XIX Corps received orders on 10 April to continue the attack to the east from the "no advance" line, which was in the vicinity of Hildesheim. The actual reason for this line being established is not known, although it was thought that the rapid advance had carried our forces into Russian territory. Major General Raymond S. McLain, XIX Corps Commander, was quoted as saying, "I do not know why General Simpson* established that line, but I presume it was
*Lt General William H. Simpson, CG, Ninth Army.
because of political reasons among the allies in Europe."1
To this point, XIX Corps had been attacking on a semi-narrow frontage and had had the 2d Armored Division in the left sector, followed by the 30th Division; while the 83d Division remained abreast of the 2d Armored's right flank. However, with the widening of the corps zone, switching the 30th Division from the rear
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to the left flank of the 2d Armored was made necessary. At the same time, the 113th Cavalry Squadron was attached to the 83d Division and the 125th Cavalry Squadron to the 30th Division for the purpose of screening the advances of the respective divisions.2 With this arrangement, XIX Corps advanced toward the Elbe River. According to Corps Letter of Instructions #142, the 2d Armored was to seize a bridgehead across the Elbe and were then to assist the passage of the 30th and 83d Divisions through it.3 That that plan would not even begin to materialize will be seen later.
The 2d Armored Division made an 18 mile advance against the best coordinated effort exhibited by the Germans since the defense of the Teutorburger Wald. Combat Command A met considerable direct fire from dual-purpose 88mm guns and small arms fire in the factory area around Immendorf. CC B fighting a series of road block battles had by 1400, its forward elements within 6,000 yards of Hornburg.4
The enemy was forced to abandon the Herman Goering Works at
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Immendorf and the entire heavily built-up factory area southwest of Braunschweig. More than 60 88mm guns were destroyed as were Railroad guns and artillery of all calibers. Elements of CCA were forced to remain in the area after the enemy's evacuation on 11 April to prevent rioting, looting and traffic obstacles by the thousands of former forced laborers and freed Allied prisoners.5
Miscellaneous units bore the entire weight of the advance. One significant fact emerging from this polyglot collection was the predominance of unite whose home stations ware in Wehrkreis VI*, in which this fighting was taking place. This was the first instance when sizeable
*Wehrkreis, in Germany, is analogous to the Service Command
in the United States.
tactical units failed to appear from distant parts to help defend at successive points. Each locality was thus forced to rely on troops originally a part of that area,
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whether Volksturm, Service and Supply troops, or AA units.6
The trucks, formerly utilized to motorize the 83d Division, had been returned to supply dumps, the day proceeding the issuance of this order, to replenish a now well depleted stock. The advance order came when trucks were not available, thus any and all transportation was gathered together.
Ahead lay the Harz Mountain area, which was known to be extremely rugged country. Not only was the natural growth and contours of the country an obstacle, but snow further made fighting conditions rough. The only effective enemy units were encountered in the northern approach to the Harz area south of Goslar, where our forces had to contend with elements of the 116th Panzer Division and 3d Panzer Grenadier Division that had managed to extricate themselves from the Ruhr Pocket. In addition, a newly formed division, the Potsdam, and a scratch division of Wehrkreis II, C. T. Greibig, made up the enemy forces.7
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As the 329th Regimental Combat Team, in the left half of the division sector and the 330th RCT in the right half, followed by the 331st RCT, surged ahead, resistance stiffened slightly along the edge of the woods northeast and southeast of Seesen, immediately in front of the 330th Combat Team. However, the 329th Combat Team continued driving around the northern edge of this area with very little difficulty and as the drive progressed, the 331st RCT was ordered to follow later swinging slightly south to take over the right half of the division sector. This was shortly done and both Combat Teams emerged on the slightly rolling but open country leading to their objective, the Elbe River. The 330th Combat Team was left with the responsibility of not only containing but eliminating the enemy in the northern Harz area.8
* * *
On 11 April the 2d Armored made the longest advance in one day that has probably been made in the European Theater. Elements
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of Combat Command B, having captured crossings of the Oker River intact, advance to the east in two columns meeting moderate resistance. The north column reached the outskirts of southern Magdeburg while the southern CLM rached [i.e., raced] approximately 67 miles and entered the town of Schonebeck that evening. Street fighting continued throughout the night, the river being reached the next morning although the bridge was blown at 12 0830 April.9 The 83d Division, still on the right flank of the 2d Armored Division, advanced almost as rapidly, clearing Halberstadt and Wegeleben against light resistance. On the other hand, the 30th Division was meeting stiffening resistance on the outskirts of Braunschweig.
* * *
12 April was a day of not only high hopes but hard fighting for all unite concerned. Enemy infantry offered determined resistance to CC A from roads east of Helmstedt, which had to be cleared before the advance could continue. Heavy artillery fire
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was also received in large quantities from the towns lying to the northwest of Magdeburg.10 Elements of CC B received dual-purpose 88mm fire from the Wolfsfeld area where thirty planes were destroyed. Three of the latter were actually in the air when engaged by tanks of Combat Command B.11 Later that evening arrangements were made for the corssing [i.e., crossing] of the Elbe River in the vicinity of Westerhusen.
The men of the 83d Division, feeling the effects of the break-through, were eager to continue, although practically at the point of exhaustion. On this hectic date, elements of this unit literally flew approximately 35 miles to reach the Elbe River, in the vicinity of Barby, using, as was noted, any and all types of transportation.
The instructions to the 3d Battalion, 329th Infantry were to move straight through to the Elbe River as fast as possible, without bothering to clean out the sector thoroughly. The 1st Battalion was to follow along behind to attend to the cleaning up operation. The
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mission given to the 3d Battalion was to seize the railroad bridge at Barby and cross the river if possible. However, after having had only light resistance all the day, the 3d Battalion ran into a tough defensive line at the outskirt of Barby in the middle of the afternoon, and by nightfall it had only been able to gain a foothhold on the outskirts of the town.12
From the no advance line resistance was negligible. The disposal of prisoners was the main problem for the units, and all sorts of improvised transportation had to be devised to transport them to the PW cages.13
It wasn't until 13 April that the 30th Division came up on line along the Elbe. It must be remembered that on 11 April the 30th encountered the heavy outer defenses of Braunschweig and it was not until the next day after attacking the city on two sides that it capitulated. During the late afternoon of 12 April the division drove approximately 50 kilometers and seized a crossing over the Weser-Elbe Canal in the
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vicinity of Calvorde. Then on 13 April it pulled up to the Elbe on the north of the 2d Armored Division.14
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(1) XIX Corps, Int/w CG, XIX Corps.
(2) XIX Corps, Int/w G-3.
(3) XIX Corps, Ltr of Instruction 142, April 45.
(4) 66th Armd Regt (2d Armd Div), Int/w S-2-3, 2d Bn.
(5) 2d Armd Div, G-2 Pers Rpt, April 45.
(6) 2d Armd Div, Int/w Asst G-2.
(7) 83d Div, A/A Rpt, April 45.
(9) 2d Armd Div, Int/w S-3, CCB.
(10) 2d Armd Div, FO #11, April 45.
(11) CCB (2d Armd Div), Rhine-Ruhr-Elbe Operation, Narrative.
(12) 329th Inf (83d Div), Int/w Asst S-3, et al.
(13) 329th Inf (83d Div), Int/w Asst S-3, et al.
(14) XIX Corps, Int/w Asst G-3.
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