The Rhine: West of the Rhine
During the next day, March 27, with the eastern shore cleared of enemy, Task Forces Johnson and Engel passed through the Regiment. The Regimental CP moved across the river during the day to St. Goarshausen and that night moved on to Neder Wellmanach, following up the troops. Co. B pushed east to Bogel without encountering resistance. The only two Germans the company took during the day were officers who come out of a wooded area and surrendered voluntarily. Both the 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved into Neder Wellmanach. Back on the Rhine, where engineers were working on a pontoon bridge between St. Goar and St. Goarshausen, five rounds of artillery fire landed around the bridge site at 1835. Reconnaissance based on information provided by a civilian failed to locate the source of the firing. During the day the Regiment took 225 prisoners, suffered no casualties.
The next day artillery fire around the bridge still continued. The Service train, attempting to; cross the bridge at 1311, was delayed on the west side of the river by 20mm fire. A strong motorized patrol from the 3rd Battalion was held in readiness for corrective measures but the artillery attached to the Regiment silenced the enemy artillery.
All three Battalions moved on toward Bad Schwalbach during the day. At 1930 the 2nd Battalion received a two hour pasting of 20mm fire. Then the 2nd platoon of Co. E, leading the 2nd Battalion, met with sniper fire. S/Sgt. Dale M. Worthy organized a patrol to reconnoiter the ground in front of the platoon. Moving out into the dusk, Sgt. Worthy's patrol flushed the Germans and were moving cautiously down a road when from a thick patch of pines on their left a potato masher was tossed into the middle of the patrol. Miraculously the men were blown into a ditch without injury. The Germans in the woods, realizing that their ambush had been betrayed, immediately opened up on the patrol with two 20mm flak guns and rifles, hitting , Worthy several times. The patrol saw and heard him grunt with pain but he remained standing in that curtain of fire and traded bullets with the hidden Germans not more than 40 feet away. Hopelessly outgunned and outnumbered, the patrol crawled 400 yards through intense fire to give the exact location of the ambush to the F0.
Co. H's machine guns were called in and in the face of greatly superior fire power set up and raked the German position with their fire. S/Sgt. Leo Wingert, with almost no cover, decided to risk revealing his position by the flash of his bazooka in the dark and fired repeatedly, knocking out one of the two flak guns and turning back a German half-track of reinforcements which arrived suddenly on the scene. By this time the Regiment's first artillery shells whistled over head and smashed into the German positions, putting a final stop to the fire from this section. Co. E's position was untenable and the company withdrew with German artillery and "screaming meemies" falling behind them.
That day, the I & R platoon was out ahead of the Battalions looking for suitable routes. As they moved ahead checking villages they found that the Germans had pulled out the day before, that morning, an hour before, a few minutes before. Soon they could see the Germans retreating ahead of them. At the end of the day, leading the 2nd Battalion into a small town southwest of Bad Schwalbach, they met their first organized resistance of the day. Pfc. George O. Seyboldt got two Germans before they could put a camoflauged machine gun into use. The Germans left that town so fast that pieces of buttered bread were found by the advancing 354th troops.
That night Capt. Hill took Lt. Arthur M. Gray, I & R platoon leader, and a security detail with him to run wire from the 2nd Battalion to Regiment. Leaving the detail, Hill took Gray and two men to reconnoiter a short cut. As they drove along a road around midnight on a hill which silhouetted them against the sky, the Germans let them have it with a machine gun. Capt. Hill was wounded and the I & R men were forced to execute a strategic withdrawal.
The Regiment was located in and around Bad Schwalbach from March 29 until April 3 while the VIII Corps was in 3rd Army reserve. Here the Regiment saw its first live stage show since arriving in Europe.
On March 29 the 2nd Battalion moved to the east to extend the Regiment in a line perpendicular to its former front. Its mission was to set up a screen to cut off the withdrawal to the north of Germans being cut off by the dashing tank columns to the south of the Regiment's zone. The 2nd Battalion took Seitzenhahn.
At 0700 Task Force Burton was formed to take three towns, with Co. K in the lead. New footprints, plus enemy weapons, were found soon after leaving Bad Schwalbach and Col. Burton ordered Co. I, abreast of Co. K, to widen the zone of attack. Lt. Glen C. Belew and Pfc. Ellis R. Morser, Jr. of the S-2 Section located the enemy in dense woods just south of Bohn and alerted Co. K. After a wild fire fight on a 500 yard front, Co. K effectively took care of the enemy company of 120 men. Four machine gun emplacements had been cleaned out and one crew
On April 19 VIII Corps was transferred from the 3rd Army to the 1st Army. At 1200 on April 20 an air strike and artillery mission was requested on Hertenstein. This request was based on information secured by the 3rd Battalion. The mission was completed at 1345. Then a Task Force from Co. F moved out at 1600 to clear the town. Near the town a man fell severely wounded Lt. Ernest M. Crowther Jr., Assistant Battalion Surgeon, rushed to his side to administer aid. Although three enemy snipers in a nearby house began firing at him, he remained with the casualty. Because of the nature of the man's wound, Lt. Crowther was unable to move him to cover nor could he desist in his efforts to save the man's life which was obviously in danger. He stayed with the wounded man, administering aid to him with unfaltering effort even though he was an obvious target for snipers.
Co. F entered Hertenstein at 1710 and by 2250 the town was cleared with 30 enemy dead ' and 27 captured, including two officers. The Task Forces casualties were two wounded and one killed. At 2000 permission was requested to send a Task Force to clear out Stollberg. The Division Air Ground Liaison Officer notified the Regiment that an air strike on Stollberg was planned for 0730 the next morning. At 0900 the air strike was postponed until 1100 because of poor visibility. At 1130 a Task Force composed of Co. I, a platoon of tank destroyers, a platoon of tanks, a heavy machine gun section and a mortar section moved north and east toward Stollberg through the 355th Infantry zone. Near Neuloelsnitz the Task Force met a German civilian with a white flag in his hand. He reported that he was prepared to surrender the village. Lt. Glenn C. Belew, commanding the Task Force, issued orders to proceed to the objective. On the outskirts of Neuloelsnitz an enemy soldier fired a near miss on the lead tank with a Panzerfaust. Shortly after that a machine gun opened fire, using the street lined with riflemen as its field of fire. Orders were issued to clear all buildings before advancing any further. Pvt. George W. Hodges of Co. I sighted an enemy machine gun nest. He moved forward under opposing rifle, machine gun and bazooka fire to attack the position. A burst of machine gun fire hit him in the leg. Disregarding his injury and the intense fire around him, he continued to drag himself forward until the machine gun hit him again, mortally wounding him. The house to house fighting continued until the enemy saw i they could no longer hold out against the onslaught.
When the remaining enemy forces had withdrawn to the vicinity of Stollberg, Lt. Belew radioed the Battalion Commander asking for artillery fire on the enemy position. At 1730 the civilian who had originally offered to surrender the village was ordered to return to Neuoelsnitz and give surrender terms to the enemy commander. After his return the civilian reported that all enemy resistance in the village had stopped. Later it was learned that the enemy soldiers had taken up new positions on the left flank of the village and were placing fire on the Task 'Force which was still at its outskirts. White flags were already flying and the Task Force received the order to withdraw due to approaching darkness. During the withdrawal the enemy continued to fire on the troops. The Task Force casualties numbered five wounded and one killed. The enemy suffered 20 killed, eight taken prisoner and an unknown number of wounded.
The next day the I & R platoon was operating in front of another Task Force. It entered Niederwurschnitz about five miles ahead of the Task Force. Cpl. Howard Oakley of Regimental Hq Co. was in charge of the 1st squad as it drove down the main street. Suddenly a machine gun opened on Oakley's jeep. A Panzerfaust hit 10 feet in front of the vehicle and it leaped into the air. Pfc. Frederick T. Shaver of Regimental Hq Co., the driver, pulled the jeep around into an alley behind a fence, out of the field of fire. The four men in the jeep could hear the Germans i talking on the other side of the fence. Oakley sent Shaver with the jeep into a field to the rear to get in touch with the platoon leader. The jeep had gone about 100 yards and was just going around a corner when the Germans opened fire on it, but it got away. The Germans crept around the fence and opened up on the three men remaining. Pvt. Frank Proulx answered with a submachine gun and the Germans took off. Oakley saw some motion in some bushes, fired into them and the motion stopped. The men were in an untenable position and set about getting out of it. Behind them was 100 yards of gardens separated by high chicken wire fences. They decided to withdraw one at a time. Proulx took off first, going over the chicken wire fences. Pvt. Joseph S. James and Oakley moved about 10 feet from where they had been standing and just then five grenades landed in the spot they had vacated. They decided to leave down the main street which was well covered with fire. Breaking out of the alley, they ran 100 yards with slugs flying around them. About 20 feet from a corner which led to safety James was hit in the leg by L a ricochet. Oakley pulled James into a Gasthaus. Inside were three civilians -- a woman, an old man and a younger man, a former soldier. The woman helped Oakley take care of James' wound. She brought blankets and a pillow while Oakley slit James' pants and got out his wound tablets. The two German men watched at the window for the German soldiers. Oakley decided to leave James there and go back for help. James had a Luger with him. Oakley took it so it wouldn't be found on him if the Germans should come while he was gone. The former German never knew what hit it as a Co. K squad attacked from the rear. Co. L mounted TDs in preparation for a coordinated attack with Co. K on Wehen. Co. I was in dense woods to the south protecting the southern flank of the Regiment. Co. K encountered fire from the woods north of Wehen. Co. M's machine gun platoon and some riflemen from Co. K entered the woods and fought it out with what remained of the enemy company. No casualties were suffered by the attacking forces. Co. I took Hahn and held up to become Battalion reserve while Co. L entered Wehen from the west and cleaned it out. The Battalion CP was set up at Hahn.
The next morning motorized patrols were ordered to contact points within Battalion zones to the towns of Watzhahn and Wingsbach and throughout the woods in the vicinity of these towns. The 1st Battalion moved to Neiderseelbach with holding forces and started clearing the woods in the area. Patrolling in the area in front of the Regimental zone was continued for the remainder of the stay in this area. The Regimental CIC carried on an extensive search for spies and soldiers in civilian uniforms. The 3rd Battalion assisted them and many Germans were placed under arrest and transported back to the Divisional stockade at Bad Schwalbach.
At this time Co. A received about 35 replacements. On April 1 the company was near
Neiderheisen. Sgt. James S. Wilkins took all the replacements in the 1st platoon out to acquaint them with his squad tactics and squad SOPs. Wilkins and the rookies moved out to an area several hundred yards from the company area. After explaining the various formations to the men, they moved out for practical work. Near the edge of some woods they noticed smoke coming from a small building. The rookies surrounded the building and called for the occupants to come out. They turned out to be Jerries, eight of them.