MARCH 7th 1945 US Forces Cross Rhine At Remagen

Remagen Bridge
First U.S. Army men and equipment pour across the Remagen Bridge; two knocked out jeeps in foreground
On March 7th, US troops reached the Rhine, and found one of the bridges across the Rhine, at Remagen, still standing. As American troops attempted to cross the bridge, the Germans set off a charge, but it failed to destroy the bridge, and soon the Americans were across the Rhine.

As the Allies moved across the Ruhr allied planes did their best to disrupt the Germans by bombing the bridges that crossed the Rhine River. By March 1st Allied troops were rapidly nearing the Rhine River trying to stop as many German troops from withdrawing across the River. By March 1st of the 22 road bridges and 25 railroad bridges across the river only four were still standing. The Americans did not expect to capture a bridge across the river but Allied soldiers were told to be ready just in case they did.

On March 7, 1945 Lt Col Leonard Engeman commanded a task force towards Remagen a small town on the Rhine River. In the early afternoon scouts from the small task force arrived at the hills above the village and were surprised to see the Lundendorff Bridge intact, with German troops streaming across trying to retreat. Engeman reported the situation to his commanders and was given orders to take the village and seize the bridge.

The American forces had no intelligence and were afraid that if they crossed the Rhine the bridge might be destroyed behind them and they would be stranded. The opportunity was too great and the American troops headed across the bridge. The German troops they engaged were ill trained and poorly equipped and the American troops were able to quickly seize most of the bridge. The German has placed explosive charges on the bridge but needed the written approval of a commanding officer before they could set them off, which delayed doing so.

At 3:50PM the last of the Germans were driven from the bridge. The Germans tried to blow up the bridge from a switch in the tunnel on the other side, but the line had been severed and nothing happened. A German soldier ran off and set of the charge manually, but after the blast went off and the smoke cleared the bridge was still standing.

American troops seized the bridge and managed to cut all the remaining lines to the charges. The American troops seized the East side of the bridge and began to establish a small bridgehead. News of the seizing of the bridge made its way quickly up the chain of command al the way to General Eisenhower, who ordered major reinforcements to Remagen and the bridgehead. By the next day three division had crossed the bridge.

The Germans made every effort to destroy the bridge including 300 air assaults. The American forces brought their largest assembly of anti aircraft guns of the war to defend the bridge. The Germans even fired 7 V-2 missiles at the bridge-all missed. An attempted German counter attack on the ground was also unsuccessful. Before long it was too late the Allies had crossed the Rhine and the end of the war was near. It is estimated that the successful seizing of the bridge at Remagen shortened the war by two weeks.