The fight for Gemünden

The tanks moved out towards the Zollberg outside and above Gemünden. Here they went into position and fired directly into Gemünden. The combined fire on the town caused a terrible fire in the ancient part of the town. Meanwhile the infantry closed up to the ridge and went into position, waiting for the next step.

 

After the shelling, the attack started again. B-47 followed  Reichsstraße 26 into Kleingemünden – a suburb of Gemünden, and C-19 followed the railroad tracks into the town. The infantry was pinned down by heavy machine gun fire at the  “Gleisdreieck” (railroad triangle). A-19 was ordered to reinforce C-19. The artillery continued the shelling and and the rocket tank (Calliope) with its 64 projectiles was called to the front. Gemünden was now burning from the one end to the other.

 

The infantrymen of A-19 and C-19 began to move into Gemünden inch by inch, fighting their way into the town. In the Frankfurterstrasse they found to their surprise three knocked out Sherman tanks, which belonged to the 4th Armored Division –  wrecks from Task Force Baum. When they reached the Saale river, they saw the one span of the ancient bridge was blown. The way into the town was blocked! They had to remain in Kleingemünden until the next morning.

 

In the early morning of 5 April 1945, platoons of C-19 and A-19 crossed the Saale river in small boats. B-125 had brought up the boats, and now they were ferrying the infantrymen across the river. The infantry could occupy the first houses and held now a tiny bridgehead in the town. The bulk of the battalion was also ferried across,  but they received heavy German sniper fire from box cars along the railroad. Tanks were called up and the boxcars were destroyed, which silenced the fire.

 

Both A-19 and C-19 were now assembled on the far side of the Saale river. Now they began to clear the town – house by house. When the XVth Corps received information that the 14th Armored Division was stuck in Gemünden, they decided to send elements of the 3rd Infantry Division as reinforcements.

 

The 2nd Battalion 7th Infantry Regiment “COTTON BALERS” assembled after clearing the south bank of the Main river near Massenbuch on the other side of Gemünden. Also elements of the 10th Combat Engineer Battalion were called up. The plan was to cross the Main with amphibious trucks (DUKW) and attack Gemünden from the east side. Before they could reach the river bank, the had to cut trees an construct a dam. The crossing began about noon. The engineers ferried the infantrymen to the opposite bank of the river. The infantry had to leave their heavy equipment behind. Also the tanks could not be ferried, so they gave direct fire into the town to cover the crossing.

 

The German defenders could not handle the two front battle. There were not enough troops to counter the attack of another Battalion. About 15:30 h the CCB elements made contact with with 2/7 Infantry. About 18:00 h the 62nd Armored Infantry Battalion of the CCR was brought up as additional reinforcement, to enter the fight. CCB bgan clearing the town together with the COTTON BALERS. About 70 German soldiers were taken prisoner.

 

B-125 began to repair the ancient bridge over the Saale river. The gap was closed by a Treadway-bridge element. The engineers had to work under occasional artillery fire, which caused some losses, but they finished their work  the next morning.

2005 © Copyright Peter Domes -  Date of last change: 2005-06-06