78th INFANTRY DIVISION
FOR THE PERIOD 1 March - 4 March 1945
a. Unit — 311Th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division
Chester M. Willingham, O-8442, Colonel, Infantry, Commanding.
b. Maps — Germany, 1/25,000 G.S. 4141 — Sheets No. 5303 - 5309 - 5403 - 54O9 -5208 - 5210.
c. Location at Beginning of Period — Nideggen, Germany (F1133)
2. NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS AND ENEMY ACTIONS
Late in December 1944 and early in February 1945, 311th Infantry Regiment had driven through the outer defenses of the Siegfried Line, capturing numerous towns including Eicherscheid, Huppenbroich, Simmerath, and Kesternich. The story of the capture of the Roer River town, Dedenborn, and the handful of men who captured the town, became history. Then the advance of the Regiment into the inner defenses and final outposts of the Siegfried Line was enacted. The battle for Schmidt and the prominent terrain which overlooks the Schwammenauel Dam, Ruhrberg, and the crossing of the Roer River itself, were objectives successfully taken in February. In the 81 days of front line action the Regiment had successfully taken all its assigned objectives and accomplished every mission and at this point continued to carry the attack to the enemy.
The report of March 1945 covers the actions of the Regiment crossing the Roer River and ending at the Sieg River. It includes the taking of the territory west of the Rhine river, the crossing, and finally, the enlarging of the bridgehead along the eastern bank.
1 March 1945
At 0615A the 311th Infantry Regiment continued its drive east of the Roer River towards the Rhine river. The 1st Battalion, attacked south along the river clearing the peninsula and high ground between Abenden (1131) and Blens (1129) of the enemy. In the initial phase of the attack, the enemy resistance was light although the rugged terrain presented a formidable obstacle. The battalion moved through the Third Battalion, attacking south and securing the high ground north of Heimbach.
At this point a defensive position was then established while plans for taking the town of Heimbach were made. Upon crossing the Roer River, Third Battalion drove south securing the high ground 1000 yards northeast of Hausen (1229) by 1000A. The Battalion entered Hausen encountering heavy enemy resistance, in the form of small arms, automatic weapons, mortar and artillery fire, heavy casualties resulted from this action as well as from the house to house fighting which continued in the town until 1700A when it was completely cleared. At the end of the period 3d Battalion had assembled in the town and was preparing to continue the attack south.
The Antitank Company was held in mobile reserve in the vicinity of Nideggen and Cannon Company was engaged in its normal supporting missions. The PW's captured for the day included one German officer and 84 Enlisted Men making a PW total for the Regiment, to date, 979. The Regimental CP was located in Nideggen (1133).
2 March 1945
The Regiment continued the attack all during the night to extend and enlarge this Roer River bridgehead in the division zone. Snow flurries, during the morning hours did in no way hinder the advance, and the Regimental CP moved to Hausen (1228) to facilitate close control of the situation.
At 0400A the 1st Battalion moved south to attack the town of Heimbach. The initial resistance was light but as Company "B" entered Heimbach from the West at 0700A, troops of the enemy 272 Volksgrenadier Division stubbornly resisted the advance.
As Company A entered Heimbach from the North, the town garrison withdrew. With the support of the attached tanks of Company C, 774 Tank Battalion, the town was cleared by 1325A. One company of the 1st Battalion then moved eastward and cleared the road from Heimbach (1126) to Vlatten (1028) for 2000 yards. By dusk the Battalion, less Company C moved into defensive positions in Heimbach, while Company C established positions on the south flank of the battalion.
The Second Battalion jumped off to attack southward at 0300A. By 0704A Company G had its first objective, a draw paralleling the road 2600 yards northeast of Heimbach, At 0725A, Company F pushed on to the second Battalion objective which was a prominent trail crossing the high ground east of Heimbach. In this action the Battalion had met moderate small arms resistance and light mortar and artillery fire. The company then moved into a defensive position on the high ground East of Hausen with Company E establishing the OPL (Outpost Line) which protected Battalion's south flank.
The Third Battalion started its drive at 1000A cutting the road running east of Heimbach, Company I reduced two pillboxes at 1230A and by 1510A the mission of the 3d Battalion was accomplished and the high ground 1200 yards East of Heimbach was secured. By order of the Division Commander the Battalion moved out at 1800A to relieve Second Battalion 310th Infantry. The relief was completed at 2135A and defensive positions and an OPL were established by Companies I and K.
The Second Battalion, 310th Infantry less Company G was attached to the Regiment at 0145A. At 0545A the Battalion jumped off from the vicinity of Dam No. 3. Company G was returned to the control of its Battalion at 0815A. At the jump-off the Battalion met moderate resistance but by 1210A, it had secured its objective. With the capture of three officers and 264 EM, the Regimental PW total was increased to 1246.
3 March 1945
The mission for the Regiment on this day was to protect the south flank of the 78th Division and to prepare for future operations to the east. There was no actual contact with the enemy although various patrols captured two enemy officers and 54 enlisted men.
The First Battalion had assembled in the vicinity of Heimbach. The troops were afforded the first rest in four days while plans were made for movement to Vlatten.
The Second Battalion relieved Company C and continued to maintain the OPL thus protecting the south flank of the Division. During the day the Battalion sent out a combat patrol of one officer and fifteen men to protect elements of the I & R platoon as an OP was established on the Kloster-Mariawald.
The Third Battalion continuing its operations after being passed through by the 38th Infantry, 2d Infantry Division, assembled in Heimbach. With the Antitank Company attached for the movement, the 3d Battalion mounted trucks at 2100A and using the Vlatten-Wallersheim-Langendorf route, closed at Langendorf by 2245A. The Battalion then moved to an assembly area while the Antitank Company took up defensive positions around the town.
Cannon company, executed normal supporting missions. During the day's actions the company commander went on a reconnaissance and in the course of the trip he entered Hergarten (1625), still in enemy hands and captured one German officer and seven enlisted men.
Second Battalion, 310th Infantry, reverted back to its Regimental control at 0922A
4 March 1945
Preparations for the movement of the 1st and 2d Battalions continued all during the night. At 0530A the 1st Battalion mounted trucks, bound for Bürvenich (2029), The mission of the battalion was to protect the south flank of the Division by establishing OP's. The Second Battalion moved from its assembly area south of Heimbach at 1340A and occupied defensive positions NE, SW, of and in the town of Sinzenich (2329) at 1500A. The Third Battalion remained in Langendorf, resupplying and reorganizing its units. Antitank company continued to improve its defensive positions in and around Langendorf,
Beginning at 2100A, the First Battalion put out contact patrols every two hours to the Second Battalion, The Regimental PW total was 1310 including eight prisoners captured for the day and Regimental CP was set up in Heimbach (1126).