Three days later, the 9th Armored Division was officially deactivated at Camp Patrick Henry, near Newport News, Virginia.[64]. The reconnaissance vehicles were too lightly armored to withstand anti-tank guns and Panzerfausts. [21], Lt. Col. Engeman’s 14th Tank Battalion had three companies of M4A3 Sherman medium tanks and a company of M24 light tanks. The region’s most important cities were Plzen and Cheb. SS ... the camp in Zwodau held some 900–1,000 starving women prisoners. “Soon the massive numbers of Germans became nearly unmanageable. The capture of the intact Ludendorff Bridge enabled U.S. forces to quickly cross the Rhine River and establish a firm bridgehead for follow-on operations. (San Antonio, TX:  privately published in 1986), p. 143. ambassador and a Holocaust survivor, is happening now. “Werewolves” were German soldiers who attempted to set up guerrilla operations behind the advancing Allied armies. [13], After the Battle of the Bulge, the 9th Armored Division re-organized and then returned to active operations in February 1945. On March 17, 1945, the Ludendorff, severely damaged in the fighting ten days earlier and weakened further from the strain of heavy traffic, collapsed into the Rhine. He was honorably discharged in June 2011 as a Religious Program Specialist First Class (Fleet Marine Force). All Germans arriving within American lines after that time would be turned over to the Soviets. Archives II – College Park, Maryland. [56] CCA, 9th Armored Division AAR, pp. By March, American troops closed on the Rhine River. 14th Tank Battalion. Also present were Major Mortimer, Brig. The 101st Airborne Division. Washington, DC 20024-2126 Message from Eisenhower to US Military Mission, Moscow - 8 May 1945 (Ref. Both panzer divisions were short on tanks, fuel and other supplies. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, senior British diplomats and military officers, the U.S. State Department and pro-democracy Czechs and Slovaks pressed for Third U.S. Army to liberate Prague and as much of western Czechoslovakia as possible as a possible counter-balance to Soviet machinations to install pro-Soviet Czech and Slovak Communists in power in the liberated country. 1st Lieutenant. This placed greater and greater strains on the 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions and 2nd Cavalry Group to cover this ever-lengthening flank. So General Eisenhower decided to send Third U.S. Army to help the Soviets clear the remaining German forces out of Czechoslovakia. In the fall of 1942, Keyes was transferred to serve as Deputy Commander of the II Armored Corps and Harmon became commanding general of the 2nd Armored Division for the North Africa invasion. Transferring V Corps down to the Czechoslovak border required a shuffling of units. [12] US Army ETO Order of Battle, pp. Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower’s Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany 1944-1945. By 9 March CCB of the 8th secured the town of Ossenberg as well as the towns of Borth and Wallach. CCA’s task forces rolled forward against negligible German resistance. While still in their custody, Henlein managed to slit his wrists using his eyeglasses and died on 10 May 1945. Some days as many as 90 stills and 1200 feet of movie film was exposed. [61], Within a day or two after VE-Day, the Soviet Army arrived at Karlovy Vary and the U.S. soldiers made contact with them. Colonel, USA (Ret.). The Germans all knew that Soviet captivity meant brutality and near certain death. Those advanced U.S. units were recalled from their drive on Prague.[47]. There still loomed the war in the Pacific Theater. Soldiers of the 2nd and 97th Infantry Divisions and several other units were scheduled to re-deploy back to the U.S. and then onto the Pacific to participate in the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands later that year. A detachment of troops of the U.S. 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, from the 6th Armored Division, part of the U.S. Third Army, and under the command of Captain Frederic Keffer, arrived at Buchenwald on April 11, 1945 at 3:15 p.m. (now the permanent time of the clock at the entrance gate). The reserve status of Combat Command A, however, was soon to end. USAMHI Archives. The 123rd Combat Unit … —US Army Signal Corps, March 1945, “...you can only see the sky above, the framework of the bridge, and hear the rushing waters of the Rhine below. General Thomas Harrold was at that moment inspecting the screening posts and road blocks set up by his troops. On 24 March 18 Tank Bn of the 8th Armored Division was ferried across in support of the 30th Infantry prior to the Division's crossing. Platoon Leader. Over the next twenty-seven days, the division advanced over 200 miles through central Germany, and captured Neiderhausen, Idstein, Warburg, and Colditz on its way to the Mulde River. “The Russians were our allies on 11 May 1945,” recalled Capt Roberts “We were all happy, drinking vodka and celebrating at the time. Join us right now to watch a live interview with a 498-501. There was another factor which would affect how far U.S. forces advanced on the day of 7 May 1945. ; Paul M. Crucq’s  Strike, Fight and Conquer: The History of the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion in World War II July 1942 - October 1945.; Dr. Walter Reichelt’s Phantom Nine; Col. Daniel Shimkus, USA (dec.). Accompanied by CCA’s Operations Officer, Major Henry Mortimer and another major from the 1st Infantry Division, Capt Roberts traveled to 12th Corps’s headquarters in Karlovy Vary. US Armored Force of the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion (6th Armored Division) overran the general area in which the camp was located on Apr 12, 1945. All other German forces in Czechoslovakia belonged to Army Group Center. 2nd Cavalry Group also undertook two daring raids to rescue Allied prisoners of war and to rescue the famed Lippizzaner performing horses of the Spanish Riding School from behind enemy lines. Combat Command A (CCA) of the 9th Armored Division was attached to the 1st Infantry Division for a drive east from the vicinity of Cheb with Karlovy Vary being the objective. ;  U.S. Army. (Drukkerij Truijen, Rijswijk:  1993), p. 381. “As such, we had hundreds of German soldiers surrendering, including generals. The battalion had had five of the new M26 Pershing tanks, equipped with the 90mm cannon, but traded them in early April 1945 to the 19th Tank Battalion for five M4A3 Shermans. My thanks to Gen. Ruhlen for sending me a copy of this AAR. [41] This account of Combat Command A’s operations is compiled from the following sources: Major General George Ruhlen, USA (dec.). (NY:  Blandford P, 1983), pp. ; U.S. Army. A history of the 12th Armored Division: Hellcats 98 pages, good scan. Outgoing Message File. 2-3.;  Crucq, p. 381.; Chapter Nine of Phantom Nine. So, 9th Armored Division would detach its Combat Command A to spearhead 1st Infantry Division’s drive on Karlovy Vary while the rest of the division was held in reserve. One month later on 25 September 1944, the division arrived in France. The two battalion commanders split up and continued eastward. At the end of April, Twelfth U.S. Army Group decided to have First U.S. Army accept some responsibility for the Czechoslovak border in order for Third Army to continue its drive into Austria. We were met in front by the Commanding General, his staff, and an honor guard. [15], The month of April witnessed the near collapse of the German Army in the west. Strochlitz and Meed were serving then as co-chairpersons on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council's Day… [45], While Task Force Engeman was advancing on Karlovy Vary on 6 May, Task Force Collins remained in reserve at Cheb. Other U.S. divisions were rushed across the bridge and subsequent bridges erected in the vicinity to exploit this fortunate opportunity. [9], On 27 August 1944, the 9th Armored Division landed in Britain and prepared for operations on the European Continent. [4] U.S. Army. By month’s end, Third U.S. Army held positions along and over the Czechoslovak border and were driving into Austria. Operations Planning Section. Paris, France:  December 1945.  pp. So on the morning of 7 May 1945, the 1st, 2nd and 97th Infantry Divisions and CCA 9th Armored Division resumed their advances. Reserve Command delayed the German drive on Bastogne and then fought with the 101st Airborne Division in defending the vital crossroads town. The streets were dirty, littered with rubble, full of nails, buildings burned. In forming its armored divisions, the U.S. Army employed two methods for organization. U.S. forces remained in Czechoslovakia under the command of XXII Corps until December 1945 to help the Czechs. All Germans not within American lines by that time would become prisoners of the Soviets. Thus, hundreds of thousands of German soldiers and civilians became engaged in a literal race of life and death to reach American lines before the surrender deadline. Two of the 9th Armored Division soldiers amidst this flood of Germans rushing west to escape the Soviets were 1st Lt Dee Paris of the 14th Tank Battalion and Private First Class Daniel Shimkus of the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). ;  Robert R. Palmer, “Reorganization of Ground Troops for Combat.”  Found on pages 261-384 of Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer and Bell I. Wiley’s The Army Ground Forces:  The Organization of Ground Combat Troops. Within minutes, the Battery hit the remaining German anti-tank guns with 105mm shells and knocked them out. His men disarmed the soldiers and directed them into temporary camps on the hills surrounding the town until they could be sent back to the 1st Infantry Division and thence onto Germany. In November, the 482nd Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) and 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion were attached. My thanks to Robert Ellis of the battalion for providing  me with photo-copies. S-3 (Operations) Officer. I was devastated since he was one of my favorite soldiers.”[43], C Battery of the 3rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion immediately went into firing positions. The division’s capture of the only intact bridge across the Rhine forced a change in Eisenhower’s plans. After Action Report for 1 - 8 May 1945. U.S. Army European Theater of Operations. My grandfather had been a POW at Oflag VIB in Doessel, Germany for 5 and 1/2 years. is a World War II tank division which saw combat from June 1944 to September 1945. I understand a German nuclear device was captured near Goslar on 26 April 1945 by the Ninth US Army. [41], Task Force Engeman soon ran into German resistance from roadblocks, machine guns, anti-tank guns and infantry armed with Panzerfaust hand-held anti-tank rockets. 9th Armored Division. As we ran toward the bridge, we stepped and jumped over the dead and wounded. The advance had been costly. [17] U.S. Army. In September 1943, the Army adopted the “Light” Armored Division organization and re-organized nearly all of its armored divisions using this method. Soldiers from the reconnaissance unit were used to mark the route to the assembly area located near Arzberg. 335. In early March 1945, Allied troops had reached the west bank of the Rhine River along most of the river's length, north of the city of Köln. [42], Near the town of Gelsdorf, the Task Force ran into more anti-tank guns, which knocked out the tank driven by Sgt. 397. (NY:  Hippocrene Books, 1992). Two American light tanks had been knocked, one soldier had been killed and several more wounded. Letters to the Author of 31 May, 4 June, 17 June, and 25 June 1998.; Col. Leonard Engeman, USA (dec.). Patton immediately issued orders for V Corps and XII Corps to attack the following morning with their infantry divisions to open up routes for their armored divisions to pass through. Lt. Col. Battalion Commander / 3rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion. Then on 7 March 1945, a task force of the 9th Armored Division captured the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen on the Rhine River – the last great geographical barrier blocking the Allies from pouring across Germany. D Company contained the battalion’s light tanks. With tens of thousands of soldiers advancing across a broad front, communicating the order to halt took some time to accomplish. Firstly thanks for the excellent work presented. Eisenhower, however, recognized that the Soviets were in a far better position to capture the city so he directed his massive army to halt well short of the city. ;The History of the 17th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, (Seattle, WA:  Lowman & Hanford Co., 1946?). reading, is happening now. [49], At 0615, Task Force Engeman resumed its eastward attack. “Col. On the Big Red One’s left was the 6th Cavalry Group of VIII Corps. The 9th Armored Division had fought in the Ardennes Counter-Offensive, seized the Remagen Bridge and driven across central Germany. Third U.S. Army. On the morning of 7 May 1945 and as the Third Reich collapsed, soldiers of Combat Command A (CCA), U.S. 9th Armored Division mounted up their vehicles and resumed their advance eastward further into north-western Czechoslovakia. The Professional Bulletin of Army History, Fall/Winter 1992/1993, 1–5. The 1st and 97th Infantry Divisions were already well-established on the border. We joined the leading elements at Leutesdorf and turned in many of the first pictures of the advance east of the Rhine. Cecil Roberts. After Action Report for 1  - 8 May 1945. The armored divisions brought tremendous mobility, firepower and organizational flexibility onto the battlefields, and helped greatly in assisting in the destruction of the Third Reich. 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