Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 67
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bridges on the afternoon of 31 August. 144 Here the terrain played a significant role in success or
failure. Where the terrain (and enemy situation) allowed the cavalry to use its mobility, they
succeeded, where they were faced with an obstacle (such as the Aisne) and had to fight their way
forward, the mechanized cavalry had to pass other units forward.
The beginning of September found the bulk of the XX Corps immobilized by a fuel
shortage. However, the corps provided the lightly equipped Brave Rifles with enough supply to
conduct probing reconnaissance missions to the Moselle River to set the conditions for future
operations. On 2 September, a platoon of B troop, 3rd Squadron penetrated all the way to
Thionville, a distance of over 70 miles from their starting position. The platoon seized the
Moselle River bridge in the town and held on for several hours before retiring due to the
concentrated German response. The 43rd Squadron also managed to infiltrate several patrols to
the Moselle, establishing observation points along the river. 145
On 4 September, XX Corps ordered the group to advance to the Moselle River and
attempt to seize any remaining bridges. The group attacked in column of squadrons, with the 3rd
leading, with the 43rd trailing to exploit success. However, the group met intense resistance and
were stopped short of the river.146 During this operation, on 5 September, the group commander,
COL Frederick Drury, along with a small patrol became trapped by German forces, and the
colonel was captured along with some of his men.147
On 6 September, reacting to the failure of the cavalry to reach the river, the Corps
Commander committed the 7th AD to the assault, with the Brave Rifles still in the lead. With the
added weight of the 7th AD the cavalry were able to gain the river, but no bridgeheads were
144 "XX Corps After Action Report, 1 August 1944 - 31 August 1944," 13-14.
145 "Patton's Ghost Troops" - After Action Report 9 August 1944 - 9 May 1945, 51.
146 Ibid., 52.
147 Ibid., 50.
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Nance, William Stuart. Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army, thesis, May 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc68023/m1/73/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .