Cpt. Jacob Hartman
U.S. Army, 1st Infantry Division
18th Infantry Regiment
Society of the First Division
Chapter IX - Bonn and Remagen
- February 8, 1945 to April 7, 1945
On March 16, 1945, the First Division crossed the Rhine for the second time in its history, and the next day went
into action in Remagen. German artillery came into Remagen by the carload, and the Germans made counterattack after
counterattack to recover lost ground. The climax came on March 24-25, when action centered around Geisbach in the
north and Uckerath in the middle. The Germans were scheduled to counterattack on March 24th, but the First Division
beat them to it, against three Panzer Divisions and a self-propelled gun brigade. On March 27th, the race was on.
The Division swung to the east and northeast, after smashing German armor, then cut to the north around Haiger
and Dillenberg. The mission of the First Division was to expand and consolidate the corridor leading north, at
the same time permanently hemming in the large German forces in the Ruhr. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, the
Division undertook the longest tactical march in its history-from positions east of Siegen into the Buren area.
Prisoners and German equipment were being swept up at a satisfying rate-airplanes, railroad guns, ammunition dumps,
motor pools-all were overrun and absorbed. With the closing of the Ruhr, the First Division took positions facing
west. On April 8th, the Division turned east again, and took off for Berlin, crossing the Weser River.
In the late afternoon of March 8th, elements of the 3rd Battalion, 18th Infantry, cleared the town of Ollekoven,
and also attacked into Bonn. The Division artillery and attached units supported the advance by firing 130 missions
during this period. On this day, March 8th, the First Division had continued attacking to the east, with its main
objective the capture of the City of Bonn. At the end of the day, elements of the 16th and 18th Infantry were fighting
in the streets of Bonn. Stiff resistance was encountered both on the outskirts and in the city, and over 1,000
prisoners were taken. Contact was maintained between the 1st Infantry Division and the 8th Infantry Division. At
8:30 P.M. the 3rd Armored Division joined the First Infantry Division and assembled in the vicinity of Liblar.
The Bonn Bridge, the only exit for the Germans, was a touch and go affair. Several German prisoners reported that
they had seen the bridge prepared for demolition, and most of them were surprised that the bridge had not been
blown already. The Bonn was blown at 9:15 P.M., March 8, 1945, by a Captain of the 6th (German) Engineer Regiment
(later captured by the First Division), who had not slept for three days worrying over whether he would be able
to blow the bridge at precisely the right moment. He succeeded admirably. The close of period March 10, 1945 marked
the completion of Phase No. 1 of the First Infantry Division's activity for the month of March, 1945. This was
a continuation of the operation which started with the crossing of the Roer River, and ended with the clearing
of all enemy territory west of the Rhine River within the First Division sector, and the capture of the City of
Bonn. For the period March 11 to 13, 1945, the First Division consolidated and held positions taken along the west
bank of the Rhine River, adjacent to and in the City of Bonn. Orders were received whereby the First Division was
to be relieved in position on the west bank of the Rhine River by the 8th Infantry Division, and then assemble
in areas preparatory to movement across the Rhine River into the Remagen bridgehead. At the close of March 16th,
all units of the First Division were in assembly areas preliminary to the attack scheduled for March 17, 1945.
At 6:00 A.M., March 17, 1945, the 3rd Battalion, 18th Infantry attacked for limited objectives, and by 9:50 A.M.
had secured these objectives in the vicinity of Frafenhohn and the hill to the southeast thereof. In the late afternoon
the 3rd Battalion repulsed an enemy counterattack made by tanks and infantry. The most bitter fighting of the day
took place south of Orscheid, along the Autobahn. During the fighting of March 24, 1945, it was obvious that the
Germans had indeed been planning a large and powerful operation. The day's fighting was as grueling and hard-fought
as any in the First Division's campaigns in Europe. At the end of the battle, however, Division troops had succeeded
in driving 1,500 yards to the east to take the high ground east of the Hunf Creek, as well as the town of Uckerath.
Possibly the most severe fighting, however, took place in and around Uckerath, which appeared to be the main enemy
stronghold in the sector. However, by the end of the day the town of Uckerath was in the First Division hands.
Chapter X - The Last Kilometer: Harz Mountains to Czechoslovakia - April 8, 1945 to May 8, 1945
At 8:15 A.M., May 7, 1945, the 1st Infantry Division received an order "Cease Firing"-the long awaited
order for which the Division had fought since November 8, 1942, from Oran through Tunisia, through Sicily, through
France, through Belgium, through the Ardennes, through Germany to its final operation in Czechoslovakia.