The photos which number over a hundred, include his amphibious training, their time in Europe, (ETO), a 30 day furlough, three months in Japan and also includes approximately twenty to twenty-five photos of Germans in uniforms with their heil Hitler salutes, which were found in a house in Germany.
The 97th was scheduled for the Pacific and were packed and ready to ship out when the "Battle of the Bulge" broke lose, so they were moved from Calif to the east coast and were heading for Europe with the 86th Division. Since there was a shortage of troops with the Bulge, replacements were badly needed and thus the 97th joined the fray on the European continent.
Update Jan 23, 2012
You can now view ALL of Ray's photos via the Photo Gallery!
Update 9-3-14 - This is a pdf photo journal supplied to me by Katherine Bergstrom . Thanks Kat!
This is a series of G. I. Stories of the ground, Air and Service Forces in the European Theater, Issued by the Orientation Branch, Information and Education Division HQ. USFET Brigadier General M.B. Halsey commanding the 97th Infantry Division, with his cooperation, and basic material supplied by his staff.
97th INFANTRY DIVISION
May 6, 1945
Deep in the heart of Czechoslovakia, the fighting men of Brig. Gen. M. B Halsey's 97th Infantry Division grimly slashed ahead to Pilsen against sporadic Nazi resistance. Exploding 88s, chattering German machine guns and whining sniper bullets offered proof enough, that the war wasn't over, even if the end Were in sight. While America prematurely celebrated Germany’s unconditional surrender, members of the Trident Division fully were aware of Field Marshal Von. Kesselring declaration that his Seventh Army never Would surrender that the SS coordinator for the Czechoslovakian area repeatedly emphasized the Nazi defenders Would fight, to the bitter end, that the German-controlled radio in Prague still called upon all Nazis to resist Allied forces by every available means.
At this very moment, the 97th was the point of a wedge, a wedge relentlessly hammering Kesselring's defending forces. On its left flank was the famed Ist Infantry Division, on its right, the veteran 2nd Division. As this powerful striking force regrouped, ready to lash ahead, the end came. At 0816, May 7, the order flashed: "Halt in place!"
But even as men of the Trident Division waited for the official announcement of the surrender to come from Washington, London and Moscow, a lone German fighter plane swooped down to strafe the CP of the 3rd Bn., 303rd Regt. The 97th had learned the hard way that Nazis die-hard. It was with grim satisfaction that this new division also learned that Germans die.
During its brief combat history, the 97th proved its effectiveness by capturing 48,796 prisoners and occupying more than 2000 square miles of "sacred soil." Among cities captured by the division were Dusseldorf, one of the great industrial centers in the Ruhr-Rhine valley; Solingen, headquarters for one of the world's largest manufacturers of cutlery; Siegburg, home of the Glockner Machine Works; Leverkusen, location of the I. G. Farben Industry, one of the world's largest chemical works; Cheb (Eger), first major Czechoslovakian city liberated by American forces.
The 97th Inf. Div. is relatively new in the annals of Military history. It originally was organized in September 1918, but was demobilized Nov. 20 of the same year and reconstituted an organized reserve unit. The 303rd Inf. Regt. And the FA BN 303rd are the only elements Now with the division that boasts battle streamers from World War 1.
The 97th's story in the present global conflict begins with its reactivation Feb. 25, 1943, at Camp Swift Tex., under the command of Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig, and extends through VE Day in Czechoslovakia. - Gen. Halsey assumed command Jan. 23, 1944, and it was under his leadership that the 97th established an admirable Record in the battle for Germany.
The division was new when it landed at the French port of Le Havre, but it. Was 'well-trained' that training paid dividends. It is a long way from the swamps of the Louisiana maneuver area to the woodlands north of the Sieg River, but methods and tactics were the same.
The precision and skill that enabled Div. Arty to score bull's-eyes in firing problems at Fort -Leonard Wood, Mo., produced direct hits on enemy installations-in the Ruhr. Pocket.
Practice landings on the sunny beaches of California, near Camp San Luis Obispo were not unlike the crossing of the Sieg River in the face of fire from the German 3rd Paratroop DIV.
The Neptune's Trident, distinguished insignia of the 97th Division originally was designed to represent Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, the states from which division personnel first was drawn in 1918. Now it represents the courage, initiative and skill of its fighting men who came from every state in the Union.
Maine and New Hampshire are bordered in part by the Atlantic Ocean; hence Neptune's Trident imposed on a Saxon shield. The blue symbolizes the numerous fresh water lakes scattered through out the three states. The white of the border and Trident represents the snows that cover these states' mountains.
AGAINST THE FATHERLAND
At 1725, March 28, 1945, division headquarters rolled across the German border a few miles west of Aachen. A short time later, it passed through the streets of the battered city, which Hitler once said never, would be taken by the Allies.
The division's first assignment was taking up defensive. Positions along the western bank of the Rhine River opposite Dusseldorf. Here, 97th doughs captured their first prisoners, killed their first Nazi soldiers.
The 389th FA Bn. commanded by Lt.' Col. Lawrence G. Kiely, Billings, Mont., fired the first round against the enemy, A 155mm howitzer shell demolished an installation in the suburbs of Dusseldorf.
The 303rd, a light artillery battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph W. Redding, Jeannette, Pa., fired on an enemy gun emplacement across the Rhine in Div Arty's first combat mission. One less German gun emplacement was the result of that round. Members of the gun crew were S/Sgt. Sherman Girdler, Somerset, Ky.; Cpl. James K. Allen, Chicago; Pfc Michael L. Nocera, Execter, Pa.; Pfc Alfred C. Barnow, Boston; Pfc Jack R. Clarke, Independence, Kan. Pfc Marion D. Myler, Ironton, Ohio; Pfc Remundo Garcia, Phoenix, Ariz.; Pfc Chester S. Pomeraiiz, Bronx, N. Y.; Pvt. Roy R. Ulness, Strum, WIS.
The 922nd FA Bn. under the command of Lt. Col. William V. Fenton, Lakeland, Fla., and the 365th FA Bn., under Lt. Col. Alfred E. Graham, Oklahoma City, OK, fired numerous missions across the Rhine, destroying road junctions and blasting enemy gun emplacements.
During the first week of April, the 97th entered its second phase of the war--the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket. The division moved south, crossing the Rhine. Near Bonn to establish positions along the southern bank of the Sieg River which runs at right angles to the Rhine. The division front extended eastward from the Rhine approximately 30 miles.
On the north bank of the Sieg and facing the 97th was the German 3rd Paratroop Div., which later proved to be one of the toughest and most fanatical units in the entire Ruhr Pocket. In addition, German forces opposite the 97th sector consisted of the 353rd Inf. Div., 59 Inf. Div. and 7th Flak DIV.
A brisk exchange of mortar fire began as soon as the 97th went into the line along the riverfront. Initiative and skill favored the Trident. Capt. Glenn B. Peterson, Alta, la. and 2nd Lt. Jack M. Silverman, Bayonne, N. 'J., 303rd, located an enemy mortar by determining the trajectory of a dud. The two officers rushed to a nearby house when an enemy shell pierced the roof and an exterior wall before burying itself-in the floor without exploding. By placing a long stick in the floor and pointing it along the line formed by the holes in the wall an4 roof, - they ascertained the azimuth and elevation of the shell.' A series of division 81s whammed back along the same route taken by the dud. The enemy mortar failed to return the fire.
The incident typified the initiative of 97th officers and men as they held positions along the Sieg. Then came the order from XVIII Airborne Corps, First Army. It meant one thing-attack!
The 97th was poised for its first major action. What doughs lacked in experience they made up in courage and determination. A typical infant mans attitude was that of Pvt. Remsen Hunnewell, New York City, 303rd, who said prior to the jump-off I’m raring to go. I don't think any of us are nervous. We're just tired of waiting.
THE RUHR POCKET
APRIL 7, 1945, 11 00 hours
The relative silence was shattered by booming howitzers and a" cloudburst " of .105 and 155mm shells pouring down on enemy positions across the. River from the 386th' Regt.'s sector. For 30 minutes all four Div Art' battalions laid down concentrated fire. Then, as suddenly as it started, the preparation stopped.
At exactly 1200,the 386th Combat Team, under the command of Col. Samuel M. Lansing, spurted forward, crossing the Sieg in engineer assault boats. Resistance was light because the enemy's main defenses still reeled from Artillery’s punishing blows. Casualties were negligible. Training, coupled with surprise, paid off.
Once on the opposite shore, the 386th CT immediately regrouped and pressed the attack Northward. The first step in the 97th’s initial major combat mission was Successful. The right- flank of the division front poked forward. Next day, the 387th Combat Team Commanded by Col. William D. Long' jumped off to cross the Sieg in The central sector of the division's front. The" crossing was effected against light enemy. Resistance. Main support of the' crossing was furnished by the 922d Light Artillery The unit consolidated and the second 97th spearhead stabbed northward into the Ruhr.
On the left flank, Col. William B. Forse's 303rd Combat Team awaits the command to attack. The order was given to Concentration of fire and, at 1800 hours, 303rd infantrymen struck across the river. The crossing was made against medium resistance but the clearing of Siegburg, directly in the 303rd's route of advance, and the buttoning up of the Glockner Works at Troisdorf, near Siegburg resulted in one of the toughest battles of the Ruhr Pocket campaign.
The regiment ripped through 'two-thirds of Siegburg during the first five hours of the attack. Doughs used grenades, machine guns and small arms fire to stifle the German 3rd Paratroop Div.'s bitter resistance. However, Col. Forse’s troops cleared virtually the entire city by nightfall and a CP was established in the southern part of the town.
The attack continued the following morning with rapid progress until the 303rd reached the Glockner works, a machine the factory. Co. G was assigned the Mission of cleaning out the factory as the remainder of the division carried the assault into Troisdorf.
One platoon was immediately cut off as it entered the factory buildings. The remainder of the company soon was forced to withdraw to the north side of the area. Battalion headquarters rushed
Additional forces to the rescue when it learned the jobs too much for a rifle company. Meanwhile, the isolated platoon sustained casualties. Several men were killed or wounded. Heroism was commonplace, Pfc. Clyde T. Crouch, Dunns Stations, Pa Platoon aid was kill While braving enemy fire in an attempt to administer First aid to one of the wounded PFC Donald Rapport Evanston, Ill., was injured by a concussion when he attempted to rescue Crouch.
Under' the leadership of Sgt. Leslie Fishman, Los Angels, the platoon took up defensive positions in a house inside the factory grounds at twilight. Pfc Maurice Stack, - Doniphan, Mo., applying his knowledge of' first aid, was Instrumental in saving the lives-of three wounded men.
The night was a long nightmare for the platoon. German 88s bombarded the vicinity incessantly. To leave the building meant death or capture. Members of the platoon repulsed repeated Nazi attacks. Sgt. Fishman undertook a desperate gamble next morning. Disregarding enemy fire, he made his way to an underground enemy bunker which offered protection to approximately 70 Germans Second Lt. David W. Christianson, a company officer who was cut off with the platoon, soon joined the sergeant the pair persuaded the Nazis to conduct them to enemy headquarters.
Admitting they were hopelessly surrounded but warning the Germans that more Americans were on' the way, Sgt. Fishman and Lt. Christianson effected the surrender of six officers and 170 men. This action led to the capture of the factory without further 'casualties. Sgt Fishman was awarded the Silver Star for his outstanding leadership.
Meanwhile, the remainder of Co. G, reinforced by other elements of the regiment, battled the enemy in the tunnels -and rooms under the factory' building. Under the command of Capt. Thomas W. Mellen, Burlingame, Calif., Co. G turned flame throwers on the Nazis just as the garrison surrendered.
With Siegburg cleared and the Glockner works captured, the company rejoined the 303rd, pressing rapidly forward several miles further north.
The 97th's three spearheads now drove into the heart of the Ruhr according to plan. The pattern formed by the triple-thrust resembled a giant Trident-pointing northwest in the general direction of Dusseldorf. . All four battalions of Div Arty crossed the Sieg. Many enemy guns. And vehicles still smoldered as infantrymen pushed ahead.
Back at the Sieg River the 322nd Engr. Bn., commanded by Lt. Col. Erland A. Tillman, Fort Collins, CO, undertook the tremendous job of building an adequate number of bridges to accommodate the flow of supplies and reinforcements across the river.
During the first five days of the operation, the 322nd, assisted by the1052d and 1024th Engr. Bns. constructed five treadway bridges, two Infantry support bridges and six infantry support rafts. In addition, two blown bridges were repaired and one railroad bridge was planked. Engineers also were faced with the task of clearing mine fields. At times, they fought as infantrymen to accomplish their mission.
CO. B, commanded by Capt. Edward F. Gerrity, captured the first German general for the division.' A squad under Sgt. Oliver Roach, Kenton, Ohio, was pushing along a road when it fell upon a group of Germans. The Krauts immediately dispersed and opened fire on the engineers. - After a brief skirmish in which one German was killed and another wounded, Maj. Gen. Freiherr von Ulsar-Gleichen, who had served as military commander at Dusseldorf for two and a half years, surrendered with his men.
TRIDENT'S PRONGS, STAB DUSSELDORF
ALL three combat teams slashed ahead in near perfect coordination despite extremely difficult terrain and fanatical resistance in densely wooded areas. Col. Lansing’s 386th CT had a tough nut to crack when it moved into the town of Drabenderhoehe. Germans produced intense fire with 88s, 20mm guns, 40mm dual-purpose flak guns, small arms and automatic weapons.
From a defensive standpoint, the town was ideally situated. Perched atop the highest hill in the area, Drabenderhoele, communications center and roadnet hub, loomed as the greatest single threat to the 97th's advance. In order to prevent a wide gap from developing on 2nd Bn.'s flank, a single company was given the job of taking the town. The assignment fell to Co. C, commanded by Capt. Llewellyn R. Johnson.
Co. C attacked, but after a short, fierce battle was thrown back with heavy casualties. After the 365th Bn. laid. Down an artillery barrage, Capt. Johnson’s company again surged forward, this time with complete success.
The battle was brief, but it produced heroism unexcelled in other battles of the Ruhr. Capt. Johnson moved out in front of his troops and led an advance over 1500 yards of fire-swept terrain in the attack that took the town. He was awarded the Silver Star for this action.
T/Sgt. - Merlin C. Godsell, -Hales, Corner, WI, 386th, also played. An important part in the capture of Drabenderhoehe. - In the first attack, fire from enemy automatic weapons isolated approximately half a rifle platoon. The sergeant, acting leader of the platoon, regrouped and rallied his men, advanced in the face of heavy enemy fire, to knock out four enemy automatic weapons. Destruction of these weapons resulted in an unprotected enemy flank, which Capt. Johnson exploited to capture the town.
Although Col. Long’s 387th CT made rapid progress against strong points in the central sector of the- division front, the enemy offered stiff resistance in wooded areas. Each town, was a battle in itself. But the courage and determination of the men made them equal to the task.
One of the outstanding incidents of courage, loyalty and devotion displayed in the entire, campaign occurred in the small German town of Allner when Co. F, 387th, meet heavy enemy resistance as it moved in. During the fighting, 1st Lt. Guy A. Ringbloom, Minneapolis, Minn. saw one of his platoon fall, completely exposed to Enemy fire. Disregarding personal danger, the lieutenant made his way to the wounded man and attempted to move him to a place of safety. He was mortally wounded as he assisted the injured dough out of the line of fire.
Pfc Glen R. Speidel, Burlington, La. another member of the lieutenant's platoon, was concealed from enemy observation and fire when the officer fell. He immediately left his position for the fallen platoon leader, but was killed instantly as he attempted to drag the wounded officer to safety.
On the left flank, the 303rd whipped north from Siegburg against relatively light resistance. On April 14, the regiment was in the vicinity of Leverkusen, site of the .1. G. Farben Industry.'
Div. Arty bombarded the town, and then infantrymen closed in. A few hours later the 303rd.continued its. Advance, leaving the industrial centers a pile of smoldering rubble.
On April 16, all three combat teams crossed the Wupper River and advanced. Against steadily increasing enemy resistance. The 386th reached the outskirts of Solingen as the 303rd advanced through Hilden, and the 387th pushed approximately 4000 yards north of. The Wupper. In close support of these rapid advances, Div Arty fired 97 missions, a total of 3000 rounds.
The main German defenses rapidly were disintegrating. Large masses of Nazi prisoners surrendered everywhere.
The 386th attacked Solingen on the morning of April 17, occupied the city one hour after launching the assault. Before the day was over, roads throughout, the entire division area was clogged with PWs. Div Arty was charged with handling the prisoners so that communications and transportation could be cleared back of the advancing troops.
Both the 386th and 387th CTs pressed on to the Rhine River in an attempt to cut the escape route for German forces left in the division sector. Meanwhile, the 303rd neared the outskirts of the final objective Dusseldorf.
This huge industrial city, nerve center for the entire Ruhr Rhine district, rested on the east bank of the Rhine. Government center of the entire area, Dusseldorf's peacetime population was 400,000 to 500,000.
As the 303rd prepared to attack, a " free " movement gained momentum within the city. The purpose of the action was to salvage the remnants of the once proud industrial center.
Third Bn., 303rd, commanded by. Lt. Col. Victor Wallace, received official credits for its capture. The battalion had established a CP in the city's outskirts late April 16. The attack against the city was to begin the following day. Early in the evening, two representatives of the "' free " movement visited the CP, promising. The city's surrender without further resistance. . Notified 'of the action, Gen. Halsey went to the CP where arrangements were Completed Early April 17, elements of 3rd Bn., accompanied by the general, rolled into Dusseldorf and went directly to the police praesidium, headquarters of the Gestapo and city police.
Meanwhile, elements of the regiment's other two battalions pushed through the city to the banks of the Rhine. One hour after the advance began Dusseldorf officially surrendered.
10 POTENTIAL HEROES
During the lightning 10-day campaign, the Trident Division had driven forward along a front varying from 20 to 30 miles in width, over extremely difficult terrain, to clear nearly 1000 square miles of enemy territory, and had taken literally thousands of German towns and cities. In addition, the 97th had captured or destroyed more than 2000 German vehicles, 109 88mm guns and truckloads of small arms, automatic weapons and ammunition.
The campaign which lopped off a huge slice of the Ruhr Pocket the angle formed by the convergence of the Sieg. And Rhine 'Rivers, cost the German Army 21,791 prisoners, plus an undetermined number killed and wounded.
The first major combat mission proved the division's worth under Fire. In the short period of 10 days, green troops had become hard fighting Veterans. During those bitter days in the Ruhr, many heroes were born Some of them were not present for the final count. One officer said wherever there were 10 fighting doughs; there were 10 potential heroes.
When Co. K. 303rd, was held Up by heavy enemy artillery and automatic weapons fire, Pfc Max Valdez, Taos, N.M., located a machine gun and, with only one hand grenade, crawled up to the enemy gun and knocked it out, killing three of the crew. The action allowed his company to continue the advance and seize its objective without casualties.
While leading a machine gun squad in an attack through Kaltenberg, Pfc Hughie A. Thurlow, Midland, MI, Co. A, 386th, was wounded. Noticing one of his buddies had been hit and was lying near a burning building, Thurlow, with out disclosing His wounds edged down the fire-swept street And removed his fellow dough to a protected position, Only after assisting in giving first aid to this and other wounded men did he reveal that he had been hit.
Capt. Mettauer E. Davidson, Raleigh, N. C., Co. B, 386th, was awarded the Silver Star for outstanding courage and leadership in the fighting at Stein, Germany. In attacking the town his company was held up by strong automatic weapons and self-propelled gunfire from an enemy roadblock. During The attack against the obstacle, the captain suffered severe wounds in both legs and his right arm. Refusing medical aid, he adjusted the fire of his 60min mortar section on the position. When fire failed to silence the enemy defense, he gave orders to an 81-mm mortar platoon, which neutralized the obstacle and enabled his company to capture the town.
At Schaaren, Germany, 2nd Lt. Cecil L. Eyestone, Burrton, Kan., 387th, was leading a Co. C platoon in destroying an enemy artillery position which was holding up the company advance. While establishing a base of fire, he was struck in the face by shrapnel. Despite this wound, he took charge of the assault squads and led the attack. Forty yards from the German emplacement, the lieutenant received a severe wound in his leg, but he continued to pace his men in a charge. Considerable enemy were killed or captured when the position was overrun. Lt. Eyestone refused medical attention for himself until the other wounded members of his platoon had received proper care.
In the same battle, PFC Francis S Compton, Grafton, Ill., an automatic rifleman with Co. C, 386th, was seriously wounded in the right shoulder by shell fragments as he moved into position to establish a base of fire. Unable to operate. His weapon, he gave it to his squad leader and continued to advance with others. During the remainder of the engagement he assisted in locating enemy targets and in carrying and passing ammunition for the weapon.
There were others, such as lst Lt. Joseph R. Wimsatt, Co. L, 386th who, with a single rifle platoon, surprised and captured two enemy artillery platoons, four artillery pieces, three automatic weapons. And forced an armored vehicle to withdraw.
Pfc Alvin J. Caprara, Co. B, 387th, firing his machine gun from the hip charged into the midst of enemy forces that pinned down his company at the approaches to a town. Completely on his own, he broke through the outer defenses of the town, continued down the main street and pumped heavy fire into the buildings. His squad moved in and occupied the town without opposition.
Pfc John Hedrick, Co. F, 303rd, seized an abandoned assault boat while under heavy enemy fire and used the craft to help ferry troops across the Sieg River.
Pvt. John 0. Beauchamp, Jr., Co. L, 386th, raised himself to his knees in the thick of battle and fired at an enemy emplacement in order to point it out to his comrades. He was killed by a burst from a hostile gun.
A prize example of initiative and leadership was displayed by 1st Sgt Ralph W. Colver, Co. C, 387th. The mission of his five-man patrol was to mop up Ober Wintershide. After passing through the town, the patrol discovered an enemy artillery battery of three guns, fully manned, and protected by automatic weapons. Sgt. Colver decided to attack. He placed his men within 100 yards of the guns and opened fire on the crews and a nearby ammunition dump. Taken completely by surprise, the enemy frantically attempted to depress its guns and turn them on the patrol, but the ammunition dump, struck by the patrol fire, exploded. The German positions were demolished.
Several Nazis killed. Although it was the infantrymen who drove into the very teeth of enemy defenses,' they were not without support. Light artillery battalions blasted paths before them, knocking out heavy weapons emplacements and fortified positions. The 303rd Bn. supported the drive of the 303rd Regt., while the 922nd backed up the attacks of the 387th. On the right flank, the 365th supported the 386th R6gt. - The 389th, a medium artillery battalion, slammed its 155mm shells with deadly accuracy wherever enemy positions were toughest.
Supply was one of the biggest problems of the operation. With every mile the 97th tr6ops advanced, supply routes became longer, more difficult. Lt. Col. Ward T. Blackjack, Austin, Tex., and his " Cargo Jockeys " overcame all obstacles and kept a steady stream of supplies rolling from Bonn, across the Rhine, and the Siege to the fighting men deep in the heart of the' Rohr Pocket.
The performance of the 97th QM Co., under Capt. Elwood G. Lohela, Jackson, Mich., was exemplified by ten men who worked on a camouflage project in conjunction with the British Second Army on the West Bank of the Rhine.
These men were 1st Lt. Thomas L. Wilson, Paris, Ill.; Pfc George Dehn. Mishawaka, Ind.; Cpl. Curtis E. Emerson, Wolverton, Minn.; Cpl. Norman M. Andrews, David, Calif.; T/5 Bernard L. Pendleton, Campbellsville, Ky.; Sgt. Sylvester V. Sinerl, Mt. Kisco, N. Y.; T/5 Jonathan E. Smith, Falmouth, Ky.; Pfc Robert E.Waldron, Doylestown, Ohio; Pfc Hiram B. Van Akystyne, Albany, N. Y and T/4 Harmon Taylor, Arlington, Tenn.
The unit worked under enemy artillery fire to complete one of the largest camouflage operations of the war. Commending their work was Maj George Dobson Wells of British Second Army Main Headquarters, who wrote " On behalf of their British colleagues alongside whom they have worked most willingly and efficiently, I wish to express sincere appreciation of their cooperation.
Playing a vital role in the Ruhr campaign was the 97th Recon Troop, under the command of Capt. John J. Swainbank, St. Albans, Vt. Besides its customary reconnaissance and patrolling duties, the unit once was charged with protecting the entire left flank of the division.
Contributing to the 97th's success were such units as the 97th Signal Co., under the command of Capt. Sanford M. Kaat, Grand Rapids Mich., and the 797th Ordnance Co. Division ordnance officer was Lt. Col. Melvin B.Harris, North Bergen, N. J.
An outstanding performance was turned in by members of the 322nd Medical Bn. the medics, in the detachment as well, were equal to every task. Individual initiative and heroism were commonplace.
On one occasion, Pfc Jack L. Cotter, Sandusky, Ohio, and Pfc Russell W. Fox, Andes, N. Y., cut off from the rest of their units on the north side of the Sieg, set up aid station where they continued to administer first aid.
In another campaign, 12 medics were captured. Freed by 97th doughs a few days later, they spurned a rest period in a rear area in favor of resuming their duties. Lt. Col. Leslie P. Herd, Elizabethton, Tenn., was CO of the 322nd Medical Bn. during the Ruhr Pocket fighting.
WHEN THE BELL RANG
With the end of the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket the 97th was ordered to the Third Army sector along the Czechoslovakian border. Its mission was to protect the left flank of Gen.-Patton's spearhead, plunging southward toward the National Redoubt.
The major offensive action for the 97th was the seizure of Cheb (Eger) war factory, administration and communications center, site of a large airport.
Division headquarters moved to Wunsiedel, Germany, and the combat teams took up positions along the Czechoslovakian border. The 97th became operational under XII Corps, Third Army, April 23, 1945. Two days later, 3rd Bn., 387th, jockeyed into position at dawn. At 0900 the attack on Cheb got under way, spearheaded by Co. I commanded by Capt. Harold F. Selesky, Rochelle Park, N. J., and Co. K, under Capt. John R. Wilson, Sikeston, Mo.
Doughs met strong resistance from mortars, machine guns, small arms, 88s and rockets as the attack swept into the southwest section of the city. Mine fields and booby traps also impeded the advance. But despite stiff opposition, doughs drove-ahead and by 1800, nine hours after the attack began; they were in the center of the city. Most of .the enemy garrison defending Cheb withdrew before the advancing infantrymen. Only scattered sniper resistance remained.
Partial credit for the capture of Cheb goes to 2nd Bn., 386th, commanded by Lt. Col. Dale B. Lillywhite, Los Angeles. The 386th had been advancing only a short distance north of the 387th and along a parallel course. Before the 387th succeeded in penetrating strong defenses in the southwestern sector, elements of the battalion entered the city's northwest corner. This advance constituted's pincers threat. As soon as contact between the two units had been established, the 386th withdrew from the city.
Direct artillery support for 387th troops was furnished by the 922nd FA Bn. The 775th, 771st and 731st FA Bns. supported both 387th's and 386th's advances.
Cheb was the first major Czechoslovakian City to be liberated by American forces. It was one of the 37 towns and cities that fell to 97th Division troops in the first two days of fighting along the Czechoslovakian border.
Despite bad weather, which slowed operations in the entire sector, 3rd Bn.', .387th, made preparations to attack dug-in enemy positions at the Cheb airfield. Following a 30-minute artillery barrage supported by tanks from the 782nd Tank Bn. and by two platoons of. The 820th TD Bn. 3rd Bn. attacked at 1500, April 28.' Within a few hours, the airfield- was overrun and secured with extremely light casualties to 97th troops. More than 600 prisoners were taken in the brief engagement.
By now, German troops in Italy, Austria and northern Germany were surrendering by thousands. Soviet forces had taken Berlin; Hitler was reported dead. However, one more phase remained before the complete and utter defeat of all German forces in Europe could be realized - the Czechoslovakian Pocket.
The 97th Division was one of the units chosen for the-assignment. Ordered into position along the, south sector near Widen, Germany, the 97th had the 1st Inf. Div .on it’s left flank and the 2nd Inf. Div. On the right. Col. Lansing’s 386th and Col. Forse’s .303rd Combat teams attacked simultaneously at 1000, May 5, and progressed so rapidly that the 97th Div. Headquarters was able to follow across the Czechoslovakian border four hours later. Consequently, the 97th became the first U.S. division to set up a CP in Czechoslovakia.
During the first 15 hours of the campaign, infantrymen chalked up gains of 15 miles and by- next afternoon, 97th troops had advanced up to 28 miles. All enemy resistance along the division front disintegrated; German soldiers surrendered en masse. An entire enemy field artillery battalion surrendered to Capt. Oliver M. Smith.
Communications officer, 387th Inf. Regt. Col. Long’s 387th was in reserve during the first day of the Attacks but it roared into battle at 0600, May 6th advancing with the other combat teams, despite its heavily mined sector and all bridges blown in its path. The 922nd FA Bn., part of the combat team, remained in the lines lending support to the other regiments throughout the attack.
In 30 hours-from the signal to attack until the order to halt all advances-the Trident Division drove 28 miles along a 25-mile front to clear 700 square miles of enemy held territory. During the first 14 hours of the assault 10,696 prisoners were taken.
One hundred and twenty communities including Mesto, Tepla, Lestkov, Mesto Touskov and Kladruby, were liberated by the 97th elements in the swift advance.
All offensive activity suddenly ceased pending the announcement by- governmental heads of the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union that the war in Europe officially was ended. The last shot in the European conflict had been fired.
Now there was time for a brief pause to reflect. The military record of the 97th Division was inspiring. Many Medals had been awarded for brilliant performances, but there also had been posthumous awards.
V-E Day was observed at religious services. Throughout the division. Gen. Halsey issued the following statement
Victory in Europe has been attained and the cloud of Nazi oppression has been lifted forever. It is with a very real sense of pride and joy, and deepest sincerity, that I, as commander of the 97th Trident Division, congratulate you, the men of this organization, for your loyalty, courage, initiative and determination in combat. Your accomplishments and your high standards are a credit to yourselves and to your organization.
Though the combat history of this division has been relatively short, the part we played in bringing about the downfall of German forces on all fronts has been of utmost importance. You, as members of the division, can look back for many years and say: The Trident was on the march when the bell rang.
Even as we rejoice in victory, however, there is sadness in our hearts, for the road through the Ruhr Pocket and into Czechoslovakia is marked by crosses bearing the names of our comrades whom valiantly and unselfishly gave their lives that the cause of freedom might endure and flourish.
We thank the merciful Almighty God for the victory He has given us in Europe. Let us remember Him. On Sunday, May 13, 1945, let us join the millions of thankful people the world over in worship.
In our hearts we pray that God will remain with us in the tasks that lie ahead. For the division as a unit and for each and every one of us as individuals. What lies ahead for the wearers of the Trident, I cannot say, but the Trident Division will be at the right place, at the right time, and with a military that justifies the pride and loyalty of all its members.
Here are some photos to begin our journey. These are just a few from the CD I recently received.
ELIMINATION OF THE RUHR POCKET
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
(FIRST U. S. ARMY)
Unit: 387th Infantry, 97th Infantry Division.
Interview with: Capt Milton Ponitz, Asst S-3, 387th Inf , and 97th Inf Div.
lst Lt, Robert McCaffrey, Ln 01 387th Inf , 97th Div.
Place: Opladen, Germany.
Date: 19 April 1945.
Maps: Germany., 1/50000, Sheets 38, 58,59, 60, 78, 80.
Interviewer: 1 st Lt Francis P. Halas (5th Info & Hist Sv, XVIII
Airborne Corps, Temporary)
Period covered: 8 - 19 Apr 45
1. On 4 Apr 45 the 387th Inf as a component of the 97th Inf Div was holding a defensive position on the West bank of the Rhine from DORMAGEN North to NEUSS . On this day the Division received orders from the VII, Corps, First U. S. Army, to move to the East side of the Rhine River in the vicinity of SIEGBURG, Germany to take up a position on the left flank of the First U. S. Army breakout from the REMAGEN bridgehead. The Regiment moved at 040600 Apr 45 by truck and closed at ROTT, Germany at 1730 on the 4th, This was a rear assembly area, and the battalions then crossed into the terrain just North of ROTT.
2. The Regiment was given the mission of relieving the 309th Infantry of the 78th Division on the South bank of the SIEG River. The area to be taken over by the 387th Infantry extended from the left flank on the Reichautobahn (FRANKFURT - COLOGNE) Highway East along the southern bank of the SIEG River to the right flank at (773409), a frontage of 9000 meters, including HENNEF. The Regiment completed relief of the 309th Infantry at 050545B Apr 45. The Regimental Commander placed two battalions on line, the 3d Battalion on the left and the lst Battalion on the right. The 2d Battalion was given the mission of taking up breakthrough positions to the rear of the 3d Battalion, on the high ground commanding the plain SE of SIEGBURG.
3. The SIEG River flows EW into the RHINE River, just above BONN, Germany , and it was on the South bank facing North that the Regiment went into position. From HENNEF to the East, the South bank of the river is a shallow open plain, three to four hundred yards wide, cut by an EW road.. However, near the right boundary, in the vicinity of BLANKENBURG the high ground approaches the river closely from the South To the W of HENNEF the South bank of the river is a flat, open plain, about 2000 meters in depth, which rises to the high ground to the SW of HENNEF. The flat ground on the South bank of the river, the valleys approaching this ground from the S, and the N side of the high ground overlooking the river from the south were commanded by high ground on the N bank of the river from HOLBERG W to SELIGENTHAL, all of -which was in German possession. Movement on the flat open ground by day was necessarily limited to infiltration., except in the larger towns where cover and concealment were available. HENNEF, in the center, served as a strong anchor for our line. The lst Battalion on the right in general extended from HENNEF along a road about 300 yards S of the river, to BLANKENBERG, exclusive. The 3d Battalion, which included the main W portions of HENNEF, extended from the N Portions of HENNEF through WEINGARTSGASSE - ZISSE'NDORF - STOSSDORF to the AUTOBAHN.
4. The wide flat plain between the Autobahn and HENNEF was suitable for use by German Armor, and was one of the most vulnerable locations on the Corps front. This plain was commanded by the high ground lying between HENNEF and the highway and the S of the plain. For this reason the 2d Battalion in Regimental reserve dug in on this high ground at location (650405 to 660405 )Ref. Map, Companies E and G were charged with the defense of these positions. Company F was further held in reserve at SOVEN . To further strengthen the regimental reserve position, Company I, the reserve of the of the 3 rd Battalion, dug in on the high ground South of HENNEF.(683405) The 1st Battalion’s left flank was at( 685417) with right flank at (733409). The 3d Battalion’s left was just East of the Autobahn Highway at (650430) extending right (E) to tie in with the 1 st Battalion’s left flank at (685417).
Both the 1 st and 3d Battalions had their CP’s in HENNEF, the 3d Battalion CP being in the West End at (695417). The Regimental CP was at ROTT. Cannon Company occupied positions at DOMBROICH ( (650390). TD and AT guns were included in each Battalion’s fire plan.
5. The Regimental CO, Col William D. Long, immediately sent night patrols to feel out the N bank of the river ,Which was enemy held territory. Intense lateral patrolling along the riverbank was also maintained at night. Reconnaissance groups were sent at night along the river to find points for possible crossings; the mission including investigation of the fordability., of the banks on both sides for easy approaches, consistencies of the river bed and current and the routes of penetration away from the river to the North.
6. On 6 April 45 the Regiment received an order from Division to force a crossing of the SIEG River on The 8th of April. Orders included the further mission of continuing the attack to the NW after crossings was secured. ,at this time the whole Corps mission was to attack to the N to crush the Ruhr Pocket formed by the link-up of the Ninth U. S. army and the First U.S. Army at PATTERBORN, Germany, further to the East. The overall Corps plan was to use the left flank of the Corps anchored on the Rhine as a pivot and to swing the right and center of the Corps to the N:W., slamming the door on the pocket formed between the RUHR River, which flows EW into the Rhine far to the N, and NS course of the RHINE itself.
7. The 386th Infantry on the right of the 387th Infantry was to cross on the 7th with the 387th Infantry crossing on the 8th. This would necessitate, an attack: across the river by the 387th infantry to the North until it caught up with the left flank of the 386th Infantry. Upon contact the 387th Infantry would then have to wheel itself into line facing to the NW and thus take its proper place in the Corps picture.
8. The plan formulated with this in view as follows; The 1st Battalion was to make a crossing of the SIEG in the vicinity of VIELDE'-RGOVEN ('704425) and drive to The NE, take as its initial objective the high ground at ALTEN'BODING (717438) and BODINGEN (725425), (facing N). When this position was consolidated and the pressure taken off the crossing, the lst Battalion was to continue to the N and E and take the high ground (730440) (737438), (still facing ,NW). Then the lst Battalion was to pivot on its own left flank (730440) and swing its right flank to the N and then to the NW to anchor at (747454), facing NW, and thus becoming an extension of the 386th Infantry's left flank which was already in position at (747454.:).
9. The 3d Battalion and the 2d Battalion's left flank companies were to maintain their defensive positions and guarantee the security of the tank approaches along the autobahn while Company F, which was' Regimental reserve, was to occupy the front line positions of both 1 st battalion front line companies in the right flank sector. On Corp’s order the 2d Battalion was to cross during the day of 9 April at the same place and anchor it left flank on the SIEG River at(700428) and swing its right flank to the N and NW to (716431). Then the 3d Battalion was to cross and fill-in between the 2d Battalion and the lst Battalion, with its left flank on the right flank of the 2d Battalion at (716431), and its right flank on the left flank of the lst Battalion at (730440). Thus all three battalions would be on line facing NW in extension of the 386th Infantry line and the attack could jump off to the NW to the RUHR River. As the 386 th infantry drove NNW the sector of the 387 th infantry would widen naturally as the 1 st Battalion maintained contact with the 386 th Infantry.
10. The 922 FA Battalion was in support of the Regiment and Cannon Co of the Regiment was attached for the initial fire mission to the 922 FA Bn. Company A of the 82OTD BN was attached to the FA BN also for the preliminary artillery fires. The TD's were to move into position for direct fire missions during the actual crossing and attack.
11. The 3d Battalion's heavy Weapons Company was to support the crossing of the 1 st Battalion’s by fire from HENNEf on ALLNER and vicinity. H Company was to support the lst Battalion crossing from positions in the vicinity of WELDERGOVEN, but was not to cross with the -1st Battalion.
12. The SIEG River E of HENNEF is about 50 feet wide and varies from four to eight feet deep. The current was very swift from recent rains, and no suitable ford for a crossing in strength could be found. The crossing point selected was at WELDERGOVEN (705424). On' the S side this small village is approached over open plains by several roads across bare ground commanded by the high ground held by the GERMANS to the N. On the N bank of the river, across from WELDERGOVEN, Lies an open meadow which is bounded by the village of LAUTHAUSEN on the E and which is commanded by a spur, which extends from ALTENBODINGEN nearly to ALLNER. The bridge at ALLNER had been blown., as had also the bridge over the tributary of the SIEG some 200 yards to the NE of ALLNER.
13. In the planning for this operation, it was intended to ferry one company over in assault boats, while another company forded the river. However, nothing approximated an adequate ford could be found, and the plan was altered to include the ferrying of the two Companies over at two different points. Company C, 322 Engr (C) BN, assembled the crossing material in the village of WELDERGOVEN and planned assault boat crossings at (707422) and (703426).
14. At 081300B April 45 an artillery barrage opened which was to last for one hour. The 1st Battalion had pulled out of its defensive positions on The right flanks and now moved behind the mask of the high ground 200 yards S Of the river crossing into an assembly area, (691419). At 1400 the lst Battalion Launched its attack across the river. The troops went over in waves with Company A using the assault boats at (707422) and Company B crossing at 703426) Company C followed, using both crossings. Heavy mortar fire was falling on the crossing area immediately after the initial assault. MG Fire was strafing the crossing area from castle at (696435) near ALLNER where it had a clear field of fire and from a wooded spur at a bend in the river W of the crossing, firing upriver toward the boats. Artillery fire, TD's heavy MG fire, and Mortars were all brought to bear on this castle but although it crumbled, the MG Fire continued. Fire was also coming from the high ground N of the river at (700430). The assault units crossed the meadows at a run and in two hours had gained the high ground at (717438). This gave the Regiment a mask just N of The River, which permitted them to put in a pontoon ferry for vehicles. Two wire Jeeps, the first across the river on the pontoon ferry, hit mines on the road at (705427) The pontoon ferry was placed in operation on the river at (703424) by 1625 the lst Battalion had consolidated its position and reorganized on the high Ground. At 1750 Companies A and B launched their coordinated attack to reach The 2d-phase line of which was the high ground at (773440) By-213O the lst Battalion had successfully cleared its objective and had reached a final phase line At (74745) and gained contact with elements of the 386th Infantry on their right Flank. The communications were a terrific problem. Because the radio did not work and the wire jeeps had been damaged when they crossed the river. Regiment was not fully informed of the situation of the lst Battalion until the next morning.
15. On the night of 8 - 9-Apr 45) Co C, 322 Engr (C) Bn, put In a footbridge just E of the pontoon ferry at WELDERGOVEN (703424). At 090555B Apr 45 the 2d Battalion moved down from its position on the high Ground in the left sector of the Regimental area and crossed the footbridge. It encountered little difficulty and anchored its left flank on the SIEG River at (700426). Artillery and SA fire harassed but did not stop the river crossing. Company G led out and anchored their left flank on the river. E and F Companies followed and went into position in extension of G Company with, E on the right. F Company' s right flank was at (716431). At 090600B Apr 45 the 3d Battalion crossed without incident other than harassing artillery fire, and took Up a position in the center of the regimental line with its left flank contacting the 2d Battalion’s flank at (716431) and its right flank in contact with the 1st Battalion’s flank at (730440). The three Battalions were now on line, 2, 3, and 1 From left to right facing NW.
16. The battalions pushed to the NW as soon as the 3d Batta lion was in position with the mission of clearing the high ground to the N W overlooking the river. The 2d Battalion hit very stiff resistance at the ALLNER Castle (696426) and on the ridge in the loop of the river at (695430). Anti-tank Company and the TD's blasted the castle from the S bank of the SIEG River and G Company was able to clear it out. The hill beyond the castle was very steep and heavily wooded and gave the 2d Battalion the toughest fight of the entire Regiment during the campaign. All three Companies of the Battalion were engaged in the step by -step drive up the steep hillside to clear the top of the cliff . Until this high ground could be side to cleared, a tread way bridge for the 13th Armored Division tanks which were to follow the regiment could not be built at ALLNER because the only suitable site for such a bridge was commanded by this high ground.
17. Orders 'were received from 'Division to expedite the Attack. To the high ground N of SIEGBURG. The situation at this time was roughly as follows: The lst Battalion was making good progress and keeping abreast of the left flank of the 386th Infantry on the right. Company F had become heavily involved with opposition along the SIEG River in the ALLNER - SELIGENTHAL area. Company H, in covering the crossing of other troops over the river, had been delayed and had not caught up with the remainder of the battalion. In the 3d Battalion, Company L had been required to remain in place to cover the open plain SE of SIEGBURG until our advance had moved further W along the N bank of the SIEG.
18. At this time the Regimental Commander took personal charge of the situation, moving to HOPPERSCHOSS, where he made contact with the 3d Battalion ( Company L), following which contact was also made with the 2d Battalion ( Companies F and H). From this point the attack was by the 2d and 3d Battalions abreast, each in column of companies. Movement was cross-country by covered routes, as rapidly as the heavier weapons could be hand-carried. At dark, the two battalions halted for the night, with the 2d Battalion S of the SIEGBURG- SCHRECK road, and parallel to it , with its head pointed toward SIEGBURG near (663465).
19. In the morning the 3d Battalion was to move N across the highway and turn left (SW) along the highway, coming up abreast of the 2d Battalion. The two battalions were then to attack SW to SIEGBURG, astride the SIEGBURG - SCHRECK highway. This was done against no opposition. Both Battalions moved obliquely to the right later, the 2d Battalion crossing the highway their continuing to parallel it. Ultimately both battalions struck the Autobahn Highway near the over-pass at AUL-GASSE in NE SIEGBURG where the Regimental Commander made contact with right elements of the 303d Infantry, al-ready in the city.
20. Meanwhile the engineers started a tread way bridge after the battalions had clear the high ground N of ALLNER. This bridge was placed at (695425) which was quite close to the castle that had given the 2d Battalion so much trouble. It was completed for light vehicle traffic by 2200 on the 9th and at 100600B Apr 45 medium tanks could cross it. Corps had instituted a plan at this time in which the regiment was to hold its positions now occupied and Combat Command A of the 13th Armored Division was to pass through the regiment and spear-head a drive to the N. The Regiment was to follow in the wake of the 13th Armored Division and mop up pockets of resistance. On the morning of 10 'Apr the 13th Armored Division passed through on the left flank of the regiment and the battalions resumed the attack to the N W against moderate resistance, with left flank resting on the autobahn Highway. Since the 13 th Armored was passing through the left flank sector of the regiment and this was held by the 2d Battalion, which had taken the toughest fighting so far, the Regimental Commander held the 2d Battalion in reserve and sent the 3d (left) -and lst Battalions forward in this resumption of the attack on 10 Apr 45. By nightfall the 3d Battalion had taken HALBERG (652500) and LOHMAR, while the lst Battalion took BREIDT (675508). The 2d Battalion was in reserve at KALDAUEN (665540).
21. On the morning of the 11 th of April at 0700, the 2d Battalion -was committed on the left and with the lst Battalion continued the attack to the N. moving across the rolling country the lst Battalion took WAHLSCHEID (658545) and WICKUHL) (645562) By nightfall. The lst Battalion was supposed to take HOFFNUNGSTHAL (635576) and Company A moved up after darkness in an attempt to complete their mission of taking that town even though they had been on the move since 0700 that morning. 88’s and MG fire from the vicinity of (645585) and WIELPUTZ (643520) stopped company A. The 2d Battalion was just short of MENZLINGEN (618550) nightfall by resistance. The 3d Bn was in reserve at LOHMAR (627492) but continued to hold the high ground at HALBERG and the high ground East of LOHAR.
22. Elements of the 13th armored Division had crossed the AGGER River S of LOHMAR and had moved N along the W bank of this River to ALTENRATH. On orders from Division the 3d Battalion was directed to reconnoiter a crossing of the AGGER at LOHMAR and secure the high ground near ALTENRATH in support of the Armored operation . Shortly after this the left boundary of the regiment was extended across the highway to include a strip of Land parallel to and South of the AUTOBAHN highway about 1000 meters wide, in the direction of LOHMAR–SCHARREN–BROICH. Beyond this latter town the left boundary of the Regiment was the AUTOBAHN Highway exclusive. The 3d Battalion was committed in the left sector, attacking initially from ALTENRATH to the NW.
23. At 0800 on 12 Apr. 45 the lst and 2d Battalions resumed The attack to the NW. The 2d Battalion took MENZLINGEN by noon ROSPATH (610557) by 1300. The lst Battalion took HOFFNUNGSTHAL and thus by early afternoon the Regiment was holding the line along the SW to NE road, ROSRATH--SULZE (622587). Prior to this time the Regimental Commander was ordered by Corps to increase the speed of his attack. Emphasis was to be placed on speed, and not on screening population in Towns. The Regimental Commander, had directed utilization of all three battalions in the assault, employing organic motors.
24. The net result for the day’s operation was to narrow the front of all three Battalions, and they were ordered to move out with all speed. Each Battalion utilized all means at hand and attacked along road nets and took out all resistance as it moved. By nightfall the left flank of the regiment was just S of DELBRUCK (54065) and the right flank was just west of BERG-GLADBACH (575655). The front line positions were on the road running West - East between these towns, with the 3d Battalion on the left, the 1 st on the right, and the 2d in the c enter. The regimental CP was at GIERATH.
25. At 130800B Apr 45 the Regiment motorized the 3d and the 1 st Battalions for shuttling by utilizing the kitchen and baggage trucks and The Cannon Company vehicles moved the 1 st and 3d battalions up parallel road nets to the NW. the 2d Battalion the 1 st battalion as soon as possible to reserve positions near PAFFRATH. By nightfall the regiment was on the line just S of the EW road from NITTUM ( 535962) To UPPERSBERG (550703) to ODENTHAL (566707). On 14 Apr 45 the Battalion jumped off from this NITTUMODENTHAL line to reach A point just S of the LEVERKUSEN–WUPPERTAI River line. The 3d Battalion met heavy resistance in the vicinity of SCHILDREN and NITTUM. Numerous casualties were incurred. The resistance in the vicinity of NITTUM was not broken until late in the afternoon.
26. The Regimental Commander now shuffled his battalion around so that he had all three on the line for the next morning attack. The 2d Battalion was on the left, the 3d in the center, and the lst on the right. In this formation they jumped off at 0800 on the morning of the 15th. lst and 3d Battalions met little resistance in the movement to the line PATTSCHEID (520770) ROMBERG (530770), nor did the 2d Battalion in moving by SCHLEBUSCH toward HUSCHEID.
27. The attack had now become a pursuit, and every effort was made to keep the enemy on the run. The order given to the Battalions was to drive to the N with all possible speed, using what ever Battalion and Company transportation, which could be utilized. No Communication was kept between Battalions. Regiment kept Battalions informed of progress on the flanks. The TD’s were kept in very close support, with one platoon attached to each battalion. There were no tanks wi ith the Regiment.
28. With the Battalion sitting on the PATTSCHEID - ROMBERG line on the night of the 15 th the Regimental commander Ordered all three Battalions to make a night attack starting at 160200B, with the mission of crossing the WUPPER River and securing the high ground to the N with all possible speed. This was in compliance with the directives of the higher headquarters to cross the WUPPER by noon of 16 Apr 45.
29. The WUPPER River runs EW into the Rhine and is just S of a heavily industrialized area between the WUPPER and the RUHR River further to the N. The populated environs of DUSSELDORF include the centers of SOLINGEN., HILDEN.- HAAN and WALD.
30. The battalions jumped off at 0200. The 2d Battalion (left) was held up enemy resistance in the area around HUSCHEID and WEITSCHE (507775), where apparently the enemy did not know that the no Resistance order had been given to the rest of the units in the pocket. In the right sector, however, the 1st Battalion reached the WRUPPER at 0740 and had captured two bridges intact. The 2d Battalion (left) was delayed at HUSCHEID and did not cross the WUPPER until the early hours of the afternoon. The 3d Battalion met little resistance and was able to have Company I across the WUPPER River at approximately 1000, followed by the bulk of the Battalion in the late hours of the morning. Company I secured intact a bridge over the WUPPER which later proved extremely valuable as a focal point on the combat team MSR. The battalions continued the advance and by nightfall the industrialized towns of OHLIGS (480850) and HAAN(490885) were taken.
31. The Regiment was ordered to jump from OHLIGS and HAAN on the morning of the 17th and to reach the Corps stop line, which was several miles to the N, alone the line (450930)(510930). The lst and 3d Battalions jumped off on the Morning of the 17th of April and by noon were sitting on the Corps stop line, thus completing the mission of the' 387th Infantry in the closing of the Ruhr Pocket.
HEADQUARTERS 387TH INFANTRY APO 445
St. Sedliste, Czech.
11 May 1945
SUBJECT, After-Battle Report, (21 Apr 45 - 8 1.Day 45)
TO: Commanding General, 97th Infantry Division, APO 445, c/o Postmaster, New York, New York
1. Submitted herewith is the After Battle Report for the 387th Infantry Regiment covering its participation in the Battle of Germany.
2. With the victorious completion of hostilities in the Ruhr Pocket, the 307th Infantry departed from the vicinity of OPLADEN. Germany, on 21 Apr 45 for an unknown destination and a new mission.
The leading elements of the 387th Infantry arrived at MARKTREDWiTZ, Germany, on 22 Apr 45, and all troops closed in the new assembly area in this vicinity on 23 Apr 45. Immediate plans were initiated for the relief of elements of the 2d Cavalry Group. Reconnaissance was immediately initiated and contact made with the 42d Cavalry squadron to effect relief. Orders were issued to battalion and attached company commanders to expedite this relief. Preparations were made to attack in order to prevent relief or assistance of the CHEB garrison, and to be prepared to seize CHEB on order.
Intelligence reports of 23 Apr 45 estimated that enemy forces on the Division front numbered approximately 1300. The 2d Panzer Division was identified in this sector, and it was assumed that most of the troops in this vicinity were under its command, It was ascertained that operations of the enemy were confined to the construction of road blocks, demolition of roads and bridges, and the preparation of mine fields. It was also reported that the Czechoslovakian border had been previously fortified with some prepared defensive installations consisting of concrete pillboxes.
The 387th Infantry moves forward to the vicinity of WALDSASSEN, Germany, on 24 Apr 45. Patrols were put into operation in the BRTNA, DOLZANDOV and CHEB sectors to determine any concentration or troop movements of the enemy. The 2d Battalion initiated relief of the 42d Cavalry Squadron on the left of the Regimental Zone. Light resistance was encountered in this sector, but steady progress was made. The 3rd Battalion on the right met heavy mortar, automatic weapons, and 20mm fire on the northern outskirts of WALDSASSEN, which delayed their advance toward CHEB. It was necessary for the 3d Battalion to make a forced night march through the woods west of WALDSASSEN -CHEB highway in order to avoid delay from resistance on this road. By this means the 3rd Battalion had at daylight 25 April 45 secured jump-off positions on the high ground south of CHEB and east of the main highway.
Relief of the 42d Cavalry Squadron was completed at 1825 24 Apr 45 in this sector. Company G was ordered to clear the woods east of WALDSASSE N to HUNDSBACH, Germany, so that the 3d Battalion could be supplied over this route. Company G moved forward at 0130, 25 Apr 45, Progress was slow due to enemy snipers, mortar and automatic weapons fire.
The 3d Battalion moved into position for the attack in the woods East of SVATY KRIS where they surprised German soldiers sent there a dawn to install defensive positions. Resistance was encountered from a Factory in the southwest portion of CHEB Czechoslovakia, and artillery was called in to reduce it in the morning. The attacked continued with Company I advancing to determine the strength of the enemy, Approximately 500 yards from the edge of town Company I received considerable enemy fire, and a tactical withdrawal was made according to plan. Artillery laid down a concentration of fire According to Plan. Zebra and Company I advanced on the left with Company K on the right, while Company L provided flank protection, light resistance was encountered until Company I attacked the edge of town, at which time the enemy slowed the advance with automatic weapons fire from dug in positions.
This resistance was soon overrun, and by 2000 hours CHEB was occupied in the south third, to the south edge of the park.
Difficulty was encountered in opening the main supply route, but our infantry and tanks overran the town of HUNDSBACH Germany, which resulted in the road being secured at 2030. Enemy resistance was light in number, but they fought with determination and were cleverly placed, making full use of all means available to them.
During the early morning hours of 26 April 45 the enemy staged a c ounter attack on the 3rd Battalion Command Post, using an estimated three platoons of approximate strength of 45 men each, which resulted, in the capture and evacuation by the enemy of the 3 rd Battalion aid station, i ncluding Lt. W. STANLEY from Company H, and 6 Enlist Men.
It is believed that this counter attack was staged to cover the withdrawal from the town of CHEB of some high-ranking military personnel and Nazi party officials.
During the period 26 Apr - 27 Apr 45 our troops continued to mop up enemy resistance in this area, with the 3rd Battalion in CHEB, and the first and 2 nd Battalions to the rear. The enemy continued harassing artillery and Rocket fire in CHEB and the 2nd Battalion area. Contact With the 386th infantry was made in north CHEB at 1815, 26 Apr 45. 713 prisoners were taken in this action and they comprised of miscellaneous troops from various organizations. lst Battalion relieved elements of the 386th Infantry on the line FRANTISKOVY LAZNE - CHEB north of the OHRE River during daylight hours on 27 Apr 45.
Plans were made on 28 April 45 for the 3d Battalion to attack the CHEB Airfield at 1500. The attack was to be preceded by an Artillery concentration at H-15 to H Hour, Company L plus two platoons from Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Bn and 13 tanks from Company C 782nd Tank Battalion, were to be used in this attack. Resistance continued to be generally light with no definite enemy line established other then enemy defensive installations at the airfield northeast of CHEB, Czechoslovakia.
The attack jumped off as planned, and the opposition continued to be light, automatic weapons and Panzerfausts were employed by the enemy, but the positions were soon overrun by our tanks, The towns of REICHERSDORF and DOL_SCHON, Czechoslovakia, located in the vicinity of the airfield, were taken, and the airfield along with the commanding ground in this area, was secured by our troops by 1815. 541 prisoners were taken in this action, and large quantities of materiel were captured, including 100 machine guns, 15, 40mm AA guns, and ammunition, 30 enemy dead were counted on the field. Our loses in this action were extremely light, with 8 Enlisted men being slightly wounded, and 2 Enlisted men seriously wounded, none were killed.
With the capture of the airfield and surrounding villages, the possibility of counter attacks was eliminated, as the enemy had no organized forces left in this sector. No definite front line was established by the enemy and contact after this action was lost. Our front extended along line FRANTISKOVY LAZNE–CHEB, —WALDSASSEN, –FFAFFENREUTH.
Enemy units committed in this sector consisted of the combat team Ludwig and Schultz, both of which were replacements for the 13 th Landoschutzen Battalion and the combat team Herst, attached. The Jaeger Herst were Air Corps troops organized as infantry, and the 2 nd company Panzer Jaeger detachment, organized from the Hungarian artillery school At EGER (CHEB) Czechoslovakia, were identified.
Conferences and reconnaissance were initiated with the advance elements of the 18th infantry to take over our sector, and with the 2nd cavalry group for their relief in our sector. Preparations were made on 28 April 45 for the new mission, and the 387th infantry was relieved of responsibility in the old sector at 1230 29 April 45. The 387th Infantry moved to the vicinity Of ESLARN, Germany, on this date, Via VOHENSTRAUS __EIDEN, Relieving the 42 nd Cavalry Squadron, 2 nd Cavalry Group, on the front SVATA KATERINA–NOVA VES-- PLES.
The initial operation in the new sector consisted of patrol activity and screening which resulted in the capture of a German Colonel with his Headquarters and staff, who were in command of the “Werewolf” organization in this vicinity, his capture resulted in the subsequent round up of the members of this organization.
It was reported that the enemy was active in the towns of BEZDEKOV and DUBEC Czechoslovakia, and immediate plan were made to attack at 0730 1 May 45 with three battalions abreast, on a front 24000 meters. The attack jumped off on schedule, and the first 1 st Battalion reached its objective at 1520, with company B meeting light resistance in the town of BEZDEKOV and DUBEC. The 2 nd Battalion advanced against very light resistance and by 1630 had extended the 1 st Battalion’s flank from BELA N RABD and at NIN. The 3 rd Battalion advanced against light resistance and at 1930 all companies were in their objective with right flank at SCHONAU, with the exception of company K, which had run into resistance from to Mg’s and a self propelled artillery piece in the vicinity of SIDLAKAV, By 2110 Company K had taken this town and halted there for the night, continuing its advance in the morning and reaching its final objective at 0840 2 May 45.
The 23 rd Infantry relieved combat team 387 th on 3 May 45 and assumed responsibility for this sector at 1140 3 May 45, all elements of the 387 th infantry closed into Division reserve in the vicinity of NEUTADT, Germany, by 1555, 3 May 45. The 387 th Infantry, after 36 hours rest, closed into a new assembly area in the vicinity ST SEDLISTE, Czechoslovakia, still in division Reserve, On 5 May 45 the 3 rd Battalion attacked in the direction of PAVLOWITZ—ZADUB—KONSTANTINOVY—NECTINY. Vehicles were forced to join battalion by detour over route N HOSPODA– SVOISIN–CERNOSIN. On 6 May 45 the 2 nd Battalion remained in the vicinity of ST SEDLISTE, as Division reserve, and the 1 st Battalion also in Division reserve departed for a located new assembly area in the vicinity of CERNOSIN, at which point Regiment forward CP was located.
The attacked of the 3rd Battalion jumped off at 0600 6 May 45, and progress was slow due to numerous road blocks and blown bridges which were encountered en route, The advance continued against no resistance and the leading elements reached the final objective at 2020.
The remainder of the Battalion closed in at 2130. The enemy continued to surrender in large numbers, our troops taking 2185 prisoners in this action.
This attack resulted in the capture of a, 16 car hospital train with medical personnel, in the vicinity of NIZKA; capture of 13 th Germany army Corps headquarters at PERNAREC, Czechoslovakia, commanded by Lt. Gen. Weisenberger; and numerous small units in the vicinity of NECTINY. Also captured in NECTINY was Colonel Karl Friehl, General staff Corps, 13 th German army corps. The 1 st and 3 rd Btry’s of the 44 th Arty Rcn Bn were captured at SKUPEC.
The 387 th Infantry moved to the vicinity of CIHANA, Czechoslovakia, on 7 May 45 to tactical quartering areas in accordance with verbal orders from division, the main effort in this area consisted of the control and handling of prisoners and displaced persons.
With the surrender of Germany on 8 May 45 the 387 th Infantry had fully completed its combat mission against Germany.
The 387 th Infantry remained in the vicinity of CIHANA until 10 May 45 when the Regt. was relieved by elements of the 16 th Armed Division. 69 th Armed Inf. Bn relieved the 1 st Battalion of the 387thg infantry, 26 th Tank Bn relieved the 3 rd Bn; and the 397 th Armed FA Bn relieved 2 nd Bn. The relief was completed by 1445 on 10 may 45. The Battalions, as relieved, moved by motor shuttle to an assembly area in the vicinity of ST SEDLISTE, Czechoslovakia.
For the Commanding Officer
/s/ Eugene A. Buckley, JR.
/t/ Eugene A. Buckley, JR.
Capt., 387th Infantry