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Chapter 14
FIRST ASSAULT CROSSING OF THE RHINE.  22 MARCH 45-26 MARCH 45 
1.  Preliminary
Crossing the Rhine by assault had all along been considered a tremendous undertaking.  Says
Gen Eisenhower, in his report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff:
… "Whatever the opposition might be, the fact remained that in any case the crossing of the
Rhine, on the narrow frontages available, would be a tactical and engineering feat of the greatest
magnitude.  Use of airborne forces, air support, and amphibious equipment on the maximum scale
would be required if the successful passage of the main Allied armies was to be assured. … " to the
northward, what was supposed to be the primary Allied effort to breach the line of the River Rhine had
been in preparation for months.  The bulk of men, matériel and supplies had been lavished on this
northernmost assault, to be conducted under the over-all direction  of Field Marshall Bernard
Montgomery.  The operations in the zone of Gen Omar Bradley's 12th Army Group, of which XII Corps
was a part, were supposed to be strictly secondary and diversionary.  The High Command evidently
didn't expect them to get very far.  Certainly no one outside of 12th Army Group expected XII Corps to
steal the whole show for Third Army.  Yet that is exactly what happened.
And not only were a good many Allied personnel "both surprised and pleased" – the Krauts
were, too – "but more surprised than pleased."
"Because of the tactical surprise achieved" says a brief summary of its campaigns issued by
Third Army "the initial crossing deserves to be considered one of the most important tactical river
crossings during Third U.S. Army operations.  The ease with which the crossing was made and the rapid
expansion of the bridgehead came as  a surprise to the world.  The crossing was made even before all
territory west of the Rhine had been completely mopped up – and within two days large forces of XII
Corps were well east of the River."
The assault crossing of the Rhine by XII Corps divisions and corps troops, with the help of a few
Third Army units and even a little detachment from the Navy, had been in the general planning stages,
of course, since the previous summer.  But the time actually given the corps to stage the attack, in
comparison with the weeks which had been devoted directly to the problem in the north, was – three
days!
In one of the excellent interviews taken by Lt "Sam" Tobin of the Third Army History Team, Col
Clyde Dougherty has stated briefly how the situation arose for one of the XII Corps agencies that had
the most planning to do, namely, the engineers:
"The XII Corps Engineers began studying the Rhine River almost as soon as they arrived in
France.  At Nancy, after pushing across France, they began to concentrate on that section of the Rhine
between Worms  and Mainz.  All sources of information, air photos, geographical, geological, and
hydrographic data, were exploited to select a favorable crossing site.  It was determined that the area in
the vicinity of Oppenheim was the most favorable location for an assault crossing and bridge site.
"Plans and preparation for the crossing were interrupted by the Ardennes break-through and the
Corps moved north to Luxembourg.  After the German break-through had been repulsed, the Corps