By mid February 1945 the Allies had regained all ground lost during the Battle of the Bulge and were ready to move further into the Rhineland. The Rhine river was the last natural obstacle before entering in the heart of Germany. For March several assualts were planned to cross the Rhine on various locations and the main assault was to be carried out by Britsh and US troops targeted on the area around Wesel a town located north of the Rurh, Germany’s industrial heart.
Early March 1945 the Allies had reached the Rhine river (West bank) north of Cologne, almost all of the bridges had been blown up by the defending German army, but one ,the Ludendorff Railroad Bridge at Remagen. The 9th Armored Division managed to capture the bridge on March 7 1945. heavy fighting and several explosions by demolition charges did damage the bridge severly.
Although the rough terrain on the other side of the riverbank did not lend itself for an easy move to the rest of Germany the Allies transported many troops, tanks and other vehicles across the bridge under heavy enemy fire. One week after the crossings the US army managed to get 7 division on the other side of the Bridge. March 17 1945 the bridge finally collapsed into the Rhine,after all the heavy traffic and battle damage of the previous weeks including a V2 rocket that crashed into the ground nearby. At this point the Allied armies prepared for the further move into Germany.
(dedicated to the 99th Infantry Division – Source: Internet )
(crossing the bridge,393rd Infantry Regiment, Co. B )
The 99th Infantry Division was the first complete Division that crossed the Ludendorff Bridge.
(Below you find a snippet from after action report of the 99th infantry division 12 March 1945)
“In the south, however, the 99th Infantry Division met lighter opposition initially. The 393d Infantry Regiment advanced up to 3000 yards to capture GINSTERHAHN (F7219) and ROTHEKREUZ (F7218). On the high ground north of HONNINGEN strong resistance consisting primarily of self-propelled weapons and small-arms fire was encountered. The 395th Infantry Regiment remained in assembly areas under operational control of the 9th Infantry Division until 1SO0, at which time it came under III Corps control as corps reserve. The 39th Infantry Regiment attacked toward KALENBORN (F7024). The rugged terrain and determined defense prevented the regiment from reaching its objective.
At 1S00, Combat Command B, 9th Armored Division, was detached from the 9th Infantry Division and came under III Corps control. The 60th Armored Infantry Battalion, upon closing in the bridgehead area at 2300, was attached to the 78th Infantry Division, where it became attached to the 311th Infantry Regiment.
The 7th Armored Division Artillery, reinforced by fires from the division tanks and attached tank destroyers, fired in support of the 78th Infantry Division, while the 9th Armored Division Artillery supported the operations of the 99th Infantry Division. Up to this point in the operations, the artillery had been able to support the division operations from west of the river with excellent results, and by remaining west of the river had eased the resupply problem. On this day, four field artillery battalions, two belonging to the 9th Infantry Division and one each to the 78th and the 99th Infantry Divisions, crossed the river; and a schedule which contemplated the crossing of six additional artillery battalions was set up for 13 March.”