After 21 April all organized defense, as well as any threat of resistance in our rear
areas, had vanished. RCT 407 had rejoined the 102d after assisting in bottling up a
sizeable enemy battle group that had penetrated the Corps rear area, bound for the
Harz Mountains. Attention was now concentrated upon the possibilities of making contact
with the Soviet forces whose artillery could sometimes be heard rumbling far to the east.
Red flares at night deluded Ozarks into hopes that some historic encounter was about
to take place. The flares, however, when surveyed in by artillery instruments, proved
to be twenty miles away and convoys under close scrutiny, always turned into refugee
columns. Nevertheless, patrols were dispatched with the specific mission of contacting
Co C of the 407th Infantry went out with this intention on the evening of April 28.
They penetrated without trouble through several miles of hostile territory until they
hit a road block on the outskirts of Genthin. Here the company was suddenly subjected
to heavy automatic and mortar fire which killed three of its number and wounded fourteen
others. Attempting immed-iately to withdraw it found it was surrounded by a force of
several hundred men and three tanks. There was no choice but to surrender. Germans who
engineered this surprise, and who paradoxically expressed themselves as being unwilling
to fight Americans, brought back the fourteen wounded men to the east bank of the river
and helped evacuate them to our lines. The remainder of the company marched north
towards Schwerin where it was "liberated" four days later by the 82d Airborne Division.
On May 6 Capt Morrison and his Co C were safely in the Hildersheim airport waiting for
C-47s to fly them to Le Havre, the first stage on the way to U.S. and home. A fitting
reward for their sacrifice on the eve of victory.
407th's I&R Platoon had a somewhat less adventuresome experience. Crossing the river at
Tangermunde, the patrol proceeded to Wust where an entire garrison of seventy-five
Jerries surrendered. They then headed northeast into the woods where a German division
Hq was located. This unhappy outfit wanted to surrender en masse -- all 5000 of them --
but they also wanted the Americans to occupy their area. Upon this impossible demand,
negotiations ended and the platoon returned with its original bag of PWs.
Indeed, Jerries' single desire at this time seems to have been to surrender himself
as swiftly as possible to anyone willing to receive him on either bank of the Elbe.
A striking example is provided by the experience of a nine-man patrol from G Company,
406th Infantry. They crossed the river bound for Havelberg and returned two hours
later with 165 PWs.
A rifleman of Company C 407th Infantry, wounded near Genthin, is
taken back to the west bank of the Elbe.