Moselle Crossing: Approaching the River

The advance continued through Hontheim, Wispelt and Krinkhof. Two companies of Germans had withdrawn from Bad Bertrich and 1st Battalion, 353rd, entered the picturesque town unopposed on March 14, taking a hospital with 170 wounded Germans soldiers and five American wounded from the 10th Armored Division. From Bad Bertrich, the 353rd cleared Beuren, and then drove on. Near Kochem, 355th troops took scattered machine-gun positions and occupied the river town of Bremm. Next morning the 3rd Battalion seized Ernst, and then took two river towns, Ediger and Eller. Riflemen of 353rd pushed into Aldegund and took Alf after a brief skirmish with snipers, to find the only span, the Alf-Bullay railroad bridge, already destroyed by enemy demolition. Throughout March 14, German 88mm shells and mortar fire fell on the west bank of the Moselle along the 89th's sector, particularly at Kochem, and Alf was under continuous sniper fire. By dusk, however, the two combat teams had moved up in force to the Moselle's west bank all the way from Alf north to Bremm on the northernmost bend.

German 20mm gunners on a hilltop near Eller riddled the Piper Cub observation plane of 1st Lieutenant Rudolph C. Bruni, 914th FA Bn, ripping off parts of both wings and splintering the instrument panel. The Lieutenant made a crash landing uninjured in 353rd territory, the only Division pilot to be shot down during combat. In their first three days of seasoning under fire, the two line companies had advanced nearly fifty miles, cleared more than a score of towns and taken some 300 prisoners with very light casualties.

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