, Herxheim, Bennhausen, Jacobsweiler, Steinbach, Laudersheim, Kinderheim, and Weitersweiler were cleared. CCA’s command post moved forward from Marnheim, arriving in Molsheim at 1715. An estimated 300 PW’s were captured by the command during the day.
Moving forward in its prescribed zone. CCR continued mopping up towns and intermittent woods. In clearing some 32 towns many small arms, automatic weapons, and 348 PW’s were captured by the command during the day.
Trains Hq and the 81st Med Bn moved forward to Meisenheim at 1200. The 133rd Ord Maint Bn arrived at Schweisweiler around 1400. The 56th Armd Engr Bn continued bridge and road repair in an effort to ease the strain on wheeled re-supply and service trains.
An early morning air strike proved costly to the enemy as the 575th AAA Bn destroyed one ME-109 and damaged two others near Worms to drive off fighter aircraft before any damage was inflicted on Division troops.
During the day the 6th AD came charging up through the Division zone from the south, delaying clearing operations. Reconnaissance elements of the 10th AD also appeared in the area. The 4th AD cleared the area north and west of Worms as it withdrew in the same direction.
The Division’s 4-day engagement since crossing the Moselle on 17 March had produced a few noteworthy results. Through a longer zone, in two days less time, the Division had broken through to the Rhine River a second time alongside the famous 4th AD. CCA had advanced 44 miles in 48 hours through 23 towns, trailing CCB for 10 of those miles, however. CCB had advanced 48 miles in 48 hours through 36 towns, to the Rhine River south of Worms. The 41st Cav had advanced 55 miles in 48 hours through 20 towns. At least 12,000 PW’s were captured. Hundreds of irreplaceable enemy motor and horse-drawn transport were destroyed. A few tanks and numerous heavy weapons had been knocked out or overrun and captured.
22 March 1945
With the liquidation of the Moselle pocket the Third Army restlessly regrouped for a crossing of the Rhine Rive. The First Army’s Remagen bridgehead to the north had expanded to a point where the main Rhine valley autobahn east of the river had been cut. By crossing the Rhine between Mainz and Worms, pushing east to Hanau, and thereafter north in the direction of Giessen, another jointure with the First Army would seal off the industrial Frankfurt area and a long stretch of the Rhine River. The master plan for such an operation envisaged a defense of the river line from Mainz north to Coblenz by the VIII Corps; a central zone crossing of the Rhine between Mainz and Oppenheim and subsequent attack east to Hanau and north to Giessen by the XII Corps; and an initial defense of the river line from Oppenheim south to Worms by the XX Corps. A demand for a good crossing site near Worms from the Seventh Army further to the south was destined to relieve XX Corps of all tactical missions and place it in Army reserve until space was available for its recommitment on the east side of the Rhine.
At 0525,Corps directed the Division to move one of its organic artillery battalions to Hillesheim prior to 1300 to be attached to Corps Artillery.
At 0623 XII Corps Operational Directive #92 was received, crystallizing plans for the re-groupment of Corps units and directing preparations for a Rhine river crossing. The Division was directed to hold the west bank of the river until relieved by elements of the XX corps and thereafter to assemble in the general vicinity of Obermoschel-Meisenheim-Sobenheim and Bad Kreuznach in Corps reserve. The 33rd FA Brigade was placed in charge of planned air operations.
A TWX received at 0930 directed the Division to make its entire Division Artillery Air Section available to Corps Artillery for possible use in airborne river crossing operations.
Verbal orders were relayed to major units through liaison officers around mid-morning, charging CCA and CCB with the defense of the west bank of the Rhine in their respective zone, directing Div Arty to comply with Corps requests, and warning all elements of the impending move to an assembly area west of the Alsenz river.
Major units completed clearing operations in zones assigned during the day. CCA worked from west to east, completed its zone at 1500, initiated a system of Cavalry patrols along the west bank of the Rhine and established lateral contact with CCB and the 4th Armd Div to the north. CCB operated patrols along he west bank of the river and throughout its zone. Attached 41st Cav elements were relieved of a portion of the river front by the 94th Inf Div at 1800 in consequence of a minor boundary adjustment. Twelve towns and considerable wooded areas were cleared as CCR completed its mission at 1045. An additional 123 PW’s were rounded up by CCR during the day. The Div Arty Air Section reported in to the 33rd FA brigade and the 491st AFA Bn moved Hillesheim to participate in the initial phases of the Corps river crossing operation.
During the afternoon representatives of XX Corps’ 80th Inf Div made arrangements to effect the relief of Division units early 23 March. Elements of the 317th Inf Regt and the 318th Inf Regt initiated movement to the Division zone late in the period.
The final plan for the contemplated crossing of the Rhine river was outlined in XII Corps FO #17, received in the early evening. An attack across the Rhine River, already initiated by the 5th Inf Div on the north flank was to simulate river crossing preparations NW of Mainz. The 89th Inf Div was directed to assemble in a concentration area NW of Oppenheim, prepared to assist in expanding the 5th Inf Div bridgehead. The 4th AD was to support the river crossing by fire from the south flank initially and thereafter to be prepared to attack through the bridgehead in the direction of Hanau and Giessen. The order directed the 11th AD to move to a newly locate assembly area near Alzey upon relief by XX Corps, in Corps reserve, prepare to cross the Rhine and attack to the NE.
Based upon XII Corps FO #17 and Operational Directive #92, the Division issued Operations Memo #41 at 2030. Confirming and elaborating on the piecemeal verbal defense orders of the morning a movement to and assignment of sectors in an assembly area around Alzey was prescribed. CCR, Division Troops and Division trains were scheduled for movement on 23 March. CCA, CCB, and Div Arty were directed to move by prescribed routes on relief by elements of the 80th and 94th Inf Divs.
23 March 1945
The XII Corps surprise river crossing operation at Oppenheim initiated by the 5th Inf Div was progressing satisfactorily. By early morning a full regimen had crossed the river in boats and on temporary ferries.
At 0020 the Division was directed to relieve the 4th AD without delay along the west bank of the Rhine river south of the growing bridgehead, as the 4th assembled for commitment on the east side of the Rhine. A Corps TWX, received at 0920, ordered the Division to place Tank Destroyers and 76 mm high velocity direct fire guns along the west bank of the Rhine to destroy enemy floating demolitions that might destroy the bridge about to be constructed.
To comply with these Corps directives, CCA was ordered to relieve the 4th AD and secure the west bank of the Rhine River. A Cavalry Command, consisting of the 41st Cav Rcn Sq (-1 Trp) and the 705th TD Bn (-) was constituted and attached to CCA for this mission. CCB was given a similar mission.
CCA established contact with the 4th Armd Div and moved the Cavalry Command into an assembly area near Alsheim. Two platoons of 76 mm gun-equipped tanks from the 42nd Tk Bn were also attached to the 41st Cav and moved up to the new zone. By 1800 relief of the 4th AD had been completed and the Division assumed responsibility for its newly augmented sector.
CCB emplaced one platoon of B Company 705th TD Bn and one platoon A Btry 575th AAA Bn along the river to fire at all floating objects which might damage the Corps bridge. Routine patrols were continued and lateral contact established with CCA at 2000.
CCR patrols apprehended 24 additional German soldiers in its assigned sector. The 705th TD Bn was released to CCA and marched to the vicinity of Alsheim during the afternoon.
The Division Command Post moved from Winnweiler and opened at Alzey about 1500. The 56th Armd Engr Bn and 575th AAA Bn, closed into Alzey during the late afternoon.
Division Trains Hq moved into the assembly area at Wenlesheim arriving about 1800, followed by the 81st Med Bn column which closed 30 minutes later. The 133rd Ord Maint Bn (-) arrived at Ebbes-Budesheim at 2100, to complete the concentration of Division service troops.
Indicative of another shift of Corps boundaries to the north, elements of the 120th Cav Gp, XV Corps, Seventh Army, showed up in the CCA sector along the west bank of the Rhine with an assigned river defense mission in that area. XII Corps Operational Directive #93, confirming fragmentary and verbal orders issued earlier in the day, was received at 2050.
Under cover of darkness Corps Engineers initiated construction of a pontoon bridge across the Rhine at Oppenheim.
24 March 1945
At 0500 the XII Corps pontoon abridge was completed. Harassed by considerable enemy air activity the 5th Inf Div had still completed its crossing and one regiment of the 90th Inf Div had crossed by early morning. XII Corps assumed control of traffic over the bridge at midday.
The Division continued to concentrate in the Alzey area to patrol the west bank of the Rhine River in its zone, and to destroy by fire all floating objects that might have impaired the continuous operation of the Oppenheim bridge. Due to a more favorable location and the absence of any tactical commitments, the 6th AD was transferred to XII Corps and alerted for movement across the bridge, following the 4th AD. At 1115 the 11th AD was released from XII Corps and passed to control of the XX Corps. Verbal orders from XX Corps confirmed the existing Division mission until such time as a relief could be effected by the XV Corps.
The CCA command post opened at Winterscheid about 1000 and all units of the command not employed on the Rhine River line closed in assembly areas nearby by 1530. CCB continued patrolling the river line and the city of Worms without incident. Orders were issued for assembly of the command near Framersheim, upon relief by the 45th Inf Div scheduled to take place that night, and clearance of the 6th AD elements moving toward the Oppenheim bridge. CCR marched from Rockenhausen to the assembly area at Kirchheim Bolanden, arriving at 1030. Div Arty moved to Osthoffen at 1230, with the 490th AFA Bn trailing to Alsheim and the 492nd AFA Bn to Horcheim.
Maintenance was stressed throughout the command the latter part of the day.
25 March 1945
Operational Instructions #69 and #70, XX Corps, were received by the Division this period directing continuation of the assigned river defense, bridge protection and artillery support missions ordered initially by XII Corps. Relief of the Division in the southern position of its defense zone as also outlined.
All CCA elements were relieved by the 3rd Inf Div during the morning and the command concentrated on the maintenance of vehicles and rehabilitation of personnel. CCB, upon relief by the substituted 3rd Inf Div, initiated movement to the Framersheim area at 1045, closing at 1400. All Division units engaged in maintenance and rehabilitation during the day.
By 1900 reports were received that the 4th AD had broken through the 5th Inf Div bridgehead and reached the Main River at Hanau and Aschaffenburg. The 6th AD crossed the river during the day and initiated a drive toward Frankfurt.
26 March 1945
Third Army continued its attack across the Rhine River and push to the NE. the XII Corps bridgehead across the Rhine was secured, and the attack was continuing o cross the Main River near Hanau. VIII Corps established a bridgehead across the Rhine River near Boppard and was driving to the east.
XX Corps FO #19, issued at1630, directed an attack on Corps order to establish a bridgehead between VIII and XII corps in the vicinity of Mainz and to continue the advance to the NE toward Giessen. The 80th Inf Div was named as the unit to make the assault crossing of both the Main and Rhine rivers to establish a bridgehead near Mainz. The 65th Inf Div was directed to pass through the 80th Inf Div on Corps order. The 94th Inf Div and the 11th AD were to be initially in Corps reserve. The order specified, however, that the 11th AD would be prepared to pass through the 65th on order. The Division was also held initially responsible for protection of the principal bridges to be built at Mainz. Field Artillery and Engineer reinforcements were provided.
During the afternoon the 80th Inf Div successfully initiated its crossing of the Rhine near Mainz in boats. Seventh Army’s XV Corps also initiated crossings near Worms.
At 2010 CCA was relieved of defense of the west bank of the Rhine River by elements of the 45th Inf Div. On rotation, C Company 81st Medical Bn returned to battalion control and A Company took up the CCA support mission; the moves being made simultaneously by infiltration during the day. The 491st AFA Bn which had been supporting XII Corps operations reverted to Division control in place.
27 March 1945
The Division completed maintenance and rehabilitation activities during this period and began preparations for crossing the Rhine River.
Operations Memo #45 was issued at 2030 covering the protection of bridges to be built at Mainz and Gustavsburg and preparations to pass through the 65th Inf Div on Corps order.
To accomplish this mission, CCA and CCB were constituted as two balanced and artillery supported combat commands. The 41st Cav and 705th TD Bn were teamed as a Cavalry Command for the bridge protection mission and placed directly under Division control. The troop list follows:
CCA CCB42nd Tk Bn 41st Tk Bn 63rd AIB Bn 21st AIB Bn A Trp 41st Cav D Trp 41st Cav A Co 56th Armd Engr Bn B Co 56th Armd Engr Bn A Co 245th Engr Bn A Btry 57th AAA Bn (-) C Btry 575th AAA Bn B Co 81st Med Bn A Co 81st Med Bn B Co 133rd Ord Maint Bn A Co 133rd Ord Maint Bn 491st AFA Bn 490th AFA Bn Div Arty 193rd FA Gp 492nd AFA Bn 689th FA Bn
Cavalry Command CCR41st Cav Rcn Sq (-) 22nd Tk Bn 705th TD Bn (-A&B Cos) 55th AIB Bn 1 Plat A Btry 575th AAA
Division Troops Division TrainsFwd Ech Div Hq Rear Ech Div Hq Div Hq Co 81st Med Bn (-) 151st Armd Sig Co 133rd Ord Bn (-A&B Cos) 56th Engr Bn (-A,B,C Cos) 381st QM Trk Co 245th Engr Bn (-A Co) 659th QM Trk Co 575th AAA Bn (-A,C,D Btrys)
During the day First Army armored elements broke through from the Remagen bridgehead to the north and reached Giessen. VIII and XII Corps made limited progress. The 80th Inf Div ran into stiff opposition on the east bank of the Rhine opposite Mainz and was unable to clear the bridge site from even small arms fire.
28 March 1945
The 80th Inf Div slowly expanded its bridgehead across the Rhine River near Mainz early in the period. Stubborn resistance, including artillery and small arms fire, delayed scheduled bridging operations on both the Rhine and Main Rivers. At 0430 the bridge over the Rhine was started. Throughout the day completion time estimates were pushed ahead periodically as little progress was made.
Meanwhile at 0945, the Division received verbal instructions from XX Corps to have one Combat Command start crossing the XII Corps bridge at Oppenheim at 1200, swing north to an assembly area near Bischofsheim and prepare to cross a proposed bridge over the Main River in that vicinity. Corps also attached Regimental Combat Team 261 of the 65th Inf Div to the Division and cancelled the previously assigned mission of protecting Corps bridges from ground or waterborne attack.
Under the plan later confirmed in XX Corps Operations Instructions #71 the balance of the Division was to cross the Mainz bridge upon its completion and the Division was to reassemble east of the Rhine and north of the Main Rivers, prepared to pass through leading infantry division elements, for an attack to the NE in the direction of Wiesbaden and Grunberg.
Engineer and staff liaison parties were dispatched to both the XII and XX Corps bridge sites to assist in the control of major unit movements. Clearances were secured and information on progress flowed from these sources during the rest of the day.
CCA, with the 490th AFA Bn attached, was directed to cross the Rhine River at Oppenheim. The column started marching at 1130. Leading elements reached the bridge at 1215. The 261st RCT (-1 Bn) was scheduled to join CCA’s column, but difficulty encountered in locating and motorizing the unit delayed its movement. At 1400 the leading elements of CCA began coiling off the road between Bischofsheim and Ginsheim to await completion of the Main Rive bridge. Estimates on its completion ranged from 1700 to 2100. A Cavalry patrol was ferried across the Main River to confirm reports of the 6th and 9th Armd Divs joining NE of Frankfurt. All elements closed in the Bischofsheim area at 1815.
At 1630 the Division issued Operations Memo #46 confirming verbal and fragmentary orders incident to the Rhine River crossing and specifying the order of march across the bridges preparatory to an attack with the Combat Commands abreast to seize the assigned Division objective. CCB, which Colonel Edgar T. Conley assumed command of during the afternoon, was warned to be ready to cross either the Mainz or Oppenheim bridge at 0700 the following morning.
At 1745, a telephone message fro XX Corps directed that CCA be assembled in the Bischofsheim area and await further orders. Under no circumstances was the command to cross the Main River. The Division was informed that it could expect a change in orders and that RCT 261 of the 65th Inf Div was not to cross the Rhine River. All major units of the Division were notified a 1750 that the provisions of Operations Memo #46 were cancelled and were warned to await new instructions in place.
Delay in making a crossing at Mainz by XX Corps and juncture of the First and Third Armies NE of Frankfurt called for a change of operation plans.
At 1950 the Division was released from attachment to XX Corps and again attached to XII Corps. The 261st RCT reverted to 65th Inf Div control. The 193rd FA Gp reverted to XX Corps and the Division was informed by XI Corps that the 183rd FA Gp then at Oppenbach would join the Division 29 March.
CCA was warned at 2045 to be prepared to march immediately on Hanau, as XII Corps developed plans to pass the Division through a bridgehead being established by the 26th Inf Div over the Main River in that vicinity. Of the major units were informed of existing plans and warned n fragmentary orders to be prepared to march early 29 March, initially following the axis of CCA. Shortly before midnight, from information gained through command and staff visits to Hq XII Corps, CCA was directed to march as soon as possible through Darmstadt to the vicinity of Hanau, establish contact with the 26th Inf Div, and to attack NE along the main road axis in the general direction of Fulda.
29 March 1945
Operational Directive #98, issued by XII Corps at 2400, 28 March, set forth the complete plan for the action in which the Division was to engage. With the 4th and 11th Armd Divs abreast once more, an advance to the NE was laid out. The 4th AD, from north of the Main River on the left, was assigned the objective of Lauterbach. The 90th Inf Div was to follow and support the 4th AD. The 11th AD was to cross the Main River near Hanau and advance to the NE of Fulda; prepared to continue the attack to the NE. The 26th Inf Div was ordered to clear the enemy from a zone behind the 11th AD. The 71st Inf Div, initially in Corps reserve, was alerted to follow the 26th Inf Div. The 2nd Cavalry Group was directed to move on the right of the 11th AD to screen and protect the Corps flank.
The zone of operation assigned the Division, about 70 km long and 15 km wide, contained only one first-class road running in a favorable direction. The terrain, initially flat Rhine valley land, soon rose abruptly across a transverse wooded hill mass (Budinger Wald), and thereafter roads and ridges crossed the zone n a series of transverse corridors. The only favorable terrain corridor was up the Kinzig River valley on the south flank as far as Schluchtern and thereafter down the Fliede River valley toward Fulda. A decision was made to initially attack in a single column up the one favorable corridor in the Division zone, with a second column prepared to branch off and operate to the north if determined resistance developed.
Based on the Corps directive, Operations Memo #47 was issued by the Division at 0100. An advance on the axis Hanau-Fulda in a single column, with CCA leading was specified. It was originally planned that CCB would follow CCA’s axis, outflanking any resistance encountered by CCA. The 183rd FA Gp was placed in support of CCA, and Division Artillery in support of CCB.
Leading elements of CCA left their temporary assembly positions near Bischofsheim at 0015, inaugurating a blackout march to an assembly area from which to cross the Main River at first light in the morning. All elements of the command had coiled by 0500. Vehicles were re-gassed and final preparations made for the attack. At 0600 leading elements of CCA crossed the Main River at Grossauheim and at 0705 passed through the 26th Inf Div. At 0715 Task Force Ahee encountered a roadblock in a heavily wooded area just NE of Hanau to make the first contact. This enemy defensive position was mined and defended by infantry and panzerfaust teams. Defending troops were overcome by 0750 and the advance continued wile engineers removed the block. Resistance, including AT, panzerfaust, automatic weapons and small arms fire, was encountered at Ruckingen at 0820. TF Ahee was split into two teams and the city attacked simultaneously from the south and SE. house to house fighting developed, continuing until 1400 when the enemy was liquidated at the expense of two medium tanks and several casualties. Meanwhile, under orders to clear the Main River bridge as soon as possible, to permit the advance of trailing units of the Division, TF Brady bypassed leading elements of CCA to the north, returning to the main axis of advance at Langenselbold, where AT, mortar and AW fire halted the column. This resistance was reduced, a damaged bridge repaired and the city cleared and occupied by 1500. Meanwhile, TF Ahee had advanced along the main axis into Langenselbold after bypassing a blown bridge. TF Brady pushed forward to Rothenbergen where enemy infantry, supported by three tanks, halted the column. Stopping small-scale counterattacks, temporary defensive positions were organized for the night. The remainder of the command assembled near Langenselbold where the command post was established.
CCB started its march to cross the Rhine River at 0600 and reached the Oppenheim bridge at 0700. Moving slowly behind CCA’s column, which was halted periodically by enemy action, the command reached Darmstadt at 0904 and Wessel at 1005. At 1050 CCB coiled off the road near Jugesheim awaiting movement by CCA. Resuming movement about 1400, after refueling an feeding, the command crossed the Main River at 1500. CCA being unable to make rapid progress, CCB was ordered to turn north at the road junction in the woods just west of Ruckingen and attack on a parallel axis to the NE, generally from Budingen to Grossenluder. Clearing the CCA route about 1800 the command coiled off the road for the night around Ravolzhausen well after dark.
Remaining elements of the division followed CCA and CCB in prescribed order. CCR reached Hainstadt at 2130 and Cavalry Command arrived at Klein Auheim at 2100, to bring the remaining combat elements up to the west ban of the Main River ready to cross early the next day. The Division command post left Alzey at 0900, and, after remaining mobile most of the day, opened at Grossauheim late in the afternoon.
During the day the 4th AD made good progress to the north, ending their action in the vicinity of initial objectives at Herbstein and Lauterbach.
At 2000, a message from XII Corps indicated tentative plans for continuation of the attack NEN from Fulda were on the way. Shortly before midnight an order was received not to advance beyond Fulda until so directed by Corps.
30 March 1945
Shortly after midnight an additional battalion of infantry was requested by CCA. Further development to the situation or turn over of the mission to following elements was directed.
CCA, resuming its assault on Rothenbegen at 0625 with dismounted infantry, encountered immediate resistance which was reduced by 0810 after reinforcing the attacking force with A Company 42nd Tank Bn. Proceeding against light resistance, Lieblos was seized at 1000. Cavalry elements of CCA on the south flank reached Niedermittau at 115. Stiff opposition developed at Roth, as it became apparent that the enemy would stiffly defend Gelnhausen and favorable dominating terrain where the Kinzig River valley funneled down to a narrow canyon through the mountainous Budinger Wald. On a second urgent request for more infantry the 55th AIB was attached to the command at 1100. An estimated 600 infantrymen, supported by five tanks, held the Gelnhausen position. Artillery was displaced forward and went into positions in an effort to dislodge the enemy by fire. Electing to force the defile by dismounted infantry action a plan was formulated for the combined use of the 55th and 63rd AIBs. The 63rd was committed frontally from the vicinity of Roth; captured about 1300. In the meantime, dismounted elements of the 55th were sent up on high ground and through the woods north of Gelnhausen in an effort to outflank the enemy force, and attack the town from dominating terrain. Most of the afternoon went by while the 55th was moving into position. Sporadic artillery fires were laid on Gelnhausen and the high ground to the north. An air strike by fighter bombers hit the town at 1730 but failed to route the defenders. The strike was followed in about twenty minutes by a TOT blast from CCA’s supporting FA Group, but Gelnhausen remained in enemy hands at the end of the day’s operations.
It being apparent by mid-afternoon that CCA could not crack the Gelnhausen position in time to maintain any momentum behind the attack, alternate Division measures were resorted to. A regiment of the 26th Inf Div was arranged for to take over this deliberate action. The Cavalry Command was ordered through an alternate break in the mountainous Budinger Wald. CCR was directed to resume control of the 55thAIB and block at Gelnhausen while CCA disengaged and prepared to follow the Cavalry.
CCB renewed its advance at 0630. Huttengessas was seized at 0845. An extremely bad road net, unfavorable terrain for cross-country operations and well-placed booby-trapped roadblocks, which were covered by fire, impeded the progress of CCB. The command proceeded north through Budingen without opposition but a massive roadblock in a wooded defile east of the town halted the column until 1500, when the villages of Rinderburgen and Wolderborn were seized. Pushing forward to the north and east Kefenrod fell at 1730 and Nieder Seemen was taken at 1840 against light resistance, where the command coiled for the night and the command post was established.
Cavalry Command initiated movement at 0630 crossed the Main River and proceeded to Langenselbold where it coiled at 1120 and sent flank protection patrols to the south. These patrols contacted elements of the 42nd Cav Squadron of the 2nd Cav Group near Kahl at 1230. When CCA’s advance bogged down at Gelnhaussen orders went out to the Cavalry Command at 1415 to advance immediately on the axis Haingrundau-Breitenborn-Wittgenborn to Schlierbach in an effort to bypass Gelnhausen and get behind the defending force. This route took the command through a wooded hill-dominated defile over a secondary road. The command moved out from Nieder Grandau at 1430 and reached Haingrundau at 1730. Advancing rapidly without resistance Breitenborn was cleared at 1750 and advance elements arrived at the outskirts of Schlierbach at 1910. The command assembled in the Schlierbach-Wittgenborn area for the night.
CCR moved at 0700, crossed the Main River and followed CCB to Huttengessas. Ordered to assume control of the 55th AIB, contain the enemy force in Gelnhausen, and protect the rear and right flank of the Division until relieved by the 104th Inf Regt of the 26th Inf Div, the command moved to Mittelgrundau late in the day to insure close control over the Gelnhausen situation.
During the day all remaining service units of the Division completed crossing the Main river. Trains HQ command post was opened at Ruckingen at 1600. the 133rd Ord Maint Bn displaced forward to Hanau and the 81st Med Bn assembled in Langenselbold.
The Division command post left Grossauheim at 1500, opening at Langenselbold at 1600.
At noon, XII Corps released the 4th AD for continuation of the attack NE from Lauterbach. Late in the afternoon XII Corps Operational Directive #99 was received, outlining the Corps plan in full. Continuation of the attack to the NE from the Lauterbach-Fulda area, with no material change in the formation or mission of Divisions, was prescribed.
31 March 1945
By verbal order, confirmed at 0930 I Operations Memo #48, the Division plan for the continuation of the attack NE of Fulda to seize the high ground NE of Grossentaft was laid out.
CCB resumed the attack at 0530. Pushing rapidly from Nieder Seemen, the command reached Ober Seemen at 0630, Volkartshein at 0635 and Nieder Moos at 0730. Slight enemy resistance was encountered at Reichlos but the village was cleared at 0800. Two enemy tanks were encountered near Hauswurz and the advance guard lost one vehicle in a fire fight there. Hauswurz and Ober Moos were severely damaged by supporting XIX Tactical Air Command fighter bombers and left blazing. Following the air strike, CCB advanced rapidly reaching Geisel at 1150 and dominating terrain west of Fulda at 1315. Patrols were feeling out resistance in the city of Fulda preparatory to an attack when orders were delivered covering the continuation of the attack to the NE. turning north the command proceeded to Grossenluder arriving at 1730. The command post was established in Grossenluder at 1900.
CCA’s cavalry moved out at 0530, initially following the route opened on the previous period by the Cavalry Command. The main body followed the leading elements by one hour. At 0730 roadblocks and small arms fire necessitated a brief delay north of Wittgenborn. The block was cleared and resistance neutralized allowing the column to proceed at 0820. Continuing through Spielberg and Streitburg, antitank, mortar, automatic weapons and small arms fire was encountered at Hellstein at 1015. In an hour this town was cleared and the advance resumed through Undenhain. Another enemy strong point was liquidated near Katholsichwillenroth by 1230 and the advance renewed through Eckardaroth, Romstahl, Kebersdorf, and Sarrod. Resistance met at Ulmbach at 1400 was reduced by 1445. Between Kressenbach and Breitenbach, leading tanks took under fire and destroyed an enemy tank and self-propelled gun around 1510. Enemy tanks, antitank, mortar, and small arms fire slowed the command in the towns of Wallroth and Muldorf. Numerous enemy infantry necessitated direct support artillery fire followed by house to house dismounted action. Both towns were cleared by 1600. The command coiled for the night near Breitenbach and the command post opened there at 1850. CCA destroyed a total of six enemy tanks and eight miscellaneous vehicles, and captured 80 enemy prisoners during this period. Its losses included one M-4 tank and one halftrack.
CCR contained enemy forces in Gelnhausen until relieved at 1100 by the 104th Inf Regt of the 26th Inf Div. The command resumed the march at 1200, following CCB, and assembling for the night at Reichlos about 1800. Cavalry Command, following CCA and blocking the SE flank, moved to Marborn, arriving at 2000. The Division command post closed at Langenselbold at 1345, and reopened at Crainfeld about 1800.
The day’s action had developed rapidly into exploitation after major units had penetrated the mountainous Budinger Wald.
Early in the evening a liaison officer from XII Corps brought in orders involving a complete change of plans for the following day. As part of the Corps effort to seize the German High Command and key German political figures and advance via Meiningen over the Thuringia Wald to seize the communication centers of Armstadt and Kranichfeld was ordered. The month closed with liaison officers on their way to the major units with orders for this operation.
A quick comparative analysis of the damage inflicted on the enemy during the month and the price in men and material paid is tabulated below:
Our Own Enemy KIA 164 KIA & WIA 2,572 WIA 488 Prisoners* 21,001 Missing 3 Total 23,573 Total 655
Vehicles and Weapons
Our Own Enemy Medium Tanks 13 Tanks (Mark III,IV,V,VI) 20 Light Tanks 4 SP Vehicles 89 Halftracks 14 GP Vehicles 407 Armored Cars 7 Horse Drawn Vehicles 347 M-8 Assault Guns 1 Motorcycles 2 GP Vehicles 44 Airplanes 2 Brockway Truck 1 Gliders 18 Dump truck 1 Locomotives 67 Total 85 Prime Movers 26 Tractors 5 River Barges 5 Arty Pieces (over 75mm) 202 Arty Pieces (75mm & under) 129 Nebelwerfers 32 Mortars 64 Automatic Weapons 1,493 Small Arms 11,547 Panzerfaust 238 Flareguns 47 Total 14,977
In addition to the above itemized list of destroyed enemy materiel, warehouses stocking Wehrmacht food, enemy ordnance factories, enemy hospitals and numerous miscellaneous plans operating n support of the German Army fell to the fast-moving columns of the Division during the month to further cripple Germany’s capacity to continue the war. The United States’ long-term investment in well-trained units and armored material had produced, at relatively small cost, an overwhelming loss to the enemy.
The receipt of approximately 1,000 reinforcements during the month kept the Division strength up to 620 officers and 10,226 enlisted men at the close of the period. Replacement of critical material kept the division up to full equipment strength during the month. Division Artillery fired approximately 16,000 rounds of ammunition in 675 separate missions to inflict damage on the enemy. Although no details are available the cooperation of Tactical Air Squadrons in direct support of offensive operations was material factor in the rapid progress of exploiting armored columns.
The month’s operation had produced results and high pointed critical matters over and above the casualty figures above enumerated:
With three periods of actual experience in the traditional armored exploitation of a breakthrough and the hard way learned incidental combined arms technique, the Division was well on the way toward the ultimate complete annihilation of German armed power as the month ended.