Heroes: the Army
"...Early in May, 1945, in the evening, I met a German 1st Lieut. on the banks at the Elbe River. He said his commander wanted to pull his armored battalion out of Berlin and surrender to the U.S. 9th Army..."
Chester H. "Chet" Twentyman
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. C., 407th Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942-1944
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: Capt., Silver Star Medal
- Birth Year: November 10, 1911
- Entered Service: N. Chicago, IL
The Bridge at Tangermunde
by Chet Twentyman, 405-C Captain
Early in May, 1945, in the evening, I met a German 1st Lieut. on the banks at the Elbe River. He said his commander wanted to pull his armored battalion out of Berlin and surrender to the U.S. 9th Army. I told him to bring them to the bridge at Tangermunde at daybreak.
The next morning I crossed on the broken bridge and took a stand about 50 yards from the bridge embankment. In a short time I heard a vehicle coming toward the bridge. In the dim morning light I saw what appeared to be a motorcycle with a sidecar. As it came closer I noted that the helmet of the driver looked to be British.
I stepped out onto the road and the motorcycle stopped. I said, after determining that the driver was, indeed British: "What the hell are you doing here?" He said he was lost from his unit - the 99th - and that he was trying to get back to it. I said that I knew where his unit was but the bridge was down and vehicles couldn't cross it.
About this time I noticed that the sidecar was filled with P-38s, Lugers and MG-44s. I asked where he had been. He said he had been in Berlin and had fragged a tank and slept in it. He'd later taken the motorcycle and collected weapons and headed west to cross the bridge at Tangermunde.
When he found that the bridge was under water, he turned the motorcycle around and departed back to Berlin. That was the last I ever saw of him. To this day I wonder what happened.
Soon after this episode the German Armored Battalion appeared and moved into space near the river. The blocks were removed from the tanks and the Germans proceeded to cross the ramshackle bridge on foot. Some wounded slipped and were lost in the river.
During this time several Russian fighter aircraft appeared and started firing at the tanks. After several passes they departed and I recrossed the Elbe at Tangermunde along with hundreds of Germans.
This article appeared in the first issue of the Notes to feature Ozark Replay stories. That issue was Vol. 38, Feb. 1986. Chet's story was accompanied by a photo of the bridge taken several days later by the Associated Press. It is in our archives.
----- Chet Twentyman
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
The above story, "The Bridge at Tangermunde", by Chet Twentyman, 405-C, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 57, No. 3, April/June 2005, pp. 18-19.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 27 June 2005.
Story added to website on 28 June 2005.
September 5, 2002.
Would YOU be interested in adding YOUR story --
or a loved-one's story? We have made it very
easy for you to do so.
By clicking on the link below, you will be sent
to our "Veterans Survey Form" page where a survey form
has been set up to conviently record your story.
It is fast -- convenient and easy to fill out --
Just fill in the blanks!
We would love to tell your story on
World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words.
WW II Stories: Veterans Survey Form
© Copyright 2001-2012
World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words
All Rights Reserved
Updated on 17 January 2012...0832:05 CST
Please Sign Our Guestbook...