The moon was going down on a still winter
night atingle with suspense. Stars glimmered
through clear patches in broken scudding clouds.
Underfoot, soggy ground squished and gurgled
as the patrol cautiously slithered to waiting
boats, held in readiness by engineers. Even
here, along the comparatively quiet banks of
the Roer, back currents and eddies sucked ominously,
eagerly it seemed to the engineers. A
covering party, deployed and waiting tensely
on the west bank, shivered in anticipation,
expecting momentarily to be startled by a burp gun's
swift chatter, the blinding illumination of a
white flare, or the soft chug-bang of a Jerry
mortar. Surely these noisy preparations could
not escape the ears, could not he ignored by
outposts of the 59th German Infantry Division
which had awaited now some two months the
Allied plunge to the Rhine.
At exactly 0300 Buck Rogers' Night Raiders
of the 407th Infantry pushed out into darkness,
out into the narrow torrential Roer, receding
from its spring flood levels, As their paddles
dug into the racing stream, a German machine
gun opened up not fifty yards away, tracers
forming a red deathly stream overhead. But in
Field Marshal Montgomery
visits the Ozark CP
at Ubach, Germany,
in February 1945.
the fitful starlight bobbing assault boats on a
raging river are poor targets. Two long minutes
later, minutes that stretched to hours for those
who waited and those who worked, the boats hit
the Roer's east bank. Swiftly the men plunged
ashore, scrambling madly up slippery slopes.
With clocklike precision dark figures fanned out
around the ominous machine gun. Moving
instinctively one man returned the fire. Another
grasped his grenade. A good throw. A dull thud.
A scream. Silence.
Now was the chance to reorganize, count
heads, move off to secure the needed toehold.
One group, led by Sgt Albert Charpentier, swung
toward the railroad bounded by a dense minefield
(Prisoners later insisted this barrier had
been placed behind their outpost line in order to
keep their unit along the river, come hell, high
water, or attack). The rest of the patrol slugged
south mopping up one nest after another. At
H-hour -- thirty minutes later -- the
first assault wave of the 407th Infantry crossed without
a hitch. Their bridgehead, the first across
the Roer, was established.
By this time Rogers' Raiders had cleared 500
yards of river bottom on a 200 yard perimeter,
knocked out five machine gun nests, cleaned up
six other automatic weapon positions, killed
fifteen and captured eight Krauts. In all of these
hectic, frenzied 30 minutes they lost not a single
man. Their plans, worked out in advance to the
most minute detail, had paid off.
When Buck got back to the Linnich schoolhouse
basement, which served as the regimental
CP, he sat down for a few minutes on a handy
K ration box, just resting up, blinking a little in
the dim light as fatigue replaced nervous tension.
Someone walked up and said: "The
General wants to see you."
Lt Roy Rogers walked over to where Major
General Keating and Colonel Dwyer were standing
in a knot of officers, all beaming like proud
"I suppose you know the operation is going
very smoothly, thanks to you”, said the General,
"I am honored to pin this Bronze Star on you,
with the thanks and gratitude of the assault
Then everybody shook hands.
"There was nothing spectacular about that
raid" said Rogers later, "The boys all worked
strictly according to plan. We don't take