Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (21): More Quick and Efficient Work

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

Originally, the battle plan for the 10th was limited to the Saar-Moselle Triangle. They were so efficient and quick, however that they went on to capture Trier. But again, thanks to their work at capturing the Romer Bridge the 10th’s combat was extended, driving to Wittlich, about 25 miles north of Trier.

8 March 1945
After crossing the bridge, they were now within six miles of their objective.

10 March 1945
Tiger combat units sealed off the eastern approach to Wittlich and TF Cherry’s tanks fought their way into the city. They then barreled an additional 10 miles to capture a bridge at Bullay, but were thwarted as the Germans had already destroyed the bridge. They did encounter and defeat a 50 vehicle enemy convoy near the Mosel River.

12 March 1945
The mission was ended. TF Cherry rejoined the remainder of the Division at Trier. These swift battle movements are what had previously earned the Tigers the name “Ghost Division.”

In this period the Tigers sealed off a 44-mile pocket on the west bank of the Moselle, now with its name changed to the Mosel.


10 March - 11 March 1945
While TF Cherry was on its way to Wittlich, Combat Command B where my Dad’s medical company was assigned, and the Reserve Command stayed closer to Trier. They drove the Germans across the Kyle River, a Mosel tributary, three miles north of Trier at Ehrang and headed toward Schweich.

When TF Chamberlain entered the city on March 10, all was quiet. The Germans had declared that Schweich was now an “open city.” The German message, according to Nichols, was that the town was “undefended and sheltered 3,000 wounded Germans.” It was a trick. Instead they found a powerful array of artillery, mined streets and just two German casualties.

Shortly after the TF seized the city the Germans “rained a steady stream of shells into the ‘open city’ resulting in heavy Tiger casualties." Then, after two days of fighting, the Germans were circled and neutralized. The TF returned to Trier on March 11.

In eight days, four task forces had spearheaded some forty miles over terrain completely unfavorable to armored operations. By March 12 were all back in Trier, Germany’s oldest city.

12 March – 16 March 1945
The reunited Tenth was given a much-earned four-day rest in Trier. They did sightseeing of the ancient Roman ruins and prepared for what would come next- the Race to the Rhine.

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