Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf
29 November—4 December 1944
With the Division fully reassembled, and holding a critical sector of the Corps front, the moment came when it was to undertake its first all-Ozark offensive operation—the drive to the Roer River in the Linnich area.
On 25 November the Division’s sector extended from a point 1,500 meters north of Gereonsweiler to three hundred meters south of Ederen. On the left the 405th Infantry tied in with the 335th Infantry of the 84th Division, and on the right the 407th Infantry was in contact with the 2d Armored Division. The boundaries between the two regiments in the line ran parallel to and immediately south of the Gereonsweiler-Linnich road (Map 7).
East from Gereonsweiler and Ederen the ground stretched flat and bare until it began to shelve off to the river, approximately 4,000 meters away. The terrain in the area bounded by Lindern, Ederen, Gereonsweiler, and Welz was a flat tableland of fields, which at this season of the year were bare of vegetation and thoroughly soaked by the November rains. The ground in the Lindern—Gereonsweiler—Linnich triangle sloped gently toward Linnich, starting approximately 2,000 meters from -the town. Nowhere in the area was there much cover for advancing troops, except for an occasional very small rise or ridge.
A small valley which extended from Ederen to Welz and from there to Linnich broke the evenness of the tableland in the sector south of the Gereonsweiler-Linnich road, but there was also very little cover in that area. The valley, which was lightly wooded, was virtually the only irregularity of the terrain along the Division’s front. The ground around Flossdorf and Rurdorf was also featureless except for another small valley running out of Welz toward Flossdorf. Welz, a dirty little farming village, was located in the valley and below the level of the flat land to its east and west.
After it moved up on 24 November, the 102d spent the next few days getting ready for the forthcoming attack. The front remained fairly quiet, although enemy shellfire was occasionally heavy. On 25 November three tanks of the 771st Tank Battalion, in support positions south of Gereonsweiler, were knocked out by flak guns from the outskirts of Linnich. The Linnich water tower which enabled the enemy to direct fire finally was shot down by American artillery on 26 November.
The final reorganization of the -Division was set for 28 November when for the first time all its regiments would be under its control. On the afternoon of 25 November, General Keating recommended to XIII Corps that no action be taken by the Division prior to its reorganization. Later that night, however, the Division was notified that the attack had been set forward from 1 December to 29 November which allowed a bare twenty-four hours in which to prepare for the coming offensive.
The 405th Infantry immediately began to relieve the 335th, one battalion at a time, on the night of 26 and 27 November. Meanwhile, on 27 November, elements of the 407th on the right of the regimental sector moved forward approximately 200 yards to establish contact with the 2d Armored Division in its attack that day. In the afternoon, a small enemy counterattack there was beaten off without difficulty and elsewhere the front remained relatively quiet.
PANZERS ON THE FRONT
Opposing the Division along the Roer River line was the 10th SS Panzer Division and a part of the 340th Volksgrenadier Division, plus a scattering of other troops. The 10th SS Panzer Division had been clearly identified in the line by the time the 102d launched its attack, and it was learned later that it had borne the brunt of the battle, employing its 21st and 22d Panzergrenadier Regiments and the 10th SS Reconnaissance and Engineer Battalions. The Volksgrenadier unit, which had committed its 695th Regiment, was composed of a miscellany of troops, including Poles, disgruntled Luftwaffe personnel, over-age soldiers and advanced convalescents.
The general morale of the Volksgrenadiers, as opposed to that of the elite SS troops, was low. However, after the withdrawal of the SS units across the river during 1 December, the last defense of the sector was left to the less valuable Volksgrenadiers. The latter took a dim view of this situation with the result that many gave themselves up during the night of I December or surrendered without a struggle the next day.
Of the Ozarks’ three regiments, the 407th was in the best condition. The 405th had suffered considerable losses while attached to the 84th Division and had had practically no time for rest. The 406th, after almost a month of fighting, was likewise fatigued and slightly understrength, although replacements for earlier losses had previously been received.
In conjunction with the offensive of the 84th Infantry Division on Lindern, scheduled for 29 November, the 102nd Division was to stage a limited objective attack in the left portion of its sector. Specifically it was to maintain contact with the 84th as it advanced, and to seize and cut the Lindern—Linnich road which bisected the high ground dominating Brachelen and Linnich.
The scheme of maneuver provided for the 405th Infantry, on the Division left, to jump off from its front-line position, maintain contact with the 84th Division on its left, and seize the high ground overlooking the river along the Lindern—Linnich road.
As a diversionary effect the 407th Infantry, on the Division right, was to assist the 405th Infantry, maintain contact with the 2d Armored Division on its right, and seize the three towns along the Roer River directly to its front. The 406th Infantry, in Division reserve south of Beggendorf, was ordered to prepare to attack through either regiment to capture the prescribed objectives or repulse a counterattack should one develop.
Division Artillery, to which were attached the 252d Field Artillery Battalion; Battery A, 557th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm self-propelled assault guns); 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion; and the 548th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion, was ordered to lend both direct and general support to the attack. The 927th and 252d were selected to furnish direct support to the 407th, and the 379th was assigned to direct support of the 405th. The 380th and 381st were pooled in general support, with priority of fire on the first day to the 405th. The battery of self-propelled guns likewise was to directly assist the 405th’s attack from frontline positions with fire on pillboxes and favorable, targets of opportunity. The 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion was to support the 405th with Companies A and C and the 407th with Company B. The 771st Tank Battalion was attached to the 405th for use during the attack if and when it was needed.
The morning of 29 November broke cold and chilly, with slight mist ‘and rain. Old Man Mud predominated, and foxholes were inches deep in water. All in all it was miserable and the troops envied the Germans in their modernly equipped and well-protected troop shelters. Possibly this had something to do with the spirit they displayed—the determination to complete the mission as quickly as possible and become tenants in more suitable quarters.
At H-hour, the 1st Battalion of the 405th Infantry was holding the left of the regimental zone, and the 2d Battalion was on the right. A gap of some three hundred yards existed between the two battalions but was adequately covered by fire. The 3d Battalion moved up to the left of the 2d Battalion sector, and took position to attack northeast through the 1st Battalion at H-hour. The immediate objective was a strong line of enemy defenses about three hundred yards to the front. The 1st Battalion was directed to remain in position while the 2d and 3d attacked.
Promptly at 0630 the 3d Battalion moved silently forward into the blackness. They had not moved far when enemy flares forced them to freeze in position, but they were not fired upon.
The terrain offered little cover and was flat and open. A low ridge afforded some protection from emplacements to the east and northeast down the long slope toward Linnich and it was not until the battalion crossed this rise and was on the way to the objective that the enemy opened fire. Future progress resolved into a process of slowly creeping from anthill to anthill at the rate of 150 yards in two hours. Fire gradually increased so that further movement over the naked terrain was impossible. The battalion therefore dug in, awaiting daylight.
Meanwhile Company A of the 771st Tank Battalion moved out from Gereonsweiler at 0800 to a position behind the 1st Battalion. While the 1st Platoon was supporting the infantry, the 3d Platoon was engaged by 88mm guns firing from high ground between Beeck and Lindern. Two of the 88mm guns were promptly put out of action, but two of our tanks were hit and two others became immobilized in the mud. The company withdrew to Gereonsweiler and recovered the bogged tanks that night.
The 2d Battalion, attacking almost directly east, had progressed only a little more than a hundred yards over the naked terrain beyond the line of departure before heavy fire forced the men to dig in. The Germans’ defenses were so emplaced that attacking troops, after crossing a slight rise, were brought under heavy fire as soon as they reached the low ridge which marked the beginning of the slope toward Linnich. It was a skillfully planned reverse-slope position.
The Germans fought chiefly from fire trenches running around square,, concrete troop shelters set flush with the ground. To these they could retire when American artillery became too heavy, and it was almost impossible to destroy them. The 2d Battalion was supported by fire from Company A of the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion and Company B of the 771st Tank Battalion, but fire from east of Lindern could not be stopped. The tanks of Company B placed fire on the shelters with their 76s and machine-gunned the trenches, but were also forced to withdraw from the open terrain after two tanks had been put out of action.
Contact with the 84th Division was faulty all day. Elements of the 84th Division and the 405th Infantry were in contact periodically, but the situation remained confused. As a result, Col. Laurin L. Williams, commanding the 405th, was hesitant to push forward too vigorously on his left for fear of exposing his flank, and by early afternoon both battalions were halted, although Colonel Williams informed General Keating about 1230 that he could advance if the 335th Regiment could cover his flank.
The 1st Battalion (reserve) was able to advance fairly rapidly and received little fire. It moved northeast in column of companies passing through the left and rear of the 3d Battalion position. As it neared the Lindern—Linnich road, however, still without having established contact with the 84th, several enemy tanks were sighted on the road near Linnich. At about the same time, a by-passed enemy position, located in a bramble patch about eight hundred yards directly south of Lindern, opened fire with automatic weapons. The threat from the enemy combined with the growing darkness and the fact that the battalion’s contact with the other battalions was tenuous, caused the 1st Battalion commander, Major (later Lt. Col.) Leroy Frazier, to halt his men and organize a perimeter defense until the situation became clearer. The battalion later dug in on its objective just south of the Lindern— Linnich road and about three hundred yards from the contact point where the 84th was to have been.
The 405th had failed to gain the majority of its objectives by distances varying from approximately 1,200 yards on the left to 600 on the right. The day ended with both sides nursing their wounds.
The attack by the 407th Infantry was, as contemplated, little more than a long rush. By 0830, Lt. Col. William I. Danskin, Regimental Executive Officer, reported that the regiment was on its objective all along the line, and that the 2d Armored Division was coming up on the right. It then demonstrated by fire during the remainder of the day as directed. Although a few casualties were suffered from artillery and small-arms fire, the enemy did not make his expected counterattack. The ground before Welz was now clear of the enemy and the 407th was in a good position to launch its attack on the Roer River towns.
Field Order No. 4 directed the 405th to attack on 30 November and seize Linnich and the high ground to the north. At this same time, the 407th was to continue its attack against Welz, Rurdorf and Flossdorf. The 406th was directed to remain in Division reserve, prepared to pass through the 405th Infantry and cross the Roer River on Division order.
As the 29th wore on and the 405th remained short of its objective, the plan to seize Linnich the next day became less and less feasible, especially in view of the situation in the 84th’s sector. The left flank was wide open and the terrain favored an attack by armor and infantry.
As a result, Letter of Instructions No. 15, published later in the day radically changed the 102d’s plan of attack for the 30th; it shifted the main effort to the right of the Division sector where the 407th was ordered to attack with all three battalions against the objectives assigned it. The 405th was to continue on the mission assigned by XIII Corps, while the 406th was ordered to hold itself ready to pass through the 407th and seize Linnich if opposition was greater than anticipated. The enemy definitely had superior fields of fire. The task of seizing the river towns began to appear difficult, indeed.
The attack was scheduled for 0730, but unfortunately during the night one of the battalion commanders of a neighboring Division spoke to another over the radio, mentioning the plan and hour of attack. A German monitoring station cut in at the end of the conversation and a strange guttural voice said “SeAr gut!” This necessitated a change in H-hour which was reset by Army order for 0930. The 84th Division, still occupied with the job of cleaning up Lindern and the high ground immediately to its east, attacked at 0700 to cover the left flank of the 405th.
The regimental plan for the 407th was an assault by all three battalions, supported by companies of the 771st Tank Battalion. The 1st Battalion was to attack from the west directly against Welz, and the 3d was to move on the town from the southwest and enter it from the southern side. The 2d Battalion, attacking from inside the boundary of the 2d Armored Division to the south, was to drive hard to the north against Flossdorf. After Welz and Flossdorf had been taken the regiment was to proceed on Rurdorf in a coordinated attack from the captured towns. The 2d Battalion was supported by Company C of the 771st Tank Battalion and the 1st and 3d Battalions by Companies D and B, respectively
The attack was launched promptly on time. The weather remained clear and visibility was good after the morning haze had disappeared. Close air support, however, was at a minimum because of the nearness of the troops to the river line. Linnich, however, had been dive-bombed on the afternoon of 29 November and XXIX TAG had since flown 237 sorties, dropping 33 tons of general-purpose bombs on towns east of the Roer.
The 1st Battalion, 407th Infantry, moved directly east across the field under cover of a heavy artillery barrage laid on Welz. The assault companies were forced to move slowly because of enemy artillery fire from east of the Roer, but there were few halts and few casualties. Companies A and B entered the town directly while Company C moved slightly to the north to guard against any counterattack that might develop out of Linnich. By 1000 the infantry was well within the western edge of the town and began house-to-house fighting against the comparatively few defenders still there. Meanwhile Company D and the light tank company of the 771st, because of friendly antitank mine field east of Gereonsweiler, moved through Ederen to Welz. One tank struck a mine and was disabled as the Company entered Welz.
Resistance in Welz was principally from scattered snipers, but the task of clearing them out was made harder by the fact that enemy artillery fire began to fall on the town almost from the minute American troops entered the outskirts. By noon the infantry was ringed around the northern and eastern edge of the village, with the tanks emplaced in support. One more light tank was knocked out by fire from an antitank gun to the north which could not be located.
On the right, the 3d Battalion attacked northeast towards the southeast corner of Welz. Company K, supported by the 1st Platoon, Company B, 771st Tank Battalion had little difficulty advancing to the objective although the armor ran into a minefield and lost four tanks. Fire from Welz, however, was not heavy and the infantry was fighting in the town in less than an hour.
Company L advanced less than three hundred yards to a point directly south of the town before it was brought under fire from a strong enemy position located at the head of a U-shaped draw running between Welz and Flossdorf. The enemy, from cleverly concealed emplacements in the draw, delivered a heavy volume of fire on assault units attempting to attack Welz from the south, and was in a position to fire east across the open ground between Welz and Flossdorf. They could also direct fire down the draw to the south. So well concealed were the positions and so heavy was the fire placed against the attackers that reports from the front referred to “enemy pillboxes.” When the position was finally taken it was found that there were no concrete fortifications, but that the Germans had been firing from well dug-in emplacements.
To the south, the 2d Battalion attacked Flossdorf a half hour later than the other two battalions in order to allow the assault on Welz to ‘gain momentum. Their line of departure was slightly more than two thousand yards south of the objectives. Lack of sufficient time for reconnaissance had hindered plans for the attack. The battalion had been notified of the attack late in the afternoon of 29 November and it was nearly dark before an attempt could be made to inspect the terrain. However, the attack was launched on time (See Map 7).
The infantry advanced about six hundred yards when they were halted by heavy fire, not only from Flossdorf, but from the positions in the draw to their left front and from across the river. The supporting heavy machine guns, one platoon of which had been assigned to each assault company, were not of much use because the terrain was so flat and the distance to the target so short that they could not safely fire over or through the troops. Our mortars, however, fired effectively from defiladed positions to the south.
The troops remained pinned down, and at 1400 the tanks were committed to lend support. Six of the eight tanks in the two leading platoons were disabled by antitank fire from east of the river within a few minutes after starting forward and the remaining two tanks withdrew to a defiladed position under cover of fire from the reserve tank platoon. Hostile fire was so heavy that the crews of the disabled tanks were forced to remain in their vehicles until dark.
Heavy artillery barrages were then placed ahead of the infantry and on Flossdorf in an effort to help the attack, but enemy resistance continued to be so intense that little progress could be made. Nightfall found the leading companies about eight hundred yards short of the objective.
The 405th’s projected attack had hardly started before the troops were halted for the second straight day. Some of the men in the 2d and 3d Battalions succeeded in working forward short distances, but no appreciable advance was possible.
The 2d Battalion’s right moved forward a short distance in the afternoon down the Gereonsweiler— Linnich road where resistance was lighter. About 1330 an enemy force consisting of an estimated five hundred infantrymen supported by five heavy tanks was observed advancing toward the 3d Battalion’s lines from the northeast. A heavy artillery concentration dispersed the force before it reached our positions and there were no further counterattacks during the day.
On the left of the sector, the 1st Battalion remained in its perimeter defense. It still had little contact with the 84th Division which had troops in Lindern, but had been unable to advance to the commanding ground beyond. During the day, the 334th Infantry of the 84th Division attacked from Apweiler to strike Lindern from the south, pass through the position of the 1st Battalion, 405th Infantry, and then move northward to the high ground east of Lindern. The 334th, however, advanced only as far as a position on the Lindern— Gereonsweiler road before it was subjected to a heavy volume of artillery and small-arms fire from the east and from Lindern; the attack stopped almost immediately after it was launched.
Enemy fire in the 405th’s zone was so intense that control of the men was difficult, and, as a result, they were considerably scattered. At several local points where advances had been made against troop shelters under cover of artillery or tank fire, German troops retired within the shelters, closed the openings, and elected to fight it out. Several shelters which had been surrounded the previous day were reduced by a combination of methods and several more were encircled. One platoon of Company A, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, fired at three of the shelters located along a secondary road that roughly represented the farthest point of the advance in the 2d and 3d Battalion sectors. Their fire enabled the infantry to force the defenders out by tossing white phosphorus grenades down the ventilators. or by placing demolition charges against the steel doors. The enemy in one shelter located about 1,500 meters from Gereonsweiler, attempted to surrender but, when they emerged, were shot down by fire from other German positions in the area. Among the prisoners who were captured in the shelters during the day were several civilians (including two women).
The capture of Welz left the Division in a better position to launch a final attack on 1 December on the three towns along the river. Early in the evening of 30 November, General Keating requested additional tank support and at 2156 that night the 17th Tank Battalion of the 7th Armored Division was attached to the Division. Corps stipulated, however, that the battalion was not to be committed unless absolutely necessary.
Plans for 1 December again directed the 405th Infantry to take its final objective, the high ground immediately north of Linnich. The 407th was to finish mopping up Welz, resume its attack on Flossdorf from the south, and then move out of Welz on Rurdorf. The 406th Infantry was also warned to be ready to operate in the 407th Infantry sector.
Day came, overcast and chilly, with visibility limited by the usual early morning fog. The sky cleared as the day wore on, but the morning overcast made it impossible for aircraft to operate before 0930. Thereafter XXIX TAG flew 178 sorties, dropping 34 tons of bombs. Six enemy tanks were destroyed and Baal set afire by this air support.
405TH INCHES FORWARD
Some of the Germans immediately to the front of the 405th’s line had pulled out of their defenses, which permitted limited gains down the road toward Linnich, and elements of the 3d Battalion moved forward during the morning. However, heavy small-arms, machine-gun and artillery fire from other points still pounded the regimental front. Moreover, the left flank remained exposed due to the 84th’s inability to advance. This prevented all attempts of the 1st Battalion to advance. During the morning, seven enemy tanks were observed, just north of the Lindern—Linnich road and were driven off by 8-inch artillery fire. Major Winder, Regimental Executive Officer, reported to Division at 1415 that the regiment “couldn’t budge an inch.” It was a critical day for the “Up-Fronters.”
The 407th Infantry also struggled under great difficulties during the entire day. By noon the last resistance in Welz was stamped out by the 1st Battalion, but the other battalions were unable to advance. During the night a patrol from the 3d Battalion attempted to advance against the strong-point at the head of the draw southeast of Welz but the men had hardly moved out of their foxholes before they were driven back by intense fire. A platoon from Company F worked its way partly up the draw from the south during the night and reported that they suspected a big pillbox there.
At 1147, our P-47s bombed the outskirts of Welz by error. Little damage was done and no casualties inflicted on our troops clearing snipers from the buildings.
FLOSSDORF STILL HOLDS
The action on 30 November had so depleted Company C of the 771st Tank Battalion that it had only five tanks left. On 1 December the 2d Battalion, 407th Infantry, could make no appreciable progress in the face of the fire which continued to come from the front and from across the river. After more than twenty-four hours without advancing most of the men were dug in and the fire made it difficult to organize and advance. A heavy rolling barrage was placed ahead of the battalion as the attack started, and heavy artillery continued to be placed on Flossdorf. Smoke was also used to screen the east bank of the Roer, but leading elements of Companies E and G were unable to move forward more than about two hundred yards to a road intersection. At noon the battalion commander reported to regiment that his unit was “pinned down on all sides.”
Efforts to work the 2d Battalion forward continued all day without success. A combination of open terrain, enemy mines, and direct high-velocity 88mm fire from across the river made armor support in the area virtually impossible.
In the course of the morning, the Division Commander, who directed the attack from the 407th Infantry command post in Ederen, decided to commit the Division reserve (406th Infantry) as soon as the situation became reasonably clear. Not long after, he set the time for the attack at 1400. This required prompt and aggressive action on the part of the regiment as darkness was due about 1800.
The 406th’s plan was for the 1st Battalion and 2d Battalion to attack abreast with the 1st Battalion on the right. The 2d Battalion was to attack on a broad front across the open field west of Welz, supported by Company B of the 17th Tank Battalion. The 1st Battalion was to attack north from Welz up the draw toward Linnich. It would be supported by Company C of the 17th Tank Battalion. Tanks and infantry were to go forward together with each tank accompanied by six or eight soldiers, and when Linnich was reached the infantry was to hop off and lead the tanks into the town. However, a foot reconnaissance of the draw running from Welz to Linnich revealed that the terrain made employment of more than a platoon of tanks impracticable. It was therefore decided to send only one platoon to Welz and keep the remainder of Company C assembled near Ederen.
The 2d Battalion of the 406th was assigned a line of departure almost directly west of Welz. The boundary for the attack on the left was the same as the boundary line between the 407th and 405th, just south of the Gereonsweiler—Linnich road. Both the 1st and 2d Battalions moved from Ederen to Welz, and shortly before time’ for the jump-off the 2d Battalion moved out to meet the tanks at the line of departure on the open plain west of Welz.
The 92nd Chemical Battalion’s company, which during the day fired several thousand smoke shells, was ordered to maintain a continuous blanket of smoke along the river. The heaviest artillery barrage of the three-day attack was fired just before and during the assault. Fighter-bombers were scheduled to bomb Linnich at 1315. Over the target, however, they were attacked by German airplanes and had to jettison their bombs wide of the mark and engage in a dogfight.
Both battalions of the 406th attacked on time. The 2d Battalion met the tank company at the line of departure a few minutes after 1400 and began its assault. As the attack rolled forward on a wide front across the tableland toward the slope to Linnich, the battalion seemed in a zone of comparative calm, like that in the center of a tropical hurricane. The friendly barrage rolled fifty yards in front of the advancing troops, while German artillery burst simultaneously behind them.
Enemy antitank fire occasionally slowed the tanks, but when this occurred the infantry waited and placed fire on the enemy guns until the tanks were able to go ahead. One antitank gun located on the southern outskirts of Linnich was silenced in this manner, but other antitank fire was received from west of Linnich and from across the river. Two medium tanks were knocked out, but the infantry continued their advance and by 1615 had reached the edge of Linnich. Here a drainage ditch immediately south of town stopped the supporting tanks while mines prevented their entry by road. Infantry alone rushed passed the first row of houses to engage a force later estimated at between 150 and 200 enemy riflemen.
The tanks of Company B withdrew during the night to a defiladed position south of the town, and the 2d Battalion took up its position in the row of houses on the southern edge of the principal east-west street and did not attempt to push farther. The next morning, after the mopping up of Linnich had started Major (later Lt. Col.) Isaac Gatlin, 2d Battalion commander, discovered that his command post and that of the Germans had been directly across the street from each other throughout the night.
Heavy enemy artillery fire on Welz made the 1st Battalion’s task particularly difficult from the start. The troops had trouble getting through the town to the jump-off point. The infantry eventually got through as the fire lifted and the attack started on time. A platoon from Company A and the tank platoon headed the advance. When the two units had gone a short distance up the draw out of the town, a heavy mortar and artillery barrage fell and slowed the attack. At about 1430 the infantry again moved forward, this time without the tanks, their value being limited by the terrain.
At about the same time the 1st Battalion began its second attack up the draw, an enemy infantry counterattack developed out of Rurdorf against Welz. To help the 1st Battalion of the 407th stave off the threat, reserve companies of the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 406th were ordered to the eastern edge of the town to await results. The German assault, however, was effectively stopped short of Welz by our artillery fire.
Leading elements of the 1st Battalion again advanced, and had reached a point approximately six hundred yards up the draw before they were pinned down. This draw had high banks, with scattered woods on the west slope, and enemy riflemen along its sides were able to fire on any troops coming toward Linnich. This situation continued until about 1600 when the Division Commander ordered the battalion to abandon its route up the draw, return to Welz by infiltration, and follow the same route as the 2d Battalion. Two hours before, the 3d Battalion of the 406th, the only large infantry reserve left in the Division, had been ordered to move from Puffendorf to Ederen prepared for employment on the left of the 2d Battalion in a final effort to secure Linnich.
The 1st Battalion’s next attempt to reach Linnich was successful. The advance was in column and the route lay along the right of the broad front over which the 2d Battalion had attacked. Progress was slowed by enemy artillery, but by about 1700 the battalion was on the southern edge of the town where it swung right into an orchard and took up a line facing generally east along canalized Merz Creek.
The 3d Battalion was released to regimental control and, attacking from Ederen at 1700, followed the route of the 2d Battalion without meeting opposition other than artillery and some fire from the north. By 1750 it was tied in on the left of the 2d Battalion south and slightly west of the town. This put the regimental line on the southern edge of Linnich from the intersection of the Gereonsweiler—Linnich road to the canal where it bent south for approximately a hundred yards. The troops dubbed the intersection Windy Corner due to the constant burst of enemy shells.
By late afternoon the 113th Cavalry Group had seized Beeck and 84th Division troops occupied the high ground north of Beeck and to the rear of the 405th’s sector. Lindern too, was taken, and Rail-splitter infantrymen were across the Lindern—Linnich road on the right of the 84th’s zone. The 334th Infantry, which had been pinned down the previous day, succeeded on the afternoon of 1 December in getting past the 1st Battalion of the 405th although contact was not yet firm. The threat to the left and rear of the 405th was thus considerably eased, and this, plus the imminent capture of Linnich by the 406th, made it possible for the 405th to advance.
As darkness descended, the 2d Battalion of the 405th, on the right of the regimental sector, began to move toward Linnich parallel to and slightly south of the road from Gereonsweiler. There were no enemy emplacements to their front but the battalion, after three days of fighting in the mud and cold, was considerably weakened. As the 2d Battalion moved toward Linnich, the 3d Battalion of the 406th began to extend to its left to contact the approaching troops. It was planned that the two battalions, when joined, would cross the road near Windy Corner and seize the high ground north of Linnich. As the 2d Battalion moved forward, now against little opposition, the 3d and 1st Battalions demonstrated to their front with fire to keep the Germans in their troop shelters.
When the 2d Battalion of the 405th and the 3d Battalion of the 406th made contact at about 1800 hours, the troops halted while the commanders of the two regiments and the Division staff debated the advisability of proceeding on to the objective that night. Orders were subsequently issued for the troops to hold tight for the rest of the night and attack at first light in the morning. This ended operations for the day.
During the night of 1-2 December there were signs that the enemy had given up the fight in the division’s sector and was evacuating the bulk of his troops to positions across the river. The, severe fighting had caused him to lose both the heart and initiative to continue the battle any longer.
On the morning of 2 December, a tankdozer pushed several crossings through the ditch which had halted Company B of the 17th Tank Battalion the day previously. Infantrymen laid logs over this fresh fill and the tanks crossed without incident. The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 406th moved north and east through Linnich to clear out the remaining Germans. During these mopping-up operations the two battalions captured approximately forty Germans and killed about a hundred who had been left behind to cover the withdrawal.
The high ground north of Linnich was occupied by the 405th on 2 December. The 2d Battalion, supported by Company A of the 771st Tank Battalion, jumped off at 0730 from its positions to the west of Linnich and within