Army crosses the Rhine

On 22 March, with a bright moon lighting the late-night sky, elements of the U.S. XII Corps? 5th Infantry Division began the 3rd Army's Rhine crossing. At Nierstein assault troops met no resistance. As the first boats reached the east bank, seven startled Germans surrendered and then paddled themselves unescorted to the west bank to be placed in custody. Upstream at Oppenheim, however, the effort did not proceed so casually. The first wave of boats was halfway across when the Germans began pouring machine-gun fire into their midst. An intense exchange of fire lasted for about thirty minutes as assault boats kept pushing across the river and those men who had already made it across mounted attacks against the scattered defensive strongpoints. Finally the Germans surrendered, and by midnight units moved out laterally to consolidate the crossing sites and to attack the first villages beyond the river. German resistance everywhere was sporadic, and the hastily mounted counterattacks invariably burned out quickly, causing few casualties. The Germans lacked both the manpower and the heavy equipment to make a more determined defense.[14] By midafternoon on 23 March, all three regiments of the 5th Infantry Division were in the bridgehead, and an attached regiment from the 90th Infantry Division was crossing. Tanks and tank destroyers had been ferried across all morning, and by evening a treadway bridge was open to traffic. By midnight, infantry units had pushed the boundary of the bridgehead more than 5 mi (8.0 km) inland, e suring the unqualified success of the first modern assault crossing of the Rhine.[15] Two more 3rd Army crossings—both by the VIII Corps—quickly followed. In the early morning hours of 25 March, elements of the 87th Infantry Division crossed the Rhine to the north at Boppard, and then some 24 hours later elements of the 89th Infantry Division crossed 8 mi (13 km) south of Boppard at St. Goar. Although the defense of these sites was somewhat more determined than that the XII Corps had faced, the difficulties of the Boppard and St. Goar crossings were compounded more by terrain than by German resistance. The VIII Corps crossing sites were located along the Rhine Gorge, where the river had carved a deep chasm between two mountain ranges, creating precipitous canyon walls over 300 ft (91 m) high on both sides. In addition, the river flowed quickly and with unpredictable currents along this part of its course. Still, despite the terrain and German machine-gun and 20 mm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft cannon fire, VIII Corps troops managed to gain control of the east bank's heights, and by dark on 26 March, with German resistance crumbling all along the Rhine, they were preparing to continue the drive the next morning. The 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)—nicknamed the Red Diamond,[1] the Red Devils, or die Roten Teufel—was an infantry division of the United States Army that served in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, and with NATO and the U.S. Army III Corps. Its final inactivation occurred on 24 November 1992.[2]