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Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany


[Infantrymen take time out to clean their weapons]

Because our line of advance was across the enemy's axis of defense a great number of organizations were contacted. In a typical day PW's were captured from seven different divisions, eighty-nine GHQ units, generally in full flight, and two Volkssturm units. Panzer outfits offered the stiffest opposition. 130th Panzer Lehr, and 115th Panzer Grenadier Regiment fought stubbornly for Viersen and Krefeld but, out-generaled and outmaneuvered, they also were forced to flee from the 102d Division.
March 1. Viersen was the objective. 405th Infantry with all battalions lined up had few difficulties. Citizens of Venn had been abandoned by their Wehrmacht but didn't get their white flags out in time to escape a shellacking by our artillery. 1st and 2d Battalions encountered so little opposition in the city that justifyspacer

Left, in a straw-littered basement infantrymen take time out to clean their weapons. Ozark patch was painted out by army pictorial censor.

they plunged recklessly through Viersen and over the Niers canal bcfore the astounded enemy could pull his troops together. This canal might well have constituted a troublesome enemy defense line but German ambitions were not very lofty, being mostly confined to an overwhelming desire to vanish from the path of the 102d. At dusk 3d Battalion was marching unopposed in Vennheide, where it halted for the night, and where a number of unused artillery weapons and other military stores were found. 1st and 2d Battalions had seized Ober Biberich, Bocketerheide, Noverhoff and Biberich and by late afternoon were digging in for the night. It was perfectly apparent that the Germans, as often before in this campaign, had been taken completely by surprise.
406th Infantry also converged on Viersen. Scattered resistance was mopped up along the way, nothing serious being encountered except for some 88 and machine gun fire which harassed the 2d Battalion from the high ground between Viersen and Suchteln. 2d and 3d Battalions moved through Viersen, detaching Co I which secured a railroad bridge across the Niers canal.
407th guarding the division's exposed right flank moved north from Erkelenz through Botziok and Wolfskuhl to Ummier, where it wiped out the entire German garrison, setting up road blocks along the way.
Krefeld was the Ozark target for the next day. In normal times it boasted a population of more than 170,000 and was therefore one of the Rhineland's most important cities. Moreover German forces were still retreating through it and escaping over the Ucrdingen Rhine bridge. These factors, involving both German pride and disengaging tactics, made defense imperative.

[Tank of the 701st Tank Battalion in Brachelen]
Left, light tank of the 701st Tank Battalion jockeys for a position in Brachelen.

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