Over The Rhine
By Hal Steward
Corps Operational Directive No.
92 was received at 6:23 a.m., exacting plans for the regroupment of the Corps
units and also directing preparations for a Rhine River crossing. The
Thunderbolts were to hold the West bank of the river until relieved by elements
of the XX Corps and after that to assemble in the general vicinity of
Obermoschel-Meisenheim-Sobernheim and Bad Krenznach, in the Corps Reserve. Air
operations, already well planned, were placed in charge of the 33rd Field
Artillery Brigade. During the day, major units completed clearing operations in
their assigned zones. CC A working from West to East, completed its zone at 3:00
p.m., establishing lateral contact with CC B and the 4th Armored Division to the
North. CC B operated patrols along the West bank of the river and throughout its
zone. The 94th Infantry Division relieved attached 41st Cavalry elements of a
portion of the river front at 6:00 p.m. CC R completed its mission at 10:45
a.m., clearing 12 towns and considerable wooded area, plus rounding up an
additional 123 prisoners of war.
The final plans for the proposed river crossing were outlined in
XII Corps Field Order No. 17, which was received in the early evening. An attack
across the Rhine River was directed to seize a bridgehead near Oppenheim. The
90th Infantry Division on the North flank was to simulate river-crossing
preparations Northwest of Mainz. The 89th Infantry Division was directed to
assemble in a concentration area Northwest of Oppenheim, and to be prepared to
assist in expanding the 5th Infantry Division's bridgehead. Supporting the river
crossing from the South flank was the 4th Armored Division. The order directed
the Thunderbolts to move to a newly located assembly area near Alzey and to be
prepared to cross the Rhine and attack to the Northeast.
The surprise river-crossing at Oppenheim made by the 5th Infantry
Division was progressing satisfactorily and by early morning of March 23, a full
regiment had crossed the river in boats and temporary ferries.
Early the same day the Division was directed to relieve without
delay the 4th Armored Division along the West bank of the Rhine South of the
expanding bridgehead, while the 4th assembled on the Ease side of the Rhine. The
Division was ordered to place Tank Destroyers and 76mm high velocity direct fire
guns along the West bank so as to destroy any enemy floating demolitions that
might destroy the bridge which was about to be constructed. By 6:00 p.m. the
Division had completed the relief of the 4th Armored Division and assumed
responsibility for its new sector.
Under cover of darkness Corps Engineers commenced construction of a
pontoon bridge across the Rhine at Oppenheim.
At 5:00 a.m. on March 24, 1945, the XII Corps pontoon bridge was
completed. Although considerably harassed by enemy air activity the 5th Infantry
Division had managed to complete its crossing and by early morning one regiment
of the 90th Infantry Division had crossed.
The Division continued to concentrate in the Alzey area, patrolling
the West bank of the Rhine river in its zone and destroying by fire all floating
objects that might have impaired the continuous operation of the Oppenheim
bridge. At 11:15 a. m. the 11th Armored Division was released from XII Corps and
passed to the control of XX Corps but the existing Division mission was to
continue until such time as relief could be effected by XV Corps. The CC A
command post opened at Winterscheid about 10:00 p.m. CC B continued patrolling
the river line and the city of Worms without incident. CC R marched from
Rockenhausen to the assembly area at Kirchheim Bolanden, arriving at 140:30
a.m., Division Artillery moved to Osthoffen at 12:30 a.m., with the 490th
Armored Field Artillery Battalion trailing to Alsheim and the 492nd Armored
Field Artillery Battalion to Horcheim.
On March 25 the Division continued the assigned river defense,
bridge protection, and artillery support missions ordered initially by XII
Corps. CC A elements were relieved by the 3rd Infantry Division during the
morning, and the command concentrated on the maintenance of vehicles and
rehabilitation of personnel. CC B, upon relief by the substituted 3rd Infantry
Division, moved to the Framersheim area.
REACHING THE MAIN RIVER
By 7:00 p.m. word was received that the 4th Armored Division had
broken through the 5th Infantry Division bridgehead and reached the Main River
at Hanau and Aschaffenburg. The 6th Armored Division crossed the river during
the day and made a drive toward Frankfurt. The Third Army continued its attack
across the Rhine River to push to the Northeast. The XII Corps bridgehead across
the Rhine was secured, and the attack was continuing to 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 Field Order No. 19, issued at 8:30 p.m. on March 26,
directed an attack to establish a bridgehead between VIII and XII Corps in the
vicinity of Mainz and to continue the advance to the Northeast toward Giessen.
The 80th Infantry Division was named as the unit to make the assault crossing of
both the Main and Rhine Rivers to establish the bridgehead.
During the afternoon the 80th Infantry Division successfully made
its crossing of the Rhine near Mainz. Seventh Army's XV Corps also made
crossings near Worms.
The Division completed maintenance and rehabilitation activities on
March 27, and began preparations for the Rhine River crossing.
Operations Memo No. 45 was issued at 8:30 p.m. covering the
protection of bridges to be built at Mainz and Gustavsburg and preparations to
pass through the 65th Infantry Division on Corps order.
To accomplish this mission, CC B and CC A were constituted as two
balanced and artillery supported combat commands. The 41st Cavalry
Reconnaissance Squadron and 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion were teamed as a
Cavalry Command for the bridge protection mission and placed directly under
On the same day the First Army armored elements broke through the
Remagen bridgehead to the North and reached Giessen. VIII and XII Corps made
limited progress. Stiff opposition was encountered by the 80th Infantry Division
on the East bank of the Rhine opposing Mainz and they were unable to clear the
bridge site even from small arms fire.
March 28 found the 80th Infantry Division slowly expanding its
bridgehead across the Rhine River near Mainz. Scheduled bridging operations on
both the Rhine and Mainz Rivers were delayed as stubborn resistance, including
artillery and small arms fire, continued to hinder advancement. The bridge
across the Rhine was started at 4:30 a.m. but little progress was made and
completion time estimates were periodically pushed ahead during the day.
Meanwhile the Division received verbal instructions from XX Corps
at 9:45 a.m. to have a combat command ready to start crossing the XII Corps
bridge at Oppenheim at midday, thereafter to swing North to an assembly area
near Bischofsheim and prepare to cross a proposed bridge over the Mainz River in
that vicinity. Corps also attached the 261st Regimental Combat Team of the 65th
Infantry Division to Division and cancelled the previously assigned mission of
protecting Corps bridges from ground or waterborne attack.
Under the plan the balance of the Division was to cross the Mainz
bridge upon its completion and to reassemble East of the Rhine and North of the
Mainz Rivers, prepare to pass through leading infantry division elements, for an
attack to the Northeast in the direction of Wiesbaden and Grunberg.
CC A, with the 490th Armored Field Artillery Battalion attached,
was directed to cross the Rhine at Oppenheim, the column started marching at
11:30 a.m. and leading elements reached the bridge at 12:15 a.m. They then began
coiling off the road between Boschofsheim and Ginsheim to await the completion
of the Main River bridge. Estimates of its completion varied widely and at 6:15
p.m. all elements closed in the Bischofsheim area. The Division was released
from attachment to XX Corps and was again attached to XII Corps. The 261st
Regimental Combat Team reverted to 65th Infantry Division control.
At 8:45 p.m. CC A was warned 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 Infantry Division over the Main River in that
vicinity. Other major units were informed of existing plans and warned to be
prepared to march early on March 29, following the axis of CC A. Shortly before
midnight, CC A was directed to march as soon as possible through Darmstadt to
the vicinity of Hanau, to establish contact with the 26th Infantry Division, and
to attack Northeast along the main road axis in the general direction of Fulda.
The complete plan for the action in which the Division was to
engage was set forth in Operational Directive No. 98, issued by XII Corps at
midnight of March 28. With the 11th Armored Division and the 4th Armored
Division abreast again an advance to the Northeast was laid out. The 4th, from
North of the Main River on the left, was assigned the objective of Lauterbach,
with the 90th Infantry Division following in support. The 11th Armored Division
was to cross the Main River near Hanau and advance to the Northeast through the
26th Infantry Division bridgehead toward the main objective of an area Northwest
of Fulda. The 26th Infantry Division, with the 71st Infantry Division, formerly
in Corps reserve, was to clear the enemy from a zone behind the 11th Armored
Division. The 2nd Cavalry Group was to move on the Right of the Thunderbolts to
screen and protect the Corps flank.
The entire zone of operation assigned the Division, which was 70
kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide, contained only one first-class road
running in a favorable direction. The terrain, although initially flat Rhine
valley land, soon rose abruptly across a wooded hill mass, and thereafter roads
and ridges crossed the zone in a series of transverse corridors. The only good
corridor was up the Kinzig River valley on the South flank as far as Schluchtern
and then down the Fleide River valley toward Fulda. A decision was made to
attack in a single column up the only favorable corridor in the Division zone
with another column prepared to branch off and operate to the North if
determined resistance developed.
Operations Memo No. 47 was issued by the Division at 1:00 a.m. on
March 29, specifying a single column advance on the Hanau-Fulda axis with CC A
leading. It was originally planned that CC B would follow CC A's axis,
outflanking any resistance encountered by CC A. The 183rd Field Artillery Group
was placed in support of CC A and Division Artillery supporting CC B.
Leaving their temporary assembly position near Bischofsheim leading
elements of CC A inaugurated a blackout march to an assembly area from which to
cross the Main River at the first light of morning. At 6:00 a.m. leading
elements of CC A crossed the Main River at Grossanheim, passing through the 26th
Infantry Division at 7:05 a.m. Task Force Ahee made the first contact at 7:15
a.m. when a roadblock in a heavily wooded area just Northeast of Hanau was
encountered. The roadblock was mined and defended by infantry and panzerfaust
teams but defending troops were overcome at 7:50 a.m. and the advance continued
while engineers removed the roadblock.
Resistance which included anti-tank, panzerfaust, automatic weapons
and small arms fire was met at Ruckingen about 8:20 a.m., so Task Force Ahee was
split up into two teams which attacked the city simultaneously from the South
and Southeast. House-to-house fighting developed and continued until 2:00 p.m.
when the enemy was overcome at the expense of two tanks and several casualties.
Task Force Brady, which was under order to clear the Main River
bridge as soon as possible so as to permit the advance of trailing units of the
Division, by-passed leading elements of CC A to the North. and returned to the
main axis of advance at Langenselbold where the column was halted by anti-tank,
mortar and artillery fire. At 3:00 p.m. this resistance had been reduced, a
damaged bridge repaired, and the city cleared and occupied.
By this time Task Force Ahee had advanced along the main axis into
Langenselbold after by-passing a blown bridge. Task Force Brady, while pushing
forward to Rothenbergen was again halted by enemy infantry, supported by three
tanks. Temporary defensive positions were organized for the night after
small-scale counterattacks had been diminished. The remainder of the command
assembled near Langenselbold where the command post was established. CC B
started to march across the Rhine River at 6:00 a.m., reaching the Oppenheim
bridge an hour later. Slowly tailing CC A's column, which was periodically
halted by enemy action, the command reached Darmstadt and Wessel at 10:45 a.m.,
thereafter coiling off the road near Jugesheim to await movement by CC A.
Movement was resumed again about 2:00 p.m. after refueling and feeding and the
command crossed the Main River at 3:00 p.m.
CC B was ordered to turn North at a road junction in the woods just
West of Ruckingen and attack on a parallel axis to the Northeast as CC A was
unable to make rapid progress.
The Division's remaining elements followed CC A and CC B. The
Cavalry Command reached Klein Auheim at 9:00 p.m. and CC R reached Hainstadt at
9:30 p.m., thus bringing the remaining combat elements up to the West bank of
the Main River ready to cross early the following day.
ASSAULT ON ROTHENBERGEN
CC A resumed its assault on Rothenbergen at 6:15 a.m. on March 30,
1945, with dismounted infantry, and encountered immediate resistance. This
resistance was reduced by 8:10 a.m. after the attacking force had been
reinforced by Company A, 42nd Tank Battalion. Proceeding further against light
resistance CC A seized Lieblos at 10:00 a.m. and cavalry elements of the
command, on the South flank, reached Niedermittau at 10:15 a.m. When stiff
opposition developed at Roth it became apparent that the enemy would defend
Gelnhausen powerfully and the favorable terrain where the Kinzig River valley
funneled down to a narrow canyon through the mountainous Budingerwald.
At this point an urgent request was made for more infantry and the
55th Armored Infantry Battalion was attached to CC A at 11:00 a.m. It was
estimated that the Gelnhausen position was held by 600 infantrymen and supported
by five tanks. Artillery was sent forward and went into positions in an effort
to erase the enemy fire. A plan was formulated for the combined use of the 63rd
and 55th Armored Infantry Battalions so as to force the enemy by dismounted
infantry. The 63rd was committed frontally by the vicinity of Roth; captured
about 1:00 p.m., meanwhile dismounted elements of the 55th were sent up on high
ground and through the weeds of Gelnhausen in an effort to outflank the enemy
force and attack the town from dominating positions. Most of the afternoon went
by while the 55th was moving into position.
Alternate Division measures were resorted to when, by
mid-afternoon, it became apparent that CC A would not be able to crack the
Gelnhausen position in time to maintain any momentum behind the attack. A
regiment of the 26th Infantry Division was arranged for to take over this
action. The Cavalry Command was ordered through an alternate break in the
mountains of Budinger Wald. CC R was directed to resume control of the 55th
Armored Infantry Battalion and to block at Gelnhausen while CC A disengaged and
prepared to follow the cavalry.
Meanwhile CC B renewed its advance at 6:30 a.m. and seized
Huttengessas at 8:45 a.m. Their progress was impeded by an extremely bad road
net, and well placed booby-trap road-blocks which were covered by fire. The
command proceeded North through Budingen without opposition but a massive
roadblock in a wooded area East of the town halted the column until 3:00 p.m.
when the villages of Wolferborn and Rinderburgen were seized. Pushing forward
against light resistance at 6:40 p.m. and there the command coiled for the night
and the command post was established.
Cavalry Command commenced movement at 6:30 a.m., crossing the Main
River and proceeding to Langenselhold where it coiled at 11:20 a.m. When CC A's
advance was halted at Gelnhausen orders went out to the Cavalry Command to
advance immediately on the Haingrundau-Breitenborn-Wittgenborn axis to
Schlierbach in an attempt to bypass Gelnhausen and get behind the defending
force. The command moved out from Nieder Grundau at 2:30 p.m., reaching
Haingrundau three hours later. Resistance was nil and after a rapid advance
Breitenborn was cleared at 5:30 p.m. and advance elements reached the outskirts
of Schlierbach at 7:10 p.m. The command assembled in the area of
Schlierbach-Wittgenborn for the night.
CC R crossed the Main River at 7:00 a.m., following CC B to
Huttengessas. CC R had been ordered to assume control of the 55th Armored
Infantry Battalion and then to contain the enemy force at Gelnhausen, protecting
the rear and right flank of the Division until relieved later. The command moved
to Mittel Grundau late in the day so as to insure control over the Gelnhausen
All remaining units of the Division completed crossing of the Main
River during the day. The 133rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion was sent forward
to Hanau and the 81st Medical Battalion assembled in Langenselbold. Train
Headquarters command post opened at Ruckingen at 4:00 p.m.
Verbal orders for the continuation of the Division plan were
received and the attack Northeast of Fulda to seize the high ground Northeast of
Grossentaft was laid out.
CC B resumed the attack at 5:30 a.m. on March 31, 1945, pushing
quickly from Nieder Seemen and reaching Ober Seemen at 6:30 a.m., Volkartsheim
at 6:35 a.m. and Nieder Moos at 7:30 a.m. Although slight enemy resistance was
encountered at Reichlos the village was cleared by 8:00 a.m. The advance guard
lost one vehicle near Hauswerz when two enemy tanks were encountered and a
fire-fight ensued. Supporting XIX Tactical Air Command Fighter-bombers severely
damaged Bauswerz and Ober Moos and left the towns blazing. CC B advanced rapidly
following the air strike, reaching Geisel at 11:50 a.m. and dominating terrain
West of Fulda at 1:15 p.m. While patrols were feeling out resistance in the city
of Fulda in preparation for an attack orders were delivered covering the
continuation of the attack to the Northeast. Turning North the command proceeded
to Grossenluder, arriving at 5:30 p.m. The post was established there at 7:00
CC A's cavalry moved out at 5:30 a.m. following the route opened
the previous day by the Cavalry Command. A brief delay North of Wittgenborn
occurred two hours later from road blocks and small arms fire. The block was
cleared and the resistance neutralized by 8:20 a.m. allowing the column to
proceed. Anti-tank, mortar, automatic weapons and small arms fire was
encountered at Hellstein at 10:15 a.m. after the column had passed through
Soielberg and Streitburg without hindrance. The town was cleared in an hour and
the advance resumed through Undenhain.
A further enemy strong point was liquidated near
Karholsichwillenroth at 12: 30 a.m. and the advance renewed through Eckardaroth,
Romsrhal, Kebersdorf and Sarrod. Resistance met at Ulmbach at 2:00 p.m. was
reduced in 45 minutes. Between Kressenbach and Breitenbach n enemy tank and
self-propelled gun were destroyed. In the towns of Wallroth and Muldorf the
command was slowed by enemy tanks, anti-tank, mortar and small arms fire.
Numerous enemy infantry made direct support artillery fire imperative, followed
by house-to-house dismounted action. Both towns were cleared by 4:00 p.m. CC A
destroyed a total of six enemy tanks and eight miscellaneous vehicles during the
day and captured a total of 80 enemy prisoners of war. Its total losses included
one M-4 tank and one halftrack.
CC R held enemy forces in Gelnhausen until 11:00 a.m. when they were
relieved by the 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division. At midday the
command resumed the march, following CC A and assembling for the night at
Reichlos. CC R, following CC A and blocking the Southeast flank, moved to
Early in the evening orders were brought in from XII Corps
involving a complete change of plans for the following day. An advance via
Meiningen over the Thuringia Wald was ordered to seize the communications
centers of Armstadt and Kranichfeld. This was part of the Corps effort to seize
the High German Command and the key German political figures.
Quickly summarizing the damage inflicted on the enemy during the
month of March we find the comparative figures paid in men and materiel
startling and revealing.
Enemy killed and wounded amounted to 2,572, plus 21,001 prisoners
of war, totaling 23,573 casualties. Our own total battle casualties were 655—164
of which were killed in action, 488 wounded, and three missing. The enemy figure
for prisoners represents the number processed through Division PW Cages. A total
of at least 23,537 prisoners were actually captured, however, 2,537 of these
were turned over to the following infantry units for processing and evacuation.
Total casualties for vehicles and weapons presented an even more
starting comparison. Enemy casualties amounted to 14,977 against our own 85. In
addition to mentioned destroyed enemy materiel the fast-moving columns of the
Division further crippled Germanys capacity to continue the war by destroying
warehouses stocking Wehrmacht food, enemy ordnance factories, enemy hospitals
and numerous miscellaneous plans operating in support of the German Army.
During the month approximately 1,000 reinforcements kept the
Division's strength up to 620 officers and 10,206 enlisted men. Critical
materiel, constantly replaced, kept the Division strength high. Division
Artillery fired approximately 16,000 rounds of ammunition in 675 separate
missions, inflicting extensive damage on the enemy.
The Division had made a 300-kilometer advance in direct ground
contact with the enemy. A total of over 450 kilometers of movement during the
month, or an average of 15 kilometers per day, illustrated the long-term
mobility capabilities of an armored division.
ADVANCE TOWARD ARNSTADT
According to the plan received from XII Corps on March 31, certain
communication centers in the area were selected as objectives. The 4th Armored
Division was to attack Northeast and then Southeast along an autobahn, around
the North end of the Thuringia Wald to seize Gotha and Ohrdruf. The 11th Armored
Division, abreast of the 4th Armored Division and on the South flank, was
directed to advance by the most direct routes to the Northeast via Meiningen
over the wooded Thuringia Wald hill mass, bypassing all resistance, to seize
Arnstadt and Kranichfeld. The Thunderbolts were once again confronted with an
operation zone offering but a limited secondary road net, perpendicular
corridors, and both the Werra River and a mountain range to cross. The city of
Fulda and wooded hill area Northwest and North of it were still being strongly
held by the enemy, therefore, it was found advisable to bottleneck the entire
division through the one open road in the 90th Infantry Division zone to the
Northwest as far as Schiltz.
CC B, the first major unit to be affected, situated on the North,
was ordered to advance along an axis East from Schiltz, by-pass Meiningen on the
North, and seize Arnstadt. Division Artillery was directed to support CC B, and
CC R following along the Northern axis. CC A, following CC R until reaching the
vicinity of Hilders, was ordered to advance on a parallel Southern axis and
seize Kranichfeld. The 183rd Field Artillery Group was directed to support CC A,
and Cavalry Command to follow along the Southern open-flank axis. All division
troops were directed to proceed along the CC B axis.
CC A, commencing movement at 9:15 a.m. on April 1, followed CC R
along the single axis of advance until Ober Nust was reached late in the
afternoon. CC A trains were attacked near Wallroth at 12:35 a.m. but the enemy
was driven off with no casualties inflicted to the command. Task Force Ahee's
advance was harassed between Mackenzell and Gotthards by mortar and small arms
fire from high wooded hills adjacent to the route of advance. Branching South at
Ober Nust the first contact was made, and the enemy quickly overcome at
Mahlerts. At 5:00 p m. Hilders had been seized and Frankenheim and Reichenhausen
fell after scattered light resistance.
During the day Division Artillery and the 183rd Field Artillery
Group supported CC B and CC A, respectively. CC R and Cavalry Command, advancing
behind CC B and CC A, respectively, were occupied with clearing towns and woods
along the routes of advance throughout the day. CC R gathered an approximate 400
prisoners of war and turned them over to the 90th Infantry Division at Schiltz.
CC B resumed the advance at 6:30 a.m., marching North as far as Schiltz. Turning
East, scattered enemy groups situated in towns and wooded hills along the route
slowed the column with stubborn action. Mackenzell was reached at 8:45 a.m.,
thereafter pushing rapidly forward to Ober Nust which was reached at 10:50 a.m.
The first contact was made with the enemy defending Lahrbach
shortly after 11:00 am. Fighter-bombers of the XIX Tactical Air Command softened
the attack on Lahrbach, leaving it in flames. CC B then commenced the advance
through the town. One hundred enemy soldiers were estimated killed in the
action. Others, totaling 259, dazed by the combined armored-air attack,
surrendered hopelessly. Several general purpose vehicles and 20 to 25
horse-drawn artillery pieces were knocked our in this action. The command then
proceeded further along the sniper-infested route and at Hundsbach anti-tank,
mortar, and small arms fire was encountered. The town was completely destroyed
after air, artillery, and tank fire eliminated all resistance. As Kaltenwestheim
was neared a little after mid-day, heavy artillery and mortar fire was poured
from the surrounding hills onto the advancing CC B. Here all units were halted
for re-supply of fuel and ammunition while the artillery went into position and
destroyed or dispersed the enemy.
The advance continued as far as Kalrensundheim where CC B
established a command post and temporary defensive positions were organized for
the night. During the day CC B had advanced 35 miles and taken about 1,000
prisoners of war.
During the last day of March and April 1, the Division had
outdistanced its supporting infantry by over 60 kilometers. Meanwhile, far to
the West near Gelnhausen, by-passed enemy groups had returned to ambush
positions from secluded wooded areas and were greatly harassing and threatening
the Corps rear. As a result, a TWX received from XII Corps ordered the Division
to restrain its operations West of a North-South line through Meiningen.
On April 2, after the experience of the previous day, a number of
precautionary measures were taken and orders issued. To increase the Division's
flank protection Troop C, 41st Cavalry, was attached to CC B and the remainder
of Cavalry Command was placed under direct control of CC A.
Division Artillery was directed to maintain air patrols on the
South flank between Fulda and Ostheim and on the North between Schmalkalden and
Geisa for early warning of any attempted flank attack. Company D, 22nd Tank
Battalion, was placed under Division control to escort Division trains on their
long haul from supply installations through by-passed enemy pockets to the
forward combat elements.
ACROSS THE WERRA RIVER
CC B, jumping off at 7:00 a.m. on April 2, advanced rapidly,
reaching Aschenhausen, Ober Karz and Unterkats by 8:00 a.m. Leading elements of
the command seized Mehmeis at 9:25 a.m. Advanced elements found a bridge blown
over the Werra River at Wasungen. A Division order was received directing CC B
to establish a bridgehead and repair the crossing of the Werra River. Work on
the pontoon bridge was initiated at 11:30 a.m., after elements of the 21st
Armored Infantry Battalion forded the river to establish a small bridgehead. At
5:45 p.m. the bridge was completed and the remainder of the 21st Armored
Infantry Battalion, plus an attached medium tank company, crossed the river at
8:00 p.m. thus deepening the bridgehead and setting the stage for resuming the
Resuming the attack at 7:00 a.m., CC A gained 21 kilometers against
light enemy resistance during the day. The command followed the
axis. One German Mark V and one Mark III were engaged and destroyed near
CC A's mission of securing the heights West of the Werra River near
Grimmenthal was changed at 9:30 a.m. to seizing all available bridges across the
Werra near Rirschenhausen and establishing a bridgehead for further use.
Although under fire, Task Force Ahee seized intact three bridges across the
Werra and tributary rivers near Grimmenthal and a small bridgehead established
by 11:15 a.m. Untermassfeld was seized and secured by 1:30 p.m. Both
Untermassfeld and Obermassfeld were held under heavy nebelwerfer fire throughout
the afternoon. From a Grimmenthal camp CC A liberated 400 Allied prisoners of
war, most of whom were crippled. In preparation for the following day's action a
reinforced infantry company was sent East to Vachdorf late in the afternoon to
seize and hold a bridge over the Werra. This mission was accomplished at 8:15
CC R moved to the vicinity of Unterweid at 9:15 a.m. and placed the
22nd Tank Battalion in positions covering the Division rear. The day was mainly
devoted to clearing previously by-passed towns and handling prisoners along the
CC B route of advance.
During the day the 4rh Armored Division to the North, reached the
Werra River also to find all bridges blown by the retreating enemy.
CC B continued the advance at 7:00 a.m. on April 3, pushing rapidly
forward through Metzels, Christes, and Breitenbach. The few remaining,
disorganized defenders were quickly overrun and the command advanced through
Springscille, reaching Steinbach-Hallenberg at 11:10 a.m.
As the command climbed to Ober Schonau heavier resistance in the
form of Panzerfaust and small arms fire developed. The town was cleared and the
advance continued at 11:30 a.m. The route of advance from Ober Schonau to
Oberhof was along a winding mountain road climbing steeply through a heavily
wooded gorge. Two massive roadblocks, which were heavily defended by panzerfaust
teams and small-arms, took the entire afternoon to liquidate. Dismounted
elements of the 21st Armored Infantry Battalion advanced on Oberhof through a
driving snowstorm to seize this road center on the crest of the Thuringia Wald.
The 41st Tank Battalion followed and the city was cleared of snipers by 11:00
p.m. Artillery elements of the command remained in place between Ober Schonau
and Oberhof during the night. The command's cavalry elements, in the meantime
operating on the North flank overcame light resistance to seize the large town
of Schmalkalden during the afternoon.
ADVANCE LIGHTLY CONTESTED
CC A's cavalry moved out at 6:00 a.m., followed by the main body at
7:00 am. The advance was lightly contested but by 9:20 a.m. the towns of
Oberstadt, Marisfels, and Suhler Neundorf were all cleared of the enemy. As the
advanced elements emerged from the woods one and a half kilometers from Suhl
considerable resistance was encountered. Divided into three columns for a
coordinated attack on the city, progress was slowed by anti-tank, artillery,
panzerfaust, automatic weapon and small arms fire. Upon seizing dominating
heights overlooking the city, it was subjected to heavy concentrations of tank
and massed artillery fire.
The defending enemy force which was made up of an estimated 600
Volkssturm, augmented by a few regular Wehrmacht personnel, strongly contested
progress from behind roadblocks and in buildings. Into the Southwestern position
of the city moved infantry elements and tanks 2nd the defenders were cleared out
in bitter street and house-to-house fighting which continued long after dark.
Several supporting missions were flown by the XIX Tactical Air Command on this
day of April 3. The main air strike of the day occurred in the afternoon when a
retreating column of approximately 200 enemy vehicles were strafed along the
highway and at least 40 destroyed.
Following CC B's axis of advance, CC R left Unterweid at 10:00 a.m.
and marched to Ober Karz. As the progress of CC B allowed another abound to be
made, the command was ordered to clear towns forward to Sreinbach-Hallenberg
during the early afternoon. While clearing the area elements of the 22nd Tank
Battalion engaged and destroyed one German Tiger tank one kilometer Southeast of
Preceding CC R, the Division command post followed CC B's route to
Steinbach-Hallenberg, after a temporary stop at Metzels. Division troops and
trains followed closely behind CC R. The 133rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
moved to Metzels and the 81st Armored Medical Battalion moved to Herges
Heleinberg as trailing elements closed into an area where protection could be
afforded by CC R.
The Division's advance to the crest of the Thuringia Wald during
the day placed it further East than any other United States Army unit in
Germany. Until the following day it was not apparent that the location of the
bulk of the Division in the heart of Nazi-land actually surrounded a German
Army, small-arms manufacturing center until factory after factory was uncovered
the following day.
During the day the 4th Armored Division crossed bridges constructed
over the Werra River to the North and made further advances along the autobahn
toward their final objective. CC A advance elements reach6d Hastrungsfeld and CC
B a point five kilometers Northwest of Gotha.
Operational Directive No. 101 was received from Headquarters XII
Corps at 5:30 a.m. on April 4, 1945, designating the limit of Corps Eastern
advance as a Gotha-Suhl line. The 4th Armored Division on the North was directed
to seize and hold Gotha and Ohrdruf. The 26th Infantry Division assignment was a
separate zone between the 4th and 11th Armored Divisions for clearance. The
Thunderbolts were ordered to hold Suhl and Oberhof, and thereafter to patrol to
the East as far as a line from Grafenroda to Gehren. The Division was also
ordered to clear the enemy from its zone West of the Oberhof-Suhl line and
protect Corps right flank East of Fulda. The Division therefore was stopped
short of its original objective and found its offensive mission had been
The Division still undertook, on its own initiative, the task of
securing the crest of Thuringia Wald on the South flank. CC A was ordered to
seize Stutzerbach while CC B's mission was the securement of Oberhof. CC R was
directed to clear the zone between CC A and CC B, including the arms
manufacturing center of Zella-Mehlis. Division Artillery continued to flank air
patrols and support major unit operations along with the 183rd Field Artillery
Groups. The 56th Armored Engineer Battalion was to secure the Wasungen and
Grimenchal bridges over the Werra River. Just before renewing the offensive
operations originally planned for the day, CC B was held up and the task of
clearing enemy from its zone was undertaken. During the day the enemy rained
Oberhof with sporadic artillery, mortar, and nebelwerfer fire. Patrols scouting
on the North and East made close contacts with the enemy.
CC A planned its own operation, this being to open a direct lateral
route to the bulk of the Division. This plan was approved at Division
Headquarters with the exception that the forces were not to proceed further
North of Benhausen where contact with elements of CC R was directed. CC A
continued its clearance of Suhl while cavalry and tank destroyer elements
patrolled the Division South flank. The majority of resistance was met on the
outskirts of the town where small arms fire was met in considerable volume.
Volkssturm sniping troops, in civilian clothes and with no distinguishing
armbands, delayed the action to some extent.
After repeated reports of this type of resistance had been received
orders were issued to burn the town, but these orders were reclassified after
the commanding general of CC A flew to the Division command post and explained
that such an order could nor be executed. The area was reported cleared at 6:55
p.m. An estimated 5,000 mixed nationality slave workers who manned arms
factories in the town, pilfered and looted, destroying considerable property
after they had been liberated.
CC R mopped up in the Steinbach-Hallenberg area during the morning.
A two-column advance on Zella-Mehlis was initiated at 2:00 p.m. Roadblocks,
found undefended, felled trees, and debris-littered roads delayed the advance.
The command was greeted by white flags when it entered Zella-Mehlis at 4:00 p.m.
Contact was later established with elements of CC A at Benshausen and Suhl but
an attempt to make contact with CC B along a road to Oberhof was unsuccessful.
The 56rh Armored Engineer Battalion and supporting units
established and maintained company guards at the important bridges over the
Werra River at Wasungen and Grimenthal.
The 4th Armored Division to the North captured Gotha at noon and
passed to control of the VIII Corps.
With the capture of Suhl, Zella-Mehlis, and several surrounding
smaller Thuringia towns, one of the largest munitions industry prizes of the war
fell to the Thunderbolts. Included among them was the famed Walther Arms Works.
A capitulation of the arms, armament parts, and materiel seized in the area
included: Pistols, P38—1,600; 7.65mm— 4,600; Signal—598; 22 cal.—325.
Sniper rifles and scopes complete—2,210; scopes incomplete—4,420; rifles
partly assembled—1,140; 113 lathes, 97 milling machines, 41 drill presses,
nine punch presses, two hydraulic presses, and 40 grinders. At least 500 new
type enemy carbines and 2,500 Burp guns with sufficient parts for an additional
5,000 were uncovered at Suhl. Over a million rounds of small arms ammunition
were included. This material was found in several large plants and over 50
small, decentralized plants. In addition to weapons, several of these factories
produced parts of robot aircraft.
CC R renewed its effort to establish lateral contact with CC B
during the early morning of April 5. A small task force was successful in
breaking through to Oberhof after reducing three roadblocks. The bulk of the
command, which had been organized into two forces, moved toward Meiningen from
Zella Mehlis at 11:30 a.m. The 22nd Tank Battalion with an additional infantry
company moved along the Rohr-Meiningen axis and on reaching the airport was
encountered by dug-in panzerfaust crews and infantry. After a bitter fight the
airport was seized at 3:00 p.m. and the battalion advanced to the East edge of
Meiningen against small arms fire.
The 55th Armored Infantry Battalion, plus a medium tank company,
meanwhile moved on the axis Kuhndorf-Helba to Meiningen. Three roadblocks,
defended with small arms fire, automatic weapons, and panzerfaust, delayed the
action. In the absence of artillery, Meiningen was attacked by fighter-bombers
of the XIX Tactical Air Command to soften evidently determined resistance.
Immediately after the air strike both task forces fought their way into
Meiningen. Once in the city a hospital containing 470 Allied prisoners of war
was liberated and seven German hospitals with 1,600 patients were captured. The
city was cleared by 7:00 p.m. and 600 prisoners of war were taken, including
students at the Wehrmacht Non-Commissioned Officer and Officer Candidate
Schools. A guard was placed on a camp containing some 500 political prisoners in
Unter Massfeld. Later in the afternoon a FW 190 landed at the airport in error
and the pilot surrendered with disgust. CC R troops were relieved shortly after
7:00 p.m. when a battalion of the 26th Infantry Division, 101st Infantry
Regiment reached the town from the West.
While clearing and occupying additional small towns in the zone CC
R killed an estimated 100 enemy troops and captured 2,200 prisoners during the
day. Destroyed enemy materiel included six half-tracks, two 75mm anti-tank guns,
two 20mm guns and three general-purpose vehicles. The Command's losses included
one killed, 13 wounded, and two medium tanks destroyed.
CC A renewed attempts to capture Schmiedefeld and Srurzerbach at
7:00 a.m., April 5. Quick advance was made until the head of the valley near
Goldlauter was reached and there enemy resistance stiffened and two defended
roadblocks on dominating wooded terrain delayed progress. The enemy withdrew
when dismounted infantry outflanked the position. Progress was further halted
Northwest of Schmiedefeld with strong opposition from the high ground.
Further dismounted action was taken but automatic weapon and
nebelwerfer fire was so heavy only limited progress could be made, and at
nightfall the bulk of the force withdrew to Suhl.
Before daylight enemy activity East of Oberhof indicated the enemy
may be preparing for a counter attack but no action developed. Division
Artillery fired several neutralizing missions to eliminate sporadic enemy mortar
and artillery fire that fell on Oberhof during the day.
The Division command post moved out of Steinbach Hallenberg to
Zella Mehlis during the day, opening about 10:30 a.m.
At 6:10 p.m., XII Corps advised the Division to expect a change in
plans and relief of some units by the 26th Infantry Division. Corps also
indicated another impending advance, probably in a southerly direction,
therefore CC B and CC A were directed to cease offensive action and warned to
expect new orders.
While awaiting the new orders, the Division spent the morning of
April 6 in regrouping and maintenance work. Advance parties of the 26th and 90th
Infantry Division made relief arrangements with major units.
The principal obstacles to the Division's 80-kilometer advance East
from Fulda were constituted of defended towns blown bridges, and well-placed
roadblocks. The 4,500 prisoners of war taken during the first five days of April
came mainly from replacement battalions, training battalions, antiaircraft
units, hastily assembled school troops Volksstrum and belligerent civilians
added to the list.
Nearly 1,000 Allied prisoners were liberated in the Division's
drive, and several thousand political prisoners and Allied nationality slave
workers set free from their Nazi Taskmasters. The continued looting, rioting,
and general disorder of these liberated groups became such a problem that combat
elements had to step in, in an attempt to eliminate it.
Field Order No. 18 from XII Corps Headquarters was received at 1:25
p.m. This outlined plans for a continuation of the advance to the East and
Southeast, while VIII Corps on the North maintained a limited advance directly
East. XII Corps planned to turn to the Southeast and attack through the
Thuringia Wald as far as the Czechoslovakian border with the 26th and 90th
Divisions abreast. The 71st Infantry Division on the South flank was ordered to
protect the Corps South flank West of Meiningen and was assigned to clear a zone
in the rear of the 11th Armored Division attack to the Southeast.
When relieved by the 26th Infantry Division, the 11th Division was
directed to seize an assembly area along a line Schleusingen-Hillburghausen, not
later than April 8, and then prepare to advance toward Bayreuth.
The remainder of the day was spent in preparing the advance of the
following day. The 26th Infantry Division meanwhile, completed the relief of CC
A and CC R and assumed responsibility for the Southern portion of the former
Division zone. Elements of the 90th Infantry Division relieved CC B at Oberhof.
The command of CC B was taken over about mid-afternoon by Colonel Wesley W.
During the afternoon an enemy field order was seized. It indicated
that the German 413th Infantry Division was about to counterattack on the
Division South flank in the vicinity to retake Meiningen and cut the Division's
main supply route. As such an attack would endanger the Grimenthal bridge,
elements of CC R were sent immediately to the scene. The counterattack did not
materialize in force but a roadblock defended with anti-tank guns near
Ritschenhausen cost CC R Infantry elements one 105mm SP gun. CC R withdrew its
force and augmented engineer defensive positions around the bridge site. Radio
relay stations were established to warn the Division lest any threat should
develop from the Bauerbach area.
At 7:00 a.m. on April 7, the Division initiated movement to seize
an assembly area in the Themar section. CC A, CC R, and Cavalry Command moved
out on separate routes. Organized in three balanced task forces, CC A advanced
on Schleusingen, Hildburghausen, and Themar, respectively. Task Force Sheely, on
the route to Hildburghausen, encountered anti-tank, artillery and roadblocks.
Task Force Ahee, on the right, had reduced a roadblock and was attacking Themar;
Task Force Sheely, on the left, was attacking Schleusingen; and Task Force Brady
in the center was within seven kilometers of Hildburghausen. All forces were
meeting increased resistance. The opposition in Themar and Schleusingen
consisted primarily of small arms, anti-tank, and panzerfaust fire from enemy
infantry dug in cellars and houses. At 2:30 p.m. Task Force Brady was delayed by
a blown bridge and roadblock at Ebenhards, but the block was reduced and they
had the town cleared at 4:00 p.m.
Fighter-bomber support was used in clearing the route into
Hildburghausen and to soften the city itself. Task Force Brady continued into
Hildburghausen against light opposition and reported the center of the city
cleared at 8:S5 p.m. Schleusingen was cleared by 4:30 p.m. after Task Force
Shelly had been forced to house-to-house fighting against stubborn resistance.
Task Force Ahee, after losing five tanks to anti-tank fire in an
unsuccessful attack on Themar, employed artillery and dismounted infantry in a
house-to-house mopping up of the city.
After CC R had reached its objective in mid-afternoon, the Division
ordered Company B, 55th Armored Infantry Battalion, to assist in the mop-up of
Themar. The task was completed at 8:00 p.m. and Company B released to CC R. The
183rd Field Artillery Group followed and supported CC A. During the day CC A
seized and cleared eight towns; capturing more than 450 prisoners of war.
CC R encountered only light resistance. The towns of Vachdorf,
Leutersdorf, and Henfstadt were occupied by 11:00 a.m. thus completing the
command's mission. Reports of a large enemy build-up to the East in the vicinity
of Schniedefeld for a counter-attack on Suhl were relayed to CC R with
directions to maintain contact with elements of the 26th Infantry Division and
to stop any such threat should it actually develop. Late in the day the command
received enemy fire from the woods North of Ritschenhausen, presumably from
elements of the German 413th Infantry Division. The fire was returned and an
enemy halftrack and ammunition dump destroyed.
According to plan, Cavalry Command moved out at 7:00 a.m., picking
up Troop C at Marisfeld enroute. The command seized its objective, Juchsen, by
1:50 p.m., meeting only light resistance. Exdorf was cleared at 5:00 p.m.
Occasional enemy artillery fire harassed the troops until 8:00 p.m. Thirty-nine
prisoners were taken during the day. Advance reconnaissance and artillery
elements of CC E3 moved from their assembly area near Oberhof at 11:30 a.m.,
reaching Bischofred some two hours later. At 1:00 p.m. the main body followed
through Zella Mehlis and SuhI, with artillery in the lead, anticipating action
to re-cross the Werra River. Previous plans to proceed through Themar were
changed due to the resistance encountered there by CC A. Placing Division
Artillery in position near Bischofred the column continued West and crossed the
Werra River at Henfstadt unopposed. Continuing Southeast down a ridge, the
command reached Beinerstadt at 5:45 p.m. and advance elements held up at
Bernhards for the night.
Clearing the newly taken assembly area, establishing internal and
lateral contacts, and preparing for future operations were the principal
activities for April 8, 1945.
CC A continued to clear Hildburghausen during the morning. Around
midday the command was ordered to make lateral contacts with the 26th Infantry
Division. A task force, moving out at 6:20 p.m. established contact with the
101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division, about 7:35 p.m.
CC B resumed the advance at 7:00 a.m., reaching Pfersdorth and
Zeildfeld without opposition. By midday all elements of the command had closed
in the Dingsleben-Pfersdorth-Zeilfeld area. A half-hour later the Division
ordered CC B to establish contact with CC A and to seize and occupy Bedheim and
Against light resistance Leimrieth was seized at 3:05 p.m., Bedheim
at 4:30 p.m. and Roth in addition at 4:55 p.m.
Throughout the night the 41st Cavalry received sporadic artillery
and nebelwerfer fire from the Southwest flank.
Reports from Intelligence continued to point to a concentration of
2,000 SS troops, reinforced by 80 tanks, situated in the area of Schmiedefeld,
preparing to recapture Suhl. Division Artillery and seven squadrons of Division
controlled fighter-bombers were concentrated on this area throughout the day and
fires continued into the night. Although exact results of this shelling and
bombing were unknown, the enemy failed to attack.
XII Corps was notified at 6:30 p.m. that the Division had seized
and occupied its assembly area as ordered.
April 9 was devoted mainly to rehabilitation of personnel and
maintenance of vehicles, as well as maintaining patrol contacts with the
Operations Memo. No. 52 was issued at 10:00 a.m., outlining the
Division plan for the continuation of advance as far Southeast as Bayreuth. The
zone, 80-kilometers long and 20-kilometers wide, was subdivided between CC B and
CC A. The terrain in the zone was rolling, with dominating heights to the East
and several cross-cutting river valleys, bur containing a more favorable road
net. Coburg and Bayreuth were included among the several large cities to be
CC A was assigned the task of seizing Neustadt, Kronach, Kulmbach;
assisting CC B in seizing Bayreuth; and maintaining lateral contact with the
26th Infantry Division. CC B was to seize Coburg, Marktzeuln, assisting CC A
with taking Kulmbach and Bayreuth, also to establish lateral contact with CC A
on such successive objectives. The 183rd Field Artillery Groups continued to
support CC A and Division Artillery supporting CC B. The 705th Tank Destroyer
Battalion was to provide security for Division Troops while the 41st Cavalry
protected the Southwest flank.
The 71st Infantry Division accomplished its mission of clearing the
areas by-passed by the Division and major units were advised at 3:00 p.m. that
they were to pass through the 11th Armored Division and attack to the Southeast
on April 10 or 11, 1945.
During the afternoon Seventh Army's 14th Armored and 45th Infantry
Divisions advance elements came up abreast of the Division on the Third Army
THE APPROACH TO COBURG
Through a heavy ground haze the Division resumed offensive
operations at 6:15 a.m. on April 10, the objective being to seize the city of
Coburg and the vicinity. The general plan contemplated that CC A would
semi-isolate the city by seizing and blocking all the North and East approaches
to Coburg, while CC B attacked the city itself from advantageous terrain to the
Northwest and West.
The enemy pattern of resistance during the following several days
was built around a continuous defense and withdrawal from delaying obstacles.
Large fighting units went unidentified. The basic German hastily organized unit
consisted of Kamp Gruppe and miscellaneous battalions, built around an SS cadre,
and filled out with any and all available manpower. Prisoners were taken from
the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Training and Replacement Battalion and 17 other
miscellaneous units. River lines, wooded or terrain defiles, and particularly
road center towns on favorable defensive terrain, were strongly defended from
behind heavy log roadblocks.
CC A's advance cavalry elements moved out at 6:15 a.m., on April
10, followed an hour later by Task Force Brady, reaching Ahlstadt by 7:30 a.m.
The advance resumed and Otrowind was occupied at 8 35 a.m. and Moggenhrunn a
half-hour later. A defended road block near Oberlauter caused the first contact
to be made, this being cleared around 10:00 a.m., but the advance halted when
forward Troop A, 41st Cavalry elements, found Oberlauter defended. Task Force
Brady, advancing through artillery and small arms fire, attacked and captured
the towns, blocking the main North route out of Coburg. A blown bridge at
Wohlbach was by-passed after Task Force Ahee overran dug-in enemy infantry,
seizing the towns to cut a second main road into Coburg.
While engineers completed a treadway bridge at Wohlsbach Troop A,
41st Cavalry, reinforced with Tank and Tank Destroyer elements, advanced to
Monchroden and by 3:50 p.m. cut the main road from Neustadt to Coburg,
completing Coburg’s isolation from the North and East. Task Force Ahee seized
Unterlauter at 6:00 p.m. after it had been softened by a squadron air strike.
The 183rd Field Artillery Group, supporting CC A, fired 25 missions expending
719 rounds and destroying at least two enemy general-purpose vehicles. The
command organized defensive positions and established roadblocks on all critical
roads before assembling in the area of Wohlsbach-Oberlauter-Unterlauter for the
night. An advance of 30 kilometers had been made during the day and the planned
Resuming advance at 7:00 a.m. on April 10, CC B made first contact
with the enemy, armed with panzerfaust and small firearms, in the area of
Steinfeld-Eishausen. Abetted by tactical air and artillery these towns were
entered and cleared by 8:45 a.m. Passing through the blazing wreckage to the
South, the advance guard reached the outskirts of Rodach by 9:00 a.m. The 21st
Armored Infantry Battalion attacked and the defenders, including infantry and
panzerfaust teams, were overrun or killed, and captured by 12:30 a.m. The
advance continued beyond the blazing Rodach and the towns of Schweighof, Neida
and Wiesfeld were taken by 2:05 p.m., against light resistance. The command
consolidated their positions near Weisenfeld on Division order, developing the
situation through aggressive patrolling around Coburg for the remainder of the
At 4:00 p.m. CC R was directed to march on Hildburghausen, clearing
a lateral route across to CC B s axis of advance and clearing the
Eishausen-Rodach area for occupation by the 410th Field Artillery Group and
Division troops. At 10:45 a.m. CC R reduced a roadblock, thus opening the road
from Hildburghausen to Rodach. At this point the command was divided, the 22nd
Tank Battalion took an Eastern cross-country route and the 55th Armored Infantry
Battalion swung around to the West to clear the area. Seven towns were cleared,
Rodach occupied, and patrol contacts made with CC B and the 41st Cavalry before
The 41st Cavalry, falling behind CC A at Hildburghausen, continued
to the East on the main road to clear Schackendorf at 11:00 a.m. and block along
the Division's Northeast flank. The bulk of the Squadron followed CC A to
Ahstadt where the patrols were sent to the North and Northeast as far as Harras
and Rottenbach meeting no resistance.
The 410th Field Artillery Group, following CC R, moved forward to
positions Southeast of Rodach during the afternoon. On order from the Division a
coordinated heavy artillery fire was laid on Coburg throughout the night.
The Division was aided during the day by particularly effective
tactical air support as squadron fighter-bomber missions targeted Eishausen,
Unterlauter, Meustadt, Rodach, and Coburg. Several missions were diverted to
destroy enemy aircraft active in the area.
Preceded by the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion and followed by the
56th Armored Engineer Battalion, Division Headquarters moved to Rodach between
4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Over 350 prisoners of war were evacuated through the
CC A's headquarters were visited at 9:00 p.m. on April 10, by
emissaries of the Duke of Coburg who requested evacuation of 300 women and
children refugees said to be residents of Coburg Castle. The Division granted
permission for the evacuation to be made on the morning of April 11.
A reconnaissance made by CC B late in the afternoon indicated that
Coburg would be strongly defended. A report was made to XII Corps pointing out
that in such a large city the commitment of the entire Division infantry
elements would make such a deliberate mop-up action a long drawn-out process. In
reply XII Corps advised that a Regimental Combat Team of the 71st Infantry
Division had been given the task of seizing Coburg on April 11.
Continuous harassing artillery fire focused on Coburg during the
night and an early morning dive-bomber and strafing attack added to the
softening process of the city.
While the authorized evacuation of civilians was being executed in
the early morning of April 11, final preparations were made by CC B and Combat
Team Five, 71st Infantry Division for an assault on the city.
Emissaries from Coburg returned to CC A's 42nd Tank Battalion
command post at 9:00 a.m. seeking surrender terms for the Castle, under control
of the Duke of Coburg, and the city, controlled by the Wehrmacht. The enemy was
given until 10:30 a.m. to capitulate, while air and artillery fire was suspended
and a staff party from Headquarters CC A sent into the city to negotiate
SURRENDER OF COBURG
A flight of fighter-bombers from XIX Tactical Air Command arrived
at Coburg at 10:00 a.m., circling continuously over the city, ready to strike in
the event of refusal to surrender. At 10:30 a.m. both the Castle and the city
surrendered to the Thunderbolts, and, under terms imposed in the capitulation,
the civilians commenced to clear the streets of roadblocks and other obstacles.
CC B's Counter Intelligence Corps, Military Government, and IPW
personnel immediately entered Coburg and engineer parties were sent forward to
clear the streets of mines and determine roads into, through, and out of the
CC A continued to block all roads North and East of Coburg during
the morning. Several small towns South of Wohlsbach were cleared by 11:15 a.m.
A verbal order issued to major units at 1:00 p.m. on April 11,
outlined the plan for renewal of attack. CCA was ordered to by-pass Neustadt and
advance in its zone to capture Kronach and establish a bridgehead across the
Hasslach River. Similarly CC B was directed to advance in its zone and secure a
bridgehead across the Hasslach near Marktzeuln. Coordinating with CC A, CC R was
directed to move the 22nd Tank and 55th Armored Infantry Battalion forward to
Oberlauter and release them to CC A seize Neustadt with the 42nd and 63rd
Armored Infantry Battalions and occupy the city until relieved by following
elements of the 71st Infantry Division's 66rh Regiment.
The 41st Cavalry was ordered to continue protecting the Division's
Northeast flank, maintain contact with the 26th Infantry Division; and, in
addition, to block the main road running into the Division's rear from
Sonnegherg, near Worlsdorf. The 183rd Field Artillery Group was to support and
give CC R fire priority until the seizure of Neustadt. The 5th Regimental Combat
Team, operating under the 11th Armored Division control, was directed to sweep
the woods West of Coburg, protect the position of the 410th Field Artillery
Group, and clear and occupy Coburg. The 5rh Regimental Combat Team was to revert
to the 71st Infantry Division after completing this mission and being passed
through by the 11th Armored Division.
Moving forward at 2:00 p.m., CC R turned over the 22nd Tank and
55th Infantry Battalions to CC A. Establishing a command post at Wohlspach, a
small task force made up of Company B, 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion and
Company B, 42nd Tank Battalion, was sent Northeast to develop the situation near
Neustadt. Finding Neustadt undefended, the Task Force moved in and occupied the
town at 8.15 p.m. Artillery fire, planned to harass the town during the night,
and support of the attack were cancelled.
A squadron of fighter-bombers, running an armed reconnaissance
Southeast of Coburg in preparation for the following day's action, discovered a
small tank column and destroyed or disabled five of them. CC B was warned of
armor in their projected zone.
At 7:40 p.m. an order was received from XII Corps outlining an
alternate plan to have the Division turn East after reaching the second
objective, relieving pressure on the 26th Infantry Division, and seizing the key
communication center of Hof, along the Czechoslovakian border.
Resuming offensive operations according to the original plan, both
CC B and CC A jumped off at 6:15 a.m. on April 12, 1945, so commencing a day of
excellent progress against light resistance.
CC B moved through Coburg and advanced, meeting little or no
resistance, on the Rohrbach-Freisendorf-Ebersdorf axis to defended Sonnenfeld,
which was cleared at 9:20 a.m. The command was split up into two task forces at
Weidhausen, while artillery went into position to support the river crossing.
One force, moving via Markzeuln, found a good ford near a blown bridge across
the Hasslach and continued across the river without opposition, coiling into
positions near Ober Zettlitz. The other Task Force advanced on the
Trubenbach-Marktgraitz-Redwitz axis unopposed, coiling for the night across the
stream near Obristfeld, thus forming a solid bridgehead.
CC A's column reached Fecheim at 7:00 a.m. without incident. At
8:15 a.m. near Zedersdorf an enemy tank and a small group of infantrymen were
engaged and destroyed and the advance continued to Gestungshausen by 8:35 a.m.
In the woods near Modlitz an estimated 200 enemy which had been bypassed by
advanced elements, were engaged and captured or dispersed. While the column
turned up the small valley toward Kronach, Cavalry elements attacked defended
roadblocks in Kups, which threatened the East flank. Infantry Task Force Hearn,
in the lead, reached the outskirts of Kronach at 1:20 p.m. and Tank Task Force
Wingard, following, cleared several towns along the route. After clearing
Kronach of a few isolated defenders at 3:00 p.m. Task Force Hearn seized intact
a vital bridge across the Hasslach River and captured 60 prisoners in addition
to a German Army hospital housing 600 wounded Wehrmacht personnel.
Following artillery fire that left the town blazing, Cavalry
elements entered Kups at 3:15 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. this strong point was reported
clear and 53 enemy soldiers captured. For extra security and to acquire
favorable terrain for continuation of the attack, Division ordered CC A to seize
the dominating wooded hills Southeast of Kronach. This mission was accomplished
by 6:15 p.m. with the fall of Weissenbrunn. At 4:45 p.m. the combat command post
had been established at Schmolz. A CC R Task Force relieved CC A elements
holding Kronach at 10:15 p.m., allowing the command to consolidate and prepare
for the following day.
CC R followed CC A from the Wohlsbach-Oberlauter area at 9:30 a.m.
Elements occupying Neustadt were relieved by the 71st Infantry Division at 10:00
a.m. Mopping up towns passed through by other elements of the division and
clearing by-passed enemy pockets, the command cut across via Emberg and Gross
Gernstadt, rejoining the CC B axis at Eberdorf about 1:10 p.m. Closing in on
Ebersdorf the command was ordered to clear surrounding towns and woods for the
emplacement of the 410th Field Artillery Group in the event of heavy opposition
from Kronach. While clearing the area the 42nd Tank Battalion discovered nine
Mark IV, one Mark V, and Mark VI tanks abandoned in a wooded area, all of which
were destroyed by fire and demolitions. Without a single casualty the command
captured 26 prisoners of war and killed at least six enemy soldiers.
Moving forward behind CC R, the 41st Cavalry continued to protect
the Division Northeast flank during the day. At 4:30 p.m. the Squadron blocked
the main road South from Sonneberg and set up a command post at Furth. Division
Artillery, supporting CC B, continuously flew liaison plane missions ahead of
the column, dropping surrender leaflets in towns along the route to advance.
These leaflets admonished the civilians to fly white flags and surrender their
towns without resistance to avoid total destruction and produced excellent
results. Surrender leaflets were used throughout the central German campaign and
were officially credited with expediting the command's movement and saving many
The Division command Post moved forward to Gertungshausen, arriving
at 5:00 p.m. Enemy snipers, dug in the woods immediately to the East, inflicted
several casualties, and a close support fighter-bomber strike was called in to
strafe and bomb the enemy-infested area. The quadruple mounted 50 caliber
machine guns of 575th AA Battalion and destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer
Battalion were also employed to sweep the woods in the area with fire.
The 133rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion moved into Coburg at 5:00
p.m. so as to render close support, and the 81st Medical Battalion joined the
Division Train Headquarters at Ebersdorf at 5:30 p.m.
Operations Memo. No. 54 was issued by Division at 6:30 p.m.,
outlining a continuation of the advance to the East through Kulmbach and then a
swing to the North and East to seize Hof and the road center nine kilometers
West of Hof. Combat Commands were ordered to continue the advance abreast with
CC B on the right. The axis of advance prescribed was Kulmbach-Muchberg-Hof. CC
A was assigned the mission of seizing Kulmbach as it advanced and CC B was
directed to take Munchberg and Hof proper. CC A was also directed to protect the
North and West flanks and CC B the South and East flanks of the Division. The
41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to CC B to block in the
direction of Bayreuth when the Division turned East. An additional troop was
assigned CC A to accomplish its flank protection mission. Restrained in Kulmbach
by a Corps Directive received at 11:00 a.m., April 13, the Division made rapid
progress for half the day, despite difficulties in rain-soaked terrain from a
heavy storm during the night.
CC A continued the advance at 7:00 a.m. over a rapidly
deteriorating secondary road net, reaching Gossersdorf at 7:25 a.m., Poppenholz
at 7:40 a.m., and Lehenthal at 8:05 a.m. Complete failure of the planned road
caused a delay and another selected route was used through Grafendobrach which
was seized at 10:05 a.m. Troop B, 41st Cavalry liquidated a defended roadblock
four kilometers South of Lebenthat and as the advance continued 45 enemy troops
Task Force Hearn entered Kulmbach opposed by light small arms fire,
and, with assistance from Troop B, 41st Cavalry, seized the city. High on a hill
in the city a walled castle was found to be defended and it was reported that
several hours would be required to clear Kulmbach. At midday CC A was directed
to remain on the taken third objective and clear the city. Searching for better
roads to the East. Task Force Weineandt proceeded to Unter Steinach clearing it
by 2:30 p.m. Also shifting to the East, Task Force Wingard entered and cleared
Stadt Steinach where two 240mm railroad guns were seized and a million dollar
experimental electronic laboratory fell to the command. CC A's command post
followed Task Force Wingard and opened in Stadt Steinach at 4:00 p.m. Kulmbach
was cleared by 6:00 p.m. and the command consolidated positions in the Stadt
Steinach-Unter Steinach-Kulmbach area for the night. During the day a 183rd
Field Artillery Group liaison plane was shot down by enemy aircraft.
Leading CC B, Troop D, 41st Cavalry, moved out at 6:00 a.m., April
13, reconnoitering for a route that would by-pass Kulmbach to the West, avoid
converging with CC A in that city, and isolate the city by cutting the main road
to Bayreuth. Preceded by a liaison plane dropping surrender leaflets, the
cavalry moved rapidly forward without resistance through white-flagged towns.
Rotthwind was reached at 7:30 a.m., and near Mainleus a prepared bridge was
seized before it could be demolished.
Division orders went out at 7:46 a.m. to hold on the third
objective so as to curb this rapid progress until CC A's attack on Kulmbach had
been launched. Turning South across the Main River progress was slowed
considerably by muddy secondary roads.
Cavalry reconnaissance elements entered the third objective area at
10:10 a.m. and Division artillery had taken up positions to fire on Kulmbach by
10:20 a.m. Moving out again at 10:45 a.m., preceded by cavalry, the column
encountered great difficulty moving along soggy secondary roads. Light enemy
resistance was overcome at Kelkendorf shortly after 11:00 a.m. Three enemy 88mm
anti-tank guns were destroyed near Ober Kobach at 11:40 a.m. Occupying the third
objective entirely and cutting the main road from Kulmbach to Bayreuth near
Mangersreuth at 1:00 p.m., CC B coiled and cleaned up scattered resistance in
Again desiring to develop the situation around Bayreuth because of
good progress made by the 26th Infantry Division toward Hof during the morning,
XII Corps directed the Division to send strong reconnaissance in that direction.
A request for permission to send an entire combat command, due to the size of
the city, was denied. Preparation to seize Hof on the part of the Division was
diverted and CC B was accordingly ordered to send the 41st Cavalry toward
Bayreuth on a reconnaissance mission.
With CC A in Kulmbach an attempt was made to pass the following
41st Cavalry around CC B through the city but this possibility was erased
because of a blown bridge near Burghaig. The 41st Cavalry made its way through
CC B following the muddy by-pass to the West while engineers were dispatched to
repair the bridge at Burghaig. Reaching the main road again at Mangersreuth
about 4:00 p.m., the 41st Cavalry advanced through Rohr and Neudrossenfeld by
5:50 p.m. Clearing the town by 8:00 p.m. the command coiled and waited daylight
before proceeding through a woods-flanked defile. In this rapid action lOC)
prisoners of war were taken.
CC R, ordered to clear the area East of Gestungshausen enroute,
moved East toward the CC A axis ahead of Division troops, reaching Kronach at
12:50 p.m. Leaving a small holding force there to clear the main road between
Kronach and Kumbach, the remainder of the command continued to Kirchleus.
Eschbach and Losau were mopped up and three roadblocks reduced, thus opening the
main roads to Kulmbach. In Weissenbrunn and Kirchleus CC R troops were strafed
by four enemy planes, which inflicted nine casualties. Elements of the 26th
Infantry Division relieved the holding force at Kronach at 8:00 p.m. and they
rejoined the main body in the vicinity of Kirchleus where the command post was
During the afternoon enemy air was exceptionally active in the
Division area. Besides attacks on CC A and CC R, 133rd Ordnance installations
near Mainroth were attacked by four ME-109's. The 575th AA Battalion's accurate
fire accounted for one enemy plane destroyed and one damaged. Division troops
moved from Gestrungshausen to Mainleus on April 13, where the command post was
established at 3:00 p.m. The 410th Field Artillery Group followed to pound
Bayreuth with its long range 155mm guns during the night. The Long Tom 155mm
guns were placing H and I fires on the city by 8:40 p.m., starting numerous
fires. Verbal orders were received from XII Corps about 9:00 p.m., directing a
small task force to seize and secure Bayreuth the following day, and otherwise
to remain in place while the 71st Infantry Division passed through the Division.
CC B directed to execute the Bayreuth task while all other major units were
instructed to concentrate on maintenance. Road priority throughout the zone was
granted to the 71st Infantry Division.
The objective of the day of April 14th, 1945, was the seizure of
Bayreuth, a historic city famed for its annual spring festival and as the
birthplace of Richard Wagner, the noted composer.
Task Force Foy, consisting of the 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance
Squadron, Company A of the 41st Tank Battalion Company C of the 21st Armored
Infantry Battalion, one platoon Company B of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion
and one platoon Company B of the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion, was
constituted for CC B elements. Organized into two task groups the troops moved
out from Muckenreuth at 8:00 a.m. to seize Bayreuth. One maneuvering column
moved via Muckenreuth through the woods to a crossroad and the high ground West
of Bayreuth, reducing several roadblocks and occasional small arms fire. The
second task force moved through Alten Plox and Hethersreuth to dominating
terrain one kilometer North of Bayreuth. By 11:00 a.m. both groups commanded
excellent observations positions and Division Artillery had moved forward within
range of the city. Considerable artillery fire was rained on the city bur seemed
only to make the enemy more stubborn in their defense.
SURRENDER OF BAYREUTH
With only insignificant forces to defend the city and a seeming
desire for surrender on the part of the defending force, negotiations for the
capitulation of Bayreuth were begun at 1:00 p.m. A captured German officer and
the local Burgomeister who presented himself, were given until 2:30 to surrender
and turn over all troops within the city. While negotiations were in progress,
several tanks from the 14th Armored Division opened fire on Bayreuth from the
North, in violation of the agreed truce. A request was made immediately to XII
Corps for withdrawal of this unit from the area. CC B meanwhile, maintained
close radio contacts with elements of the 2nd Cavalry Group, which had moved
around to the South and West of Bayreuth, blocking several main roads and
scooping up hundreds of enemy troops attempting to escape from the city.
At 2:10 p.m. the Burgomeister informed CC B that the majority of
the enemy troops in the city were willing m surrender, but that he could not
control the activities of fanatic groups.
Certain high-ranking German officers were reported to be
withdrawing East to a castle at St. Johannes and intense artillery
concentrations and air bombardment were directed against the establishment with
Company C, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, with a platoon of the
41st Tank Battalion entered Bayreuth from the North at 2:45 p.m. and seized
control of the center of the city against scattered sniper resistance. Around
the North and West of the city the 41st Cavalry captured 268 prisoners
attempting to escape in small parries. A motorized regiment of the 71st Infantry
Division arrived at 7:00 p.m. to occupy the city whereupon Task Force Foy
withdrew to Neudrossenfeld at approximately 9:00 p.m. CC B elements, other than
the 41st Cavalry, were released to parent units and returned to the Kulmbach
CC A uncovered a number of large German Army food and clothing
warehouses in Kulmbach and placed guards over them.
From April 10, 1945 to April 14, the Division had intermittently
advanced 80 kilometers from the Hildburghausen area to Bayreuth, clearing 115
towns, and evacuating 792 prisoners through the Division cage. Material captured
or destroyed in the advance included 12 enemy tanks, four 88mm antitank guns,
two 240mm guns, and four enemy aircraft. The advance was highlighted by the
capture of Coburg and Bayreuth.
With the seizure of Bayreuth in mid-afternoon the Division had
accomplished its assigned mission and as the day ended it assembled and
continued preparations for further Third Army spearhead advances into Southern
Germany. The Division devoted the day of April 15 to rehabilitation and
maintenance, also guarding captured military installations within the area,
especially in Kulmbach.
The 90th Infantry Division seized Hof during the afternoon and the
26th Infantry Division reached its restraining zone, placing its forward
elements generally from Munchberg South to Gefrees. The 71st Infantry Division,
passing through the 11th Armored Division, advance along the Southwest flank to
the restraining line, generally from Gefrees South to Bayreuth. The Division
command post was established at Kulmbach.
Fifty Hitler Jugend boys drilling in Losau were picked up by a CCR
patrol and turned over to the Provost Marshal for evacuation through prisoner of
At 8:00 am. on April 16, CC R was directed to move to Kulmbach to
relieve the 55th Armored Infantry of guard duties, in an attempt to equalize the
rehabilitation opportunities of CC A troops. The 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion
moved into Kulmbach first, remaining tank and headquarters elements followed.
Operational Directive No. 107 was received from XII Corps at 5:00
p.m., directing the Division to assemble in the Burgkunstadt-Stadt
Steinach-Unter Steinach-Katschenreuth area and relieve all elements of the 26th
and 71st Infantry Divisions of guard responsibility in that area The
directive also informed that Kulmbach would remain under the 71st Infantry
Division control while their command post was located in the city. Orders were
issued to CC A to move the 55th Armored Infantry Battalion out of Kulmbach early
the following day to relieve congestion
Later in the evening the Division was warned by telephone that XII
Corps would resume offensive operations to the Southeast, possibly on April 19.
The Thunderbolts were directed to relieve the 71st Infantry Division in the
interim early April 17 and defend along the Corps restraining line between
Gefrees and Bayreuth.
At 10:00 p.m. CC B was ordered to take over defense of a line
between Bayreuth and Berneck from elements of the 71st Infantry Division early
on April 17. Similarly CC R was directed to rake over the Berneck-Gefrees line
CC A was ordered to relieve CC R elements and resume the mission of supporting
the defense. All other elements of the Division were ordered to complete
maintenance work and prepare to move on two hours notice after midnight of April
At 1:20 p.m. on April 17, CC B made a request that the 2nd Cavalry
Group relieve the 71st Infantry Division in their location between Bayreuth and
Seublitz. Relayed to XII Corps, the request was approved and CC B dispersed its
elements across a narrower sector to the Northeast CC B moved to the Bayreuth
area at 7:30 am. to relieve 71st Infantry Division elements in the city and
forward elements along the line Seublitz, Northeast to Berneck. The relief of
forward elements was completed at 1:10 p.m. while troops occupying Bayreuth and
posting of guards at the city's main factories, bridges, and other vital points,
was completed at 6:00 p.m.
CC R initiated movement to its assigned sector at 7: 30 a m and had
completed relief of the 71st Infantry Division elements from Gefrees to Berneck
by 11:30 a m The command post was established at Wirsberg about 11:00 am. CC A
had restored previous guards on captured installations in Kulmbach by 8:15 am.,
freeing CC R elements. Division Artillery moved forward to Bayreuth during the
day and assumed its support mission. The 490th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
was placed in direct support of CC R, the 491st Armored Field Artillery
Battalion in direct support of CC B, and both the 947th and 492nd Armored Field
Artillery Battalions in general support.
On the basis of a Third Army directive, XII Corps G-3 met with
corresponding staff officers of the 11th Armored Division and the 26th and 90th
Infantry Divisions at Kronach about 3:00 p.m., and a plan for the next Corps
operations was worked out. XII Corps assigned mission was the continuance of an
advance to the Southeast, West of the Czechoslovakian boundary, initially as far
as Cham and then to the Austrian border. The 71st Infantry Division was to move
to the Southwest and pass to control of XV Corps, being replaced by the 97th
Infantry Division coming in on the Northeast and assembling in the vicinity of
Hof. The Corps plan envisaged a series of limited objective attacks by the
Thunderbolts, followed up with zone clearance operations by the 26th Infantry
Division to the Southwest and the 90th Infantry Division to the Northeast along
the Czechoslovakian border. Protecting that flank and moving Northeast was the
2nd Cavalry Group. On arrival, the 97th Infantry Division was to follow the 90th
Infantry Division in the latter s zone, relieve the 90th and block to the
Northeast along the Czechoslovakian border.
The Thunderbolts were specifically directed to continue the advance
to the Southeast early April 19, to seize Weiden and Cham successively. The
183rd Field Artillery Group was directed to continue reinforcement of artillery
fires for the 11th Armored Division and Supplementary Engineer Support provided.
Verbal orders were issued CC A and Division Troops to concentrate
in the Bayreuth area the following day. CC B was directed to relieve elements of
the 2nd Cavalry Group without delay.
Batteries B and C of the 128th AAA Gun Battalion, attached to the
Division for enemy aircraft high-level attack protection, were placed under
control of the 575th AA Battalion.
The zone assigned the Division for the coming operation was
approximately 100 kilometers long, varying from 20 to 30 kilometers wide.
Rolling terrain once again predominated, marked particularly by extensive wooded
areas. Only secondary roads were apparent in a favorable direction with the
exception of one 25-kilometer stretch. Numerous streams, including the Naab and
Regen, offered favorable defensive or delay possibilities.
On studying a smaller scale map than that used when the Corps
operation had been laid out, it was found that the first objective could not be
skillfully approached without using at least one route through the 90th Infantry
Division zone. Moreover, the assigned objective of Weiden, appeared only as a
small road center, while Grafenwohr, 20 kilometers to the West, appeared as a
much larger and important locality.
With these factors in mind the Division plan for accomplishment of
its mission was formulated. Two pairs of mutually supporting routes were laid
out for the major combat commands. One set favored the center of the Corps zone
and led through Weiden. The second set were confined to the 26th Infantry
Division zone on the Southwest flank and led through Grafenwohr. Both pairs
contemplated a series of five zig-zag 20 kilometer advances to seize assigned
objectives or critical terrain features within the Division zone.
Operations Memo No. 55 was published by the Division at 9:30 a.m.
April 18, crystallizing the plan for the advance to Cham. CC B and CC A abreast,
with CC B on the right, were directed to advance along prescribed axes as soon
as possible after daylight on April 19, to seize designated successive
objectives. The 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to CC A as of
6:00 a.m. April 19. CC A was directed to protect the Division's Northeast flank
and maintain contact with the adjacent 90rh Infantry Division. Division
Artillery was to continue support of CC B, and the 183rd Field Artillery Group
supporting CC A. CC R, after being relieved by elements of the 26th Infantry
Division, was ordered to follow along CC B's axis in reserve.
SURRENDER OF BRANDHOLZ
At 11:00 a.m. the Burgomeister of Brandholz arrived at CC R command
post at Wirsberg seeking to surrender this town. The surrender was accepted and
artillery fire, which had been concentrated on the town, was lifted. Elements of
the 26th Infantry Division's 328th Infantry Regiment relieved CC R between
Gefrees and Berneck at approximately 9:00 p.m., after being relieved in turn by
the 90th Infantry Division on the North. The 490th Armored Field Artillery
Battalion was released from direct support of CC R and reverted to control of
the 183rd Field Artillery Group.
The Division command post moved from Mainleus at 9:30 a.m.
reopening in the Western outskirts of Bayreuth at 12:30.
Late in the evening the Division was informed that it would be
responsible for maintaining guards on installations in Bayreuth until relieved
by troops of the Corps Area Defense Command, and that the relief could nor be
expected for at least two days. In order to free all of CC B's troops for the
following day's attack, CC R was ordered to move into and assume responsibility
for guarding all Bayreuth military installations.
During the temporary stabilization of the situation around Bayreuth
the enemy had had time to patch together a few town defense detachments and
prepare demolitions and roadblocks to the Southeast. School troops and
miscellaneous headquarters units from the large military installations at
Grafenwohr sought to stem the Division's advance.
April 19 proved to be the best day for the Division's air
cooperation, as cool, clear weather predominated, with a slightly overcast sky
and generally good visibility. Easing the way for attacking ground troops, the
XIX Tactical Air Command fighter-bombers flew their first reconnaissance mission
of the day to Grafenwohr at 7:05 a.m. Occupied military barracks were hit and
set afire. Ahead of CC A, a second squadron bombed and strafed Kemnath at 8:15
p.m., dispersing or killing several hundred troops, and burning in motor
transports as well as destroying four enemy aircraft operating in the area. An
hour later Neustadt and Pressath were set ablaze by a third mission. Five
missions against Grafenwohr later in the day, and in the face of considerable
flak, started numerous additional fires, dispersed or destroyed a column
withdrawing from the city to the Southeast and burned at least 15 additional
vehicles. Surrender leaflets were dropped on towns by artillery liaison planes
in advance of the CC B column.
CC A initiated the advance when Troop A, 41st Cavalry
Reconnaissance Squadron moved out at 6:00 a.m. from the Neudrossenfeld area. The
troop encountered a blown bridge at Neunkirchen but another bridge, one mile
West of Seublitz, was found to be a suitable by-pass. The column made first
contact in Iresau, this being quickly overcome and the advance guard reached
Senoyenreuth at 10:50 a.m.
Meanwhile the main column of CC A had moved forward, coiling off
the road in the Bayreuth area to await the progress of the advance elements and
bypass of construction work at Neukirchen. Two roadblocks were encountered by
Troop A, 41st Cavalry, in the woods, halting their advance. On the arrival of
Task Force Wingard consisting principally of tank and armored infantry elements,
the attack resumed, the roadblocks and woods cleared, and the town entered at
1:40 a.m. Forty British prisoners of war were liberated at Kirchenlaibach.
Operating on the North flank, the 41st Cavalry broke up its
defensive disposition and cleared light resistance in Tressau. Remaining CC A
elements moved forward from coiling positions near Bayreuth at 12:55 p.m. Task
Force Wingard reached Speichsdorf at 12:45 p.m., after clearing light resistance
and Le Lettenhof at 1:20 p.m. The artillery fire and fighter-bomber strafing
which Neustadt had received enabled it to be taken without opposition. Pressath
was seized against remaining scattered resistance at 3:05 p.m. and two enemy
tanks destroyed in the fight for this town. Task Force Wingard proceeded South
through the woods against light sniper resistance to Grafenwohr, entering the
city from the North, in coordination with CC B. Infantry Task Force Hearn mopped
up and completed clearing Pressath while the 41st Cavalry, skirting Kemnath to
the Northeast, worked its way South into Pressath for the night. All elements
closed into Grafenwohr or Pressath by 8:40 p.m. In the still undamaged outskirts
of Grafenwohr a command post was established.
CC B meantime, gathered its scattered defense forces at daylight of
April 19, and renewed the advance from Bayreuth at 7:30 a.m. Proceeding through
the previously cleared 71st Infantry Division zone into Greussen, the column
swung East into enemy territory. Losau was reached without opposition at 9:35
a.m. by advanced elements. Division artillery went into positions and both towns
were pounded and set afire under heavy concentrations of fire. Vorbach, on the
first report line, was seized at 10:00 a.m. in the first contact action.
Bypassing blistered and littered Vorbach, Ober Bibbach was seized at 11:30 a.m.
after cellar holdout opposition had been encountered. Resuming the advance
shortly after 1:00 p.m., the command passed through Tremmersdorf at 1:30 p.m.,
Eschenbach at 2:30 p.m., and Stegenthumbach at 3:40 p.m. At the river line South
of Stegenthumbach light resistance was encountered, but quickly overcome.
Continuing through Grunhund, the command, in coordination with CC A, entered
Grafenwohr at 5:00 p.m. and commenced clearing the battered Southern portion of
the city. At 5:30 p.m. the Division reported the city taken. An enemy retreating
column South of the city was fired on by Division Artillery with good results.
CC R relieved CC B guards in the Bayreuth area during the morning.
At 1:20 p.m. CC R was ordered to avoid the CC B axis, continue the advance and
clear the Ober Bibach area for anticipated occupation by the 410th Field
Artillery Group. CC R cleared six towns during the afternoon, including
Schlammersdorf and Frankenberg. From these towns and the woods surrounding them
28 prisoners of war were captured and one 120mm mortar seized and destroyed. The
command post opened in Schlammersdorf at 6:30 p.m.
The Division command post, preceded by the command control party,
left Bayreuth at 1:00 p.m. and reopened near Vorbach at 2:40 p.m. The 705th Tank
Destroyer Battalion preceded the Division Headquarters to Vorbach and secured
the area. The 56th Armored Engineer Battalion and the 575th AA Battalion
followed Division Headquarters to Vorbach and at Neunkirchen, the 56th Armored
Engineer Battalion supervised construction of a 70-foot Bailey bridge to replace
the blown structure.
The 133rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion and the 81st Medical
Battalion joined Division Train Headquarters and moved forward to the Bindlach
airport supply area to the Northeast of Bayreuth.
During an 11-hour operation the Division had advanced 33
kilometers, seizing its first objective of Grafenwohr. In this thrust, over 700
prisoners of war were captured, 15 towns seized and cleared, and at least 20
enemy combat and transport vehicles were destroyed.
Restrained from continuing the advance, by Corps order the Division
spent the day of April 20, clearing and consolidating in the Grafenwohr
locality. Also conducting reconnaissance to the South, anticipating future
operations. Huge stores of enemy material, munitions and foodstuffs were
uncovered as elements of the Division combed Grafenwohr and its suburbs. An
Ordnance depot was seized containing 30 tank hulls, 14 88mm guns, 11
nebelwerfers, two 150mm guns, and 500 Teller mines; also an estimated 300,000
rounds of munitions, including mortar light artillery, panzerfaust, and small
arms. A Quartermaster depot in the camp, consisting of five large three-story
buildings, filled with coffee, canned meat, canned fruit, and huge quantities of
wheat and oats, fell intact. One of the largest Chemical Warfare dumps in
Germany was discovered in a wooded dispersal area running about five kilometers
along the road. It contained many varicolored smoke pots and an estimated
3,000,000 chemical artillery shells of 75, 88, 120, 150, and 240mm calibers. The
Wehrmacht lost permanently, in addition to the capture of Grafenwohr, the
facilities of a well-established Panzer Corps school and a recruiting and
replacement training center for other troops.
CC A spent the morning clearing the Northern half of Grafenwohr,
the woods adjacent to the city, and the woods along the main road from
Grafenwohr to Pressath. Guards were established on some of the German Chemical,
Ordnance, and Quartermaster installations in the near Grafenwohr. Troop A, 41st
Cavalry, reconnoitered to the South along the Schwarzenbach - Hutten -
Kaltenbrunn – Freihung axis during the afternoon, meeting scattered small arms
resistance at Hammerguns, North of Kalrenbrunn, and at Durmast. Just North of
Freihung a roadblock was reduced and the troop entered the town at 4:00 p.m.,
reporting bridges there intact. Other elements of the 41st Cavalry
Reconnaissance Squadron reconnoitered from Hutten to Mantel, encountering only
scattered small arms resistance. CC B guarded the ordnance depot and other
remaining military installations in Grafenwohr. A request was approved to move
the 41st Tank Battalion South to Kaltenbrunn, to relieve the congestion in
shambled Grafenwohr and secure a more favorable position for continuation of the
attack. The battalion arrived at Kaltenbrunn at 11:30 a.m. A liaison plane air
reconnaissance to the East reported the presence of troops and a few fires in
Weiden. At midday Division Artillery reported that an L-5 liaison plane pilot,
flying a distance reconnaissance mission to the South, observed three
fighter-aircraft, identified as Russian Yaks, near Amberg. The Yaks were marking
targets for heavy bombers operating in that vicinity.
Moving from Schlammersdorf at 11:30 a.m., CC R mopped up woods and
cleared the route to Eschenbach where the command post was established at 4:30
During the afternoon the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion removed
booby traps from a Grafenwohr ammunition dump. The Division command post and
Division troops moved forward from Vorbach to Grafenwohr, closing between noon
and 1:30 p.m.
ADVANCE TO PRESSATH
The 26th Infantry Division advanced to Pressath and Hasselbrunn
closing up considerably. The 90th Infantry Division made some progress through
wooded areas to the Northeast, as also did XX Corps' 71st Infantry Division
along an excellent road to the Southeast.
A TWX was received from XII Corps at 6:20 p.m., halting all units
on Phase Line B, which the Thunderbolts had reached with the seizure of
Grafenwohr. The Division was directed to continue the advance on Corps order
only, and infantry divisions were ordered to limit daily gains to three or four
miles beyond the line. All Divisional units were notified to expect to remain in
place an additional 24 hours.
During the first half of April 21, advance elements of the 26th
Infantry Division moved up abreast of the Thunderbolts at Grafenwohr and
Parksrein. The 90th Infantry Division to the Northeast, and leading elements in
Windischenschenbach late in the afternoon.
Early in the morning Major Division Units were directed to conduct
a thorough search of the area surrounding Grafenwohr to locate suspected
additional caches of munitions and material scattered in the woods in the
vicinity. This search resulted in the discovery of a train with 16 carloads of
ammunition and a large ammunition dump in a wooded dispersal area. Eleven new
two and half ton trucks and six trailers loaded with radio equipment were also
Verbal instruction from XII Corps, received at 11:00 a.m., directed
the 11th Armored Division to resume the advance early on April 22, seizing
Weiden, and then continuing to seize Cham. The Corps plan of attack remained
substantially unaltered. The newly arrived 97th Infantry Division, on the Corps
Northeast flank, was directed to successively relieve the 90th Infantry Division
along the Czech border as the latter Division advanced to the Southeast. The
Division's request for the relief of guard duties was granted and the 26th
Infantry Division asked to assume all such duties in the Grafenwohr area.
The Division plan of attack was outlined in Operations Memo No. 36,
issued at 3:30 p.m. CC As mission was that of seizing Weiden, and continuing the
advance as far as Nabbur. CC B was directed to assist CC A's attack on Weiden
from favorable positions to be seized in the vicinity of Manrel, and thereafter
to continue the advance to seize Schwarzenfeld and a bridgehead across the Naab
River. CC R was ordered to move to Grafenwohr, with the possible task of
advancing South along the main route to seize Hirschau. The 183rd Field
Artillery Group was charged with coordinating all fires relating to the seizure
CC A was directed to move the 41sr Cavalry, followed by the 276th
Field Artillery Battalion, to the vicinity of Parkstein, to reconnoiter and mark
the route of advance, also to secure favorable artillery positions from which
the objective could be fired upon at night. The Cavalry squadron continued
reconnaissance against no resistance and proceeded to Neustadt, occupying the
city at 6:00 p.m. A Wehrmacht hospital, with 64 patients and a staff of 23, was
captured in Neustadt, where the cavalry organized positions for the night.
At 3:30 p.m. CC B moved its advance guard and the 974th Field
Artillery Battalion from Grafenwohr through Hutten to Mantel meeting no
resistance. The advance guard, pushing to Rupprechtsreuth to secure defilade
positions for the 974th Field Artillery Battalion, cleared and protected the
area while the artillery went into action. Weiden was rained with a heavy volume
of artillery fire throughout the night under 183rd Field Artillery Group
direction. During the early morning of April 21, enemy stragglers drifted over
into Moss and attacked supply elements of the 42nd Tank Battalion coming forward
from the rear. CC R sent a force from the 42nd Tank Battalion back to re-sweep
the area from Moos to Schlammersdorf. Moos was taken under fire and burned down.
In a skirmish in the woods an enemy ammunition truck was destroyed and ten enemy
soldiers killed. By 1:25 p.m. Schlammersdorf and the surrounding woods were
cleared. The Eschenbach area was also cleared during the day and a total of 36
enemy stragglers captured.
CC A guards in Grafenwohr were relieved by elements of the 26th
Infantry Division by 8:00 p.m., but CC B's forces, also guarding installations
there, remained unrelieved. The Division was assured that CC B would be relieved
by early the following morning.
ACROSS THE NAAB RIVER
The Division drove a three-pronged spearhead through scattered
enemy resistance on April 22, raking Weiden and seizing a bridgehead across the
Naab River, 30 kilometers further along the way to the final objective. Both air
and ground operations were hampered by frequent showers and generally
CC A s Tank Task Force Wingard left Grafenwohr at 6:45 a.m., to
join forward elements of the cavalry advancing on Weiden from Neustadt. Two and
a half kilometers North of Weiden the cavalry encountered two roadblocks bur
these were reduced in a half-hour. Task Force Wingard passed through the
Cavalry, entering Weiden against light small arms resistance and seizing it at
9:25 a.m. Meanwhile, Cavalry elements operating on the East flank reached
Gornitz at 7:52 a.m. and on through Wilchenreuth at 9:07 a.m. Elements of the
90th Infantry Division were contacted at 9:58 a.m., two kilometers Northwest of
Neustadt. The nearly 2,000 Allied prisoners of war who were liberated and
several hundred German soldiers captured in Weiden made the problem of restoring
order an arduous task.
Cavalry elements were sent South to seize the crossing of the Naab
River at Rothenstadt after another roadblock on the South edge of the city of
Weiden had been reduced by them. Two defended roadblocks were encountered at
Rothenstadt at 10:25 a.m. Attacking in conjunction with elements of CC B on the
West, the blocks were reduced the town cleared, and the bridge seized intact by
The bulk of CC A remaining in Weiden, cleared the city and
established order. The Division issued orders to the command around noon to
press forward in the attack leaving but a small force in Weiden until relieved
by the 26th Infantry Division. Led by Troop A, 41st Cavalry, CC A advanced to
Luhe where a bridge was seized intact and the town occupied by 2:30 p.m. At this
point the Cavalry was passed through by tank elements who proceeded South to
seize Wernberg against scattered small arms and sniper fire. Many enemy soldiers
surrendered. One kilometer West of Wernberg a railroad bypass over the main road
was actually blown by the enemy as the city was captured, but the main route
bridge over the Naab River was reported in good condition. Continuing Southward
along the good road, tank elements reached Pfreimd at 4:00 p.m. The city was
seized at 4:30 p.m. after lightly held enemy defenses had been smashed.
A bridge at Pfreimd which had been weakened by demolition was
strengthened and the column resumed the advanced South toward Nabburg. An
emissary from Nabburg contacted leading elements and surrendered the city, which
was occupied without resistance at 7:15 p.m.
The command post moved to Pfreimd at 8:15 p.m. and all units of the
command were assembled in the Pfreimd-Nabburg area. The command had captured
1,294 enemy troops during the day, and liberated approximately 2,000 Allied
prisoners of war. Two prime movers, 66 vehicles, 815 rifles, 61 machine guns,
and 66 panzerfaust were also seized and destroyed.
CC Bs main body moved from Grafenwohr at 7:00 a.m. on April 22, and
proceeded through Hutten and Mantel, contacting the advance guard. The column
coiled off the road East of Mantel, and Division Artillery put its two remaining
light battalions into position, preparing to support CC A's attack on Weiden. In
the event that CC A had serious trouble in Weiden an infantry task force was
made ready for resistance. When Weiden was seized at 9:25 a.m. by CC A, the
command resumed the advance to the South, reaching Etzenricht at 9:38 a.m.
Reducing several roadblocks, Etzenricht was entered and a light force sent to
the East on Division order to assist CC A in the capture of the Naab River
bridge at Rothenstadt. The command, although encountering lonely scattered
sniper fire in the way of enemy resistance, was slowed considerably on a poor
backwoods road net, and crossed the Heidanaab River near Unterwidenau and
continued to Beudorf by midday.
Continuing through dense woods, Holzhammer was cleared and 30
surprised prisoners taken. Air OP spotted eight German vehicles moving South of
the advancing column near Kenmath. Under artillery fire four of these vehicles
were burned, two disabled, and all personnel killed or dispersed. Kenmath was
entered by the advancing column at 3:30 p.m. The command entered Schwarzenfeld
at 8:30 p.m. A vital bridge across the Naab River was seized intact, the town
cleared by 9:00 p.m., and 40 prisoners captured. The entire command concentrated
in the Schwarzenfeld area by 10:00 p.m. An inspection of the Naab River bridge
revealed it was incapable of withstanding Division loads and work was started by
engineers to span the river with a treadway bridge.
CC R meanwhile, moved from Eschenbach at 7:00 a.m., reaching
Grafenwohr at 8:00 a.m. where the column coiled to await the outcome of CC A's
attack on Weiden. When Weiden was seized the command was ordered to move
directly South on a good road to seize Hirschau, and open a direct route to the
Southeast for trailing Division elements. Resuming the advance Freihung was
reached at 10:30 a.m. Meeting no resistance at Schonbrunn, the column turned
Southeast. The city of Hirchau was occupied at 11:30 a.m. and cleared after
scattered small arms fire at the Western edge of the city had been reduced.
Orders were issued to CC R at 5.00 p.m., based on the reported failure of the CC
B road North of Scharzenfeld, to open a main road all the way East to the Naab
River near Werberg, and protect the bridge site while engineers repaired the
crossing during the night. The task Force dispatched on this mission reported
their arrival at the objective at 7:40 p.m., while the remainder of the command
assembled at Schnaittenbach for the night.
The Division issued radio orders to all units at 8:30 a.m.,
directing a continuation of the advance to Cham as soon as possible after
daylight of April 23. Division Troops and CC R were advised that a shift to the
CC A axis, via Wernberg, would be made the following morning. A request from the
engineers to replace the damaged bridge at Pfreimd with bailey material was
approved, on the understanding that the road would be reopened by 8:00 a.m. on
Cham, the final Corps objective, was seized by the Division on this
day of April 23, as they advanced 20 kilometers to the East and then an equal
distance to the Southeast, through crumbling enemy resistance. Only two
reconnaissance missions were possible to aid the Division as intermittent rain
and cloudy weather limited tactical air cooperation.
At 1:00 a.m. on April 23, CC A at Pfreimd, reported the surrender
of a Hungarian force of 490 men, together with their equipment and
transportation. Company B 22nd Tank Battalion, was approached before daylight
and arranged for the surrender of a Hungarian force East of Nabburg. By 4:00
a.m. 800 prisoners had poured in from this unit.
Initiating the advance with cavalry elements at 6:15 a.m. the
column cleared Willnof at 7:30 a.m., capturing 154 enemy soldiers enroute.
Pertolzhofen was reached at 8:45 a.m. It was revealed by reconnaissance that the
planned road to the East would not support the command. Swinging to the North
through Neider Murach, an Allied prisoner of war camp, containing 150 Russians
and 16 Americans, was liberated.
HUNGARIAN FORCE SURRENDERS
Meanwhile, a Hungarian force of at least 1,200 officers and men,
located in the Beunberg-Pertolzhofen-Oberveichtach area surrendered en masse to
Pushing Eastward, advance elements occupied Winklarn at 11:30 a.m.,
where 1,000 British and two American prisoners of war were liberated. Overtaking
an enemy column near Grassersdorf, Task Force Wingard took the lead and soon
overwhelmed all resistance. The town of Rotz was seized and an additional 160
American prisoners freed.
The 41st Cavalry, flank-protecting along a separate route to the
North, advanced swiftly to Gaisthal where an enemy column of four vehicles was
overrun and destroyed. Turning to the South and East, an Allied prisoner of war
camp was liberated at Haag, about 3:00 p.m., releasing 600 British prisoners.
Elements of Task Force Wingard occupied Pemfling at 2:30 p.m. Continuing against
no resistance, the column was halted by a roadblock on the Northern outskirts of
Cham. The block was reduced, Cham entered, and a link-up made with CC B a short
An order received from the Division at 5:00 p.m., directed Cavalry
Task Force Weinand to move Southeast and secure the apparently vital bridge
across the Regen River at Milrach. Finding the main road incomplete as it was
represented on the map, the reinforced Cavalry troop crossed the river to the
South at Cham and proceeded East to Milrach. The bulk of the command, meanwhile
assembled in the Cham area, with the command post operating there at 5:55 p.m.
Guard details were established at several towns along the route to handle the
thousands of prisoners of war captured during the day. German Field Marshall
Kesselring’s private train was discovered and seized in the badly bombed
railyard at Cham.
CC B resumed the attack at 6:40 a.m., moving rapidly against no
resistance to reach Kennath at 7:26 a.m. While artillery was brought forward to
cover the wooded South flank, the column halted and the remaining combat
elements cleared the treadway bridge at Schwarzenfeld completed during the
night. Continuing to Beunberg light resistance was overcome, a force of some 750
Hungarian soldiers surrendered, and 3,000 Russian and Polish slave laborers
liberated. The column's advance was slowed as it approached the Regen River as
an original 16,000 starved slave workers from the Flossenburg and Buchenwald
concentration camps, their 1,300 German SS Guarded column overrun, clogged the
route. At 11:15 a.m. Stamsried was seized and several hundred British soldiers,
prisoners of the Germans since Dunkerque, were released. Posing fell at 11:30
am., as the last remnants of the Nazi column guard were overrun and killed or
captured, and the starving liberated slaves spread out over the countryside
looking for food. Striking rapidly to the East the column recrossed the river
and entered Cham shortly after 1:00 p.m. against light sniper resistance. The
city was seized at 2:00 p.m., thus the Division's assigned mission was
Division Artillery, sighting infantry in position to the South of
Cham, smothered the area with air-burst fire. At 2:55 p.m. a large enemy airport
fell to the command two and one half kilometers Southwest of Cham. Here 50 enemy
aircraft, many of them operational, were seized and destroyed. Just before dark
three enemy aircraft landed at the airport not knowing the installation had been
captured and the pilots were taken prisoners.
The command post moved to Cham at 4:00 p.m. and units assembled in
the Cham-Unter Traunbenbach area for the night. A total of 1,700 prisoners of
war were captured during the day. The starved slave labor, still alive when the
column was finally liberated, numbered approximately 7,000. The road between
Stamsried and Posing and the adjacent fields, were dug with shallow improvised
graves containing the bodies of at least 100 shot down in cold blood.
The Division troops column left Schnairtenbach at 9:00 a.m. On
April 23, crossed the Naab River at Wernberg and turned South on the CC A route
to Pfreid. At this point a supporting Engineer company, instead of installing a
Bailey bridge the night before as directed, attempted an early morning rush job,
delaying all trailing elements four hours. Reaching Allendorf after noon,
elements of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, opened a cross route to the CC B
axis at Neunburg. Slowly following CC B, the head of the column reached
Stamsried at 3:00 p.m. where the Division command post was reestablished. Along
a steep stretch of the Road just Northwest of Stamsried, seeping water
undermined the roadbed and it collapsed under excessive usage. Vehicles had to
be towed or driven through singly. All elements closed in Stamsreid before
CC R moved from Schnaittenbach to Friedersreid at 11:45 a.m. The
column did not reach Wernberg until 3:00 p.m., being delayed behind the Pfreid
bridge. At 7:20 p.m. the command authorized to assemble in the Neunburg area for
the night due to the road failure near Stamsried. The command post was opened
there at 9:20 p.m. At 10:45 p.m. CC R was instructed to take over the guarding
of all prisoners at Neunburg and the following morning to cut across directly
East of CC A's route to Rotz, proceeding as far Southwest on the CC A route as
ADVANCE TO THE SOUTHEAST
Being unaware of Corps future plans, orders were requested by radio
and were answered by a telephone call from the XII Corps G-3, outlining the
impending operation. A continuation of the advance to the Southeast to join with
Russian forces near the German-Austrian border was directed. A formation of
three Divisions abreast, with the 11th Armored Division in the center, the 90th
Infantry Division on the left and the 26th Infantry Division on the right was
prescribed. The 97th Infantry Division was directed to follow the 90th along the
North flank, sealing the Czechoslovakian border in successive sector reliefs. No
major changes in the attached or supporting troops was prescribed. The 11th
Armored Division was directed to advance to the Southeast as far as the Austrian
border in the 10-kilometer-wide zone, seizing successive objectives of Regen and
Grafenau, and clearing the Division zone. Patrols up to, but not beyond the
Austrian border were prescribed.
The narrow, 100-kilomerer long zone of operation assigned the
Division was, for the first time in history, characterized principally by a
single excellent highway running in a favorable direction for a distance of 60
kilometers. This route was in marked contrast to the restricted roadnet
available as the Austrian border was neared, even through portions later proved
to be still under construction. The flank was blocked to the South by the Danube
River; to the north the tall wooded mountains along the Czech border barred
access in all save a few transverse pass areas. The Division zone terrain was
generally wooded and mountainous, cut perpendicularly by rivers draining into
the Danube to the South.
Vividly awakened to the stark reality of German brutality,
evidenced by atrocities and the thousands of starved human slaves that had been
liberated in and around Cham, the Thunderbolts needed no urging to quickly
continue the decisive action which had placed it, so far, 50 kilometers ahead of
all Third Army units toward the alleged German National Redoubt Area.
Troop D 41st Cavalry, was attached to CC B in the early morning of
April 24, joining the command in Cham at 7:30 a.m. As the weather cleared about
8:30 a.m. CC B renewed the attack Southeast along the Alpine highway.
A secondary road through Vilzing to Mitach required constant
engineer maintenance and slowed the advance considerably. First contact was made
with the enemy in the vicinity of Voggerzell where sporadic mortar fire fell on
the column. Some small arms resistance was reduced and the advance continued.
Defended Viechtach fell by 10:00 a.m. with the cessation of resistance by small
arms equipped enemy troops. An unsuccessful attempt was made by the enemy to
make a stand on the wooded hillcrest in the vicinity of Arnesried. Tank firing
destroyed several enemy vehicles.
ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF REGEN
On reaching the outskirts of Regen it was discovered that a
100-feet high bridge spanning a 300-foot gorge and tributary stream of the Regen
River had been destroyed. Two additional air squadrons bombed and strafed Regen,
and enemy columns trying to vacate the city. Earlier in the morning a mission
had been flown on the city. At least 25 enemy motor transports were destroyed.
Dismounted infantry elements, covered by artillery and tank fire, advanced on
Regen from the west and south. Considerable small arms and mortar fire were
received from the city. One vehicle was lost just south of Regen through mines.
All resistance had been overcome by 4:15 p.m. and the city was reported clear.
CC A’s task of clearing the zone behind CCB was cancelled around
midday and directed to continue in the advance to the Austrian border. Following
Division Troops, CC A was able to reach the vicinity of Viechtach by 3:00 p.m.
In the late afternoon CC A was directed to attempt a bypass of Regen to the
north through Zwiesel. Cavalry elements sent forward on this mission encountered
a ponderous roadblock one-kilometer west of Bodenmais. It took three hours work
to remove this block and the openly lighted town was entered at 11:00 p.m.
without opposition. The remaining elements of CC A assembled around Viechtach
for the night. Shortly before midnight CC A was directed to press its attack
through Zwiesel at daylight the following morning.
CC B moved east from
its location at Neunburg and proceeded to Cham via Rotz during the morning. At
11:41 a.m. CC R was ordered by Corps to remain until relieved by the 26th
Infantry Division, or, until release from Corps could be obtained. At 8:00 p.m.
the command was further directed to establish and maintain contact with the 26th
Infantry Division at Ober Trubenach to the southeast.
Following CC B, Division Troops moved from Stamsried to Patersdorf
during the middle part of the day. The 575th Anti-Air Battalion destroyed one
FW-190 and one enemy liaison plane over the airfield near Cham. Elsewhere in the
Division area an ME-109 and two more FW-190's were brought down. The 705th Tank
Destroyer Battalion reconnaissance patrol sent Northeast of Paresdorf during the
afternoon discovered abandoned German vehicles in the woods North of Teisnach.
At 1:00 p.m. on April 25, Operations Memo No. 59 was distributed,
outlining the Division plan for operations between Regen and the Austrian
border. Because of the blown bridge at Regen CC A was directed to bypass the
city and lead the attack to the objective around Freyung. CC A was due to clear
a zone in the rear of CC A and then advance on the South to a portion of the
objective around Wallkirchen. From North to South, CC B, CC A, and CC R, were
all assigned zones for clearance after the final objective had been seized, and
order to push patrols to the Austrian border and Czechoslovakian border. A
request for the release of CC R, except for two companies at Cham, was made of
XII Corps, in order to expedite the clearance of the forward area.
On completion of the nightlong construction of a bridge and
two-kilometer bypass near Regen at 6:30 a.m. on April 25, CC A once again
started moving its vehicles past. Kirchdorf was passed through without
opposition but considerable small arms and automatic weapons fire was
encountered at Epperschlag. Dismounted infantry elements cleared Epperschlag,
leaving it in flames, while the main body continued its rapid advance through
the town. When reached at 11:40 a.m., Schonberg was the scene of savage
fire-fight. They were prepared by tactical air and artillery fire, then the
tank-infantry teams went through the town, capturing and clearing it by 1:00
p.m. In a wooded area South of Schonberg numerous small groups of panzerfaust
and rifle-equipped enemy were encountered and heavy combined arms resistance
developed as the column broke out of the woods and continued South along the
highway towards Passau. Crossing the Ilz River, the bulk of the command
continued to the East through Perlesreut to seize bridges across the Ohe River
near Prombach. Eliminating a blocking force near Preying the original advance
elements crossed the Ilz River to the Northeast and rejoined the command at
Perlesreut, where the command post was established. Later in the evening a
strafing enemy plane was brought down over the artillery position.
CC A's 41st Cavalry moved from Bodenmais, East to Lansdorf where
slight resistance was met. Lest the route through Zwiesel proved unsuitable the
main body of CC A remained in the vicinity of Viechtach. Such proved to be the
case. Extensive bomb craters rendered the road impassible and no bypass through
the mountain country was found so the cavalry counter-marched to the main
highway at Patersdorf. A little after midday the entire command resumed the
march, following Division Troops along the highway through Regen.
Troop A, 41st Cavalry, which had been allowed to double the
Division column, turned East at the Kirchdorf road junction and continued on a
route North of and parallel to that of CC B. When entering Schwarzach at 2:30
p.m. an overtaken enemy column was brought under fire. The cavalry continued
after killing 20, taking 140 prisoners and destroying undetermined number of
vehicles. Grafenau was entered and occupied without resistance at 4:00 p.m. In
the town a Japanese diplomatic legation of 37 men, women, and children was
captured. Veering East, Neudorf, Hohenau, and Kreuaberg were successfully
entered after three defended roadblocks had been reduced. The cavalry assembled
for the night in Krenzberg, guarding the bridge across the Resch River. The bulk
of the command followed to Grafenau where the command post was established.
The request for clearance of CC R East from Cham was granted early
in the morning of April 25, and the command was directed to resume the march,
following CC A. Good progress was made until the CC A column was overtaken near
Viechtach. At 2:55 p.m. CC R was ordered to proceed as far East as Rinchach and
there to protect the Division near by blocking all roads in the vicinity.
NEW BRIDGES FOR OLD
During the first half of the day the 56th Armored Engineer
Battalion concentrated all efforts on the Regen Bridge and bypass. Because of
the usual one to two day delay in obtaining Bailey bridge material a treadway
was laid in the early morning hours to insure the flow of traffic at daylight. A
second bridge was constructed along side the treadway when Bailey material
arrived around noon. Two sections of the 575th Anti-Air Battalion guarded the
bridge site from enemy aircraft which were overhead quite often during the day.
Division troops moved from Patersdorf to Schonberg where the
Division command post was reestablished.
During the night CC A was directed to leave the 41st Cavalry in
place, preparatory to a return to Division control. Resuming the advance at 8:00
a.m. on April 26, 1945, CC A s Task Force Wingard moved through the Cavalry at
Kreuzberg and turned South toward Freyung. The column was halted one kilometer
North of Freyung by a destroyed bridge. Tracked vehicles and tanks forded the
river while wheeled vehicles used a bypass discovered to the Northeast.
Engineers began construction and maintenance work immediately to keep the column
moving. After the 490th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and Task Force Wingard
had crossed the stream, the bypass collapsed and construction was renewed under
sporadic small arms fire from surrounding woods. Freyung was entered and cleared
by 10:30 a.m. against minor resistance, this town being CC A s portion of the
final objective. German Brigadier General Von Horst, an ordnance officer, was
among those taken prisoner in the city.
Adhering to a prearranged plan, Task Force Wingard swung East from
Freyung and advanced to Unter Grainet. From this point a full track armored
patrol, made up from Company B 22nd Tank Battalion, Company B 55th Armored
Infantry Battalion, Battery A 490th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and a
41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Platoon, was dispatched East toward the Austrian
border. From time to time the advance was delayed by mountain trails and blown
bridges. Hitler Jugend resistance was brushed aside at Lackenshausen, and at
6:30 p.m. this patrol entered Austria from the West, being the first allied unit
to do so. The patrol returned to the main body at 7:00 p.m.; its mission
accomplished although no meeting was effected with the Russian Army. The bulk of
CC A assembled in the Unter Grainet area. The 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance
Squadron was detached from CC A at 8:00 p.m. and left in place for a short rest.
CC B renewed its attack to the East at 7:40 a.m. Light resistance
was encountered before taking Alzesberg at 8:30 a.m. The bridge across the Ohe
River, South of Prombach, gave way after being crossed by advanced elements and
delayed the column for over an hour until another bridge was located to the
North. Advance forces continued to Rohrnbach, seizing it after light resistance.
Crossing the Osterbach River, Steinerleinbach was reached at 12:15 p.m.
Division Artillery, in the meantime, went into position near
Rohrnbach and neutralized or destroyed numerous enemy infantry positions along
the South flank of the axis of advance. Six enemy aircraft strafed the column,
one of which was shot down. The 21st Armored Infantry Battalion captured the
town of Wallkirchen after it had been softened by artillery fire, completing the
seizure of the Corps final objective by 3:00 p.m.
INFANTRY WELCOMED BY POPULACE
Continuing East to Wollaberg, the infantry was openly welcomed by
the populace. Continuing further to the East, a point one-kilometer Northwest of
Gollnerberg was reached at 7:15 p.m., and from here the Austrian border could be
observed clearly. The patrol returned to Wallaberg before dark, being short of
gasoline. The bulk of CC B assembled in the Waldkirchen area.
An ME-109 was shot down out of a flight which strafed CC R near
Rinchnach at 7:30 a.m. CC R, following Division Troops, moved to the vicinity of
Grafenau during the afternoon. The 42nd Tank Battalion moved to Schonberg and
established strong defenses to the South. Seventy-two prisoners of war were
captured during the day, adding to the several hundred being guarded in the
Division cake at Schonberg. Schonberg was bombed at 11:00 p.m. by enemy aircraft
but no damage was inflicted on military targets.
Taking into consideration the prospect of considerable delay at the
Austrian border, no friendly troops within 60 kilometers of the bulk of the
Division, and a strong South flank threat, Operations Memo No. 60 was
distributed at 11:30 p.m. The movement of the 41st Cavalry to the South flank
near Rohrnbach was the only major change in the plan.
Division Troops moved from Schonberg to Grafenau about midday and
then followed CC A to Freyung where the combat post was reestablished at 4:30
p.m. Battery A, 575th Anti-Air Battalion, fired multiple 50 caliber and 37mm
guns on an enemy mortar position one kilometer West of Schonbergand completely
destroyed it. The end of the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion column was attacked
by fire from enemy SP guns operating in the Schonberg area and some damage
inflicted on the bridge train before the arrival of tank elements from CC R.
Late in the afternoon Engineers installed a 36-foot treadway
bridge, North of Freyung, easing the flow of traffic over the vital spot.
Enemy air was particularly active and bold in the Division area
during the day. Thirty-five enemy sorties were observed. Late in the afternoon
P-51 Mustangs strafed German aircraft West of Freyung and shot down the enemy in
a two-minute dogfight. Five enemy aircraft were brought down by the 575th
Anti-Air Battalion during the day.
During the month of April the constant activities of vehicles and
the urgent need for rehabilitation of personnel caused a request to be made of
XII Corps for a 48-hour maintenance period. Corps replied directing the Division
to prepare for continuation of the attack on April 28.
The Division had advanced a total of 210 kilometers in the seven
active days of operation since leaving the Bayreuth area, seizing both Corps
objectives and completing its assigned mission on the Austrian border. Despite
enemy delaying tactics and numerous physical obstacles the Third Army spearhead
continued at 30 kilometers per day in a week of shifting offensive operation.
Prisoners of war captured amounted to at least 9,394 including mounting numbers
of Hungarians, and 3,362 Allied prisoners liberated.
Fifty enemy aircraft were overrun on the ground and at least 11
shot out of the air. Some 315 other enemy transport and combat vehicles were
either destroyed or captured. Among rear area installations overrun were German
Wehrma CHT base depots, a large operational airfield, and throughout all was
evidence of the rotten slave labor core of the Nazi system.
During the night of April 26, a battalion of the 183rd Field
Artillery Group monitor station was established and for several days a continual
attempt was made to establish radio voice with the Russian Army, through the
services of a Russian officer liberated three days before at Cham. On April 27,
1945, CC A patrols operated to the East and North of Unter Grainet. One of these
patrols reached the Czechoslovakian border, Northeast of Bishofsreut, without
CC B patrols, operating to the East and Southeast during the
afternoon, reported no enemy encountered. CC R maintained defensive roadblocks
protecting the rear of the Division and sent patrols to the South and West.
Three kilometers North of Tittling a patrol from Schonberg uncovered an enemy AT
and infantry defensive position astride the Alpine highway.
Moving from Dreuzberg at 7:20 a.m., the 41st Cavalry marched South
and closed in the Rohrnbach area about an hour later. Troop B, which had been
released to the Squadron from CC B, established and maintained a roadblock
across the principal highway to the South. About 9:40 a.m. enemy light and
medium artillery commenced falling in the Rohrnbach area at the rate of five or
six rounds every 20 minutes. This continued until about 3:50 p.m. when clearing
weather made it possible for Division Artillery to observe and neutralize the
fire. Artillery concentrations on Wilhelmsreut and Hutthurm minimized observed
enemy activity and placed harassing fires into enemy infantry positions South of
the Osterbach River. Division Artillery expended 759 rounds on 19 missions
during the day. Twenty-two prisoners of war were captured and four vehicles lost
to enemy fire.
PLANS TO MEET THE RUSSIANS
Operational Directive No. 111, the Corps plan for renewal of
operations, received about 10:00 a.m., outlined action to join forces with the
Russian Army South of Czechoslovakia and protect the Army North flank. A renewed
drive to the East was prescribed on relief to the West along the Czechoslovakian
border by elements of VIII Corps. The Thunderbolts were to lead the attack as
far as a mountainous area North of Linz, followed by the 90th Infantry Division
on the North flank and the 26th Infantry Division on the South flank.
A short time after noon all major units were advised of an extended
maintenance period. Twenty-four new M-26 tanks, received the day before, were
checked over, test fired, and distributed to companies within the three tank
battalions. Division Trains directed the movement of all elements at Cham
forward to the Division area during the afternoon. Combat elements rejoined CC R
after making several patrol checks to the North and South along the Alpine
highway and all Division Service elements, except the 81st Medical Battalion,
closed in the Freyung area before dark. The 56th Engineers replaced the treadway
North of Freyung with a more permanent Bailey bridge.
Meanwhile the Division plan for renewing action was formulated.
Operations Memo No. 61 was prepared and distributed at daylight of April 28.
During the night of April 27 a G-2 plain-clothes operator returned,
confirming in detail that the German SS Panzer Division "Das Reich"
was hard at work forming a protective crust for the Passau area North of the
Danube. Dug-in infantry positions, Anti-tank guns, and artillery, were being
built up astride the main road from the Osterbach River line to an enemy
straggler collecting point just North of Passau. During the day of April 28,
major command patrolling activities continued toward the Austrian and
Czechoslovakian borders, also South towards Passau. A CC A patrol crossed the
Czech border near Sperr Buhel and fired into the town of Gsenget where white
flags immediately appeared. Yet another patrol to Breitenberg encountered 200
enemy infantry and drove them into the woods Northeast of the town at the cost
of one tank destroyer damaged and three enlisted men wounded. A CC B patrol met
resistance at Sonnen and captured 15 German and 40 Hungarian prisoners of war.
Another CC B patrol captured a medical company and its equipment near Sonnen,
attempting to make its way to the Passau area, taking a Major General, 20 other
officers, 20 nurses, and 30 enlisted men prisoners. Commencing at 10:45 a.m.,
enemy artillery shelled the 41st Cavalry defensive positions near Rohrnbach
area. Division Artillery promptly neutralized this fire. CC R picked up an
additional 150 prisoners of war while patrolling in the Division rear and
maintaining blocks. The 81st Medical Battalion closed in Freyung at 12:25 p.m.,
completing the concentration of all Division elements.
A verbal order was received from XII Corps at 9:30 a.m. to clear
the area in the 26th Infantry Division zone between the Ilz River and the
Austrian border, as far South as the Danube on April 29. Fragmentary orders were
immediately issued to major commands.
The Division planned a heavily infantry and artillery reinforced CC
B, making a deliberate dismounted attack to the Southwest until the enemy crust
was broken. CC B, plus the 41st Cavalry and the 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion,
was ordered to clear the zone East of the llz River and West of the Austrian
border, South of the Danube. On completion of this mission the command was to
assemble in the vicinity of Ruhmannsdorf and prepare to continue on a more
southerly route to the Southeast.
CC A was directed to move a task force to Wollaberg, to be followed
later by the bulk of CC A, meanwhile continuing to patrol in its assigned zone.
The 183rd Field Artillery Group was given the task of supporting CC A and
reinforcing CC B during the latter’s attack, thereafter supporting CC A and CC
R. Division Artillery was to support CC B for the duration of its offensive
operation, then to support CC B and the 41st Cavalry. One platoon of 155 mm guns
from the 510th Field Artillery Group was attached to Division Artillery who were
given the mission of destroying bridges over the llz and Danube Rivers around
Passau. CC R was to continue its mission until the arrival of 26th Infantry
Division elements, thereafter moving to Freyung and protecting the Division
Northeast and Northwest flanks in a prescribed sector.
On being released from CC B, the 41st Cavalry was to assemble its
command near Hutthurn and protect the Division West and South flank.
CC B, reacting without delay, dispatched a task force from
Waldkirchen at 1:30 p.m. April 28, to seize the high ground North of
Bernhardsburg for artillery positions from which the action toward Passau could
be supported. A minefield was bypassed and a roadblock reduced enroute as slow
progress was made. The 492nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion went into
positions near Leinbach at 10:30 p.m.
Leaving Grafenau at 5:00 a.m. on April 29, the 63rd Armored
Infantry Battalion marched South to Rohrbach CC B launched its attack toward
Passau at 8:30 a.m., with all artillery in position and the weather clearing for
the better. On the West flank, the 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion entered and
cleared Ulrichsreut against light small arms opposition.
Continuing South through a minefield to Wilhelmsreut, the town
defended by small arms, panzerfaust, and antitank gun, was attacked. The 21st
Armored Infantry Battalion, reaching Deching simultaneously, reduced anti-tank
fire by the use of artillery. At midday the bitter resistance in Wilhelmsreut
was completely overcome. Rejoining the 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, the 63rd
Armored Infantry Battalion continued the attack to the South until stopped by
defenses at Grosstannensteig at 3:30 p.m. After concentrations of artillery had
blasted the town the 63rd Battalion attacked directly South while the 41st Tank
Battalion protected the exposed West flank and the 21st Battalion outflanked the
town to the East through some woods. The attack was slowed by enemy small arms,
panzerfaust and anti-tank fire but the town was seized by 4: 55 p.m. Meanwhile,
a platoon of 155mm guns from the 745th Field Artillery Battalion arrived in the
area and by 4:00 p.m., despite active enemy fighter aircraft, air CP's had
adjusted fire on the Ilz and Danube River bridges in the vicinity of Passau.
The ground attack at Kringell next encountered five enemy tanks,
two of which were destroyed by artillery fire. The remaining three withdrew
Defended Hutthurm was attacked from the West and Northeast at 5:30
p.m. by two infantry battalions, supported by tank and artillery fire. Enemy
small arms and automatic weapon fire, in addition to mortar and artillery,
failed to stem the advance. Hutthurm was seized and occupied by 6:45 p.m. During
the dismounted 10-kilometer advance of the day, 150 of the enemy were killed and
several hundred taken prisoners. Approximately 30 casualties were surrendered
among CC B elements.
BLOCKING THE THREAT
A large enemy force of undetermined strength was reported at 11:15
a.m., proceeding South from Czechoslovakia towards Kreuzberg. A small task force
from the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion was immediately ordered to the North
toward Kreuzberg to check on this report and temporarily block any threat that
might actually develop.
CC A was ordered simultaneously to have an air OP check the
Division North flank for enemy activity and to organize a balanced
battalion-size task force for movement toward Kreuzberg on short notice. About
1:00 p.m. the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion reported no enemy activity in
Kreuzberg. Mortar fire was reported falling on Freyung at 5:30 p.m., just South
of Division Headquarters. By spraying all surrounding wooded hills with 575th AA
Battalion multiple-mount 50 caliber machine guns, this action was diminished.
Three kilometers Northeast of Freyung an enemy Storck liaison plane was shot
down. During the night one battery of 90mm AA guns moved forward from Regen to
The 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion was relieved at 3:00 p.m. on
Division order by Task Force Blalock, consisting of one company of infantry, one
company of medium tanks, and one battery of field artillery.
CC R 42nd Tank Battalion took over the blocks and patrols of the
63rd Armored Infantry Battalion on its departure from Grafenau before daylight.
Patrols in the Division rear picked up an additional 150 enemy stragglers during
the morning, in addition to 73 belligerent Austrian Youth Movement boys. At 1:55
p.m. CC R was ordered to move to Kreuzberg, to relieve the CC A and Division
Troops elements in the vicinity and assume its planned protection or the
Division North flank until again relieved by following infantry division
elements. The command moved from Grafenau at 3:00 p.m., closed in the
Kreuzberg-Freyung area by 6:00 p.m., and an hour later had effected the relief
and assumed responsibility for protection of the Division North flank.
Shortly after noon XII Corps directed the Division to resume the
attack to the Southeast on the morning of April 30. No change in the Division
mission was contemplated. Just recently assigned to XII corps, the 5th Infantry
Division was substituted for the 90th Infantry Division and directed to clear
the Corps zone into Austria on the North flank. CC A and CC B were directed to
resume the advance as soon after daylight as possible on April 30. CC B, in
addition, was directed to release the 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion to CC R at
Waldkirchen when the 41st Cavalry was in position South of Hutthurm. 41st
Cavalry elements were to be released to Division control when the head of the CC
B column reached Hauzenburg. Division Artillery was directed to leave the 745th
Field Artillery Battalion 155mm guns in position and to continue its North flank
protection mission until the arrival of motorized 5th Infantry Division troops
on the CC A axis.
An aerial check conducted on Passau about 8:00 a.m. on April 30,
showed that a railroad bridge in the vicinity on which fire was adjusted the
previous afternoon, had been completely destroyed. Air activity was minimized
during the day by continual heavy rain, and confined heavy armored vehicle
movement to the rapidly deteriorating road net in the vicinity of the Austrian
CC A initiated movement with Troop C, 41st Cavalry, at 7:00 a.m.
April 30. The cavalry passed through Stublhauser at 9:00 a.m. and advanced to a
point two kilometers North of Wegsheid by 9:20 a.m. Following a more Western
Route, Task Force Hearn made first contact with defending enemy infantry in
Kasberg at 9:51 a.m. The infantry task force cleared Kasberg quickly, meeting
the next resistance in the woods North of Wegsheid, which were cleared by noon.
As the attack approached the Austrian border town of Wegsheid and the
surrounding wooded hills small arms, automatic weapon, anti-tank, and enemy
artillery fire developed. Anti-tank fire destroyed three mud-bound tanks.
Bringing forward artillery enemy strong points were subjected to heavy
concentrations. The soggy terrain making maneuver impossible, Task Force Hearn
launched a dismounted infantry attack to seize the high ground West of the town.
The Task Force seized this ground at 5:00 p.m. whereupon they reorganized and
entered Weigsheid at 8:00 p.m., clearing it by 9:45 p.m. CC A assembled in the
Kasberg-Weigsheid area for the night. During the day's action 77 Germans were
killed and l37 prisoners captured, against a loss of 21 casualties three of
which were officers. Twelve enemy artillery and anti-aircraft pieces were
destroyed for a loss of five medium tanks to enemy anti-tank fire.
The 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion was released from CC B during
the night to CC R control at Hutthurm. CC B renewed its advance to the Southeast
at 7:10 a.m., April 30, passing through Buchelberg to encounter several
anti-tank guns to the Northeast. This resistance was overcome as well as some
dismounted infantry resistance in the woods near Wollar and the command reached
Hauzenburg at 8: 50 a.m. A liaison plane dropping surrender leaflets into towns
in advance of the column sighted two companies of enemy infantry in vehicles
along the road near Rubmannsdorf and directed artillery fire which dispersed the
column. CC B released the 41st Cavalry to Division control on reaching
Hauzenburg. Continuing through Jahrdorf the command’s advance was slowed as it
reached Griesbach at 10:15 a.m. by small arms fire. Pushing through Griesbach,
panzerfaust and heavy small arms resistance in the woods, two kilometers to the
East, temporarily halted the advance. After an artillery concentration had been
aimed on the wood approximately 100 German infantryman surrendered en masse, 825
Hungarian soldiers filtered into the Battery B, 491st Armored Field Artillery
Battalion position Northwest of Greisbach and surrendered.
Continuing the attack to the East as far as Wildenrann and then
Southeast, a heavily defended roadblock North of Ober Kappel on the Austrian
border stemmed the advance at 1:30 p.m. In mid-afternoon CC B was directed not
to advance beyond the Austrian border pending the outcome of CC A's attack on
Wegsheid. Most of the afternoon was spent in deliberate dismounted action to
reduce the roadblock and eliminate sniper fire within Ober Kappel. A key bridge
on the approach to the town was secured intact. When it became apparent that
assistance would not be required to reduce Wegsheid the command assembled in the
Griesbach-Ober Kappel area for the night. Advance elements reached Crettenbach
late in the afternoon.
On relief by elements of the 5th Infantry Division about mid-day,
CC R moved from Freyung to Wollaberg, closing at 6:30 p.m. Patrols operated from
this point until dark, protecting the Division North and West flanks. Fifty-one
prisoners of war were captured and moved to Sonnen where jurisdiction over the
Division Prisoner of War cage was assumed.
During the morning the 41st Cavalry was subjected to light
artillery fire while continuing its blocking mission to the South of Hutthurm.
When relieved at 2:30 p.m. by elements of the 26th Infantry Division the
squadron followed CC B to Rubmannsdorf where it assembled for the night.
As shown by the determined resistance of the enemy along the
Austrian border on April 30, the Wehrmacht had built up a considerable force
Southeast of the Division during the past several days of inactivity. Prisoner
interrogation revealed that the 487th Mobilization Division was coordinating
operation of several separate miscellaneous enemy groups.
A RUSSIAN PLANE
Unseasonal snow falling continuously throughout the day of May 1,
limited the Division's observation and maneuverability and minimized air
activity. About mid-day, during a break in the weather, a twin-motored bomber
bearing the white triangle Russian marking was observed over the Division area
but no communications were interchanged. Division organic strength was 613
officers and 10,162 men, some 50 officers short of allowances.