Third Army Battle Route from 1 August 1944 to 8 May 1945



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Third Army Battle Route

from 1 August 1944 to 8 May 1945


Week 37
9 April
With the 6th Armored Division’s Combat Command “R” under the XX Corps, the 3rd Cavalry Group (Mechanized) finished mopping up the Corps’ northern flank. The 76th Infantry Division’s 385th Infantry Regiment occupied Döllstädt, Grossfahner, Gierstädt, and Kleinfahrer. Regiments from the 80th Infantry Division continued to advance on Erfurt. The 4th Armored Division was attached to the Corps. The 89th Infantry Division’s 354th Infantry Regiment under the VIII Corps mopped up the area on the division’s left flank throughout the day. Meanwhile, its sister 354th Infantry Regiment occupied Georgenthal and Finsterberge, and the 355th Infantry Regiment conquered Gräfenhain. Battalions from the 87th Infantry Division’s 345th and 347th Infantry Regiments advanced to the vicinity of Luisenthal and occupied the hills east of Oberhof, while the division’s 346th Infantry Regiment advanced to the northeast and made contact with units from the 89th Infantry Division. Forces from the XII Corps reinforced their positions and prepared to renew their attack.

10 April
Battalions from the 76th Infantry Division’s 304th and 385th Infantry Regiments under the XX Corps attacked the railroad line between Straussfurt and Kühnhausen. During the day, the 80th Infantry Division slowly surrounded Erfurt. Units from the 4th and 6th Armored Divisions regrouped and prepared for an attack, while the 3rd Cavalry Group (Mechanized) assembled in the area north of Gotha. Battalions from the 89th Infantry Division’s 354th and 355th Infantry Regiments under the VIII Corps headed for Rudisleben, Arnstadt, and the Gera River east of Espenfeld. The 87th Infantry Division’s 345th Infantry Regiment occupied Luisenthal and continued to Crawinkel, while the 347th Infantry Regiment advanced to the Geraberg town limits. Task Force “Sundt”, composed of division reconnaissance companies, K Company from the 346th Infantry Regiment’s 3rd Battalion (also from the 87th Infantry Division) and support units, was designated as a combat force in the offensive towards the Saale River. The 65th Infantry Division assembled in the Berka/Werra area. Forces from the XII Corps launched an offensive to the southeast. With direct artillery and aerial support, the 11th Armored Division quickly advanced to within reach of Coburg. Combat Command “A” blocked the routes leading north and northeast out of the city, Combat Command “B” headed towards Wiesenfeld north of Coburg, and sent reconnaissance units into the city. The 71st Infantry Division advanced behind the 11th Armored Division and finished clearing the conquered territory. The 26th Infantry Division fought its way to the southeast through the rugged terrain of the Thuringian Forest. The 90th Infantry Division’s 359th Infantry Regiment advanced to Ilmenau, and the 358th Infantry Regiment moved forward to Neustadt am Rennsteig.



11 April
A 9th Armored Infantry Battalion unit under the XX Corps liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar. The 6th Armored Division’s Combat Commands “B” and “A” advanced to the Saale River, crossing it in Kösen, Kleinheringen, and Camburg. The 4th Armored Division headed out eastwards through the positions of the 80th Infantry Division, going around Erfurt and Weimar. Combat Command “B” advanced to the Ulrichshalben – Schwabsdorf area, and Combat Command “A”reached the Saale River south of Jena, but because the bridges were destroyed, it was forced to halt near Göschwitz. The 76th Infantry Division, whose troops mopped up the area behind the tanks, advanced to Buttstädt. Battalions from the 80th Infantry Division’s 317th and 318th Infantry Regiments surrounded Erfurt, while their sister 319th Infantry Regiment advanced along the highway behind the 4th Armored Division. The 43rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron secured the right flank of the Corps for now. The 89th Infantry Division under the VIII Corps arrived at the Gutendorf – Tonndorf – Kranichfeld – Witzleben line. Task Force “Crater”, composed of the motorized 1st Battalion from the 89th Infantry Division’s 353rd Infantry Regiment, the 89th Reconnaissance Company, and support units, was formed for an attack toward the Saale River. In the course of the day, the 87th Infantry Division quickly advanced towards Stadtilm and Bad Blankemburg. The 65th Infantry Division started to deploy to Walterhausen, the location of a new assembly area. The 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron protecting the Corps’ northern flank closed the gap between the 87th and 89th Infantry Divisions. The 11th Armored Division under the XII Corps conquered Coburg and prepared an attack to the Hasslach River between Marktzeuln and Kronach. Meanwhile, Combat Command “R” occupied Neustadt bei Coburg. The 71st Infantry Division’s 5th Infantry Regiment mopped up the forests west of Coburg. Other division regiments advanced behind the armored units, and the vanguard units reached Rottenbach. The 26th Infantry Division occupied Eisfeld and reached Schalkau and Steinheid. The 90th Infantry Division’s 359th Infantry Regiment attacked Langewiesen and Gehren and the 358th Infantry Regiment advanced beyond Grossbreitenbach and sent reconnaissance patrols out to Königsee. Army Headquarters moved to Hersfeld.
12 April
The 6th Armored Division under the XX Corps continued to advance to the Weise-Elster River. One tank column from Combat Command “B” took charge of a bridge in Pegau, crossed the river and headed for Audigast. Another column went around Zeitz from the north and approached the river, while Combat Command “A” ran up against strong enemy resistance west of Zeitz and Combat Command “R” advanced to Kretzschau. The 4th Armored Division, now deployed all along the Saale River, found all of the bridges had been destroyed. Troops crossed the river in rubber rafts, machinery was ferried across, and everything else went over a bridge hastily built by combat engineers. Combat Command “B” crossed the river north of Jena and conquered Kunitz and Laasan. Combat Command “A” went over the river south of Jena and attacked the Ilmsdorf – Beulbar – Scheiditz line to the southeast. Meanwhile, Combat Command “R” headed out to the Mellingen region. The men from the 76th Infantry Division advanced behind the tank columns. The division’s 304th Infantry Regiment fought its way to within reach of Hollsteitz. Battalions from the 80th Infantry Division’s 317th and 318th Infantry Regiments mopped up Erfurt, and the garrison in Weimar surrendered to units from the division’s 319th Infantry Regiment. Maneuvering at the vanguard of the attack launched by the VIII Corps’ 89th Infantry Division, Task Force “Crater” went through Bad Berka to the Saale River in the Rothensten area. The division’s 355th Infantry Regiment occupied Tannroda, and the 354th Infantry Regiment slowly advanced south of Kranichfeld. The 87th Infantry Division’s Task Force “Sundt” reached the river near Rudolstadt. Its 346th Infantry Regiment conquered Ehrenstein and Altremda, and the 347th Infantry Regiment took charge of Bad Blankenburg. The 11th Armored Division’s Combat Commands “A” and “B” under the XII Corps headed to the southeast out of Coburg towards the Hasslach River, and built bridgeheads in Kronach and Marktzeuln. For now, Combat Command “R” rotated through the zone of the 71st Infantry Division and advanced south of Ebersdorf bei Coburg. The 26th Infantry Division occupied Lauscha, Steinach, Sonneberg, and Oberlind. Regiments from the 90th Infantry Division were assembled south of Bad Blankenburg.

13 April
The 6th Armored Division under the XX Corps continued to make its way across the Weisse-Elster River. Combat Command “B” headed from Pegau to the southeast towards Lucka. Combat Command “A” crossed the river at Schkauditz and advanced to the southeast towards Breitenbach. Together with battalions from the 76th Infantry Division’s 304th Infantry Regiment, units from Combat Command “R” made their crossing while under heavy fire near Zeitz; in the end, the regiment troops went on to attack the town. The 4th Armored Division headed eastwards and went around the city of Jena, which was being mopped up by units from the 80th Infantry Division. The division later crossed the Weisse-Elster River and, after advancing over 60 miles, arrived at the Zwick Mulde River. Combat Command “B” built a bridgehead in Wolkenberg, and Combat Command “A” did the same near Oberwinkel. Battalions from the 89th Infantry Division’s 353rd and 355th Infantry Regiments under the VIII Corps occupied Rothenstein and Beutelsdorf. The 87th Infantry Division mopped up the sector around the Saale River, crossing the river between Etzelbach, Schwarza, and Saalfeld. Meanwhile, the 65th Infantry Division started to attack Arnstadt. The 6th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) secured the Corps’ left flank. Tank columns from the XII Corps’ 11th Armored Division moved forward along muddy side roads, conquered Kulmbach, and cut off the main road between Kulmbach and Bayreuth. Units from the 26th Infantry Division reached the Steinbach – Fortschendorf – Steinberg – Kronach line. The 90th Infantry Division advanced to Lothr, Gleim and Rottersdorf, while a reconnaissance unit took control of a bridge over the Selbitz River southeast of Lichtenberg. The 42nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron reached the Thurnau area in the sector northwest of Bayreuth.


14 April
The 6th Armored Division under the XX Corps broke through the strong German defense lines along the Weisse-Elster River and continued eastwards to the Zwick-Mulde River. One column from Combat Command “B” arrived at the river in Rochlitz and built a bridgehead, while the second stopped near Carsdorf. Combat Command A advanced to Oberkossa and Spora. After crossing the river, Combat Command “R” destroyed several anti-aircraft batteries at Zeitz and subsequently sent reconnaissance out to Altenburg. The 4th Armored Division’s Combat Command “B” expanded the bridgehead at Wolkenburg and took charge of two bridges in Penig, and Combat Command “A” occupied Limbach-Oberfrohna and Wüstenbrand. The 80th Infantry Division’s 318th Infantry Regiment advanced behind the armored units, the 319th Infantry Regiment mopped up the city of Gera, and the 317th Infantry Regiment relieved units from the 5th Rangers Battalion in Weimar. Maneuvering at the vanguard of the VIII Corps’ 87th Infantry Division, Task Force “Sundt” crossed a newly built bridge over the Saale River near Saalfeld and advanced to Peuschen. Its 347th Infantry Regiment headed to Schmorda. The 11th Armored Division’s Combat Command “B” under the XII Corps attacked Bayreuth in two columns from the north and the west. Envoys were sent into the city to call on the Germans to surrender, but returned empty handed. What followed was a major assault on Bayreuth: the city was attacked by tactical aircraft and showered with intense artillery fire. One combat command column then entered the outskirts to the north. The task of mopping up the city was later given to the men from the 71st Infantry Division. The 96th Infantry Division advanced to the A9 Autobahn linking Berlin with Nuremberg in Selbitz, Münchberg, and Stretau. The 90th Infantry Division was deployed along the Saale River, at the Saale Reservoir, and along the Selbitz River, managing to occupy Bad Lobenstein in the process. Southeast of Lichtenberg, the 90th Reconnaissance Squadron took charge of a bridge over the Selbitz River that battalions from the 358th Infantry Regiment crossed; the battalions went on to attack and conquer Blankenberg.

15 April


The 6th Armored Division’s Combat Command “B” under the XX Corps crossed the Mulde River at Rochlitz and advanced to the lines where Red Army units were expected to be, while Combat Command “A” took charge of three bridges over the Zschopau River near Mittweida. The 4th Armored Division improved its positions in the Bürgstädt area. The division conquered a bridge over the Chemnitz River in the zone north of Draisdorf, while Combat Command “A” sent reconnaissance patrols out to the city of Chemnitz and seized the garrison in Siegmar. The 80th Infantry Division’s 319th Infantry Regiment occupied Crimmitschau and part of Glauchau. The command of the VIII Corps ordered the 89th Infantry Division to build a bridgehead over the Zwick-Mulde River near Zwickau. The division’s 354th Infantry Regiment advanced to the line of the Weisse-Elster and Weida Rivers between the cities of Gera and Zeulenroda. The 6th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) crossed the Weisse-Elster River and headed to the east and southeast in the zone of the 89th Infantry Division. The 87th Infantry Division’s 346th Infantry Regiment occupied Kleinwolschendorf. The Task Force “Sund” advanced to Pausa, and the division’s 347th Infantry Regiment took control of Langebach. Working with units from the 2nd Cavalry Group (Mechanized), Battalions from the 71st Infantry Division’s 14th Infantry Regiment under the XII Corps mopped up Bayreuth, and other division forces expanded the front from Gefrees to Bayreuth. The 26th Infantry Division encountered the enemy’s defense line from Hof to Gefrees. Regiments from the 90th Infantry Division continued to advance towards Hof and Plauen.

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