History of the 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion
(December 44 to VE Day 45)
Movement to the Continent:
The 11TH ARMORED DIVISION began its movement to the continent during the week of December 13, 1944 and the 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION, having departed from Southampton, England, made an uneventful Channel crossing, landing in CHERBOURG, FRANCE, on the 16th and 17th of December, 1944.
Dash Across France:
In an assembly area near BRICQUEBECK when VON RUNDSTEDT had launched his great counter-attack in the ARDENNES, the Battalion was hastily alerted and pushed off on a 500-mile dash across France, reaching SISSONNE, FRANCE on the afternoon of December 23, 1944. Here preparations were made for the mission that was sure to come.
Task Force Blue:
It was not long delayed. At 0430 on the following day (December 24th) the Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. JOHN W. BRADY, received the order to form TASK FORCE BLUE composed of the following troops: the 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION (minus Company A); one battery of the 492ND ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION; two medium tank companies of the 42ND TANK BATTALION; 1 platoon of Company A of the 56TH ARMORED ENGINEER BATTALION; and 1 platoon of Battery C of the 575TH ARMORED ANTI-AIRCRAFT.
TASK FORCE BLUE was then ordered to move at 0730 to the VIREUX-MOLHAIN vicinity at which point they were to prepare for action against the enemy who was reported to be driving down to the MEUSE RIVER in that area.
Defense of the Meuse at VIREUX-MOLHAIN:
TF BLUE closed into an assembly area two miles east of VIREUX-MOLHAIN, just south of GIVET. Placing B and C Companies of the 63rd as outposts on the high ground east of the town, the commander established roadblocks on all roads and trails leading to the bridge crossing the MEUSE RIVER at VIREUX-MOLHAIN, the protection of which was the mission of TF BLUE. He assigned the 492nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion to positions near MOLHAIN, which covered these approaches; the 575th Armored Anti-aircraft to take up favorable points from which to provide anti-aircraft protection; and the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion platoon to prepare the bridge for possible demolition. By nightfall the bridge was well protected and the vigil of the Task Force was on.
Christmas Day of 1944 was spent in a continual improvement of defenses and in some patrol activity, but no enemy was contacted.
On the 26th orders were received from CCA (Combat Command A) to leave Company B of the 63rd AIB; the 492nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and the platoon from C Battery of the 575th Armored Anti-Aircraft in their same positions for the protection of the bridge. The remainder of TF BLUE was to move to a new concentration area 3.6 miles southwest of FUMAY (France) to execute a mission on order. Company A of the 63rd was, at this time, released form its duties with another task force and was ordered to rejoin the Battalion at the new location.
The 27th and 28th of December were spent in preparations for the future mission, during which time Company B rejoined the Battalion making it complete once again.
Situation on the VIII Corps Sector- Enemy Lines and Operations:
On the 26th of December the enemy lines encircling BASTOGNE, BELGIUM were broken down when CCB of the 4th Armored Division drove through to contact the 101st Airborne Division. The penetration relieving BASTOGNE was widened to two miles with VILLEROUX and SIBRET on the West Flank. Elsewhere on the VIII Corps sector the situation continued fluid. There were no enemy contacts by this Division.
The enemy continued his assault on the BASTOGNE salient launching an attack against the west and southwest perimeter of the Bulge. Elsewhere in the enemy sector no aggressive action was reported.
Enemy capabilities were as follows, in order of probability:
1 Counter-attack in an endeavor to capture BASTOGNE.
2 Continue advance to west and northwest.
3 Reinforce his attack with additional forces including paratroopers.
4 Advance to the southwest and west.
5 Attempt to hold present line or withdraw to SIEGRIED LINE or positions west thereof.
Conclusion at this Time:
Being well informed as to our strength and dispositions and demonstrating the German psychology of never surrendering ground without fighting for it, and coupled with the valuable road net centering in BASTOGNE, the enemy would no doubt counter-attack with a view to re-isolating the BASTOGNE POCKET and even hoping to capture it.
The build-up in the HOTTON area, where elements of the enemys 2nd and 116th PANZER DIVISIONS with the 560th VOLKS-GRENADIER DIVISION had been located, pointed to a continuation of his drive to the West. The objective of the Germans, which had been repeatedly stated by POWs from all fronts, was the city of ANTWERP. He had still not committed these as well as other Panzer Divisions and various Infantry Divisions. Taking his many statements of this offensive being an all-out gamble, there was every reason to expect new divisions to show on this front.
The four field days enjoyed by our air support (Dec 23-26) had retarded and thwarted his previous plans that would be put into effect at the earliest possible moment. He had, according to the Third Army, sufficient transport planes to mount parts of two Paratroop Divisions, and should air conditions permit, they would very likely appear on the scene.
Up until this time he had shown little interest in the line south of ST. HUBERT-GIVET. This capability was placed in a low category.
Until forced by overwhelming air superiority, formidable ground forces, depletion of reserves, lack of supplies, and physical exhaustion to abandon his offensive, there was no indication of him attempting to go on the defensive.
On the 27th and 28th of December no regular enemy front line existed on the VIII Corps front (Third Army Zone) but light contact was reported at isolated outposts, defended road-blocks and patrols. No aggressive tendencies by the enemy were displayed however. The bulk of the activity was reported in the ST. HUBERT area, where the enemy appeared to be concerned with the protection of his southern flank.
Enemy tank and SP guns continued to support attacks on the BASTOGNE garrison and the 4TH ARMORED DIVISION CORRIDOR. No use of artillery was reported although considerable was available according to air photo interpretation.
Task Force White:
On the 29th of December the Battalion received orders from CCA to move with CCA to CHARLEVILLE by 0500, then to be prepared to march into an unannounced concentration area. Thus the Battalion crossed into BELGIUM and moved into an assembly area two miles north of TRONQUOY at 1400 where maintenance was performed and preparations made for combat. Here TF WHITE was formed comprising the following; the 63rd ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION (Minus Company A); 1 platoon of Company B of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion; 1 platoon of Company A of the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion; and 1 platoon of Battery C of the 575th Armored Anti-Aircraft. Company A of the 63rd AIB was assigned to TF BLUE.
First contact with the enemy was made by other units of CCA at 0820. The enemy was holding a pocket south of REMAGNE and a line northwest of LAVASELLE. Reconnaissance reported REMAGNE encircled with automatic weapons. The enemy exhibited a defensive attitude generally, and maintained strong pockets around REMAGNE and CHENOGNE. He succeeded in driving our forces out of CHENOGNE, and no indication pointed to his withdrawing until forced to do so.
Estimated enemy casualties included 50 killed and 94 prisoners. Weather continued cloudy and cold, with ground conditions frozen and air activity at a standstill.
Several reports indicated that the Germans were having supply difficulties. In view of the limited contact with the enemy on several sectors it was believed that the enemy would await further developments to ascertain our main effort before bringing in reinforcements.
Orders came from CCA at 0500 on the 30th of December for TF WHITE to attack northeast at NIMBERMONT, BELGIUM in order to secure the OURTHE RIVER LINE. TF WHITE moved into the NIMBERMONT AREA at 0730 but came under intense heavy enemy artillery, mortar, and anti-tank fire, suffered heavy casualties and being unable to move forward were forced to withdraw. Thus at 2300 they withdrew three miles south of RONDU and reorganized.
At 0900 on the 31st of December TF WHITE moved to an assembly area four miles southeast of SIBRET to prepare for attack at 1430. Companies B and C of the 63rd plus the attached tank companies moved from the assembly area to secure and hold LAVASELLE. This was done against slight resistance. The remainder of
TF WHITE moved forward to a position on the southern edge of LAVASELLE closing into that position at 1800.
The enemy front line in the Division sector on that day ran from PINSAMONT across to and just north of HOUMONT to just north of CHENOGNE.
Survey of the Enemy Situation, corps Sector, on the 30th and 31st of Dec;
December 30th 1944 - The enemy had taken full advantage of the terrain and had supplemented this with roadblocks, prepared bridges, and mine fields. He had supported his mine fields with fire from expertly camouflaged positions. He had held tenaciously to his position during the day, generally exhibiting a defensive attitude, and employing engineers in more that normal strength in this defensive role.
Weather continued cold and cloudy with a light snowfall.
Because of the following, it was believed that the Germans had begun to fear the possibility of entrapment of his forces within that part of the salient west and south of the OURTHE RIVER the comparative ease with which positions previously strongly defended were later taken; the appearance along the front of increasing numbers of engineer troops, including a General Headquarters unit; reports that the Germans had evacuated previously held positions west and northwest of ST. HUBERT; and lastly because all his efforts to reduce the BASTOGNE pocket had been a costly failure. They were now withdrawing to the North and East of the river in an attempt to save as many of his troops and tanks as possible from destruction.
December 31st - The enemy had employed the following weaponry: numerous dug in 88 MM guns as flat trajectory and artillery pieces; extensive time fire artillery and mortar fire; as well they utilized mines especially on the shoulders of roads and the fringes of woods; they infiltrated our lines during the hours of dusk to harass and accomplish sniper missions; and they defended key points with machine gun and rifle fire. The enemy had fought stubbornly and had launched counter-attacks after having been forced to give ground. Although he fought defensively, it was with determination, and every effort was made to inflict maximum damage before yielding ground.
The weather was partly cloudy in mid-morning but clear at night.
January 1, 1945: Rechrival and Hubermont
On the January 1, 1945, Company A of the 63rd along with TF BLUE captured RECHRIVAL, after receiving heavy losses from a counter-attack launched by the enemy from the direction of HUBERMONT. Company B of the 63rd gained the high ground at HOUMONT and held positions there. The remainder of the Battalion was ordered to RECHRIVAL to assist TF BLUE in holding the town. The Battalion received artillery, mortar, and rocket fire constantly, from enemy positions in the HUBERMONT vicinity. In the afternoon, the commanding General of CCA, W. A. HOLBROOK, JR organized TF RICHTER composed of COMPANIES B and HEADQUARTERS of the 63rd AIB plus Company A of the 42ND TANK BATTALION, and ordered this task force to capture or destroy the enemy in the vicinity of HUBERMONT. He was expecting a counter-attack by enemy forces from the HUBERMONT area against TF BLUE that was holding the high ground north of RECHRIVAL. The task force commanders decision was to attack, mounted with tanks, leading north along the western edge of the BOID DES VALETS (a large wooded area just to the east of Houmont and Rechrival) and then attack towards HUBERMONT. The attack jumped off from HOUMONT at 1600, and crossed into the enemy positions and gained the high ground ringing HUBERMONT. Enemy killed was estimated at 150, and 10 prisoners were taken. TF RICHTER was withdrawn to the high ground at HOUMONT and there reorganized and dug-in, suffering only occasional artillery fire during the night. Company A reverted to Battalion control, while Company A of the 42nd Tank Battalion was relieved from attached.
Other sections on the Division front were generally quiet with some sporadic small arms, mortar, and artillery fire. The enemy was driven from MANDE ST. ETIENNE at 1730, and launched a counter-attack with machine guns and Nebelwurfers that was repulsed at 2245.
The 2nd of January saw the Battalion holding their positions until 1545, when at that time, it was relieved by the 550th Infantry (Airborne) Battalion, and withdrew to reorganize.
On the 3rd of January the Battalion remained in an assembly area and on the 4th at 1130, the Battalion moved to an area at SIBRET to be in reserve of the 17th Airborne Division.
From the 4th to the 11th of January the Battalion remained in reserve at SIBRET during which time Battalion Reconnaissance reports were forwarded to assist the 17th Airborne. As well, maintenance of vehicles and weapons was performed. Vehicles were painted white during this period for camouflage in the showy terrain.
Survey of enemy operations in the Sector During this Period:
On the 4th of January the enemy initially maintained an aggressive attitude on the northern perimeter of the BASTOGNE SALIENT following the arrival of the 9th and 12th SS Panzer Divisions from the 6th Panzer Army. The enemy buildup against the salient continued with the 10th SS Panzer Division being reported west of HOUFFALIZE. Initial tank and infantry aggressiveness dwindled off during the afternoon of the 5th of January and was replaced by artillery fire all along the line from SIBRET to BASTOGNE. From the 6th to the 8th of January contact with the enemy grew less and less and on the 8th there was no contact whatsoever with the enemy by the Division. The same situation held for the 9th and 10th of January. There was still no contact by the Division, but on the corps front a withdrawal of enemy forces in the 87th Infantry Division sector seemed to presage a movement of all forces west of the BASTOGNE BULGE to the east and escape from the threatened pincers of the 1st and 3rd Armies.
On the 12th of January there were definite indications that the enemy was withdrawing his forces from the western end of the salient. The 87th Infantry Division was having difficulty maintaining contact, and its progress was impeded by numerous mines, booby traps, and roadblocks. On the 17th Airborne Division front, the enemy was holding a series of strong points on the LAVAL, HUBERMONT, RENUAMONT and FLAMIERGE areas and the roads east of FLAMIZOULLE. FLAMIZOULLE itself was occupied by friendly troops. The enemy on the 101st Airborne Division front was very quiet since the adoption of a defensive order by the 101st. Friendly patrol reports indicated that the enemy was also defending forward positions in this sector with the mission of protecting the East-West road through BERTOGNE. Most of the enemys armor had been withdrawn from the salient. Small groups of 2 or 3 tanks were observed and encountered in the strong-point defensive positions on the front. Use of artillery by the enemy had been light for the past two days and the Luftwaffe had failed to appear.
At this time it was concluded that three possibilities lay open to the enemy. In their order of probability they were:
1 He could defend his present positions with forces now on his front.
2 He could delay and withdraw to the OURTHE RIVER or the high ground to the south of HOUFFALIZE.
3 He could reinforce his present forces and counter-attack from the direction of BERTOGNE or west along the MABOMPRE-COMPOGNE road.
On the 12th of January the Battalion received orders to move to the vicinity of LONGCHAMPS to relieve the 502nd Airborne Battalion. The Battalion closed into the assembly area south of LONGCHAMPS at 1515 and effected the relief by 2300.
The enemy front at the close of the day consisted of a series of defended positions as follows: BERTOGNE was occupied by the Germans but dominated from the high ground east of the town. In general, the enemy was employing a mobile defense, consisting chiefly of automatic weapons, small arms, and intense mortar fire along the route of advance; he threw all he had and when about to be overcome, pulled out what remained. He did not use tanks or SPs to stem our advance to BERTOGNE, but he did employ tanks inside the city itself. It was estimated that a Battalion of enemy infantry, with flat trajectory anti-tank weapons, and possibly other tanks were in the city itself. Another critical point contested by the enemy was ROUETTE (west of Longchamps) where small arms and automatic weapons fire was very heavy, until the enemy realized his plight and evacuated.
At 0100 on the 13th of January orders came from CCA to attack at 0900 and to seize and hold the high ground south of BERTOGNE. The attack was delayed and launched instead at 1010, preceded by heavy artillery preparation. Leading elements (Companies B and C) reached their first phase line at 1300, reorganized, then pushed on and captured the high ground south of BERTOGNE where the companies dug in and held positions.
The enemy had not changed his tactics from the preceding day. He was vigorously defending strong points along our advance, withdrawing when overcome and then trying to retake his lost ground. He continued the use of small arms, automatic weapons and tank fire and on our western flank extremely heavy mortar fire and on the eastern flank very heavy anti-tank fire.
Task Force Sheely:
On the 14th CCA ordered the creation of TF SHEELY which was organized as follows: Companies B and C of the 63rd AIB, and Company C of the 42nd Tank Battalion. They were also supported by machine gun and 81MM mortar platoons from the 63rd AIB.
The Task Force remained on an alert status awaiting orders for employment.
Slight casualties were caused when enemy mortar and artillery fire fell on their position during this period.
On the 15TH, TF SHEELY was given the mission of capturing COMPOGNE. The attack jumped off and COMPOGNE was taken by 1500. At 1600 TF SHEELY moved on to capture VELLEREUX but was forced to evacuate after dark due to an enemy tank attack.
At this time there was no real enemy front line. As usual he was defending a series of strong points which were located at the high ground with dug in infantry northeast of VELLEREUX. VAUX was principally defended with tanks, Nebelwurfers, and mortars. Early morning reports from patrols revealed little enemy activity behind his lines nor did he employ his customary harassing artillery through the night or day as in the past. During the daylight hours he continued his defense of strong points. The woods east of NOVILLE, with numerous anti-tank and flak weapons, were cleared at 1400, thus removing the threat in the city itself. At 1445 the enemy was withdrawing from COMPOGNE after he realized his precarious position and at 1500 the town was ours. VELLEREUX was taken at 1600 but retaken by the enemy in a counter-attack with 10 to 20 tanks and infantry between 1700 and 1730. At the close of the period the town was afire due to enemy incendiaries.
The attack was continued to HOUFFALIZE on the 16th. Before noon, troops encountered a roadblock which was immediately bypassed. After meeting up with some slight resistance, TF SHEELY went on to capture the high ground half a mile east of HOUFFALIZE. TF SHEELY then rejoined the Battalion and constituted the Battalion reserve, the Battalion was relieved by the 17th Airborne Division at 2000.
The defensive attitude of the enemy continued during the period. No reports of probing attempts or small arms, automatic weapons, mortar and tank fire were received. The enemy was content to fire some light caliber artillery shells into our zone intermittently throughout the day to harass our troops.
On the 17th of January the Battalion returned to an assembly area at LONGCHAMPS where it was held in mobile reserve until the 20th of January on which day it move from LONGCHAMPS to an assembly area in preparation to capture BURET.
Summary of Enemy Situation 17-20 January:
From the 17th of January the Battalion returned to a defensive mission until the 20th, the enemy being generally inactive, although occasionally demonstrating a local counter-attack attitude and making patrol demonstrations. His use of light caliber artillery and mortars was maintained during this period, but on the 20th his attitude definitely changed artillery and mortar fire was conspicuously absent. Third Army suggested a general withdrawal of ALL enemy forces in the BULGE, to the East. It was time that the enemy was withdrawing from the HOUFFALIZE POCKET. There were indications that a real defensive attitude would not be assumed until he reached the excellent defensive terrain of the CLERF RIVER or the safety of his own SIEGFRIED LINE.
On the 21st of January, TF SHEELY, composed of company B of the 63rd, moved forward mounted at 0730. No enemy resistance was met but east of BOEUR considerable minefields were encountered and the progress of TF SHEELY was slowed. When progress of vehicles was completely stopped Company B dismounted and moved across country to the town of BURET, arriving there at 1300. BURET was cleared of the enemy and the town was outposted. Eleven prisoners of war were taken. The remainder of the Battalion moved into billets within the town, defense established and troops carried on the 1st Echelon maintenance of weapons and vehicles.
From the 22nd to the 31st of January the Battalion and Division were in Corps Reserve at BURET.
Cracking the Siegfried Line and Into Germany (February 1945)
Feb 1, 1945 In reserve at Buret:
On the 1st of February the 63rd AIB of the 11th Armored Division, was still in Corps reserve at BURET, BELGIUM carrying on maintenance of weapons and vehicles and conduction training programs.
There was no contact with the enemy by the Division but on the Corps front progress was made against increased resistance. More artillery was received than in the previous period and was directed generally behind front lines on road junctions and towns. The enemy continued his defense of the key terrain features and villages, utilizing small groups of infantry and, occasionally, several tanks to impede our advance.
Feb 2, 1945 In Reserve:
The Battalion remained in reserve at BURET, and there was again no contact with the enemy by the Division. Enemy resistance on the Corps front varied according to the proximity of the SIEGFRIED LINE; the 4th Infantry Division had little opposition but the 87th and 90th Infantry Divisions had several fire fights.
There were no indications from the fighting that would point to an open door once the LINE was hit. Enemy small groups continued to defend key terrain features, employed small arms fire and occasionally had mortar and artillery fire support. No tank activity was reported.
Feb 3, 1945 In Reserve Enemy Capabilities:
February 3rd found the Battalion and Division still in reserve status while on the Corps sector the enemy continued to contest our advance with principally small arms and mortar fire.
A survey of enemy capabilities at this time seemed to indicate that while a trickle of replacements were reaching the Infantry units in the line, no new divisions had been identified, and there were no signs of any being enroute to the West. The enemy apparently was continuing to gamble on containing this Front with a minimum of troops, plus the SIEGFRIED LINE, favorable terrain, and the severe winter weather. There was every indication that all the enemys interests were centered on the catastrophic situation in the East, and that he was letting the West fend pretty much for itself, on the theory that unless he could prevent destruction in the East it would do him little good to avert a crisis in the West.
Feb 4, 1945 Movement to Heckhuscheid:
The Battalion received an order to move to an assembly area one kilometer east of HECKHUSCHEID, GERMANY to relieve the 358th infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. The rest of the division remained static with no contact with the enemy being made.
On the Corps front in the 87th Infantry Division zone enemy resistance was light to moderate. The enemy was cleared to the SIEGFRIED LINE. In the 4th Infantry Division zone heavy resistance was encountered in the vicinity of BLEIALF before the town was captured but the towns of HARTENFELD and BERTHASCHACT were taken against negligible resistance. Enemy activity in the 90th Infantry Division zone consisted chiefly of harassing patrols. BERG was captured by patrols against light resistance.
Feb 5, 1945 Enemy dispositions The Lineup and the Attack:
Having played a prominent part in driving the enemy out of the BASTOGNE SALIENT, the VIII Corps now focused its attention on a section of the SIEGFRIED LINE in GERMANY proper. The Corps was ordered to attack at 0400 on the 6th of February with the purpose of penetrating the SIEGFRIED LINE and to capture PRUM and PRONSFELD. The formation was to be as follows: Divisions abreast from North to South 87th Infantry Division; 4th Infantry Division; 90th Infantry Division, and the 11th Armored Division. The 4th Infantry division was to capture PRUM and to secure a bridgehead across the PRUM RIVER. The 90th Infantry Division was ordered to capture PRONSFELD while the 87th Infantry Division was ordered to seize an important road junction in its sector.
The 11TH ARMORED DIVISION was ordered to relieve elements of the 90th Infantry Division not later than 2400 on the 5th of February and to attack at 0400 on the 6th to seize and hold HILL 568 for the protection of the southern flank of the 90th Infantry Division. HILL 568 was a dominant terrain feature, within the SIEGFRIED LINE, approximately 3 kilometers east of GROSSKAMPENBERG, commanding the area in all directions. During the operation contact was to be maintained with the 90th Infantry Division on the left, and with III Corps on the right flank. The 11TH ARMORED DIVISION was also responsible for the protection of the Corps right (Southern) flank.
Reserve Command moved from MAGEROTTE, BELGIUM on the 4th of February and reassembled in the vicinity of BURG-REULAND at 2100. Responsibility for the Division sector was assumed at daybreak the following morning, in relief of the 90th Infantry Division elements. Regrouping for the attack, the 55TH ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION relieved the 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION, and elements of the 41ST CAVALRY RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON relieved COMPANY C of the 56TH ARMORED ENGINEER BATTALION. The 41ST CAVALRY RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON was assigned the mission of protecting the southern and central positions of the Division sector. Flank contact was established and patrols were sent out approximately one mile to the south and southeast without making contact.
The 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION went into an assembly area northeast of WELCHENHAUSEN, GERMANY where a patrol of platoon strength was sent out from B COMPANY to the Front. This patrol ran into booby traps and eleven men were wounded.
Feb 6th 1945 Hill 568 Penetrating the Siegfried Line:
In accordance with the Division order, RESERVE COMMAND launched its attack on HILL 568 at 0400, the 55th and 21st Armored Infantry Battalions abreast, the 21st Armored Infantry Battalion making the main effort on the left. Completely surprising the enemy, our forces advanced swiftly through fortified, mined, and booby-trapped areas and by 0830 had seized and occupied the Division objective. Patrols were sent out to the south and southwest and promptly drew fire from enemy small arms and automatic weapons. Cavalry elements advanced to the towns of BERG, GROSSKAMPENBERG and LUTZKAMPEN during the morning, but heavy enemy artillery and mortar concentrations in the last two towns caused our forces to withdraw from them. Observation posts were established on the wooded heights 1-kilometer northwest of LUTZKAMPEN. Possession of BERG was retained. This action represented an advance of approximately two miles through the SIEGFRIED LINE. 163 prisoners of war were taken during the day.
Meanwhile the 63rd AIB was ordered to move back to an assembly area at GRUFFINGEN, BELGIUM in reserve status with CCA.
Feb 7 & 8, 1945 In Reserve Summary of Enemy Situation:
The Battalion remained in reserve on these days carrying on maintenance while the Staff Officers carried on reconnaissance missions along possible routes of employment.
A summary of the enemy situation at this time pointed to the following; the enemy had withdrawn to the safety of his SIEGFRIED LINE positions and in some instances had offered heavy resistance to further advances on our part while in others resistance had only been moderate and halfhearted. Numerous prisoners of war had given themselves up after a show of resistance, and morale generally appeared to be very low. A penetration of the SIEGFRIED LINE had occurred. Unless pressed, however, the enemy had been content to let well enough alone and the lack of aggressiveness on the part of his patrols had been quite noticeable.
On the Division front, elements of three divisions had been identified with an estimated top strength of 1800.
As far as reserves were concerned it was becoming apparent that the enemy was reshuffling his Panzer Divisions to support a definite defensive policy in the West. However, there was no indication that these divisions had been or could be refitted to such an extent that they would constitute an offensive threat.
On the Third Army zone, north of the MOSELLE, the enemys mobile reserve was estimated at between 80 and 100 tanks, but no armor had been reported in the zone of advance of this Division.
Artillery activity had been light for the most part and only harassing in nature, while only one or two nightly reconnaissance flights had been reported.
Thus, it was evident that the enemy did not, at this time, have any offensive power in the West. He was not only on the defensive along the entire Western Front but he had no striking power. However, approximately six unlocated Panzer-type divisions gave him the capability of employing them in a defensive role against penetrations of his position. He could commit them in local attacks in an effort to prevent breakthroughs and contain thrusts. But over all, the enemy currently had no offensive power in the West.
The quick seizure of the division objective by Reserve command, coupled with the slower progress of the 90th Infantry division, caused our left flank to be exposed to hostile fire. To minimize this danger, tanks and tank destroyers were brought forward on the 7th and 8th of February and the Infantry Battalions consolidated and dug in on the objective.
While the 90th Infantry Division continued its advance, a series of local actions took place, including the recapture of LUTZKAMPEN by the CAVALRY, and the smashing of an enemy counter-attack in Company strength by the Infantry.
Feb 9, 1945 Relief of the 21st at Heckhuscheid:
The 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION was reverted to Reserve Command and ordered to relieve the 21st ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION, in place at HECKHUSCHEID, GERMANY.
On the Corps front the enemy was noted moving within the SIEGFRIED LINE but they were reluctant to venture beyond their pillboxes. Outposts were maintained at critical points. Although Artillery, Nebelwurfer and Mortar were sporadic throughout the period, there was less small arms fire than on the previous day.
Feb 10, 1945 Local Actions:
The Battalion reduced 10 additional enemy pillboxes that were then dynamited and rendered useless. 15 prisoners of war were taken in these local actions.
The enemy continued sporadic fire of all types in the Corps sector. No counter-attacks, infiltrations, minefields, or booby-traps were reported.
Feb 11, 1945 Hill 568 Recapitulation of Corps Activity:
Heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire necessitated a readjustment of the 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION position from the summit of HILL 568 to a more favorable position slightly to the west. Liaison was established with the 90th Infantry Division as it came abreast and maintained, in spite of interposed enemy positions.
A recapitulation of Corps activity from February 5th to 11th showed that in the early morning attack by the corps on the 6th of February, the enemy was caught off base and considerable surprise was achieved. The SIEGFRIED LINE in the SCHNEE EIFEL and the South was penetrated initially in the 4th Division sector, and later by the 90th Division, 87th division, and 11TH ARMORED DIVISION. It was the deepest penetration of the line so far achieved in the EIFEL. New elements of the Corps were over six kilometers southeast of the initial line.
OLZHEIM, HERMESPAND, GONDENBRETT, BRANDSCHEID, HERSCHEID, HECKHUSCHEID, and GROSSKAMPENBERG were captured but before the enemy yielded, heavy resistance was offered. Invariably after each village was taken intense artillery, mortar, and rocket fire was received in order to deny us undisturbed possession. The enemy had resisted all along the line to the utmost. Approximately 3,000 prisoners had been taken. The PRUM RIVER line was now being approached and with it the important communications center of PRUM, where the enemy formerly marshaled many of his units for commitment against this Corps as far back as October 1944.
Enemy artillery action was moderate to heavy, consisting principally of harassing and inter-diction fires. Considerable Nebelwurfer fire was received as well as heavy rocket fire concentrations. In other words, every defense possible was made to our advance.
Small groups of tanks and SP guns were employed and other undetermined groups of armor were reported as seen moving about.
The enemy divisions in contact on the VIII Corps front at this time comprised one Armored Division and elements and remnants of 8 Infantry Divisions totaling 11,400 men and 40 tanks plus and estimated total of 10 light artillery battalions capable of firing into the VIII Corps area.
In addition to the above it was estimated that the enemy had in tactical reserve and available for counter-attack purposes against VIII Corps troops a total of one Panzer Group Division and elements of 3 Panzer divisions, 8,000 combat troops, 100 tanks as well as organic artillery.
According to the interpretation of latest photo covers, prepared enemy defensive positions along the east bank of the PRUM RIVER were not formidable.
February 12, 1945 Relief of the 41st:
The Battalion relieved the 41ST CAVALRY SQUADRON in place and maintained contact with the 90th Division on the left and the 6th Armored Division on the right.
On the Corps front, enemy activity was limited to sporadic artillery and small-arms fire received by our forward elements throughout the day.
February 13 & 14, 1945 Holding Positions:
Battalion continued to hold its position. Sporadic artillery fire was received. Enemy activity on the Corps front during the 15th was practically nil. Only one report of small arms fire was received and only Very light artillery fire was received.
On the 14th the principal enemy activity was an attempted counter-attack by 20 or 25 men on LUTZKAMPEN. They dispersed immediately however when fired upon, other enemy activity was confined to occasional artillery, mortar, and small arms fire generally received in the forward element areas.
February 15, 1945 Back to Belgium:
The Battalion was relieved by the 55TH AIB and the 21ST AIB and ordered to move back to BURG-RUELAND, BELGIUM for rest and maintenance.
On the Corps front enemy activity was limited to sporadic artillery and mortar fire in our northern sector; our southern sector reported no enemy fire.
February 16 & 17, 1945 In Reserve Estimation of Enemy Situation:
Battalion carried on maintenance of weapons and vehicles. Received orders on the 17th for attack the following day; objective REIFF, GERMANY.
On the 16th the enemy was not aggressive on the Corps front and his activity was limited to light harassing concentrations of all types of fire. He continued his pillbox defense on the 17th and kept up scattered artillery, mortar and nebelwerfur fire of light concentrations throughout the day.
An estimate of the enemy and general military situation at this time tended to show that after a penetration of the SIEGFRIED LINE by this division several days before, a general lull descended on our immediate front. The enemy has taken advantage of this by sending out small patrols, firing light to medium artillery fire of a harassing nature and conducting small-scale repairs and improvements of his positions. New boundaries assigned this division in this operation passed control of the area of our penetration of the SIEGFRIED LINE to the 90th Infantry Division on our north, thus making the intact SIEGFRIED LINE the enemy front across our entire sector. Prisoner of War reports indicated that the enemy had engaged in a constant reshuffling of small groups occupying individual pillboxes and bunkers in order to keep the men fresh, active and make desertion more difficult. Desertions were frequent and morale of the German soldier was very low due to a notorious lack of food, medical supplies, heavy weapons and transportation facilities, and the deteriorating military situation in the East. Since February 6th the Division took 291 prisoners, the majority of whom surrendered or deserted at their first opportunity, and VIII Corps had taken 5,830 POWs in the operation which penetrated the SIEGFRIED LINE on a broad front.
One division and possible elements of another were likely to be engaged by this division in the coming offensive. The Estimated combined troop strength of this force was 1,800 men and no tanks.
One could reasonably conclude from these observations that the enemy would certainly attempt a defense of his SIEGFRIED LINE positions, although due to the low morale now existing it was entirely possible that only half-hearted resistance would be made by the individual soldier. The likelihood of more than local counter-attacks being made against this division was very remote due to the Corps main effort being made to the East and the encircling nature of the larger plan.
February 18, 1945 Attack Towards Berg and Leidenborn:
Battalion moved to assembly area for the attack. Jumped off at 0600, advancing against small arms, automatic weapons, mortar and artillery fire. A Company took objective #1 (the high ground East of BERG) at 1300, and B and C Companies, with a machine gun platoon attached, passed around A Company and captured the high ground west of LEIDENBORN. Enemy activity was very limited on the Corps front.
February 19, 1945 Capture of Leidenborn:
Battalion continued its attack towards REIFF and the high ground East of LEIDENBORN. On the Corps front enemy resistance to the advance varied from light to determined. Some pillboxes were rigorously defended whereas others were abandoned after our troops fired on them. Our advance toward KESFELD caught the enemy by surprise and resulted in 47 POWs being taken. Resistance stiffened as the advance continued to LEIDENBORN but this was overcome and the town captured.
February 20, 1945 Attack Towards Reiff:
The Battalion fought its way through the vicinity of REIFF on the way to its objective there.
On the Corps sector the enemy, coming from the woods launched a 30-man counter-attack toward LEIDENBORN with small-arms fire but was repulsed. Hostile artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire were sporadic, accurate, and at critical points, heavy. During the afternoon attack the enemy was cleared from HERZFELD.
February 21 & 22, 1945 Capture of Reiff Analysis of Enemy Operation:
Plans for the attack by Battalion of REIFF itself were made for the 22nd when the attack jumped off at 0815. The town was taken in an hour and the companies dug in and consolidated their positions.
The morning attack on the rest of the Corps front on the 21st encountered moderate artillery, mortar, and small-arms fore. In the advance 10 pillboxes and 5 bunkers were cleared. SENGERICH was captured. The enemy front lines now extended from ESCHEID ROSCHEID KERSEN RIVER to south along the east bank of the KIRSON. On the 22nd the enemy offered light resistance to the moving advance and at 0930 ROSCHEID was captured. Sporadic artillery, nebelwurfur, mortar, and small-arms fire were encountered but its effectiveness was lessened by our smoking of CPs and suspected strongpoints. The enemy was cleared from 55 pillboxes in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
An analysis of enemy operations at this time disclosed that in the last two days there were indications of an enemy withdrawal from the OUR RIVER salient to a place of safety at least behind the PRUM RIVER if not farther east across the KYLL RIVER. Aircraft observations for the 21st and 22nd showed a large volume of vehicular traffic, both motor and horse-drawn, moving toward the east on the front of the VIII and XII Corps. The axis of the movement on the VIII Corps front appeared to be WAXWEILER GEROLSTEIN, while on the XII Corps front, BITBURG was the focal point. The pincers operation of the two corps progressed steadily against moderate opposition that had been growing lighter and lighter on the interior flanks as the threat of encirclement increased. The 80th Infantry Division on the south reported steady progress against Very light opposition, and the lack of occupancy of some of the concrete pillboxes on the front of this Division, further indicated a withdrawal. Prisoners reported movements to the rear, and unusual willingness to surrender, and large sectors of the front within the salient only lightly held.
Weather and terrain now appeared to be the most important factor in the enemys defense of the approaches to the RHINE.
February 23 & 24, 1945 In Reserve:
Battalion moved back to billets in REIFF, HERZFELD, and LEIDENBORN and was reverted to CCA control. On the 24th orders for a movement to an assembly area in the vicinity of MANDERFELD, BELGIUM came through to relieve elements of the 87th Division.
On the Corps front there was no enemy front line facing this division. The 90th Infantry division and 6th Armored Division enemy front line was: south on the east bank of the PRUM RIVER to KRAUTSCHEID AMMELDINGEN JUCKEN south along east bank of the OUR RIVER. Enemy resistance was generally light, gut at times moderate. Our troops captured ESCHEID on the 23rd against moderate fire of all types REIFF was captured and occupied and a counter-attack repulsed. 106 pillboxes were captured.
February 25, 1945 Relief of the 87th at Manderfeld:
Battalion moved at 0700 and closed into an assembly area west of MANDERFELD, BELGIUM at 1100 preparatory to relieving the 347th Infantry Regiment of the 87th Infantry Division.
On the Corps front there was no enemy contact by our division once again. The 87th Infantry Division and the 4th Infantry Division front lines ran from LOSHEIM, south to HERMESPAND, then generally along the PRUM RIVER. Both divisions received sporadic artillery fire.
February 26, 1945 Holding of Positions:
Battalion completed its relief of the 347th Infantry Regiment and patrols were sent out to contact the 106th Infantry Division on the left and the 41ST CAVALRY RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON on the right.
There was no enemy contact by the Division. There was no report on the nature of the enemy resistance because the Corps divisions took no offensive action. However, the enemy did harass our troops with light, scattered small arms, mortar and artillery fire.
February 27 & 28, 1945 Patrol Activity:
Battalion continued to hold positions with only patrol activity taking place. On the Corps sector the 87th Infantry Division started a drive at 1500 on the 27th but enemy activity was immediate and stiffened throughout the day. An increase of enemy activity on the sector of the 4th Infantry division, particularly patrolling, was noted. In the 6th Armored division sector the enemy reacted quickly with small arms fire to presence of our troops on the northwest bank of the PRUM RIVER.
In the northern sector of the Corps front on the 28th the enemy was stubbornly defending pillboxes and prepared positions on critical terrain features, approaches to which were heavily mined with AT and AP mines. In the balance of the Corps sector the enemy was defending the high ground on the east bank of the PRUM RIVER with small arms fire from prepared positions.
The attack in the 87th Infantry Division zone was still met with stiff resistance on the 28th (small arms and mortar fire) and materially retarded by numerous AT and AP mines, resulting in our gaining only from 800 to 1,500 yards. The bridgehead established by the 6th Armored Division across the PRUM RIVER met moderate resistance early in the period and was thereafter harassed by intermittent mortar and artillery fire. The 6th Cavalry Group captured WAXWEILER early in the day but mopping up operations continued.
The Rhineland and the Drive to Fulda (March 1945)
The German 5th Paratroop Division was, at the beginning of this month, disposed along the high ground east of the PRUM RIVER. The 4th Infantry Division, which up to the 3rd of March had been opposing the 5th Paratroopers, disclosed in its report that enemy operations were characterized by Determined resistance which consisted of heavy small arms, automatic weapons, rocket artillery and mortar fire. The report went on to point out that the enemy was using an unusually large number of machine guns (well dug in) and that mine fields were abundant. Tanks were also reported. A description of enemy morale was expressed as: Morale of POWs continues better than average of the Wehrmacht. Among the younger paratroopers morale continues to be excellent.
March 1, 1945 Losheim, Belgium:
The Battalion occupied defensive positions in the vicinity of LOSHEIM, BELGIUM on the German border overlooking the SIEGFRIED LINE, with the 106th Infantry Division on the left flank and the 41ST CAVALRY and 11TH ARMORED DIVISION on the right. Contact patrols were sent out during the hours of darkness. Battalion support weapons continued its harassing fire on opportune targets.
March 2, 1945 Situation Unchanged:
Battalion remained in place. A plan of attack for the morning of March 3rd on SCHEID, GERMANY was issued to Company commanders but was cancelled at 2200 on order from higher headquarters.
March 3, 1945 Maintenance of Defensive Operations:
Battalion continued its defensive operations, sending contact patrols out during hours of darkness.
On the Corps front however, the enemy set with his defenses on the key terrain features and in towns, met the attack launched by other elements of the 11TH ARMORED DIVISION with light to moderate resistance. This attack, launched at 1225, forced the enemy to relinquish the terrain dominating the PRUM RIVER as well as the town of FLERINGON by 1720. The 14th and 15th Paratroop Regiments and Kampf Gruppe Kegel, all of the enemy 5th Paratroop Division, felt the force of this action and lost a total of 56 POWs to the 11TH ARMORED DIVISION. Anti-tank guns, mortars, and tanks were used to augment a defense based on well-chosen terrain features. The 56TH ARMORED ENGINEER BATTALION removed more mines than were encountered in any previous operation.
The weather was clear throughout the day with an average temperature of 40 degrees.
March 4, 1945 Movement to Prum:
Battalion received orders to move to a forward assembly area in the vicinity of PRUM, GERMANY. COMPANY B however was ordered to remain in place until daylight of the 5th when it too was to rejoin the Battalion. Movement to his forward assembly area began at 1800.
Enemy front lines on this date ran from MULLENBORN to LISSINGEN and south along the east bank of the KYLL RIVER.
Enemy resistance to the Division advance was moderate in the southern sector but moderate to heavy in our northern sector. WALLERSHEIM and BUDESHEIM were cleared of the enemy by 1200 and 1400 respectively. Anti-tank, small arms, mortar, and some artillery fire were received from high ground and towns in the path of our advance.
There were snow flurries throughout the day with the temperature averaging 35 degrees.
March 5, 1945 Movement to Budesheim:
After closing into the PRUM assembly area at 0200, the Battalion received orders to move to still another assembly area in the vicinity of BUDESHEIM at 0900. Battalion commenced to move at 1245, company B rejoining the Battalion enroute. Battalion closed into the new area at 1620.
Enemy resistance on the Division sector consisted of heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire. Artillery and nebelwurfer fire was reported as Very light. No tanks were reported but numerous mines were encountered.
The weather was clear throughout the day with an average temperature of 60 degrees.
March 6, 1945 Reconnaissance and Alert:
On this day the Battalion Commander and S-3 went forward on Reconnaissance in the 90th Infantry Division Zone in preparation for future operations. The Battalion was placed on a one-hour alert status at 1945.
The enemy front lines on this date ran from the high ground at HILDESHEIMER WALD to HILLESHEIM and then to ROCKESKYLL.
The enemy on the Division sector used typical withdrawal tactics. SCHEUERN, KALENBORN, ROTH, BETTINGEN and DOHM were resistance centers which had to be smashed. Craters, roadblocks, minefields and blown bridges featured the enemys defense. Following the book to the letter he covered his obstacles with fire. No artillery or tanks were reported.
The weather was cloudy and cold with drizzle and rain.
March 7, 1945 Task Force Brady Kelberg:
At 0700 the Battalion Commander reported to CCA for orders. Companies A and B were assigned to the 42ND TANK BATTALION as TF AHEE. The remainder of the 63rd, plus Company C of the 42ND TANK BATTALION, Company A of the 705TH TANK DESTROYER BATTALION, and a platoon of A Company, 56TH ARMORED ENGINEER BATTALION, constituted TF BRADY. The objective of CCA was the west bank of the RHINE RIVER in the vicinity of ANDERNACH. TF BRADY moved out at 1200 in the rear of TF AHEE. At 1300 TF BRADY was halted on the road west of KELBERG due to resistance met by TF AHEE in KELBERG itself. Action operations soon ceased due to extreme darkness. TF BRADY assembled off the road west of KELBERG where it was reconstituted as follows: the 63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION (minus B company), Companies A and C of the 42ND TANK BATTALION, Company A of the 705th TD BATTALION, and one platoon of Company A of the 56th ARMORED ENGINEER BATTALION. Company B of the 63rd AIB was assigned to another task force. A new attack was launched and by 2000 KELBERG was captured.
A summary of the days activities on the Division front showed that the enemy had continued to determinedly resist our activity at the river crossing with mortar and small arms fire and at 0500 he had even launched a counter-attack east of the KYLL RIVER near BETTINGEN which was repulsed. CCA, swinging south and east into the 90th Infantry Division zone, caught the enemy by surprise after crossing the KYLL RIVER and plunged to the outskirts of KELBERG at 1745 where the enemy reacted with small arms, mortar, nebelwurfer and high velocity fire. He employed his tanks and lost 6 including one Tiger Royal, but by 2000 had lost the town.
March 8, 1945:
At 0800 TF BRADY resumed its attack towards ANDERNACH, bypassing enemy resistance at BEREBORN. The Task Force reached MAYEN at 1330 after meeting occasional enemy opposition consisting chiefly of small arms fire. Approximately 75 POWs were captured between KELBERG and MAYEN. A railroad overpass at the western end of MAYEN had been blown forcing the Task Force to bypass across country. Small arms, bazooka fire, and one roadblock were encountered in MAYEN itself and was neutralized by dismounted infantry. After clearing a route through MAYEN the Task Force continued its attack to PLAIDT. Enroute to PLAIDT, just east of MAYEN, contact was established with elements of the 4th Armored Division on the right. The Task Force moved into PLAIDT MESSENHEIM at 2300.
It was not evident that organized enemy resistance in this sector was vanishing rapidly. Previously prepared enemy defenses were crushed with lighting speed. Anti-tank and small arms fire were received from our flanks initially but the increasing and determined eastward surge of our armor exposed the futility of further resistance. Voluntarily, thousands of the Germans gathered along the muddy route and awaited evacuation. The weather was cloudy and cold with intermittent rain.
March 9, 1945 Andernach:
TF BRADY was in complete control of MESSENHEIM by 0200. Plans and the issuing of orders for the capture of the final objective (ANDERNACH) were completed and the attack jumped off at 1330. At 1540 leading elements reached ANDERNACH on the western bank of the RHINE RIVER. Resistance was disorganized by existed in all sectors. The southern end of the city was cleared prior to darkness.
The enemy front lines were thus on the east bank of the RHINE RIVER. Organized enemy resistance was, for all practical purposes, broken completely. He was completely decentralized and confused by our swift advance.
March 10, 1945 Clearing Andernach:
Enemy resistance in the northern section of the city consisted, for the most part, of small arms and automatic weapons fire with heavy sniper fire in support. Several barges loaded with fleeing troops were sunk in the RHINE RIVER during the day by our assault guns and mortar fire, with considerable loss to the enemy. Company B of the 55th Armored Infantry Battalion was attached to TF BRADY along with Company D of the 42nd Tank Battalion. The above two units were used to clear the waterfront section. All enemy resistance ceased by 1700. Contact was made with friendly elements to the north and south after dark and vigorous patrolling was instigated throughout the night.
March 11, 1945 Andernach:
Platoons from A and B Companies of the 63rd AIB as well as Company A of the 42nd Tank Battalion was released to 42nd Tank Battalion control. The remainder of TF BRADY continued extensive patrolling of the city
March 12, 1945 Andernach Enemy Losses:
Battalion continued the screening and evacuation of POWs from ANDERNACH. POWs taken by Battalion in ANDERNACH totaled 2,500. Extensive patrolling continued. In operations from the 3rd to the 12th of March, the division took 10,506 POWs, not including 172 officers, making a grand total of prisoners taken by the Division in combat of 12,555 plus 221 officers.
In addition to POWs, 4,552 displaced personnel were taken. 7 hospitals, 1 quartermaster dump, and 100 artillery pieces were captured.
March 13, 1945 Task Force Brady Relieved:
The 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Mechanized assumed control of Andernach and the vicinity, completing their relief of TF BRADY at 1350. TF BRADY was ordered to remain in position for 24 hours in support of the 6th Cavalry and to await movement orders.
March 14 & 15, 1945 Thur:
At 1200 the Battalion, on orders from CCA, moved from ANDERNACH to THUR where extensive maintenance of radios, vehicles and weapons was performed.
March 16, 1945 Movement to Weiler:
The Battalion was placed on a 4-hour alert status at 1000. Orders for the movement of Battalion south to an assembly area in the vicinity of WEILER were received at 1400 and the Battalion closed into the new area at 2100.
March 17, 1945 Movement Towards Worms Kappel:
A new TF BRADY was formed consisting of the 63rd AIB (minus A and B Companies), Company C of the 42nd Tank Battalion, Company A of the 285th Engineers, a platoon from the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and a battery of the 58th Field Artillery Battalion in direct support. The objective of CCA was the city of WORMS. TF BRADY moved out at 1550 behind TF AHEE and closed into KAPPEL at 2150. The area was outposted and further orders awaited.
Roadblocks not covered by mines constituted the enemys defensive organization. No organized resistance was encountered. There was some sniper activity reported however.
March 18, 1945 Dickensheid and Rohrback:
The Task Force continued to move southeast towards WORMS at 0730. At 1450 the Task Force moved off the road 2 kilometers east of DICKENSHEID while a platoon of infantry and a platoon of tanks were sent forward to find a route through ROHRBACH Anti-tank, small arms and automatic weapons fire encountered south of ROHRBACH halted the advance of the above elements. Defensive positions were taken up at this point and maintained for the remainder of the night.
The enemy was now covering his roadblocks with fire and using his anti-tank guns from favorable defensive terrain. Various enemy units could be identified once again but not one of them displayed organized resistance in strength.
March 19, 1945 Simmern Crossing of the Nahe River:
At 0730 the Task Force reassembled and continued the attack towards WORMS while closing into the vicinity of SIMMERN at 1400. At 1700 the Infantry, mounted on tanks, moved across the NAHE RIVER and cleared the towns of MANSHEIM, MEDDERSHEIM and OBTWEILER. This operation was completed by 1900 and the remainder of the Task Force crossed the river at 2300.
The enemy had buckled down in excellent defensive terrain for a stand this day. Demolitions, anti-tank guns, bazookas, rocket weapons, nebelwurfer and small arms fire was employed.
March 20, 1945 Ablisheim and Harpheim:
The Task Force completed its movement across the NAHE and closed in on the three towns cleared by its forward elements in the receding period at 0400. The advance was resumed at 0730 and the Task Force arrived in MARIENTHAL at 1300. Patrols were then sent forward to clear the town of RUPPENSECKEN and DONNEFELS. Task Force was reassembled and moved forward to an assembly area 2 kilometers west of OBLISHEIM at 1900. Patrols cleared OBLISHEIM and HARPHEIM and the Task Force moved in and occupied the two towns after dark.
The RHINE RIVER once again now marked the enemy front line for the Division. The smashing of the enemy defenses encountered on the 19th, coupled with rapid exploitation of the rear, completely crushed organized resistance west of the RHINE.
March 21, 1945 Oblisheim and Gaversheim:
Intensive patrolling was instigated on the road between HARPHEIM and OBLISHEIM during the morning. All attachments reverted to parent unit control at 1700. Companies A and B of the 63rd AIB, having been under TF AHEE, rejoined the Battalion at the same time. Headquarters, Headquarters Company, and Company A were all billeted in OBLISHEIM, while Companies B, C, and Service were billeted in GAVERSHEIM.
Other elements of CCA mopped up remaining enemy Infantry around an airfield south of WORMS. The enemy resistance lasted an hour and the airfield objective was taken at 0900.
March 22, 1945 Mopping Up:
At 0730 Companies A, B, and C were dispatched to clear all towns in CCA sector. Mopping up was completed at 1300. The Battalion was placed on a 2 hour alert at 1100, but this alert was lifted at 1400
March 23 & 24, 1945 Maintenance:
Maintenance of vehicles, radios, and weapons was performed. Orders for movement to DOLGESHEIM were received at 2200. The movement commenced at 1200 and closed in at 1500.
March 25, 26, & 27, 1945 Maintenance and Award of Decorations:
Extensive maintenance of vehicles and radios continued during this period. The Division Commander awarded decorations at a Battalion formation on the 26th of March. An enemy plane strafed the Battalion area at 0010 on the 26th.
March 28, 1945 Movement Towards Geissen:
Battalion was placed on a 1-hour alert status at 0100. Upon receipt of orders from CCA, TF BRADY was reconstituted as follows: 63RD AIB (minus Company C), Company B of the 42ND TANK BATTALION, Company C of the 245TH ENGINEERS, 1 platoon from the 705th TANK DESTROYER BATTALION, and 1 platoon from Company A of the 56TH ARMORED ENGINEER BATTALION. Company C of the 63rd ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION was assigned to TF AHEE. CCA objective was GEISSEN. After crossing the RHINE and enroute to GEISSEN, CCA was ordered to a new corps and a different route and objective.
March 29, 1945 Hanau Objective Fulda:
At 0100 the Task Force commenced to move along a new route with the objective of FULDA. By 0300 the Task Force had reached the edge of WEISKERCHEN and pulled off the road. The advance continued at 0700 and the MAIN RIVER was crossed in the vicinity of HANAU by 0900. TF BRADY was held up in the vicinity of HANAU by the leading TF AHEE, who had met determined enemy resistance in the town of RUCKINGEN. At 1200 TF BRADY moved out to bypass enemy resistance on the left and entered LANGENSELBOLD at 1400. The Task Force continued to advance northeast until it encountered resistance consisting of anti-tank, automatic weapons, small arms and bazooka in the vicinity of ROTHENBERGER at 1430. Company A moved out along the high ground on their left flank clearing out the enemy in that sector. They gained contact with Company B and set up defensive positions overlooking the town. It maintained them during the night while tanks and tank destroyers were held in mobile reserve to resist any possible counter-attack. At 1600 a fanatical counter-attack was launched against B Company which resulted in the killing of all the enemy personnel engaged. At 1700 another counter-attack by enemy infantry and tanks was launched along the main road and was driven off by tanks, bazooka and small arms fire. Defensive positions were reorganized overlooking the town and were held during the night.
March 30, 1945 Gelenhousen:
The attack resumed at 0115. Companies A and B moved into ROTHENBERGER without meeting resistance. After reorganizing, Company B continued its attack towards LIEBLOS, taking several POWs enroute. One platoon of B Company continued the attack on foot, entered ROTH and came under fire on its northern edge. The remainder of B Company moved-mounted with the Company B of the 42nd TANKS from ROTHENBERGER to ROTH to support the platoon that was pinned down by fire. A Company moved along the high ground to the left of the main road to clear out enemy snipers who were harassing the column. Company B continued the attack down on GELENHOUSEN clearing the garrison area and reaching the outskirts of the town. Intense small arms and automatic weapons fire was received form the town.
The Battalion Commander received orders from CCA at 2000 changing our route of advance and also made arrangements for the 3rd Battalion of the 104th Infantry Regiment of the 26th Infantry Division to relieve our elements at daylight on March 31st. TF BRADY was organized once again consisting of the 63rd AIB (minus companies A and B), Company B of the 42nd Tank Battalion, 1 platoon of company A of the 705th TD Battalion, Company C of the 133rd Engineers, 1 platoon of the 56th Engineers, as well as the 58th FA Battalion in direct support.
No real enemy front line existed on this day. However, excellent roadblocks, booby-traps, and cover-fire were employed along CCBs route while CCA was engaged in overcoming the well-organized defense of GELENHOUSEN. This defense consisted of an estimated 5 tanks plus 600 infantry employing small arms, bazooka, mortar, and anti-tank fire.
March 31, 1945 Breitenbach:
The relieving of elements of TF BRADY was completed by 0900, at which time the Task Force followed TF AHEE along a new route. By 1930 the Task Force closed into BREITENBACH where they outposted the town and set up a roadblock on all the main roads.
Again there was no enemy front line. The enemy held towns along the highway from ELIEDON the northeast to FULDA then northwest to VULERSHAUSEN. In the CCA zone the enemy had stubbornly defended towns in the proximity of the SCHLUCHTERN FULDA highway with tanks and anti-tanks weapons. CCB met light resistance until approaching FULDA where heavy anti-tank fire was received.
This month witnessed the complete breakdown and destruction of the Germans Southern Army Groups First and Seventh Armies. The smashing drives resulted in the over-running of two-thirds of WEHRKREIS XII and the establishment of a deep bridgehead in the FRANKFURT HANAU CORRIDOR. Army Group G was reduced to a scattered shambles of disorganized remnants of its former score of divisions. The Seventh German Army had already lost 50% of its estimated effective combat strength in the retreat from the EIFEL, after which the remnants were thrown into the First German Army only to be decimated with them. As a result of the demise of Army Group G by the end of the month, the enemy had immediately available for employment, on the entire western front, a smaller number of troops then originally comprised Army Group G.
Enemy losses to our Battalion this month were as follows:
Personnel: Killed (370), Wounded (Unknown), Captured (2883), Straggler POWs (270)
Materiel: Rifles (2125), Bazookas (20), Horses (500), Ammunition (2900 rounds)
Thus far our Division had taken more than 25,000 prisoners.
Central Germany and Austria
As April opened there was no known enemy front line. By 1600 of April 1st the enemy had been cleared to KEITENSUNDHEIM along the SCHLITZ SILGES WENDERSHAUSEN axis. CCA followed the CCB route. No coordinated defensive enemy organization existed as our rapid exploitation, coordinated with air support, completely routed the enemy enroute.
April 1, 1945 Breitenbach and Frankenheim:
CCB jumped off early in the morning after liquidating GROSSENENIER and, in coordination with the air support, overcame all resistance in its path. Generally the towns were not defended, other like SIGLES, GOTTHARDS, OBRNUST, LAHRBACH, and HENDATHURM were all set on fire when resistance in the form of small arms, automatic weapons, and sniper fire was received. Approximately 30 horse-drawn vehicles were knocked out in the enemys attempted withdrawal along our axis of advance.
TF BRADY was composed of the 63rd AIB (minus A and C companies), company B of the 42nd Tank Battalion, 1 platoon of company A of the 705th TD Battalion, 1 platoon of company A of the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion, Company C of the 133rd Engineers, as well as the 58th FA Battalion in direct support. At 0001 TF BRADY was in BREITENBACH where it had set up a perimeter defense around the town during the night. At 0900 TF BRADY moved out following TF AHEE until the advance was halted due to a traffic tie-up at SCHLITZ. The move continued at 1400 and the Task Force closed into FRANKENHEIM at 2400, where perimeter defenses and roadblocks were set up.
April 2, 1945 On to Hilders and Obermassfeld:
TF BRADY moved forward at 0900 following TF AHEE once again and closed into BAUERBACH at 1400 where it was alerted by CCA at 1745 for a position move. At 1800 orders were issued setting up a perimeter defense around the CCA sector. Orders were received at 1900 to resume the attack on April 3rd.
CCB encountered no ground resistance during the day but was twice strafed in the vicinity of WAHMS in their advance during the morning. At 0920 a blown bridge in the vicinity of WASUNGEN was encountered after WASUNGEN had been cleared. No further exploitation was attempted on orders of higher headquarters.
CCA had continued its advance at 1600 in the vicinity of HILDERS on the 1st.Its exploitation was uninterrupted except for small arms fire from an estimated 30 infantry near FRANKENHEIM and a fire fight with two tanks and two personnel carriers in the vicinity of BETTENHAUSEN. Concentrations of nebelwurfer fire were received in the vicinity of HENNEBERG. At the close of the period (1600) OBERMASSFELD was captured and 400 Allied POWs were liberated near there.
April 3, 1945 Into Suhl:
CCB encountered light small arms resistance in its advance from WASUNGEN through CHRISTES, STEINBACH, HALLENBERG to OBERHOF. Two well-defended and constructed roadblocks in the vicinity of OBERHOF were an obstacle to further exploitation. SCHMALKALDEN was cleared at 1300 against Very light opposition.
CCA exploited from vicinity of OBERMASSFELD, cleared GRUB at 0730 and at 0930 was attacking SUHL. TF BRADY had continued its guard of the southern and southeastern sectors of CCA until it moved out at 0730. TF BRADY closed on the tail of TF AHEE at 1200 in the vicinity of SUHL, at which city heavy resistance was encountered from anti-tank, bazooka, small arms and mortar fire. At 1500 TF BRADY assumed the responsibility of clearing SUHL, Companies A and C of the 63rd AIB having reverted to Task Force control by that time. At the close of the period (1600), sniper and panzerfaust fore was the principal resistance as out troops fought to clear the remaining two-thirds of the city, thus the situation was fluid.
At the end of the period CCB was engaged in reducing the roadblock in the OBERMOT vicinity and CCA controlled one-third of SUHL.
Enemy casualties during the period were an estimated 30 killed and 750 estimated POWs.
April 4, 1945 Suhl Captured Elgersburg:
By 1800 on the 3rd TF BRADY had all of SUHL cleared sough of the railroad and patrols started to operate north of the railroad. Active patrolling and clearing of the town was discontinued at dark. Roadblocks, street patrols and factory guards were established for the night. Companies A and C of the 63rd AIB reverted to TF AHEE control at 2000.
At daylight on the 4th, Companies A and C reverted to TF BRADY control again for the purpose of continuing the cleanup of the city. At 1000 Company B of the 63rd, Company B of the 42nd, and 1 platoon of troop A of the 41st CAVALRY moved out on a mission of clearing the route from a SUHL eastward to ELGERSBURG. Small arms and automatic weapons fire coming from dug-in infantry positions was encountered southeast of LUTER. All enemy resistance was reduced by 1500 and this special Task Force then moved on to ELGERSBURG. Their mission was completed by 1700 and the Task Force returned to SUHL where Companies A and C of the 63rd had finished clearing up the town by 1800. Roadblocks and patrols were reestablished by 2000. The resistance in SUHL had been, for the most part, from some 200 plus infantry and numerous civilians with small arms and panzerfausts.
The two enemy roadblocks in the vicinity of OBERHOF, which had been stubbornly defended with mortar, bazooka, and small arms fire, were reduced by CCB at 2200.
RESERVE COMMAND opened the road from STEINBACH-HALENBERG through BERMBACH and joined with CCA at one point. At the close of the day RESERVE COMMAND was entering ZELLA-MEHLIS against no opposition.
Defensive Organization of Suhl:
Upon the entrance of our forces into SUHL the Nazi Party and city officials fled the town leaving the city to be defended by a hastily organized Volksturm. Although arms were issued to the old men and boys, a lack of armbands prohibited proper identification devices for this Volkstrum force. Fortunately for our forces this motley defensive force was not trained in the handling of weapons particularly the panzerfaust. One tank was fired at from close range four times with all misses.
Captured Supplies and Enemy Losses:
In OBERHOF the following was taken: a moderate amount of ammunition and a medium quantity of heavy equipment, also, 5 military hospitals with an estimated 600 German wounded with medical staff.
In SUHL the following was taken: 4 factories with a large number of crated machine pistols, shot guns and spare parts. One factory alone was estimated to have 500 machine pistols and 500 to 1000 shot guns. In HEINICH an arms factory that was larger than the four in SUHL was captured.
Enemy losses to the division in this period were 25 estimated killed and an estimated 200 POWs captured.
April 5, 1945 Task Force Sheely:
At 2000 on the 4th of April CCA ordered the formation of TF SHEELY which was composed of the following: Company B of the 63rd AIB, Company B of the 42nd, HQ Company of the 63rd, 1 platoon of Company A of the 705th TD Battalion, 1 platoon of the 56th, 1 platoon of A Troop of the 41st, with the 58th FA Battalion in direct support. They were given a mission for April 5th in which they were to follow TF PICKETT until they reached their own route, then move on their own route to take the town of STUTGERBACH.
CCB patrols found the enemy defending the high ground west of GEHLBERG with small arms and roadblocks. Artillery fire was received in OBERHOF that was believed to be coming from GRAFENRODA.
TF SHEELY moved out for CCA at 1040. The remainder of TF BRADY remained in SUHL to maintain control and guard the weapons factories. TF SHEELY halted at 1055 due to opposition encountered by TF PICKETT. At 1300 Company B of the 63rd dismounted and proceeded forward to assist TF PICKETTs infantry companies who were pinned down under fire. By 1800 Company A of the 63rd, under TF PICKETT, and Company B of the 63rd, under TF SHEELY, were mopping up the encountered resistance which had consisted of Volkstrum armed with small arms and automatic weapons. The remainder of TF SHEELY returned to SUHL under the cover of darkness.
RESERVE COMMAND captured undefended ZELLA-MEHLIS at 1630 on the 4th and in the afternoon of the 5th encountered undefended roadblocks in its attack toward MEININGEN. At 1400 roadblocks defended with small arms and bazooka fire were encountered near the airfield south of the town. At the close of the period elements of the attacking waves had entered MEININGEN and some small arms and bazooka fire was encountered.
It was estimated that 20 enemy were killed and 400 captured in the days operations by the division.
The 11TH ARMORED DIVISION was now in the heart of Nazi Germany. The area now occupied, called THURINGEN WALD, was one of the first sections of northern Germany to become fully dominated by the Party. The population was almost 100% affiliated with the National Socialist program.
April 6, 1945 Relief by the 26th Infantry Briefing of Task Force:
CCA and CCB reported little enemy activity as they defended their positions. Troops in the southern sector of CCA did receive some nebelwurfer and mortar fire at 0500.
Roadblocks, factory guards, and patrols continued during the day in our sector. Maintenance was stressed during the daylight hours. Elements of the 26th Infantry Division started effecting relief of our elements of action at 1700. CCA ordered the formation of TF BRADY and TF SHEELY for operations on April 7th.
Reserve Command continued its attack on MEININGEN at the start of the period and at 1730 on April 5th the town was captured. Principal resistance was small arms and bazooka fire. No enemy activity was reported for the balance of the period.
April 7, 1945 Drive to Helburghausen:
TF BRADY was composed of the following: Company C of the 63rd AIB, Company C of the 42nd Tank Battalion, 1 platoon of Company A of the 705th TD Battalion, 1 platoon of Company A of the 56th Armored Engineer Battalion, and 1 platoon of Troop A of the 41st Cavalry Squadron. They moved out south from SUHL in the rear of TF AHEE at 0745 and arrived in BIRCHOFRIED at 0830. They then proceeded along its own route until halted, on order, just north of NEAHOF at 0900.
The move continued at 0930 until halted by a roadblock south of SIEGRITZ at 1000. At this point C Company of the 63rd, along with a platoon from C Company of the 42nd TANK BATTALION in support, moved forward and dismounted. The roadblock was found to be undefended but several trip wires were encountered. A squad of engineers was sent forward to clear the wires. C Company continued its advance forward on foot while a tank-dozer removed the roadblock and by 1400 they had cleared the town of EBENHARD. A partially blown bridge was discovered here and the engineer platoon was called forward to install a treadway bridge, it was completed by 1530. Company C, meanwhile, continued to move forward through THEMAR to the CCA objective of HILDBURGHAUSEN. They entered the outskirts of the town at 1630. The remainder of TF BRADY moved forward at this time to support C company.
TF SHEELY, consisting of HQ and B Companies of the 63rd and the 42nd, 1 platoon of A Company of the 705th TD, 1 platoon of A Company of the 56th, and 1 platoon of A Troop of the 41st, proceeded south from SUHL at 0700 via HIRSHBACH and entered SCHLEUSINGEN at 1200. The town was cleared by 1700. At 1745 TF SHEELY received orders to move over to the right of TF BRADY and follow them on to the CCA objective. TF SHEELY reverted to the control of TF BRADY at 2000 and the combined Task Forces immediately set up a perimeter defense around the towns of SCHLEUSINGEN and HILDBURGHAUSEN.
The 41st CAVALRY, operating in the southern sector of the Division zone cleared the enemy as far as JUCHSEN.
April 8, 1945 Hildburghausen Cleared:
A small enemy counter-attack, of platoon strength, south of the outskirts of HILDBURGHAUSEN was driven off by our small arms and TD fire at 0700. Company A of the 63rd reverted to Battalion control at 0735, while the platoon from the 41st CAVALRY reverted to parent unit control at the same time. The final cleanup of the town was finished by 1300.
CCB moved into the southern part of the Division zone in the vicinity of BEDHEIM and ROTH at the close of the period (1600), they encountered negligible resistance. Several roadblocks and some artillery were reported.
The 41st CAVALRY received harassing artillery and mortar fire through the night in JUCHSEN and during the day encountered several roadblocks while on reconnaissance southeast and southwest of JUCHSEN.
Enemy casualties for the day were estimated at 5 killed and 300 POWs captured.
April 9, 1945 Maintenance and Briefing of Task Force:
This was a normal operation and maintenance period. At the end of the day TF BRADY was formed once again to resume the attack on the 10th.
Enemy activity consisted of various patrols, which were either captured or dispersed by our outposts.
April 10, 1945 Into Wohlsbach:
TF BRADY moved out at 0730 and closed into WOHLSBACH at 1730. Obstacles encountered were a blown bridge south of VEILSDORF that was bypassed, and a roadblock at OBEURLEUTER. The roadblock was reduced and the blown bridge was repaired by 1445. Defensive positions were set up at WOHLSBACH.
Both Combat Commands reported that enemy resistance was light and consisted primarily of roadblocks, road craters, small arms and machine gun fire. Resistance had not increased until the NEUSTADT COBURG axis was reached and then AT was fire reported. Little enemy air activity took place and no tanks were engaged. The enemy front line situation was fluid but they were in control of both NEUSTADT and COBURG.
April 11, 1945 Neustadt:
At 0700 small detachments were sent out to clear several towns in the vicinity of WOHLSBACH. This mission was completed at 1100. At 1600 a strong patrol was sent to investigate NEUSTADT. No enemy was encountered and the remainder of the Task Force moved into the town at 1700. Elements of the 55th AIB and the 22nd TANK BATTALION relieved us in place, excluding NEUSTADT, and the 63rd AIB reverted to CCR control at 1800.
On the entire Division sector no enemy resistance was encountered. Our air support destroyed the following on our immediate front: 33 motor transports, 7 horse-drawn vehicles, 1 tank and 2 or 3 half-tracks. Negotiations for the capitulation of COBURG were successfully completed without resorting to arms.
The Collapse of Coburg:
After the fall of HILDBURGHAUSEN, COBURG became the focal point for German attempts to slow the advance of the Division. The manpower available consisted chiefly of the 12th Panzer Gren Repl Battalion, housed in barracks within the city and consisting of approximately 1000 men plus convalescent troops and stragglers. These men were all sent forward form COBURG to defend the approaches to the city, leaving approximately 400 men within the city itself.
The outlying defense of the city disintegrated, chiefly because of the low morale of the troops due to a variety of reasons. There were no heavy weapons available and even supplies of infantry weapons were wholly inadequate. PX supplies were destroyed and food was low.
CCA gathered its forces in the north for an attack on the city on April 10th. All enemy forces withdrew leaving the city open for occupation.
April 12, 1945 Bieberbach and Kronach:
TF BRADY moved out of NEUSTADT after being relieved by elements of the 66th Infantry Division and moved into BIEBERBACH at 1500. Orders were received here to relieve elements of CCA at KRONACH. B Company of the 63rd and B Company of the 42nd completed this relief at 2000.
There was no enemy front line on the division front. The enemy had been cleared at the end of the period to East of the KRONACH KUPS OBRISTFELD line.
Enemy resistance during this period was Very light. Some small arms and a little bazooka fire was received by our advancing columns, one tank was reported. There was no enemy aircraft or indirect fire.
After the capture of KRONACH by CCA at 1415 without a fight, an assembly area was cleared in the vicinity of EICRENBOHL. CCB cleared an assembly area near OBRISTFELD.
April 13, 1945 Weissenbrunn:
TF BRADY moved into WEISSENBRUNN at 1400. At approximately 1700, four enemy planes strafed the area and one was shot down. B Companies of the 63rd and 42nd were relieved by elements of the 71st Infantry Division and remained at KRONACH.
There was still no real enemy front line. At close of the period the enemy was cleared east of UNTERSTEINACH KULMBACH LINDAU. Only light scattered small arms fire was received throughout the period.
At close of the period the 41st CAVALRY was preparing to move southeast toward BAYREUTH, the famed Wagnerian music center. Sniper fire in KULMBACH was being cleared at the end of the period.
KULMBACH, as with other cities in Germany, had risen in population due to refugees and evacuees from 12,560 to approximately 21,000. Brewing was the principal industry. KULMBACH was the Headquarters for the SS Reichsschulunge, which wrote, edited, and published Nazi Party pamphlets and propaganda. This office left the city April 10th for an unknown destination.
CCA tanks rolled up to the city hall in KULMBACH before noon on April 13th and obtained the official surrender of the city without a shot being fired.
April 14, 1945 Maintenance at Weissenbrunn:
B Companies of the 63rd and 42nd rejoined the TF at WEISSENBRUNN. Maintenance was stressed in the remainder of the period.
At the start of the period (on the 13th) the 41st CAVALRY moved south towards BAYREUTH and encountered no opposition until reaching NEUDROSSENFELD where small arms fire was received from the high terrain and from inside the town itself. This morning (the 14th) blocks were reduced and after a negotiated capitulation for the city failed it was attacked and at close of the period it was captured against light small arms resistance.
April 15, 1945 Maintenance:
TF BRADY remained in WEISSENBRUNN and carried on maintenance. There was no contact with the enemy by the division. Generally the enemy in the XII Corps front was east of the Super-Highway running from HOF to BAYREUTH. At the end of the period HOF had been taken by the 90th Infantry Division against light resistance.
With the capture of BAYREUTH, the division mission had been accomplished. Elements of the 71st Infantry Division relieved the 11th AIB in BAYREUTH on the 14th. On the 67-mile drive into BAVARIA ending in BAYREUTH, several thousand POWs had been taken and many towns, including THEMAR, OBERLAUTER, COBURG, KULMBACH and ROHR had been cleared, thus ending another phase in the BATTLE OF GERMANY.
During this operation the Division had evacuated 1,959 POWs to Corps making a grand total of 32,674 POWs for the Division.
April 16, 1945 Kulonbach:
TF BRADY moved to the vicinity of KULONBACH to relieve other elements of CCA. Company A was reverted to TF AHEE while Company C reverted to TF BRADY. By 1400 the relief was completed.
April 17, 1945 Berneck:
TF BRADY moved to the vicinity of BERNECK to relieve elements of the 66th Infantry Regiment. This relief was made at 1130 and contact was made with elements of TF AHEE on the left flank and elements of the 41st CAVALRY on the right flank.
April 18, 1945 Relief by 26th Infantry Division:
Elements of the 26th Infantry Division relieved the Task Force from defensive positions and B Company of the 63rd moved to BAYREUTH to relieve B Company of the 56th Armored Engineering Battalion.
April 19, 1945 Verbach and Menglas:
TF BRADY moved along CCB route until 1300 when orders came to move to VERBACH off CCBs route. The Task Force coiled 2 kilometers east of VERBACH, cleared and outposted the VERBACH vicinity and the Task Force Command Post was set up in MENGLAS.
In the divisions advance from BAYREUTH to the capture of GRAFENWOHR, little to no enemy resistance was encountered. Excellent air support materially aided the operation. The 41ST CAVALRY cleared the enemy from WEIDENBERG BETTENHOF KEMNATH to PRESSATH against no resistance.
CCA cleared the enemy along a line from BAYREUTH SEYBOTHENREUTH (where some small arms fire was encountered) KIRCHENLAIBACH (where heavy small arms fire was encountered) GRAFENWOHR (where no enemy resistance was reported).
CCB cleared the enemy along a line from BAYREUTH OBERBIBRACH ESCHENBACH GERMANNSHOF GRAFENWOHR, little to no enemy resistance was reported.
Thus at the end of the period the situation was fluid with the enemy cleared to east of the PRESSATH GRAFENWOHR line.
GRAFENWOHR had been an important replacement training center and an infantry school. It had also been a supply base and with its fall to the 11TH ARMORED DIVISION, Germany lost its largest reported chemical warfare dump with more than 3,000,000 rounds of chemically-filled ammunition, as well as large quantities of other ordnance material and food stores.
April 20 & 21, 1945 Tremmersdorf:
TF BRADY moved to TREMMERSDORF cleared east and north and set up outpost. No enemy resistance was reported by the 41st CAVALRY as the troops were moving towards NEUSTADT from PARKSTEIN and as forward elements of CCB occupied MANTEL at the close of the period. Elsewhere in the division zone, mopping up operations continued with a firefight reported in SCHLAMMERSDORF and MOOS, with enemy infantry liquidated.
On our left flank the 90th Infantry Division reported clearing the enemy to FALKENBERG and WINDISCHESCHENBACH. Their resistance consisted of sporadic small arms fire and they encountered roadblocks, road-mines, and road craters.
On our right flank, the 71st Infantry Division cleared the enemy to VILSECK, KONIGSTEIN, and KIRSCHBACH. At the close of the period the enemy was generally east of the NEUSTADT MANTEL TRISCHING line.
April 22, 1945 Harschar and Schauttenbach:
Division renewed its attack to the southeast on this date and TF BRADY moved to HARSCHAR and then to SCHAUTTENBACH at 1930.
Little to no resistance was encountered as out troops initiated this exploitation to the south. At the close of the period, CCA captured NABBURG against no resistance and CCB was in the vicinity of SCHWARZENFELD with no enemy contacted.
RESERVE COMMAND had a brief firefight in HIRSCHAU in clearing the enemy from FREIHUNG to contact with CCB.
At the close of the period the enemy was cleared to generally south of the HIRSCHAU NABURG line.
April 23, 1945 Neunberg:
TF BRADY moved at 1430 and closed into NEUNBERG at 2200. Light to no resistance was encountered during the period. At the start of the period, April 22nd, CCB continued its advance and captured SCHWARZENFELD. Today CCA and CCB continued the rapid exploitation to the south and seized a critical bridge intact while encountering only one defended roadblock just north of CHAM. CHAM was entered by CCB at 1430 and by CCA at 1500 against no resistance.
The thrusts of this division southeast to CHAM brought liberation and, inadvertently, death to several thousand prisoners of a German concentration camp. It also brought to light one of the most brutal of the German atrocities yet uncovered.
The concentration camp at FLOSSENBURG in the vicinity of WEIDEN contained approximately 16,000 prisoners of all European nationalities. SS officers and guards managed the camp with work details for the crematorium chosen from the prisoners. According to several estimates, at least 300,000 people were killed in this Nazi murder factory. Roads in the area were littered with bodies of political and other prisoners, victims of SS brutality on Nazi Death Marches.
April 24, 1945 Cham;
TF BRADY closed into CHAM at 1400. Installations and a POW cage under guard by CCA were taken over.
The division was directed to advance southeast to the AUSTRIAN borderland and seize objectives in the vicinity of REGEN.
No resistance was encountered by CCB in its advance east from CHAM until it reached the vicinity of REGEN. There the enemy organized a 440-plus strongpoint with bazooka and small arms. A blown bridge was also encountered. At the close of the period the city was captured. Several enemy planes were reported over the area and light mortar fire was received at PRACKENBACH.
At the end of the period the enemy was cleared to south of REGEN.
April 25, 1945 Rinchnach:
TF BRADY moved southeast along CCA route and closed into RINCHNACH at 2400. Roadblocks and bridge guards were set up.
No organized resistance was encountered during the period other than light small arms and panzerfaust from a few towns and several defended road blocks on our axis of advance.
At the end of the period the enemy was cleared east of PERLESREUT.
April 26, 1945 Grafenau:
A supply element of TF BRADY was strafed in the vicinity of RINCHNACH at 1715. B Company of the 63rd was credited with one plane shot down. The Task Force continued to move southeast at 1430 and closed into GRAFENAU that had been taken by CCB the previous day. An enemy threat in the vicinity of INNERNZELL was investigated enroute but no resistance was encountered.
A Japanese legation of 37 men, women, and children was captured in GRAFENAU. At 1810 a patrol of one of the forward division elements became the first Allied unit to enter AUSTRIA from the West.
April 27, 1945 Freyung and Korchdorf:
Two TF BRADY patrols were sent out from GRAFENAU, one east of FREYUNG, the other north into the 90th Division sector. A roadblock was established in the vicinity of KORCHDORF.
Patrolling to the AUSTRIAN and CZECH borders was carried on by other division elements from April 27th to the 29th from the vicinity of FREYUNG.
April 28, 1945 Rohrnbach:
Patrolling operations of TF BRADY continued. At 1100 the 63rd, in Battalion strength, except for company A, was alerted to move on the 29th to the vicinity of ROHRNBACH. In mopping up operations during the period little enemy resistance was encountered by CCA on its move to HOHENROHRN. However, CCB encountered some light to moderate resistance consisting of tanks, small arms and panzerfaust directed from advantageous terrain or town along our advance from the ROHRNBACH vicinity to BARNBACH. Some mines and booby traps were reported as well. So determined was the spirit of the enemys defense that CCB estimated 150 killed.
The enemy was now generally east of the GERMAN AUSTRIAN boundary from DRAXLERKS to the DANUBE RIVER and then on the south side of the river to PASSAU.
April 29, 1945 Cleaning up Hutthurm:
The Battalion (minus company A) closed 2 kilometers north of ROHRNBACH and received orders from CCB commander at ROHRNBACH to clear the towns of ULRICHSRENT and WIEKEMSREUTH. This mission was accomplished dismounted by 1230 and the Battalion then moved south following the CCB route to a point 3 kilometers south of ROHRNBACH. It then continued to advance south to HUTTHURM closing there at 2000 at which time it reverted to CCR control once again. CCB moved on to contain PASSAU.
April 30, 1945 Wegscheid into Austria:
At 1500 the Battalion moved east to rejoin CCR at DANDELSBRUM. CCA moving southeast from the vicinity of WALDKIRCHEN encountered light to no resistance until approaching WEGSCHEID at 1100. There a strongpoint of 300-plus infantry, AT, small arms, panzerfaust, and mortar was encountered on the high ground in and around the city. Resistance was determined and not until the close of the period were our troops clearing the city.
CCB moving southeast form HUTTHURM encountered light to no resistance in its advance to UNKOLNEDT. Over 1,000 Hungarians surrendered during the advance. At the end of the period the enemy was east of WEGSCHEID and UNKOLNEDT.
During this operation southeast to AUSTRIA, 1,800 POWs had been evacuated by the division to Corps, making a grand total of Division POWs at 50,083.
Thus, April 30th marked the 4th month of combat and the 50,000th POW for the Division.
Summary of Enemy Capabilities:
Indications pointed to an apparent planned and organized attempt by the enemy to keep open a corridor into the BAVARIAN ALPS in the PASSAU LINE area. As well as endeavoring to gain time in the Western portion of our zone by utilizing the ISAR and INN RIVERS to organize hasty defensive positions to slow down our advance.
In the last week of April there have been evidence of not only a definite buildup in our zone of advance and on our eastern flank but indications of greater control and organizational cohesion among the enemy units. We had not seen this behavior in the enemy in some time.
On the basis of these developments and the enemys capabilities to shift troops from CZECHOSLOVAKIA into the REDOUBT, it seemed likely that the closer we approached this area the stronger and more organized will be the resistance encountered. Not only was the precipitous terrain likely to greatly favor an effective defense, but the enemy concentrated in the area might prove to be the last hard core fanatics.
As had been repeatedly painted out for some time, the enemy had no offensive power except perhaps on a small scale for local defensive purposes. This was particularly true on our eastern flank where the enemy apparently was endeavoring to keep open a corridor into the REDOUBT for his forces retiring before the advancing Russians in CZECHOSLOVAKIA.
If the enemy really planned fight it out to the last in the ALPS that showdown was rapidly approaching and his capabilities for effective resistance there were not to be underestimated. On the other hand, it remained to be seen whether the enemy would attempt such a finale.
April 23rd to 29th, 1945 Order of Battle Fact on the West:
The history making juncture this past week of Russian and American forces north of DRESDEN (1st Army area) in effect created two tremendous pockets for the German forces the Northern one extending from DRESDEN through DENMARK to NORWAY, and from the northwest tip of HOLLAND eastward to STETTIN. Pocketed in this area were an estimated total of some 50 or 60 nominal enemy divisions. In KURLAND and EAST PRUSSIA (DANZIG area) an estimated 64 nominal enemy divisions were cut off and possibly 11 more were making a fortress stand in the HAGUE. In the South, the 3RD ARMYs drive across the DANUBE and into the PASSAU area, threatening imminent juncture with the Russian forces in the DANUBE VALLEY, forecasted for the enemy a major split of his southern forces. Present disposition indicated that virtually all of the Army Group Center on the Eastern front and the remnants of the 7TH GERMAN ARMY on the Western front, an estimated 50 nominal divisions, might be trapped in the BOHEMIA MORAVIA when the narrowing gap between the 3rd US ARMY and the Russian forces was closed. The troops being entrapped in CZECHOSLOVAKIA even now could expect little in the way of reinforcements. On the contrary, several Panzer-type divisions had moved south to escape the pocket forming north of the DANUBE RIVER. With the closing of the PASSAU ST. POLLTEN gap the enemy would be left with still another large pocket, consisting of that part of AUSTRIA not yet overrun by the Allies. Dispositions at the present time indicated that approximately 50 nominal enemy divisions were engaged just northwest of the AUSTRIAN border and in EAST AUSTRIA. These included most of Army Group South on the Eastern Front and the remnants of the 19th and 1st German Armies on the Western front. In ITALY there were a nominal 25 divisions. The present tactical situation on the ITALIAN front and the enemys tremendous logistical problems involved in moving troops out of ITALY had made large-scale reinforcements of other fronts with troops from ITALY virtually ineffective. Recent evidence indicated that the enemy had markedly increased his efforts to evacuate YUGOSLAVIA, where Partisans had been waging a very successful war of attrition this evacuation was however a slow and hazardous process.
Thus the enemys grand total of 250 odd divisions in effect was distributed in a series of pockets rapidly being isolated, constricted, and compartmentalized.
Victory In Europe
May 1, 1945 Jandlesbrunn and Kasburg:
TF BRADY closed into JANDLESBRUNN on the night of April 30th. At 1015 on May 1st a small force consisting of C Company of the 63rd plus a platoon of tanks were sent forward to clear the route from WEGSCHEID to OBKAPPEL. This force ran into an undefended roadblock 3 kilometers southwest of WEGSCHEID. The roadblock was reduced and the force continued on, completing its mission by 1500. The remainder of TF BRADY moved forward at 1730 closing at KASBURG at 2300.
Light to no enemy resistance was encountered during the period. Sporadic small arms and some bazooka fore were received but the chief obstacles were numerous roadblocks, blown bridges, and bad roads.
CCA had cleared WEGSCHEID at the beginning of the period (April 30th) and today cleared the enemy to OEPPING with principal resistance offered at PEILSSTEIN.
CCB had cleared the enemy from UNKOLNEDT to STEINERBERG by the end of the period with most resistance encountered between LEMBACH and HORBICH.
At the end of the period the enemy was east OEPPING and STEINERBERT.
May 2, 1945 Peilsstein:
At 1300 TF BRADY moved to PEILSSTEIN closing at 1800. Perimeter defense was set up for the night.
Little enemy resistance was encountered. Enemy resisted with some small arms and anti-tank fire. Blown bridges delayed our troops most of the period.
CCA cleared the enemy from OEPPING to NEUFELDEN, where at the close of the period our armor was crossing the MUHL RIVER in the vicinity of the blown bridges.
CCB met no resistance and was engaged in overcoming blown bridges. The 41ST CAVALRY encountered no enemy resistance in its road and river reconnaissance along the DANUBE RIVER. All advances were made despite unseasonal snow and cold.
May 3, 1945 Altenfelden and Neufelden:
At 1800 TF BRADY closed into an area north of ALTENFELDEN. Orders were received enroute to send one company forward to NEUFELDEN to secure a bridge site. C Company plus a platoon of tanks were given the mission.
Sporadic small arms fire, defended roadblocks and several blown bridges constituted the enemy activity during the period.
One column of CCA cleared the enemy from NEUFELDEN to GRAINASTETTEN via WALDKIN and HERZOGSDORF. Another column cleared the enemy to ROTTENEGG, where two blown bridges were encountered, via the principal highway southeast from NEUFELDEN.
CCB reported no enemy resistance in its drive from NEUFELDEN to ZWETTL. ST. JOHANN and WAXENBERG were cleared enroute. At the close of the period the enemy was east of ZWETTL ROTTENEGG.
May 4, 1945 Zwettl:
At 0700 TF BRADY continued to move forward. Company C rejoined the Task Force enroute. At 1600 the Task Force arrived at ZWETTL and proceeded to relieve elements of the 41ST CAVALRY and CCB of positions in that sector. Roadblocks and perimeter defenses were set up.
CCB encountered no resistance in the drive from ZWETTL to GAUNEUKIRCHEN via HELLNONSODT and ALTENBERG.
CCA was engaged in a house to house firefight (small arms and panzerfaust) in GRAINASTETTEN at the start of the period (May 3rd). Throughout the period sporadic artillery fire was received in that vicinity by our troops after it was captured at 2030 (May 3rd). At 1600 on May 4th heavy resistance followed when our troops moved southeast out of the town. AT, small arms, and A/W fire was received, some of which came from concrete bunkers. At close of the period the situation in this area was fluid. At the end of the period on the division sector, the enemy had been cleared to the ZWETTL GALLNEUKIRCHEN KIRCHBAUMER FRAUNBERGER line.
May 5, 1945 Zwettl and Linz:
TF BRADY in ZWETTL and neighboring towns manned roadblocks and outposts. LINZ and the towns in its vicinity surrendered unconditionally to CCA, and troops entered the town at 1130.
CCB elements encountered light to no resistance in their reconnaissance from GALLNEUKIRCHEN to ARBING. Some small arms, panzerfaust, and mortar fire was received in the vicinity of MAUTHAUSEN and a light firefight war reported in ZELL. Patrolling was directed from GALLNEUKIRCHEN to the east in an effort to contact the Red Army, in the meantime the concentration camp at MAUTHAUSEN was discovered.
Surrender of Linz:
CCA was approached on May 4th and offered the unconditional surrender of LINZ. It was rejected because unconditional surrender to the Russian forces was not included. Our artillery fire on the city was continuous and unrelentingly carried out. Today, the enemy realizing his plight, capitulated unconditionally to all the nations and it was accepted. Results: the crossing of the DANUBE RIVER and the occupation of LINZ.
May 6, 1945 Outposts and Roadblocks:
TF BRADY maintained its outposts and roadblocks in ZWETTL and surrounding areas.
Our patrol encountered no enemy resistance at any point. The town of FREISTADT surrendered at 1400 to one patrol. Other patrols confined their activities to local security. South of the DANUBE, the Commanding General of Army Group South signed an unconditional surrender at XX Corps. Activities AG South were ceased at 2400 on May 7th.
May 7, 1945 New Positions In Linz:
At 1100 C Company of the 63rd proceeded to relieve elements of the 328th Infantry Regiment in LINZ with relief completed by 1300. The remainder of the TF remained in ZWETTL in defensive positions protecting the northern flank. At 1400 notice was received that all firing on the enemy would cease.
The enemy was currently involved in disengaging himself from the Russians. Today an SS officer delegation from the 2nd SS Panzer Corps arrived at Division Headquarters and requested surrender terms. At 0500 representatives arrived to announce their willingness to surrender. At 1500 Generals from the 8th German Army asked permission to move their troops, approximately 100,000 men, into our POW camps. In all cases the representatives were instructed to hold their troops in place in accordance with the terms of the general surrender.
May 8.1945 Unconditional Surrender:
Official notice was received that Germany had surrendered unconditionally. The Task Force awaited further orders for reemployment.
A troop of the 41ST CAVALRY contacted Soviet forces at AMSTETTIN at 1550 to make the 3rd ARMYs first linkup with the RUSSIANS.
Enemy casualties for this last operation included 11,137 POWs evacuated to Corps, making a grand total of 76,229 POWs taken by the Division during it combat period.
May 9 & 10, 1945 V-E Day:
All German armed forces; Air, Ground, and Naval, laid down their arms in compliance with the terms of the unconditional surrender to the ALLIES and RUSSIANS. All action ceased, terminating the Second World War in Europe.
On V-E Day (May 9, 1945) the 11TH ARMORED DIVISION was the easternmost unit of all Allied forces on the Western front.
In four months and ten days of combat the Division averaged almost 20,000 POWs per month, not including prisoners turned over to supporting infantry divisions for evacuation. A total of 76,229 prisoners had been taken. After the cessation of hostilities, the Division processed 11,834 additional prisoners for the purpose of discharge and turned over to the Red Army a total of 34,125.
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