SECOND UNITED STATES CAVALRY – A HISTORY
Compiled, edited and published by Historical Section, Second Cavalry Association
Maj. A. L. Lambert and Cpt. G. B. Layton, 2d Cavalry
18 – 20 March, 1945
Bingen (map V)(map 37) was defended by the 1st Company of the 12th Landes Schuetzen Battalion, together with some elements of the 3rd and 4th Companies. The 1st Company alone had a strength of 412 men. The men had all been drafted about three weeks before and lacked any military training whatsoever. Their equipment was rifles and one rusty light machine gun for the whole bunch. The men were all over 40 years old and fed up.
Five days before, the Battalion commander had the mission to march his Battalion towards Mainz (map V)(map VI)(map 37) and across the Rhine. But, highhandedly, he decided to defend the town. Great was, therefore, the astonishment of the CO of the 1st Company when around midnight of 18 March, a sentry reported to him that the Battalion CO had crossed the Rhine in a boat without further comments. This put the CO of 1st Company in charge. He requested further orders and was told that ferry boats would take him and his men across the Rhine after dark on 19 March.
During the morning of this same day his troubles began. All of a sudden he saw a big white flag being hoisted above his headquarters. When investigating, his guards caught a civilian in this act. He was court-martialed and condemned to death, but the local mayor and the police, with some citizens armed with makeshift weapons, forced him to release the man. Shortly afterwards the officer went on inspection, and discovered the citizens at the entrance of Bingen tearing down the roadblocks. On the streets, he encountered some “civilians” who had discharged themselves from his Company. This was discouraging. Eventually it became time to assemble at the pier and wait for the boats to get them across the Rhine. They waited from 2000 to 0200, but no gallant navy came to their rescue. In the meantime, our Troops had penetrated his “defenses” and the men started to surrender. The officer decided that it was time he gave up. Some 600 followed him.
After clearing Bingen in the morning, the 42d Squadron extended along the Rhine to Frei Weinheim (map 37), with A Troop attacking to clear Gaulsheim (map 37), Spotkenheim and Frei Weinheim (map 37), taking 101 more prisoners. Troop E, firing in support of A, knocked out a locomotive at Mittelheim (map 37) north of the Rhine, and placed highly effective fire on an enemy troop concentration at the railroad station in Rudesheim (map 37), causing an estimated 40 casualties.
The Rhineland Campaign ended on this high note of a very successful attack by the Second Cavalry. Though we were not yet across the Rhine, we were poised and ready, as we officially entered into the campaign of CENTRAL EUROPE.