Gen. Rose
At the Castle of Warelles at Quévy Le Grand where the Headquarters of General Maurice Rose was installed during the Battle of Mons. The headquaters were right in the center of the battle. A tank company and an infantry company protected the castle. At one time, it had been surrounded by German forces in retreat. Paul Wauters de Besterfeld, who lived with his family in the castle and was a privileged observer said that General Maurice Rose never worried. He was sure the US Air Force would clear the surroundings very quickly. And that happened. During that tragic episode of the liberation of Mons, a German officer said "you Americans don't want to fight, you just want to slaughter us"…General Maurice Rose was always at the head of his soldiers. That is where he was killed on March 30th, 1945. In front of a German tank.
Meanwhile, on March 30, the advance had been maintained by other elements of the division, Task Force Welborn battered dug-in infantry and tanks in the area north of Etteln. At approximately 1800 hours, his column was cut by marauding Panther and Tiger tanks. It was not a serious breach but, in the vicious, confused action which followed, the famous commanding general of the "Spearhead" Division was killed in action. It was a hard blow to men of the 3rd and a tragedy which was mourned throughout the allied world.
La Jeep WHATZAT du Maj.Gén. Maurice ROSE
La 3e D.B.U.S. arrive dans les Faubourgs de Mons Le 2 septembre en fin d'après-midi saluée par les habitants ravis d'être enfin libérés.
Maj.Gén. ROSE
The general met his death on the evening of a great triumph. After an irresistible drive of more than 100 miles, his tankers were approaching the outskirts of the key city Paderborn and the citadel of German armored force. Task Force Welborn was still moving ahead and the early conclusion of his drive meant that the enemy's industrial Ruhr had been almost completely encircled. The entire course of the war might now balance upon the success of other allied forces driving to a swift junction with the First Army spearhead.
The general's party, which consisted of three peeps, two motorcycles, and an armored car, was following Welborn's group at dusk when the column was cut by intense small arms fire from the woods on either side of the narrow dirt road. General Rose, cradling a tommy-gun in his arms, hit the ditch with his driver, T/5 Shaunce, and his aide, Major Robert Bellinger. Up ahead, one of Welborn's tanks was destroyed by a lance of direct fire, and a peep was also hit and reduced to smoking junk.
To the rear, division officers, unaware of the general's predicament, attempted to contact him by radio. The road-bound column was known to be cut and Colonel John A. Smith, Jr., Chief of Staff, was worried. The colonel knew that his fears were not unfounded when he received a message from General Rose asking for a second task force, under Colonel Doan, to close the gap and to expedite the action. This was the "Spearhead" leader's last order. Minutes later he and his party observed enemy tanks approaching from the rear. There was no alternative: it had to be a headlong dash, cross country, in an effort to reach the comparative safety of Colonel Welborn's task force.
Under a hail of bright tracer which stitched the gathering darkness in rapid darts of flame, the small group raced froward and cut sharply to the right. In the half-light, German infantry made full use of flares. The vehicles were sharply outlined silhouettes and machine gun bullets seemed to be going through and all around them. One of the motorcyclists was forced to abandon his machine. He climbed aboard the armored car and the procession went on.
Upon reaching the road down which Welborn's force had passed, the general's party knew a moment of relief and then, looming out of the darkness came a huge enemy tank. There was no turning back. Colonel Brown and Shaunce both clipped the second of the lumbering vehicles but managed to squeeze through. The third Panther swiveled sideways in the road. Colonel Brown shot through a narrowing gap, hit the tank and tore the front fender off his peep. Shaunce, desperately attempting the impossible, came to a jarring halt, pinned by the mass of German armor on one side and a tree on the other. A German tanker shouted a stream of guttural commands and leveled a machine pistol.
It was impossible to tell exactly what happened next. General Rose, Major Bellinger and T/5 Shaunce stood before the Nazi tank. There was a fog of unreality about the whole situation. The enemy soldier was undoubtedly frightened, and probably trigger-happy. Perhaps he thought that General Rose was attempting to reach for a pistol.
It was dark there in the narrow road. Clouds obscured the moon. Shaunce saw the enemy tank commander as a dim silhouette. He saw the man unaccountably scream a final word, swing the burp gun and fire! There was an agonizing moment when the ripping sound of the weapon, the spout of flame and the sight of General Rose falling forward were all fused together like a nightmare. And then Shaunce yelled and ran. So did Major Bellinger. In this way the great commander of the "Spearhead" Division came to his death. He fell at the head of his men, away up front where general officers, according to popular belief, are not supposed to be. The world mourned his passing. His troops scowled at the news and drove forward as he would have wished them to do
For the most part, the rest of the general's party escaped. Major Bellinger spent four nights and days behind enemy lines before he was liberated, and T/5 Shaunce also had a nightmare of narrow escapes topped by final rescue by elements of Task Force "X". Lt. Colonel Wesley A. Sweat, Division G-3, who had commanded the armored car, and several of his men were taken prisoner. A month later, Sweat was liberated by British forces at Stalag XI-B, in Fallingbostel, Germany.
Brigadier General Doyle O. Hickey, pipe smoking, aggressive, long-time leader of Combat Command "A", immediately assumed command of the division. The men had perfect faith in Hickey. They proved their allegiance by driving steadily forward.
Bitterly, men of Task Force "X", now commanded by Lt. Colonel John K. Boles, Jr., a dynamic, boy-faced veteran of tank warfare, cleared the road-block which had cut Welborn's column, and then went on to take Haxtergrund.
At Paderborn, the 3rd Armored Division was striking at the "Fort Knox of Germany". Here the Reich's panzer elements were trained for battle and it was these school troops, many of them officer candidates, who came out to fight the American spearhead with tanks, tank-destroyers, and the big bazookas which seemed to be Germany's last, potent weapon of defense. The school troops of Paderborn fought well, but the grindstone of battle was wearing Germany thin.
German soldiers and civilians alike were stunned by the swift approach of American armor. Under the Nazi imbued of the Death's-Head SS, young Germans who had trained at Paderborn, died on the grounds of their military camp. Hitler may not have known it, but a majority of his troops, taken on the western front at this time, were fully aware of the fact that the jig was up. The POW enclosures were bursting with disillusioned "supermen". In small fields adjacent to almost every small town along the route they were standing, just waiting, looking beat-up and numb after the flame of battle. Small groups continued to ambush liaison men and messengers along the marching out in company strength, waving white flags and looking for some one to officially put them behind barbed wire.
In clearing the Paderborn area, Lt Colonel William R. Orr's 1st Battalion of the 36 Armored Infantry Regiment alone captured 136 cannon, ten of which were active. Company "C", commanded by Lt. Robert J. Cook, was first on the city's airfield. The company was immediately pinned down by fire from two 88mm and eight 20mm flak weapons which Jerry had converted to ground use. Division tanks and other heavy weapons were brought up to take care of these defenses.
On April 1, the "Spearhead" Division had accomplished one of the great drives of World War II, but the satisfaction of that victory was soured by the news of General Rose's death. There was no slacking off in the 3rd.
Task Force Kane was detached from the rest of the "Spearhead" and sent on a swift drive to the west. Overrunning sharp oppositions, these battle groups met elements of the 2nd Armored "Hell on Wheels" Division at Lippstadt. The 2nd had come across the flat, north German plain while the 3rd was making its two-way thrust, first to Herborn and Marburg from the Remagen Bridgehead, and then north in a brilliant crossing of the "T" to seal off the Ruhr. More than 376.000 enemy soldiers were hopelessly enmeshed by that historic drive. Significantly, the First United States Army announced that the mass encirclement would henceforth be known as the "Rose Pocket" in honor of the great general who was killed in action leading the first Americans to a decisive victory over Germany.