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moved east to the Rhine and in turn south across the Moselle.  It became apparent then that a crossing of
the Rhine would be made at an undetermined point.  The 4th Armored Division was pushing down
through the Palantinate Triangle and the decision remained with Army to decide on where the crossing
would be made.
"On 19 March, orders from Army gave the Corps the mission of crossing the Rhine within 3
days.  The sector allotted to them by Army was that between Oppenheim and Mainz.  This gave Corps
the opportunity of capitalizing on its previous study of the Rhine in that area.  Oppenheim was chosen as
the place the 5th Division would cross.  The road net was very favorable.  A main road to Frankfurt runs
through Oppenheim.  The terrain is favorable, the high ground is on the west side of the river and the
ground on the east side is generally flat.  The only drawback is that in wet weather the ground on the
east side of the river becomes somewhat boggy.  The  stream is relatively narrow (800-1000 feet) and
the current fairly slow even though the Rhine is more constricted at Oppenheim and Nierstein than at 
many other places.  The depth of the river is approximately 10 to 20 feet which is favorable for the
building of a permanent bridge.  On the Oppenheim side, the banks are built up in several approaches for
ferry sites are paved with stone.  The banks on both sides are firm and Sandy which is an aid to crossing
amphibious vehicles.  Another site considered favorable by the Corps is located about 5 miles upstream,
however, as this was in the XV Corps sector, Army denied the XII Corps its use."
Once the decision had been reached, however, enormous activity began, from XII Corps
headquarters far back into Third Army zone, and even into "Com Z," the communications zone; and,
equally, forward into the divisional and regimental areas.  Third Army Engineers' study of the operation,
crossing of the Rhine River, gives a glimpse of the complicated maneuvers that started to roll to the
rearward of the Corps zone:
"One of the greatest fleets of trucks ever assembled for an operation was sent to the dumps at
Toul, Esch and Arlon where they were loaded on carefully arranged priorities with assault boats, storm
boats, outboard motors, life preservers and bridging equipment.  However, even then the task of getting
equipment to the river was far from solved, for the enemy held the direct routes through the Saar to the
Rhine until 20 March, so that the first convoys had to pass on a 'great circle' route along the north bank
of the Moselle to get to the advanced dump  at Alzey.  While the subsequent routes were shorter, they
nevertheless required a 300-mile round-trip from the rear depots to the forward depot  at Alzey through
a hitherto forbidden area over roads that had to be cleared and streams bridged as they came.  The
hauling was further complicated by the delays occasioned by the heavy combat traffic moving over
these roads at the same time.  To assist in expediting the movement of the stream crossing equipment,
liaison planes were employed to traverse  the highways to report the location of stranded or wandering
convoys so that patrols in vehicles could be sent out to guide them in.
"Despite these difficulties, by the time troops were ready to make the crossing, sufficient
equipment was on hand to adequately back the operation, particularly in as much as though both XII and
XX Corps were scheduled initially to make the crossing, only XII Corps was finally committed to the
task.  The crossing by XII Corps was one of superior merit and it could well serve as a model for future
crossings. …"
Lights burned in the corps headquarters all night behind the blackout curtains as each staff
section prepared to handle its part of the extraordinary operation.  No section was busier than the
engineers, but most others had some special arrangements to make for the crossing.  For example, the
officers and men of the Signal Section and operating units were faced with peculiar problems.  Col
Scanlon of the 93rd Signal Battalion contributes a picture of the solution of the major one of these: