134th Infantry Regiment
"All Hell Can't Stop Us"
Transcribed by Roberta V. Russo, Palatine, Illinois
The 137th Infantry moved by motor March 26 to a forward assembly area east of the Rhine River and prepared to attack the next morning between the 30th and 79th Divisions.
The Regimental motor column reached its IP in Leuth at 0700, departed from its area, moved through Nieukirk, Sevelen, Horstgen, and Rheinberg, then crossed the Rhine River south of Mehrum on a pontoon bridge under an umbrella of air protection, and proceeded through Gotterswickerhamm to Dinslakener-Bruch. Regimental Headquarters and Special Units closed into Dinslakener-Bruch by 0930 while the three battalions moved into an area east of the town.
Leaving the northern Rhine bridgehead south of Wesel, the 137th Infantry Regiment knifed into the northern section of the Ruhr industrial area March 27 against stubborn enemy resistance. As the Autobahn superhighway was approached there was no indication of an enemy withdrawal from the 137th's front.
The 30th Division was attacking to the left of the 35th Division, and the 79th on the right. The 35th attacked with the 134th on the left and the 137th on the right.
The 3rd Battalion, 137th, attacked at 0600 in the left zone, while the 2nd Battalion attacked in the right sector. The 1st Battalion followed the 3rd Battalion. Cannon Company was in general support.
The 3rd Battalion pushed through the Staatz Forst Wesel throughout the day, while the 2nd Battalion took Waldhuck, Walsumermark, and Sterkrade-Nord by 2030. The superhighway was stiffly defended, as 2nd Battalion troops, now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George O'Connell, advanced to a point 1000 yards west of the Autobahn. The Battalion ran into opposition at 0920 as the enemy directed SP and machine gun fire at the men. Company E was confronted by an enemy tank at the same time. The enemy was initially observed by the 3rd Battalion when an enemy company advanced in approach march formation. They deployed and a fire fight began which was marked with enemy tank fire into Walsumermark and Sterkrade-Nord. It was believed that the enemy was using dummy tanks to draw fire.
Twenty-three men of Companies G and H were killed or captured when they unknowingly advanced into enemy territory to establish an OP in a building, were isolated, and had no means of possible escape.
The 137th Infantry was encountering severe enemy resistance March 28 as the Regiment contacted the Autobahn superhighway east of Konigshardt. The 3rd Battalion had struggled through the gloomy Kollischer Woods and finally succeeded in getting two companies along the edge of the highway. The 1st Battalion had fought its way between the Staatz Forst Wesel and the Sterkrade Woods, capturing Konigshardt.
The 35th Division, with the 134th on the left, 137th in the center, and 320th on right, was now flanked on the left by the 30th Division and on the right by the 79th. The 30th Division was holding down the left flank of the XVI Corps and the Ninth Army, adjacent to the British Second Army.
Prisoners taken by the 137th said they were to defend the superhighway at all costs and were using dug-in positions along the highway. An enemy railroad gun, north of Kol Rheinbaben, was firing in the 3rd Battalion's front. Approximately 500 tons of various German ammunition was discovered in the Staatz Forst. The 1st Battalion jumped at 0600, and by 0745, Companies B and C were meeting heavy resistance. The advance was halted again at 1015 when Company C was held up by SP and machine gun fire. Five self-propelled guns were firing on the 1st Battalion from the opposite side of the highway.
The 137th Infantry continued attacking throughout the night of March 28 - 29 and by morning had three companies across the Autobahn Highway. When the attack ceased at 1900, the 137th had reached the suburbs of Kol Rheinbaben, Eigen, and Bottrop.
After an artillery preparation, Companies I, K, and L were up to the highway receiving heavy mortar and machine gun fire. The 1st Battalion was under intense small arms and SP fire at midnight, but by 0240, had both assault companies, A and B, at the edge of the Autobahn. The heavy enemy fire checked their crossing, however, and they planned to jump across at 0330. By 0410, Company I had one platoon on the other side of the highway.
The 137th ceased the attack at 1900 and was directed to continue at 0700, March 30. The Regimental CP moved from Brink to Konigshardt at 1400. Company A, 89th Chemical Battalion, was attached to the 137th Infantry.
The fact that the 137th had captured 290 German soldiers in its sector during three day's fighting proved that the enemy was determined to hold the ground along the northern Ruhr Valley.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions broke away from Kol Rheinbanen and Bottrop on March 30 and made an 8,000 yard advance which took them to the "Topeka" Objective, a line running southwest from Buer Beckhausen to Horst. The 137th was attacking east just 6,000 yards north of the city of Essen, with its Krupp Steel Works. The Regiment's boundaries were the Autobahn superhighway on the left and the Rhine Herne Canal on the right.
The 2nd Battalion, led by Company G, passed through Schlangenhardt, Eastern Eigen, Ellinghorst, Piesbeck, Rheinbaben Schachten, Boy, Schuhmacher, Z. Graf Noltke, Lone, Siebeck, and Buer Beckhausen.
Operating in the right sector, the 1st Battalion, with Company C on tanks, shot through Bottrop and Krahenburg. At 1840, the 1st Battalion had enemy resistance between its CP and OP, but when the advance was halted shortly after, the enemy was soon mopped-up.
Company K crossed the Autobahn at 720, and then the entire 3rd Battalion was assembled in and about Kol Rheinbaden. The Regimental CP moved from Konigshardt to Bottrop at 1400 and from Bottrop to Gladbeck at 1900.
The 137th rolled swiftly east March 31, gaining from 6,000 to 7,000 yards and capturing 100 Nazi soldiers. The 1st and 2nd Battalions received scattered artillery fire in the early morning, prior to jumping-off for the day.
The 2nd Battalion began to move out of Buer Beckhausen at 0710, and Company C rolled out on tanks at 0725. The Battalion advanced past the Buer Erie airfield and Buer Erie itself and knifed approximately 1000 yards into the Kol Ewald Woods.
The 1st Battalion launched its push as Companies B and C flushed the large factory in northeastern Horst and Company A mounted tanks. By 1110, the Battalion was receiving direct fire from across the canal on its right, and at 1245 the Battalion was advancing in the face of heavy mortar fire. The 1st Battalion took the town of Bechmann and pushed through the southern portion of the Kol Ewald Woods after going through Buer Erie. The advance was halted at 2000.
The Regimental CP moved from Gladbeck to Beckhausen at 1000.
Battle casualties for the month of March were 31 killed in action, 161 wounded, and 28 missing.
The 137th Infantry continued its eastward advance between the Autobahn superhighway and the Rhein Herne Canal in the Ruhr Industrial Area on April 1, and, toward the end of the day, swung south into a defensive position along the northern bank of the canal.
The Regiment had British flame-throwing tanks attached April 1 from the 1st and 2nd Platoons, B Squad, 1st Fife and Forfan Yeomanry.
The 2nd Battalion moved into the left sector of the Regiment's defensive zone along the canal. The 3rd Battalion swung into the right sector, and its zone was bounded on the north by the Autobahn and on the south by the canal. Its sector ran from Hochlarmark west to the road running through Kol Ewald from Herten to Wanne-Eickel. The 1st Battalion occupied the central sector and received scattered enemy artillery fire at 2320. The Autobahn and the canal were the north and south boundaries with Hochlarmark the western boundary, and the road running south from General Blumenthal through Emscherlof, the right. The 2nd Battalion defended the ground from Rollinghausen south to the canal. Sonntagshof was the extreme left boundary. The 320th Infantry was on the right and the 134th on the left.
April 2 to 5, the 35th Division continued its aggressive defense along the Rhein Herne Canal, sending contact patrols along the canal and reconnaissance patrols south of the canal.
137th Infantry patrols which crossed the canal located enemy positions on the outskirts of Herne and along the southern bank of the canal. A majority of the enemy captured by the 137th claimed that the enemy force south of the canal wanted to surrender to the Americans, since they realized the Ruhr was surrounded.
On April 4, the 35th Division continued its defense along the canal with the 137th on the left, 134th in the center, and the 320th on the right. The 137th had the 2nd Battalion on the left and the 1st Battalion on the right, within its zone, while the 3rd Battalion was in reserve.
From April 6 to 8, the 137th Infantry, with Company A, 89th Chemical Battalion, attached, continued to occupy and defend positions along the north bank of the Rhein Herne Canal.
The 75th Division Reconnaissance Troop was on the left of the 137th on April 6, and the 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry, was on the right. The 320th was relieved by elements of the 79th Division and the 1st Battalion, 134th, and at 2400 was attached for the operation to the 75th Division.
At 1500, April 7, the left boundary of the 137th Infantry was moved east approximately 1000 meters. The 79th Division had jumped across the canal at 0300 while the 137th Infantry assisted by a fire demonstration. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 137th remained on the line and the 3rd Battalion in reserve in General Blumenthal. The boundary between the 1st and 2nd Battalions was the road running from Recklinghausen to the canal.
The 137th Infantry crossed the Rhein Herne Canal under heavy enemy fire on the morning of April 9, secured a bridgehead north of Herne, broke the crust of the enemy defenses south of the canal and advanced against scattered resistance to the railroad tracks running through Herne and Wanne-Eickel.
The 2nd Battalion had 20 men on the island in the canal at 0215, but they were forced by heavy enemy fire to withdraw at 0435. With the 1st Battalion attacking in the right zone, Company B had one platoon across a bridgehead secured by 0450. By 0600 the entire Company was across under heavy enemy fire. Company A crossed at 0800 without opposition, and was followed by Company C. The 1st Battalion then advanced to the Wanne-Eickel rail sidings. The 2nd Battalion crossed the canal in the 1st Battalion zone and advanced to Herne's important rail marshaling yard. The 3rd Battalion began moving at 1400, crossed the canal, and moved to a position on the right of the 1st Battalion. The attack ceased for the day at 1930.
The three battalions attacked at 0700, and with practically no opposition, the 3rd Battalion was on its objective at 0930, the 2nd by 1136, and the 1st on its objective by 1625. The final objective for the day was the railroad track running through Gerthe to Hiltrop Dorf.
Herne, with a population of 66,000, was struck from the north by the 1st Battalion. Little resistance was encountered as the Battalion moved through the city and its outskirts of Altenhofen, Vode, Bergen, Hiltrop Wanne, Hiltrop Dorf, and the Constantine Estate. The 2nd Battalion on the left swept through Behringhausen, Borsinghausen, Mittelfeld, and Sodingherholz to reach the objective. On the right, the 3rd Battalion advanced through Rootbruch, Dorenburg, Horst, and Aschenbuch.
The 137th Infantry attacked to the south April 11, overrunning over six miles of Industrial Germany, while taking such towns as Gruner Bauren, Harpen, Baerfeld, Laer and Querenburg. The 2nd Battalion attacked in the left sector and the 1st Battalion in the right.
The 2nd Battalion jumped-off at 0615, and the 1st Battalion moved out at 0630, meeting initial resistance of machine gun fire. The 2nd Battalion was on its objective 800 yards north of the Ruhr River by 1110. The 1st Battalion reached its objective at 1340. The Regimental CP, which had been in Herne, moved to Laerfeld at 1330. The 3rd Battalion in Regimental reserve moved to Kirchharpen at 0810 and later in the day to Laerfeld.
The 137th continued to hold its position along the north bank of the Ruhr River, awaiting relief by the 79th Division.
Upon being relieved, the Regiment was to assemble and form a combat team.
The 137th Infantry was relieved in its position along the Ruhr River on April 13 by the 289th Infantry, 79th Division, and then assembled in the vicinity of Laerfeld. At 0800 the 137th Infantry Combat Team began its motor movement from the Ruhr to join forces with that part of the Ninth Army driving eastward toward the Elbe River.
The motorized column had its IP in Herne at 0850, and in this order the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 1st Battalion, Special Units, and 219th FA Battalion started east on its 220-mile move to the Elbe River. The Combat Team arrived in an assembly area in the vicinity of Everingen at 2100.
On April 14, the 137th Infantry CT moved by motor from its rear assembly area in Everingen approximately 25 miles northeast to the Elbe River, six miles south of Stendal.
The CT departed at 1530 and closed into an area in the vicinity of Luderitz by 2150. The 1st Battalion moved into Segell at 2100, the 2nd Battalion into Bellingen, and the 3rd Battalion into Buchholz. The 219th FA Battalion moved into Gr. Schwarzlosen.
Armored spearheads to the east had bypassed numerous enemy pockets in the large woods within the 137th's new area, and the Regiment discovered it had entered a weird and fluid situation.
On April 15th 137th Infantry flushed the enemy from the woods throughout its sector and patrolled by both foot and motor to the Elbe River. At the conclusion of the day 476 PW's had passed through the 137th PW cage, but it was believed enemy forces were still scattered about the sector.
On April 16 the 137th Infantry consolidated the positions along the west bank of the Elbe River after having initially sent patrols to the river bank.
The 3rd Battalion occupied the left sector from the railroad tracks running through Stendal south to, and including, Tangermunde. The 1st Battalion, less Companies A and B, who were in rear areas doing guard duty, was in the center with its CP in Bolsdorf. The 2nd Battalion on the right had a sector extending south to the inland town of Grieberg.
The 137th was in the 35th Division's left sector and the 134th on the right. The 102nd Division was on the 137th's left flank.
There was much activity observed on the enemy-held east bank of the river during the day, and patrols were sent across the Elbe during the night of April 16 - 17 to determine the strength, disposition, and identification of enemy, and conditions along the east bank opposite the 137th's front.
The 137th Infantry remained in its defensive position along the west bank of the Elbe River on April 17. During the hours of daylight, patrols were sent to the river, and during darkness reconnaissance was conducted along the east bank.
The 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion remained in position throughout the day. The 3rd Battalion was relieved of its sector at 1800 by the 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry, 102nd Division, as the 102nd sector was moved south to include Tangermunde. As per Division order, the 3rd Battalion, 137th, relieved a battalion of the 134th Infantry, and at 2245 occupied the newly created right sector of the Regiment's zone.
The Company E OP was pushed back approximately at 0130 by an enemy force of 50 troops, but mortar fire checked the enemy thrust. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were under shelling during the early morning.
From April 18 to 20, the 137th Infantry Regiment continued the defense of its sector along the west bank of the Elbe River.
Companies A and B remained in the rear area, over 50 miles west of the Elbe, doing guard duty. On April 18, Company B discovered a sugar plant in Konigslutter, with no less than 20,000,000 pounds of white sugar in storage. This plant had supplied all the people between the Rhine and Elbe Rivers. North of Lehre, Company B captured 47 enemy, five vehicles, and liberated two American PW's. A mine shaft was also discovered with stores of weapons, ammunition, radio equipment, aerial cameras, and chemical testing apparatus. Three men were sent to Lelm to collect the weapons taken up by the Burgermeister, and returned with the weapons, along with 262 Hungarians who had surrendered to them.
On April 19, 643 German PW's were taken by the 137th. Two crashed enemy aircraft were discovered by the 2nd Battalion.
Interest on April 20 was focused on CT Clauswitz, an enemy force of 20 SP guns, 30 half tracks, and numerous American vehicles, along with 800 troops, who had cut south between the British and the Ninth Army. After it had penetrated 15 miles of ground behind the Ninth Army troops along the Elbe, it was stopped by the 5th Armored Division.
Firing a machine gun from the west bank of the Elbe, Company M knocked out two enemy trucks on the east bank. Two enemy planes strafed the 3rd Battalion CP town of Cabbel at 1920.
The 137th remained in position along the west bank of the Elbe River, April 21, patrolling actively along the river bank. In compliance with the 35th Division Order to hold regimental sectors with two battalions, the 1st Battalion went into 137th reserve, while the 2nd Battalion took the left sector of the Regiment and the 3rd Battalion the right.
The 3rd Battalion had relieved all of the 2nd Battalion in the new 3rd Battalion zone by 2225, April 20. The 2nd Battalion relieved the 1st Battalion at 1200, April 21. The 1st Battalion, less Companies A and B, moved to Briest. The 2nd Battalion established its CP in Buch. Company F remained in Jerchel and Schelldorf. Company E occupied positions in Buch, and Company G was scattered throughout Buch, Bolsdorf, and Grobleben. The 3rd Battalion CP remained with the Company in Cobbel while Company K was in Grieben, Company L in Bittkau, and Company I in Ringfurth.
At 1705 four enemy aircraft were observed by Company F, taking-off from an undisclosed airstrip on the east side of the river directly across from Company F's positions.
Company A was relieved at 1700, April 22, and rejoined the 1st Battalion in its area at 1900. Company B was not relieved of its duties in the rear area until the 22nd, and then closed into the 1st Battalion area at 1210.
The 137th continued the defense along the west bank of the Elbe River within its zone. The 3rd Battalion received 100 rounds of enemy artillery within thirty minutes during the morning.
Russian units spearheading toward the Elbe River were believed to be nearing the positions of the 35th Division on April 24. The Ninth Army Air Reconnaissance reported a large number of unidentified vehicles in several groups moving in a northwesterly direction toward the Elbe.
The no fire line for the 137th Infantry was the Elbe River, and all units within the Regiment were reminded of this. At 2305, Company E observed two green flares at the time, believed to be a signal from the Russians. Two officers of the 2nd Battalion crossed the Elbe during the night in an attempt to contact the Russians. After firing flares on the east bank and moving 800 yards inland without success, they returned to the west bank of the river.
The 2nd Battalion heard motor movement in Jerichow at 0520 and called for artillery to fire on the town.
Throughout April 25, the 2nd Battalion observed heavy motor movement north out of Jerichow. There was much activity throughout the day all along the eastern shore of the Elbe opposite 137th Infantry positions.
At 0100, April 26, the 2nd Battalion Commander, two members of his staff, and a Company G officer and mess sergeant, set out on a mission which, if it was at all possible, was to contact the Russians. When they reached the western bank of the river they began firing green flares in an effort to attract the Russians. One of the flares lit up a barge floating off the eastern bank, on which enemy soldiers were loading ammunition. Two members of the patrol fired on the enemy, and the fire was returned by the enemy, forcing the 2nd Battalion patrol to make a strategic withdrawal. Company K also had a patrol out which crossed the river during the night. The men couldn't contact the Russians, but killed two enemy officers and knocked out an armored car before returning.
The German civilians on the east side of the river were very aware of the fact that the Russians were approaching them. Sixty civilians came across the Elbe in the 3rd Battalion sector. Company F brought across to the 2nd Battalion two enemy Medical Officers who wished to surrender their field hospital of 356 patients and 25 nurses if it could be evacuated across the river to the west side. Lieutenant Colonel George O'Connell, on approval by Colonel William Murray, made a deal with the two officers; only if they rounded up all the American PW's in their area and brought them down to the river bank, would they be allowed to bring the hospital across the river.
They brought 15 Americans and 33 other Allied PW's to the river to meet a 2nd Battalion patrol. Fourteen enemy soldiers also surrendered at that time, and were used to man oars on the boats which ferried the hospital personnel across the river. The hospital moved to Tangermunde.
The 137th Infantry was relieved of its positions along the river bank at 1855 by elements of the 102nd Division. The Regiment then made preparations for a motor movement to the Hannover area, where it was to occupy and administer military government in its own particular area.
The Regiment completed a 120-mile motor movement from the Elbe River to an area south of Hannover on April 27. Here it was to occupy and govern the area within its zone.
The IP was Tangerhutte, and time 0800 as the Regiment moved out with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Battalion, and Special Units, in that order. The motorized column passed through Gardelegen, Gifhorn, Dahrenhorst, and Hannover, then turned south and continued on into its sector of occupation.
By 5 May 1945, the 137th's zone was enlarged. Its eastern boundary was a line extending north to south from Meyenfeld, west of Hannover, to Springe, to Altenhoven, southeast to Voldavsen, and continuing southeast to skirt the Duringer Forest, and include Luerdissen. The southern boundary ran from Leredissen west to Lugde. The western boundary was a line extending north through Hiddensem and Bisingfeld to Bremke, where it curved in a northwesterly direction to Varenholz. The boundary then curved east to Lunden, north to Obernkirchen, dipping into the Brandshol Forest, and extending north to Dudingham. The northern boundary ran along a line from Dudingham to Meyenfeld.
The 2nd Battalion continued to occupy and govern the southern zone with its CP in Hameln. The 1st Battalion occupied the west central sector with its CP in Rinteln. Regimental Headquarters remained in Munder and HQ Company occupied the surrounding area. AT Company controlled the area about Wennigsen and to the west. CN Company had its CP in Barsinghausen, and SV Company in Eimbeckhem, controlling the vicinity. The 3rd Battalion occupied the northwestern sector of the zone with its CP in Obernkirchen. Company K was in Bordst, Company I in Rodenberg, Company L in Nenndorf, and Company M in Lindherst.
The 137th Infantry had guards posted at the J. D. Kiedel and Hahn AG Works, a radar station, and electric power plant, two headquarters of both the NSDA and NDF, 15 hospitals, three flour mills, three grain storages, a glass factory, fuse factory, three ammunition dumps, and two displaced persons' camps.
The 137th CP was located in Bad Munder, Anti-tank Company in Holtensen, Cannon Company in Fischbeck, and Service Company in Eimbekhem. The 2nd Battalion moved into Hameln, the town involved in the tale of the "Pied Piper." The 1st Battalion established its CP in Rinteln with Companies A and D. Company B moved into Todenmann and Company C took over Steinbergen. The 3rd Battalion assembled in Obernkirchen. Hameln and Rinteln are both located on the bank of the Weser River.
The entire 35th Division was in the Hannover area governing and occupying the sector.
From April 28 to 30, the 137th Infantry continued to occupy and govern its sector.
The battle casualties for the month of April were six killed in action, 40 wounded in action, and one missing in action.
Missions of the 137th Infantry Regiment during the month of May consisted of occupying and governing a zone southwest of Hannover, Germany from 1 - 17 May and then occupying a zone in the Ruhr area from 18 - 31 May.
From 1 - 4 May, the 137th took 282 Nazi PW's. The Regiment was guarding 15 hospital scattered throughout its zone. A close check was maintained on the wounded enemy soldiers in these hospitals, and as soon as they were fully recuperated from their wounds or illness, they were taken as PW's. Any civilians presenting a security threat were also treated as PW's.
PHOT0GRAPHS and Maps - Chapter 6
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