United States Army in World War II
European Theater of Operations

The Last Offensive

Charles B. MacDonald


Maurice Matloff, General Editor

Advisory Committee
(As of 1 February 1972)
Walter C. Langsam
University of Cincinnati


Maj. Gen. Edward Bautz, Jr.
United States Continental Army Command


Edward M. Coffman
University of Wisconsin


Brig. Gen. James M. Gibson
United States Army Command and General Staff College


Louis Morton
Dartmouth College


Brig. Gen. Wallace C. Magathan, Jr.
United States Army War College


Peter Paret
Stanford University


Col. Thomas E. Griess
United States Military Academy


Forrest C. Pogue
George C. Marshall Research Foundation


Frank E. Vandiver
Rice University


Office of the Chief of Military History
Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr., Chief of Military History

Chief Historian Maurice Matloff
Chief, Historical Services Div. Col. Robert H. Fechtman
Chief, Histories Division Col. John E. Jessup, Jr.
Editor in Chief Joseph R. Friedman

. . . to Those Who Served


  Foreword vii
  The Author viii

Chapter Page
I.  Prelude to Victory 1
    Allied Strategy 2
    Allied Versus German Strength 5
    Weapons and Equipment 10
    Organization and Command 15
    Terrain and the Front Line 18

II.  Victory in the Ardennes 22
    The First Army's Attack 26
    A Grim Struggle Around Bastogne 33
    The Drive on St. Vith 43
    Northward Across the Sure 48

III.  Main Effort in the Eifel 55
    General Bradley's Proposal 56
    The Eifel Highlands 57
    The Enemy in the Eifel 59
    A Try for Quick Success 60
    A Shift to the North 67
    An End to the Offensive 68

IV.  The Roer River Dams 70
    Toward Schmidt 73
    Toward the Dam 80

V.  The Drive on Pruem 84
    Into the West Wall 86
    German Countermeasures 91
    The Final Phase 96

VI.  Bittburg and the Vianden Bulge 99
    Crossing the Sauer 101
    The Vianden Bulge 106
    Expanding the XII Corps Bridgehead 112
    To Bitburg and the Kyll 113

VII.  The Saar-Moselle Triangle 117
    Probing the Orscholz Switch 117
    Expanding the Penetration 123
    Broadening the Effort 125
    Crossing the Saar 129

VIII.  Operation GRENADE 135
    The Terrain and the Enemy 137
    Catch-as-Catch-Can 140
    Objectives and Maneuvers 142
    Challenging the Swollen River 145
    The First Day on the East Bank 153
    The VII Corps at Dueren 156
    The First Day's Results 162

IX.  Ninth Army to the Rhine 163
    The Third and Fourth Days 166
    Rundstedt's Appeal 170
    Pursuit 171
    Efforts To Seize a Bridge 173
    The Wesel Pocket 179
    The Beginning of the End 183

X.  Operation LUMBERJACK 185
    Toward Bonn and Remagen 191
    Patton in the Eifel 196

XI.  A Rhine Bridge at Remagen 208
    The Germans at Remagen 209
    The Hope for a Bridge 211
    Advance to the Rhine 212
    The Crisis at the Bridge 213
    Reaction to the Coup 217
    On the German Side 220
    Build-up and Command Problems 222
    The End of the Bridge 229
    Expansion of the Bridgehead 230

XII.  The Saar-Palatinate 236
    American Plans 238
    The Defenders 241
    Through the Hunsrueck 244
    Across the Lower Moselle 246
    Plunge to the Nahe and Fall of Koblenz 249
    Seventh Army's Deliberate Attack 252
    Breakthrough 256
    Thrust to the Rhine 260

XIII.  The Rhine Crossings in the South 266
    The VIII Corps in the Rhine Gorge 273
    To the Main River and Frankfurt 279
    The Hammelburg Mission 280
    The Seventh Army Crossing at Worms 284
    The XX Corps in the Rhine-Main Arc 289

XIV.  The Rhine Crossings in the North 294
    The Big Build-up 296
    Interdiction From the Air 300
    The View From the East Bank 301
    "Two if by sea" 302
    Operation FLASHPOINT 303
    The Drive to the Railroads 307
    Operation VARSITY 309
    At the End of D-Day 314
    The Try for a Breakout 315
    How To Bring the Ninth Army's Power to Bear 317

XV.  At the End of March 321
    An Awesome Power 322
    The Logistical Backbone 324
    Decisions at the Top 328
    The Plight of the Germans 335
    A Decision on Berlin 339

XVI.  Reducing the Ruhr 344
    The Breakout Offensive 346
    Collapse of the LXXXIX Corps 348
    A Turn to the North 350
    The Thrust From Winterberg 354
    Breakthrough North of the Ruhr 357
    Making Motions at Breakout 359
    The Ruhr Pocket 362
    "The predominant color was white." 368

XVII.  Sweep to the Elbe 373
    A New Allied Main Effort 379
    The Role of the Third Army 381
    A Bridgehead to Nowhere 384
    A Flak-Infested Route to the Mulde 389
    A Short New War 395

XVIII.  The Myth of the Redoubt 407
    The First Phase Beyond the Rhine 409
    The Struggle for Heilbronn and Crailsheim 415
    To the Hohe Rhoen and Schweinfurt 418
    A Shift to South and Southeast 420
    Nuremberg and the Drive to the Danube 422
    The Drive on Stuttgart 427
    A French Incursion to Ulm 430
    The "Stuttgart Incident" 432
    From the Danube Into Austria 433

XIX.  Goetterdaemmerung 443
    The Meeting at Torgau 445
    The End in Berlin 458
    The Drive to the Baltic 460
    Piecemeal Surrenders 464
    Surrender at Reims 474

XX.  Epilogue 476

Appendix Page
A.  Table of Equivalent Ranks 483
B.  Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross 484
Bibliographical Note 489
Glossary 492
Basic Military Map Symbols 498
Index 503


1.  Main Effort in the Eifel, 27 January-3 February 1945 61
2.  The Capture of Schmidt and the Schwammenauel Dam, 5-9 February 1945 76
3.  The Remagen Bridgehead, 7-24 March 1945 218
4.  Foray to Hammelburg, 25-27 March 1945 282
5.  Reduction of the Ruhr Pocket, 4-14 April 1945 363
6.  The Harz Pocket, 11-17 April 1945 403
7.  The American-Russian Linkup, 25 April 1945 449
8.  Drive to the Baltic, 29 April-2 May 1945 462
9.  Action at Fern Pass, 44th Infantry Division, 1-4 May 1945 470

Maps I-XVII Are in Inverse Order Inside Back Cover

I.  The Western Front, 3 January 1945  
II.  The Ardennes Counteroffensive, 3-28 January 1945  
III.  The Drive on Pruem  
IV.  Clearing of the Vianden Bulge and the Capture of Bitburg, 6-28 February 1945  
V.  The Saar-Moselle Triangle, 13 January-1 March 1945  
VI.  Operation GRENADE, 22 February-11 March 1945  
VII.  Eliminating the Wesel Pocket, 3-11 March 1945  
VIII.  Operation LUMBERJACK, 1-7 March 1945  
IX.  The Saar-Palatinate Triangle, 12-21 March 1945  
X.  The Rhine River Crossings in the South, 22-28 March 1945  
XI.  Rhine Crossings in the North, 24-28 March 1945  
XII.  Breakout From Remagen, 24-28 March 1945  
XIII.  Encircling the Ruhr, 28 March-1 April 1945  
XIV.  Drive to the Elbe, 4-24 April 1945  
XV.  Sixth Army Group Offensive, 27 March-24 April 1945  
XVI.  Into Austria and Czechoslovakia, 28 April-8 May 1945  
XVII.  V-E Day, 8 May 1945  


1.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. 3
2.  Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt 6
3.  M4 Sherman Tank in the Ardennes 11
4.  M4A3 Sherman Tank With 76-mm. Gun 12
5.  Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges 27
6.  Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins 29
7.  General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel 30
8.  Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model 30
9.  Wind-Swept Snow in the Ardennes 37
10.  Patrols of the First and Third Armies Meet at Houffalize 42
11.  Maj. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway 45
12.  Medics Use a "Litter-Jeep" to Evacuate Patients 47
13.  Men of the 82d Airborne Division Pull Sleds Through the Ardennes Snow 62
14.  Traffic Jam on a Slick Ardennes Road 64
15.  Maj. Gen. C. Ralph Huebner 71
16.  The Urft Dam 74
17.  The Schwammenauel Dam 75
18.  Damage to the Schwammenauel Dam Causes Flooding of the Roer River 82
19.  Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton 85
20.  Men of the 4th Division Eating Inside Captured Pillbox 87
21.  Dropping Supplies by Parachute to the 4th Division 97
22.  Maj. Gen. Manton S. Eddy 101
23.  Crossing Site on the Sauer River Near Echternach 102
24.  Welcome to Germany From the 6th Armored Division 110
25.  Crew of a 3-Inch Gun on the Watch for German Tanks 119
26.  Removing German Dead After Fighting in Nennig 121
27.  Maj. Gen. Walton H. Walker 126
28.  Lt. Gen. William H. Simpson 136
29.  General der Infanterie Gustav von Zangen 142
30.  Bursts of White Phosphorus Shells Light Up the Roer River 144
31.  Crossing Sites at Linnich 146
32.  Derelict Assault Boats Near Linnich 148
33.  Smoke Pots Along the Roer Near Dueren 149
34.  Crossing Sites at Juelich 150
35.  Footbridge Across the Roer Serves Men of the 30th Division 152
36.  Crossing Sites at Dueren 158
37.  Maj. Gen. Raymond S. McLain 164
38.  Maj. Gen. John B. Anderson 166
39.  Pershing Tank T26 With 90-mm. Gun 170
40.  Maj. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr 175
41.  Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz 176
42.  The Demolished Hohenzollern Bridge at Cologne 190
43.  Maj. Gen. John Millikin 192
44.  2d Lt. Karl H. Timmerman, First Officer To Cross the Remagen Bridge 215
45.  Sgt. Alexander Drabik, First American Across the Rhine 217
46.  Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring 222
47.  Ludendorff Railroad Bridge at Remagen 224
48.  Maj. Gen. James A. Van Fleet 229
49.  The Rhine at the Remagen Bridge Site 231
50.  Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers 239
51.  Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, Jr. 240
52.  Engineers of the 87th Division Ferry a Tank Across the Moselle 251
53.  Troops of the 63d Division Cross Dragon's Teeth of the West Wall 255
54.  Reinforcements of the 5th Division Cross the Rhine in an LCVP 271
55.  Crossing the Rhine Under Enemy Fire at St. Goar 277
56.  Raising the American Flag Atop the Lorelei 278
57.  Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip 284
58.  Infantry of the 3d Division Climb the East Bank of the Rhine 288
59.  Duplex-Drive Tank With Skirt Folded 290
60.  Duplex-Drive Tank Enters the Water 291
61.  Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery 296
62.  American Paratrooper Caught in a Tree 310
63.  Glider Troops After Landing Near Wesel 312
64.  Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow 323
65.  The Rhine Railroad Bridge at Wesel 326
66.  Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Bridge at Mainz 327
67.  Ponton Bridge Across the Rhine 328
68.  Liberated Prisoners of War 329
69.  Destruction in the Heart of Wurzburg 336
70.  Infantrymen of the 79th Division Cross the Rhein-Herne Canal 364
71.  Russian Prisoners Liberated by the Ninth Army 368
72.  German Soldiers Make Their Way Unguarded to a Prisoner-of-War Camp 369
73.  Prisoners of War in the Ruhr Pocket 371
74.  White Flags Hang Above a Deserted Street 377
75.  German Prisoners Head for the Rear as American Armor Advances 382
76.  German Civilians Carry Victims of Concentration Camp for Reburial 383
77.  Infantrymen Ride an Armored Car in the Race to the Elbe 388
78.  Crossing of the Weser River 390
79.  A 12.8-cm. "Flak" Gun 394
80.  "Sixty-One Minute Roadblock" 411
81.  Maj. Gen. Frank W. Milburn 412
82.  Lt. Gen. Edward H. Brooks 414
83.  A Tank of the 14th Armored Division Enters Prison Camp at Hammelburg 419
84.  A Patrol of the 3d Division Makes Its Way Through the Rubble of Nuremberg 424
85.  General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny 428
86.  Tanks of the 20th Armored Division Ford the Inn River 440
87.  Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division Approach Berchtesgaden 441
88.  2d Lt. William D. Robertson Shows General Eisenhower His Makeshift Flag 455
89.  General Hodges Meets the Russians at the Elbe 457
90.  Men of the 103d Division Find Resistance in the Austrian Alps 463
91.  Austrian Civilians Greet American Troops in Innsbruck 468
92.  Czechoslovakian Villagers Welcome Tank Crew 469

Illustrations are from Department of Defense files.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation