In Tornado's Wake
| Index | | Next |


The depleted forces of CCB closed in the vicinity of Venlo, Holland, for highly deserved rest, vital maintenance, and re-supply. The people of Venlo, who well knew the horrors of combat, welcomed them, and men of CCB formed many lasting friendships while quartered in the homes of this Dutch community.

The Command immediately began preparations for return to combat. Replacement personnel arrived; 130th Ordnance Battalion supplied new tanks and halftracks. 49th AIB units conducted infantry assault training and mock village fighting, not only to integrate new personnel, but also to keep the combat-tested troops at peak efficiency.

Tanks were strangers to most of the 36th Tank's new replacements, some of whom actually fell off the crew seats while taking the first ride in a "moving foxhole." However a few days of combat training in the form of firing on German positions on the east Rhine bank taught them the ways of the tanker, and they quickly became key members of the "Invincible" team.

Several pleasant events marked CCB's stay in Venlo. Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, paying a visit to the war-torn town, was welcomed by General Devine and Colonel Kimball. Passes to Paris were again allotted to all units of the Division, and the lucky soldiers receiving them were quartered expense free for three days in a Paris hotel. General Devine, accompanied by Colonel Charles G. Dodge, Chief of Staff, and Lieutenant Colonel L. L. Boyd, Division G-1, decorated the CCB men who had distinguished themselves in the Rheinberg engagement. The Red Cross Clubmobile was available to dispense music, doughnuts, coffee, and cigarettes. Many of the men attended the Lily Pons-Andre Kostelanetz concert arranged through efforts of the Division Special Services Officer and the U.S.O.

On 11 March 1945 the Thundering Herd was detailed to perform a security mission. Rear area security had been of major concern to XVI Corps Commander, Major General Anderson, as none of the combat units of the Corps had had adequate time to thoroughly screen the area through which they had passed in the drive to the Rhine.

As outlined in Letter of Instructions Number 32, Headquarters, XVI Corps, dated 101600 March 1945, the 8th Armored Division was to perform security missions in all the XVI Corps area between the Division rear boundary and Corps rear boundary with the exception of the town of Nieukerk, Germany. All bridges, supply dumps, ammunition, and supply points were to be guarded. All houses in the area were to be searched for male civilians of military age and for civilians not carrying authorized identification cards. All such persons were to be taken into custody for screening.

During such screening the first evidences of an underground organization came to light. Skillful interrogation by Lieutenant Martin Bernstein of G-2 Section revealed complete plans of the underground. Cleverly camouflaged underground bunkers were discovered, each containing twelve to fifteen men, fully equipped and under orders to remain in place until the advancing troops had by-passed them. These men would then receive secret orders to sabotage rear area army installations. These bunkers were cleared by the 7th AIB, and the German soldiers were sent under guard to the Division PW enclosure. Higher headquarters were apprised of the discovery, and the Thundering Herd claimed the distinction of being the first unit to uncover the existence of these secret "Werewolf" organizations.

While all this was going on, Division Headquarters, located at Hinsbeck, reorganized itself to conform to the command setup of a corps and an army. Headquarters was divided into two parts to permit General Devine and the operations (G-3) and intelligence (G-2) sections to travel and function immediately behind the leading units of the Division. The CG, Chief of Staff, G-2, and G-3 were designated TAC branch; G-1, G-4, Headquarters Commandant, Chemical Section, and others traveled with Division MAIN. This reorganization permitted flexibility of movement and operations, as each branch contained mess facilities, supply, and medical personnel.

Tornado men not occupied with the Division's security mission devoted themselves to weapon and vehicle maintenance, practice stream crossings, small unit tactics, training, and combat firing. Tank battalions received E-45 Mechanized Flame Throwers designed for mounting on M-4 tanks. This weapon, invaluable in the Pacific area, was to prove its worth in Europe also.

Continual forward movement of big guns plus the strange sight of U.S. Navy LCVP's and LCM's moving forward under cover of darkness were indications that "Die Wacht" on the Rhine was soon to be disrupted.

The Germans also knew that the assault crossing of the Rhine in the Wesel area would not be long delayed. Their units which had escaped to the cast bank were frantically regrouping and reorganizing. The 180th and the 190th Volks Grenadier Divisions had succeeded in withdrawing across the the Rhine to the vicinity of Wesel. Supported by the 116th Panzer Division both Divisions remained in this position. The 130th Panzer Division, originally in the Wesel area, had moved to counterattack the 1st Army bridgehead which had been established on 7 March 1945.

The German forces in this zone had been caught off balance when the 9th Armored Division, commanded by Major General John W. Leonard, seized the Remagen Bridge, intact, on 7 March 1945 and rushed troops across it. The enemy in the Wesel sector thus became determined to repel the 9th Army assault so as to be able to counterattack the Remagen bridgehead.

Pre-staging events came rapidly for the 8th as the time for assault crossing of the Rhine grew nearer. On 20 March 1945 the tank battalions held blackout marches and practice river crossings over a pontoon bridge at Grefarth. Infantry units continued to practice small unit tactics and combined arms training.

On 22 March 1945 Tornado's Division Artillery, commanded by Colonel Henry W. Holt, moved into firing positions to participate in the barrage to be laid down prior to and during the initial assault crossing which was to be made by elements of the 30th Infantry Division, commanded by Major General Leland S. Hobbs. Ammunition was stock piled during the 22nd and 23rd of March. "H" Hour, "D" Day, was to be 0400 March 24; at H-1 hours the entire 9th Army front erupted with one tremendous roar. As far as the eye could see artillery, ranging from 75 mm to 240 mm, was hurling deadly steel at the Germans dug in on the east bank of the Rhine. Noise was so intense that the section chiefs could hardly hear commands coming in over their phones. Each minute during the hour-long barrage 1,087 shells were sent hurtling across the River, a total of 65,261 rounds being fired during that hour. From H-1 to H-4 hours the number of artillery rounds fired in support of the crossing was totaled at 131,450. Tornado Division Artillery remained in position and was placed in direct support of the 79th Infantry Division commanded by Major General Ira T. Wyche, which crossed the river later on 24 March.

To give troops of the 30th Infantry Division armor support pending the commitment of the 8th Armored Division, Company D, 18th Tank Battalion, was ferried across the Rhine with the 30th's assault waves. (Lieutenant Thommie W. Yeargan's M-24 was the first tank across the Rhine in the 9th Army sector.) The tankers assisted in the capture of Spellem, the first town in the zone east of the Rhine.

The Rhine was rapidly bridged by the engineer units under XVI Corps control. Among units which helped construct the bridge sites were the 17th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company and the 202nd Engineer Combat Battalion. At 1800, 26 March the 8th Armored received orders to cross the river. XVI Corps Letter of Instructions Number 42, dated 26 March 1945, directed the 8th to move out at once, cross the Rhine, move into an assembly area east of Hunxe, and be prepared to advance east to secure crossings over the Zweigkanal.

Under cover of an air haze created by Engineer Smoke Generating Companies, the Division crossed the river during the night of the 26th and part of the morning of the 27th at bridge sites "G" and "H". During the night German planes harassed the crossing sites. The black curtain of the night sky was laced with tracer bullets and crisscrossing searchlights. Below all this vehicles of the Thundering Herd slowly moved across pontoons bridging the river filled with debris and floating corpses. The 473rd AAA (AW) SP Battalion, charged with protecting the crossing of the Division, maintained a curtain of fire over the bridge sites to prevent the dwindling Luftwaffe from knocking out the crossings. The 8th closed in the Hunxe assembly area at approximately 1200 March 27.

The first armored unit to cross the Rhine in the 9th Army sector, the 8th was utilized immediately after reorganization had been completed in the assembly area. General Devine received a new mission for the Division at 2000 on 27 March. XVI Corps Letter of Instruction Number 43, dated 27 March 1945, attached the 290th Infantry Regiment (commanded by Colonel Carl F. Duffner) of Major General Ray E. Porter's 75th Infantry Division to the Thundering Herd and ordered the 8th, plus attachments, to pass through the 30th Infantry Division and launch an attack at 280600 March 1945 with the mission of securing crossings over the Rhein-HerlieEmscher-Zweigkanal and continuing eastward to secure the road running from Hamm to Soest.

General Devine ordered CCA to attack in its zone on the north flank, with CCR abreast on the south. He held CCB in reserve. CCA was to attack east along the axis Hunxe-Dorsten-Leukerbeck-Pelkum-Nord. This Combat Command was to seize and hold crossings over the Rhein-Herne Canal in the vicinity of the junction of this canal with the Lippe River.

CCA was ordered to attack at 0600 on the 28th. General Colson retained the task force organization previously used and designated the newly attached 2nd Battalion of the 290th Infantry Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Russell 0. Harris) Task Force Harris. The attack jumped off with Task Force Poinier preceding Task Forces Goodrich and Harris. Poinier's unit immediately hit strong artillery and small arms fire as it moved toward the initial march objective, Im Loh.

As the attack on Im Loh was underway, two tanks of the 18th Tank Battalion, attempting to move across country, bogged down in the marshy ground. Ordnance vehicles fitted with "A" frames attempted to extricate the bogged-down tanks but were unable to cross the wide expanse of marshland. Constantly harried by artillery and mortar fire, men from Company A, 130th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion, heroically produced a corduroy roadway over which the recovery vehicles moved to pull out the tanks.

Lieutenant Alvin W. Pagel, Troop A, 88th, a former pitcher for the New York Giants, was killed while his platoon was acting as flank security for Task Force Poinier. Captain John W. Chapman, CO Troop A, enlisted the aid of 18th Tank Battalion tanks to smoke the area while he went forward to tow Pagel's M-8 out of the line of fire.

Im Loh was captured at 0730 28 March, and Task Force Poinier moved out in the direction of Dorsten. The situation became increasingly difficult as CCA moved forward. Enemy dual purpose AA gun emplacements were well dug-in, amply defended, and copious; each emplacement had to be reduced by infantry action. Progress was slow throughout the day and a blown bridge caused such delay that nightfall found Task Force Poinier fighting from house to house southwest of Dorsten.

Throughout the day enemy counter battery fire had been intense. It became even heavier as night came on. Enemy artillery set fire to an M-7 (Priest) of Headquarters Battery, 398th Field Artillery Battalion. The blaze silhouetted other vehicles against the sky, making them perfect targets for enemy gunners. Under artillery fire Sergeant Carl V. Lawrence, T/5 Duard Lawrence, Private Salvatore P. Peone, and Private Nathaniel C. Wood moved into the open and extinguished the flames.

General Devine had originally planned to bypass Dorsten, which was located on the extreme north flank of the Division zone of advance. His plan had been to pass south of the town, isolate it, and proceed to clean it up afterwards from the east. On the afternoon of the 28th when General Anderson, CG, XVI Corps, called General Devine to inquire as to when Dorsten could be taken, General Devine told him of this plan. Although the proposal was tentatively accepted, General Anderson later the same day informed General Devine that 9th Army wanted Dorsten taken as soon as possible. This verbal order was implemented by XVI Corps Letter of Instructions Number 44 dated 28 March 1945 and received at 2000 the same date, which directed the Thundering Herd to capture Dorsten prior to 0600 on the 29th. If assistance was needed the 30th Infantry would be available, but any joint operation involving use of the 30th would be commanded by Major General Hobbs, CG, 30th.

While these command decisions were being formulated, Task Force Poinier had been fighting southwest of Dorsten in accordance with General Devine's original plan. At 1700 on the 28th various forces had been drawn from CCR to form Task Force Crittendon. These were:

Company C, 80th Tank Battalion
1st Platoon, Company C, 53rd Armored Engineer Battalion
1st Platoon, Troop C, 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
1st Battalion, 290th Infantry Regiment
Company C, 809th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

This Task Force was scheduled to move into position southwest of Dorsten to assist Task Force Poinier in reaching its objective.

However, the new Corps instructions voided these plans and meant that in the middle of the night two entire combat commands would have to shift from an easterly direction almost 180 degrees to a northerly route of advance, move into attack positions, and be prepared to launch an attack almost immediately. After discussing the situation at a commanders' meeting, General Devine ordered General Colson to attack Dorsten from the southwest with the aid of one task force from CCR. Task Force Crittendon came as planned to assist CCA and was immediately incorporated into Task Force Harris.

The night of the 28th was dark and rainy. The "turning" operation began with dismounted troops of Companies B and C, 7th AIB, leading. To shift the direction of an attack over unfamiliar terrain is a difficult task even during the hours of daylight. To do so in complete darkness appeared almost impossible. Fortunately the Infantrymen of the 7th AIB were able to follow a railroad running south from Dorsten as they moved to occupy attack positions. All other CCA units followed the same path and were ready for the dawn attack.

At 0600 a 15-minute artillery barrage got underway. With 15 battalions of artillery participating almost 100 rounds per minute were thrown into Dorsten. The attack jumped off at 0615 with Task Force Poinier leading. Heavy AT and high velocity fire was received from the north and northeast. Mark IV and Mark V tanks were dug in on the high ground on the north of the town. The leading elements of Task Force Poinier entered the town at 0730 and by 0900 all effective resistance had been cleared away, as Task Force Harris had also entered the town from the south and had proceeded to clear its assigned sector. When General Devine reported to XVI Corps that Dorsten had been taken, he was highly commended for a well-done job. 9th Army needed Dorsten in order to bridge the Lippe and enable armor to move northward.

In the area around Dorsten and the flat open country which stretched to the Rhine-Herne Canal, the Germans had emplaced many 88's and 105's. These had been used as anti-aircraft defenses for the Ruhr industrial area during the early years of the war. Turned against armor, these weapons were highly effective in slowing the advance of the Thundering Herd. As Major Robert Logan, CO, 405th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, described the emplacements:

"These Krauts had been in the same positions two or three years.

They had flowerbeds in bloom around their emplacements. The gunners were experienced and well-trained, but they had numerous youngsters 16 years old as ammunition passers."

In addition to these prepared emplacements there were numerous miscellaneous artillery, engineer, and anti-aircraft battalions. Every available German soldier who was not a member of the 180th Volks Grenadier or the 116th Panzer was thrown into the line to bolster the enemy force, but even so the defenses did not withstand the Tornado onslaught.

While CCA was finding its road forward somewhat difficult to traverse on the 28th and 29th, CCR was moving ahead under almost identical circumstances. Colonel Wallace, on the south flank, had been ordered to attack east in the Division zone, seize and hold crossings over the Rhein-Herne Canal, and continue the attack to the east to seize the Hamm-Soest road. Thus, in reality, the Division attack was a two-pronged affair designed to clear a large area.

CCR, located in the vicinity of Bruckhausen on the night of the 27th, used its former task force set-up with the addition of 1st Battalion, 290th Infantry Regiment, as a separate entity. Task Force Walker moved from the assembly area and launched an attack on Zweckel at 0700. Moving to the south around the city of Kirchellen, Task Force Walker ran head on into elements of the 116th Panzer Division defending Zweckel. Approaches to the city were heavily mined, and the Task Force encountered intense artillery and small arms fire as it moved forward. A "Flails" Platoon of Company C, 739th Tank Battalion, was called upon to clear a path through the mine fields to permit the tanks of Task Force Walker to move.

Despite direct fire from depressed 28 mm anti-aircraft guns and from a battery of 210 mm Moersers in the woods to the east, Zweckel was taken during the afternoon of the 28th, and Task Force Walker remained in the town during the night. While mopping up the last resistance in Zweckel the men of TF Walker discovered two deep mine shafts, one stocked with food and the other being used as an ammunition dump by the defending Germans.

Task Force Artman passed through elements of the 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, and launched an attack for the town of Kirchellen. The defenders of this town were also well supplied with artillery and small arms fire and the men of B and C Companies, 58th, found it tough going under artillery time fire. However, Task Force Artman secured Kirchellen and the high ground beyond by 1800 on the 28th. Task Force Umanoff, which had been in Combat Command reserve, was now placed under command of Lieutenant Colonel William S. Crit-tendon and sent to assist CCA in the encirclement and reduction of Dorsten. This unit reverted to control of CCR following the capture of Dorsten and once again became the reserve element of CCR.

To permit CCA and CCR to continue the advance to the east as had been previously ordered, General Devine directed CCB to move into Dorsten at 0900 29 March and take over the mopping up of any scattered resistance. This accomplished, CCA moved out with Task Force Poinier and Task Force Goodrich abreast, while Task Force Harris followed in reserve. Task Force Poinier proceeded directly east with the town of Marl as objective. Progress was delayed by the necessity of bypassing a large crater hole and a blown bridge. The town of Marl was cleared by nightfall on the 29th and the TF remained there during the night making preparations to continue the attack on the morning of the 30th.

On the 29th Task Force Goodrich swung southeast from Dorsten heading for Polsum. Its attack bogged down due to intense artillery, anti-tank, and direct 88 mm fire, the Task Force spent the night of the 29th astride the axis of advance into Polsum. The following morning an attack for Polsum was launched and by 0930 the first troops had gained a foothold in the town. An attack on the high ground east and south of the town where the enemy had wonderful observation and direct fire on the attacking troops of Task Force Goodrich proved successful and by 1630 the town had been cleared.

During the attack on Polsum Captain Hugh L. Scott, B Battery Commander, 398th FA Battalion, was forward with Lieutenant Colonel Goodrich looking over the situation from a second story window of a brick house an 88 mm took the house under direct fire. The first round went through the room adjacent to them, penetrated the two interior as well as the two exterior walls, and passed on through the rear of the house. They did not wait for the second round!

First Lieutenant William Hammer, Headquarters Battery, 398th AFA Battalion, was seriously wounded while acting as a forward observer with Task Force Goodrich. As the leading tank company was attempting to move under heavy observed anti-tank fire, Lieutenant Hammer moved his forward observer's tank out in the open to engage the enemy weapons and adjust His tank was knocked out and the entire crew was wounded.

First Lieutenant Robert A. Kuntz of the same Battery went to the assistance of the wounded crew members. To reach the tank he, had to traverse section of the road swept by constant fire. After evacuating Lieutenant Hammer, Lieutenant Kuntz returned over the same dangerous route to assist other members of the crew and remained in the forward position to adjust fire on the enemy guns holding up the advance.

Task Force Poinier moved out of Marl on the morning of the 30th immediately ran into trouble, being unable to dislodge fanatical Germans in prepared, strongly defended positions. The Task Force halted, dug in, and held the forward positions. Throughout the day reconnaissance elements tried to find a weak spot in the enemy line which generally extended from Marl to Buer. First Lieutenant Walter A. J. Martens, Troop A, 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized), was wounded while carrying out this reconnaissance mission. Under direct fire from two enemy anti-tank weapons, Lieutenant Martens directed machine gun fire upon positions and enabled a tank to knock the weapons out of action. Although wounded himself, he refused medical attention until later in the day when his platoon was ordered to hold its forward positions.

First Lieutenant Robert Eaton, Headquarters Company, 7th AIB, was while at the head of his Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon After Lieutenant Eaton's jeep hit a mine, the platoon was pinned intense small arms and mortar fire from the woods on both sides.

The forward movement of CCA was temporarily halted. Task Force Poinier held positions east of Marl during the night of 30 March. So that Colonel Poinier could be kept informed as to enemy movements during the night, Corporal Francis L. Partleton, Headquarters Company, 7th AIB, volunteered to lead a small patrol behind the enemy lines to set up an observation post. When his patrol became pinned down by artillery fire, he exposed himself fearlessly in order to find necessary routes to accomplish this mission.

Task Force Goodrich had broken the center of the enemy line running from Marl through Polsum to Buer-Hassel. This line had been established by elements of the 180th Volks Grenadier and 116th Panzer Division as they withdrew south of Dorsten. Having failed to repel the armored thrusts of CCA and CCR the main forces of enemy withdrew to another defensive line running north and south through Recklinghausen. This city had been strongly fortified and the Germans intended to hold this line in order to protect crossings of the Rheine-Herne Canal.

The German forces were in favorable defensive terrain. Both flanks were secured, the right by the Lippe Canal and the left by the Rheine-Herne Canal. The 116th Panzer Division and elements of the 60th and 156th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalions were under command of General Von Waldenburg, a fanatical Nazi leader who had exacted from his men an oath to die rather than surrender.

At the same time in the southern half of the zone of advance CCR continued to move forward on 29 March. Lashing out in a two-pronged attack, Colonel Wallace's forces overcame stiff resistance to reach the town of Scholven and a line extending to the northeast. Task Force Walker jumped off at 0615 and fought its way into Scholven. Task Force Artman crossed the line of departure at 0630, overran Feldhausen, and fought under heavy fire to come abreast of Task Force Walker. After nightfall patrols from Task Force Artman were sent eastward to reconnoiter possible crossings over the Rapphotz-Muhlen Canal.

The attack continued at daybreak on the 30th with TF Artman leading. B Company, 58th Armored Infantry Battalion, crossed the canal and fought into Buer-Hassel. Company C, 53rd Armored Engineer Battalion, constructed a treadway bridge across the canal in 44 minutes and the remainder of the Task Force crossed the bridge to clear the town and woods to the east.

Resistance in front of CCR had stiffened considerably when TF Artman jumped off at 0300 on the 31st in an attack on Kol Berlich. Heading east Task Force Artman passed through Westerholt and continued to Langenbochum, located approximately 2,500 yards west of the "fortress" city of Recklinghausen. Here the 75th Infantry Division relieved the 8th Armored according to Letter of Instructions Number 47, Headquarters, XVI Corps, received at 1800 on 31 March 1945:

"8 armd Div. Be relieved in zone by 75 Infantry Division night of 31 March-1 Apr. Assemble south of Dorsten and cross the Lippe River and revert to control of XIX Corps."

Tornado activities since the Rhine crossing had been constantly under enemy artillery, anti-tank, and small arms fire. Although the Division mffered heavy losses, the Germans had paid more dearly, losing almost 300 men killed and 1,931 captured. The material captured by units of the Thundering Herd included more than 300 artillery and anti-tank weapons.

The drive during the final days of March had in some measure recompensed for the early days of the month when the Division had been "pinched out." Given the opportunity to fully use the armored might which it possessed, the 8th Armored had proven that it was a toughened, well-led combat unit.

Plans for relief of the 8th by the 75th were quickly formulated and effected. Forward elements of CCA and CCR withdrew during the night of 31 March and the last units of the Division crossed the Lippe River at Dorsten at approximately 1430 on 1 April and assembled in the vicinity Selm. Confirming VOGG XIX Corps, Letter of Instructions Number 134, Headquarters, XIX Corps, 021000 April 1945 set forth the new task for Division:

"8th AD move 011700 Apr 45 to vic Lippstadt, Seize Paderborn and assemble in area Paderborn-Klauseheide-Delbruch-Thule. Be prepared for further action to east."

The plan of XIX Corps Commander, Major General Raymond S. McLain, was to divide the corps zone between the 2nd Armored Division and the 8th Armored Division. (The 30th Infantry Division would follow behind the former to "mop up"; the 83rd Infantry Division would perform the same function for the latter.) This was an armored thrust aimed at Berlin itself!

The 290th Infantry Regiment and the 695th and 275th Field Artillery Battalions were relieved of attachment to the Thundering Herd as the Division left the vicinity of Recklinghausen. General Devine ordered all units of the 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) to return to Squadron control under Lieutenant Colonel Tracy B. Harrington. The Squadron was then utilized as a screening force in front of the Division.

On 1 April Combat Command B, given the mission of capturing Paderborn, moved out behind the reconnaissance screening force. Combat Command A was assigned the objective of Delbruck, while CCR, in Division reserve, remained in Selm.

1 April 1945 was Easter Sunday. Chaplains of the Division held services wherever possible. Many men of the Thundering Herd attended worship in an empty warehouse in Selm. Others knelt before altars spread on hoods of jeeps and other vehicles.

But as far as fighting the war was concerned, Easter Sunday was simply another day. The reconnaissance elements preceding Combat Command B moved out of Selm and headed for Paderborn during the afternoon of I April. The column spent the night coiled up in the vicinity of Westhausen. On the following day the Combat Command billeting party under Major John R. Elting, S-2 of CCB, was ambushed by Germans in the vicinity of Neuhaus. This party had become separated from Troop D of the 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which was screening the advance of CCB. Lieutenant Edward Conklin, Adjutant, 36th Tank Battalion, who had received a battlefield commission for conduct under fire at Rheinberg, was seriously wounded.

Staff Sergeant Stephen H. Mosbacher, a member of IPW Team 149, was fatally wounded while attempting the rescue of a wounded comrade lying directly in the path of an enemy tank.

Sergeant Kenneth W. Dickerman, B Company, 53rd Armored Engineer Battalion, was wounded, captured, and sent to a German hospital. He remained in the hospital a short while, then escaped to return to his company during the height of a German counter-attack.

Task Force Roseborough, the leading element of CCB, was moved forward to develop the situation after Troop D, 88th, became engaged in an intense fire-fight. The leading elements of TF Roseborough were stopped by anti-tank and small arms fire as they approached Newhaus. The Task Force commander ordered these elements to break contact with the enemy in order to lay down artillery concentrations on the town. Task Force Van Houten was ordered forward to assist in the capture of Newhaus. After artillery concentrations laid down by the 399th Armored Field Artillery Battalion the advance on Neuhaus was resumed with Task Force Roseborough leading.

Neuhaus was garrisoned mainly by replacement units and a Convalescent Battalion, but reliable sources had reported 20 Tiger Royal Tanks in the town. Task Force Roseborough, with Company A, 49Lh AIB, on the left, and Company C, 49th, on the right, continued its aggressive advance during the night of 2 April. At 0200 on the 3rd an enemy counter-attack was launched from the training center at Sennelager. An estimated force of two companies of SS Infantry and one company of the Convalescent Battalion, supported by panzer tanks, savagely drove Company A, 49th AIB, from its forward positions in the town.

Company B, 36th Tank Battalion, moved to direct support of the infantrymen of Company A, 49th. The foot soldiers, taking cover in basements, craters, and hastily dug positions, called artillery fire down on their own forward elements. As soon as the artillery had stopped they launched an attack supported by Company B, 36th Tank Battalion.

Fanatical Germans began to attack medical personnel of the Thundering Herd. Private First Class Charles W. Schrum, Medical Detachment, 49tb, was killed by a sniper while treating a wounded member of Company A. Staff Sergeant Thomas C. Winters was wounded while evacuating casualties during the counterattack. This German action made Private First Class Robert P. Williams, Company A, 49tb, very angry. When the unit was subjected to sniper fire and Private First Class Schrum was killed, Private First Class Williams left the defense area and began searching for the snipers' hiding places. He was fired upon and temporarily forced to take cover. Later advancing upon a dugout, he called to its occupant to surrender and for an answer received another volley of fire. Charging the dugout entrance, he came out with an SS lieutenant in tow.

The counter-attack continued until 0500 when it was finally beaten back by the combined efforts of Company A, 49th, and Company B, 36th Tank. While the counter-attack was at its peak Colonel Kimball had requested more infantry support and General Devine had ordered CCR to attack to relieve pressure on CCB. At the same time he directed CCA to attempt to reduce the enemy strongpoint at Sennelager.

At 0830 Colonel Kimball's CCB launched a coordinated attack, with Task Forces Roseborough and Van Houten abreast. The leading platoon of Company B, 49th (Roseborough), crossed the line of departure and moved approximately 200 yards into Neuhaus before it was pinned down by heavy machine gun and small arms fire. An artillery concentration was then laid on the town, Company C, 49th (Van Houten), on the left, made a wide envelopment of the town and, in conjunction with the renewed attack of Company B, entered the town. CCB was relieved by elements of the 329th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Division, at 1900 on the 3rd. The Combat Command went into Division reserve for the night.

This was the furthest point of the 8th's advance to the east at this time. 9th Army had indicated that the Division would be used to strike south and west in a drive to reduce the Ruhr pocket. The 8th was to have been held in Selm pending further orders. However, since XIX Corps had already committed the Thundering Herd to capture Paderborn, 9th Army directed that the 8th be held in an assembly area at Paderborn.

Following CCB's attack on Newhaus the Division executed a turn of almost 180 degrees from an attack in an easterly direction to a southwesterly attack. G-2 reports received by Lieutenant Colonel White indicated that the twenty enemy divisions trapped in the Ruhr pocket were gathering at Soest, the logical springboard for a breakout. If the enemy succeeded in breaking out of the pocket, other 9th Army units racing for the Elbe and Berlin would be trapped. The Thundering Herd was turned west to face a desperate enemy who was well supplied with anti-tank and artillery weapons.

A message to the Commanding General, 116th Panzer Division, intercepted by G-2 Section, 8th Armored, indicated that the German Division had been ordered to the vicinity of Beckum to resist the advance of the Thundering Herd.

Having been assigned a front some 45 kilometers wide, General Devine realized that he would need to have as many separate forces as possible in operation. He thus ordered the 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized), under Lieutenant Colonel Tracy B. Harrington, to be reformed as an operating squadron and dispatched it on a screening mission on the Division's right flank. Throughout the operation the 88th was used to maintain flank contact and screen the right flank of the Division. Troops were detached to aid the three combat commands whenever necessary, but the Squadron did not operate as a unit.

Meanwhile Combat Command R had spent the night of 1 April in Selm. On the next day the Command moved from Selm through Beckum and continued eastward to reach the vicinity of Ahlen at 1700. Colonel Wallace was ordered to proceed to the vicinity of Bentfeld and there assemble to await further orders. However, during the night the urgency of the request for assistance from CCB brought him orders to attack south to seize Elsen and relieve the pressure on CCB.

At dawn CCR set out with Elsen the objective. Resistance proved light and Task Force Walker closed in on Elsen at 0915. Letter of Instructions Number 135, dated 3 April 1130 read:

"8 AD (reinf) w/194th Glider Inf Regt will atk S in Z secure line of Ruhr R. . . Gain and maintain contact w/1st Army elms on left flank."

Acting upon this General Devine ordered CCR to be ready to move by 1500. With a mission of securing the line of the Ruhr River, seizing bridges, and establishing small bridgeheads, the Combat Command jumped off at 1500, Task Force Artman leading. Colonel Wallace's forces captured Recklinghausen before nightfall.

Continuing the attack at 0630, 4 April 1945, Task Force Artman advanced against light anti-tank fire. In an attack on the woods northwest of Stripe and Norddorf the two task forces teamed up to clear the area in record time. At Norddorf seventeen Tiger Tanks were found defending the area from the opposite bank of the Ruhr. The Germans had hoped, with this armored power and a few light tanks as decoys, to effect an ambush. A machine gun battle ensued after Companies A and B of the 58th jumped off at 1500. Two enemy bazooka teams were destroyed by D Company, 80th Tank Battalion. The two task forces rolled through Vollinghausen, and Ebbinghausen, and halted for the night in front of Horne.

Having encountered heavy anti-tank fire throughout the day, Task Force Walker had sustained numerous casualties. Six B Company, 80th, tanks had been knocked out, and A Company, 58th, had lost two half-tracks.

At approximately 1830 on the 4th, Colonel Wallace and his driver, Private First Class Robert I. Buss, headed across country in an attempt to contact the commanding officer of the column in front of Horne. Colonel Wallace erroneously believed that the town was already in the hands of Task Force Walker. Approaching the town, Wallace's jeep came under a hail of fire from Germans entrenched around Horne. Realizing that he had stumbled into a trap, Colonel Wallace was able to get rid of his SOI and allied gadgets in some bushes before he was captured.

When Colonel Wallace failed to appear at Major Artman's CP, patrols were dispatched to search for him. These patrols eventually captured a soldier who gave such accurate descriptions of the Colonel and his driver, that General Devine became convinced that the two had been captured and named Colonel Yarrow D. Vesely to assume command of CCR. Colonel Vesely was well trained and prepared for his new command. He had started out with the original 8th A.D. cadre as its first chief of staff. He was Trains Commander and an important part of the division officer personnel from the day the 8th was born. When General Devine sent for Colonel Vesely to brief the Colonel, General Devine was pleased to find that Colonel Vesely was abreast of the situation to the minutest detail ready to continue the operation without wasting any time. The advance continued on the morning of the 5th and the towns of Horne, Klieve, Schmerand Seringhausen fell to the troops of CCR. At 1430 Task Force Artman was relieved by CCA, and CCB took over the area of Task Force Walker at 1500. CCR reverted to Division reserve and moved into an assembly area at Lippstadt. The 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which was operating as the Division screening force, maintained contact with the 1st Infantry Division on Tornado's left flank and captured the town of Westernkotten.

Meanwhile CCA had been heavily engaged in its own zone of advance. Moving out from Selm on I April the Combat Command headed for Delbruck. According to the stories of numerous Russian and Polish DP's Delbruck was heavily defended. However, it was taken without a difficult struggle. The advance section of Division Headquarters "TAC" almost moved into the town with the combat troops. The Headquarters column was forced to halt outside the town while mopping up was completed. When at last they did move into Delbruck, they found that the enemy had been pushed only to the edge of town. T/5 William J. Robinson related that he slept with his hand on the retracting handle of his M-3 (Submachine Gun) all night.

General Devine ordered CCA to attack Sennelager during the night of 2 April in order to assist CCB in stopping the counterattack which had been mounted in Sennelaher, a training and replacement center for the 116th Panzer Division. The town was taken during the morning of 3 April after the attack had been slowed by a delaying force inside the town. Task Force Poinier led CCA from assembly positions at Sennelager in an advance through Salskotten and Geseke to Erwitte. Stiff resistance was encountered at Erwitte and the Task Force halted and dug in for the night.

Numerous intelligence reports were received concerning the enemy strength in Erwitte and a castle south of the town of Eikelon was reported to contain a number of high Nazi officials.

At 0730 on the morning of the 4th Colonel Poinier ordered Company C, 7th AIB, to pass through Company B, 7th, and launch an attack for the town. The German defenders (two infantry companies of the 116th Panzer Divisions supported by tanks) put up stiff resistance. Erwitte was a center of Nazi political and ideological indoctrination, and the SS men there were determined to stop the Thundering Herd's offensive. 20 mm and 50 mm anti-aircraft guns on ground mounts were leveled at the attacking infantry-men of Task Force Poinier. Lieutenant Cecil Lane, Company C, 7th, was fatally wounded leading his platoon into the town.

Deadly anti-tank fire prevented the tanks of D Company, 18th Tank, from moving forward to support the attack, so Colonel Poinier ordered the Assault Gun Platoon, 7th AIB, to put the German AT guns in the woods of town out of action and requested tank support from Task Force Goodrich. The AG Platoon went into action and a tank platoon from Force Goodrich began moving on Erwitte. Technical Sergeant Wesley H. Easley, Headquarters Company, 7th AIB, led two of the assault guns to commanding terrain to fire upon the enemy AT weapons. Direct howitzer fire on the enemy guns put them out of action. The infantrymen of Company C, 7th, supported by the tanks which could move forward, took up marching fire, entered the town at 1430, and had cleared all assistance at 1530. Two tanks from D Company, 18th, were lost.

After Erwitte had been cleared the full striking power of CCA once again turned south. Task Force Poinier headed in the direction of Anrochte. Blown bridges, road blocks covered by fire, and heavy mortar and small fire slowed the advance of Task Force Poinier, and the unit halted in front of Anrochte for the night, outposting the area with small detachments. While one such detachment, under command of Captain Howard T. McCaffrey, S-2, 7th AIB, held the left flank of the Tank Force area, Staff Sergeant Dan Diven and Private First Class Frank Casino of Headquarters Company, 7th, captured two SS men in civilian clothes in a barn.

On the morning of the 5th, Company B launched an attack on Anrochte at 0800. The detachment, under Captain McCaffrey, moved forward to take the eastern half of the town. The Task Force reformed and moved out for Waltringhausen with Company B, 7th, and the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 7th leading. Heavy fire from Waltringhausen halted the Task Force only temporarily. At Robinghausen a small scale counterattack supported by Self-Propelled Artillery was repulsed. The Task Force halted for the night after clearing the town of Altengeseke. While Task Force Poinier carried out its attack on Anrochte, Task Force Goodrich moved toward Berge, coming under high velocity anti-tank fire from the high ground south and west of the village. Lieutenant Colonel Goodrich ordered a night attack on Berge. This was made by Company B, 36th, and Company A, 7th, and the town was taken shortly after daylight. The towns of Mensel, Drewer, and Altenruthen were taken as Task Force Goodrich moved southward to the Moline River during the day of 4 April. At 0630 on 5 April, Task Force Goodrich continued the advance to the west. Company C, 18th, and Company A, 7th AIB, teamed up to take Ulge at 1200. A large number of prisoners were captured in the town. As the Task Force moved through Altenmelirich heavy tank fire was encountered. The sharpshooters of Company C, 18th Tank, bagged a panther that did not succeed in withdrawing. The 6th of April was spent moving through small groups of PW's who wanted to surrender. Lieutenant Colonel Goodrich divided his Force two groups to better utilize the road net in the drive to the west.

Combat Command B did not long remain in Division reserve. On the morning of 5 April, General Devine ordered CCB to relieve Task Force Walker and continue the attack westward toward Soest. Task Force Van Houten, with Company C, 36th Tank Battalion, leading, jumped off at 1500 in a coordinated attack on Schallen. Using direct-fire 88 mm guns against the tanks of Task Force Van Houten, the Germans managed to slow, but not to halt, this attack. Against Lohne the same attack plan was utilized. Forming a base of fire with tanks and assault guns, Company C, 36th, supported the advance of the infantrymen of Company C, 49th AIB. The attack on Lohne began at 1730. Despite heavy time fire the town was completely cleared by 2000 and the Task Force spent the night there.

On 6 April 1945 the superior mobility of American armor was demonstrated by a 25 mile "end run" made by Task Force Van Houten in order to cut off all escape routes leading from Soest. XIX Corps had designated the 95th Infantry Division to capture Soest and had directed that the 8th Armored Division attack abreast. Letter of Instructions Number 137, Headquarters, XIX Corps, dated 5 April 1000, said:

"8 AD continue atk W and envelopment of Soest fr. S-Employ 194 Glider Inf Regt to clear area in Div Z S of Temporary No ADV Line."

Swift action on the part of General Devine, who personally directed the cut-off operation, deprived the Germans of any escape routes to the south and southwest. This also threatened the 116th Panzer Division with encirclement and forced its withdrawal from the last suitable springboard for a breakout attack.

After the capturing of Bad Sassendorf, Task Force Van Houten at 1230, 6 April, received orders to secure Ost Onnen, deep in the enemy rear. Passing through elements of Task Force Goodrich of CCA, Major Van Houten's men moved toward Echtrop. This town was occupied at 1530, with only slight resistance being met. A platoon of light tanks (M-24) from Company D, 36th, flushed out a tank, an armored car, and a halftrack during the short engagement which netted thirty prisoners.

As the reconnaissance elements and the main body of Task Force Van Houten bypassed Berlingsen, three Tiger tanks evaded detection and moved out to fire upon the vehicles of the CP and Trains column. One halftrack of Company B, 53rd Engineer Battalion, was sent up in flames by the fire from these German tanks. The engineers and headquarters personnel went into action immediately. A direct hit on one of the German tanks was scored with a bazooka by Technical Sergeant George Glagola of Headquarters, 36th Tank Battalion. The other two tanks attempted to withdraw, but were knocked out by the 1st Platoon of A Company, 36th Tank, which was acting as right flank guard for the Task Force.

Scattered fire harassed Task Force Van Houten as it moved toward Onnen. Along the way the rapidly advancing units captured three more ks, four halftracks, four anti-tank guns, ten ammunition trucks, a railroad loaded with ammunition, and a four-truck medical convoy. Closing in Ost Onnen at 2000 the Task Force had full control of the city by 2030. More than 500 prisoners were taken during the day, 350 of these being captured in the vicinity of Ost Onnen.

Task Force Roseborough, moving out later than TF Van Houten, had the mission of reaching Ampen. Advancing in their zone, the units of Task Force Roseborough overran Opmunden and coiled up there for the night.

During CCB's rapid advance the 399th Armored Field Artillery Battalion did not displace forward as rapidly as the leading elements. After the two task forces of CCB had closed in their new areas, an infantry unit had to be assigned the 399th to protect its displacement forward.

At the same time that Combat Command B was making the wide sweep around Soest, CCA was overcoming all resistance in its zone as it fulfilled the mission of clearing the area north of the Moline River. On the 6th Task Force Goodrich moved through Wamel, Brullingsen, Ellingsen, and Westendorf. In the vicinity of Westendorf the Task Force successfully met resistance from dug-in infantry supported by tanks. One hundred and twenty prisoners were captured during the day.

On the morning of the 6th, Task Force Poinier jumped off in an attack for Neuengesgke. Anti-tank and small arms fire was overcome there and the Task Force held a north-south line running through Enkesen for the night.

By Letter of Instructions Number 137, Headquarters, XIX Corps, 051000 April, the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division, was attached to CCA to clear the wooded area between the Moline and Ruhr Rivers. Restrictions upon the commitment of this unit dictated that it could not be employed until the Thundering Herd had cleared the area above the Moline River east of a north-south line through Soest. XIX Corps desired to keep the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment in reserve in case the enemy tried to launch a breakout attack.

On the 6th, the required area had been cleared by CCA units and the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, with D Troop, 88th, attached, was committed in order to sweep the mountainous wooded terrain south and southeast of Mohnetallespere. Crossing the Moline River the 194th seized Kalkhardt. As the Regiment was reforming in the vicinity of Kalkhardt the hastily-organized German Battle Group Hass launched a counterattack with 150 to 200 infantrymen, but elements of the 194th were able to repulse this attack.

It was in this area that troops of the 194th captured Franz Von Papen. Brought under guard to 8th Armored Division Headquarters, this one-time top diplomat was questioned before being sent to the rear. Shortly thereafter the Regiment was relieved from attachment to CCA and the 8th Armored Division and was placed under command of Brigadier General Don C. Faith, Sr. Together with the 377th Regimental Combat Team, 95th Infantry Division, the 194th then constituted Task Force Faith.

On the morning of the 7th both Task Force Goodrich and Task Force Poinier continued to press the attack. Task Force Goodrich moved through Stockum, Vollingliatiseri, Allagen, and Obr Bergheim to Westendorf. Task Force Poinier captured Mulheim and headed toward Delecke. Halted by a roadblock north of Delecke, Lieutenant Colonel Poinier used a captured PW to engineer the surrender of this town. The PW was sent into Delecke to contact the burgomeister, who was anxious to prevent destruction of his own town. Negotiations between the two brought about Delecke's capitulation. At Delecke Company A, 53rd Engineers, used a treadway bridge to span the Mohne. CCA went into Division reserve following this day's action. With the 2nd Armored Division heading eastward toward the Elbe River and the 8th Armored racing westward, XIX Corps was forced to control an ever-widening area. By 7 April 1945 the two Corps fronts were approximately 180 miles apart. The Ruhr pocket, which contained over 300,000 German soldiers, had to be reduced in order to prevent a breakout from cutting off XIX Corps' forward elements. To accomplish this Corps Commander Major General McClain decided to group all XIX units engaged in reduction of the pocket, this aggregation of troops to be known as Task Force Twaddle, under command of General H. 1. Twaddle. XIX Corps Letter of Instructions Number 139, dated 7 April 1945, outlined the plan:

(1) Effective 1200 7th Apr 45 Maj. Gen. H. 1. Twaddle will assume operational control of Task Force Twaddle composed of 95th Inf. Div. Plus attchmts, 8th A.D. plus attchmts., 1254 Eng. C. Bn. Reinforced.
(2) Clear enemy in Corps Z W of Geseke to line Hamm (Inc Westhilberk and Wichheide) continue atk in conjunction w/XVI Corps to reduce Ruhr Pocket."

The mission of the 8th Armored Division, as contained in Field Order 1 of Task Force Twaddle, was to "advance W in zone above Ruhr to Ready Line-then hold, ready to advance again." This line had been established as a safety precaution to avoid danger from artillery fire of Corps units driving east and northeast. The line was drawn almost south from Hamm.

Plans for accomplishing the Thundering Herd's mission were outlined General Devine in 8th Armored Division Operational Instructions Number 23, dated 7 April 1945. Combat Command B was to make a coordinated attack to seize Werl; Combat Command R was to seize and the road between Werl and Wickede; Combat Command A was to stay in Division reserve.

Combat Command R, under the leadership of its newly appointed commander, Colonel Vesely, had been in Division reserve since the 5th of April, but had scarcely been idle. On April 6 Task Force Artman of CCR outposted all roads north and east of Soest to facilitate the 95th Infantry's attack on that city. On the 7th CCR moved from Lippstadt to Soest. Closing in Soest at 1245, Task Force Artman was verbally ordered to occupy postions along the Moline River and thereby secure the left flank of CCB. At 2145 Task Force Artman was instructed to establish a bridgehead across Moline River at Delecke, which Task Force Poinier of CCA had just secured.

On 7 April a patrol from Troop A. 88th Reconnaissance Squadron, led by Sergeants Roman H. Woods and Emil Dragosita, accomplished a credible feat. Covered by a howitzer barrage from Troop E, the patrol assailed the important Mohne Talsparre Dam. In order to cross the dam and spillway to reach the German guards, the 88th men had to become virtual human flies. But even this was not beyond their talents. They managed to reach overpower the guards, thus capturing the dam and thwarting the German scheme to flood the Mohne Valley by demolishing this important installation. This "ounce of prevention" undoubtedly cut weeks from the time necessary for consumating the Ruhr pocket operation.

On the morning of the 8th Task Force Walker moved into a position on the right flank of Task Force Artman and both units prepared to move out to secure the road between Werl and Wickede. Relieved by CCA at 1045, Task Force Artman advanced on Niederense and Hoingen, while Task Walker moved through light artillery and small arms fire to capture Parsit and Bremen.

Continuing to attack to the west in its assigned zone, CCR jumped off at 0545 on the morning of the 8th, with its left flank constantly exposed to direct fire from across the Mohne River. At 1100 Major A. E. Walker was seriously injured by a direct enemy 88 mm hit on his tank. He was evacuated under continuous artillery fire. The loader on the tank was pinned in the wreckage and unable to free himself. Private First Class Joseph E. Learsch, bow gunner, went to the assistance of the wounded loader, succeeded in freeing and removing him to safety. The leading tank of C, B, 80th, was knocked out as it moved into position to return the fir had knocked out Major Walker's tank. Lieutenant Charles A. Burch, Company C, 53rd Armored Engineer Battalion, was hit by fragments of a caliber shell. His left arm blown off, he attempted to assist other me of his unit before being treated and evacuated.

Major Phillip J. Connell, Executive Officer, 80th Tank Battalion assumed command of the Task Force. Moving through artillery, mortar, and tank fire, Task Force Connell secured Waltringen. Task Force Artmam met considerable resistance in advancing through Vierhausen, Schluck and Wiehagen. CCR's advance during 8 April had netted 238 PW's, one Tiger Tank, and three 88's. Three ammunition dumps had also been taken.

CCB's original plan for the capture of Werl was for Task Force Van Houten to advance west to the city while Task Force Roseborougbh moved to envelop on the left flank and attack Werl from the south. Having taken the town of Ampen at 1215 on the 7th, Task Force Roseborough closed in an assembly area immediately east of Task Force Van Houten which was then holding at Ost Onnen.

With Task Force Van Houten on the right and Task Force Roseborough on the left the attack for Werl began at 1515 on the 7th. Stiff resistance met both units almost immediately. The First Platoon of A Company, 49th, Task Force Roseborough, hit a strongly defended position and lost five halftracks and one M-4 tank. During this engagement Private First Class Clayton Estabrook, Company A, 49th, led a combat patrol in an advance under intense artillery fire. Moving on foot more than 300 yards, he directed bazooka fire on three enemy tanks, forcing their withdrawal. His patrol knocked out a machine gun nest, and Private First Class Estabrook disabled an enemy staff car with rifle fire. Corporal William R. Anderson, aidman with Company A, 49tb, was killed while administering first aid to wounded members of Task Force Roseborough.

Continuing to move forward against anti-tank, small arms, and artillery fire, Task Force Roseborough stopped for the night with the leading elements at a point 1500 meters west of Gerlingen.

Task Force Van Houten was ordered to capture Mawicke and West Omen. Accompanied by the burgomeister from Ost Onnen, Captain William E. Hensel, 36th Tank Battalion S-2, held a conference with the borgomeister of Mawicke who agreed to surrender the town at 1500. Task Force Van Houten reached West Onnen at 1800, and, after clearing the town of all resistance remained there for the night.

Attempting to carry out the original attack plan on Werl, Task Force Roseborough jumped off at 0700. Meeting heavy resistance at Blumenthal the advance bogged down. At 1030 Colonel Kimball ordered Colonel Roseborough to break contact, return to West Onnen, and pass through Task Force Van Houten, which would remain to form a base of fire. Since the infantry elements of Task Force Roseborough were heavily engaged, a lengthy delay was involved in breaking contact.

At 1400 Task Force Van Houten was ordered to take Werl. The Task force moved out under heavy fire from mortars and high velocity weapons. A Company, 36th Tank, commanded by Captain Robert W. Shaw, formed a base of fire from positions about two kilometers west of Werl. Preceded by an artillery preparation laid down by the 399th AFA, Company C, 49th AIB dismounted and followed the tanks of Company C, 36th Tank, into the town at 1800.

At Werl the 399th Battalion, in direct support of Task Force Van Houten was emplaced about three kilometers west of the objective. The "redlegs" found themselves in a peculiar position as they received enemy fire from the front, both flanks, and occasionally the rear. Their chief question was, "Who is being compressed into a pocket?"

Fighting in an extremely fluid situation in which there was no well-defined front line brought everyone to realize that the enemy was likely to be on all sides at any given moment. First Lieutenant Bradford K. MacGraw Frank March, 148th Signal Company, travelling in what they believed was a cleared area, were captured on the 8th of April. Lieutenant and his driver were returning from Division Rear with the payroll for the 148th Signal Company when this occurred. Both men were later returned to the Division.

As the enemy in Werl were compressed into an ever smaller area, the artillery fire became intensified. Task Force Roseborough was ordered assist to in mopping up and last-ditch resistance was completely wiped out by 1930.

Theere was no time to rest or reorganize after Werl had fallen. Task Force Van Houten was ordered to move out and secure Ost Buderich. Resistance was spotty, the town was cleared by 2030, and Task Force Van Houten halted for the night.

Led by Troop C, 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) Combat Command B moved out on the 9th to seize Unna, located sixteen kilometers to the west. Task Force Van Houten, passing through the reconnaissance elements, captured Holtum at 0830 and headed for Hemmerde. As the forward unit of Task Force Van Houten (Company C, 36th Tank) approached Hemmerde, the leading tank was knocked out. Under cover of heavy artillery fire the twin C Companies (36th Tank and 49th AIB) cleared the town by 1400. Brushing aside resistance in West Hammerde, the Task Force reached Stockum at 1800 and settled for the night.

With the Thundering Herd moving even more swiftly than had been hoped and the other units of Task Force Twaddle keeping pace, the Ruhr pocket was rapidly dwindling. By 9 April there was no longer any danger of the enemy breaking out. On the 8th, III Corps, lst Army, had been contacted along the Ruhr River, and by the 9th over half of the area assigned to Task Force Twaddle had been cleared. As the distance between the two fronts of the XIX Corps had widened even more, Letter of Instructions Number 141, Headquarters, XIX Corps, dated 9 April 1945, directed that Task Force Twaddle pass to control of XVI Corps effective 1200 9 April 1945.

Despite this command change the mission of the 8th Armored Division and its combat command remained the same-move west to the limit of the zone. On the morning of the 10th Task Force Roseborough moved through Task Force Van Houten at 0800 heading for Lernen. At 1150 a ten minute air strike was laid on Unna to soften up its defenses. At Mulhausen Task Force Roseborougli was stopped by intense artillery and small arms fire. The Force halted in place until assistance could be obtained from the 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division. Task Force Roseborough remained stationary while Task Force Van Houten moved through to continue the attack for Unna. Passing to the north of Kesselburen, A Company, 36th, had a field day in an enemy CP. Captain Robert W. Shaw reported that his Company had killed approximately fifty Germans and knocked out two scout cars. The Task Force reached Osburen by 2320 and coiled up for the night.

Task Force Roseborough prepared to move out, but was met and stopped temporarily by a two company counterattack which enabled remnants of the 116th Panzer Division to move southward, leaving the defense of Unna to an SS Signal Ersatz Battalion, the lst and 2nd Battalion, 401st Volks Artillery, Corps, and numerous Landerschutzen and flak units, reinforced by Hitler Jugen from the Mulhausen garrison.

With Combat Command B unable to move forward, General Devine ordered General Colson to attack Unna on the morning of the llth. CCA been in Division Reserve since the 7th of April and had thus had a chance to rest and refit, even though assisting in mopping up operations. (On the 8th CCA had been ordered to assemble in the vicinity of Bilme, out the pocket west of Lake Talsparre between the Ruhr and Mohne Rivers, and be prepared to pass through CCB.)

Task Force Goodrich had cleared the Mohne-Ruhr pocket by 1700 on 9th, Task Force Poinier meanwhile remaining in its assembly area. On April 10, CCA was ordered to pass through CCB and launch an attack for at 0630 on the morning of the 11th.

The first ten days of April were difficult days for CCB. Losses were high. The 49th counted 9-a casualties, the 36th suffered 59, while Troop 88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Company B, 53rd Engineers, and the 399th lost a total of 44 men.

When CCB went into reserve as CCA passed through to attack Unna, Colonel Kimball was transferred to command of Division Trains. Lieutenant Colonel Edwin H. Burba, Division G-3, was assigned to lead CCB, while Lieutenant Colonel Edward T. Podufaly, CO, 53rd Armored Engineer Battalion, was named Division G-3, and Major Henry C. Schrader, Executive Officer, was moved up to replace Colonel Podufaly.

Following a 15 minute artillery preparation on Unna by five artillery battalions, CCA jumped off at 0630 with Task Force Goodrich moving up from the south and Task Force Poinier moving in from the southeast. These units were given fire support by Task Forces Van Houten and Roseborough respectively.

The main approach to Unna from the east (the Unna-Soest road) traversed almost level ground. To the south the terrain sloped upward to form a ridge, the crest of which was approximately two kilometers from the roadway. This ridge dominated the road and had to be taken before any armored unit could safely move toward Unna. At 0720 light tanks and tank destroyers of TF Poinier captured this important high ground.

Meanwhile attacking abreast, B Company and C Company, 7th AIB, had reached the edge of Unna by 0740, and met with heavy fire from the graveyard, orchard, and buildings to their immediate front. House-to-house fighting was the only method for clearing the enemy from the southeastern part of the town. At 1015 an enemy counterattack was launched against Company B, 7th AIB, but was quickly repulsed by Lieutenant Fisher's men. That this counterattack failed to dislodge Company B men from positions was due in large measure to the actions of Private First Class Joe Kaplet, Jr. Encountering a large body of enemy troops, he exposed I completely to the enemy fire in order to fire rifle grenades and bazooka shells. His action disorganized the enemy and prevented a strong counter-attack.

After the counterattack had been repulsed, effective resistance in front of Task Force Poinier ceased.

Moving on Unna from the south, Company A, 7th AIB, of Task For Goodrich was pinned down by fire coming from some barracks and woods. At 0730 Colonel Goodrich ordered a platoon of tanks to move to a point 300 yards from these barracks and open with direct fire. Small arms fire from this position soon ceased and the Task Force moved on. Troubled by high velocity fire from the high ground directly north of Billmerich, Colonel Goodrich called for artillery to fall on the ridge. Artillery liaison pilots Lieutenants Donald G. Carrell and Edward S. Klaniecki located a number of tanks on this high ground and called for an airstrike.

To identify the enemy area for the air strike, Battery B, 399th AFA, was ordered to fire a violet smoke concentration on the high ground southwest of Unna. One of the shells to be fired by Sergeant Harry Miller's gun crew began to leak violet smoke over the entire B Battery area. The Air Force was quickly notified as to which area was to be bombed ' but meanwhile the members of B Battery began digging deeper and deeper. However the Air Force found the correct area and "plastered" it.

The air report of the day's action claims eleven tanks and eight motor transports knocked out on this ridge. Task Force Goodrich continued to attack with excellent tank-infantry teamwork, entering the town from the south and moving through to mop up resistance. Unna capitulated at 1215. In the action the German defenders had lost two tanks, a battery of 88's, and five dual-purpose 40 mm guns in the town, besides the losses suffered during the airstrike south of Unna. 160 PW's were also taken in the town. CCA units had lost two M-4 tanks, one halftrack, and one jeep. A halftrack with two enlisted men from the 18th Tank Battalion had been captured by the Germans and taken on the retreat south. These two enlisted men were instrumental in persuading the remnants of the 116th Panzer Division to surrender to the Americans.

The capture of Unna spelled doom for the 116th Panzer Division, one of the oldest and proudest of German armored divisions. The 8th Armored had hit the 116th often enough to keep it off balance and prevent it from reorganizing and breaking out of the Ruhr pocket. The 116th had been used as a counterattacking force which would go into action for a few days to allow other enemy units to withdraw. In an attempt to stem the rapid advance of the Thundering Herd the 116th Panzer employed tanks piecemeal to support small delaying actions and thereby lost the ability to launch a formidable counterattack.

At 1920 the evening of the 11th, CCA ordered reconnaissance units from Task Force Poinier to move to and outpost the towns of Holzwickege, Massen, and Obermassen. This was completed by 2030. At 0130 on the 12th the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment assumed responsibility for the defense of Unna. However plans were shortly modified and CCA once again took over Unna at 1500. CCA continued to patrol and outpost this until 1700 on the 13th when the Combat Command was ordered to move f Unna across the Weser River to the vicinity of Wolfenbuttel.

The Thundering Herd had been designated as 9th Army Reserve by Secret Letter of Instructions Number 22, Headquarters, NUSA, dated April 1945:

Army Res: 8AD (less 1 cc w/XIX Corps) Mission: Assemble in vacinity Braunschweig prepared to reinforce XIII or XIX Corps and to assist XVI Corps in its rear area security mission."

While the battle for Unna was progressing, Combat Command R continued to move forward in its zone of advance with its left flank exposed along the Mohne River. Crossing the Line of Departure at 0545 on the 10th, Task Force Connell advanced against heavy artillery and 88 mm fire to secure Stentrop. Five enemy tanks were knocked out during the day's advance. Task Force Artman, moving in a wide formation, travelled over 7,000 yards to secure Bausenhagen, Scheda, Beutrap, Wemen, and Fromern.

On the 11th, Lieutenant Colonel William S. Crittenden, Executive 18th Tank Battalion, assumed command of the 80th Tank Battalion. Task Force Crittenden moved against Hohenheide and Frondetiberg. An air strike drove four enemy tanks out of Frondenberg, but they nevertheless succeeded in holding up the advance of Task Force Crittendon by back from position to position. Task Force Artman met only small arms fire in the drive to Billmerich. Advancing beyond Billmerich Task Force Artman occupied the road running south from Unna to Langschede. At 2320 the 2nd Battalion, 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, was attached to CCR.

The attack by both task forces of CCR again got underway ayt 0700 12 April and advanced to the vicinity of Opberdicke. The usual fire came from across the river to harass Task Force Crittenden. The towns of Hengsen, Ostenforf, Ottendorf, and Dellwig were taken. At 1100 the 2nd Battalion, 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, crossed the Line of Departure, advanced 500 yards, were halted, withdrawn, and detached from CCR. On the 13th, CCR was relieved by units of the 377th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, and was alerted for movement to the vicinity of Denstorf.

In CCR's operations during this period Sergeant Donald R. Hayes, Communications Sergeant of Company A, 80th, returned to the rear after fighting all day and night, mounted a driverless tank and drove back to the battle area. After this tank was knocked out, he changed to another and continued to fight. When his platoon leader was wounded, he reorganized the platoon and led it forward. Later he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

On the drive west CCR had been constantly battered by the enemy emplaced across the Ruhr and Mohne Rivers. Eleven M-4 tanks had been knocked out, three jeeps had been destroyed, and nine halftracks had been lost due to mines and high velocity fire. Personnel casualties had also been high in the units of CCR. The 58th had suffered 137 killed or wounded and the 80th Tank Battalion had evacuated 66 of its members. Enemy losses counted in the wake of CCR's advance were six Mark V tanks, 20 mm multiple purpose guns, one large caliber railroad gun, and over three tons of assorted small arms.

The Division supply services encountered major difficulties during this period of rapid movement. The excessive demand for Class III (Gasoline and Oil) and Class V (Ammunition) was more than the Army Supply Depots could handle. To supply the leading elements of the Division, Lieutenant Colonel "Gus" Lang, G-4, in conjunction with Lieutenant Colonel Carl Bledsoe, Division Quartermaster, had to make arrangements to transport Class I supplies a distance of 200 miles round trip; Class 11, 550 miles round trip; and Class III supplies, 400 miles round trip. These excessive distances brought the formation of a third (supply) echelon into being. After this third echelon had been set up the process of keeping the advance elements of the Division supplied became easier.