Remembrances: Earl Ott: In A Day's Work

Platoon Leader
First Platoon, Company F, 353rd Infantry Battalion
89th Infantry Division, Third Army

It was three am when the order came down for the movement. The day before was rough, the night short, but another river has to be crossed, like the Mosel and the mighty Rhine, under fire. This next was to be the Saale River, the opposite bank of the river being held by strong enemy forces.

Under supporting fire of artillery, mortars and machine guns the platoon crossed the fast waters in assault boats. Their first objective was a small town 2000 yards on the other side. The first squad of the platoon, while operating on the right flank, surprised a hostile force of twenty-eight Germans, guarding three thousand "slaves" and allied soldiers. Three men were left to guard the prisoners, amidst the great commotion of the liberated people.

Shortly, thereafter, the town was taken and the order came to move on. Here and there, more than German soldiers were picked up. So quickly did the platoon move that the enemy thought paratroopers had landed. The towns were quickly cleared, and the platoon, still in the lead, continued the advance. Moving on to the next town, the quick action led to the capture of a Major General and his entire staff. Important records and material were secured. The catch netted eighteen officers and seven enlisted men.

Shortly after, another town was added to the bag. The terrain was rugged, but movement continued. Darkness was closing in, and still the final objective jaws some distance away. The second platoon was dispatched with the remainder of the company, to clear a town off to the left. Darkness was almost complete, movement was slow and dangerous. Nearing the objective. Three German soldiers were taken from a farmhouse. Advance continued up a draw, leading to town. Suddenly, figures could be seen moving on the skyline. A head appeared below the platoon leader, not more than ten feet away. Quickly covering the movement, and a soft, "Kum-in--ze-here", brought the tow "Krauts" from in rear of a fully loaded machine gun.

Now all along the front, more Germans were being taken from their positions. At this point, the platoon was right smack in the center of the German's main line of resistance. The action had suprised the force, and five machine guns, several bazookas, and many "Krauts" were captured. Pushing on, they caught ten more in the first house. Shortly after, a wagon and with a load of blankets entered the town, supposedly for the German soldiers. The Company moved in and were soon enjoying the hard earned comforts. The day was done, except for the usual outpost. During the day, this one platoon had moved about fifteen miles over rough terrain, crossed a swift river, freed 3000 prisoners and slaves, taken five towns, all types of arms and ammunition, 106 prisoners, including a Major General and his staff. All, just in a days work.