Central Europe: Zwikau/The End
On April 16, the Division was ordered to continue its advance and secure a bridgehead across the Zwick-Mulde River. Resistence stiffened on the right of the 353rd zone. but Greiz and Kuhdorf soon fell and after clearing three more towns, the 3rd Battalion crossed the Krebs River, and advanced through the Walhaus Forest against Gottesgrun. To the north, Werdau was captured.
The 2nd Battalion, 355th, crossed the river to capture Wilkau, then advanced along the autobahn. Outside of Ortmansdorf, Lt. William H Jones, the platoon leader of Company M, 354th, led a motorized patrol on reconnaissance of the town, which was displaying white flags. Advancing cautiously, he suddenly came under sniper fire. Although mortally wounded, he continued to direct his men in the attack. An enemy bullet killed Tec 4 Moroni Westbrook, a medic with the patrol, as he attempted to administer first aid.
The major action centered on Zwickau, the largest city taken by the 89th Doughboys in Germany. After surrender negotiations had failed on April 17, the 1st Battalion, 355th, advanced on the city. On the outskirts, the infantry met heavy small arms, automatic, Panzerfaust and bazooka fire, but pushed ahead towards the central district. A motorized element of three platoons was hastily formed. In a daring action, this unit guided by two British paratroopers who were among the prisoners liberated from a nearby PW camp, raced ahead of the infantry at fifty miles an hour and seized two bridges over the Zwick-Mulde River. Both had been wired for demolition, but this advanced force succeeded in cutting the wires and held off the Germans until the 1st Battalion fought through to the riverbank. The infantry then drove across the river, secured the crossings, and cleared the rest of the city shortly afterwards. During the artillery preparation, two hundred British PWs were freed.
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