General George S Patton
R E L A T E D
B I O S
George S Patton
James M Gavin
Matthew B Ridgway
Gen Omar N. Bradley
R E L A T E D
S I T E S
USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II
The Drop Zone
R E L A T E D
R E S O U R C E S
Airborne (CMH) Center for Military History
R E L A T E D
A R T I C L E S
The Edge of War
The History Place:
Crossing the Rhine
Airborne during World War II
Campaigns - Central Europe
Eclipse was an audacious plan for a parachute assault by more than two airborne divisions in an effort
to capture Berlin ahead of the Russians. The plan called for the 82nd to seize the airfields at
Tempelhof and Rangdor while the 101st would capture two others. The plan was the brainchild of Lewis
Brereton's First Allied Army Airborne staff. Winston Churchill and Field Marshall Montogomery were
avid supporters of the plan while General Eisenhower didn't see it's "military" significance.
Irregardless, the 82nd conducted dress rehearsals.
Meanwhile, an totally unexpected event occurred on March 7th. In a stunning move the 9th
Armored Division seized the railroad bridge over the Rhine at Remagen. Then on March 22nd General
George Patton in a similar audacious action propelled the 5th Infantry Division over the Rhine near
Mainz. Consequently, Operation Eclipse was scrubbed.
On March 30, 1945, the 82nd already regrouped in Sissone, France in preparation for the
cancelled operation, received orders to to move to the area of Bonn, Germany and the Rhine River.
Colonel Tucker and an advance detail of the 504th PIR left Laon, France and traveled by
jeep 270 miles to Cologne (Koln), Germany. Three days later the Regiment arrived, mostly in "40 and 8s,"
and immediately took up positions along the West Bank of the Rhine River. 504th patrols crossed nightly
in small boats, engaging in brisk fire-fights almost every patrol. The enemy made a few attempts to
cross to the Regimentís side of the river, but all efforts were turned back.
On 6 April, A Company of the 504th PIR crossed the Rhine at 0230 hours and immediately
made contact with the enemy. Under heavy fire and in a minefield, the first wave of 504th troopers was
split into two elements, each of which fought its way independently to the predesignated objective.
There they rejoined forces, knocked out several machine gun nests, and established a roadblock.
Using similar tactics, succeeding waves infiltrated the enemy and set up a defense in the village of
Hitsdorf. For a short time, all was calm.
Then came the enemy counterattacks. The first was broken less than fifty yards from the
perimeter, and the second was preceded by heavy artillery preparation. As enemy tanks and infantry closed in,
the outnumbered and outgunned A Company fought its way back to the beach. The Regiment sent I Company across
to support the withdrawal. The 504th had lost only nine men to the enemyís 150, but whether the two companies
achieved the higher aim of diverting enemy forces from a more important sector upstream is unknown. For the men
involved, it was a small-scale "Dunkirk" with a hollow satisfaction achieved.
A week later the 505th received the surrender of the towns of Lulsdorf,
Langel, Zundorf and Niederkassel. The 82nd remained in the Cologne area until the end of April.
On April 30th the 505th crossed the Elbe River at Bleckede in an assault using the same
type of craft that reminded many of the Waal crossing 7 month previous. The 504th followed them on
the next day and the 325th on May 2nd. That same day General Gavin received the surrender of the
German 21st Army commanded by General Von Tippelskirch at Ludwigslust, Germany.
The war officially ended in Europe on 5 May 1945. The 504th returned briefly to Nancy,
France until the 82nd Airborne Division, the British Eleventh Armored Division and the Russian 5th Cossack
Division were called upon to serve as the occupation forces in Berlin. Here the 82nd Airborne Division
earned the name, "Americaís Guard of Honor," as a fitting end to hostilities in
which the 82nd had chased the German Army some 14,000 miles across the European Theater.
Central Europe - Multimedia
A BBC Broadcast of the Americans Crossing the Rhine.
Hear a BBC Broadcast of the announcement of Victory in Europe.
Hear the 82nd Airborne choir sing the All-American Song.
R E L A T E D B O O K S
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American
Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Burriss, T Moffatt
Strike and Hold: A Memoir of the 82nd Airborne in WW II Brasseys, Inc, 256 pp August,2000 ISBN: 1574882589
Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
Devlin, Gerard S
Paratrooper! St Martin's Press, (P) c1976 ISBN: 0312596529
Gavin, James M.
On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Irwin, Will (Lt. Col [RET.])
The Jedburghs: The Secret History of the Allied Special Forces, France 1944 Sept 6, 2005, PublicAffairs Pub, 323 p. ISBN: 1586483072
Keegan, John The Second World War Penguin
(P), 708 p. ISBN: 014011341X
Kershaw, Alex The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon
Da Capo Press, 288 pp November 30, 2004 ISBN: 0306813041
Nigl, Dr Alfred J & Charles A Nigl
Silent Wings - Savage Death Santa Ana, CA: Graphic Publishing, Dec 3,2007. 288 p. ISBN: 1882824318
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor
Free Press, 2001, 384 p. ISBN: 0684873842
The Last Battle 571 pp ISBN: 0684803291
82nd Airborne Division in
Colour Photographs (Europa Militaria, No 9) ISBN: 187 200 4857
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd
Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007