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CROSS THE RHINE WITH DRY FEET COURTESY OF 9TH ARM'D DIV-LUDENDORFF BRIDGE

American forces cross the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.


The Battle of Remagen was a World War II battle between American and German forces in and around the German town of Remagen, particularly centred on the Ludendorff Bridge across the River Rhine.

The fighting resulted in the capture of the bridge intact by American forces and allowed the Western Allies to begin their first major crossing of the Rhine, the last natural line of defence that the Germans thought could be used to substantially hold up the Western Allied advance. Previously crossings had been limited to small infantry reconnaissance patrols by boat. Importantly, the battle convinced the Allied high command in Western Europe that they could envelop the German industrial area of the Ruhr as opposed to focusing primarily on General Bernard Montgomery's plan, Operation Plunder, which would bring the British 21st Army Group across the Rhine into northern Germany.

OutcomeEdit

The battle started on 7 March 1945, when American forces entered Remagen, on the south-west side of the river. The German soldiers assigned the task of blowing up the bridge were on the north side of the river. They wanted to wait until all of the Germans, who were on the south side of the river, had crossed the bridge before they destroyed it. Just as the Americans approached the bridge the Germans set off the explosives but most failed to detonate, and the damage to the bridge, while significant, could be quickly repaired.

A three man detachment from 2nd Platoon, B Company, 9th Armored Engineer Battalion (Lieutenant Hugh Mott, Staff Sergeant John Reynolds, and Sergeant Eugene Dorland) moved with the first squad of A/27th AIB to reduce the remaining explosives after the first unsuccessful bridge demolition by the Germans. They were the third, fourth, and fifth US Soldiers onto the bridge. Crossing with lead elements, Dorland destroyed the main demolition switch box on the far bank. The remainder of B Company with the rest of A/27th AIB, finding and reducing more explosives on the bridge. After the crossing was initially secured, Lt. Mott led B Company in the hasty bridge repairs that allowed the first Sherman tanks to cross the bridge by 22:00 that evening.

After the capture of the bridge, the German attempted to destroy it through a variety of methods, including air attacks by Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter-bombers, V-2 ballistic missiles and frogmen trying to implant explosives. The battle ended on 25 March 1945 when the allied forces could break out of their bridgehead and advance into the rest of Germany.

AftermathEdit

The bridge collapsed due to structural damage on 17 March, after six US divisions were in place in the bridgehead. By then the allies had already built 3 pontoon bridges about 1,000 yards down river from the bridge. Several German officers who had been assigned the task of destroying the bridge when ordered were court-martialed for their failure and were convicted, sentenced to death and executed.

The bridge was not rebuilt after the war. However, the towers for the bridge are still there, and can be visited.

The battle was depicted in the novel The Bridge at Remagen by Ken Hechler, later adapted into a film of the same name.

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