Friday, March 07, 2008

Today In History: Over the Rhine.

On this date in 1945, advance elements of the U.S. 9th Armored Division managed to seize the Ludendorff Bridge, which spanned the Rhine near the town of Remagen, intact. For the next 24 hours, American troops poured across the structure to establish a secure bridgehead on the far bank of the Rhine.

Despite frantic German efforts to destroy the bridge, including the use of early jet bombers and ballistic missiles, it remained standing for ten days. By the time it fell into the Rhine, its collapse was a moot point, since U.S. combat engineers had bridged the river and the lodgement on the far side had spread out far enough to be quite secure.


Breda said...

Over the Rhine - also a very good Ohio band!

Mr. Oblivious said...

Yes, indeed! Loved their latest x-mess CD.

Hunter said...

Every combat engineer who ever served knows the story of the Ludendorff. I made the pilgrimage twice while stationed in Germany. I've even got a small copy of a photo taken of the first pontoon bridge put up beside the biggun.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Breda, how very like you.

Although the 9th was quick to paint that sign (I spent an interminable three days with them in Luxembourg during the 50th anniversary fete--but then I already knew they'd won the war singlehandedly), the 99 RCT was a combined-arms unit made up of elements of several divisions. The first full unit across was the 99th Infantry Division, 'Battle Babies.'

My father, S/393, drove the third deuce in that convoy, becoming on that morning the first man in history to be attacked by guided missiles and strafed by jets. All the best the 20th cent. had to offer, in one fell swoop. He remains largely unappreciative of the distinction.

Twenty-eight engineers died when that bridge fell. WBAGNFARB, though.

Speaking of very good bands, EuroCommand prohibited the Army band from coming to the anniversary event. So they came on their own time, and the girls in the band asked the veterans to autograph their programs. Dad was amused; some of the guys were moved to tears.

It was also verboten to play that tune by Haydn with the unfortunate history, but, as a tribute to officers who were executed for the surrender at the tunnel (the civilians of the town and two tank-cars of avgas were in there; our tanks had phosphorus shells), the Army band played it anyway; at that, I was moved to tears.

Tam said...

You can't hide behind "anonymous"...

Where've you been?