Haynes Dugan arthur of "Spearhead In The West" relates about Paderborn
From Haynes Dugan's “Spearhead In The West”
Major Murray Fowler's account of the severity of the defense before and after the dead General Rose is mirrored in this account of H. Glen Jenkins in “ Battle History of A Battery, 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion”, which "Seafood Garton commanded.
"As we went along a lot of fanatic SS were putting up a death struggle against us. The artillery pulled out of the column to fire on the dug-in enemy. They had good positions, dug-in, and were hard to dig out. The cub plane spotted a dozen or so VI tanks in the vicinity of Rhoden, south of Paderborn. The P-47s were called out and bombed several of them but visibility closed down and they had to go back home without finishing the job.
"The artillery fired on a lot of them, an knocked several more out. Resistance kept getting tougher and tougher until finally the column came to a town, cleaned enough of it and to knife the column through, and bypassed the rest. In doing so they had to come out and used a different road from the one they had originally intended to. It turned out to be a costly error.
"The column was hurried through the town and the battery went into position on a high hill overlooking Rhoden at 19:00 hours. Sergeant Olson's M-7 was sent out to one end of the battery position as a road block because it was known to everyone that German tanks were around. Olson paced off the exact distance between his tank and the turn in the road where any German ranks would have to come from. He set his sight off for that distance and was exactly zeroed in. A German tank would have had a hard time coming around that curve, but it wasn't a job to be relished because an M-7 (a self propelled 105mm gun) with its thin armor and 600 mil traverse is no match for any kind of a tank, let alone a Mark VI.
"In the meantime part, of the Recon Section consisting of LT. Plummer, T-5 Mniece, Private First Class Whitten, and private First Class MacBride were up with the leading elements. The task force was going down a road about five miles south of Paderborn. It was wooded on one side of the road, while the other side was flat and level for several hundred yards before it ended in a patch of woods. Nothing seemed to be wrong when all of a sudden about a dozen Mark VI tanks came charging out of the woods and over the flat ground to the road. They cut the column by knocking out a medic half-track on one end and a .M-4 on the other. They then drove up and down the road shooting up the helpless half-tracks and tanks. The word helpless is used because a Mark VI is impervious to the 75's that most of our tanks carry. Men were in the ditches on either side of the road, and the German tanks drove up and down with machine guns and 88's blazing away. Whitten was in a ditch near the peep when an 88 hit the tank in front of the peep and a fragment hit his side.
A medic patched him up a little but he couldn't be evacuated just then. Lieutenant Plummer was standing by the peep trying to get communications with the 391st.battalion to bring some fire down on himself and the Germans. Before he could, however, an 88 shell hit the jeep, demolishing it and setting it on fire, and fragments ripped into Lt. Plummer's in about six places. Mniece and MacBride got a medic and he was patched up, and Mac went out look for an ambulance. All this time the Germans were shooting flares and it was light as day as they tried desperately to get the men in the ditches, but their machine guns couldn't be depressed far enough. Mac couldn't find the ambulance and came back.
Hungry Whitten was working his way down the ditch as best he could but he had to cross the road. He went down far enough to get a bank for cover and crawled across the road and tried to edge his way to the woods.
Flaming vehicles lit the night and the Germans were out of their tanks yelling like a bunch drunken Indians. General Rose was up at the front of the column trying to find a solution so he could get the force through, when a German tank popped up only yards away. The Tank commander opened the hatch and covered the general with a burp gun. The general held his hands above his head and told them he was willing to surrender. As he is explaining this he reached down to throw his pistol away in evidence of good faith. The German Tank commander started firing and emptied the clip his burp gun into the general's face. He was killed instantly, of course, by the SS tanker. General Rose was one of the Army's best, and in our opinion the best armored force commander of them all. Besides that he was a soldier.
"One had only to see him to know that his appearance commanded immediate respect, and he had that respect. His death was deeply felt by every member of this division.
It was getting later all the, time and the situation wasn't improving any so Lieutenant Plummer knew they should be trying to get out, if they were going to. So even though he was under the influence of morphine he kept his senses enough to lead Mniece and PFC Horton (from headquarters battery) in short crawls down the ditch for several hundred yards before they could turn off and crawl for the woods. Rests were frequent because of Lieutenant Plummer's wound but they made the woods and went in far enough that they couldn't be seen. They spent a cold and shivering night there with no bedding and no jackets. They could see the 12 burning half-tracks and the eight tanks that had been knocked out, and could see and hear the Germans celebrating like crazy men.
"Hungry had reached another patch of woods and decided to try to work his way through them and reach the battalion. He could hear the guns firing and knew them to be ours. He was a little afraid that maybe the outposts would not recognize him as an American and would shoot first and ask questions later, in view of the situation. He decided to risk it, though, and started working his way through the woods toward the battalion. He made it around midnight and was given treatment by Captain Cobb and taken in to Lieutenant Colonel Lawton F. Garner (Division executive officer) to tell him of the situation.
"Mac had gotten in with some of the infantry and they took to the woods, alternately sleeping and standing guard, and advancing towards a town they knew was in our hands. They spent most of their time on guard, however, because they only had one machine gun plus their individual weapons. Mac stayed with this outfit for several days before they were finally relieved, and when he got back he plainly showed the strain he had been under.
"Lt. Plummer, Mniece, and T/5 Horton were in the woods, and after a sleepless night they decided to try to get out. Mniece and Horton made a litter from poles and a beat up overcoat they found and rolled the Chief into it. They carried him several hundred yards in short hauls until they got to the edge of the woods.
"By now` our forces had sent doughboys up to clean things out and Mniece was very happy when he saw the first one. An ambulance was sent for and Lieutenant Plummer was evacuated. He was a swell guy and everyone thought he was strictly all right."
Jenkins goes on to relate that with the enemy tanks withdrawal the task force moved on and the 391st A battery to a position on the side of a hill a half mile from where the attack had taken place the night before, arriving at 16:00 hours on the 31st, at which time they started firing on enemy tanks and mortar nests near Paderborn. This was not the first close encounter with the enemy by the 391st. In Normandy, firing point blank at German infantry, they had cut the fuzes so close that the bugaboo of all artillerymen, a muzzle blast, was chanced.
T-5 Roland Mniece was awarded the silver star for saving Lt. Plummer's life.
Brigadier General Doyle O. Hickey, pipe smoking, aggressive, long-time leader of Combat Command "A", immediately assumed command of the division. The men had perfect faith in Hickey. They proved their allegiance by driving steadily forward. Bitterly, men of Task Force -X", now commanded by Lt. Colonel John K. Boles, Jr., a dynamic, boy-faced veteran of tank warfare, cleared the road-block which had cut Welborn's column, and then went on to take Haxtergrund.
At Paderborn, the 3rd Armored Division was striking at the "Fort Knox of Germany." Here the
Reich's panzer elements were trained for battle and it was these school troops, many of them officer candidates, who came out to fight the American spearhead with tanks, tank-destroyers, and the big bazookas which seemed to be Germany's last, potent weapon of defense. The school troops of Paderborn fought well, but the grindstone of battle was wearing Germany thin.
German soldiers and civilians alike were stunned by the swift approach of American armor. Under the Nazi imbued of the Death's-Head SS, young Germans 'who had trained at Paderborn, died on the grounds of their military camp. Hitler may not have known it, but' a majority of his troops, taken on the western front at this time, were fully aware of the fact that the jig was up. The POW enclosures were bursting with disillusioned "supermen." In small fields adjacent to almost every small town along the route they were standing, just waiting, looking beat-up and numb after the flame of battle. Small groups continued to ambush liaison men and messengers along the winding roads but frequently the enemy came marching out in company strength, waving white flags and looking for some one to officially put them behind barbed wire.
In clearing the Paderborn area, Lt. Colonel William R. Orr's ist Battalion of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment alone captured 136 cannon, ten of which were active. Company "C", commanded by Lt. Robert J. Cook, was first on the city's airfield. The company was immediately pinned down by fire from two 88 mm and eight 2o mm flak weapons which Jerry had converted to ground use. Division tanks and other heavy weapons were brought tip to take care of these defenses.
On April i, the "Spearhead" Division had accomplished one of the great drives of World War 11, but the satisfaction of that victory was soured by the news of General Rose's death. There was no slacking off in the 3rd.
Task Force Kane was detached from the rest of the "Spearhead" and sent on a swift drive to the west. Overrunning sharp oppositions, these battle groups met elements of the 2nd Armored "Hell on Wheels" Division at Lippstadt. The 2nd had come across the flat, north German plain while the 3rd was making its two-way thrust, first to Herborn and Marburg from the Rcmagen bridgehead, and then north in a brilliant crossing of the "T" to seal off the Ruhr. More than 376,ooo enemy soldiers were hopelessly enmeshed by that historic drive. Significantly, the First United States Army announced that the mass encirclement would henceforth be known as the "Rose Pocket" in honor of the great general who was killed in action leading the first Americans to a decisive victory over Germany.
There was always one more river. This time it was the Weser, deep in central Germany. The war was winding up in a furious series of hard battles and confused situations.
After mopping up in the Lippstadt-Paderborn area, the two veteran combat commands jumped off on April 5th. The opposition still consisted of remnants from the SS training center at Paderborn, plus a conglomeration of various units. Although this type of resistance was not comparable with that received earlier in the war certain desperation and fanaticism produced bitterly contested local actions. In addition, the enemy still had a number of tanks and the new 128-mm tank destroyers left with which to fight.
By April 7, though, the "Spearhead" Division had reached its new objective to find every bridge blown. The Kraut, still tingling after his stupendous snafu at Remagen, was now blasting each and every span, which might aid the invader. It was late in the game for such tactics.
At the Weser, increasing resistance slowed advance elements, but the division prepared to hurdle the stream immediately. On April 9, crossings were made under moderate fire and the combat commands branched out. Twenty-two towns were taken before sunset and the task forces continued to advance.
On April 10th. tanks and infantry roared ahead, overrunning rear guard elements and dueling with occasional Panther tanks. A platoon of the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, led by Lt. Duane Doherty, cleared a V-2 assembly plant at Kleinbodungen, and found a number of the huge rockets, complete except for warheads, lying on the jigs where they had been constructed. A nearby railway line had been totally destroyed by aerial bombardment, but the V-2 factory was practically undamaged.
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