P. 1
The Last Offensive

The Last Offensive

|Views: 1,855|Likes:
Published by Bob Andrepont
United States Army history of the U.S. Army in Europe 1945
United States Army history of the U.S. Army in Europe 1945

More info:

Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 07, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less






Hardly had the first of Timmerman’s
men crossed the Rhine when Colonel
Engeman radioed the news to the CCB
commander, General Hoge. Because
Hoge in the meantime. had received
word to divert as much strength as pos-
sible from Remagen to reinforce the

H. C. Brewer, Jr




bridgehead over the Ahr River at Sinzig,
he would be acting contrary to an order
still in effect if, instead, he reinforced
the Rhine crossing. He hesitated only
momentarily. Send the rest of the ar-
mored infantry battalion across imme-
diately, he told Engeman; then he drove
to his own command post for a meeting
with his division commander, General

General Leonard’s first reaction to
the news was mock concern against
Hoge’s upset of the plans. “But let’s
push it,” he added, “and then put it up
to Corps.” 11
At 1630 the 9th Armored Division
chief of staff telephoned the command
post of the III Corps.
“Hot damn!” cried a little sergeant as
he transferred the call to the chief of
staff and threw down the telephone.
“We got a bridge over the Rhine and
we’re crossing over!” 12
Although the corps commander, Gen-
eral Millikin, was away from the com-
mand post, his chief of staff, Col. James
H. Phillips, believed he knew how his
commander would react. Even before
trying to contact Millikin, he told the
9th Armored Division to exploit the

When Phillips relayed the news to
headquarters of the First Army, General
Hodges ordered engineers and boats to
Remagen even before calling General
Bradley at 12th Army Group for ap-

“Hot dog, Courtney”—General Brad-
ley later recalled his own reaction—

11 Hechler,

The Bridge at Remagen, p. 155.

12 Ibid., p. viii.

“This will bust him wide open . . . .
Shove everything you can across it.”


General Eisenhower’s reaction was
much the same. Only the planners ap-
peared to question in any degree the
advisability of exploiting the coup. The
SHAEF G–3, General Bull, who hap-
pened to be at Bradley’s headquarters
when the news arrived, remarked that a
crossing at Remagen led no place and
that a diversion of strength to Remagen
would interfere with General Eisenhow-
er’s plan to make the main effort north
of the Ruhr. 14 Yet Bradley would have
none of it, and Eisenhower confirmed
that view.

“Well, Brad,” Eisenhower said, “we
expected to have . . . [four] divisions
tied up around Cologne and now those
are free. Go ahead and shove over at
least five divisions instantly, and any-
thing else that is necessary to make cer-
tain of our hold.” 15
Confirmed approval to exploit the
crossing reached the III Corps at 1845
on 7 March, and an hour and a half later
General Hodges relieved the corps of
the assignment of driving south across
the Ahr. General Millikin in the mean-
time had been making plans to motorize
the reserve regiments of his two infantry
divisions and rush them to the bridge.
Engineers, artillery, antiaircraft–units
of all types stirred in the early darkness
and headed for Remagen. All roads lead-

13 Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, p. 510.
14 Ibid. For General Bull’s view of this event, see
John Toland, The Last 100 Days (New York:
Random House, 1966), pp. 214–15.
15 Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe
(New York: Doubleday and Company, 1948), p.
380; Capt. Harry C. Butcher, USNR, My Three
Years with Eisenhower
(New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1946). p. 768. Bradley, A Soldier’s Story,
page 514, says four divisions.



ing toward the little Rhine town soon
were thick with traffic. Before midnight
three heavy caliber artillery battalions
already were in position to fire in sup-
port of the little band of infantrymen
east of the Rhine.
At the bridge, the handful of engi-
neers from Task Force Engeman worked
unceasingly to repair the damage the
demolition had done to the flooring of
the bridge. Although considerable work
remained, the engineers shortly before
midnight signaled that tanks might try
to cross,

Nine Sherman tanks of the 14th Tank
Battalion crossed without incident, but
the first tank destroyer to try it foun-
dered in an unrepaired hole in the
planking. The vehicle appeared to teeter
precariously over the swirling waters far
below, but for almost five hours every
effort either to right the destroyer or to
dump it into the river failed. At 0530
(8 March) the vehicle was at last re-

In the 27th Armored Infantry Batta-
lion’s minuscule bridgehead, the infan-
trymen and their limited tank support
spent a troubled night fighting off
platoon-size counterattacks along their
undermanned perimeter and expecting
the Germans at any moment to strike in
force. At dawn, when the disabled tank
destroyer was removed from the bridge,
the arrival of a battalion of the 78th
Division’s 310th Infantry relieved the
pressure. As the first vestiges of daylight
appeared, a battalion of the 9th Divi-
sion’s 47th Infantry also crossed into the

In the twenty-four hours following
seizure of the bridge, almost 8,000 men
crossed the Rhine, including two ar-
mored infantry battalions, a tank battal-

ion, a tank destroyer company, and a
platoon of armored engineers of the 9th
Armored Division; a regiment and two
additional battalions of the 78th Divi-
sion; a regiment and one additional bat-
talion of the 9th Division; and one and
a half batteries of antiaircraft artillery.
During that twenty-four hours and
into the next day, 9 March, General
Eisenhower’s initial jubilation over cap-
ture of the Ludendorff Bridge cooled
under the impact of admonitions from
his staff. Committed to a main effort
north of the Ruhr with the 21 Army
Group, he actually had few reserves to
spare for Remagen. Late on g March his
G–3, General Bull, informed General
Bradley that while the Supreme Com-
mander wanted the brideghead held
firmly and developed for an early ad-
vance southeastward, he did not want it
enlarged to a size greater than five divi-
sions could defend. Bradley in turn told
General Hodges to limit advances to a
thousand yards a day, just enough to
keep the enemy off balance and prevent
him from mining extensively around the
periphery. Once the troops reached the
autobahn, seven miles beyond the
Rhine, they were to hold in place until
General Eisenhower ordered expansion.
Thus, almost from the start, the forces
in the Remagen bridgehead were to op-
erate under wraps that would not be re-
moved for more than a fortnight.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->