|"Alligators at Roer"; solders on 2
amphibious vehicles cross Roer River,|
Julich, Germany; ruins in background. by Henry Jay MacMillan
|"The first bridge completed across the
Roer at Julich"; |
soldier walks across bridge over Roer River, Julich, Germany
Pontoon float at bottom left; by Henry Jay MacMillan
|"Launching the Bailey"; soldiers
construct Bailey bridge over Roer River|
Julich, Germany; damaged pontoons in foreground.
by Henry Jay MacMillan
Colonel Miller said that the dams held a hundred million metric tons of water. If they let it all go it could flood the Roer Valley a thousand yards wide for twenty miles down. All those months of fighting got control of the Erftalsperre, but the lower one was still in Germans hands. And the Germans blew it. When we started it was still racing and flooded, but Corps Engineer had said they could put in the bridges, so the 29th and 30th went ahead. The 1104th Group handled the 29th bridges opposite Juelich. The anchors wouldn't hold at first, and then the cable was shot away three times in a row, and they changed the location once. But they got across under the eye of the Corps Engineer himself. To the south, were the 1115th put the 30th across, it was tougher. There they used alligators at first for the assault across more than 1000 yards of flooded land on each side of the river. And the washed-out roads had to be rebuilt for 1500 yards on each side. The Chemical Warfare Section had the Smoke Generators working and they put down a perfect screen. The enemy artillery landed 1000 yards downstream from the bridge site. When they found an unexploded bomb on the far side abutment they were going to use for the bridge, and their anchors were swept away, it seemed often that they'd never get this bridge in. But it worked, and it was finished - along with bridging a 60 foot canal on the other side - fifteen hours ahead of schedule.
The Corps Artillery moved up close, and had their targets zeroed in when the jump-off came. There was some fire for a while on the bridge sites, but by the time the bridgehead started expanding, the Corps Battalions had silenced every enemy battery, and the attack was started in full momentum. They showed their power when the 30th Division reported a counterattack on the other side of the Hambach Forest. We fired all the Division Artilleries and the complete Corps Artillery, 20 battalions, in a serenade. When the smoke cleared a full German battalion had been wiped out, and six to ten tanks.5 The Corps wheeled up the AA to support the attack too. The 459th AW Bn supported the 29th and the 30th with their Bofors guns, and laid streams of fire on strong-points across the river.
(Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)
S/Sgt Wilbur C. Garner, 33377578
G-1 Section, Hq XIX Corps
APO 270, c/o Postmaster, N.Y.
Mary W. Garner Sk2c
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, 6, Minnesota
"Somewhere in Germany"
23 February 1945
Howdy! I received the fountain pen tonight. Thanks a lot. I'll tell you what. I'll send my pen to you and see if you can get a point for it. I didn't know you were using this pen until I received the package from you. I dropped my other pen back in December and it stuck into a wooden floor and bent. It almost looked like a pitchfork. I've straightened it out but it writes like a needle. If you can get it fixed you may use it.
Well, I'm really burned up with the mails and also the damn Red Cross. I haven't received any word from Gwen since the 6th and she was scheduled for the hospital on the 8th. I'm very anxious to know what's going on and if everything is OK. I get so darn mad sometimes I could really tear my hair out but it doesn't pay to say much now. I sure wish I'd meet and have some of these people under me after the war is over. I'd show them what it's like to be human. Well I guess that is life.
It has been another nice day today. I hope we have a couple weeks of it with the way things are popping now. Well tomorrow will be another busy day and I'm not kidding.
I got your letter of the 8th yesterday. It was good hearing from you once more. I'll be getting some pictures in the next couple of days and if they are any good I'll send you some. How about a couple of snaps of yourself, Kid?
Well, guess Souil is home by this time once again. How long has he this time? I hope it is at least 15 days. I wish, I thought we would be home by this time next year. I'd be satisfied to sweat it out. It seems to me that most of the people back home think this thing is almost over. Don't kid yourselves. It's still a long road.
Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now and hope to hear from you soon. So long for now and take care of yourself.
Loads of Love from Gwen and me,