Roer to Rhine
The 3rd Battalion, 310th Infantry, because of its persistent gallantry, exceptional heroism and esprit de corps in the face of unusually difficult and hazardous conditions made an invaluable contribution to the success of the Allied offensive on the Western Front. It never failed to accomplish an assigned mission and because of its consistent record of achievement it was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its combat action for the period 1-15 March 1945.
The following record of action is a summary of the operations of the 1st to the 15th March 1945.
The 3rd Battalion, attached to Combat Command A, 9th Armored Division, crossed the Roer River in the early morning of 2 March and marched 9 miles to capture Langendorf and the strongly defended Wollersheim woods. The following day it attacked and captured Merzenich, Sinzenich and Florin.
On 4 March after a grueling 5 mile advance through deep mud under continual artillery and small arms fire, costing 57 casualties, the battalion captured Euskirchen, key road, rail, supply and communications center for the German forces west of the Rhine. By midnight advanced elements of the battalion, two miles forward of friendly troops on the left and four miles forward of friendly troops on the right, made possible the crossing of the Erft Canal east of the city the following morning.
On 5 March, without having had any rest, one company, against determined, skillful opposition, battled across the Erft Canal and secured Roitzheim, south of Euskirchen, after a 12-hour battle. 165 prisoners, including 3 SS Captains and SS non-commissioned officers were captured, 62 enemy were killed, 4 concrete gun emplacements and 30 machine-guns were destroyed, and a route over which supporting armor could negotiate the Erft Canal and continue the advance to the Rhine was secured.
On 7 March the battalion captured Bad Neuenahr, secured 4 bridges and crossed the Alit River on 8 March, taking the high ground to the south, which controlled the main supply route to the newly won Remagen bridgehead.
After marching all night, the battalion crossed the Remagen bridge under heavy artillery fire early on March 10. That afternoon, it advanced through withering artillery fire and air strafing and bombing, to secure high ground south of Kretzhaus. This high ground overlooked the Remagen bridge and the area for miles around and was the key point from which the enemy directed artillery and mortar fire on that area. In order to reach the enemy observation posts on the top of the hill it was necessary to scale nearly vertical cliffs in the face of direct fire from these enemy positions at the summit. This was undertaken without hesitation, the enemy equipment, including three radios was destroyed and the defending enemy were killed or captured.
This salient was held for 3 days before friendly troops closed in on the flanks. During this time, a strong enemy counterattack toward the Ludendorff bridge was repulsed. The counter-.attacking force consisted of at least a battalion of infantry supported by heavy artillery fire and spearheaded by seven enemy tanks.
On 15 March, Major General Louis A. Craig, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division, assigned the battalion the mission of capturing and holding at all costs, Kretzhaus and the Kallenborn road junction. The battalion was made responsible for accomplishing the mission regardless of the other units in the vicinity. This high ground and road junction which controlled eight roads and a railway line was the last enemy strongpoint covering the Remagen bridge, and had already been attacked four times without success by other units.
Despite the fact that its commander had been wounded, and with greatly reduced strength, the battalion took this ground and held it against the most determined resistance by tanks, artillery, automatic weapons and small arms.
For this action the Third Battalion, 310th Infantry received a commendation from Major General Louis A. Craig, Ninth Infantry Division Commander. The commendation read in part: "It is particulate desired to emphasize the fine combat work of the Third Battalion. It was engaged at one of the most hotly contested areas encountered and its participation at 150 536 March to secure the vital road junction finally cracked the? Last determined stand of the Germans near the observation line closest to the bridge. This is a fighting organization and is a credit to itself and to any organization it teams with."
The battalion was also commended by Major General John W. Leonard, Commanding General, Ninth Armored Division and Colonel Thomas L. Harrold, Commanding Officer, CCA, Ninth Armored Division who wrote in part:
"During the succeeding seven days, the battalion seized all objectives assigned to it, pressing the attack both day and night. The success of this battalion was due to the courage, unrelenting effort, and determination of all ranks."
But to fully document the extraordinary heroism, gallantry and magnificent esprit de corps shown. by the Third Battalion, 310th Infantry in the face of extremely difficult and hazardous conditions, and its continued determination despite severe exhaustion and depleted personnel, it is necessary to tell the complete story of its actions from the crossing of the Roer River to its attack and capture of the last enemy-held height overlooking the Remagen bridge.
On the night of the 1st March 1945 the 3rd Battalion moved out of its defensive positions west of the Roer River and crossed an Engineer treadway bridge at Blens in the order of I, K and L Companies, single file with interval of two yards between men. They marched from Blens on the east side of the Roer to Abenden where the men dropped their blanket rolls and continued the march at 0200 to Berg. In the little town of Berg the 3rd Battalion was attached to Combat Command A, Ninth Armored Division, which consisted of light and medium tanks and half tracks. After a briefing, orders were received to move out to an assembly area. There were no administrative casualties. CCA moved toward Wollersheirn at 0900. The Third Battalion mission was to march through Wollersheirn upon its clearance by the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion, which was attacking it at that time, and take Langendorf, Merzenich and Sinzenich. The battalion, marching in order K, Hq. I, L was halted on the road west of Wollersheirn because the 60th AIB was unable to advance due to enemy resistance in the wooded area north of town. This enemy group in the woods was also holding up elements of the 60th Infantry Regiment in Embken to the North.
The battalion was delayed for sometime near Wollersheim and "dug in" in an open field in full view of enemy snipers. At this point the battalion received approximately 20 rounds of enemy 88 MM fire, however, they suffered no casualties at this time.
At 1330 orders were received to be prepared to seize the wooded area north-east of Wollersheirn and to seize the town of Langendorf, 3000 meters east of Wollersheim. Reconnaissance was made immediately, the attack planned and the following fragmentary attack order issued:
Picture: TREADWAY BRIDGE OVER THE ROER
The battalion attacks at 1530 with Company K seizing the wooded area north and east of Wollersheim, Company L echeloned to the left rear, mopping up the woods behind Company K and protecting the left flank of the battalion. Company I to attack, bypassing Wollersheim to the south and seize Langendorf. Company I to attack on order when the western edge of the woods has been cleared by Company K. Attachments: Company K, I Light Tk Plt, 1 Med Tk Plt, 1 Plt Company M; Company I: 1 Med Tk Plt. 1st Plt Company M supports attack of Company K with fire into enemy positions in woods. When fire is masked, change positions and fire in support of Company I with fires on high ground west of Langendorf. I Med Tk Plt in reserve firing initially in support of Company I. Mortar Plt in general support."
The battalion moved forward while the Company Commanders were at the Battalion CP receiving the order.
At this point the enemy held Wollersheim, and was entrenched in the woods to the northeast, which gave them fire control over the open terrain west and north of town.
Companies K and L attacked at 1530. Heavy mortar, artillery and sniper fire from Wollersheim and the outskirts of Embken covered the, 800 yards of open terrain which had to be crossed to reach the woods. But the companies advanced without hesitation and covered the ground by platoon rushes between terrain features. Upon entering the woods, 1st and 2nd platoons leading, 3rd platoon in support, Company K immediately encountered extremely heavy small arms and machine gun opposition.. Two casualties were suffered, one of whom refused to be evacuated and continued the attack. The enemy was well dug in and determined, and advances could be made only after killing the gunners who were exceptionally well supplied with ammunition. The advance was made by assault or marching fire, although on several occasions enemy resistance compelled the attackers to resort to the bayonet. Dusk fell when the attacking platoons were about midway to their objectives, but the attack was pressed. Contact was maintained by connecting files and at 2030, after suffering 12 casualties, Companies K and L were on their objective. This action brought about the fall of Wollersheim and enabled the 60th Infantry Regiment to, attack the following morning and, capture Zulpich without resistance. Positions were consolidated and the troops dug in. Sixty-five prisoners were captured in the operation and an estimated 20 enemy soldiers were killed. The intense darkness, and danger inherent in exposed tear and flanks made necessary an almost continual guard by all personnel and permitted little sleep for the troops who had already been sleepless for more than 40 hours.
Company I moved east from the hill ' southwest of Wollersheim at 1630. Sniper fire from the last two houses in Wo ' Hersheim. and machine-gun fire from a haystack were encountered and overcome. A heavy-mortar and artillery barrage -fell on, the company. In spite of this resistance and 'the fact that three of the tanks became stuck and had to be towed, by 1924 the company had secured Langendorf and dug in on the eastern perimeter. Eighty-five prisoners were taken and more than forty-five killed.
At 0330 a battalion runner brought Company L a written order from the battalion, S-3 to attack the town of Merzenich and be prepared to assist by fire, Company K which was to attack Sinzenich. No enemy information - was available although it was knovn that Burvenich, to the southwest, was in friendly hands. Company L was to meet a platoon of medium tanks, I section of heavy machine guns and a litter squad along the Wollersheim-Langendorf highway. The Platoon Leaders were oriented at 040a by the Company Commander and the Company moved out at 0630. The proposed attachments were not found upon reaching the highway, never the less the company went into the attack as ordered. A guide was left behind for the attachments and the Battalion Commander was notified of the action decided upon. Moving past the highway into open terrain, artillery, mortar, and automatic weapons fire from the right were received. The company continued to move forward while half a squad quickly outflanked the enemy machine-gun position, neutralized it, captured 3 and killed 2 enemy and returned to the platoon. Under constant mortar and artillery fire, the company moved to within 500 yards of Merzenich, and following an artillery TOT at 0745, assaulted the town, the tanks arriving just in time to take part in the assault. Although clearing the town was made difficult by large numbers of civilians, by 081" it was secure,.- At 1115 two platoons moved to a point northwest of Sinzenich to support the Company K attack. Company L suffered 5 casualties. T/Sgt. Lindsay, anti-tank platoon Sgt. was killed by artillery fire during the attack. The 1st platoon of Co M led by Lt. Barnett joined Company L as they entered the town of Merzenich and assisted in setting up a defense of the town after it was captured.
The 1st platoon of Company M then prepared to fire into Sinzenich to support Company K's attack on that town.
Company K which had assembled in a draw southwest of Merzenich, moved to an area of departure at 1145 and under an extremely heavy artillery barrage and heavy small arms fire from Sinzenich launched its attack, accompanied by a platoon of medium tanks. Two hundred yards from the town, the 3rd platoon, led -by Lt. Durk, was pinned down by small arms fire from a tower on the west edge of town and machine gun fire from the left flank. Several rounds of 88 mm fire were directed at the platoon while they lay pinned down in the open field. The tanks were slow in moving up but upon arriving liquidated the enemy opposition from, the tower and machine gun position.
Picture: DUG IN ALONG THE ROER RIVER
S/Sgt. Cornelius J. Coughlin, a squad leader in the 3rd platoon, although seriously wounded, retained consciousness long enough to direct the tank fire. S/Sgt. Charles F Mason, wounded in the hand, crawled 20 -yards to another wounded man, dressed his wound with his one hand and then, with another man, carried him to a shell crater.
The 3rd platoon, which at this time consisted of about 13 men assaulted the town under the fire of the machine guns from the tanks. Heavy enemy artillery fire fell on the town as the platoon proceeded through the northern sector, attacking the houses with grenades, and small arms fire', many of which were strongly defended. Rocks were used to simulate grenades when the supply of live grenades was depleted. The effect on the Krauts was the same, they would come running out of their houses shouting "Kamerad". Both male and female civilians who had been supplied with weapons offered so much interference that finally, all of them, 1650, had to be taken prisoner and placed under guard. The 3rd platoon reached the eastern limits of town at 1330 with 12 men, after killing more than 20 and capturing 32 enemy soldiers. The 1st and 2nd platoons advanced through the southern sector of the town mopping up as they went and organized in the defense of Sinzenich. Company K assembled the civilian people in the church, priest's home and attempted to put them in positions protected from the still heavy artillery concentrations landing on the town. The company then received a hot meal and was re-supplied with ammunition. Enemy casualties in this operation were 10 killed, number of wounded unknown. Company K's casualties were 18 wounded and 4 killed, unusually heavy due to heavy artillery fire and the small arms fire received upon entering the village. A perimeter defense was set up around the village that night and the Company continued to round up civilian and military personnel until approximately 2 100. Little rest was received by any of the personnel during the evening.
Picture: T/SGT. HERMAN LINDSEY, LT. PERRIN, SGT. TUREK CAPT. MASTERPOLE AND CAPT. SMITH
At 1400, Company I without attachments attacked and captured Florin against light resistance. Four enemy were captured. The 1st platoon of Company M was prepared to support Company I by fire but as there was no resistance they didn't fire, joined Company I in Florin and then reverted to M Company control in Nernmenich.
The town of Lovenich was taken by elements of the 310th Infantry Regiment simultaneous with Company I's attack on Florin.
The battalion marched to Nernmenich, closed in at 1300, checked equipment and briefed personnel for the attack on the vital road, rail and communications center of Euskirchen. Euskirchen, which had a peacetime population of 30,000 was an important army supply center.
The Company Commanders were oriented at 1300 near the line of departure at the eastern edge of Nernmenich and received their orders. The plan was for Company I to lead the attack, with one platoon of light tanks to assist in finding and neutralizing enemy resistance in the battalion zone of advance. Upon reaching the western outskirts of Euskirchen, Company I would be joined by one platoon of medium tanks and would proceed to the southeast and secure the bridges over the Erft Canal at Roitzheim. Company L, initially echeloned to the left rear with the mission of protecting the battalion left flank, and as Company I approached the western outskirts of Euskirchen, to move to the left and abreast of Company I and secure the bridges at the eastern end of Euskirchen. Company K was to follow Company I at 500 yards, protecting the battalion right flank and mop up along the main street and the railroad tracks running east and west through Euskirchen. The 1st MG platoon of Company M would move by bounds in direct support of Company I. The 2nd M~G platoon was attached to Company L. The Mortar Platoon was to be in general- support, displacing when necessary- to keep within supporting distance of the rifle troops. The medium tank company was to move by bounds behind Company L prepared initially to attack in mass, and when Company's I and L were ready to assault the western outskirts of Euskirchen, the company would deploy and the tank platoons would join in the assault with the respective companies to which they would be attached. In order that the advance be made as rapidly as possible, the leading elements of the battalion were ordered not to engage in any mopping up operations and to bypass, if possible, any determined resistance,
One section of heavy machine guns was attached to each of the attacking rifle companies as the battalion moved forward at 1400 and began the difficult and hazardous 5-mile cross-country advance through enemy resistance to Euskirchen. The flat terrain had been recently plowed and movement in the thick mud and steady rain was difficult and exhausting. The entire route was under incessant observed artillery and mortar bombardment and several time direct 88 mm fire was encountered. Machine-gun fire from the railroad tracks above Ulpenich and Durscheven, and sniper fire from Irreshdim was encountered almost immediately upon crossing the LD. The 81 mm Mortar section was in direct support of the Battalion during the attack across country. -It was not known what -was in front so it was necessary to reconnoiter for positions -as the unit moved along.. The M Company Commander moved in front of the mortars and picked suitable positions for them as they advanced and led them into those positions. The Mortars were very mobile and ready, to move at a minutes notice all through this attack. Northwest of enemy-held Elsig, small arms resistance from snipers became too severe to be bypassed and one platoon from Company I and one from Company L entered northern Elsig. They cleared the northern part of town, killing 5 and capturing 11 enemy soldiers while the battalion continued its advance.
Even, when the enemy fire was most heavy and casualties highest the men kept moving toward their objective, seldom hitting the ground, and urging one another on with shouts and humor. Not one squad scattered, and not a man dropped out unless severely wounded. Most of the weapons became clogged with mud, and the men attempted to clean them while marching.
It was raining very hard and it was difficult to see very far ahead due to the haze. Company I was moving very fast and since it was desired to give the company direct support a section of mortars was attached and followed the company by 1000 yard bounds. This attached section of mortars was fired on by burp guns north of Elsig. It was necessary to stop the mortar fire at this point and the opposition was overcome with M 3 grease guns and a Thompson sub-machine gun. The section had an ammunition supply problem since it was necessary to hand carry all supplies across country from Nernmenich.
Upon reaching a point 500 yards east of the barracks area in Euskirchen, Company I was joined by medium tanks: After moving forward another 100 yards heavy A-T gun and machine gun fire was encountered. Although one light and one medium tank were knocked out and the remainder withdrew 700 yards, Company I continued forward approximately 200 yards Where it came under heavy small arms fire-from a group of the barracks buildings which covered the eastern approaches to town. The troops had advanced so rapidly that the artillery was out of range. Upon learning this the company assaulted the barracks without artillery support, and passed through the area toward its objective. By this time it was dark. Progress within the city was extremely difficult because of shell craters, rubble-blocked streets and snipers, but finally a route was found. The company and supporting armor reached the southeast edge of town at 2100 and prepared to continue toward Roitzheim. At this time-an order was received to consolidate and await further orders. The company established guard posts and began to clean its equipment which by this time had become so mud-caked as to be nearly unserviceable. 14 casualties had been suffered.
M Company's mortars displaced to the barracks area on the west edge of Euskirchen while the rifle companies were still fighting in the town. The mortars took four prisoners in the barracks area and consolidated positions in the east end of the area. It was apparent that close continuous support by the mortars would by difficult since the men would have to stop firing their mortars to defend themselves against enemy snipers,
Meanwhile Company L reorganized under fire inside the barracks area. Casualties had been extremely heavy, particularly among officers and non-commissioned officers. The platoon leader and 2 squad leaders in each of the attacking platoons, the Ist and 3rd, were casualties. Upon reorganization the company cleared the barracks area, dug in and sent patrols to probe deeper into the city.
Capt. Owens, Company Commander of K Company, when interviewed on the Euskirche.1 action remarked in part: "It was raining hard and the day was miserable. At this time it1was 1700 (near Elsig) and we-knew it would be dark by the time we reached our objective. We were thankful it was getting dark because we knew it would reduce, the chances of the jerries hitting us with sniper or 88 fire. We were held in this position for approximately 10 minutes and pushed ahead, using turnip patches and dung heaps for concealment. Company L pushed off to the left to enter the town and they suffered quite a few casualties from small arms fire. We pushed to the right of Company L to enter the barracks area and there met the S-3 who told us how to enter the village. Then he wanted two platoons to enter the village and one platoon to go along the railroad, at the edge of town. The men were so exhausted they had to force themselves to advance.
It was dark by this time. The platoons moved on into the barracks area I put them under the command of Lt. Durk and told him to enter the center of the town and I was going with the 2nd platoon along the railroad. We found in the barracks area, in mopping it up, about 10 German prisoners. The town has in shambles. Our air corps had one this previously. Streets were littered up with rubble. It was impossible to search out the houses as most of them were huge structures. We entered the town with little or no opposition. I took my Hq. group and my communications Sgt. with me and also my mortar FO from M Company. In moving along the RR track I bypassed my 2nd platoon. We had previously designated the rendezvous point and there, where to set up a perimeter defense in our own small sector in the town itself. Upon arriving at the rendezvous point we immediately took the personnel we had and sent them on patrols to locate the bulk of the company and to' find out if anything had happened. During this phase of the operation, Lt. Col. Harry Lutz found the 1st and 3rd platoons under the command of Lt. Durk. The 2nd platoon bypassed the rendezvous point and entered a hotel approximately 200 yards beyond there and set up a defense. In searching this house we found two Jerries very comfortably set up with their mistresses in the basement of the building. Before being removed one of the Jerries was extremely cooperative in showing T/Sgt. Tracey his P 38 pistol he had hidden in the cupboard. Here we finally reorganized and attempted to get dry, but there was no heat and it was impossible to get our bed rolls to us. The night was miserable and black as the gares of hell. We shivered all night and even though the town was at one time a wealthy city, it was very obvious the Germans had taken all their bedding and blankets. The men were exhausted but we still set up our defenses. The following morning we received a hot breakfast. The cooks had come into the town in jeeps with the food under actual fire. Major Pierce, Battalion Ex. Officer in trying to locate the company CPs during the night, captured 9 prisoner-, himself. Casualties in this operation were surprisingly light. We sent out four patrols to the railroad bridge and the highway bridges on the cast edge of the city. Each time the patrols came under sniper fire from a factory in the edge (if town. The patrols discovered that all three bridges had been demolished."
The night was intensely dark, cold and stormy, and since it was impossible to clear out the city, because of its size and the great number of rubble-blocked buildings, it was necessary for all personnel to remain alert and on guard throughout the night. This required exceptional endurance and spirit, for the men were completely wet and suffering severely from exhaustion. Since 1 March, they had marched more than 18 miles, at least 8 of which had been under fire, fought 3 battles and had barely managed 8 hours of sleep.
150 prisoners were captured during the attack on Euskirchen. The battalion suffered 56 casualties, primarily from shell fragments, which brought the 3-day battle casualties total to 96.
From Elsig to Euskirchen the Medics pushed and pulled their vehicles almost all the way because the tanks and TDB had chewed the road so thoroughly.
When Lt. Knell Battalion Medical Administrative Officer was evacuated because of injuries received, Capt. Colwell, Battalion Medical Officer, went into Euskirchen'. He was told -by, an enlisted man that the town had Seen 'cleared through I the barracks . area so he went there with two enlisted men. The medics combed the battle field in the dark. Contact was established by means of fires at haystacks and the wounded men were brought to these points by T/5 B. E. Bowman. Some of the wounded men were badly in need of plasma and there was an urgent need for more than there was on hand. The Capt. did not know if the roads were open back to Nemmenich where the aid station was located. Pfc. Stella, a company aid man from CCA of the 9th Armored Division took a light tank and brought up 15 units of plasma to the barracks. Capt. Colwell stated that the plasma probably saved the lives of several of the men. Some of the wounded were then placed on three light tanks and two half-tracks and sent back to Nernmenich. There was a total of 41 casualties treated that night.
When morning came three ambulances were brought into Euskirchen to evacuate the wounded and operated from there two days and nights.
At 0100, Company I dispatched a 12 man combat patrol led by S/Sgt. Davis and S/Sgt. Spyker,, to reconnoiter a route for the advance of the company and attached armor an Roitzheim. The patrol received heavy fire from buildings and after unsuccessfully attempting to continue, returned at 0300. At 0400, the patrol was sent out again. The patrol went down the 3rd grade highway from Euskirchen to Roitzheim to reconnoiter it as a possible route for Co L's advance. The reported back that this road would not be suitable for the tanks since there was a large crater located at a point just before the 2nd grade highway crossed it. While on the mission the patrol was ambushed and pinned down by automatic weapons fire and sniper fire. One of the enemy threw grenades at the patrol from a second story window. Two men were -wounded but the patrol moved back and down the 1st grade highway running almost due south. The patrol found this route suitable for armored vehicles but warned the company that the Germans had dug in along the road during the night.
At 1100 Company I jumped off from Euskirchen with four light tanks, a platoon of medium tanks and two-tank destroyers. The company mission was that of seizing the town of Roitzheim and securing the bridge over the Erft River in the northwestern edge of the town in case it I was still usable. In, the event the bridge was not usable the company was to withdraw and assist in mopping up Euskirchen south of the railroad tracks.
Company I with the armored vehicles moved down the 1st grade highway to the crossroads where it turned due east toward Roitzheim. In the vicinity of the crossroads the Company received machine-gun and small arms fire from entrenchments in the area and from one anti-tank gun' firing from a position south. on the road This anti-tank gun was knocked out with 57 min gun from one of the light ranks. The Infantry fought with the tanks making a reconnaissance with fire. The attackers moved to a point some 200 -yards from the Erft Canal after killing an estimated 10 to 15 Germans on the way. At this point the Company and the armored vehicles stopped for twenty minutes waiting for a TOT which had been planned to be fired on Roitzheim. It was discovered finally that the TOT had been fired 30 minutes early. As soon as this was discovered the Company, together with the tanks and tank destroyers, moved out to seize the town and the bridge. The men came under considerable artillery and small arms fire from Roitzheim but pushed on.
When the Company got to the town the lead scouts found that the bridge. Had been destroyed. The small arms fire continued and, in addition Company I was now receiving very heavy artillery concentrations. The Company Commander, Capt. Olson reported to the Battalion Commander that the bridge was impassable and requested counter-battery fire and. smoke so that the Company would withdraw and continue with the mission that had been planned at Euskirchen. The Company was ordered instead to continue on and capture Roitzheim.
The advance of the Company was made very difficult as 'a result of several factors, the first of which was the terrain. About 150 yards west of the Canal was a ditch which had to be crossed. Next came the Canal with banks five to six feet high. The Ist platoon with the commanding officer moved into the stream in a line of skirmishers and crossed in rushes. The water came up to the necks of the men and since it was very cold they suffered considerably from shock.
There were concrete machine-gun emplacements north and south of the town and the men were fired on from all sides as they jumped the ditch, waded across the stream and crawled and ran from cover to cover. T/5 Carroll E. Pomplin, Company Aid Man, rushed from the canal to give aid to two wounded men. He was hit in the side after crawling about 20 yards, but continued until he was hit again. S/Sgt. Meadows, against the advice of his comrades, went to the aid of the medic and was mortally wounded.
The Company tried to find a place where the tanks could cross the stream but did not succeed. The 3rd platoon then crossed the Canal moving in rushes like the 1st platoon. The platoon crossed at a point south of where the 1st platoon crossed and the water there was found, to be knee deep.
Just after the 3rd platoon crossed the enemy counterattacked with 12 men first and then with 15 more. Company I's ammunition supply was down at this time to one clip per man. "We were really getting worried that was some tight spot", the Company Commander commented. By working through the Battalion Commanders radio the company succeeded in getting one tank to the rear and then back up to the bridge with ammunition.
The five medium and three light tanks and the two tank destroyers fired into the town in an effort to dislodge the enemy there from his positions. At this time a number of Germans could be seen moving up from Stotzheim and the Company Commander was convinced that he must try and get one of the tanks across the stream. Finally a suitable spot was found a little south of the spot where the 3rd platoon had crossed. By 1630 one of the tanks went across. The remainder followed in short order. The Company with the tanks then moved into the town and cleaned it out. In the fight for Roitzheim the mortar forward observer was wounded together with the leader of the platoon of heavy machine guns with fought in the town with Company I.
Picture: CLEARING OUT-EUSKIRCHEN
Company I took from 165 to 200 prisoners from the machine-gun emplacements. There were three SS Officers and several SS non-commissioned Officers in the group and it was learned that they had directed the Volkssturmers and other regular army personnel in the stubborn defense of the town. A woman was found in one of these emplacements where she had manned her weapon until she was killed. A total of 40 to 50 machine-guns were destroyed.
The enemy held on as long as it could and Company I had to kill a large number of the men in their positions. Two of the SS Captains thought they saw an opportunity to escape and started to run whereupon the tankers opened up and shot them both. The Germans fought hard to keep open the north-south highway to the east of Roitzheim. Another platoon of tanks and a platoon of tank destroyers were brought across the Erft Canal and helped to defend the area during the night.
While Company I sweated it out at Roitzheim, Company L was engaged in the mission of clearing one-half of Euskirchen Capt. Barzelay pointed out that Euskirchen is a large city and that half of it was a rather large objective for one company. Town plans were issued the proceeding day while the Company was engaged in mopping up the barracks area. The Company moved out and a platoon of tanks and a platoon of Infantry leapfrogged from building to building. The Company Commander had planned the attack with the town divided into three parts. The company's radio would not work because of the buildings so the Company Commander pointed out the three sectors to those concerned. According to the plan there were three platoons, each of which was assigned two tanks and made responsible for a sector of the town.
The company had available a section of machine guns from Company M and another section from the Company's own weapons platoon. A section was given to each of the two flank platoons.
Since the radios would not work the Company Commander used a jeep for the purpose of control. He really sweated out the snipers as he rode down the streets with a map in his hand. About noon Capt. Barzelay contacted Capt. Owens, the Company K Commander, who said that his company had taken its sector.
That night Company L set up local security in its sector and two platoons were sent out to the roads to the southwest. Before these platoons arrived at their destination a scout from. the tank destroyer outfit reported that there were 200 men advancing from the south behind Company I's positions at Roitzheim. Company L then received the mission of setting up a defensive line to the south. Company K was also to move up. , Capt. Barzelay went out on reconnaissance to find defensive positions for the Company leaving the first sergeant in charge. The Captain had gone only a short time when Lt. Col. Lutz, the Battalion Commander, met the First Sergeant at the railroad tracks. He told the Sergeant that there was no counter-attack but that 60 men from Company M were moving up to Roitzheim. He instructed the First Sergeant to put outposts on the two roads leading south from Euskirchen. This was accomplished. During the course of the night one man was killed and two wounded by mortar fire on the western most of these outposts.
Company I at Roitzheim had cleared the town by 2130. The company set fire to half the town with white phosphorous grenades. The company heard the previously mentioned. rumor to the effect that the enemy was massing tanks and infantry at Stotzeheim.. The Battalion Commander set up a defense of Roitzheim on the south and east leaving the north and west open. Then at 2300 a report was received that 200 of the enemy were advancing on the town from a westerly direction. A platoon was then placed on the western edge of Roitzheim while elements of Company M manned two knocked out American tanks to the north.
When Lt. Col. Lutz heard the story of the counter-attack from the west he scratched his head and thought for a minute. Then he said, "Well what would the krauts be doing coming in from that side?" and went out on a reconnaissance with five men to see if the story was true.
The Colonel and the men did not find any counterattacking enemy. It developed that the rumor had been started by men from the tank destroyer unit who had seen a platoon from Company M moving up to join Company I at Roitzheim.
The men of the 3rd Battalion were alerted for any possible counter-attacks and little sleep was had all through the night. Company I had fought continuously for more than 30 hours with less than 8 hours sleep in 5 days.
The battalion marched to Kuchenheim and closed in at 1150 where the men were fed and given a few hours to clean equipment, themselves and get a few minutes rest. At 1800 the battalion was motorized and moved to Rheinbach, Where it closed in at 1900 and all units were billeted for the night.
Picture: Advance through a destroyed Town
At 0130 the battalion was given, the mission of passing through the 60th AIB which was dug in on high ground in the vicinity of Lantershofen and to seize the crossings over the Ahr River at Bad Neuenahr and Heimersheim. Information was received that the 60th AIB had advanced from Rheinbach to Lantershofen, a distance of about 10 miles, during the afternoon, and evening before, encountering practically no opposition and that the same could be expected from Lantershofen to the Rhine, about 10 miles away. The City of Bad Neuenahr was a hospital center and was reported to be an open city. By obtaining a few trucks and half tracks and mounting the remainder of the infantry on tanks and TD's it was possible to, motorize the battalion and to move to Lantershofen and continue the advance, motorized from that point. A hot meal was fed at 0300 and at 0335 the Battalion Commander gave the Company Commanders the movement and attack order.
Company K with 1 light, 1 medium tank platoon and 1 machine gun platoon of Company M attached, was to proceed down route 266, bypassing Bad Neuenahr to the south and seize the bridge at Heimersheim. Company L, with I platoon of medium tanks and 1 platoon of TDs attached, was to move to the south behind Company K and seize the bridge over the Ahr River at Bad Neuenahr. Company I was to follow Company L and be prepared to assist either Company K or Company L if necessary.
The battalion moved out in darkness and heavy fog at 0600 A and the leading elements of Company K had reached Lantershofen at 0800. As soon as they had passed the town, they came under small arms and artillery fire and direct fire from self-propelled guns which knocked out 2 leading tanks. A reconnaissance was made and it was found that the city, although marked by Red Crosses on the roofs of buildings, was heavily defended. The battalion was dismounted immediately and reconnaissance and plans were made for a coordinated attack to accomplish the mission previously assigned. Word was received that the battalion was to seize only the bridges in Bad Neuenahr and that the bridge at Heimersheim would be seized by another unit attacking from the North.
Fragmentary orders were issued at 1030 as follows: Company K with 1 Platoon of light tanks, 1 medium tank platoon and 1 section of MGs attached, would move out at once to the high ground north of Lantershofen, move down behind the ridge paralleling highway. 266 to a position 500 yards north of the eastern end of Bad Neuenahr, there to continue the advance on order, seizing the factory area between Bad Neuenahr and Heppingen, thereby cutting off the retreat of the enemy to the east. Company, L with 1 platoon of medium tanks and 1 platoon of TDs attached, to attack from the hill southeast of Lantershofen and seized the 4 bridges over the Ahr river. Company I to follow Company, L and mop up the town. 1st MG platoon, Company M to support the attack of Company L by fire from positions north of Lantershofen. Company L to attack on orders as soon as Company K was in position north of the factory at ' ea.
The machine gun platoon in battalion support was set up on a hill looking down into Bad Neuenahr to open fire on order. While at the observation point on the hill some Germans were observed moving up the road in a truck to remove an Anti-tank gun. The mortars followed the truck as it moved back down the road. Some of the Germans got Out and ran and effective fire was placed on them. Company K moved southeast from the- high ground southeast of Carweiler at 1100. Two tanks and 5 half-tracks were bogged down but a route was found and the remaining 3 medium and 3 light tanks were brought through. Following a 5 minute mortar and assault gun preparation, the company attacked. at 1435 and secured the north-east part of Bad Neuenahr against moderate opposition. Patrols contacted Company L in the town and secured the bridge on the Ahr River. Due to the number of small bridges across the River in Bad Neuenahr each was,, given -a number. Company K captured a Gestapo Headquarters that contained enough armament and equipment to equip a Regiment.
At 1330 Company L attacked from the hill southwest of Lantershofen. A-T fire from the, outskirts of Bad Neuenahr knocked out 3 tanks and the other armored vehicles were unable to continue over the rough terrain. The company entered the eastern outskirts of Ahrweiler on foot, secured bridge 1 and moving along the main street into Bad Neuenahr under persistent sniper fire, secured Bridge 2. Enemy -small arms fire prevented the crossing of the, bridges, but defenses were set up to prevent the enemy from destroying them.
Company I moved into town as planned behind Company L. At 1800 a 9-man patrol crossed bridge 3. It received a counter-attack almost immediately, and though driven back to the northern bank of the river prevented the, enemy from blowing the bridge.
When the rest of the platoon had moved up the bridge was re-crossed and heavy machine guns were set up on the south bank. A counter-attack at 0500 was driven off easily and the remainder of the enemy covering the south bank of the river withdrew. Cpl. Bilowich, Company I's transport corporal and driver was killed by artillery fire while bringing up a supply of ammunition.
At Bad Neuenahr the Medical section located a large hospital which they used as an aid station. In addition to the Germans, Capt. Colwell found one American PW from the 35th Division, one from the 4th Division, one Captain from the Air Corps, one Canadian pilot and three or four others. Arrangements were made for their evacuation. The Wounded men said they had received excellent treatment there. The Captain noted however, that there was only one German doctor and some enlisted men to act as a staff and that the hospital was lacking in equipment.
The battalion cleared the section of Bad Neuenahr south of the Ahr River and secured the high ground 'to the south which overlooked the city and route 266, the main, supply artery to the Remagen bridge. Roadblocks and outposts were set up, contact with adjacent units was established through patrols, and reconnaissance patrols were sent several miles to the south. Company K captured an enemy outpost manning a 75 mm A-T weapon which was placing direct fire on the highway leading to the bridge.
The battalion held defensive positions. Outposts were pulled in at 1300 when the battalion reverted to Regimental control and was alerted for a possible foot movement to Remagen.
At 2400 the battalion was ordered to move out on foot at 0100. It proceeded on foot to the Remagen bridge where it was met by the Regimental Commander Col. T. Hayes who ordered the battalion to assemble in Linz and await orders for further employment. The march over the heavily damaged bridge was made in darkness under intense artillery fire. The bridge was very weak and several vehicles had been lost through the gaping holes in the bridge just prior to the battalions crossing.
While the battalion was assembling in Linz, a small town south of the Remagen bridge, a strong enemy counter-attack had driven back a battalion of the 47th Infantry and reached a point 1500 yards from the river at the northeast edge of Ohlenberg. The 2nd Battalion of, the 310th Infantry was immediately deployed in the vicinity of Ohlenberg. Orders were received at 1100 to attack at 1330 from the vicinity of Kasbach and seize the high ground to the east. The seizure of this ground would eliminate an important enemy observation post and would cut off enemy forces which had attacked Ohlenberg. In order to avoid enemy observation and because no enemy information was available it was decided that the battalion would attack in a column of companies and would move along the southern fringe of the wooded area north of Ohlenberg. This necessitated a longer route over very rough terrain. The Company Commanders were assembled while troops were on the move into a forward assembly area just north of Kasbach. Fragmentary orders were issued as follows: Battalion attacks at 1330 from its present assembly area and seizes the high ground overlooking Ohlenberg. Formation: Column of companies L, K, I. Company L with I Mg Platoon attached advance along the fringe of the woods and seize the top of the hill. Company K to follow Company L at 200 yards, protect the south flank and seize the road junction immediately south of the high ground. Company I follow Company K, protect the north flank and set up defenses on the northwest side of the high ground. Wiremen were to follow the companies on foot and lay wire as they moved.
Jumping off at 1330, the column of companies, supported by HE and smoke from 81 mm mortars of Company M, advanced along the fringe of woods south of the railroad tracks. The enemy situation was unknown as was the exact nature of the objective which could only be determined roughly from the map. In addition to receiving extremely heavy artillery and moderate sniper fire throughout the advance, planes swooping up from attacks on. the bridge -strafed the battalion and a 500 pound bomb dropped by one of them knocked out an entire squad of the attacking platoon of Company L. Courage and a will to continue despite losses was prevalent throughout and Pfc. De Armend helped greatly in maintaining this degree of morale among the men with whom he fought.
The terrain was extremely difficult. Generally the advance had to be made single file and in several places a loss of foothold would have resulted in serious injury or death. Upon reaching the edge of the woods immediately west of the objective, Company L bore the full brunt of an artillery TOT which fell short of the objective and lost the major part a squad in its other attacking platoon. Despite the severe casualties Company L attacked at 1835 A, surprised 25 enemy, including 5 officer artillery observers, secured its objective and dug in on the southern and eastern portion of the objective. Company K set up defenses along the edge of the road just northeast of Ohlenberg. The 1st platoon made five attempts to place a roadblock but each time was driven back by tank and machine gun fire from concealed positions in a woods. Lt. Postlethwait, Ist Platoon leader, and Pfc. Creety were killed during one of these attempts.
Initially in reserve, Company I reached the woods immediately west of the battalion objective at dark without having had a chance to reconnoiter its attack route in daylight.
The company worked its way through extremely thick underbrush to a point half-way to the summit of the height in its zone. The 2nd platoon climbed to the summit where it set up defensive positions.- The 1st and 3rd platoons dug in on the slope to the left flank of the 2nd platoon. Positions were selected in darkness and troops dug in under heavy artillery fire. Four casualties were suffered. .
The Battalion aid station was established in a brewery at St. Savernsburg. The aid men operated from this point and were subjected to constant fire while carrying the wounded to the aid station. The wounded men were carried by litter to the aid station and then evacuated by jeep.
On the forward slope of the high ground that Company I was occupying one of I Company's men was severely wounded. Even though this area was still under considerable fire, a litter squad was sent down. to try to evacuate him. As the men approached him they saw the Germans coming down on the side of another hill and were forced to leave. That night Pvt. William Rooney, an aid man with Company I, went down and treated the man. When he came back he got a volunteer litter squad to go back with him to evacuate the man. The Germans could see the squad as they evacuated the man but didn't fire on them. The man was brought back to the edge of the quarry for first aid and then was sent back to the aid station.
Under heavy artillery fire the area was searched and several prisoners were rounded up. At 1330 the enemy counterattacked with 7 tanks and a battalion of Infantry.
The Ist platoon of Company I immediately moved to the summit on the 2nd platoon's right flank and after a fire fight drove back the enemy which had managed 'to break through between Company I and its 2nd platoon. At the same time elements of Company I on the far left flank knocked out an enemy machine gun crew as it was setting up its gun in an extremely threatening position. S/Sgt. Lambert and Pfc. William P. Lambert of Company I waited with bazooka until the approaching enemy tanks were less than 40 yards from them. They then scored 2 hits on each of the two lead tanks. The tanks were damaged only slightly, but upon receiving this fire turned around and retreated with the others toward Kretzhaus. When the Battalion Headquarters Company, which was ordered forward, to reinforce the defenses when the counter-attack started, arrived, the counter-, attack had been broken. Approximately 40 enemy had been killed and 20 taken prisoner. During the entire. Counter-attack, which lasted more than two hours, the 3rd-Battalion, was subjected to heavy artillery fire and direct fire from tanks, suffering 6 casualties. The battalion occupied and improved its defensive positions. Enemy artillery, fire inflicted 13 casualties. Instructions were received on the 14th of March that on 15 March, the battalion was to make a pie-dawn attack to seize the network of roads, the railroad and the high ground at the western end of Kalenborn. The enemy located in these positions had been holding up the advance of the 47th Infantry on the south and the 60th Infantry on the north for 2 days. Four attacks by the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry and the 52nd AIB were repulsed over a period of 3 days, each time forcing the attackers to withdraw.
The plan was for Company I with 1 platoon of tanks and I platoon of TD's attached, and supported by both machine gun platoons and the mortar platoon of Company M, to assault the enemy position at 0550, seizing the Kalenborn road, junction, securing the southern end of the railroad yards and to make contact with the 52nd AIB which was reported to be holding the northern end of the railroad yards and the road junction to the north. Company L was to follow Company I, protect the right flank and establish road blocks to the south. Because of the report that 6 enemy tanks were in the vicinity of the objective. 4 bazooka teams of the battalion A-T platoon were attached to Company I. These were instrumental in driving the tanks to the rear.
Company I and Company L moved north along Route 2 under heavy fire to Kretzhaus. From there they jumped off unsupported. The 2nd Platoon of Company, 1, led by Lt. I Hermann J. Carlson, crossed the railroad tracks at daylight and entered the woods immediately southeast of the road junction. Heavy artillery fire and 4 enemy tanks supported by infantry were encountered. Undeterred, the platoon held its position and fought back. They were so close to the tanks that two men were injured by the muzzle blasts. Continued bazooka hits, though only able to damage the tanks slightly,' finally forced them to withdraw, and the enemy Infantrymen retreated into houses along the west side of the road. The 2nd Platoon followed and cleaned out the houses, capturing 25 and killing 10 enemy. By 0900 the Ist and 3rd platoons converged at a road junction where bazookas were advantageously located and the platoons supported by a platoon of tanks, cleaned out. the railroad station and the dozen houses opposite it, capturing 8 snipers. At this time, heavy mortar and Nebelwerfer fire fell upon the area, wounding Lt. Cos. Lutz, Battalion, Commander, and Lt. Steele of I Company.
Meanwhile Company L dug in under heavy shelling on either side of the road below Kretzhaus and at 0830 cleared the portion of woods north east of the road junction Major General Louis A. Craig, in command of the ninth Division, made the Third Battalion responsible for the entire Kalenborn junction, regardless of what other troops were in the vicinity.
Company I with Company Q- 52nd AIB attached, attacked at 1430, and secured the remainder of Kalenborn junction. Company I suffered 12 casualties. The capture of this road junction and the high ground overlooking Kalenborn, after 4 unsuccessful attempts by other units, knocked out the last- enemy position with good observation on the Remagen bridge and cracked the enemy's last determined stand in that sector.