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ulm germany 1945 liberation liberated Poles guest workers 10th Armored Division 324th Regiment 44th Infantry DivisionTo take Ulm meant that the American Army was free to ramble on to Vienna.  The 44th I.D. and the attached U.S. 10th Armored Division stunned the opposition in its swift advance in the southern Reich to Ulm.  By exploiting Hitler's 'Autobanen' through the use of American mobility, logistical support and smart combat tactics,  the towns of Neuenstein and Goppingen fell quickly.  Most German units were chased and overcome with ease.  These advancing units bypassed entrenched German positions in small towns to keep the advance moving forward to Ulm.  Resistance was so spotty that the 44th I.D. infantrymen were often ahead of the 10th I.D. armor. 

On April 24, 1945 the 324th Regiment and elements of the U.S. 10th Armored Division drove from Erbach into battered Ulm, the historic Danube city.  It was time to mop up a few scattered bands of fanatics and round up a big prisoner catch. 

sherman tank danube river ulm crossing 10th Armored Division 44th InfantryThe French Army was an uninvited guest in the capture of Ulm.  The bitter spat continued and escalated due to the interference of Charles de Gaulle.   de Gaulle ordered the French commander of the French First Army, to disobey his superior, American 7th Army General Patch.   de Gaulle insisted a French armor unit capture Ulm for the French ahead of the 10th and 44th.  France must beat the Yanks to Ulm.  To de Gaulle once captured, territory belonged to captor and not jointly to the Allies.  Ulm belonged to the French -  not the Allies.  From the brass down to the private, the soldiers of the 44th and 10th had no idea that a French tank unit brazenly and with little preparation crossed army boundaries by 44 miles to compete for the capture of Ulm.   This unannounced, against-orders, French incursion might easily have been mistaken for a counter-attacking German panzer unit by American air and ground forces and with tragic consequences.

The French arrived shortly after the Americans at Ulm.  Unwanted, the French joined the fight.  Most German defenders surrendered eagerly.  The will to fight had left them.  A few die-hards did not and died fighting. Ulm fell quickly.  The French briefly raised the tri-colors over the city and then returned back to their territory.

Berg Germany 1945 Infantrymen 71st Regiment The top city officer of Ulm, its 'Buergermeister' officially greeted three lost Company "B" 119th medics and then performed a formal and quite unnecessary surrender on the city hall steps.

Once Ulm was secured, the doughboys of the 71st and 324th Regiments clambered on the 10th A.D. tanks, Russian style, while others piled into assault boats and stormed across the there "not too wide" Danube River into Nesselwang.  Prisoners came in droves.  The rest of the war for the two divisions now became a mad, headlong dash to the Alps and the Austrian Italian Border. 

From this time forward, unable to control the subordinate French commanders and de Gaulle,  the American army blocked French army's use of roads under American control.  The reason:  To inhibit another Ulm like incident in the following rush to the Alp passes into Italy.   By this time, French intentions were evident.  Undeterred, French insubordination continued to the very end.  The Seventh Army 'poilu' crashed over mountainous cross county in failed
attempts to get there first before the Yanks and capture these strategic Alpine passes. 

German POWs captives Ulm 1945Ulm is of historic significance to the French.  Napoleon's most brilliant military campaign began at Ulm, in the winter of 1805.  His opponents were the combined armies of Russia and Austria.  The campaign began with a with a secret high speed march, a Napoleonic trademark.   The French army started in France, crossed the Rhine and in just eleven days, raced over the Danube River and into Austria.  Here at Ulm, the French Army captured a large part of the Austrian army, almost bloodlessly through maneuver.  Then the Grande Armee swung north.  The French decisively defeated the combined forces at the Battle of Austerlitz.  Austerlitz is widely considered Napoleonís finest victory and is one of the great military  engagements of history.

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