XX Corps / Twentieth Corps / 20th Corps / XX Army Corps
World War II
Sept 5, 1942
June 5, 1970
World War II
The XX Corps was activated on September 5, 1942, at Camp Young, Indio, California, as the IV Armored Corps and was redesignated before the Corps arrived in England on February 18th, 1944.
History by Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker, Commanding General XX Corps
"After the campaign in November, 1944, which reduced the fortress of Metz for the first time since 451 A.D., the XX Corps pushed through the Saar-Moselle Triangle to capture Trier on 2 March. This, the first of four distinct drives mounted by the Corps, was completed by 9 March.
The Corps then pressed with four Infantry Divisions against the Siegfried Line, shattering that line and capturing the Palatinate between the dates of 10 and 27 March. The assault on the Rhine and subsequent sweep into central Germany followed. The fourth and final phase of the XX Corps' campaign in Europe was the drive from Germany into Austria and the juncture with the Russians on the Enns.
Headquarters of XX Corps landed in France shortly after D-Day. By the end of August, they had driven across six rivers-the Loire, Seine, Vesle, Marne, Aisne, and Meuse to the Moselle. Towns liberated by the armor and infantry of the Corps included Chartres, Mélun, Montrau, Fontainbleu, Chateau-Thierry, Epernay, Reims, and Verdun.
This campaign across France prompted the Germans to name the XX Corps the "Ghost Corps." The Ghost Corps phase of our operations ended when the XX Corps reached the Moselle in front of Metz early in September. We were out of gasoline and our air support was curtailed by bad weather.
By November, General George S. Patton, Jr. commanding the Third Army, had decided to crush resistance in Metz, instead of by-passing the stronghold. The XX Corps attacked on a front of some forty miles with Metz as the final objective.
Despite mud and snow on the ground and bad weather overhead preventing air support, armor and infantry forced crossings over the swollen Moselle to attack the forts on the east bank where a minority of the forty-three inter-connecting fortresses were located. One division struck from the north, one from the south, and one from the west. The powerful pincer movement resulted in the capture of the stronghold on 19 November, after fourteen days of fierce fighting. Several days later, the enemy-which refused to surrender-had been dug out man by man, and acceptance of the surrender of the last garrison had been effected prior to turning over the city to the French.
While pursuing the enemy east of the Saar River, it became evident that the Saar-Moselle Triangle was a threat to the left flank of the XX Corps and of considerable danger to the Third Army. The German breakthrough in the Ardennes brought the triangle into the strategic picture. It was an area through which the enemy might thrust its forces to encircle Third Army divisions which were attacking Field Marshal Von Rundstedt's forces from the south.
On 14 January, the 94th Infantry Division initiated limited objective attacks against the enemy's position in the Siegfried Line anchored on the Moselle at Thorn. The line was held by three German divisions-two infantry and one panzer. A series of continued hammer blows by the 94th Infantry Division culminated in an out-and-out attack on 19 February which broke all organized resistance. By early afternoon of this day, it had become apparent to me that a breakthrough had been achieved. I informed General Patton who approved my recommendation to commit the 10th Armored Division early the following morning.
Advancing in two columns on parallel roads that ran the length of the ridges forming the backbone of the triangle, one armored combat command drove straight for the tip of the triangle at Tawern while another armored combat command headed north along the Moselle. The speed and power of these spearheads overran Siegfried Line positions and road blocks which the Germans covered with heavy artillery and anti-tank fire.
Before the two divisions reached the west bank of the Saar, two enemy infantry divisions had been destroyed, 11,754 prisoners were captured, and large numbers of enemy tanks and guns-and much materiel-was taken.
Continuing to make the most of the surprise element, I dispatched a column across the Saar and up its east bank to attack the key communications city of Trier, which fell on 2 March together with an intact bridge over the Moselle river.
The capture of Trier set the stage for operations in the Palatinate. For ten days ending 17 March, armor and infantry in the vicinity of Zerf and Pellingen fought off the 6th SS Mountain Division along the line from Trier to Saarburg which the Germans elected to defend as the last barrier west of the Rhine.
On 13 March, the 94th, 26th, and 80th Infantry Divisions attacked eastward and the 65th Infantry staged a diversionary attack from the Saarlautern area. For three days the infantry hammered steadily against stubborn resistance from strong forces entrenched behind improved natural and man-made obstacles. On 16 March the attack breached and uncovered the main Siegfried Line.
An unparalleled opportunity now existed for the destruction of the First German army and parts of the Seventh German army. The 10th Armored was again committed, exploiting the breakthrough. The back of the German army in the Palatinate was broken. The 65th overran Saarlautern and the 80th cleared Kaiserslautern. The XX Corps was on its way to the valley of the Rhine to encircle enemy forces to the west.
The 12th Armored Division was attached to the Corps and committed to battle. The 94th and 80th Divisions were motorized and moved through the Saar Valley and Palatinate. The XX Corps pocketed thousands of bewildered Germans, capturing 43,000 prisoners and an inestimable quantity of materiel. By 21 March the 12th Armored was on the Rhine.
A continuation of the engagement was begun in the Saar-Moselle Triangle. Before elements of the badly mauled German army-which managed to escape between the Saar and the Rhine-could dig in on the east bank of the Rhine, the 80th Division was rushed to the river in the vicinity of Mainz and an assault crossing was undertaken at 0100 on 28 March.
Two hours of heavy fighting under intense artillery and small arms fire allowed the infantrymen secure a bridgehead on the heartland of Germany. At 0300 the Germans launched two strong counter-attacks which were repulsed. A simultaneous crossing of the Main river met with equal success and Hocheim was cleared by mid-morning.
At noon on the same day, Corps engineers of the 160th Combat Engineer Battalion started construction of the 1,896 foot treadway bridge across the Rhine at Mainz. The next day our armor was pouring across the river on the longest treadway bridge in the European Theater. The forward echelon of Corps Headquarters moved forward into Wiesbaden on 29 March. The 65th and 5th Infantry Divisions and the 6th Armored Division were passed through the bridgehead. By noon of that day, the city of Frankfurt was clear of enemy resistance. By 1930 the engineers had a bridge across the Main at Frankfurt and the attack north toward Kassel was continued with relentless pressure.
Kassel fell on 4 April. The 80th Infantry Division teamed with both the 4th Armored Division and the 6th Armored Division in the northern half of the XX Corps' zone to launch a parallel thrust to the east that completely smashed and overran German forces. One column ran to Erfurt, which was all but leveled after it refused a surrender ultimatum on 11 April. Weimar accepted a like ultimatum delivered by the bicycling Burgomeister of neighboring Troistedt, and its fall bared to the world the horrors of nearby Buchenwald.
Starvation, murder, cremation, and dissection of helpless humans had taken place there in unbelievable terror and brutality. Two thousand citizens of Weimar were ordered to see for themselves the suffering and torture among the 21,000 prisoners remaining in the camp. General Eisenhower visited Buchenwald at the invitation of General Patton and myself. Later, at General Eisenhower's invitation, members of congress came to inspect the Nazi torture chambers.
Armor tipped columns took Jena on 12 April, Seitz on 15 April, and on 16 April they stood before Chemnitz across the Elbe, 150 miles inside Germany. In seven days, 47,000 prisoners were taken. While preparing for a jump-off against Chemnitz-after a surrender ultimatum had been returned unopened by the German commander-the XX Corps received orders to swing south and drive across the Danube into Austria. Thus began our final phase of combat.
A task force composed of tanks, mounted infantry, and Rangers pierced enemy lines east of Nurnberg-which had been captured after heavy fighting-and swung rapidly south toward Regensburg on the Danube. Elements of the 65th took Neumarket after intense house-to-house fighting on 25 April.
An assault crossing of the Danube resulted in disorganization of the enemy south of the river. The 71st Division met strong resistance but succeeded in taking an airport and hundreds of Luftwaffe personnel. On 27 April, Regensburg fell to the 65th Division.
The 13th Armored then was committed, sped across the Isar, and proceeded to the Inn river at Obernburg, on the border of Austria. Armor and infantry poured across the Inn river and the weary enemy, reduced to ineffectiveness, surrendered by the thousands. The drive reached and absorbed the great Austrian city of Linz and spread south along the west bank of the Enns. Shortly after the XX Corps reached and crossed the Enns, contact was established with the Russians driving from the east. . . .
When hostilities ended in Europe, the XX Corps was on the Enns River in Austria approximately 700 miles from the Normandy beaches where it had landed some eleven months before. XX Corps had more than 1,200 combat miles behind it."
Post-World War II
Following World War II, the XX Corps again became part of the reserves. It continued to serve this function until it was officially inactivated on June 5, 1970.
Divisional history from:
Edited by Schottzie, 23 September 2007 - 12:04 PM.