History

314th Infantry Regiment: March 1945

For two days, the troops rested in Heinsberg, and on 3 March, moved out to rejoin its Division, now located near München-Gladbach. The motorized move to the 314th assigned area near Holtum went smoothly. In the new location, the troops saw the first "displaced persons camps for forced laborers." They were empty. From 4-8 March, the troops policed the area, found and repaired captured motor vehicles and other equipment.

Crossing the Rhine River
Crossing the Rhine River

On 9 March, the 314th moved approximately 35 miles to the area of Amsterrade, Holland, backtracking over the now completed bridge at Orsbeck. Preparations began for the new mission: an assault attack by the 79th and 30th Divisions crossing the Rhine. The plan called for two Regiments (the 313th and 315th) to attack side by side with the 314th in Regimental reserve. Practice took place on the Maas River, above Maeseyck near Roostoren. The units refined their strategy over the next few days by repeated practice.

The 314th moved out 57 miles northwest to an assembly area near the Rhine, along with Company B, 89th Chemical Mortar Battalion, on 21 March. Upon their arrival at the assembly point, they were greeted by 58 artillery battalions, almost as many mortar companies, and direct fire weapons to support the drive. This was to be one of the most extensive and difficult operations since 6 June, 1944 - the D-Day Invasion.

The Rhine

Regimental CP held a meeting 22 March with all commanders to discuss the final plans. Early evening, 23 March, the units moved forward by trucks four to five miles, then on foot the final two miles to the forward assembly areas. At 0200, 24 March, artillery fire commenced. With the rationing of ammunition not an issue anymore, the sky was lit up almost non-stop for over an hour. At 0330, the 1st and 2nd BN's were alerted for the crossing. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with General Simpson, and General Anderson were at Division Command Post to observe. At 1000, 2nd BN began its forge of the Rhine and reached its objective - the outskirts of Overbruch. There was a small amount of artillery fire scattered over 1st BNs position, coming from an area close to Dinslaken. 3rd BN followed 2nd's route and close up just right of the 2nd BN position.

The plan called for the 313th to push south, 315th to push north with the 314th in between in an attempt to expand the beachhead width before moving on due east. Without TDs or tank support, the 1st and 2nd BNs jumped off headed to Dinslaken at 1630. Speedy progress was made as they faced minimum resistance. Along the outskirts of Dinslaken, C/Co took a large factory building and had reached the railroad tracks coming in from the northeast. A and B/Companies swept the rear of town clean, and 2nd BN moved down the center of the sector seeing little and sporadic resistance. By dark, the Regiment was settled in for the night with the railroad tracks serving as the outpost line. 3rd BN had reverted to reserve at Overbruch. Overnight, the Regiment moved 147 vehicles, including the Cannon Company guns, across the Rhine.

The 25 March objective was a wooded area west of a yet to be completed autobahn five miles inland. At 0700, 1st and 2nd BNs restarted the attack to enlarge the bridgehead. Both received fire from 40-mm AA guns firing horizontally. B and C/Companies led off 1st BNs attack with B/Co moving into Heisfeld from the east, and C/Co coming up the west side. By 1200, the town was secured. E/Co led point for the 2nd BN, and F/Co attempted to advance east of the railroad tracks, but had to fall back and regroup behind E/Company's position due to 88-mm gunfire. Eickhof was finally cleared early in the morning hours of 26 March.

The 315th Regiment position was relieved by the 134th Regiment of the 35th Division on 26 March, and they proceeded northeast with the attacks. The 314th attacked with the 134th on the left flank. The 315th moved to secure part of the 2nd BN position. The 313th Regiment went into reserve. 3rd BN was still in reserve at Regimental HQ, and the position received sporadic shelling. The 1st BN objective was to seize the command ground at Zur Forst Wesel to the edge of Koter Bruch, some 3000 yards forward. The 2nd BN was to hold its position in a defensive stance, and 3rd BN was activated to move up between the 1st and 2nd BNs positions.

Crossing a railroad track after the Rhine River
Crossing a railroad track after the Rhine River

The 3rd BN was tasked with following the right flank of 1st BN, and defend facing south. 1st BN moved out with A/Co on point, followed by B/Co. A/Co cleared out an enemy strong point about 500 yards past the autobahn. Now reaching open space beyond the woods, A and B/Companies attacked strongly and quickly - out advancing the 134th Infantry to their left. By 1200, A/Co had secured the northern half of the battalion objective. B/Co was held up by two enemy tanks and support infantry, but reached its portion of the objective and secured it by 1400. 3rd BN companies I, K and L moved in to shore up 1st BNs position and to relieve the manned outposts. Later in the day, I/Co was ordered to push its flank into the woods to the main roadway running north-south on the line's east side tying into E/Company's position. E/Co had been delayed by resistance from the houses located in the east sector of the woods. E/Co cleaned out these strong points on their progress, while F/Co was hit hard by artillery and roughly 100 German infantry. The counter-attack was shut down by the Regiment's artillery and chemical mortars. The 315th moved over to secure this position at 2030 to allow F/Co to regroup.

At 0845, 27 March, the 1st BN was relieved by the 137th Infantry. They were moved to the assembly area at Heisfeld for Regimental reserve. The Regimental front was facing south towards the city of Sterkrade and the Rhine-Herne Canal, with the 2nd and 3rd BNs stationed on the line. The Rhine was crossed.

The Regiment moved eastward to the outskirts of Sterkrade, the night of 27-28 March. Along the way, I&R captured 17 POWs, 2nd and 3rd BNs captured six 88-mm guns amongst heavy fighting. At 0600, 29 March, with the 3rd BN attacking from the Regiment's left flank and 2nd BN on the right, pushed the advance forward against little resistance. By nightfall, 1st BN had moved up shadowing 2nd's line of attack, and Sterkrade was secure. The established line advanced to the Rhine-Herne Canal, consolidated, and the Regiment held this position for the next week. The 314th's situation was so secure that a Corps team arrived with movies to entertain the troops.

This historical outline is compiled from research material provided by personal accounts, unit diaries, online sources, "The Complete History of World War Two" edited by Francis T. Miller (1948) and the 314th Infantry Association's "Through Combat." A special thanks to J.W. Campbell and Dwight Pruitt. 17 September 2003. Lori Cutshall.