Day by Day in the Ruhr Pocket ...
9 April 1945
When the first gray streaks of dawn drifted into Steeg from the east, K Company awoke to find itself practically bedded down with the enemy. Intense sniper and machine-gun fire greeted every movement the GIs made.
Lt. Axel E. Sahlin, who had received a field commission only three days before, went up into the barn being used as an observation post to try to locate the snipers. As he stepped in front of the loft window there was the sharp crack of a German rifle and the Third Battalion lost one of its best men.
Another man was hit in the leg and had to be evacuated. The Krauts were causing too much trouble. Captain Owens, Company C. 0., ordered the tanks to fire into the fringe of woods where most of the enemy fire was originating. The thick groves of fir and birch were raked by fire from the tanks' 76 mm guns and 50 caliber machine-guns and by fire from K Company's bazookas and machine-guns.
Air enemy machine-guns position was spotted by a GI who notified his squad leader. In a few moments the squad's bazooka team blasted the nest and two of the Krauts who had been manning the gun were killed.
The company occupied the entire morning cleaning the last snipers out of the town.
Up in the hills around Kappensicin, where Company I had spent the night, the morning was very quiet.
At 1000, Company L of the 311th came marching into town and relieved Lieutenant Ochs' men, who walked out of town and through what the 311th said were the enemy lines back to Morsbach, where the Third Battalion CP was located. The march was unhampered by contact with Kraut infantry.
When they reached Morsbach they formed in a march column with L Company and part of battalion headquarters and moved to a new assembly area at Solbach. The column marched up the same old highway through Steeg and was fired on by snipers and machine-guns as it passed K Company's right flank. Two platoons of I Company got past the road junction before the fire became so severe that it held up the rest of the column. Item's first two platoons swung back to protect the battalion’s flank while King Company's second platoon went out to clear the woods in which the by-passed Krauts were hiding. The GIs returned with forty prisoners, and the column moved out again with K Company and the forty Germans marching along behind.
The new assembly area was a peaceful stretch of woods and meadows and the battalion spread out to wait for new orders. By this time it was afternoon and the sun was shining bright and warm.
The forty prisoners were herded into a little shack. One had received a nasty bullet wound from the rear and he was treated by Pfc. Mike Harkovi, medic runner with the battalion CP group.
That afternoon, the commanders of the companies and of the attached TDs and tanks met in the battalion command post which was a slightly damaged farmhouse on' the side - of a muddy hill. There they received their orders and the battalion moved out, still on foot, to Hohenhain.
A new battalion CP was set up at 1920 on the hill overlooking Hohenhain in a German post office. The rest of the outfit established defensive positions and settled down once more to wait out the night.
Armored units of the 5th German Panzer Division were reported massing on the highway to the north and a counter attack was expected. The battalion was ordered to hold its position until Corps sent word to attack.
Even with the threat of counter attack hovering in the blackness, the night was the most restful since the battalion left Betzdorf.