Day by Day in the Ruhr Pocket ...
12 April 1945
The pocket was crumbling rapidly. By morning of the twelfth, which was the battalion's seventh day in the pocket, all organized enemy forces were withdrawing toward the center of the industrial Ruhr, presumably to make a last ditch stand and pray for a miracle.
Company I moved out first. They left Pernze on trucks and passed through K Company's positions in Nieder Rengse. On the way through Lieberhausen, they picked up twenty-four PWs and kept right on going.
A sort of leapfrog system was used. A platoon would drive into a town and start cleaning it up while the next platoon swept on through to the next village. As soon as the first platoon finished, it would move through the other one and enter still another town.
At Krepplenberg the company captured thirty-three SS troops. Four were officers. Some of the German enlisted men were surprised while in a barn still operating their radio.
As it moved north, I Company spotted some unidentified tanks moving down from the north. Thinking they were enemy, the men dove for cover in the woods and took defensive positions. As the lead tank rounded the curve in the road, a bazooka team fired one round and then discovered that the tanks belonged to the American 8th Division. Luckily, the rocket missed.
Meanwhile L Company had taken Driebershausen and 200 prisoners. K Company was in reserve all morning.
In early afternoon, the entire battalion moved to a general assembly area in Dannenburg, which was about ten miles northwest of Wiedenest. There, all men were mounted on tanks, tank destroyers, jeeps, half-tracks, anti-aircraft vehicles or trucks and the battalion left in a long convoy at 1600
The convoy moved slowly along the highway over high fields and the night came drifting in, cold and wet. At dusk, the vehicles stopped in the rain just outside of Marienheide and the men ate hot chow. It was almost dark when they mounted up and moved off again. Anti-aircraft crews had set up their guns along the highway on the outskirts of Marienheide not as protection against the Luftwaffe because there was none. The ack-ack guns were aimed down the road in positions to forestall any possible chance of an enemy breakthrough, and they looked like formidable anti-tank guns.
The battalion moved on to within a few miles of Wiperfürth and set up positions in the dark.
Company I cleared Listringhausen and three other small, closely bunched villages that night. There was no resistance and twelve prisoners, including two majors and a lieutenant, were captured. At 02000, a Jerry infantry colonel stumbled through the darkness to one of the company's machine-guns and gave himself up.