Day by Day in the Ruhr Pocket ...
15 April 1945
The pocket was almost wiped out and still the enemy had shown no desire to make a stand and fight to the finish. The Germans had given battle all the way but it was a retreating battle, and resistance was never up to expectation. They had the weapons and the ammunition, and they always had enough observation to derange the battalion's troop movements -- but never was the artillery harassment as severe as it had been on the other side of the Rhine.
The enemy troops in the Ruhr Pocket were mostly old men and young boys. The old men had no desire to die for what was obviously a hopeless cause and the young boys were just too green. Besides, the Krauts were beaten and they knew it.
Early on the morning of the 15th, the entire battalion left Krowinklerbrucke with the companies fanning out as they neared the first of the day's objectives. K Company was in the lead with I staggered to the left rear. L moved along behind K and mopped up. The objectives were numbered on all the commanders' maps --- numbers were easier to handle than the names Germans gave their towns and as the companies advanced they radioed the number of each objective as they took it.
The numbers came in swiftly.
K Company moved west to clear a small village on the outskirts of Lennep. Intermittent mortar fire was received all the way into the town but ceased once the objective was taken. The Company then swung north and moved swiftly through several towns until it reached Bevenburg, on the Wupper River three miles southeast of Wuppertal. The enemy garrison commander surrendered the town to Lieutenant Robert Durk, then K Company's Commanding Officer.
All bridges across the Wupper River had been blasted and the company's advance was held up temporarily.
Meanwhile, I Company came up to the left of K Company. Motorized patrols, mounted on half-tracks belonging to the 552nd Armored Anti-aircraft Battalion, were driving from town to town while the rest of the company took its objectives the harder, way on foot.
At Weffelpuft, the company was met by a German captain who surrendered himself and his entire company of over a hundred and eight men. The Germans had been dug in with machine guns and mortars and could have held out for twenty-four hours, but they preferred to live.
In Herbringhausen, forty more prisoners were taken and I Company set out for the large Manufacturing city of Wuppertal.
Although officially in reserve, Company L had captured over a hundred prisoners before it reached the Wupper River at Bevenburg. The company crossed the river on foot using ladders on the bombed out bridges and took Ehrenburg and the high ground overlooking Wuppertal without firing a shot. Twenty-five Germans were captured as the GIs entered the town and a German first sergeant later surrendered his company to Captain Barzelay. I Company's foot troops were the first to reach Wuppertal. They had crossed the stream and marched on down the highway while the mounted elements were looking for a place to get their vehicles across. They stopped in the outskirts of the city and were joined later by the vehicles.
K Company forded the stream at Bevenburg and moved through I Company with the lead elements on tanks. They secured the battalion's sector of Wuppertal without difficulty. That evening the battalion CP was set up in the southeast corner of Wuppertal and the 2nd Battalion of the 310th moved in to help control the city. All night the 3rd Battalion's positions were subjected to time fire from enemy artillery located on the other side of town. The Krauts were getting rid of the last of their ammunition. The fire could have been deadly but most of the shells were exploding so high in the air that they looked like flak-bursts and there was very little damage.