Up in the North, the American First and Ninth Armies, capitalized on a fateful German blunder at Remagen, and crossed the Rhine River on March 7th. In march the American Third and Seventh Armies opened an offensive to destroy all German forces west of the Rhine in the Saar-Palatinate.

The 36th Division, the right flank Division of the Seventh Army, was given the jobs of breaking the enemy's Moder River defenseline to allow the 14th Armored Division to roll through; then to breach the Siegfried Line to seize Bergzabern and flank that portion of the Siegfreid Line facing the French Forces on the right.

The German Moder River Line had been in preparation since February. It was placed in the maze of a network of three Rivers—the Moder, the Zintel and the Sauer—all had to be crossed and bridged before the 14th Armored could break through. The only route lay through the deep Haguenau Forest, and aerial reconnaissance showed it filled with abatis.

The job of sparking the main effort of the Division was given to the 143d Infantry. The Regiment was to attack on the left of the Forest, in the open ground to the west of the Forest. So, in the early morning of the 15th of March, the 3d Battalion led off, with Company K in the lead. Attacking over exposed terrain, without artillery preparations in order to gain surprise. Company K captured Bitschoffen and opened the road early that morning. Repulsed three times by the Germans, Company K repeatedly attacked through antipersonnel minefields and captured the town in spite of having lost one-third of their personnel due to enemy action. Company K received a Presidential Unit Citation for this action. The Division Commander, Major General John E Dahlquist, in presenting the award later, said, "I know of no action in the war by any unit which so deserved a citation."

In the meanwhile, the First Battalion was earning herself a Presidential Unit Citation by fighting from house-to-house through Mietesheim and Hunstett to reach the Sauer River. The Second Battalion cleared the west edge of the Haguenau Forest and the way eras cleared for the 14th Armored Division to roll through.

And so it was that on March 19th, the 143d Infantry crossed into Germany and were face to face with the Germans who were in the formidable Siegfried Line.

The punch through the Siegfried Line was started March 15th. Since the Regiment was fartherest from the Siegfried Line, siege guns were not allocated to them by higher headquarters. Little success was expected from this attack by Army since other troops of the Seventh Army had earlier bogged down in this same approach. The 141st and 142d Infantry was initially in the assault, but the attack bogged down by March 21st, due to alert and well-positioned enemy pill boxes, dragons-teeth, bunkers, ate.

Passing through the 142d Infantry, the 143d's First Battalion carried the offense to the enemy and attached from Dorrenbach towards Bergzabern. Pushing on in the deep woods during the night and meeting continued opposition, the battalion at daylight found itself 1,500 yards south of Dorrenbach, 180 degrees off-course. They had been fighting the Germans main line from the rear! Joined by the 2d Battalion after daylight, the two battalions cut the Bollenborn-Bergzabern road and the 1st Battalion captured Bergzabern that night.

With the opening of the flood-gate, the 143d Infantry took the lead and by leap-frogging the battalions, the Regiment began overrunning the retreating Germans. The specially-organized task force of the Regiment, composed of the Cannon and antitank Companies, known as the 4th Battalion, sped through Winden, and the Regiment bottled up over 700 prisoners and the major elements of a reconnaissance squadron when the Germans chose to stop and fight the Regiment at Neupfotz. Before dawn on March 24th, the 143d Infantry had seized Leimersheim on the Rhine, and the ferry sites which were its objective.

The Regiment was at last now drawn up along the Rhine. The clearing of the marshy, woodland on the Rhine River bank took another two days. The battle at the Siegfried was the last great battle the 143d Infantry would have to face.


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