XIV. The Harz Pocket

On April 6 elements of the Battalion began movement with their respective combat teams to positions in the First Infantry Division sector to cross the Weser River. Tanks supported the crossing by infantry and then crossed the river themselves over pontoon bridges. The Battalion pursued the fleeing enemy to the Harz Mountains where the Germans hoped to hold out indefinitely in well-prepared defensive positions.

From April 12 to April 21 companies of the Battalion supported their combat teams in attacks against these positions in the Harz Mountains. Company "D" was employed with Company "C" and the 26th Infantry Regiment until they had reached their objectives of Braunlage and Eland. Then, racing around to the other end of the division area, the light tanks assisted Company "B" and the 18th Infantry in the final big mop-up at Thale. There three corps commanders and an admiral were among the thousands of prisoners taken. The total for the Harz Pocket reached 34,000 prisoners.

Opposition in the Harz Mountain area was stiff at first but gradually lessened as the enemy's situation became more and more desperate. Due to the mountainous terrain movement of tanks usually was restricted to roads. Numerous roadblocks and felled trees slowed movement, and the defenders were numerous and well organized.

The Germans still had no intentions of folding, and just to make the point clear, a single German tank ambushed Lt. Wilbur Worthing's second platoon of Company "B" near Northeim and knocked out four of five tanks, causing three to burn.

As elements of the Battalion moved through Bad Grund, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Altenau, St. Andreasberg, Braunlage, Eland, Rubeland, and Thale, numerous German military hospitals containing thousands of wounded Germans were taken under Allied control. Also many American and Allied prisoners were released. The majority of these towns were winter resort centers and had been converted into military hospitals.

Lt. Frank Barnes' platoon of Company "C" accounted for five enemy armored vehicles in the vicinity of Altenau. Lt. Barnes, one of the newer officers in the Battalion, and still imbibed with the textbook theories to some extent, deliberately started to deploy his tanks. S. Sgt. Lavern Corwin popped up with the classic remark, "Hell, Lieutenant, this is no time for tactics. Let's start shooting."

Lt. John A. Viggiano's first platoon of Company "A" also had a field day on April 18th in the vicinity of Rubeland, where it captured 50 enemy vehicles at one spot and later caught an enemy column on the road destroying about 30 vehicles as well as assisting in taking more than a thousand prisoners. Lt. Ernest Moody and his second platoon of Company "A" did almost as well with 40 vehicles and 400 prisoners to their credit.

Company "B'', during the attack on Thale, established a road block with a tank equipped with a 76mm gun. During the dark night an enemy column rumbled toward it. The gunner waited until the leading vehicle of the closely

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