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General Subjects Section

ACADEMIC :JEFARr1ffiN'r
'l'H:; il'l FilNl' RY S CHOOL
Fort Benning, Georgia

ADVANCED il'lFANTRY OFFICERS COURSE


1948 - 1949

'l'HE OPERAl'IONS OF TRE 1st BAl'l'AL10N• 310th INFANTRY


(78th INFANTRY DIVISION) INl'HE CROSS ING OF 'mE
LUDENDORFF BRIDGE Al' RE1UlGEN. GEm,~NY ANDl'R3 ExPANSION
OF l~E BRIDGEHEAD, 7 - 17 March 1945
(R1UNELAND CAMPArGN)
(Personal Experience of a Plat oon Sergeant)

Type of operation deseribed:

INF~HRY BA:rl'ALION "EMPLOYED IN I'RE EXPLOIl'ArION


AND EXPANSION OF A BRIDGEHEAD

1st Lieutenant Ed~in ~. Freakley. Infantry


ADVANCED INFAN'l'RY OFFICERS CIASS NO 2
Index • . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . .. • 1

Bibl10graphy •• . .. ·.. ... • 2

1m; roduot ion • • • • • • • • 3

'fhe Battalion SHuat ion •• • • • • • • 8

fhe Bat!; al10n Plan fo r the Cross ing of the


Bridge • . . • . . . • • . . . • 11
'fhe Gro ssing of the 1udendorff Bridge • • • • • 13

'fhe Expansion of the Bridgehead • . • 15

Analysis and Crit ioism • • • • • • • • • • 28


1essons ... ..... ........ .. .• 31
Map A - First Army -- Roer - Rhine

Map B - lhe Bridgehead 8 - 10 March 1945


Map C - fhe Bridgehead 11 - 17 Maroh 1945

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

A-1 First U. S. Army Report of Operations


(23 February- 8 May 1945)
(rrS Library)
A-2 Ristory of ¡¡he ?8th Infantry DiVOision
1942 through 1945
(personal Possession of Author)
A-31'he Remagen Bridgehead ? -1? Maroh 1945
Researoh and Eva1uation Div1sion, The Armored Sohoo1
(l'IS Library)
A-4 Crusade in Europe
By Dwight D. Eisenhower
(Personal Possess ion of Author)
A-5 Hist ory of ¡¡he 31üth Infantry Regiment
(Personal Possession of Author)

- 2 -
I'HE OPERArIONS OF TRE 1st BKrrALION, 3l0th INFAlHRY
(78th INF~~RY DIVISION) INrHE CROSSING OFrHE
LUDENDORFF BRIDGE A:r F-E:ifAGEN, GE R'J!ANY AND TRE EXPA:NSION
OE THE BRIDGEHEAD, ? - 17 March 1945
(RHINELANIi CAMPAIGN)
(Personal Expe rience of a Platoon Se'rgeant)

INrRODucrION

lhi s monograph is the st ory of the operat ions ofthe


1st Batt alion, 3l0th Infant ry, 78th U. S. Infant ry Division,
in the crossing and expansion of the Remagen bridgehead at
Remagen, Germany, 7 - 17 March 1945.
In battle, the seizing, seeuring and exploiting of key
terrain fea¡;ures is of paramount importance. In World War 11
the surprise capture ofthe Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen,
Germany, coupled with the tactically sound decisions made
without delay, relative to securing the bridge and enlarging
the bridgehead, is an excellent example of a rapid exploita-
t.ion of a fortune of war.
'ro clearly pre sent a graphic\lio rd pi cture and t o properly
focus the reader's attention on this operation, a brief sum-
ming up of prior actions leading to the seizure of the Luden-
do rff Bridge i s neeessary.
By the middle of January 1945, the back of the German
counter-offensive,l'Ihich had been launched in December 1944 in
the Ardennes, had be en broken. The Russians, employing four
armies, \liere engaged in a huge enveloping movement designed
to converge en Germany from the north and south. Allied

- 3 ...
troops, holding defensive positions along the lIIestern front
lIIere nOlll preparing to resume the offensive. (1) On lO Feb-
ruary 1~45 the U. S. First Army closed to the Roer River,
defending that river 1ine and simu1taneous1y making p1ans
for a 1arge scale ri ver crossing and an at ¡¡ack int o ¡¡he
heart of Germany in the near future. First Army lIIas nOlll
poised and ready to 8111ing into action, and that action \'las
to be the last offensive of the U. S. First Army in Europe.
(See Map A) (2)
Dep10yed in ¡¡he area of Schmidt, Germany, and along the
Roer River in¡¡his sector, lJias the U. S. 78th Division, a
unit of III Corps, First Arroy. Although this division lIIas
comparat ively new \;0 combat, it had recent1y and success-
fully completed a 1arge scale operation -- that of capturing
the long and hot1y contested Roer River tOllln of Schmidt and
the mighty SlIIammenauel dam on¡¡hat river. (See Map A) (3)
'These ¡¡\'lO vital and critical features had been 'IIrested
from the enemy against fanatic opposition and had cost the
division many oasua1ties in men as \'Ie11 as equipment. This
action, executed in bad lIIeather and over extremely rugged
terrain, coupled lIIith a determined enemy, had thoroughly
combat-indoctrinated the men of the "Ligh¡¡ning" Division. (4)
NOlll at this time on 10 February, the division lIIas em-
ployed in defending the hard 1II0n ground, so reoent1y taken,
orienting rep1acements arriving daily, effecting re-supp1y
of dep1eted equipment and genera1ly preparing to continue the
attaok. (5)

(1) (2) A-l, p. 1 j (3) A-2, p. 121; (4) (5) Personal Kno1ll1edge •

- 4 -
23 February found Ghe U. S. First Army launching a major
offensive across the Roer River for Ghe purpose of advancing
t o the Erft River lIIhile i t protected the flank of ¡¡he U. S.
Ninth Army \'lhich was to drive to Ghe lIIest bank of the Rhine.
(See Map A) (6)
Opposing the U. S. First Army on the east side of the
Roer River was an estimated 13 German divisions, supported
by armor in considerable quantities, as lIIell as assault guns
and artl1lery. 'rhe logistical situation of the German troops
opposing the American First Army at this time was extremely
crit.ical. I'ransport '/las at abare minimum, in some instanoes,
non-existent. Fuel and ammunition stockpiles had dlllindled
to the point Vihere artillery batteries had been limited to
10 rounds of ammunition per day and very little fuel was
available -¡¡ o operate the feVl mllitary vehicles st ill oapable
of rendering service.
Here '/las a si-¡¡ uat ion decidedly in\;he favor of the Amer-
ican forces. However, -¡¡his advantage was offset, -¡¡o a cer-
tain degree, by the '/Ieather, which '/las in favor of no one.
Weather conditions Viere ac\;ually Viorse -¡¡han a-¡¡ any oeher time
duringGhe 1IIar in -¡¡he European I'heater. It had nOlll beoome
suffioiently lIIarm to cause the snow and ice to melt rapidly.
I'his, coupled with heavy rains and the massed movement of
men and vehicles, including armor, had rendered the roads
in the southern sector of\;he U. S. First Army impassable.
'rhis same condition existed for che enemy, too and was a
factor to be considered. ('7)
'I'his '/las ¡;he situation as the U. S. First Army lashed

( 6) A- 4 , p. 3 ; ('7 ) A.-l, p • 6.

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out onthis offensive ~hich Via~ t o carry i t to the banks of
the Rhine. In most sectors along the army front, the advance
\'las so rapid "Gha¡¡ it soon developed into a race. Front lines
in some instances, Viere rear areas a few hours latero ~he

enemy \'las reeling and on his heels from "Ghe impac"G of the
sudden, apparently unforeseen blo\'l "Ghat the First Army Vias
delivering and it \'las imperat ive that he be kept off balance
and given no quart er une i1 Che Fhine had be en reached. (See
Map A) (8)
On ? March 1945, a"task foroe of the 9th Armored Di-
vision \'las given "Ghe mission ofseizing ¡¡he small Rhine R1ver
tO\'ln of Remagen. It Vias not realized that an important bridge
\'Iould be seized at this time that \'Iould alter the oourse of
the \'lar in Europe and short en it considerably. This possi-
, bility had not been overlooked, h01iever. or unforesee)l. On
6 March 1945, the 111 Corps Commander. Major General Milli-
ken, had remarked tO Major General Leonard, Commanding Gen-
eral of the 9th Armored Division. "'You see that black line
on the map? If you can seize that, your name \'Iill go dOVin
in his"Gory', or Viords lOO that effect." 'rhis referred to the
Ludendorff Railroad bridge at Remagen. (See Map A) (9)
'.chis task force converged on Remagen. and there, span-
ning the Rhine and apparently intaet, lIasthe bridge. A
fortune of \'lar -- ,and 1l0W utmostspeed '/las neeessary to
seize and secure the bridge and protect 1t against complete
destruetion. Without delay a detachment of this task force
was sent fOr\'lard and against light resistance and a stunned

(8) Personal KnO\'l'ledge; (9) A-3, p. l.

- 6 -
and dazed enemy, .he bridge was secured and a defense estab-
lished. Engineers I'lere brought forward to check the bridge
.horoughly for demolitions. Enough explosives were found
in .he under portion to have insured its destruc.ion if deto-
nated and these Viere speedily disposed of. rhe bridge it-
self Vias virtually undamaged. One small charge had been
det onat ed but failed G o do any mat erial damage. Because
of the nature of the consl;ruct ion of this railroad bridge.
it Vias necessary to utilize planking to provide a means for
track and wheeled vehicles t o cross. (See Map A) (10)
As indicated by the types and the manner in which the
charges had been affixed to the bridge, .he Germana had taken
great precautions to insure the deatruction of it at,the most
favorable opportunity. Their elaborate plans had backfired,
apparently because they delayed the destruction long enough
t o provide a means of escape for .he Germans who Viere still
streaming over .he bridge at the time of Hs capture. 'rhe
advance of .he Americans had been so swift that the German
defenders of the bridge had no inkling of the close proximity
of American troops to Remagen. 'ilhen it became evideut that
the Americans had arrived, spearheaded by the 9th Armored Di-
vision, confusion reigned iuche ranks of l;he Germans and
they were unable to bloVi their bridges behiud them. (11)
rhis extraordinary piece of good luck was relayed at
ouce to General Omar Bradley, Twelfth Army Group Commander,
Viho Vias asked to render a decision as to the number of troopa
to be committed acroas .he bridge. After conferriug Viith
General Eisenhower, it was decided to put five divisious

(10) A-5, p. 2; (11) A-5, p. l.

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.
across as soon as possible anO. anything else chat was neeo.ed
to secure the bridgeheao.. (12)

'lE E BAI'.c ALION SIl'UA'rION

The 310th Infantry Regiment of .he ?8th Infantry D1-


vis ion had been atCached to .he 9th Armored Division at the
ti~e the First Army had launched i.s offensive from the banks
of che Roer River aod had renained w1th that division in the
lig,hcning-like plunge across .he Cologne plain. 'l'he regi-
ment, however, was split anO. wio.ely separated, each battal-
ion forming a part of a combat command in conjunction with
elements of the 9th Armoreo. Division. On? N"L9.rch, the 2d
anO. 3d Batt alions of the 310th Infantry Regiment were on the
Ahr River, in the vicinity of BaO. Neuenahr, preparing to
drive south on the west bank of the Rhine to meet the Third
Army as soon as the ls. Battalion linked-up on the left.
ROViever, the 1st Battalion was never to arrive at that point,
and the proposed drive to the south to meet the 'rhird Army
Vias never to materialize. A bridge had been captured over
¡¡he Rhine River anO. ¡¡he 1st Batta1ion, 310th Regiment, Vias
schedu1ed co cross and attack the east bank. (See Map A)
(13)
'.che troops of the 1st Batta1ion were \üo.ely separated
on ? !larch, each company having been formed as atask force
anO. operating :i.ndependently. HO'o'iever, upon receiptof the
order to assemb1e his ba.talion, .he bat-ca1ion cOlllIDander soon
had his companies in the village of Berkum preparing for a

(12) A-4, p. 380; (13) A-5, p. 88.

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motor march to Remagen, sOrne two hours a~ay. At this time,
·the men of the battalion ~ere unaware that they would soon
be fighting on the east bank of the Rhine and Viere interested
in just two things: food and resto In the rapid advance
from Ghe Roer R~ver ¡here had been little time for either.
Food had been in the forro of "Kit rations and 131eep had be-
come a thing of the pasto Upon arrival in Berkum, however,
a hot meal Vias had and this helped to boleter morale before
the men moved out. (See lfLap A) (14)
0230 found the battalion detrucking in the outl;lkirts
~I
of Remagen, to learn tha¡ a feVi hours hence they Viould be
/
croesing the Pbine, through the courtesy of the German Army.
'rhat bit of information lI'I2.S enwgh te keep even an exhausted
infantryman all'lake. (15)
An unusual situat ion,' unusual even for cembat, con-
frented the officers and men of the 1st Battalion as they con-
templated the crossing ofthe bridge and the attack to follo~.

No time lI'Ias available for such things as reconnaissance, for-


mulation of a detailed plan of attack or gathering intorma-
tion of the enemy. (16) It Vias later learned, however, that
German forces opposing the 1st Battalion consisted of Hitler
Jugend, plus Volkstrum units. Elements ofthe 9th and 11th
Panzer Divisions Viere Being rushed to the bridgehead area\to
reinforce ¡he inadequate forces already there. 'rhese facts
lI'Iere unknoVin before the crossing as lI'Iell as many other es-
sential elements of information. (17)
As for ¡he terrain on the east bank of the Rhine, it
rr.ay v;ell be said ,hat H lI'Ias madeGo order for the enemy.

(14) (15) (16) Personal Kno-wledge; (17) A-3, p. 42.

- 9 -
St eep, 'Ilooded oliffs rose almost dire ot ly from the Viat er' s
edge, overleoking t he east ern approaoh to the bridge, ore-
ating an effeot ive soreen for the enemy artillery lIIhioh was
em?laeed behind it. Enemy observation on the bridge was ex-
oellent and would remain so until that hill mass had been
seeured. A good road net, cOIrimencing at the bridge, provided
exoellent avenues of approaoh to the numerous tOVIllS and
villages within the bridgehead area. Seven miles to the east
laya four-lane superhighway whioh, when oaptured, would deny
the enemy a road on whioh Go move his troops rapidly in the
battle for 1;he bridgehead at a time when he Vias hard pressed
for manpower and tiI:'.e. (18)
rhe VieaCher was wet and oold whilethe rr~lting snow and
ioe had been transformed into seas of mudo Vehioles were re-
strioted to the roads,thus adding 1;0 the oonges¡;ion and oon-

fusion oaused by traffio jams in Remagen. Roads. streets and


alleys leading into the t01l'll Viere ohoked Vi1th men, vehioles
and equipment preparing to oross the bridge. A well-timed
German artillery barrage at this time would have seriously

delayed or even denied a orossing te the Amerioans.


'rhe 1st Battalion, although depleted in strength, suf-
fering from loss of sleep and the loss of many of it s key
personnel, was in good spirits and ready to fight. How well
they fought was to be demonstrated during the next 1;en days
which oulminated in the winning of a unit oitation by the 1st

Ilattalion. (19)

(18) (19) Personal Knowledge.

- 10 -
rEE BAl'l'ALION PLAN FOR mE CROSSrnG OF .cHE RHlNE

Because of the s'l'iift events leading up to the 1st 13at-


talion arrival in Remagen, the plan for the erossing ",as
simple. A brief, concise attack order 'l'ias issued. "Cross
the bridge, turn right and attack." (20) 'l'he crossing "'as
to be made in a column of companies as follo"'8: Company 13,
Company C and Company A. Upon reaching&he far bank, the 2d
Platoon of Company 13 ",ould attack and secure the high ground
overlooking the bridge, Companies C and A ",ould drive to
the s outh and capt uret he vil1age of Ockenfe1s and Kasbach.
Company 13 ",ould then follo"" 1eaving behind a platoon to
temporari1y protect the eastern approach to the bridge. (See
Map 13)
A platoon of tanks, attached to the battalion, wou1d be
distributed throughout "he column until the far bank was
reached. They would "hen, initia11y, cover the roads and
protect the battalion against enemy armor. Machine guns of
Company D were to be att&ched tothe 1eading companies, 13aker
and Charlie, while "he 81IDID mortars ",ould follo", Company A
across the span.
The 13attalion Command Group ",as to follow directly be-
hind Company A, at a diatance of 200 yarda, preceding the
mortars of Company D. The 13attalion rear command post would
remain in Remagen, ini"ia1ly. (21)
Arti11ery in the forro of one 4.5-inch gun batta1ion,
one 155mm gun batta1ion and one 8-inch HOVlÍ"zer battalion,
were in position and prepared to de1iver heavy interdiction

(20) A-5, p. 89; (21) Personal Know1edge.

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tires around the bridgehead. (22) Ho~ever, there ~as no

art i 11ery in d ireotsupport of¡;he 1st Batta1ion and it ~all

hoped that positions would be readily available for the Blmm


mortars so they Vlould be able to supportGhe attaok, if neo-
essary.

'llhe line ot departure Vlas designaGed as the Viestern ap-


proaoh to the bridge; H-Rour, 0430, 8 Maroh 1~45. (23)
The men VIere briefed as to the kno~n oonditions exist-
ing on the bridge and also on those ClonditionsGhat might
possib1y exist -- before the orossing Vlas oompleted. It
~as expeoted that gaps might be present in the flooring ot
the bridge, guard rails broken or missing, debris and ~reok­
age on the span, that ~ould impede progress, andthe possi-
bility existed that the bridge might be destroyed before the
batta1ion reaohed Ghe eas"t bank. l'he neoessity for speed
in moving aoross Vias stressed, lest "he battalion plus ve-
hiClles beoome so jammed on¡;he bridge that enemy artillery
fire Vlould destroy the entire oolumn. It ~ould be impossible
to move noise1ess1y beoause ofthe armor that ~ould be moving
vlithGhe batta1ion. '.che nen best move Vias "(;0 oross Viith
all possib1e haste.
Wire was t o be laid from the batta1ion rear command
post in Remagen to the far side of the bridge.rhe ~ire

1aying party ~as to aCClompany the batta1ion oommand group.


Radio and messenger Viou1d be the on1y other types of commun-

ioation used.
LOClation for the batta1ion ammunition supply point was

(22) A-5, p. 8; (23) Personal KnoVl1edge.

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to be in Remagen, ~hich was the only reasonable place for it.
It might prove a problem later to get vehicles back across
the Ludendorff bridge for re-supply, 01' the bridge might even
be deEtroyed leaving the battalion with no means of re-sup-
ply, but this 'IIas a necessary risk to take. l'he battalion
aid sta"tion Viould inHially be situated in Reroagen, but Vlould
displace across the bridge as soon as the assau1t companies
had cleared the far side.
It Vlas felt that[;he supply problem would be critica1
for ~he first 24 hours after the erossing, at least, and the
men were eautioned to expend their ammunition wise1y and
well. and to oonserve as mueh of it as possible. (24)
Weapons were ehecked. ammunition issued, extra "Kit ra-
tions distributed and last minute instructions given. '1'he
1st Batta1ion, 310th Infantry. was now ready to begin the
hazardous crossing.

mE CROSSJNG OF 1':1:8 LUDENDCRFF BRIDGE

1'he route ~he ba¡;talion fol10wed, in the direetion of


the bridge, seemed to criss-cross through the town of Rema-
gen but in rea1ity, it proved to be a direot route [;0 the
bridge. The cobblestone streets, besides crea"ing muoh
noise as "he roen moved over ¡;hem, caused many a soldier to
stumble as he made his way. Abou~ a 20-minute hike ensued
between che battalion assembly area and the 1ine of depar-
ture, but "¡; o the ba~talion i t seemed mueh longer. It

was stop and sta1't, walk a few feet and halt. Thie wae

(24) Personal Knowledge.

- 13 -
aaused by the tremendous numbers of men, armor and truaks,
all being rushed to Remagen at the same time.
In a aolumn of aompanies, one aolumn on either side of
the road, the batta.lion marahed through the dark, aongested
town, pausing now and then temporarily beaause of traffia
jams at various corners and crossings. 'fhe tenseness of the
men aould almost be felt and seemed tO grow as óhey approaahed
the bridge. The march disaipline was exaellenó and it took
very little effort on the part of the officers and non-com-
missioned officers óo keepGhe men quiet and moving in the
right direation.
Company B moved aaross óhe line of departure at 0430 and
starGed moving up to the span and began.o aross..i?he tanks
had arrived at che line of departure by a different route
and VIere guided into.he column at various intervals.Tl'lelve
hundred feet of st eel now st ood bet'lleen the 1st Battalion
and the east bank of the Fbine. The aolumns moved aautiously
one to the left flank and one to the right flank of the
bridge. (25)
Initial progress Vlas good but slowed down by poor visi-
bility, aaused by the 10'11 hanging, early morning fog. Also,
numerous pitfalls existed, in the nature of holes in the
bridge floor and broken guard rails. Several men had the mis-
fortune to stumble in¡¡o these holes in the darkness and in
this mannerGhe batóalion sustained its first aasuaHies in
chis operat ion.
Soon, however, enemy artillery fire besan to fall, and
'IIhile no casualties ",ere sustained by the battalion, aonsid-

(25) Personal Kno'llledge.

- 14 -
erable fear and confu sion we re creat ed amongó he meno Coupled
Viithóhe debris andóhe tanks moving in and outthrough the
columns, the baótalion was soon brouo:ht to an unscheduled
halt. In consequence 01' the fast ac"tion, in1tiative and ex-
ce¡lent learership exerted by the officers and non-commissioned
officers, cont rol was rapidly re-established and the columns
moved again. 1'he tanks 'llere noVl instructed te keep their ae-
signed positione in óhe center 01' che span while che foot
colunms were le d as far teChe left and t o the right as possible
in order t o maintain freedcm 01' movement. Close observaticn
was now exercised by the men in 'llatching 1'01' holes in the
bridge. llliny 'llere found and usually by-passed but in sorne cases
1t was necessary to bridge these gaps wiGh planking. (26)
fhe roen were no'll beccming fatigued. Machine guns, heavy
and light 60mm moxtars and ammunition 'llere being hand-oar-
ried. Suddenly a "silent cheer" was raised, 1Iieapons beoame
light as feathers -- wo rd lIms pass ed e o the real' chat Com-
pany B had reached the east bank 01' the Rhine 1

f?:? ;':xPANSION 0F ¡'RE BEIDGDFEAD

Upon reaching ¡;he east bank, the2d I'latoon 01' Company


B, 'llhieh had spearheaded the erossing, deployed and began
¡;heir attaek up the steep sides ofthe hill mass overlook-
ing ene bridge. As soon as they began tO elimb, they were
hit by small arms and automatie 1Iieapons fire from dug-in po-
sitions onthe tep vf the hillo .che 2d Platoon eontinued its
advanee, h01liever, while che 1st Platoon which had now eleared

(26) Personal Knowledge.

- 15 -
the bridge, attaekedt;he enemy position from the left flank.
Soon 13.11 resistance had eeased and this critical terrain fea-
ture was no longer a threat to the seeurity of the bridge. (27)
rhe 3d Platoon of Company B had also crossed the bridge
by this time and was dispersed along the road some 200 to
300 yards to the north when it was alerted by the sound of
troops approaching from the north. Feeling sure that these
troops Vie,re enemy, the men of the 3d Plat oon immed iat ely sur-
rounded this group and found that they had to their credit
an enemy demo1it ions SQuad with enough explosi vet o suceess-
fully destroy the bridge. 'rhis incident oeeurred before the
last elements. of the 1st Battalion had eleared the bridge. (28)
Company C eleared the span, turned right and proceep.ed
tOl"lard Oekenfels Viithout ineident at .his time, elearing
Kasbaeh I"Ihich \'las undefended. (See Map B)
Company A eompleted "he croEsing,turned south and had
proceeded about 200 yards dOl"ln .he road I"Ihen the entire eom-
pany \'las pinned down by enemy smal1 arms fire, grenades and
panzerfa~st fire, "he equivalent of our rocket 1aunchers.
This elose range fire Vlas eoming from the left flank from
a distanee of 75-100 yards. A railroad embankment on the
left and at a higher e1evation than the road, along which
VIere six or seven boxears, seemed to be the source of .he
fire. Company e had passedt;his ",aya shorttil'.e before but
had apparently by-passed Chis group of enemy int;he dark-
ness. NOVl, withthe eoming of daylight, the enemy was re-
sisting. (29)
'rhe eompany eommander, ea1lingt;he l"Ieapons platoon

(27) Personal Know1edge; (28) A-2, p. 162;(29) personal


Knol"lledge.
- 16 -
sergeant forward, direeted him co plaee 60mm mortar fire in
and ar·ound these boxears, setting up the mor"CarS in Che best
positiona avaílable. rhe eompany, in the meam ime, was di-
reeting small arma fire along this embankment, with little
e1'1'e et • rhe be st posit ions ava Hable 1'or "che mortars proved
to be just of1'Ghe road and they were soon set up and firing
in battery. AfGera barrage of so me 15 mortar rounds had
been placed in and around Ghe open doors of the boxears,
German soldiers literally streamed out and in a maCter 01'
a 1'ew minutes, Company A had well over a hundred prisoners.
(30)
lc was now about 0630, 8 March 1945, and day1ight. A
lighG rain was falling and the men of che bactalion were
eold, wet, tired and hungry. In spHe of (;hese eonditions,
l;he men wel'e exuberanl; and in h1gh apirit s. Morale "'las
high as they eont emplat ed the event s of the past t ViO hours.
'L'hey were on the eaSC bank of che Rhine, had made a sa1'e
erossing, sustaining very feVl easualties in the proeess and
were now pushing toward Ockenfels where a short rest might
be possible. L1 ttle didthey knowGhat this was just the
beginning and that on1ythe sur1'ace of this bridgehead op-
eration had been scratehed.
Company e at this time was nearing oekenfels, when t he
eolumn was suddenly halced by a signal from the lead platoon.
'rhe vwrd was passed t o t he rear chat a vehicle was moving
north out of Oekenfels in the direetion of the Company C
column. 'rhe men were moved of1' t he road and st ood by while
the lead platoon eaptured an Ameriean jeep and four German

(30) Personal Knowledge.

- 17 -
officers. ~hey ~ere soon en their ~ay to the prisener ef
war cage.
~he company now entered Ockenfe1s against very 1ight,
scate ered re sistance. Company A, meanwhile, moved int o ~he

undetended town of Kasbach, and prepared to defend it. Com-


pany B, in conjunction with Company C, was deployed in and
around Ockenfels.
Now, some time earlier, a 12-man patrol from Company A,
plus two canks, had moved out from the bridge ahead of A Com-
pany, wHh¡;he mission of determining the enemy strength
and fortifications on the road and in the village of Ocken-
fels. It is not known whether they by-passedche COVIll in
the darkness or failed to recognize it from the directions
given; but at any rate, the patrol did not go to Ockenfels
but proceeded to Linz, a considerably larger town and about
a mUeco che south of Ockenfels. (See Map B) It appeared
at first thaC the town had capitulated, judging from the bed
sheets, white flags, and handkerchiefs fluttering from the
windo~s of che houses. 'fhrough the int errogat ion et civil-
ians, hOlllever, it wa1l det ermined t hat SS and Panzer unit s
were in the area. fhe patrol, upon reporting this informa-
tion co battalion headquarters, was told to hold where they
were and a detachment of Company C men was dispatched co
Linz at once toreinforce the 12 men from Company A. No or-
ganized resistance ~as encountered in Linz, but in spHe ot
the Vlhite flags tlying, considerable sniping by German sol-
diers was in progress. (31)

(31) A-2, p. 165.

- 18 -
The batta1ion commander now hastened to revise his p1ans
in view oí ~he unexpected and uníoreseen capture ot Linz.
Company A was ordered to proceed to Linz at once where its
p1atoons were wide1y deployed in order to detend the whole
oí the town. 'l'he men oceupied positions in the southern
portion ot the town, detending to the south and to the east.
Company C remained in the village ot Ockeníels, prepared
t o detend it against counj;er-attack. Company B was moved in
and around Kasbaeh and dug in tor the n1ght. l'hus, at day's
end, 8 Mareh 1945, the 1st Battal10n was wide1y' scattered
and uncoordinated. (See Map B) (32) An uneasy night lIas
spent by the men ot the 1st Ba~talion. Reports trom cap-
tured enemy sold1ers stated that the enemy was concentrat1ng
intantry and armor south and east oí Linz with lIhich to an-
nihi1ate ~he sma1l br1dgehead torce. (33)
In spit e ot t he taet ~hat the men ot t he 1 st Battalion
had had less than 14 hours sleep in eight days and nights,
i~ was necessary tor the entire batta1ion to remain on the
alert all through the n1ght of 8 March due to the 1mm1nent
~hreat of a large sca1e counter-attack trom the enemy.
During the n1ght. however, 1t ..as poss1ble to send the
eompany vehieles back to Remagen íor a re-supp1y oí ammun1-
t10n as well as a hot meal, which were bad1y needed.
The night passed and the expeet ed counter-at~ack faileél.
to materia11ze. 9 Mardh was spent in the improv1ng ot po-
sit10ns, cleaning ot weapons and equ1pment. and the men were
able to spend a little t1me in resting.
Th1s brief holiday ended lat e in the aft ernoon ot 9 March
(32) Personal Knowledgej (33) A-5, p. 95.

- 19 -
when t;he ba1talion was orderedt;o prepare to attaek "Ghe town
of Dattenberg, about one and one-half miles 10 the south of
Linz. (See Map B)rhis att;aek was to jump off about day-

light, 10 Mareh 1945, wHh "he missi on of elearing "Ghe t oV/n


of SS and Panzer units Ghought too be in that area as well as
to furCher enlargeche bridgehead. (34)
The plan was this: Company A and Company B (Company A
on 1he right) would launeh a eoordinated attaek from the
sou"Ghern edge of Linz, while Company C 'l'iould eonverge on che
town from "Ghe east. Tanks would support Company C. Line of
departure for Companies A and B was the south edge of Linz,
Company C from posi"Gions east and south of Linz. H-Hour was
0600. (35)

rhe battalion erossed the line of departure, as sehed-


uled. In Companies A and B zone, "Ghe advanee 'l'ias good, in-
i1ially. In Company C zone, however, it was a different
st ory. rhe east ern approache c' 1 o che, t own were well defended
and a1 Che onset che lead tank struck an an"Gi-tank mine, dis-
abling it and preventing the resto of Ghe tanks to follow.
Company C eont; inuedG he at t ack, however, but 1Jias suffering
heavily from Panzerfaust. maehine gun and rifle fire from the
high ground to Che left of Che road as they moved.
Company B. after advaneingt;o the northeast of the town
'/las effect i vely pinned down under inC ense fire from 20mm guns.
mortar and arGillery.
Company A cont;inued co advanee in Che face 01' very light
and scattered resistanee and af"Ger a delay of some li"Gtle
t; ime, on Che out skirt. s of t own. while art illery fire was calle~

(34) (35) Personal KnoV/ledge.

,- 20 -
for and rece i ved, Company
. .
A aSlSault edthe 1; O1Nn in coordin-
ation with Company C and by 1600 hours Dat¡¡enberg \Vas secured.
(See Kap E) (36)
It 1Nas n01N necessary GO send one rifle platoon and the
light machine gun section froro Coropany A plus a platoon of
tanks to relieve Coropany B 1Nhich 1Nas still undergoing ter-
rific punishment on Ghe north ern edge of t O1Nn. Aft er a hot
fire fight in 1Nhich eight enemy 20rom guns 1Nere knocked out,
Che Germans '/lithdrew. The score: 12 enemy dead, 14 cap-
tured. Company B, h01Never, also had sustained heavy cas-
ualties. (37)
At 1900 hours, the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion re-
lieved the 1st 3atcalion, 310th Infantry, and set up defens-
ive posit ions, south and east of Datt enberg, while the 1st
Battalion dug in and prepared co defend co the north and

rhe night of 10 l!Larch 1Nas a wakeful one forChe 1st Bat-


talion. A constant alert '/las maintained, for enemy mortar
and artillery fire which rained on the positions most of
the nighc as wel1 as enemy armor could be heard to .he south
and '11 e st of Datt enberg.
11 Larch davmed ',lichout event. A counter-attack had
again'failed ¡¡O materialize. The battalicn spent che day in
improving positions and caking advantage cf what little time
was available to sleep. A11 too soon the battalion would
again be on ¡¡he move.
Gn Che morning of 12 l1arch,Ghe batta1ion was ordered
to move, arrd by 1200 hours 1Nas moving on foot tO'llard Linz.

(36) A-5, p. 95; (37) Personal Znowledge.

- 21 -
Upon arrival. in Ghe tOVln, Ghe baGtalion learned tha" i" had
been l'elieved and V'las co remain in linz for an undetermined
periodo It V'las unbelieveable tha" after 15 hard days and

nights in Vlhicheher-e had been little rest and very lit¡¡le

food,ehaG "he l1:t Battalion had been pulled out of "he lineo
¡'he men Viere assignedco billets and Viere prepared 1;0 relax
Vihenl;he bloV/ fell. l'he order arrived alerting Ghe battal-
ionGo be ready to move at a momentts notice. (38)
In the northern sector of the bridgehead, in the vi-

cinity of Ronnef,che 311th Infantry Regiment of the 78th

Division Vlas fighting against rapidly stiffening resistance


and che 1st Ba"talion Vias to be attached to that regiment
to reinforce it in the battle for Ronnef. (See I:áp e) (39)
Beginning at 1600, 12 March ,I;he bat t alion moved out of
Linz on foot in a cold drizzly rain and by 1900 hours had
reached its assigned area near Ronnef, and the men dug in and
prepared to defend the area alongl;he river in the zone of

t he 311th Infant ry.


'rhe morning of 13 March, the 311th Infantry launched an
attackGoGhe north, designed GO clear and se cure the high
ground norl;heast of Ronnef and to capture the t011ln of Rhoh-

dorf. Initially, che 1st Batcalion, 310th Infantry, \l'jas in


reserve, bul;this pleasant sítuation V'las nol;l;o last long.

By mid-afternoon, che battalion had been committed with the


mission of securing the left flank of "he 311th Infantry
Regiment. l'he t errain over Vlhi ch the battali on V'las t o att ack,
while beautiful "o behold, VlLS an infantryman's nightmare.

(38) A-2, p. 187; (39) Personal Knowledge.

- 22 -
High wocded hills, barefaced knolls, dee~ draws and ravines
laced ~ith intermittent streams, constituted the zone allotted
to the 1st Battalion.
l'he attack· jumped off, wHh the three companies again
in line, ana found it extremely difficult tO keep contact,
due ¡¡ o the nature of che t errain. It 1I'Ias a struggle for many
of the roen to keep up as the cre1l'l-served weapons and ammuni-
t ion 11'1 ere be ing hand-carried. iíeapons carriers '1~ere unable
to foll01l'l due to Ghe nature of the terrain and lack of roads
in chis sect oro
In A Company zone of advance ,(¡he a1;tack 1I'Ias sl01l'led almost
to a standstill as che enemy suddenly brought murderous small
arms fire to bear on them. In a sparsely 1I'Iooded area and on
a gently rising slope, the Germans had prepared cleverly con-
cealed positions and 1I'Iere using them to gOOd advantage.
A Company Corr~ander, at once placed the four rifle pla-
toons on line, plus the c~chine gun section, and utilizing
marching fire soon cleared out the pockets of resistance in
t his area.
Company A 1I'Ias actually a reinforced rifle company, hav-
ing received on 12 March a "Sunday Punch" in the form of a
fourth rifle platoon. fhis platoon 1I'Ias composed of all vol-
unteer Negro soldiers whO, a fe1l'l 1I'Ieeks previously, had taken
a condensed form of infantry training in France and 1I'Iere sent
at once to the 1st Battalion, 3l0th Infantry.rhis platoon
soon proved to be an excellent fighting force and a 1I'Ielcome
addition to a sorely depleted rifle company. (40)

(40) Personal Kn01l'l1edge.

- 23 -
At nightfall of 13 March, harassed by Nebelwerfer's and
making EloVi progress in the Vioods, the bat;"alion was ordered
to dig in for the night. A busy night was spent in fighting
off German tanks whieh were not, however, attaeking "he 1st
Battalion positions but were trying to fight the1r Vlay back
to the German 11nes, having been eut off dur1ng t;he advanees
made that day by the 311th Infantry and the lEt BaGtal1on,

A platoon of tanks waEt;o re1nforcet;he 1st Battalion


the night of the 13th, and an offieer from Company A was to
be post ed on a road adjaeent t o the pos it i ons seleot ed for
the tanks to oeeupy. Hear1ng a tank approaoh1ng, this offi-
oer ran out into the road to direet 1t into the pre-arranged
positions, but it was soon apparent that the tank lIIas enemy,
• in an
judg1ng from "he amount of ammunition "hat was expeded
effort to liqu1date the offloer, who wa~ no longer there.
'llhis tank was speedily eaptured and the crew taken prisoner.
No oasualties Viere sustained by the 1st Battalion.
_~. Mov1ng out early On the morn1ng of 14 Maroh, the bat-
talion was ordered to conc1nue its drive northward along the
river. Slo1N and pa1nful ga1ns were made aga1nst a strongly
resisting enemy using tanks, mach1ne guns and mortars. The
m1ssion was enlarged to include "he capture of Neider-Dollen-
dorf in conjunction with elements of che 311th Infantry Reg1-
ment. 'fhe ma1n efforc was nade by che 31lth Infantry andthe
1st Battal10n helped t;o mop up the cown and clear the houses
of snipers and enemy sold1ers who were ready to surrender.
(See Map Cl

- 24 -
'Ehe 1st Battalion situation at this time Vlas orHical.
Depleted in manpoVler, 10111 in spirits, physical1y exhausted
and Vlith mora1e at a 10111 ebb, the men were in dire need of
re1ief if they ~ere Co remain an effeotive fighting foroe.
Rifle oompanies averaged about 50 men and offioers Vlith óhe
exoeption of Company A, which was supplemented by the one
platoon of Negro soldiers. (41)
Instead of oontinuing che attack from Neider-Do11en-
dorf, the 1st Battalion \'las given the missionof defending
it throughout the remainder of 14 March and throughout the
15th.
Ehis Vias no rest oamp, h01llever. Ehese Viere the front
lines and whi1e Chere was no immediate threat of a counter-
attaok, it was far froID being an impossibility.:rhroughout
15 Maroh, the battalion consolidated 1GS positions and there
!!as an opportunity for the men to sleep. shave and eat food
onoe more.
Throughout this period, positions of troops and weapons
Viere improved. In some oases, second story windows of houses
on the outskirts of tOVln VIere utilizedas machine ,sun posi-
tions, boCh heavy and 1ight. I'here VIere unlimited fields of
fire covering broad expanses of o:pen ground leading up Co the
tO'I'Vn. MOrtar observation posts for both the 60s and 81s
were also 100ated. most1y in upper stories of houses -- the
mortars being dug in ViHhin the limits of Che to~n. Commun-
ioations beoame quHe elaborate, extensive use being made by
companies of Che numerous sound-pOViered phones available.
Command posta Viere taking on an air of grandeur ana it ap-

(41) Personal IÚlowledge.

- 25 -
peared thao ohe 1st Battalion ~as aettling do~n for a long
atay. ITowever, this was not to be for less ohan 36 hours
after Neider-Dollendorf had been taken, the 1st Battalion
lIias again on the move. In oonjunction with Company G of
~he 3l0th Infantry and the 31lth Infantry Eegiment, ohe 1st
Battalion lIias to drive 00 the much coveted Autobahn, a Ger-
man superhighlliay, and one of the key obj ectives of the
bridgehead operation.rhe capture of the superhighway
would expand the bridgehead to a depoh of about seven miles.
rhis would ternlinaoe the expansion phase of the operation
and gi ve~he American for'ces a o oe-hold from VYhicht o launch
a breakout from the bridgehead. (See IfLap e) (42)
So on 16 l~rch, at daylight, the battalion set out from
Neider-Dollendorf and again crossed what seemed to be an
unending suooession of lines of departure. With three oom-
panies abreast, "the battalion moved int o terrain similar to
that operated over for the many previous days. Initial1y,
resistance was 11gbt and the batitalion proceeded without in-
cident until it arr1ved in an area just north of the oO'l'm
of Ittenbach. ITere it was hit hard by a wel1 dug-in enemy,
reinforced by tanks. Small arn~, automatic weapons, mortal'
and 88mm gun fire from the German tanks dealt devastating
blows t o al1 companies of tihe batoalion. :¡hile not pinnec:1
down, the battalion was held" up and t he battalion commander
requested tank support. (43)
Tanks were received and the attack continued. Heavy
oasualties were sustained by the battalion and in Company A
seotor bitter hand-to-hand figjning wHh tihe enemy follolled.

(42) Personal KnoViledge; (43) A-3, p. 19.

- 26 -
fhe battalion was fighting SS ~roops deployed in this area
who were figh"ing desperately and fanatically, but fighting
futilely, to keep the 1st Battalion from gaining "he Auto-
bahn.
By late afternoon the 1st Battalion had seized the
Autobahn in their sect or and were fighting against deter-
mined resistance too hold the ground (;ained. (See M~p C)
Enemy tank fire was received along the ba"talion front as
the men attempted to dig in. 'l.'he tanks attached to the
1st Batta1ion Viere brought up and using direct fire against
the enemy armor, s oon drove the m off. Art illery f ire no"
began to register onGhe neVily acquired posHions and "he
compantes, besides consolidating and preparing defensive
positions, Viere engaged in re-distribut10n of ammun1tion.
which lIIas at a 10\'1 ebb. ¡'he expected enemy counter-attaok
was received just after dark, hitting Conlpany A left f1ank.
fhis was successfully repulsed. however. by the fourth rifle
platoon, \'Ihich was in support. Else1llhere along the bat-
talion front there was no activity other than the terrif1c
artillery barrages which continued to register on the bat-
ta110n positions throughout the n1ght. (44)
rhe Autobahn in "his sector was literally covered with
disabled and burned enemy vehicles from enemy supply columns.
This was an excellent example of the effects of our air force
1n dim1nishing the enemy ability to re-supply his troops and
in rendering the highway impassable for "he rap1d movement

of reserves.

(44) Personal Knowledge.

- 2? -
Very ear1y on the morning of 17 March it ~as wi~h a
wonderfu1 feeling of reliet that the men of the 1st Bat-
talion stood up in their toxho1es and cheered as elements
of the 9th Infantry Division attacked through the 1ine held
by the 1st Battalion, and north across the Autobahn. (45)
Shortly thereatter,~he 1st Battalion 11Ias detached from
the 3llth and "came home", s o ~ o speak, when i t revert ed .~ o

control ot the 310th Infantry Regiment after a period ot


17 days of operating as a separate batta110n. It is inter-
esting to note, that on this same day, at 1500 hours, the
Ludendorff Bridge, after standing up to the pounding it had
reoeived tor so long, finally "gave up the ghost" and 1ike
the "11I0nderful one hoss shay" , oo11apsed and s1id into the
Rhine, carrying .üth 1t a number of engineers 11Iho 11Iere re-
pairing Ghe bridge at that time. (46)

ANALYSIS k~D CRITIGISM


In making an analysis of this operation, 1~ is import-
ant~o remember that as far as the 1st Battalicn, 310th In-
fantry, is oonoerned, it was an unexpected move and virtually
no prior planning or reoonnaissance 11Ias possible. Further,
this 11Ias the a.ction of a separate battalion, initially, re-
infcroed by a plat oon of Ca.nks.
The suooess of the R~magen bridgehead operation depended
on the rapid movement of troops into the bridgehead area and
the expansion of it as expedit iously as possible. As a re-
su1t, on a. scant 12-hours notice, the 1st Ba.ttalion was ready
to oross the P.hine. At -¡¡he time of its coromitme'nt the bat-

(45) (46) Per sonal Kno11l1e dge.

- 28 -
-¡¡alion had be'en almost eonscantly on the move for a full
~eek and Ghe men were physieally and mentally exhausted.
In the batCalion erossing 01' ¡¡he bridge,Ghe o1'1'ieers

and non-eommissioned officers displayed exeellent leader-


ship in keeping the columnmoving and -¡¡he men Quiet in spite
01' the adv8rse conditions encounGered.
It is the I"lriter' s opinion that a regiment should have

been given the mission assigned GO the 1st Battalion on the


east bank 1'or the 1'ollo~ing reasons:
l. One battalion was needed to defend -¡¡he area in
the vieini-¡¡y 01' the bridge itself. A large seale counter-
a'Gtaek by the enemy could have well destroyedthe bridge and
then systemat ieally destroyedche 1st Battalion.
2. One battalion was needed to the south, secur-
ing the towns eapGured by the 1st Battalion.
3. One battalion was needed to be held in mobile
reserve so i t eould be rapidly moved to meet a threat from
any dire et ion.
\C)(( 11' a regiment had been employed in this manner, the 1st

~~~\;t\
1).,. v
!:r-"'"
\,\\t
Battalion, 3l0th In1'antry, would not have been so vulnerable
to destruction by the enemy as chey
1'ollowing the crossing.
\~ere 1'or the 1'irst 24-hours

~\3
It is 1'elt thatthe initiative displayed by the battal-

ion commander in deciding to Quickly move Company A into Linz,


capitalizing on the mistake 01' the patrol in aceidentally
stumbling int o it, fore st alled a poss ible large soale count er-
atcack by Ghe SS and Panzer units which were deployed to the
south 01' Linz a-¡¡ the time it was entered by our troops.

- 29 -
Due to the taetioal situation 'lIithinthe bridgehead,
it is d1í'fioult to eritieize the oriers relieving the 1st
Battalion on 12 Mareh, and then in the spaoe of a fe'll hours
again eommitting it. HOllever, the 101lering of mozale 'lIith-
in the unit 'lIaa a factor to be taken into consideration.
It must be noted that in the majority of the aetione
of the bat.alion in the bridgehead, it 'lIas usually 'lIith
three oompanies abreast or engagecl. Due to the nature of
the objeetives, as in the initial phase, or due to the
frontages assigned to the battalion, this 'lIas a must.
The defensive positions maintained by the battalion

in Neider-Dollendorf pro ved to be a God-send to the men in
their 1I0rn-out condition. While still engageQ, it 'lIas
possible for the men to rest, to re-supply and to olean
'lIeapons.
The Negro rifle platoon, assigned to Company A, oon-
tributed largely to the sueoesa of the battalion in reaoh-
ing the Autobahn and in containing the enemy oounter-attaek
whieh developed in Company A zone and threatened the bat-
talion 'lIith a large seale penetration.
In summing up this operation, a period of ten «ays, it
may -.ell be eaiCl that the 1st Battalion, 3l0th Infantry, hai
aceomplished 'lIhat seemed to them the imposaible. It had
suceeeded in orossing the Ludendorft Bridge, oaptured or
assisted in the oapture of tive tOllns, cut the Autobahn and
eontributed largely to the seeuring and exploiting of the
Remagen briQgehead.

- 30 -
By General Orders Number 513, Headquarters 78th Infan-
try Division, ¡¡he 1st Bat~alion, 310th Infantry, 'lias cited
for out s"tanding perfo rroan ce of du.. y in e he Remagen bridge-
head and un de r t he provisions of Se ct ion rv, \'lar Department
Ciroular 333, a'liarded ¡¡he Distinguished Unit Badge.
In closing, 1t is interesting to note that Caesar made
his first Rhine cross1ng in 55 B. C. in the vioinity of An-
dernaoh.f'llo thousand years later, in 1945, the ls¡¡ Bat-
talion, 310th Infantry, orossing was made 12 miles north ot
the Roman bridge sit e. (47)

LESSONS

l. 'fhe rapid exploitation ot a bridgehead is of para-


mount importanoe.
2. Surprise, coup¡ed with a fast-moving s.. riking force,
is a neoessHy in the expansion of a bridgehead.
3. Leaders can capitalize on mista~es made by subord-
7., -
inates.
4. Armor is 01' prime necessity in an exploitation.
5. 60mm mortars oan be used wi"h great advantage against
'----,~_ ',_ "_'0__ •

an enemy making strong points out of boxoars.


Marching fire, used in slightly 'IIooded areas, has
a tremendous demoralizing effeot against a well dug-in enemy.
--
7. A fourth rifle platoon adds to the eftectiveness ot
\-., .. - -

a rifle company and inoreases the morale ofehe meno


8. Rest for troops is a neoessity, espeoially in sus-

(47) A-3, p. 45.

- 31 -
LESSONS (Contlnued)

9. Leaders must ant lclpate the loss of key personnel


and plan for the1r replacement.
10. Leaders must be versatlle arrd alert ln fast-movlng
and fast-changlng sltuations.
11. '!ihen the attack has achleved surprlse and galned
the initlatlve, great risks are justified.

- 32 -