END OF WAR
By Hal Steward
CC A's Infantry Task Force Hearn launched an attack from Wegsheid at 6:30 a.m. May 1, to seize a bridge one kilometer East, which was taken by 7:15 a.m. Passing through the Infantry, Troop C of the 41st Cavalry, reached Kramerschlag without opposition and continued to Kallerschlag where a roadblock on the Eastern edge required about an hour to reduce. Continuing East to Peilstein an enemy motorized pursuit was blocked by defended roadblocks in the town. By midday the roadblocks were reduced and demolitions widened the narrow streets within the town enabling the new T-26 medium tanks to pass through.
A half kilometer East of Peilstein a bridge across the little Muhl River was seized undamaged by the column was delayed while three 500 pound charges were removed. The column was halted again two and one half kilometers East of Peilstein by anti-tank and small arms fire issuing from a wooded hill North of the road. Task Force Hearn resumed the lead and reduced this resistance by artillery supported dismounted action and continued to defend Diendorf at 4:00 p.m. Once again dismounted infantry was called upon to take the town as steep mountainous terrain and wet weather prohibited armored maneuver. The town was captured by 5:42 p.m. and two 88mm guns destroyed.
On Division orders to cut the main North-South road at Oepping before dark, all artillery was brought forward within range of the objective. Continuing East from Diendorf, Task Force Hearn seized the town without opposition by 6:30 p.m. The task force assembled for the night, establishing roadblocks across the main highway and accepting the surrender of some 650 Hungarian soldiers who wandered in from the surrounding territory.
The command post was established in the vicinity of Peilstein where remaining elements concentrated. During the day the command killed 80 and captured 710 prisoners of war, four 88mm guns, three 40 mm guns, and several miscellaneous enemy vehicles during the day, losing 15 casualties.
CC B renewed its advance from the Austrian border at 6:30 a.m. on May 1, the advance guard reaching a road junction one-kilometer West of Hohenschlag at 7:20 am. An hour later the command halted just West of Krien due to rapidly bogging roads, awaiting further reconnaissance. A better route was discovered to the South and the column backtracked through Karlsbach to reach Pfafrkirchen by 9:15 a.m. A defended roadblock was encountered and reduced on the West edge of Lembach and the advance guard continued slowly Northeast against a number of small arms defended roadblocks while the main body closed in Lembach about 11:20 a.m., pending development of a suitable crossing over the Little Muhl River.
A dismounted Infantry force, supported by artillery, continued to the Southeast toward Starz where the bridge was found to be destroyed. A tank supported Infantry Task Force relieved the advance guard and slowly reduced a succession of roadblocks to reach a crossing in the vicinity of Kronge at 4:00 p.m. In spite of heavy small arms fire from the East side of the Little Muhl River Canyon a small bridgehead was established. This bridgehead was well established by 6:00 p.m. and a dubious road net developed. Late in the afternoon during a short let-up from snow and drenching rain, a Division Artillery liaison plane reconnaissance indicated that the Neufelden bridge across the Muhl River was intact. Neufelden and the bridge site were subjected to heavy concentrations of artillery air-burst fire throughout the night. Having further difficulty with mud-clogged roads, the bulk of the command assembled in Lembach by midnight.
The 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, following CC B, moved from Ruhmannsdorf to Wildenranna late in the afternoon. Several patrols South to the Danube River discovered no enemy activity or possible river crossing sites. Following CC A, Division troops moved from Sonnen to Wegsheid where the command post was established late in the afternoon.
CC R was directed to
send a task force from Wegsheid to Wildenranna to open up a lateral ground
communication between CC B and CC A, and return about mid-day. This task was
accomplished by 4:30 p.m. and 300 Hungarian prisoners captured. On Division
order the bulk of the command moved from Wollaberg to Kasberg.
CROSSING THE MUHL RIVER
At 1:45 p.m. a liaison officer brought forward verbal instruction from XII Corps covering a change in the Corps plan. The Division mission was unchanged, except that the objective was not to include the city of Urfahr, on a bridgehead established. The 26th Infantry Division the North bank of the Danube opposite Linz. Any bridge found acoss the Danube was to be seized at once and was to stop on the Austrian border, clear South to the Danube River and establish a bridgehead across the Danube East of Passau. On completion of this bridgehead the 4th Armored Division, assembling in the Regen area was to attack Southwest through the bridgehead and seize Salzburg. Troop C, 41st Cavalry, commenced the CC A attack South from Oepping at 6:45 a.m. on May 2. One kilometer North of Rohrbach a roadblock was reduced and the town seized by 9:00 a.m. After removing several 500- and 100pound bombs from the road in the vicinity of Rohrbach the advance continued swiftly down a good road to a blown bridge two kilometers North of Neufelden. Aided by Task Force Hearn, forward elements advanced through Nerfelden to the Muhl River without opposition to find all the bridges in the vicinity blown. Task Force Wingard reduced several roadblocks to reach the vicinity of Haslach only to find the bridge across the Muhl River at this Northern location also blown. All additional attempts to find a crossing of the Muhl River during the day were unsuccessful.
While artillery moved forward to positions Northwest of Neufelden engineers located a ford site at Neufelden and completed preparations for its use by 5:15 p.m. Infantry elements of Task Force Hearn, mounted on tanks, crossed to the East without delay and established a bridgehead unopposed. CC A established its command post at Neundling. CC R was ordered forward to Oepping in mid-afternoon. Due to the previous arrival of the 5th Infantry Division elements at Oepping the command proceeded only as far as Peilstein. The 5th Infantry Division took over defense of the Muhl River line on the North flank near Schlagel during the afternoon.
CC B road reconnaissance failed to find stable footing East of the Little Muhl River in the vicinity of the Krondf bridgehead. In addition, the road from Lembach to Krondf became completely unusable during the early morning.
Other reconnaissance indicating that the roadnet East of Starz was usable, engineers constructed a treadway bridge at this crossing site by 6:00 p.m. after considerable difficulty with approaches, and followed, by 11:00 p.m., with a trestle bridge to ease the flow of traffic.
At 8:00 a.m. on Division order, the 41st Cavalry moved Southeastward from Wildenranna to clear a usable road from Ober Kappel to Lembach through Hofkirchen. Occupying Hofkirchen by 10:00 a.m. a good road net was reported which was used by service and supply elements of CC B. Patrols reconnoitering South to the Danube River between the Austrian border and the Little Muhl River were unable to locate any suitable bridge sites for Danube River crossings. These patrols captured 720 prisoners of war during the day and two enemy liaison aircraft were shot down in the vicinity of Hofkirchen at 2:00 p.m. Division troops moved from Wegsheid forward to Rohrbach during the afternoon.
Operations Memo No. 63 was prepared and distributed at daylight of May 3, outlining the Division plan for seizing the final objective. The 5th and 26th Infantry Divisions were to continue following the Thunderbolts as originally planned. CC A was directed to seize the Gramastetten artillery position area and with artillery supporting to attack and seize Urfahr from the Northwest. CC B, with the 41st Cavalry and the 491st Armored Field Artillery Battalion attached, was to seize and block the highway at Zwettl, continue to the Southeast and block the highway leading to Urfahr at Galleneukirchen, and finally, to maintain a block along the East flank or attack Southwest to assist CC A in seizing Urfahr. CC R was directed to reinforce CC A with additional infantry elements if required, and to relieve CC B of its blocking mission to the North in the vicinity of Zwettl when CC B moved Southeast to Galleneukirchen.
Rain and snow continued to fall on May 3 as the Division approached the final objective and CC B elements broke through to cut the main North-South road into Linx and Zwettl.
The Muhl River rose
some 18 inches during the night making it impossible to use the ford until the
river receded early in the morning. The 490th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
was the first to cross the ford at 6:00 a.m., May 3, followed by Task Force
MORE ALLIED PRISONERS
CC A renewed the advance, Task Force Hearn leading East and then South to rejoin the main highway at Emersdorf by 10.25 a.m. At St. Ulrich 180 Allied prisoners of war were liberated. Advanced elements encountered a defended roadblock at Emersdorf and waited for artillery to go into position. The roadblock was not cleared until 12 55 p.m. On Division order tanks were put in the lead to accelerate the advance, a critical bridge was overrun and captured three kilometers Southeast of St. Martin and the head of the column reached Rottenegg 30 minutes later only to have critical bridges blown 100 yards ahead of the leading vehicle.
While Task Force Hearn sought alternate routes to continue the advance in the vicinity of Rottenegg Task Force Wingard moved Southeast on another route from Nieder Waldkirchen to Herzogsdorf where enemy small arms fire resistance slowed the advance. Task Force Wingard reduced this small arms resistance and advanced to seize a bridge across the Rodly River near Gramastetten. An enemy strongpoint, reported in front of Task Force Hearn at Walding was subjected to concentrated artillery fire. Task Force Wingard encountered persistent and determined small arms and panzerfaust resistance but never-the-less continued a house-to-house advance into Gramastetten, in spite of darkness, to seize this important locality by 11:45 p.m. The bulk of the command assembled along the main highway Northwest of Rottenegg for the night, CC A establishing its command post at Gerling.
Following CC A across the Neufelden ford during the morning, Division Artillery progressed to a point astride the Neufelden-Urfahr highway near Gerling at nightfall. The 183rd Field Artillery Group, accompanying CC A, preceded the Division Artillery to the same general locality. CC B's advance guard, moving East from Lembach at 11:00 am., advanced to the vicinity of Alten Felden by mid-day. Continuing directly East the command passed rapidly through St. Johann and St. Veit to reach Waxenberg at 5:45 p. m., unopposed and liberating a British prisoner of war camp. A Division order at 5:30 p m. directed the advance to continue to Zwettl, if possible, and the column wound through more mountainous terrain to reach Ober Neukirchen, but into the main North-South road at Linz and reached Zwettl by 7:45 p.m. Assembly was slow due to spot collapse of the road on which travel was necessary. The command post was established in St. Veit and the command closed in the St. Veit-Zwettl area. One hundred feet of Bailey bridge material was picked up by a 56th Armored Engineer officer patrol on the Austrian border and engineers rapidly repaired the main highway bridge at Neufelden, opening the road to traffic at 7:30 p.m.
Division troops moved from Rohrbach to Neufelden, following CC A, where most elements infiltrated across the river crossing bottleneck.
Late in the day CC R moved from Peilstein to Alten Felden, closing after dark. Company C, 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion, who were brought forward to the main highway bridge site, crossed immediately after the Bailey bride was installed and established security around the bridge for the remainder of the night.
CC A continued clearing the Rottenegg-Gramstetten-Walding area shortly after daylight of May 4. The route between Rottenegg and Gramstetten had been opened by Cavalry elements by 11:48 a.m. Enemy aircraft were active in the area around noon but no damage was inflicted. Task Force Hearn completed clearing Walding at 2:05 p.m.
Later in the day the
task force was subjected to occasional artillery fire from the direction of Ober
Ottensheim. Direct anti-tank fire and artillery, in considerable volume, fell on
elements in Gramstetten during the day.
SURRENDER OF LINZ
At 2:05 p.m. an emissary from Linz arrived in Gramstetten. He claimed full authority and desired to surrender the city, with the stipulation that the German troops be allowed to withdraw to the Ease to fight the Russians. His terms were, of course, refused and he was given a two hour period to surrender the city and all troops, unconditionally. Task Force Wingard gained the critical high ground East of Gramstetten by 5: S1 p.m. after fighting slowly up steep slopes and through woods during the afternoon. Antiaircraft installations in that vicinity were destroyed and 200 prisoners taken. Further attempts to advance were halted by fire from pillboxes and well-camouflaged positions covering open ground Southeast of the wooded hill West. Task Force Wingard withdrew to the West and joined the bulk of the command, concentrating in the Gramstetten area by 9:00 p.m. despite continuing enemy artillery fire.
The 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron led CC B East from Zwettl at 8:00 a.m. The column advanced through Hellmonsodt and Reichenau, reaching Schwarzendorf at 11:15 p.m. Altenberg was occupied at 1:15 p.m. The bulk of the command coiled off the road while the 41st Cavalry turned East and advanced on Gallneuckirchen to develop the situation and the 491st Armored Field Artillery Battalion went forward into position. From interrogation of prisoners captured during the morning, defense of Gallneukirchen was anticipated, and a coordinated attack planned. However, the 41st Cavalry advanced rapidly against practically negligible resistance, reached Gallneukirchen at 2:25 p.m. and seized the town at 3:50 p.m., capturing the battalion commander in charge of its defense and taking between 700 and 800 prisoners.
CC B elements in the vicinity of Altenberg received heavy artillery fire from the Urfahr area during the afternoon. The 41st Cavalry set up defense perimeter roadblock installations around Gallneukirchen. The command assembled in the Altenberg-Gallneukirchen area by 9:15 p.m. Several hundred additional German soldiers drifted into the towns occupied by the command and were taken prisoner.
The 183rd Field Artillery Group and Division Artillery remained in place during the morning while CC A clearing operations progressed. The 945th Field Artillery Battalion went forward into position to fire the first medium caliber volley on the city of Gramstetten at 11: 55 a.m. When the Rottenegg-Gramstetten road was opened all battalions were echeloned forward into final positions during the afternoon. Heavy artillery of the 410th Field Artillery Group did not arrive in positions until late in the afternoon, delayed due to inability to get critical equipment over secondary roads. By 6:00 p.m. the coordinated force of seven light, medium, and heavy battalions was being directed on targets in the Urfahr-Linz area. The fires continued throughout the night.
A one-squadron armed reconnaissance was flown for the Division East of Urfahr by XIX Tactical Air Command about 10:35 p.m. From this operation a negative report was made. Kept away during the afternoon from the Urfahr-Linz area by heavy AA fire, fighter-bombers nevertheless assisted the CC A attack by bombing and strafing missions in the vicinity of Lichtenberg. A report of a concentration of 30 enemy tanks Northeast of Gallneukirchen was made about 4:00 p.m. but further missions for this profitable target were nor available.
CC R crossed the newly
constructed Bailey bridge East of Nenfelden at 7:00 a.m. and advanced along the
road to Dunzendorf without incident. Turning North to St. Johann the command
again turned East on CC B's route but was delayed for several hours due to spot
road failure. Advance elements reached Zwettl at 2:50 p.m. and immediately began
relief of CC B elements. Thirty-two prisoners of war were captured during the
day's operation. Division Troops moved forward from Neufelden to Ober Neukirchen,
following CC R. The 56th Engineers initiated bridge work on the main road to
Urfahr in the Rottenegg locality. One enemy aircraft was probably destroyed by
the 575th Anti-Aircraft Battalion during the day.
At 7:15 p.m. CC B was directed to hold the bulk of its forces in the vicinity of Gallneukirchen and push strong patrols Southeast and East, approximately 20 kilometers, in an attempt to make contact with the Russian Army. Russian speaking liaison officers were sent to accompany the patrols.
From observations the following day it was indicated that the enemy apparently had abandoned hope of holding the Urfahr-Linz area and had withdrawn what elements could be motorized to the East during the night. At least four batteries of permanently installed 88mm and 90mm antiaircraft guns, part of the Hermann Goering Tank Works, and other industrial plant protective system, together with numerous other AA warning devices, were completely destroyed in place.
Preceded by cavalry reconnaissance CC A commenced its move to the North and East from Gramstetten at 6:45 p.m. May 5. At 7:05 a.m. a civilian police emissary arrived at the Task Force Hearn command post in Walding and indicated that most of the German defense forces had left Linz and the bridge across the Danube was intact offering to surrender the city again.
Apparently no action was taken on this offer as the command was then already on the move. Advance elements reached Hellinonsodt at 7:25 a.m. continuing to Swarzendorf by 9:15 a.m. Preceded by elements of Task Force Wingard the column continued South and reached the high ground overlooking Linz at 10:00 a.m.
Orders were issued by Division for the command to enter and seize Urfahr. Should the bridge across the Danube be found intact, the command, accompanied by local officials, was directed to continue across the bridge into Linz and secure the bridge at all costs. Task Force Wingard had entered Urfahr by 11:00 a.m. and started across the Danube without difficulty. Closing in the center of Linz at 11:30 a.m., the terms of surrender preferred to Division Artillery earlier in the morning were confirmed by city officials and accepted by the command general of CC A. Engineers removed 2,000 pounds of explosives from under the highway and railroad bridges. During the afternoon 153 enemy soldiers surrendered to Task Force Wingard within the city. The bulk of CC A assembled in the Reichenau-Hellinonsodt area, the command post being established in the latter.
Heavy artillery fire concentrations were targeted on Urfahr until 10:00 a.m. when fire was lifted on Division order. At least 40 missions involving an expenditure of 2,118 rounds of light, medium, and heavy artillery were directed at military targets in and around the city. At 9:05 a.m. an emissary representing the city of Linz turned up at the Division Artillery command post with a proposal to surrender Linz and all troops in the area. This proposal was reported to Division Headquarters by radio. No action was taken as there were no means of determining the authenticity of the offer and action toward seizure of the locality North of the Danube was too far advanced to interrupt.
The 183rd Field Artillery Group commenced movement to the Hellinonsodt area during the afternoon to resume its CC A support role. Division Artillery moved to the Gallneukirchen area closing at 7:30 p.m., and resumed its CC B support mission The 410th Field Artillery Group remained in place, reverting to its normal Corps reinforcing mission. The 328th Combat Team moved into and occupied the Urfahr-Linz area at 6:00 p.m., relieving Task Force Wingard.
Two patrols were sent
from the 41st Cavalry of CC B, Southeast and East from Gallneukirchen area in
the morning. Troop B, 41st Cavalry, the patrol operating to the East, reached
Pragarten on the international boundary at 9:30 a.m. Trailing elements of a
retreating enemy column were encountered and six light tanks, and an anti-craft
vehicle were destroyed and several hundred prisoners taken. Resuming the advance
to the East the patrol reached Zell at 1:45 p.m. against light resistance. Two
enemy tanks and four general purpose vehicles were destroyed and additional
Troop A, 41st Cavalry, the patrol operating to the Southeast, reached Katzdorf at 8:30 a.m. Here the patrol was delayed by enemy artillery fire and found the railroad was still in operation through this point. A platoon of Troop D, 41st Cavalry, was sent South to investigate an enemy strong point near Mauthausen. Despite heavy mortar fire the patrol uncovered the Mauthausen Concentration Camp which contained approximately 20,000 slave labor inmates comprised of sixteen separate nationalities. Also discovered was the nearby Gusen Concentration Camp but the approximately equal number of able-bodied inmates had already broken out on the arrival of Cavalry troops.
In this locality some 1,000 German prison guards were rounded up and taken back to Gallneukirchen as prisoners. The 41st Cavalry Troops continued East and bypassed an enemy position defended with mortars, small arms, and panzerfaust, three kilometers Southeast of Reid. The patrol was split into two groups which crossed the international boundary and advanced parallel to each other along the North bank of the Danube to Baumbartenberg without opposition. The patrol reached the vicinity of Klam and Saxon at 8:00 p.m. where they assembled for the night. The bulk of CC B assembled in the Gallneukirchen area during the day, where the command post was established. The 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion left Ober Neukirchen at 5:00 a.m., May 5, and proceeded to the vicinity of Kirchschlag where an enemy radio transmission installation was seized against some opposition, 26 prisoners taken, four killed, and the area cleared by 6:15 a.m. The 56th Engineer Battalion completed construction of the Bai]ey bridge at Rotrenegg and made plans for filling four additional craters discovered along the main road between Rottenegg and Urfahr.
CC R maintained roadblocks in the vicinity of Zwettl throughout the day. A patrol sent along the main road as far North as Leonfelden liberated 62 Allied prisoners of war.
The 26th and 5th Infantry Divisions made good gains in the XII Corps zone during the early part of the day.
Corps Operational Directive No. 115 was received at 9:45 a.m. outlining the plan for an advance to the North on Prague. The 5th Infantry Division was to cover the debouchment of the 4th Armored Division North of the Czechoslovakian border through the Freyung Pass. The 90th Infantry Division to the West was to initiate an advance on Prague through the Regen pass. The 26th Infantry Division on the East was to protect the Corps Northeast flank between the 5th Infantry Division and the 11th Armored Division.
One combat team of the
26th Division was directed to continue attempts to contact the Russian Army and
protect the Corps East flank from Linz, North to the Czechoslovakian border. The
183rd Field Artillery Group was directed to reinforce fires for the 26th
Infantry Division. The only crossing of the Danube River on May 5 between
Passau, then in the hands of the United Stares and the Russian Army to the West
of Vienna, was the large steel and concrete structure between Urfahr and Linz.
When the Thunderbolts seized this bridge about mid-day all German forces in
Czechoslovakia were cut off from possible Southward withdrawal to the alleged
National Redoubt Area in Southern Bavaria. The liberation of the Concentration
camps at Mauthausen and Gusen broke the Nazi hold on two mass starvation and
murder plants that, in five years, had witnessed undesirably bestial torture and
the scientific elimination of hundreds of thousands of enslaved human beings.
RUMORS OF THE END
At this time, rumors of the Warís end started coming through, which was easily understandable considering the position of the Division. This was also confirmed as a likely possibility as moves towards the mass capitulation of several major German Army elements occurred during the day. Hopes of contacting the Russian Army North of the Danube were dismissed by an OSS operations report that the Russians had turned Northwest towards Budweis, Czechoslovakia, some 69 kilometers East of Linz.
In an attempt to make a Russian Army contact CC A sent a patrol Northeast on May 6 which reached Reichenthal at 11:45 a.m. without opposition. In the vicinity of Summerau 100 prisoners were taken and 16 105mm howitzers, five 120mm mortars, and three nebelwerfers were captured. Continuing to the Northeast, 10 kilometers inside Russian territory, the patrol reached the Czech border at Mairspindt about 5:00 p.m. No contact was reported and the force counter-marched to the Reichguaser. The bulk of the command remained in place near Hell Ousodt. A total of 500 prisoners were taken in the commandís zone during the day.
CC B's 41st Cavalry patrols proceeded to a depth of 30 kilometers inside Russian territory without making contact during the day. Troop B, 41st Cavalry, continued Northeast to Konigswiesen by 9:50 a.m., where enemy resistance in mountainous wooded terrain blocked further advance. Later in the day when the enemy forces withdrew this patrol continued Northeast as far as Horzenschlag. This Troop A, was to fire the last shot in the war for the Division at 5:00 p.m.
Troop A, 41st Cavalry, which had advanced as far as Saxen the afternoon before, established an OP on the North bank of the Danube River during the day and continued to the East as far as Grein. Some 4,000 self-disarmed enemy troops marched into Gallneukirchen during the day and were concentrated in a large open field to the West, along with the thousands of prisoners taken the previous day.
Elements of XX Corps' 65th Infantry Division relieved the 328th Combat Team of occupation duties in Linz at 11:00 a.m. on May 6. The combat team, minus one team, then marched North from Urfahr at noon and passed from Division control in mid-afternoon. One battalion of the 328th Infantry stayed to occupy Urfahr and encountered considerable difficulty in handling the thousands of liberated concentration camp inmates from Gusen who had come into the area in search of food.
CC R continued roadblock and patrol activity in the Zwettl area without incident.
Division Artillery liaison planes which were active on aerial reconnaissance during the day reported the absence of Russian troops as far as 12 kilometers East of Amstetten. A general movement of German forces to the East between Enns and Amstetten was reported about mid-day, also that the main East-West highway bridge at Enns was intact. Later in the day an aerial patrol was unable to locate Russian forces as far as 25 kilometers East of Amstetten. Representatives of a White Russian Corps, reportedly some 100.000 strong, presented themselves at the Division command post during the day and indicated willingness to surrender if their command could be moved from the general area of Budweis in Czechoslovakia Southwest through the U. S. Army lines and also provided that they would not be turned over to the Red Russian Army later. The emissaries were returned to their commander on instructions from XII Corps with a tentative route of movement, disarmament, and assembly area, and a 36-hour period in which to accept unconditional surrender terms only.
The 41st Cavalry patrols advanced to Hoezeuschlag and Grein during the day placed Division elements some 30 kilometers further East than any other Allied unit was to advance in Europe during the war.
At 9:45 a.m., May 7,
the Division was notified by telephone message that World War II in the European
Theater would officially terminate at 1:00 a.m., May 9. The Division was ordered
to cease all offensive operations ant withdraw patrols to the International
Boundary between the United States and Russian Armies. They were however,
directed to maintain local security measures.
During the morning CC A sent a patrol Northeast from Reichenau which crossed the International Boundary at Schwandt, whereupon they found the town of Freistadt occupied by outnumbering German troops and negotiated for surrender of the town before entering. The surrender proposal was accepted and the patrol entered the town at 11:00 a.m., taking 289 prisoners of war.
CC B re-attempted to restore the Mauthausen Concentration Camp to an operating basis during the day. Foot was sought from higher headquarters as well as local sources. Plans for the burial of some 500 bodies, stacked like cordwood in the camp hospital area, were made. Partial order was resumed in the camp after the many racial groups were segregated, leaders and proportionate quarters assigned, and miscellaneous weapons and ammunition collected. An additional 450 prisoners were rounded up West of the International Boundary and concentrated in the Gallneukirchen area. To prevent further infiltration of German troops into the United States Army lines defensive roadblocks were established along the International Army boundary.
elements assembly in the Urfahr area was completed with the arrival of Train
Headquarters at noon. Representatives of various large German units made
contacts with the Division during the day of May 8, for the express purpose of
surrender. A general Officer Emissary from the Vlassov White Russian Corps in
Czechoslovakia returned expressing willingness m accept unconditional surrender
to the allies as a whole. Emissaries from the German 2nd SS Panzer Corps,
disposed opposite the Russian Army West of Vienna and North of the Danube River,
sought to surrender some 50,000 troops under its jurisdiction. General Officer
representatives of the German Eighth Army, disposed opposite the Russian Army
West of Vienna and South of the Danube River also expressed a wish to surrender
some 100,000 troops to the United States Army. All such commands were directed
to remain in place pending SHAEF instructions regarding the general surrender of
all German forces.
CONTACT WITH THE
CC B sent Troop A, 41st Cavalry, on patrol to the East South of the Danube River. Advancing gingerly through 30 kilometers of vastly outnumbering German troops moving Westward, and undaunted by concentrations of Russian Artillery fire following on the Enns-Amstetten highway, the patrol finally made contact with the Russian Army late that afternoon. This completed accomplishment of all assigned Division missions. The historic meeting took place with the Russian 7th Parachute Guards Division in Amstetten, Austria, at 3:50 p.m. Such a contact, the first made with the Russian Army South of Czechoslovakia, aptly climaxed the weeks of grueling efforts to deal the German Army a mortal blow.
Major units were engaged throughout the day in attempting to control and handle the thousands of individuals and small groups of German soldiers who turned in voluntarily and were made prisoner. Before midnight an estimated 12,451 prisoners of war were taken into Division custody. The conclusion of the war found Thunderbolt's elements the Easternmost Allied unit in the European Theater, busily engaged in trying to block and segregate the individually capitulating mass of German Wehrmacht, determined not to become Russian prisoners. Several days later the Thunderbolts were to turn back to the Russian Armv 34,125 prisoners of war who made their way, individually and in small groups, cross country into the Division area at the end of hostilities.
We find during the period from April 1, to May 8, 1945, a startling comparison in casualties. Enemy personnel totaled 58,287, of which 2,755 were killed and wounded, 53,174 prisoners taken, and 2,358 hospital personnel overrun. Our own amounted to 378, of which 70 were killed, 301 wounded in action and seven missing.
The enemy lost 32 Mark III, IV, V, VI tanks, ten half-tracks, 22 AA Artillery (20 to 40mm), 154 Artillery pieces (75mm plus), 860 GP Vehicles and 31 aircraft, totaling 1,109 vehicle and weapons casualties. Our own totaled 243 vehicles and weapons. Innumerable small arms, miscellaneous light vehicles, and other enemy material destroyed are not listed. The staggering total of destroyed enemy combat and transport vehicles, as well as artillery and airplanes, were permanent losses to the Wehrmacht. Our own material, replaced or repaired, multiplied the advantage in mobility and protection as time passed.
results of the Thunderbolts actions through Germany and Austria was the
liberation of 5,012 Allied Prisoners of War and 52,500 Nazi slave laborers
totaling 57,512. Also the seizure of supplies and production facilities, such as
the Thuringia Small Arms Manufacturing Center, the electronics research
laboratory near Unter Steinach, Kulmbach Quartermaster Depot, the Grafenwohr
General Service Depot and the Linz Industrial area.
THE SHOOTING WAR STOPS
When the shooting war stopped on May 9, 1945, the 11th Armored Division had proven itself as a battle-proven unit. It made a combat record for itself surpassed by none.
The Thunderbolts share
in the victory was a huge one.