XXI Corps Re-enters the Line
The following extract is from the US Seventh Army Report of Operations, Battery Press, 1988, pp 690 - 692. The narrative picks up after an explanation of intelligence data and plan of attack...

...Farther west the 70th Infantry Division had also resumed the attack under the direction of XXI Corps on 3 March. The 276th and 274th Infantries were to advance to secure that part of their assigned objective northwest of the Forbach-Saarbruecken road. Combat Command A of the 12th Armored Division was to support the attacks against the cities of Forbach and Stiring-Wendel.

On the morning of 3 March the 276th Infantry, with a company of French and Belgians from the Lorraine Division attached, attacked in Forbach. The effective fire of the 884th Field Artillery Battalion, augmented by the guns of supporting tanks and the 648th Tank Destroyer Battalion, helped greatly in reducing the German resistance in buildings that were blocking the advance. The city was completely cleared that day, and units of Combat Command A pushed northeast of the city to block the road to Stiring-Wendel.

In Stiring-Wendel the attack of the 274th Infantry, also with a company from the French Lorraine Division attached, was progressing favorably. After a ten minute artillery preparation the regiment had launched its assault from the high ground south and southeast of the city with three battalions abreast. Resistance in the woods on the approaches into the city, centered in a few bunkers and other entrenchments, was not too great; but the rate of progress was slowed down by a number of well-placed mine fields. By late afternoon elements of the 2nd Battalion were fighting in the streets of the city; the 3rd Battalion was moving up on the Forbach-Stiring-Wendel road; and the 1st Battalion was astride the Metz highway northeast of the city. Upon request, a bombing and strafing mission was flown against the enemy entrenched near the railroad northeast of Stiring-Wendel.

When the regiment resumed the attack on the next morning, an increasing number of enemy strong points was encountered. Rotating and elevating pillboxes and bunkers, surrounded by belts of mines, became the centers of heavy fighting. German artillery and mortar fire from the direction of Schoeneck north of Stiring-Wendel harassed the operation throughout the day. Counterbattery fire was unable to silence the enemy guns. Air missions against them were requested, but the persistent low ceiling limited the use of planes. Despite this, however, at the end of the day the 1st and 3rd Battalions also entered Stiring- Wendel on its eastern and western outskirts.

The 276th Infantry in the meantime was moving out of Forbach. Heading north, the 2nd Battalion plunged into Forbach Forest; and west of the city Company I drove the enemy from the village of Marienau. On 5 and 6 March the 1st and 2nd Battalions continued the fight in the Forbach Forest, where the Germans were putting up stubborn resistance. At the same time the 3rd Battalion was cleaning out a wooded area northwest of Marienau.

The 274th Infantry had picked up the slow thread of its house- to-house fighting in Stiring-Wendel at 0800 hours on 5 March, when a group of approximately 250 ragged, Allied soldiers, Russians, Poles, French, Czechs, and Yugoslavs, came streaming down the Metz highway. These men had been inmates of a German prisoner of war hospital, north of the city. The 2nd Battalion later occupied the hospital area and liberated a total of 951 men. By the end of the day all of Stiring-Wendel had been taken; and units of the 12th Armored Division's Combat Command A moved in to assist in the mopping-up of small, scattered bits of German opposition that remained. Advance elements of the regiment, probing northward, ran into strong enemy defenses.

Similar reports were made by patrols of the 276th Infantry north of Forbach, and it was realized that the outpost of the Siegfried defenses had been reached. Until these fortifications were reduced, a continuation of the attack was not deemed advisable. On 7 March, therefore, it was decided to hold in position pending the results of intensive reconnaissance. Upon orders from XXI Corps the 70th Division reverted to the defensive after 19 days of attack, during which time the division had liberated 18 towns and had taken 2,034 prisoners.

To the northwest the Third Army had already begun its penetration of the Palatinate, increasing the threat to the enemy troops occupying the Siegfried Line in front of the XXI Corps. Daily patrols of the 70th Division and the 101st Cavalry Group on the west flank of the corps front searched for signs of a German withdrawal as a result of this threat. On the morning of 13 March patrols finally noticed a sharp decrease in enemy activity.

Immediately verbal orders were issued to pursue the enemy to the line of the Sarre River between Saarbruecken and Volklingen. The 276th and 274th Infantry Regiments began to advance late in the afternoon. Small enemy delaying forces were found entrenched at road- blocks, but they were quickly captured or routed. The pursuit was maintained through the night and into the following morning when the 101st Cavalry Group on the left joined in the drive. Mine fields, antitank ditches, roadblocks, and wire hindered but did not halt the advance. Resistance remained light, and only sporadic fire was met. By noon the 70th Division had cleared Stiring, Schoeneek, Krughutte, Clarenthal, Furstenhausen, and Petite Rosselle. The 101st Cavalry Group had captured Gieslautern, Wehrden, Hostenbach, and Schaffhausen. Both units were now inside Germany, and their patrols reached to the south bank of the Sarre River.

Just prior to the Seventh Army offensive of 15 March XXI, XV, and VI Corps held a line running from Schaffhausen and Hostenbach on the Sarre River almost directly southeast through Haguenau to Oberhoffen, where it joined the First French Army near the Rhine. The line had been drawn tight by the elimination of sags, and preparations had already been made with the Third Army to clear the enemy from Germany west of the Rhine in the Saar-Palatinate.

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