Blue Mike reports: At 1200 the attack on a division front was begun....We were on the right flank of the 71st Division which was on the right of the XXI Corps drive to Pirmasens. There was very little resistance as most German troops had escaped to defensive positions east of the Rhine.
March 22, 1945 - Venningen, Germany
March 22, 1945 - Venningen, Germany
"Division intelligence reported mine fields between the towns of Schweix and Venningen out in front of the Siegfried Line. Co. M began the advance at 1200. About one-half mile out of Liederschiedt, we crossed the border between France and Germany. Our first German village was Schweix. We moved by platoon strength. I was with the company Hq staff [including me and most of the 3d Mortar Platoon] group and between Schweix and Venningen, we ran into a mine field. It was an old field, as erosion had uncovered eight or ten of the mines. ... I marked a way through until I felt we were beyond the mines. The rest of the group used my footprints and all got through the field safely. We continued on to Venningen, arriving there at 1630. We had marched a distance of slightly over four miles.
"Our motorized group [on another route] was delayed by numerous road blocks...When they got into Venningen, they saw the gun [a German 88-mm] which presumably was doing the shelling [when we were in Liederschiedt].
March 23, 1945 - Bivouac near Klein-Fischlingen, Germany
Blue Mike: "We are now in Germany. ... We occupied Vinningen yesterday, slept here last night and are waiting on transportation for another move. ... At 1945 we loaded on trucks and half-tracks and began the motor movement, passing through the 'dragon's teeth' and abandoned pill-boxes of the Siegfried Line, to the assembly area in the vicinity of Klein-Fischlingen. Pfc Johnson and others in the mortar platoon rode on the half-tracks. This was his first experience of riding on a half-track. We closed into the assembly area at 2350, after covering a distance of 49 miles, and bivouaced for the night.
March 24, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "The day was fair and warm with good visibility. We spent the morning sitting around and waiting on transportation.
"At 1600 the company moved by motor to the town of Otterstadt within one and a half miles of the west bank of the Rhine river. We had closed into Otterstadt and had established outpost positions on the west bank of the Rhine by 2200. .. We were billeted in houses, except for outpost personnel."
March 25, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "Our low temperature last night was 37 degrees F. The Germans...limited their activities to lobbing 88-mm artillery and mortar shells into Otterstadt at random intervals.
"The mortar platoon was zeroed in on an assembly area, assumed to be a mess area, 800 yards deep on the east side....Lt. Stewart had observed with his binoculars that Germans would sneak down to a sunken barge on the east side of the Rhine and return with buckets of water. He arranged with Lt. Prekker to zero one of his mortars on that barge. From then on, every time a Kraut would approach that barge, we would drop an 81 mm mortar round on him.
"At 0900 regimental intelligence reported a German mess line was shelled. The mortar platoon outpost kept a continuous daylight binocular surveillance of the east side of the Rhine. All of the six mortars were zeroed in on various targets of opportunity on that side. This morning we noticed a gathering of Germans in a targeted area. It was obvious this was a mess line. The mortar platoon outpost on the west bank of the Rhine could hear the mess kits rattling as well as watching them with their binoculars, and when the German mess line was full, they gave the order to fire. Within a matter of minutes, the mortar platoon dropped 15 to 20 rounds on the mess line. No doubt some were killed or wounded."
March 27, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "This was a day of very little activity for Co. M except for manning river bank outposts. The sky was overcast with rain in the morning. We continued to receive occasional 88 mm fire in and around Otterstadt."
March 28, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "The enemy resistance on the east bank of the river appeared to be weakening. Very little artillery was received in Otterstadt. The weather was overcast and rainy.
"At 1315 orders were received from division for a contemplated move later in the night of March 28. We were to be relieved by the 411th Infantry Regimentof the 103d Division under cover of darkness. ...At 2200 the relief had been completed.
"By 2300 Co. M had assembled in Speyer preparatory for further movement by motors. Later after we had cleared Otterstadt, we learned that the Krauts had made a crossing in force across the Rhine and the 411th Infantry lost quite a few men.
March 29, 1945 - Bivouac near Alsenz, Germany
Blue Mike: "At 0100 we loaded on QM trucks and began a move of 42 miles to an assembly area in Alsenz. Our route of march was Speyer, Dudenhofen, Geinsheim, Lachen, Neustadt, Lambrecht, Weidenthal, Frankenstein, Fischbach, Enkenbach, Winnweiler, Imsweiler, Rockenhausen and on to Alsenz. This move was a roundabout way to get to Frankfurt by going back a considerable distance to the west and north, but it did place us in a favorable reserve position for transfer from the Seventh Army to Patton's Third Army. After many long and irritating delays parked on the side of the road, we closed into Alsenz at 2230. We had covered 42 miles in 20-1/2 hours or an average pace of less than two MPH. We could have walked it in less time if we had the energy.
"Before settling into bivouac we were alerted for a further move tomorrow. We were now assigned to XII Corps, Third Army.