By 27 January the entire Third U. S. Army front had been stabilized along "SKYLINE DRIVE" facing the SIEGFRIED LINE fortifications.  With the 6th Armored Division covering a 12 mile front from LIELER along the Drive to UBER EISENBACH, the troops were kept extremely busy, aggressively patrolling in the belt of land lying between the SKYLINE DRIVE and the OUR River.

The Division mission was to patrol to and across the OUR River, prevent enemy infiltration across the OUR, prepare plans to cross the river, and be prepared to attack northeast or east to the KYLL River.

III Corps believed that the bulk of  enemy strategic reserves east of the OUR had been withdrawn and also that local forces had been drawn to the north by the VIII Corps attack.  It appeared that the SIEGFRIED LINE was inadequately manned on the Corps front. Oral instructions were received from the III Corps Commander to make a reconnaissance in force across the OUR River during the night 6 7 February, and if a bridgehead could be maintained, establish one for future operations to the east.

Four bridgesites for the OUR crossing had been chosen by infantry engineer reconnaissance parties.


With the thaw having swollen the OUR River to several times its normal width, and the flow of the river at 15 miles per hour, a crossing was very difficult.  Repeated attempts to launch boats failed.  By 0845A 7 February, the first boatload of the northern force landed on the east shore, and by 1000A a company had crossed.  Despite the fact that many boats were swept downstream by the swift current, the whole operation had remained a secret from the enemy, because of the dense fog present over the body of water.

In an exceptionally well conducted operation, the difficult stream was crossed at two places, above and below the KALBORN-DAHNEN road by two reinforced companies, followed by other companies prepared to cross and,exploit any ground gained.  During the day 18 assault teams consisting- of engineers equipped with flame throwers to reduce pillboxes were formed.

Footbridges were constructed in the north and the battalion that had crossed moved to the south and east to secure the east bank of the Bailey bridge site, which was to go in at the approach leading east from KALBORN.  Fanning out, the foot-troops enlarged the bridgehead to a depth of one mile on a two mile front.  On the 8th of February the Division continued to expand and consolidate its bridgehead on the east side of the OUR against increasing resistance.  Rising waters hampered bridging operations, as the river had increased 15 feet in width during the last 24 hours, but three foot bridges, two pontoon, and one suspension bridge had been established.  The suspension bridge was short-lived, however, for enemy mortar fire knocked it out shortly after it had been placed in operation.  Work was under way on the Bailey bridge.

Rotation of the tiring troops on the east shore of the OUR River was made 10 February, when Combat Command B sent a force into the bridgehead relieving Reserve Command's men.  On 11 February the Division passed to control of VIII Corps and completed relieving the 17th Airborne Division in its zone, taking over the small bridgehead the Airborne Division had effected 1200 yards north of DASBURG.


Preceded by a twenty minute artillery preparation, the 6th Armored Division assaulted the SIEGFRIED LINE on 20 February.  Following the first twenty minute artillery fire which covered the entire front, the fire was lifted for ten minutes to allow the enemy to come out of their pillboxes and man their outside defenses to meet a probable attack.  Then for one minute all of the artillery concentrated on the small area of the first objective with a terrific TOT which was the signal for the assault parties to attack.  The first pillbox fell by 0830, and by noon 17 pillboxes had fallen to Combat Command B's attacking force.

Assaulting troops found their greatest obstacles to be mines, wire and booby traps and the physical difficulty of breaking into pillboxes.  Enemy fire was comparatively light.


The most tenacious of all the pillboxes of the SIEGFRIED LINE in the Division front was pillbox number nine, so marked on company maps.  The fortress held out all day and night against all the tricks in the bag, including direct fire by a tank destroyer from a few yards, without a sign of surrender.  Finally, engineers placed 450 pounds of TNT against the steel door at the rear of the pillbox.  After a terrific explosion, one German officer and 11 enlisted men were dragged out in a stunned condition.

The command continued its advance, fanning to the left and right cleaning out the rest of the fortifications from DAHNEN to the northern boundary of the Division's zone.  The defense put up by the Germans was of low caliber.  Enemy fire, both artillery and mortar, as well as small arms, was comparatively light.

Initial gains against the SIEGFRIED LINE were approximately two miles in depth and two miles in width.  A total of 40 pillboxes was taken with a loss of only two of our troops killed.  In the early morning of 21 February, Combat Command B' s tank-riding infantry raced to the south and east through meager defenses to capture four German towns: DAHNEN, DALEIDEN, DASBURG and REIPEINGEN.  By nightfall the northern flank had been secured with a force waiting to link up with the 11th Armored Division, which was attacking to the Division's north.

Combat Command A came into play the following day, when combat engineers mounted on armor quickly dashed south on the road leading from DASBURG to capture PREISCHEID and AFFLER, bypassing the pillboxes facing the OUR River.  This force rode into UBER EISENBACH late that afternoon, tying in with the southern elements of the command.  A line of engineers and tanks was now strung to the rear of the SIEGFRIED fortifications cutting off any possible enemy withdrawal.

In the northern zone the attack continued. An effort was made to delay the armored force. The enemy sent some tanks against the attack in the hills south of the DASBURG-DALEIDEN road on 23 February.  Dismounting, the foot troops made short work of the counterattack by destroying two German Mark IV tanks and driving the others off.  Operations by dark showed the Division had successfully secured a line from IRRHAUSEN on the north boundary southwest to PREISCHEID and south to the junction of the OUR and IRSEN Rivers.  At dawn the next morning a special mounted task force was released by Combat Command B to drive southeast across the 6th Cavalry front which was on the Division's southern flank, and cut off the fleeing enemy's escape route.  Added to their mission, this mounted force was to contact the northern flank of the XII Corps and capture NEUERBERG.  By 1330A 24 February, the task force radioed Combat Command B telling the command the mission was accomplished and that it was withdrawing to the division zone.



After 72 hours of continuous attack and mopping-up exercises, the 6th Armored Division had penetrated into and beyond the SIEGFRIED LINE for 10,000 meters, on a 12,000 meter front, capturing 32 towns and 253 pillboxes, took 1033 prisoners, and inflicted heavy personnel and materiel losses upon the enemy. The entire operation followed almost exactly the previously made plans.

After relieving the 90th Infantry Division west of the PRUM River, the Division resumed the attack to the east on 25th February.  Under darkness, elemental of Combat Command A forced the PRUM River on 27 February in the vicinity of HEILHAUSEN to seize the high ground to the southeast against light enemy resistance.  In the early morning of the same day, a force from Combat Command B breached the river and held positions to the north.

The bridgeheads were enlarged on the 28th February, with the capturing of DACKSCHEID, EILSCHEID, MERLSCHEID, LIERFELDI and LUNEBACH.

A coordinated attack was launched 2 March to secure a bridgehead across the NIMS River ancl continue east.  Combat Command B on the left with three forces, and Combat Command A on the  Division right flank advanced steadily meeting little opposition.  By 3 March, three bridges spanning  the NIMS were taken intact and by late afternoon positions on the high ground east of the river were secured and outposted.

Elements of the 90th Infantry Division began relieving the forward troops of the 6th Armored by night-fall of the 3rd of March, and within 24 hours the entire division was out of contact with the enemy -- the first time since its commitment on the CHERBOURG PENINSULA, 221 consecutive fighting days.  From COUTANCES to AVRANCHES (spearheading the breakthrough) and the 230-mile race alone to BREST; at LORIENT; from the NANCY bridgehead to the SIEGFRIED defenses of SAAR BRUCKEN; and from BASTOGNE through the SIEGFRIED LINE to SCHONECKEN on the NIMS River, the 6th Armored had continuously faced the enemy.


For four days the Division remained in SHAEF reserve, continuing its vehicular maintenance and rehabilitation program.  Assignment to the Seventh U. S. Army came 8 March, and a secret move, was ordered to the vicinity of VIC-SUR-SEILLE, FRANCE.  At the time of the move, shoulder patches and vehicular markings were removed, and a new mission was planned for the 6th Armored Division in the SAAR River area.

 Ardennes  Campaign 
Table of Contents 
Germany Campaign 

Return to 6th Armored home page.   

NOTE: Remove question mark from email address below when sending email.

Page maintained by Bruce Frederick
Last update:
May 16, 1998 Invisible gif