Into Central Germany
Early on the morning of April 4 the Regiment started on a long motor march. South they went, through Wiesbaden and then east toward Frankfurt and onto the Frankfurt-Berlin autobahn -- once more in pursuit of Gen. Patton's tanks, this time the 4th Armored Division. On this 150 mile move the Regiment received its first jet propelled strafing attack.
The Regiment went into action again on April 5 with the CP at Willershausen, just west of the Werra River. The 3rd Battalion was motorized along with Co. B, 602nd TO, 89th RCN Troop, 341st FA Battalion and one platoon of Co. B, 314th Engineers, and began advancing at 1000 from the vicinity of Pferdsdorf. An hour before the 2nd Battalion had begun moving toward Wagenheim. That night the 3rd Battalion sent patrols to the south edge of Lancensalz, to Aschara and to Ballstedt. Another patrol made contact with the 355th Infantry on the north edge of Gotha.
The next morning the 1st Battalion was attached to the 353rd Infantry which was running into stiff opposition on the 354th's right. The 3rd Battalion held a line from Henningsleben to Weigleben to Westhausen as a screening force for the XX Corps as the Regiment turned south. On this day Co. L, in Westhausen, was the farthest east of any of the allied infantry companies in Western Europe. The lead tanks of Patton's Army at this time were holding Gotha, some three miles south. The 341st FA was withdrawn from support of the 3rd Battalion and put in direct support of the 2nd which occupied Mecherstadt and Frittstad during the day without making contact with the enemy.
At midnight two patrols were sent out to reconnoiter the route between Langenhain, Tabarz, Rodichen and Friedrichroda. The patrol working on the route from Langenhain to Tabarz, confirmed an earlier report from the 89th RCN Troop of about 75 enemy located in the vicinity of the patrol suffered two casualties, both from Co. E.
On the morning of April 7 the 2nd Battalion was working southeast with the 1& R platoon out ahead of them. Moving into Waltershausen, the I & R men came upon a large group of what appeared to be majors and colonels. They were easily disarmed. As one I & R man put it, they thought they had captured the whole German General Staff. However the prisoners turned out to be the local police force. Moving on to Rodichen, the 2nd squad of the I&R platoon ran into a squad of enemy riflemen while they were walking down the main street. The platoon leader, Lt. Arthur Gray, hit the gutter, got set to take a shot at them. His carbine jammed. Then he decided to try the next best thing - escape. But his foot was stuck in a sewer pipe. His squad laid down cover fire and he finally managed to extricate himself.
From Rodichen, the I&R squad advanced toward Friedrichroda. Near a big castle, which subsequently became the Regimental CP, they hit two road blocks in succession. While they were dismantling the first block, they were bypassed by foot elements of Co. F who moved on to the second block. The F men were greeted with enemy fire. Co. E swung around through high ground to the east of the town and approached Friedrichroda from a railroad. They continued to receive heavy small arms fire, but by 1830 they had entered the town. The rest of the night and the next morning was spent in clearing the town of snipers. A motorized platoon from the 2nd Battalion attacked Langenhain, meeting strong resistance. By 2130 they had cleared this town.
Meanwhile the 1st Battalion was working with the 353rd Infantry. Near Kittelthal an enemy strong point opened fire on an advancing column of Co. D men. Capt. Robert M. Johnson, company commander, immediately ordered one of his machine gun. platoons forward. Disregarding the enemy fire, he went forward himself, supervised the placing of the guns and directed the fire. A previously undiscovered enemy gun suddenly began firing on the gun crews Capt. Johnson moved from his cover and ran alone to a position where he could divert the fire
from his gunners. With his carbine he succeeded in neutralizing the flanking weapons.