OUR INHERITANCE Past, Present and Future Part 17
by Loretta Leonard
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ACCESS TO THE RHINE
I located several photos with pictures of various cities that the 142 Battery B gun battalion visited. Again, I had very limited information on these cities and how they tied to the war. I decided to look at each city individually to discover the part each city played in the war.
THE ACTUAL CITIES
Working to reach the Rhine River was the crux of the entire objective and being able to enter Germany was seen as elemental to stopping the reign of Nazi encroachment. This movement took a united approach from Britain, USSR and the US. Relentlessly working together took cooperation and without the support from one another, the Allies may not have been unable to overcome Germany
Koblenz is located between Cologne and Bonn. It is 57 miles southeast from Cologne and 37.3 miles downstream from Bonn. Koblenz. Heavy bombing occurred in the area so much that Koblenz was forced to completely rebuild after the war. The US 3rd Army reached the area just near the town on March 6, 1945. Koblenz was overtaken on March 17, 1945. The Allies were one step closer to the Rhine.
Dusseldorf: Prior to World War I and World War II the area near Dusseldorf was experiencing rapid growth due to the Industrial Revolution. As the war became a reality, Dusseldorf received air attacks almost around the clock making it hard to keep any stable economy. The city was literally reduced to a pile of rubbish. On April 18, 1945 the US Army entered the area and the Allies are one step closer to their objective.
Remagen: In March of 1945, the Allied armies had made remarkable progress on gaining access to the Rhine River. The bridges were down in all spots along the river except at the small city of Remagen. On March 7th units of the US First Army captured the Ludendorff railroad bridge (also called the Remagen Bridge). By March 24 The British Second Army under Montgomery sent forces to the area while the US Ninth Army was sent across the river. The US First Army was occupying a sprawling bridgehead between Bonn and Koblenz. On March 22nd the U.S. Third Army seized the bridgehead south of Mainz. The whole barrier of the Rhine river was broken, and Eisenhower ordered the armies to strike east on a broad front.
Bonn was a heavily populated area that was very important to the war. The city was in the military zone of British occupation. With the focus of the strategy being to reach the Rhine River it was a critical part of the maneuver. To accomplish this the Allies had to break through the west wall in the south and cross the Ruhr (Dutch Roer) River on the north. The Germans had flooded the Ruhr Valley by opening the dams and it took nearly two weeks for the water to subsid4e. The U.S. Ninth and First armies crossed the Ruhr on February 23.
Witzenhausen is a town located in the state of Hesse between Kassel and Gottingen. Located on the Werra River it was a valuable town to occupy. The Werra empties into the Rhine and since the waterway could be used to get supplies into Germany it was a necessary way to prevent the Germans from receiving essential supplies.
Kassel is located between Frankfurt and Hanover and was home to the German tank and airplane production. Kassel was the headquarters for Germany’s Wehrekis IX and a subcamp of Dachau. Prisoners in the area served as slave laborers for the Germans.
In April 3/4, 1945 the Allies removed the Germans from the town. The British bombed the area in 1943 and with the Allied bombing of the area many buildings were destroyed. Several buildings that were destroyed were never rebuilt and it was not into the 1950’s that the town was completely rebuilt.
Gottingen is located 67 miles from Hamburg and 45 miles NE of Kassle.. The Leine River runs through the area and the town was almost completely untouched by the Allies until mid-1945. The US overtakes the town on July 4, 1945.
During the time that the Allies bombed the area, the town received no real damage. It was a highly academic area prior to the war and many professors either left the area or were forced to leave the area because they were Jewish. There was a concentration camp in the area for adolescents in Moringen which was closed in 1945. Several Jews were exterminated in camps in this same basic area. The hospital in the town was used to treat German soldiers who needed medical attention.
ALLENDORF, EHRBACH-FURSTENAUAND MIICHELSTADT
Allendorf : June 5 to 10, 1945: Somewhere during these dates the troops moved into this town. The town is in the state of Hesse Germany between Frankenberg and Battenberg.
Ehrbach-Fursteanu: October 1945: Allies enter into Germany by crossing the Rhine River. The gun battalion occupies the Furstenau Castle immediately after the Germans leave the area. The town of Michlestadt is very close to the area.
Michelstadt: I have several pictures of the town and a picture of the home where the soldiers were housed in October 1945.
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