The balance of the week was used for regular small boat training for the Navy.
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This training program went on for six weeks and was stopped only because of the November offensive that the 1st Army was going ahead with. It was thought at this time that our boats would be used on the Roer River because of the flooding by the two dams upstream,.
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The unit was then moved up to Aachen, Germany and six of the boats were returned to Andenne to continue this training program. The unit remained in Aachen until the Ardennes breakthrough and General Collins of the 7th Corps released our unit to be taken back miles out of the danger area. The personnel and craft had to be moved hurriedly and were taken to Waremme, Belgium.
The six boats crews under Lieutenant E[l]by, the Executive Officer at Andenne were at this time in a very dangerous position. There were no vehicles to move the craft or personnel until December 26th. The position was very dangerous because the enemy had reached a point 11 miles from Andenne and without any means of evacuating Lieutenant E[l]by decided to take the personnel across the river and destroy the boats so that they would not fall into the hands of the enemy if they did reach the Meuse river.
The period of waiting for orders from the Army to move up was spent in one training program after another. This training, however did pay off on D-day. This unit moved up to the Rhine, that is 16 of. We were placed under the 3rd Corps. This bridge was 1, feet long, and was under continuous observed artillery fire, and was located two miles upstream of the Ludendorf Bridge.
Three of our craft were used to hold the bridge in place because the standard anchors used by the engineer battalions and companies of the Army were not heavy enough to hold itself against the current. The current at this particular point was exceptionally strong.
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It was on a bend of the river approaching the eastern shore that the current increased. As we approached downstream the craft were used in the construction of six more bridges by the Army. Correction, I should have said as the beachhead was extended on the far shore downstream, we assisted the engineers in putting in six more bridges. Our boys were under considerable fire at that time and in a very dangerous position while in their boats since the ack ack [anti-aircraft gun] was lined up bumper to bumper for three and one-half miles on both sides of the river and when a jerry plane dove for the bridge, found that the ack, ack, people would be shooting at each other across the river.
Several people were lost for this reason. However, one of our crews was successful in shooting down an enemy ME [Messerschmitt-a type of German plane] with the new 50 caliber machine guns that were installed in the craft. The enemy sent over quite a few of the new jet propelled s as well as the s.
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We were covered for almost the entire period of action by U. One particular instance a shot down two ps and a p shot him down and all three pilots were in the air at the same time, parachuting to the ground. The 1st Army was determined to hold these bridges at any cost and assembled the greatest concentration of ack, ack, that this war has ever seen. One day, it is reported that they shot down planes out.
Besides the assistance given to the engineers and the construction of their bridges the craft were used to evacuate casualties and to carry personnel across. We took the personnel of the 1st and the 2nd, and the 69th Divisions across the river. It is interesting to note at this time that some of the crews, boat crews, of this unit had taken members of the 1st Division in at Normandy. The 69th Division was taken in at the south end of the bridgehead within a mile of the front line.
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This practice was established to keep the, or to get the infantrymen as close to their fighting positions as possible, which also put us under artillery fire and at times under small arms fire. To continue the narrative of Lieutenant Wenker, I would like to add a few interesting comments on the operation. At the upstream end of the bridgehead our unit ran a patrol during the day and also at night.
On the night patrol we had one boat. These depth charges were to combat swimmers who attempted to come downstream and make reconnaissance and try to destroy the bridges which had been built by the 1st Army. Double Points! More information. NEW Stay Flexi. Choose the Best Price. Discover more. Stay With Us Brussels. Discover our offer. Our news. Covid measures in France.
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