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Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany


February 28. It was the same old story of walking and fighting, panic-stricken civilians, old men armed with panzerfausts they didn't dare fire, and French ammunition which wouldn't fit their ancient Danish rifles. 407th Infantry turned eastward, 3d Battalion on the left, 2d on the right. After a 10 minute artillery barrage, Company F captured the Wickrath railroad station and the regiment was through the town by noon. Aside from a little artillery fire, resistance was nothing for the Wehrmacht to brag about. 3d Battalion ran into some enemy armor in the woods on the outskirts of Rheydt, which provided good hunting for veteran Ozark bazooka-men.
406th Infantry got off to a good start. Heavy machine gun fire was a nuisance but at 1245, 1st Battalion was entering Hardt. The afternoon saw some hard fighting when over two companies of Krauts counterattacked A Co. Again they had little success and the regiment was consolidating its positions by suppertime.
405th Infantry made a wide swing from north to east. With speed and precision 2d Battalion justifyspacer

Top, Ozark troops wait in the partial shelter of a German ditch while tanks of the 5th Armored Division, in the background, move up toward Rheindahlen. Bottom, in approach march formation, reserves trudge forward to Rheindahlen on their long hike across the Rhineland.      27 February 1944. justifyspacer

[Tanks of 5th Armored Division, Forward to Rheindahlen]
seized its objective. 1st Battalion cleaned up Dorthausen, Wulfsittard, and Helm, then waited for the 3d Battalion which had a long march that day on the outside of the wheel. Co I mopped up Vorstand by nightfall preparations were underway for March 1.
So far the 102d had cleaned up the major western defensive belt protecting München-Gladbach. In four days they'd marched its entire length, cleaning up centers of resistance and strong points as they went. Now, having encircled the city from the north, München-Gladbach, one of the great prizes of the war thus far, was ripe for plucking. Bitter was their disap-pointment when Ozarks learned that the city was to be by-passed. But they found some con-solation in the fact that they would still be out in front in Ninth Army's now spectacular drive.
Dazed by Russian advances in February, with XXII SS Corps reeling back across the Cologne plain, the German high command was face to face with a major crisis. Reinforcements hampered by lack of transportation and disrupted communications, were far too few and always too late. Rear area units showed little inclination to make a stand. The Volkssturm, deserted by its leaders, armed only with foreign, outmoded or strange weapons failed to materialize as a fighting force. The enemy was now retreating posthaste on Viersen, possibly with the thought of effecting some reorganization behind the doubtful refuge of the Niers canal.
Few deliberate defensive installations were encountered from here to the Rhine. Old anti-aircraft emplacements, part of the Ruhr perimeter defense system, were troublesome. Along main routes of withdrawal short firing trenches were dug at infrequent intervals, generally whereever a road could be enfiladed. A few fresh L-type foxholes were found and in someplaces old convoy shelter holes were briefly manned by delaying parties. Several anti-tank obstacles were encountered in the outskirts of Krefeld. These defenses were not formidable, however, being scorned even by the local inhabitants who dub-bed them "one hour one minute" obstacles be-cause "the American tankers laugh themselves sick for one hour, tear 'em down in one minute". At the same time a new method of aircraft identification was gaining popularity among the Nazi troops. This method embodied the essence of simplicity running something like this:
"If the planes are dark colored they're British.
If the planes are light colored they're American.
If the planes are invisible, that's the Luft-

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