Monday, May 04, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (28): The Last Kilometer

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.

1 May 1945
VE Day for the Tigers

From Nichols:
At Ulm, they had turned south once more and, attacking into the rugged Alps on two parallel routes, [the Tigers] had reached Mittenwald on one route and had captured Imst in Austria after crossing the border at Fussen on the other when the war ended.

Prior to April 30, a final Tenth Armored Division Field Order was issued which called for the capture of Innsbruck, Austria. However, the Germans had already blown out great chunk of the road…. [T]he Innsbruck Field Order had to be abandoned…. So intent were the Tigers in grinding out the last mile, that they even tried to roll their tanks over the railroad tracks. The going was extremely difficult, however, as the steel rails did not match the width of the tank tracks…. The last kilometer was now a matter of record anyway. The big fight was over. And Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the opinion of the Armoraiders, was a fine place to end the war on this, the last day of April of 1945. The final major battle operation of the Tiger Division consumed seven weeks. This period was marked with continuous combat, sleepless days and nights, sizzling speed, strained nerves, rain, snow, mud, and cold. But at last, the ordeal was over.

Elsewhere in the European Theater:
April 29: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun exchange wedding vows in Adolf Hitler's underground Berlin bunker.

General Vietinghoff, the German commander of Axis forces in Italy, signs documents surrendering to the Allies.

April 30: The newly wed Hitlers commit suicide in the Berlin bunker. Joseph and Magda Goebbels follow suit, murdering their six children before taking their own lives.

Soviet Union forces capture the Reichstag.

May 1: Admiral Karl Dönitz, Adolf Hitler's handpicked successor, establishes a government in Flensburg to control Nazi Germany following Adolf Hitler's suicide.

May 2: Some 490,000 German soldiers in Italy lay down their weapons, honoring the terms of the unconditional surrender signed by Vietinghoff three days earlier.

May 3: Red Army units link up throughout Berlin as German resistance ends, completing the capture of the capital of the Third Reich.

Hamburg, Germany, and Innsbruck, Austria, fall to the Allies.

May 4: German troops surrender en masse throughout northern Germany and the Netherlands.

May 5: German and Allied officials meet in Reims, France, to reach agreement on the terms of Germany's capitulation.

The German army lays down its weapons throughout Bavaria.

U.S. forces liberate French and Austrian officials -- including premiers Reynaud, Daladier, Blum, and Schuschnigg -- from captivity in Austria.

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