Day by Day in the Ruhr Pocket ...
10 April 1945
The orders from Corps were not long in coming. The counter-attack failed to materialize and at 0800 on the 10th Battalion pushed off through the morning toward the little villages north and west of Hohenhain.
Company L, with the second platoon in the lead and mounted on three tanks and a tank destroyer, smashed into Romershagen and stopped only long enough to pick up a hundred prisoners before continuing on toward Doringen.
Company I reached its first objective, a little place called Rothenborn, without meeting resistance and, during the advance, captured a kraut tank and crew without a shot being fired. The only trouble was caused by the sloppy terrain. There were two tanks and two TDs attached to the company; however, one of the TDs foundered in the mud and was unable to advance with the infantrymen.
Company K had started out in reserve but was soon fighting its way into Dornscheid on the battalion's right flank. The first and third platoons took the town while the second cleaned out a 2000-yard stretch of woodland. When members of the second platoon joined the rest of the company in Dornscheid, they brought with them twenty-seven Germans.
L Company's attacking platoon took twenty PWs on the way to Doringen and ten more after it got there. The stream of Germans marching down the road away from the war was already growing into a sizeable river and the Third Battalion was advancing steadily with increasing momentum.
A little enemy artillery greeted Company L just outside of Doringen but there was no damage except to the scenery and the GIs had little time to enjoy scenery anyway.
A column of about thirty Germans tried to march over an open field in plain view of the company's tanks. The tanks let loose and twenty'-nine kraut soldiers were either killed or seriously wounded. While L Company's second platoon moved into Doringen the rest of the company remained in the woods and contact was maintained by SCR 300 radio.
In Rothenborn, I Company's first and second platoons set up defensive positions in front of the town. Three German tanks were spotted to the right front in the town of. Rothemuhle. The company called for TDs but they had been assigned to another company and were not available.
After waiting around to see if any trouble would develop with the enemy tanks the first platoon moved over and secured the road junction at the entrance to the town. The second and third platoons climbed to the high ground overlooking the village from the southeast where they could see that the Jerries were beginning to slip out the back way.
Captain Smith, acting as liaison for the battalion's supporting artillery directed heavy fire onto a German motor column that was attempting to withdraw, and everyone on the hill could see that the enemy was beginning to crack. The Krauts were leaving equipment ranging from knapsacks to horse-drawn artillery in the wild scramble to get away.
Company I captured Rothemuhle at 1500'and cleaned out Vahlberg, Brun, and Wendenerhutte in rapid succession. There were road blocks at each of these towns but the civilian villagers were told to dismantle them and did so almost eagerly. The German civilian population, such as it was after being depleted to fill the ranks of the rapidly disintegrating Wehrmacht, was at last beginning to realize the overwhelming strength of the forces that opposed Deutschland. After K Company had taken Dornscheid, Captain Owens sent patrols to the high ground on both sides of Ottfingen. With the town completely outflanked, the company moved in and established road blocks. At 1500 Company K jumped off again, capturing two SP guns and moving forward without resistance.
Over on the battalion's left flank, L Company was smashing on toward its next objective. The town of Heid hugged the side of the hill just across the valley from positions where. Lieutenant Applegate, of M Company, had set up his, observation post. The lieutenant had a beautiful view of the village and his 8 1-mm mortars began lobbing in shells.
L Company's second platoon was still leading the attack with, the armor. They rolled down out of the woods to- the railroad track where the tanks were stopped by a low underpass. With their passage blocked on the road, the tanks tried to ford the stream that paralleled the railway. One of them bogged down in the soft bottom and the others had to maneuver 900 yards south before they could get across.
The light machine-gun section moved in on foot behind the second platoon and by the time the leading elements reached the village it was quiet and empty, The enemy soldiers had slipped away into the woods behind the town.
When the TD fired a few rounds into their hiding place, fifty Germans came out yelling "Kamerad". The TD then moved up along the railroad tracks and knocked out a Jerry tank.
The second platoon dug in to the company's right front while the third moved up on the left. The positions were on high ground and offered excellent observation of the entire front for a distance of over three thousand yards. Retreating enemy foot troops and horse-drawn artillery could be seen moving into the woods to the northwest. There was no contact with the artillery at the time so, the company threw out as much mortar fire as possible and the TDs fired their go mm guns. The combination proved rather effective and the German lost heavily in troops, material, and horses.
Heide was now officially added to the list of conquered towns and the company climbed onto half-tracks and rolled forward into Bilchen still without overtaking the enemy. While in Bilchen, the company was shelled by German self-propelled guns and a few men were wounded.
Although the day was swiftly dragging on into night, there was still time to take a few more towns, and the GIs' once more mounted the half-tracks and rolled off across the German countryside.
Halbhusten was entered at dusk, but the half-tracks rumbled on until they reached Husten. While the company was being oriented, ten more Germans were captured.
I Company had left the empty village of Wendenerhutte and started out toward its next objective which was Hillmicke. The road was effectively zeroed in by kraut artillery and the company had to advance through heavy shell-fire. Hillmicke was evidently a hot spot.
Sniper fire caused several casualties and the GIs holed up in some buildings in front of the town where there was a railroad underpass and some large military barracks. Company headquarters stayed -on the left side of the left side of the railroad tracks while the rest of the company crossed over. As the second platoon tried to move into the buildings, it received German, mortar fire.
Twenty-two men of the second platoon were wounded and one was killed before the company could reach cover.
Lieutenant Ochs was unable to locate the mortars. They could have been firing from the town or from the high ground that surrounded his company's positions.
The GIs were very uncomfortable that night. An infiltrating enemy patrol killed one of the company's sentries and wounded another. The wires between platoon and company headquarters were cut in to places presumably by the same patrol.
L Company's location was also rather precarious. Captain Barzelay's men had moved so deep into the enemy lines that they were almost completely isolated from other friendly troops. It was too dark to do much about clearing Husten so the men established a perimeter defense and held tight.
A patrol led by Staff Sergeant Eloroy Runyon of the third platoon was sent to the nearby village of Tillkhausen. The patrol took the town with no trouble at all and returned with, seven prisoners.
Maintenance of supply contact proved rather difficult during the night. Two wire jeeps from battalion headquarters and the company's chow jeep were I ambushed on their way up to L Company's location.
They were travelling blacked out over the little road leading from Hahn to Husten when; the Kraut weapons opened up right in front of them. The jeeps stopped and everyone dove for cover everyone, that is, except T/Sgt. Frank Maker and Pfc. Kenneth Armstrong.
Armstrong manning the machine gun on the chow jeep was hit in the chest by one of the first bursts of fire. Maker took over and fired an entire box of ammunition into the attacking Germans. Five of the enemy were killed and ten, surrendered. The rest of them decided they had ambushed the wrong jeeps and ran off into the darkness.
Armstrong was seriously wounded so aid-man T/5 Justus Luzader moved him to a nearby house and stayed with him till dawn. Two riflemen remained in the house as protection against wandering German soldiers, and battalion wire men laid a line to the house so the men would be able to call for help if any trouble developed. The jeeps went on to complete their mission and the wounded man was picked up the next day.