In Early Feburary the Third Armored Division moved out of the Ardennes and back to Stoleberg to regroup.We had stopped some of the greatest German units, like the 1st. and 2nd. and 12th. Panzer Divisions. We had cut off Col. Joachim Peiper's column,chewed up his Task Force and sent him sneaking back to Germany across theAmbleve river. We had lost a lot of men, tanks and equipment. Both men and tanks were brought up to strengths. Usually a medium tank company had 17 tanks. Some of these tanks were reinforced on the front to better protect them from AP shells. Each Company received one of the new M-26 Pershings with the ninety mm gun and tracks a yard wide weighing 42 tons. It was an answer to the the German Mark V Panther whose shells would go through both sides of the M4 Sheramans. Wish we had them in the Ardennes. We could have held the Baraque de Fraiture Cross Roads, Malempre, and Manhay.
The third was once again back under the VII th. Corps, Ist US Army. There would be no more retreating from captured towns. It was straight ahead for the Third Armored and again it was chosen to spearhead the First Army's drive to Cologne and the Rhine.On Feburary 26. 1945 the snow and the cold was left behind as the Division followed the 104 Infantry Division known as Maj. General Terry Allen's Timberwolves, and the 8th Infantry Division across the Roer River, and broke out through them to cross the plains of Cologne. Familiar Task Force names as Lovelady, Hogan, Welborn, Kane, Richardson, Howzee,Yeoman, and Doan's TF X. Along the way the 325th. Regiment of the 99th. Infantry Division 4th Army Cavalry Group was attached.Also attached was the 991st. Field atillery with their 155 mm guns who fire the first shell into Cologne on Mar. 27.
After crossing the Erft Canal on March 28th.tand the last barrier, the Third Armored regrouped for its final attack on Cologne and the Rhine.The 486th Anti Aircraft did a lot of firing at attacking German planes, and Col. Browns 54th., 67th. And 391st. Artillary Battalion did a lot of firing in support of the drive.
On March 2, all Task Forces began the final drive on Cologne, taking small towns and cities along the way. Lovelady attached to Yeoman's 83'd Recon Batallion reached the Rhine eary morning on March 4th. Col. Doan 's X entered N. W. Cologne. All units entered at different points and the 36 Armored Infantry Regiment began mopping up through the city and toward the Rhine. The Germans blew the Hohenzollern Bridge on Mar. 6. and Cologne had fallen except the last battle in the center of Cologne in front of the Cathedral. Jim Bates risked his life to phograph the Tank Battle and other attacks by our 36th. Armored Infantry.
I met Jim Bates and Clarence Smoyer at our reunion in Asheville, North Carolina in 1998. I had been back to the Ardennes that year and had made some photos for Jim Bates of the attack on the Germans to drive them back to Germany. Jim had been riding in one of our tanks as bow gunner near Langlir, Belgium. A good friend of his, Buddy Lovette had asked me to do the photos. I was the President and standing by when he came in gave his name at the registration desk. We had a talk and he told me of some of his experiences while being a photographer of the 165th. Photo Company Photo Co. He told me his best work was with the Third Armored Division in Cologne . He had filmed a tank battle between an American and Germany tank that had never been done. The gunner in that tank was Clarence Smoyer. Neither had met before until that day. They had a lot to talk about. I asked Jim Bates to speak at one of our meetings and he said he would only if Clarence would come up and set with him.
The interviews of Jim Bates and Clarence Smoyer about the Cologne tank battle follow with pictures and video submitted by Clarence Smoyer. There will be more interviews and pictures later on the capture of PADERBORN and NORDHAUSEN by the 3 AD. The obituary Of Jim Bates was submitted by Buddy Lovette.