Peragimus, "We Accomplish"
This Time On Ice
Another river crossing was at hand as the Regiment took over from the armor in the vicinity of Troisvierges, and pushed the enemy off the high ground along the west bank of the Our River. River crossings were forced on the 29th of January near Stupbach with the Second Battalion crossing first on the ice, and the remainder of the Regiment following to secure a bridgehead. The push continued over the most rugged terrain the Regiment had ever encountered, until a firm bridgehead was established just short of the Siegfried Line. Meanwhile, heavy rains continued to pour down for several days; "Ol' Man Weather" played havoc with supply lines, and roads became impassable with melting snow and mud.
Jerry Times a Blow
A few days later the Regiment was pulled out of this position for a crack at the Siegfried Line in another spot near Habscheid, Germany. Simultaneously with the relief of a Battalion of the Fourth Division by the First Battalion, Jerry timed a vicious counterattack to recapture Habscheid, but the two Battalions beat him off with severe losses.
Tanks and artillery helped - but GI guts and fighting skill cracked the Siegfried Line. A soldier's best home was in a pillbox in those days; otherwise he stayed out in the mud - so no time was lost in routing the Germans out of them and into the cold. Until the 22nd of February the battle of the Siegfried Line was a pillbox to pillbox job. Then, suddenly, came the chance for the final push that made history and opened the way for allied armor.
Driving on through Habscheid, the Regiment pushed up to the Prum River on its north flank. Here it was relieved by elements of the Fourth Division and a new drive toward the river was begun to the south. The First Battalion attacked from the town of Binscheid and later seized the town of Holchen, while the Third Battalion, in a bold stroke, struck for Arzfeld, and continued a lightning fast, wide-flanking, maneuver that paced the Division. All units acted with such speed the enemy had no time to reorganize. The enemy line was broken and he ran around in confusion, while the outfit again pushed up to the Prum River. On the 25th of February the Division was relieved and assembled in the same general area as SHAEF Reserve.
Race to the Rhine
This brief respite did not last long for on the 6th of March, the Regiment attacked across the Kyll River and captured Gerolstein and Pelm, creating a bridgehead over the river for the Eleventh Armored Division and the race to the Rhine was on. For five days the battalions followed the armor mopping up bypassed groups of enemy until on the 15th of March the Moselle River once again obstructed its advance. The Moselle was breached in the vicinity of Hatzenport and a bridgehead was secured, this time for the Fourth Armored Division. In the expansion of the bridgehead, hard fighting was encountered when fanatical mountain SS troops resisted before the Rhine.
On the 18th of March, the Regiment reached the Rhine River. The First and Third Battalions swept up along the Nahe River to its juncture with the Rhine, while the Second Battalion cleaned up the woods east of Rheinbollen to the bank of the river. Once reaching the Rhine, the advance did not stop, for they attacked across the Nahe River and on the following day they pushed forward through the bomb-torn city to the river.
The Rhine Crossed
The 90th Division crossed the Rhine River over an engineer pontoon bridge on a crossing secured by the Fifth Division; together they secured a bridgehead for the Fourth Armored Division. The Luftwaffe visited the units frequently during these days in a frantic effort to annihilate the Rhine bridgehead, but there was no stopping now, and the advance continued to the Main River. Early on the 28th of March, the Regiment once again took to assault boats, and forced a crossing of the Main River. Only scattered resistance was encountered as the race continued across Germany, through Stockheim, Schlitz, Vacha and Merkers to Bad Salzungen, which was captured on the 3rd of April, 1945. When the Third Battalion seized the town of Merkers and the salt mine there, it captured a fortune in the form of the Reich gold reserve and a storehouse of priceless art treasures, stolen by the Nazis from occupied countries.
Misguided Arm Band Soldiers
The extremely rugged wooded terrain of the Thuringenwald Forest provided a new obstacle as the Unit raced to the Czechoslovakian border, Volkstrum, misguided armband soldiers, put up road blocks that succeeded in slowing down the advance. However, these very people could be seen an hour later clearing the road for American vehicles. On the 15th of April, the Regiment seized Hof, a large city near the Czech border that was stubbornly defended by SS Troopers and the remaining Wehrmacht. However, here the advance was halted temporarily, because of an international restraining line that prevented chasing the enemy to the east.
First Into Czechoslovakia
The news spread like fire, when, on the 18th of April the 358th Infantry was the first to enter Czechoslovakia, with the Second and Third Battalions and the Regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon sending patrols across the border. These elements were the first of the Western Allies to cross Germany completely from border to border. At Flossenberg, on the 23rd of April, the Regiment liberated a large concentration camp with a capacity of eight thousand inmates, and rescued over a thousand starving Poles, Russians and French in the disease-infested prison.
Meets the "Ruskie"
In succeeding days, the Regiment crossed the Czech border and continued the advance into Czechoslovakia toward Susice. Meanwhile, great events had taken shape. Berlin had fallen to the Russians, American troops had joined hands with the "Ruskie" in several places, and Allied troops in Southern Germany had swooped through the Brenner Pass and made contact with Allied Forces in Italy. German resistance had been smashed to bits - the end was bound to come soon.
The End At Last
At noon on the 8th of May, the battalions were ordered to stop in place and cease offensive action. The war ended with the Regiment well into Czechoslovakia and within a stone's throw of the Russian Armies. The unit contacted the Russians within the next few days, and was immediately hurled into the gigantic task of corralling the wandering soldiers of a broken and defeated German Army.
So ends this tale of a battle-tested, hard fighting outfit. Through five foreign countries; France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia, the 358th Infantry carried the motto "Peragimus" - symbol of accomplishment. And so, rightly enough, the story is dedicated to the fighting men of a fighting outfit, and especially to those who laid down their lives, or today bear the pain of an old battle wound in order that the job might be accomplished.
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