In the execution of these plans, General Eisenhower's report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff
sums up the operations dealt with in this chapter, "we were again greatly aided by the results of the dash
and daring with which the operations west of the Rhine had been carried out... on the night of 22-23
March, as our main, carefully prepared crossing in the north was poised for its massive blow, the 5th
Division of the XII Corps crossed the Rhine. The bridgehead grew swiftly, and by evening of 24
March it was 9 miles long and 6 miles deep, while 19,000 prisoners were taken in 24 hours. The
remainder of XII Corps crossed the river, seized Darmstadt on the 25th, and swept on to capture intact
the Main bridges at Aschaffenburg. Thus the Rhine barrier, the greatest natural obstacle with which
the Allied armies had been faced since the landings in France, had been breached. "
General Marshall, in his Biennial Report for 1943-45, summarizes it even more compactly but no
less to the satisfaction of a XII Corps historian:
"While pocketed German forces in the Saar were still in process of being mopped up... infantry
of the Corps under Major General Manton S. Eddy, achieved a brilliant surprise by crossing the Rhine at
Oppenheim South of Mainz late on 22 March with decidedly sketchy and improvised means. In two
days this bridgehead was expanded to a width of 15 miles, and on the third day the 4th Armored
Division broke through the enemy lines to a depth of 27 miles, seizing an undamaged bridge over the
Main River. "
These outstanding operations were the climax and pay off to long years of training and long
months of combat which had been used by the three units specifically cited above by General Marshall
and General Eisenhower to full advantage to perfect themselves in a difficult and dangerous part of war.
A natural consequence of their resulting effectiveness in battle, both as team-mates and individually,
was that all three mentioned in the foregoing quotations from The Chief of Staff and a Supreme
Commander, AEF, were awarded, or recommended for the award of, the Distinguished Unit
The award of this coveted decoration actually went through for the entire 4th Armored Division,
and 15 attached units, and was published in the WDGO Mo 54, 12 July 45. The period covered in the
citation was from the Battle of the Bulge through the crossing of the Rhine and Main Rivers (22
December 44-27 March 45).
Recommendation by the same award to the 5th Infantry division was initiated by Headquarters
XII Corps in September 1945. At first rejected by SHAEF, it was resubmitted in September, 1946, upon
announcement of a modification of War Department policy at the time this volume was in preparation.
The period covered was almost the same as that for the 4th Armored Division (21 December 44-24
March 45), and was particularly intended to include the division's superb assault crossings of the Sauer
and Rhine rivers.
General Hobart ("Hap") Gay, former Chief of Staff of Third Army recommended XII Corps for
the Distinguished Unit Badge (Citation) in a letter to Headquarters USFET, in August, 1946. This was
construed by higher authority to mean the Corps headquarters only, and further construed to include the
following "organic" compliments: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, XII Corps; Headquarters
and Headquarters Battery, XII Corps Artillery; 93rd Signal Battalion; 673rd Engineer Topo Company;
820th Military Police Company; and 286th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. The period designated
is, again, the same in part as for the two great divisions above which were among those in the Corps
during those notable days (7 February 45-31 March 45). The citation was designed to highlight, in the