20th Armored Division
UNIT HISTORY 20th. Tank Battalion, 20th. Armored Division.
Oscar Tellis, 1st. Lt. Adjutant. covers Ammerfeld, Germany to Munich, Germany, April 28, 45 to May 2, 1945, and describes the weather as cold, snowy for two day, with roads fair. The battalion moved on the 28th, becoming involved in its first action against the enemy. The Battalion, with D Company leading, moved from Ammerfeld, crossed the Danube River north of Burgheim, passed through the 42nd. Division, and marched southeast toward Munich.
Secured two bridges across the Paar River at Schroberhausen, where two German Hospitals were located, and 100 prisoners were taken. SS troops fired at our column from cellars and had to be eliminated by grenades and small arms. As we moved toward Aresing, a patrol of friendly mechanized cavalry (no unit identification) informed us that one of their armored cars had been knocked out by a 75mm. SP gun and 2 men killed. The lead tanks of D Company deployed, took the town under fire and then continued to move against scattered small arms fire in the direction of Gerolsbach; securing a crossing of the Gerols river and capturing 25 prisoners.
Approximately, 75 German and Polish refugees were liberated in Petershausen, and they furnished information that a German supply train was retreating before us, that was defended by a 75 mm. SP gun, which we destroyed near Kollsbach. The train, consisting of approximately 50 horse drawn vehicles and a few motor vehicles, was caught in the open, and an easy prey for our machine gunners. The enemy personnel, including a Colonel, his Executive officer, a Major and 150 men quickly surrendered. The advance continued, and an enemy gasoline truck was destroyed as we reached Highway 13.
As we continued, four bridges across the Amper river at Grasse Nobach were secured against slight enemy small arms fire, before the enemy could prepare the demolitions. A very large quantity of explosives was captured on the stone bridge, which would have presented a major obstacle, as the Amper river, at this point, is 150 feet wide, and unfordable. The high ground south of Grosse Nobach was seized and held for the night. Artillery fire was used during the night to harass the enemy in nearby towns, which caused them to come out and surrender.
Total number of prisoners taken were 800 men and officers. On April 28th. the Battalion was given the mission to take the Schleissheim Airport, north of Munich. The attack was made by C Company, followed by Battalion Hq. and Hq. Company, and A Company. D Company, on the right flank, was to follow a road parallel to Highway 13, which was the route of the main force. The first resistance was at the town of Lohof, in the-form of small arms and machine gun fire, through which the tanks passed safely. However, the Infantry supporting the tanks suffered considerable losses due to the small arms fire. A road block, defended by small arms and machine guns was met and destroyed by the action of a tank-dozer and a demolition charge placed by the Engineers.
About a 100 yards further, a second road block was encountered which also had to be demolished. Continuing down the road, just north of Neuherberg, 4 of our medium tanks were knocked out by 3 88mm. guns in the town and woods. (the account doesn't say what Company or Platoon was involved) Two of the 88's were destroyed by our tanks (again, no unit identification) after heavy fighting. Our tanks pulled back, and leaving a rear guard, withdrew north of Lohof to refuel and replenish ammunition. D Company could do very little due to bad roads, and became bogged down around 1200 hours. They encountered small arms fire from defensive positions south of Unter Schleisheim, and shell from an 88 hit in the vicinity.
April 30th, I reported to Col. DUNCAN who ordered the early attack and requested air support. The air support never arrived, so we advanced, five tanks abreast over the open field. There were many German infantrymen with Panzerfaust who resisted as we advanced. As they rose from various foxholes and shallow depressions, they were mowed down by the bow-gunners. In front of us there were two large buildings, with people firing at us from the windows as we moved. At this point, Sgt. HANDLEY'S tank was hit, and as the crew piled out they were machine-gunned as they emerged. We continued to fire at the buildings with AP shells, and the Germans finally surrendered. The day ended with the complete collapse of any resistance, and when I entered the building later, it was completely empty." (BOB HALLER'S address is, 95 Berkeley Rd., Avondale Estate, GA, 30002, in case anyone from C Company wants to contact him)
EXCERPTS FROM..."THE AFTER BATTLE REPORT, 20TH. TANK BATTALION, TO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL, WASHINGTON, D. C." Dated 2 February, 1946 Signed by: Oscar T. Wells, Adjutant. (Ed. Note: We're including these reports whenever we can obtain them. Much of the material pertains to lists of Officers, enlisted men, composition of units, attached units, casualty statistics, locations of Battalion Hq., training statistics, etc. The following material is that part that pertains to action seen after crossing the Rhine River. Details regarding ration reports, messages, or extraneous material have been eliminated. Being an official "after-battle" report, there are few names and only principal units are identified; but it does provide a different view of the battle.)
"The Battalion moved on 13 April 1945 to the vicinity of Schonstedt, Germany to guard a captured ammunition manufacturing plant in the Neustadt Forest. On 20 April 1945, the Battalion moved to the vicinity of Horrnberchtheim, and was strafed by an enemy plane during the night. There were no casualties. On 23 April, now under the jurisdiction of the Seventh Army we moved to the vicinity of Buhlsbach and prepared to attack to the south. While moving on 24 April, to Lerchenbuhl, we were strafed again on the road in the vicinity of Hedhlingen, but suffered no casualties. While in this vicinity, the Battalion captured 15 prisoners. On 28 April, the Battalion moved from Ammerfeld, toward Munich, becoming engaged in its first action against the enemy.
The action took place on three separate days: Saturday, 28 April, through Monday 30 April, 1945. The Battalion, with D Company leading, moved from the vicinity of Ammerfeld, crossed the Danube River north of Burgheim, passed through units of the 42nd. Infantry Division, and marched southeast toward Munich; securing bridges across the Paar river at Schrobenhausen; where two German Hospitals were located, and 100 prisoners taken. At Schrobenahusen, SS troopers fired at our column from cellars and were eliminated by grenades and small arms.
As we moved toward Aresing, a patrol of friendly mechanized cavalry informed us that one of their armored cars had been knocked out by a 75mm. SP. gun and two men killed. D Company immediately deployed and took the town under fire, and then continued to move against scattered small arms fire in the direction of Gerolsbach, where they secured the crossing of the Gerols River and captured 25 prisoners. At Jetsdendorf, the crossing of the Ilm River was secured, and the advance continued toward Petershausen to seize the bridge across the Glenn River. Approximately 75 French and Polish refugees were liberated in Petershausen, and they informed us that an enemy supply train was retreating ahead of us, defended by a 75mm. S. P. gun. We destroyed this near Kollsbach. (Ed. Note: Could this be the same gun mentioned previously?Also, the Report does not indicate what unit did the job.)
The enemy supply train, which consisted of approximately 50 horse-drawn wagons, and a few motor vehicles, was caught in the open outside Kollsbach, moving slowly up a long curving road, and were easy prey for our machine gunners. The enemy personnel, including the commanding officers; a colonel, major, and his executive, quickly surrendered. The advance continued, and on reaching Highway 13, an enemy gasoline truck was destroyed.
CROSSING THE DANUBE
Task Force 20 moved from the vicinity of Ammerfeld and crossed the Danube River north of Burgheim at 0600 on Saturday, April 28th, 1945, with the M-24 Chaffee light tanks of 'D' company leading. After passing through the 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division, it marched southeast toward Munich, securing bridges over the Paar River at Schrebenhausen where two German hospitals were located, and took 100 prisoners. Along the way SS troops fired on the vehicle columns from cellars, and had to be eliminated by hand grenades and small arms. As they moved into the town of Aresing, a patrol of friendly mechanized cavalry informed them that an armored car had been knocked out by an enemy 75 mm self propelled gun, and that two of the crew had been killed. This patrol was not attached to the task force, but was preceding it, and was from Troop 'B' of the 33rd Cavalry Recon Squadron, 20th Armored Division. At about 0930, the patrol had just accepted the surrender of 30 soldiers who were mostly young boys, and the targeted vehicle was second in the column. As T/5 Warren E. Kelley was radioing in the capture, the armored car topped a hill and was hit. The shell struck the driver's side, killing T/5 Bryant L. Palmer and T/5 Wesley H. Bacon of Moran, Kansas. Kelley received shrapnel wounds to the face and head, and Lt. William P. Schopf of Louisville, Kentucky, was severely wounded in the legs. As Kelley crawled out the front hatch, German machine gunners opened fire. Kelley reached a ditch, was dragged to safety by Pvt. Hugh H. Pence of Akron, Ohio, and Lt. Schopf also escaped. Sgt. Sherman C. Nunly of McMinnville, Tennessee, knocked out the flanking Germans from his vehicle with a .50 caliber machine gun. Upon hearing this account, Captain Philip E. Heiler's 'D' Company immediately deployed, took the town under fire, then continued to move against scattered small arms fire in the direction of Geralsbach and secured the crossing of the Gerals River while taking 25 prisoners. As the remainder of the column moved through, 381 more prisoners were captured and 75 of the enemy killed. At Jetzendorf, the task force crossed the Ilm River and the advance continued toward Peterhausen and a bridge across the Glenn River. Approximately 75 French and Polish refugees were liberated, and they furnished the information that a German supply column was retreating just ahead. It was defended by a 75 mm self-propelled gun (probably the same one that had ambushed the armored car from the 33rd) which was destroyed before it could get a shot off at the lead M-24 Chaffee tanks of 'D' Company. After passing through the town of Kellbach, the enemy supply train, consisting of approximately 50 horse drawn vehicles and a few motor driven ones, was surprised and overtaken. Caught in the open, and moving slowly up a long hill on a gradual curve, they were easy prey for machine gunners. Fifteen enemy soldiers were killed and 150 quickly surrendered including the commanding officer and his executive, a major. Dead horses and ruined wagons blocked the road for what seemed to be miles. A German armored car was also destroyed. The advance was continued and upon reaching Highway 13, an enemy gasoline truck was destroyed and four bridges across the Amper River near Grosse Nobach were taken against enemy small arms fire, just before demolitions could be prepared. A very large quantity of explosives were captured at a stone bridge, the destruction of which would have presented a major obstacle, as the Amper River was 150 wide and not fordable. The high ground south of Grosse Nobach was seized and held for the night as an area from which to continue the attack the following day. The distance covered during the day was approximately 52 miles. Artillery fire was used during the night for harassing the enemy in nearby towns and to register on firing check points. This artillery fire caused German soldiers to come out and surrender in large numbers including officers and some SS. The total number of prisoners taken during the day and night was 800 men and officers.