12 April. CT 405 shuttled towards their objectives meeting little resistance except at bridges which the enemy had no time to demolish in his flight. Sometimes a small covering party stayed behind though to slow us up at these points. At Hillerse 405th's I & R Platoon ran into one of these pockets where dug-in Heines covered an important road bridge. Cross-fire from two well-placed jeeps, plus a determined frontal rush dislodged this party which fled, only to be captured on the other side of town. At the day's end 2d Battalion was in Rotgesbuttel, 3d Battalion in Meine, and 1st Battalion was assembled at Rethen.
CT 406 had even a less eventful day. It reached Gifhorn before dark with the 3rd Battalion in Lehrte as division reserve.
CT 407 remained back in the corps rear areas polishing off the last few tasks of mopping up and policing.
13 April. This was another day of hustle, movement, and excitement. In Breitenfeld 405th's I & R Platoon fought its way out of an ambush to win a presidential citation:
" . . . . . the platoon was given the mission of screening the advance of the 405th
Infantry. As it proceeded two miles ahead of the regiment it was ambushed and cutoff from
the main body . . . Although taken under intense fire from a stubborn and fanatic enemy
firing from the distance of only 75 yards, the officers and men with sheer valor and
aggressiveness fought off numerically superior forces. Machine guns mounted on a
one-quarter ton truck were moved to the flanks to deliver protecting fire while the
balance of the platoon engaged in a furious and unrelenting frontal attack. Because of
the persistence and rapidity of the assault the enemy forces were compelled to give
ground, but nevertheless continued to resist stubbornly until members of the I & R
Platoon rushed their positions and eliminated them individually in their foxholes.
During this action they killed and wounded a large number of enemy and captured the
remainder thereby annihilating a strong enemy force which would have constituted a
serious threat to the advancing regiment. The fearless determination, daring and
intrepidity of all members of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 405th
Infantry, reflect great credit upon themselves and is in keeping with the highest
tradition of the military service."
An example of the feats performed that day is seen in the action of Sgt Paul J. Padgett, of Detroit, Michigan. One arm pierced by a Jerry bullet Padgett nevertheless rushed a foxhole, wrestled a rifle from the Kraut occupant, then killed him with his own weapon.
By dark 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry, had Breitenfeld well in hand. 2d Battalion
stopped for the night at Schwiesau. The 1st closed in at Jaggau, after enduring a
severe SP gun shelling. Small arms fire from the woods that fringe the
town forced our rifle companies to deploy – a threat which, backed up by the movement of tanks and the setting up of mortars, was sufficient in itself to silence hostile fire.
2d Battalion of CT 406 reached the Cheinitz-Gardelegen highroad by evening. 3d Battalion expected to pull up to this road but was detained by approximately a company of Heinies in the woods north and west of Schwiesau.
14 April. CT 406 cleaned up the Schwiesau woods, then pushed its 3d Battalion on to Erxleben. The 2d Battalion paused only long enough to accept the surrender of large numbers of German troops, anxiously awaiting our PW cage and food, then shuttled on to Osterburg. Meanwhile CT 405 had mopped up the woods and towns in the southern part of division's sector. lst Battalion was in Stendal, and the 3d Battalion in Borstal, neither having encountered any trouble worth mentioning. This was by no means the story of the 2d Battalion, which found itself in possession of the beautiful town of Gardelegen and its horrible story -- which is a chapter in itself.
During the next two days foot and motorized patrols established control of all roads and villages in what was to shortly be their first occupation area. And the 102d established outposts on the banks of the Elbe River itself. The shadow of the aggressive Ozarks hung over the very capital of Nazidom – Berlin -- only forty-eight miles away.
All organized resistance had disappeared except for a small pocket on the river east of Stendal. Relieved and supplied over the debris of a demolished railroad bridge, this small thorn persisted for nearly a week, as stubborn as it was tactically worthless. On April 21 it met its doom when Companies C, D, G and H of the 405th Infantry killed 60 Jerries and captured 125 after a short but spirited fire fight following a surprise attack.
Cpl R. Dunning, Battery C, 379th Field Artillery Battalion,
is mighty proud of his outfit.|