Moselle Crossing: Moving Out
By March 16, the Engineers competed the Moselle span between Alf and Bullay and heavy traffic poured across in volume. The 89th Reconnaissance Troop raced ahead of the infantry to reconnoiter the road from Zell eastward to Tellig. At the same time, the 11th Armored Division had assembled in the 89th's rear, and early on the morning of the 17th, began passing through the Division bridgehead. Hour after hour columns of Shermans, halftracks, M20s, roared through the narrow streets of Bad Bertrich, down the canyon and across the Moselle while crowds of German civilians watched in silent awe.
CT 5 had been attached to the 11th Armored Division for operational control and, on March 17, all units of the team were motorized and assembled in Bremm, Eller, Ediger and Nehren with orders to closely follow the armor's advance and cross the Nahe River in the vicinity of Kirn. The weight of the XII Corps attack was swerving southeast to catch the enemy off balance and disrupt his line of retreat. Situation maps changed hourly as the two armored divisions, the 4th and the 11th, fanned out in flying columns on a front that extended almost to the Rhine, and three infantry divisions, the 90th on the left, the 5th in the center, and the 89th on the right, mopped up scattered resistance in their wake. South of the Moselle it was the Rolling W's responsibility to protect the Corps right flank. From the south, elements of the U.S. Seventh Army were advancing form the French frontier in a giant nutcracker, which threatened the entire Palatinate. Streams of limping enemy vehicles and horse-drawn carts fleeing east toward the Rhine were kept under relentless air attack.
By nightfall the Division had pushed thirteen miles beyond the Moselle bridgehead on a front two-and-a-half to three miles wide, clearing twenty-two towns and villagers. On the 18th, CT 5 moved out by truck behind the 11th Armored and advanced to Kirn without opposition. Deserters, stragglers and small German units isolated by the tankers surrendered in growing numbers. CT 4 held a line from Wurrich to Lauzenhausen moving into Wahlinau at daybreak and captured two large clothing and ammunition dumps, and a number of 2nd Panzer Division vehicles, either damaged or out of gas. Progress was so rapid that XII Corps ordered the Division to halt in order not to overrun rear elements of the 11th Armored. The advance resumed the next day with the 3rd Battalion the first to ford the Nahe River, moving on to smash a number of enemy delaying positions. South of the river, the 2nd Battalion, 355th, took Horchheim. In a tank-infantry attack, the 11th Armored and all three infantry battalions of CT 5 slashed ahead to Worms on the Rhine, entering that city March 21 with little opposition. The previous day the 89ths took its largest bag of prisoners to date, capturing 343. Village after village fell with almost timetable regularity. By the end of the day all organized resistance north of the Nahe had collapsed.
Page 1 |
Page 2 | Page 3 |
Page 4 | Page 5 |
Page 6 | Page 7 |