|Killed In Action||2||18||20|
|Seriously Wounded In Action||3||24||27|
|Lightly Wounded In Action||7||94||101|
|Seriously Injured In Action||0||0||o|
|Lightly Injured In Action||0||7||7|
|Missing In Action||0||2||2|
|Type||Destroyed or Abandoned||Evacuated|
|Car, Armored, Light, M8||2|| |
|Carriage, Mtr, 75mm How., m8||1|| ||Carrier, Pers, H/T, M3 w/w||3|| ||Carrier, Pers, H/T, M3, w/2|| ||2|
|Tank, Med., M4, w/75mm gun||3||4|
|Tank, Med., M4A3, w/75mm gun||1||2|
|Tank, Med., M4A1, w/75MM gun||1|| ||Tank, Med., M4, w/105mm How.|| ||1|
|Truck, 1/4 ton, 4x4||1||7|
|Truck, 2 1/2-ton, 6x6, Cargo w/w winch||1||2||Trailer, 1-ton, 2 wheel, Cargo||1|| ||Truck, 10-ton, hvy, Wrecker, M1||1|| ||Total||15||17|
3. AMMUNITION EXPENDITURES AND LOSSES:
|Type||Expended||Loss Due to Enemy Action|
|Carbine, Cal, .30||77,627|| |
|Cal, 45||74,800|| |
|90mm Gun||4658|| |
|105mm Howitzer||21,010|| ||155mm Gun||944|| |
|Rockets, H.E.||0|| |
|Cal. .50 AA||68,085|| |
|Grenade, Rifle||100|| |
Note: 5.1 Total tonnage expended for Trains purposes only.
5th Armored Division - MAJ GEN LUNSFORD E OLIVER, 03536, USA
CC "A", 5th Armd Div - BRIG GEN EUGENE A REGNIER, 08295, USA
Hq & HQ CO, CC "A", 5th Armd Div - CAPT KARL W ROTH, 01010340, INF
CC "B", 5th Armd Div - COL JOHN T COLE, 05256, CAV
Hq & HQ CO, CC "B", 5th Armd Div - CAPT JOE W PERRY, 01012397, FA
Div Arty, 5th Armd Div - COL DOUGLAS J PACE, 04495, FA
Hq & HQ Btry, Div Arty, - CAPT NORMAN W CUSICK, 0466787, FA
Reserve Command, 5th Armd Div - COL GLEN W ANDERSON, 38672, INF
Hq Co, 5th Armd Div - CAPT LARRY H GREENWOOD, 01283065, INF
Hq 5th Armd Div Tns - LT COL KARL L SCHERER, 018784, CAV
Hq Co 5th Armd Div Tns- CAPT JAMES BAGWELL, 01011081 CAV
MP Platoon, 5th Armd Div - MAJ ALEXANDER T NELSEN, 0335298 CAV
145th Sig Co - CAPT GLENN B WELDE, 04534467 SG
85th Cav Rcn Sq Mecz; - MAJ GEORGE C BENJAMIN, 023422 CAV
10th Tank Bn - LT COL WILLIAM A HAMBERG, 0242156, INF
34th Tank Bn - LT COL RICHARD H JONES, 0238409, (15-28 Feb 45)
81st Tank Bn - LT COL LE ROY H ANDERSON, 0239452, INF
15th Armd Inf Bn - LT COL GLEN G DICKENSON, 0197385, CAV
46th Armd Inf Bn - MAJ WILLIAM H BURTON, 0366028, INF
47th Armd Inf Bn - LT COL HOWARD E BOYER, 0218680, INF
47th Armd FA Bn - LT COL JOHN B ROSENZWEIG, 0246291, FA
71st Armd FA Bn- LT COL ISRAEL B WASHBURN, 0235367, FA
95th Armd FA Bn - LT COL JAMES W MC NEER, 0223703, FA
22d Armd Engr Bn - LT COL FRED E RESSEGIEU, 020575, CE
127th Ord Maint Bn - MAJOR ROLAND S BIERSACH, 0318269, ORD
75th Med Bn, Armd - MAJ RAYMOND J. WINKLER, 0357402, MC (8-28 Feb 45)
628th TD Bn - LT COL WILLIAM J GALLAGHER, 0384592 FA
387th AAA AW Bn (SP) -LT COL ELMER I KENNEWIG, 0265282, CAC
3907th QM Truck Co - CAPT CHARLES H DUDLFY, 01581668 QMC
3912th QM Truck Co - CAPT JOSEPH L ZIOLKOWSKI, 015739939 QMC
Det "A" Hq & Hq 3rd Armd Gp - MAJ RAY S TREAWELL, 0389764, INF
505th CIC Det, Hq European TO, U. S. Army -1ST LT THOMAS RYAN - 01017183 INF
At 0130, 1 March 1945, CCR moved to an assembly area in rear of CCA in the vicinity of HARDT. CCB relieved the 407 RCT of the responsibility of maintaining road blocks in the vicinity of WICKRATH. Task forces from the 15th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 81st Tank Battalion were given this mission to relieve the 407 RCT and the relief, which started at 0230, was well under way by 0600. At 0900, CCB sent a reconnaissance patrol into the town of BHEYDT. This patrol reported that the town was clear of enemy troops. At 1430 the task force from the 15th Armored Infantry Battalion had completed a move to relieve the 407 RCT on a roadblock astride the highway at the railroad crossing on the southeastern edge of RHEYDT. Contact was made with elements of the 29th Infantry Division on their right. All relief of the 407 RCT installations was completed at 2225.
CCA sent Task Force Burton (Companies B and C, 46th Armored Infantry Battalion and Companies B and C, 34th Tank Battalion, married) in an attack to the Northeast from the vicinity of HARDT at 0630. Resistance for the most part was scattered with anti-tank guns, SP guns, and a smattering of infantry composing the enemy forces. Terrain and roads were the principal factors in holding the command to a slow advance. Frequent changes of direction had to be made to locate passable road nets. At 1535 advance elements of the combat command had seized a bridge-site on the NIERS Canal located on the main road from VIERSEN to ANRATH. The bridge over the canal had been partially destroyed but engineers utilizing that part of the bridge's structure which was still intact, began building a treadway bridge at 1640. At 1830, the canal had been bridged and CCA continued its advance on ANRATH. The town's outer ring of defense was smashed by 2240 and troops of CCA were in the town mopping up a sizable force of enemy infantry. Many deliberate road obstacles were found on the roads approaching the town and in the streets of the town. These made the movement of tanks and other vehicles most difficult, and it was necessary to employ the use of clearing parties to allow the passage of the column. ANRATH was completely cleared at 0500, 2 March and CCA reorganized in preparation for continuation of the attack at dawn on 2 March.
Both CCA and CCB had made contact during the day with elements of several enemy divisions, but it was noted that the bulk of prisoners taken by the 2 combat commands were from scattered separate regiments, battalions and companies.
Enemy air activity was much increased over the Division's area and several dog fights were reported. One of the Division Artillery L-4, liaison planes, was shot down by the enemy planes. In complete figures on enemy material destroyed or captured, were as follows: Two (2) Mark V Tanks, two (2) trucks, four (4) ammo-miscellaneous trailers, one (1) 88mm AT gun.
The Division CP moved North of HARDT during the day on 1 March, closing in bivouac at 1817. CCR remained in place in the vicinity of RATH. CCA renewed its forward thrust at 06500, 2 March and at the end of the two (2) hours, a gain of 1 kilometer had been made against steadily increasing enemy resistance. Enemy forces were now steadily withdrawing across the Rhine River and strong rear-guard actions were becoming more and more frequent. As a result, though good progress was made by Division forces, it was not up to the swift scale of preceding days. At 1240, after a slow but steady advance, elements of CCA were within six hundred (600) yards of the town of FISCHELN, at a point just south of the approaches to the town. The combat command was then given orders to halt its advance and assembly off the roads. This was for the purpose of allowing the 102d Infantry Division to advance on the town of KREFELD.
When the advance of CCA was stopped, its elements had already reached and gone past the XIII Corps boundary into the XIX Corps zone. Contact had been made at this point with the 2d Armored Division of the XIX Corps which was moving North in the path of the CCA advance.
CCA immediately assembled its forces with Task Force Burton assembling around the point held just South of FISCHELN and the remainder of the combat command assembling at HEIDE. The CP of the combat command was located at SCHRICKENEND.
Task Force Burton was held in place until 1735. At this time the force was ordered to move into the town of FISCHELN in order to establish the force West of the North-South grid line twenty (20), which was then the XIII Corps right boundary. Upon entering the town the task force encountered stiff resistance from a small enemy holding force and one (1) of the attacking tanks was lost to anti-tank fire. Moderate enemy artillery and mortar fire was placed on the Burton column, but with little or no results. Artillery of CCA fired on six (6) enemy tanks as they withdrew towards DREFELD. These tanks were not engaged by the combat command's infantry. As usual every available AT gun was manned by the enemy as he attempted to protect his withdrawal. Some vehicular, bicycle and foot troops were engaged while Task Force Burton was mopping up in the town. Contact was made between Task Force Burton and the 379th Infantry Regiment (95th Division) shortly after the mopping up had been completed. Elements of the 379th took over the town and Task Force Burton assembled in the Northwest corner of the town. It might be well at this time to note the order of battle of CCA. Task Force Burton consisted of the following units:
Company "B" and "C", 46th Armored Infantry Battalion and companies of "B" and "C" 34th Tank Battalion (married).
1 Platoon, "A" Company, 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 46th Armored Infantry Battalion.
2 Platoons, "A" Company, 22d Armored Engineer Battalion
The assault gun platoon, 34th Tank Battalion.
Task Force Jones consisted of the following:
Company "A", 34th Tank Battalion and Company "A", 46th Armored Infantry Battalion (married).
1 Platoon, Company "A", 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 34th Tank Battalion
CCA held the following units in it reserves:
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CCA.
Company "A, 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion (-)
CCB was relieved of its containing mission in the vicinity of WICKRATH - RHEYDT and the combat command assembled its units in the vicinity of Institution and HEHN with the combat command CP setting up at GLADBACH - REINDAHLEN.
The units of Division Artillery had been displaced well forward and were used in general support of the CCA operation.
The Division CP remained in place north of HARDT. The 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was moved to the vicinity of VORST and Division Trains into the town of EUCHOLZ. CCR remained in place.
Enemy air activity was encountered during the early hours of 2 March and the CCB area was hit by several bombs but only slight damage and a few casualties resulted.
On 3 March, CCA was ordered to be prepared to aid the 102d Infantry Division in the latter's attack on KREFELD provided that the Infantry Division needed such aid.
At 0230, Letter of Instructions No. 38, Headquarters XIII Corps, dated 030100, was received by Liaison Officer from XIII Corps. This directive gave the Division a zone of action in the northern sector of the Corps zone in which forces of the Division would mop up, clear roads and cut the roads along the Rhine River in the vicinity of ORSOY. The Division Commander issued oral orders to CCR to move north through HARDT - DULXEN, cross the canal at OEDT, and advance as rapidly as possible to the east to accomplish the mission as outlined by the Letter of Instructions.
br> At 1420, Letter of Instructions No. 39, dated 031215, Headquarters XIII Corps, arrived at Division. These instructions changed the boundary and slightly altered the plans and instructions which previously were issued. The Commanding General immediately left the Division CP to visit the commands and issue revised instructions. The substance of the Commanding General's orders were as follows:
CCA was ordered to move to an assembly area northeast of KEMPEN; support CCR in fulfillment of its mission.
CCR started to move towards its objective at 1215. The route of advance was as follows: HARDT - DULKEN - SUCHTLEN -OEDT - KEMPEN - HULS. The advance reached a point just north of HULS at approximately 155. Prior to this meeting with the enemy, however, CCR was slowed considerably by a rather confusing situation to the front and on its left flank. Apparently elements of the 8th Armored Division had confused their boundary and as a result had run into the CCR zone of approach in the area KEMPEN -ST HUBERT. This situation was rectified quickly and CCR pressed its attack. As previously stated, some enemy resistance was encountered north of HULS. This was mainly a few scattered pockets of infantry, however, and these were quickly liquidated by CCR.
At 1855, leading elements of CCR ran into the day's first heavy resistance. At a road junction 800 yards west of MORTS, anti-tank, mortar and artillery fire became quite intense. The combat command halted and regrouped, and at the same time reconnaissance was made on the approaches to the objective. Positions were established for the night and reconnaissance continued to search out possible routes of movement. Division ordered CCR to turn north to REPELEN but to stay within the Division zone. (This was necessary so as to keep clear of the 84th Infantry Division operating to the right of CCR). A report from CCR, stated that houses and basements were full of enemy troops and mopping up during the late evening was an extremely slow process. Some artillery and mortar fire continued to fall in the area. It was also reported that reconnaissance had located strongly held positions to the front of the combat command and that the attack would continue at dawn.
Again during the late evening of 3 March, impassable roads were the chief obstacle encountered by CCR. However, in this day's operation it was demolition and craters in the roads which caused their poor condition. It was thus advisable for the combat command to stop for several hours to daylight and prepare for a more rapid and less risky advance by reconnoitering the roads and sweeping or clearing those which were indispensable to the attack.
Enemy losses in material were as follows:
One (1) AT gun (75mm)
One (1) Ammo dump (captured intact)
One (1) AT gun (37mm SP)
One (1) SP gun (Cal unknown)
One (1) Bazooka dump (captured intact)
Two (2) pers carriers (full track)
Eight (8) trucks (with ammo)
One (1) Battery search lights.
Four (4) motorcycles
CCA and CCB began their movement to the assembly areas designated by the Division Commander late in the day, 3 March. These
moves were completed on 4 March and the combat commands were ordered to garrison the larger towns in the vicinity and to
screen the civilian population.
During the early morning of 4 March, as CCR was preparing for a daylight attack on REPELIN, its reconnaissance elements probed the enemy's positions and confirmation was made on captured maps and photos which showed a strong OPL running generally north and west of MOERS and probably beyond. During the remaining hours of darkness, advance elements of CCR received small arms fire and artillery fell intermittently to the north of their positions.
At dawn CCR resumed its attack, with its elements advancing north toward REPELEN. The enemy employed small arms and bazooka fire in an effort to block the attack. However, by 1200, enemy artillery fire which at the start of the attack had been sporadic, became increasingly heavy as CCR forces moved to within 2 kilometers of REPELIN. Shortly after 1230, the head of CCR's column had entered REPELEN. The reconnaissance troop of CCR was immediately sent out to screen the left flank of the combat command during the fighting for REPELEN. House-to-house fighting developed in the town shortly after the initial entry by CCR. To sum up the situation at this time was substantially as follows:
One married company ("A", 10th Tank Battalion and "A", 47th Armored Infantry Battalion) of TFH was in the town of REPELEN and had ground its way through to the northern part of the town;
the married "C" companies (10th Tank Battalion and 47th Armored Infantry Battalion) were by-passing the town to the south and east and aiming for a vital enemy escape route northeast of the town. Task Force Boyer, with the married "B" companies, Hq & Hq Co (47th Armored Infantry Battalion) and platoon from the 22d Armored Engineer Battalion and 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion remained in an assembly area south of REPELEN.
At 1725, the married "C" companies had cut the main north-south road running between RHEINBERT and MOERS at a point southeast of REPELEN. The married "A" companies had made little progress as they smashed at enemy defense positions in the northern part of town. No air observation was possible due to bad weather hence inability to locate Bosch 88s. Bitter resistance continued in that area with the bulk of enemy fire coming from 14 88mm towed AT guns and several 88mm SP guns. At this time large numbers of enemy were being slowly squeezed into a narrow pocket between the Allied forces advancing from the north, west and south. The cutting of one of the few remaining escape routes for these enemy troops by CCR, resulted in a continual pressure on the comb at command's positions as the enemy attempted to flee towards ORSOY on the Rhine River. Highly aggressive action on the part of the combat command broke up these attempts to escape the jaws of the trap which was closing off the Rhine exits to the German troops in the sector and escape was held to a minimum. No further progress in force was made by CCR during the night 4-5 March, but patrols were sent out and these discovered a large enemy force in position along the railroad north and east of REPELEN. This force was composed principally of anti-tank guns and infantry; also artillery and mortar positions were located in the woods southeast of the town. Some high velocity and 120mm mortar fire was reported falling on the CCR position from this area during the night.
The Division CP moved and the 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron moved to KEMPEN on 4 March 1945. "C" Squadron, 1st Lothian and Border Yeomanry (British), attached to CCA during its operation were relieved.
At dawn, 5 March, CCR resumed its attack and sent the married "C" companies of Task Force Hamberg to the north from their position on the RHEINBERG - MOERS road. This force overwhelmed enemy resistance in its path and seized the road junction at REEINKAMP northeast of REPELEN thus opening a route of advance for Task Force Boyer who had moved from his assembly area south of the town shortly after 0900. Task Force Boyer seized this opportunity and sent his forces speeding towards ORSEY at 1010. It is of interest at this point to bring out the remarkable mobility of an armored force on an exploitation mission of this sort.
Task Force Boyer in a running fight against the enemy smashed its way from RHEINKAMP to ORSOY, a distance of five (5) to six (6) kilometers in thirty five minutes. Aggressiveness and speed were contributing factors in holding Division casualties to a minimum while the force over-run numerous enemy positions. The married "A" companies of CCA's 34th Tank Battalion and 46th Armored Infantry Battalion, were attached to CCR on the afternoon of 4 March. These companies followed Task Force Boyer a few kilometers east of the road junction at RHEINKAMP and stopped there, setting up a line of defense east of the junction facing north. "A" companies of Task Force Hamberg mopped up the northern edge of REPELEN and then established a line running north of the town to the road junction at RHEINKAMP, where it lined up with the married "C" companies who were consolidating their positions on the junction.
In the meantime, Task Force Boyer reported that his force had taken many prisoners and that enemy units were still being flushed into his sector as they attempted to reach the ferry-site at ORSOY on the river. The task force had been attacked by four (4) SO guns (caliber unknown) from the north as its advance elements entered the town, but these were destroyed by tank and artillery fire., While fighting through the town the tanks of Task Force Boyer caught a large column of approximately fifty (50) to sixty (60) enemy vehicles awaiting withdrawal across the Rhine. This column was completely destroyed by the tank guns. Shortly thereafter, a smaller enemy column coming into the ferry-site from the north, suffered a similar fate. Mopping up operations continued in ORSOY and the areas in the vicinity of REPELEN. Contact was made by the 8th Armored Division on the XIII - XVI Corps boundary north of REPELEN.
At ORSOY, Task Force Boyer encountered artillery and direct AT fire from an enemy pocket in the vicinity of BUDBERG and also from the east bank of the Rhine River across from ORSOY. Fire from artillery and tanks of Task Force Boyer was directed against targets located near BUDBERG. Reports indicated the enemy troops in that vicinity were elements of the 116th Panzer Division. At 1710, the enemy began laying smoke across the road southeast of ORSOY; apparently to protect his withdrawal. Repeated attempts to reach the ferry were frustrated by CCR.
By late evening, CCR reported the situation well in hand, with only spasmodic artillery fire from the enemy positions. Task Force Boyer had pushed a line just outside of the northern edge of ORSOY and it was planned that Troop "C", 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron and infantry from Task Force Hamberg would reinforce the troops in this sector during the nightL
At 1055, 5 March, Division Trains and Division Headquarters Rear Echelon closed in KEMPEN, GERMANY. CCA and CCB completed occupation of the larger towns in their respective zones and began screening civilian populace in those towns.
Enemy air activity was light during the Division's operations 5 March. However, enemy fighter planes had attacked elements of CCR while the combat command was pushing its attack, but these were driven off after Division anti-aircraft fire had destroyed one(1) of their number. No loss was reported by the combat command as a result of this action.
Enemy losses in personnel and material during the day's operation, were reported as follows:
personnel losses, approximately 50 killed, 473 prisoners of war,
material captured or destroyed,
four (4) 88mm SP Guns,
nine (9) 20mm AA Guns,
eight (8) 75mm AT guns,
nine (9) 88mm AA AT guns (towed),
four (4) 155mm howitzers (towed),
two (2) 75mm howitzers (towed),
one (1) Mark IV tank,
forty eight (48) miscellaneous trucks,
fifteen (15) staff cars,
sixteen (16) horses,br> eleven (11) barges,
one (1) tug,
one (1) ammo dump,
one (1) oil dump,
one (1) warehouse full of food staples.
One complete battery of guns was taken by CCR on this date and a few days later the Battery Commanding Officer was captured by the combat command.
On 6 March, CCR was engaged in mopping up of the entire area centering around ORSOY. Contact was made with the 335th RTC (Div) on the right at BAERL at 0900. CCR was forced to use the bulk of its forces to protect the northern flank from enemy forces reported in that area. However, at 1915, it was reported by CCR that elements of the 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, had entered ORSOY from the north, thus eliminating the threat of an exposed flank. Arrangements were made at that time to turn over the town to the 35th Infantry Division. Most of the CCR zone had been cleared and it was contemplated that the balance would be completed on 7 March.
CCA had completed approximately 75 per cent screening of the civilian populace in its area. CCB was still deeply engaged in completing its screening. This work in KEMPEN, was being done by Division Trains with help from the 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, and the Division CIC detachment.
Enemy losses reported for 6 March, were as follows:
eighty seven (87) prisoners of war;
fifty (50) carloads of coal,
one (1) SP Gun (88mm).
On 7 March, CCR continued mopping up in the town of ORSOY and the surrounding areas. The married "C" companies of the 10th Tank Battalion and the 47th Armored Infantry Battalion, relieved the married "B" companies and "C" Troop, 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron in ORSOY. Close contact was maintained by the combat command with units of the 35th Infantry Division on the left as the Infantry Division advanced towards ORSOY. At 1800, CCR reported that elements of the 75th Infantry Division were relieving the combat command units in ORSOY. The relief was complete at 1940 and the combat command withdrew its troops behind the line BORNHEIM - WINTERSWICK. Contact points were established with the 75th Infantry Division and the 84th Infantry Division, the latter being on the right flank of CCR. Three enemy planes bombed REPELEN at 1910, but no casualties and little damage resulted therefrom.
The remainder of the Division continued policing, patrolling and screening of enemy personnel throughout the Division zone. The Division Artillery was placed under control of the XIII Corps for operations only.
Forty five (45) PWs were taken by the Division on 7 March. a great mass of miscellaneous material was captured or destroyed by the Division excluding that material previously reported, the following list is indicative of the speed and element of surprise which marked the Division's push to the Rhine:
numerous warehouses, containing mines, bazookas, ammunition, grenades and similar supplies, seventy five (75) carloads of coal and clothing (this in addition to the previously reported 50 cars of coal captured by CCR on 6 March), several ammo dumps, one (1) signal equipment depot, one (1) medical supply depot, one (1) food depot, and various other supplies including a complete search light battery, motorcycles, bicycles and a barge.
The married "A" companies of the 34th Tank Battalion and the 46th Armored Infantry Battalion (CCA) were relieved from control of CCR and reverted to CCA on 8 March. "C" Company 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion, was relieved from CCR and reverted to Division control. The Division as a whole, continued its screening and patrolling missions.
On 9 March, the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and the 557th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm gun SP) were relieved from attachment to the Division and reverted to control of XIII Corps Artillery.
The Division was given a new area of responsibility bounded by the towns of HULS, KREFELD (exclusive), ST TONIS south to WILLICH (exclusive) to SCHIEFBAHN (exclusive), east to MULHAUSEN (exclusive) northeast to KEMPEN (exclusive) to HULS. All other elements of the Division continued processing in their old areas and plans were made to move troops, not then needed, to the new zone. Early contact was contemplated from the 75th Infantry Division which was to relieve the 5th Armored Division in the KEMPEN - REPELEN area.
Twenty three (23) PWs were taken this date as the Division patrolled the area between the BAERLER woods and VLUYN. Several missions were fired by Division Artillery on targets east of the Rhine River.
On 10 March, the Division moved its elements to take up positions in the new zone. Small police detachments were left in the old area; these to remain until relieved by the 75th Infantry Division. the Division CP moved to NEERSEN. CCB moved its CP to OEDT and placed the 81st Tank Battalion in that town. the 15th Armored Infantry Battalion (CCB) was left in the town of ZIEGLEHEIDE. CCR assembled its units around ST TONIS with the exception of the 47th Armored Infantry Battalion, which remained at REPELEN. The 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized, moved to the vicinity of MUNSCHEIDE and the 22d Armored Engineer Battalion moved to TEMMENHOFE.
Oral orders received from XIII Corps at 1100, enlarged the Division zone to the Corps boundary on the west. This would include to the town of VIERSEN, but exclusive of the town itself. Military Government activities in the area west of the NIERS Canal would be handled by XIII Corps. The new area extended the Division zone to the west from the canal at MULHAUSEN, to BREYELL, south to BOLSHEIM - DULKEN - HARDY, east to HAMERN, northeast to GROSSHEIDE, east to HOVEN, and northeast to DONK.
On 11 March, the 75th Infantry Division relieved Division units in the KEMPER - REPELEN area. Division elements not physically relieved were ordered withdrawn and all were moved to the Division zone. The Division expanded its zone to the west as ordered the previous day. Security road blocks were established throughout the Division zone and all units continued road patrols and the screening of German personnel. Division Artillery under Corps control for operations, was moved to he 11th Cavalry Group sector and went into direct support of that organization.
The major portion of the Division zone had been closely checked and cleared by 2000, 12 March, and screening of personnel was progressing rapidly.
From 12 March through 15 March, the Division continued patrolling policing, screen and manning of its road blocks. Due to the many jobs during this period, training was held to a minimum, but considerable time was spent in maintenance of equipment and administrative matters.
At 1030, 15 March, the Commanding General, XIII Corps, Major General A. C. GILLEM JR, arrived at the Division CP at NEERSEN, GERMANY for the purpose of awarding the Division Commander a 2d Oak Leaf Cluster to the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement during the period 23 February through 5 March 1945. General GILLEM addressed the assembled officers of Division Headquarters and the Commanders of CCB, CCR and Division Artillery. The Corps Commander commented on the Division's activity during the operation across the Roer River and the following smashing assault to the west bank of the Rhine River. The General, quoting a high allied Staff Officer, stated that "The Fifth Armored Division is one of the two finest American Armored Divisions on the continent." Going further, General GILLEM stated that Field Marshall MONTGOMERY, Commander of the 21st ARMY GROUP and General SIMPSON, Commanding General NINTH US ARMY, were among the many who applauded this latest operation of the 5th Armored Division.
During the period 16 through 30 March the Division was held in the aforementioned areas with the Division CP remaining at NEERSEN. Besides maintaining its security missions, training was carried out for the purpose of perfecting small deficiencies noted during the Divisions last operation. Mortar firing was given priority by some of the units. Small arms and tank guns wee test fired frequently. The 22nd Armored Engineer Battalion maintained road patrols throughout the Division area and all roads were closely checked with any needed repairs quickly administered.
On 24 March, the 387th AAA AW Battalion was relieved from attached to the Division and moved to the NINTH ARMY bridgehead over the Rhine River where it was employed by reason of its experience. A newly arrived AA Bn, the 573rd AAA AW Bn, was attached to the Division to replace the 387th. On 30 March, the 387th returned to Division and relieved the 573rd.
On 30 March, Letter of Instructions, No. 46, Headquarters XIII Corps, was received at Division Headquarters. The Division was to be recommitted to action on 31 March with the mission to be as follows:
Cross the rhine River at WESEL and attack east in the Corps Zone; bypass MUNSTER and seize crossings over the DORTMOND - EMS Canal, cut lines of communications to MUNSTER and south and east of the city; seize crossings over the EMS River and be prepared to continue the advance in the Corps zone. The Division published two (2) letters of instructions dated 301200 and 301300. These letters detailed the instructions contained in the XIII Corps Letter.
At 0530, 31 March, CCR started its move from ST TONIS and the balance of the Division followed in the wake of the combat command. Order of March was as follows:
CCR, CCB, Division Headquarters, Division Artillery (-),
22nd Armored Engineer Battalion (-), Headquarters 1149th Combat Engineer Group,
292 C Engineer Battalion,
85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron,
and Division Trains.
CCR crossed the IP at ISSUM at 0700 and reached the Rhine River bridge at WESEL at 0745. The crossing of the river by CCR was completed at 1150 and its units were moving east in the zone toward an assembly area south and west of MUNSTER. Reconnaissance reported some enemy resistance in the zone of CCR, east of APPELHULSEN.
Elements of the 83rd Infantry Division were in SENDEN and the 17th Airborne Division held a line APPELHULSEN - NOTTULN. The 17th had formulated plans to attack to the east and MUNSTER. CCR continued its advance and east of AMELSBUREN, enemy tanks, Sp guns and infantry attempted to halt the combat command. However, friendly air dispersed the tanks and guns and CCR mopped up the infantry, capturing two hundred seventy (270) PWs. The railroad bridge in AMELSBUREN was reported by air to be intact and at 2400 CCR was preparing to launch a night attack to seize the bridge.
CCB, following CCR, was to go into an assembly area east of MUNSTER. When the combat command approached its area it found the 17th Airborne Division holding a line between APPELHULSEN and NOTTULN, engaged in a fire fight with enemy forces west of MUNSTER. These enemy forces were attempting to disrupt the Airborne Divisions attack on MUNSTER. CCB went into an assembly area north and west of APPELHULSEN, to await results of the 17th Airborne's attack.
The Division CP moved from NEERSEN at 1115, crossed the IP at 1625 and began crossing the Rhine River at WESEL at 1742. The assigned area for DHQ and Division troops was to have been in the vicinity of APPELHULSEN, but the delay in CCB's movement caused a change of plans. The Division CP opened 1 kilometer southeast of STOCKUM at 2340 after a march of one hundred twenty seven (127) kilometers. Under the new plan, the 22nd Armored Engineer Battalion and attached engineer support were to assemble in the vicinity of BULDERN; Division Artillery just west of the Division CP; the 85th along the road east of STOEKUM; CCA along the main road LETE - DULMEN. The above units were enroute at the close of the day. the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was attached to the Division at 311200.
Section I - Personnel Matters
a. Casualties sustained were relatively light in the Division's operations the first week of March and the last two days of the month. Reinforcements (1 officer and 169 enlisted men) and RTD'd (11 officers and 231 enlisted men) brought the Division to an overstrength in enlisted men and reduced the shortage of officers, except in Infantry where the condition continued to exist.
b. In the nine days the Division was in action 1214 PWs were captured. Evacuation of PWs was rendered difficult by reason of the rapidity of advance and the consequent operational demands made upon the Division's organic transportation. This situation was alleviated to some extent by use of trucks furnished by the Corps PM.
c. (1) Decorations awarded during March were as follows:
|Bronze Star||121||Soldier's Medal||1|
(2) Seven (7) battlefield commissions were awarded to enlisted men of the Division during the month.
Section II - Intelligence Matters
In the defense of the east bank of the Rhine River the enemy was most active with patrols and even more active in his anti-patrol activity. One interesting development in the futherance of the latter effort was the employment of searchlights to scan the west bank in order to pick up our patrols as they crossed. Gunfire, or the setting off of any trip-flares set by the enemy was the signal for these searchlights to sweep the river zone. Artillery fire was found to be an excellent counter-measure against the enemy's use of searchlights.
Operations east of the Rhine produced four interesting developments in enemy tactics:
(1) The absence of the renouned "anti-tank ditch." This obstacle which had been so extensively prepared between the Roer and Rhine Rivers was almost totally absent east of the Rhine.
(2) The definite increase in trend of employment of the enemy's dual-purpose (AA/At) guns as flat trajectory, ground weapons. These gun positions were, as normal, defended by entrenched SA positions. This being the case, these positions have been given high priority. Aerial photos, and APID reports are extremely valuable in the location of these guns.
(3) The use of the abatis road block; probably as a substitute for his heretofore profusion of anti-tank ditches. As normal in an abatis, the trees are felled across the road from both sides. Either buzz-saws or explosives are used to fell the trees. Prepared logs have also been used, both in lieu of, and in addition to, the abatis. The majority of abatis which we have encountered have been defended with AT, SA and bazooka fire.
(4) Some showing of the threatened "Volksturm manning bazookas." On several occasions members were captured, and killed, in the act of employing bazookas against our forces.
Section III - Operations
G-3 Air-Use of fighter-Bomber Pilot as Forward Controller with VHF Radio.
During the past eight mouths of almost continuous operations it has become increasingly apparent that the policy of changing the Fighter-Bomber pilots with the forward VHF radio in tanks every ten (10) days does not maintain the efficiency necessary in Air-Ground cooperation. It usually takes several days for a new pilot to become familiar with the ground picture and his new job. It takes a few more days for him to feel sure of himself in his vastly different role. By that time his replacement is on hand, which often times occurs in the middle at an operation, and the pilot must return to flying status. Then, too, pilots working with the ground troops and aware at certain operations are necessarily grounded for a few days upon return to their base because of this knowledge.
In an armored division it is often times necessary in order to operate efficiently to have two (2) VHF operators, one with the combat command CP and the other with a task force of the combat command. This necessitates having two (2) pilots per combat command or a total at six (6) per armored division. This number of pilots is not available and inasmuch as a TAC ruling prohibits anyone other than a pilot from using the VHF radio it automatically cuts down on the maximum possible effort.
The solution, as we see it, is to have the Division G-3 Air, Combat Command S-3 Air and Tank Battalion S-3 Air Officers that are provided by T/O, all trained by Air Corps personnel and to use them as Forward Controllers as and when necessary. The AGCO and party could still remain in control at the Division CP. This system would eliminate all present deficiencies, insure adequate VHF operators for all situations, would not deplete the present pilot strength and would guarantee maximum ground effort and Air-Ground cooperation.
If the above corrections cannot be made at this time then the pilots operating as VHF controllers with armored divisions should be placed on DS, just as the AGCO and party and for the same period of the (2-3 months), and increased in number as recommended above.
This is a collective view of not only Combat Commanders, Tank Battalion Commanders, but also of Air Corps AGCO and G-3 Air and S-3 Air Officers.
Section IV - Supply and Maintenance Matters
Section V - Military Government
During the first part at the operations from 25 February to 5 March 1945, Military Government personnel occupied chiefly in keeping civilian population from circulating, herding Russians, Poles, Dutch and Displaced Persons off the roads and separating them from Refugees flushed out and driven into our area by other units that had not then adopted the stand fast policy.
The Spearhead Detachment (3 officers and 6 enlisted men) was brought forward to RATH, which had been evacuated of its civil population, and a Temporary Displaced Persons Center was established there handling several hundred persons. A refugee center was established at KIPSHOVEN.
The detachment was then moved to HARDT, where the civil population remained for the most part unevacuated. Normal Military Government operations were conducted including collections of firearms, re-establishment of civil police, appointment of new burgermiesters, cleaning of streets, and so forth.
At the same time Displaced Persona were coming into the CCB area at RHEINDAHIEM and a Displaced Persons center was set up in the Adolph Hitler School, and on the day the Combat Command moved forward, over 1000 Displaced Persons were collected with some food supplies made available to them. They were turned over to the CIC detachment of Corps upon leaving. Food was previously made available to several hundred Displaced Persons in an institution along the road between RHEINDAHLEN and MUNCHEN GLADBACH, beginning the afternoon the area was taken by the infantry of CCB.
Corps adopted the policy of freezing the civilian population some time after operations began, but it was not actually put into effect by the two infantry divisions until about the time HARDT was taken, and in CCA's operations south of KREFEID, an estimated 2000 civilians from the town had to be driven back.
While CCR was in the BEPELEN - ORSOY area many refugees were driven into the area from MORS and many Displaced Persons came back from the mines near MORS. About 1200 civilians were found in one building, a hospital at ORSOY. A survey of the mines in our area has been made, and reports thereof and of industries have been made to G-4 of Corps.
Electric power restoration in parts of area made through direction of Military Government Offices or Staff and Detachment, with approval of Engineers. Particular places included are mines near REPELEN and the towns of ST HUBERT, KEMPEN, OEDT, MULHAUSEN and ST. TONIS.
Perliminary registration of all persons 12 years and older of Division area completed. This has aided security and civilian control.
Local governments new function in entire Division area including opening of some banks.
Youths above 12 years of age have been put to work chiefly on farms throughout the entire area.
In area of KEMPEN the population, as has been usually the case in areas recently subjected to bombing or severe fighting, were dazed and bewildered for about 36 hours after "R" went through, and except for the house to house search by troops for firearms, made before the people had an opportunity to turn in firearms or report same, usual Military Government functions were carried out by the detachment when it moved from HARD to KEMPEN the same day as Division Headquarters.
Military Government cases tried to date included violation of circulation, of enemy propaganda, and harboring German soldiers. Penalties were given up to 2 years.
FOR THE COMMANDING GENERAL:
EDWARD G. FARRAND,
Colonel, G. S. C.,
Chief of Staff