field, although this time we would go back a sheltered way. We were relieved and returned uneventfully to a small town. The doughs went out into the rain on its outskirts and dug in. Early the next morning K Company returned to its former position at the final objective in the big house with the courtyard. As I left, Jerry started counterattacking with four tanks and a company of men."
February 26. I. Company, 405th Infantry, in a flurry of excitement repelled a counterattack by four Tiger tanks and fifty infantrymen. Approaching south of Hauerhof the enemy threatened to upset the day's attack. But he lacked the strength to press his advantage against an open flank and the danger, such as it was, soon evaporated.
Jumping off at noon 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry captured Kuckhoven in little over one hour. 2d Battalion attacking through the first, leap frogged into Wockrath by mid-afternoon. All three battalions then turned west towards Erkelenz. Meanwhile the 407th was approaching relentlessly from the south. 1st Battalion on the right captured Bellinghoven against considerable resistance. 3d Battalion on the left took Tenhalt. After a ten minute artillery barrage both regiments stormed into Erkelenz. While tanks of the 701st Battalion spewed flame yelling troopers closed in with machine guns and rifles. The enemy showed little disposition to withdraw. Instead troops remained in position until overrun, then surrendered. This appeared to be the effect of bewilderment rather than bravado, since all surrenders were made with considerable alacrity.
Erkelenz was a vital communications rail center, the hub of a large slice of Rhineland. A costly operation was expected. But the bewildered Wehrmacht was helpless before the fury of the Ozark attack. Once inside the town, great heaps of debris and milling crowds of civilians were the worst obstacles. The regiments rapidly smashed through to consolidate on the northern perimeter. A little after five o'clock, in just two hours, Erkelenz had fallen before a perfectly executed infantry-tank-artillery offensive. Many mines and delayed action engines of death were found within the city, cleverly emplaced by gloomy German engineers with pessimistic forethought, and periodic explosions racked the streets throughout the days and nights to follow.
February 27. 405th Infantry crossed the LD at 0800. 1st Battalion on
the left, 2d Battalion on the right. Venrath fell to the 1st Battalion at
0900 after a sharp engagement while the 3d Batta1ion seized Beckrath. Herrath
succumbed to an
onslaught by the 2d Battalion which then moved northeast towards Wickrathahn,
capturing it in early afternoon. Then 1st and 2d Battalion together jumped off
to take the Rheydt-Wegberg railroad. Heavy artillery, automatic and small arms
fire from Wickrath slowed this operation. With the 3d Battalion neutralizing
this fire, however and guarding the flank, the rest of the regiment fought
forward to their objective before dark. There the tired troops paused while
the 102d Reconnaissance Troop felt out the approaches to Rheydt and
406th Infantry was delayed in their attack because a complicated maze of
AT weapons and ditches held up their accompanying tanks. They finally pushed
off at 1045 to encounter stiff resistance from Rheindahlen. In late afternoon
1st and 2d Battalions in a spirited assault stormed Rheindahlen against
severe artillery and anti-tank fires. This town also was in Ozark hands
well before nightfall.
407th Infantry meanwhile vainly waited in Erkelenz for motor transport, the
idea being to form a task force in order to press the operation more rapidly.
But the necessary trucks could not he rounded up. Resigned to their fate of
marching to the Rhine, they set out in late afternoon to organize an attack
"One dough was hit as he ran". -- Brodie.