May 13-15, 1940

Reinhardt was moving on Montherme with the 6th and 8th Panzer Divisions.  Montherme is about 45 miles upstream from Dinant.  In the constricting terrain of the Ardennes, Reinhardt had been behind both Rommel and Guderian, so he arrived near Montherme on May 13th, a day after Hoth arrived at the Meuse near Dinant.  Arriving above town at around 3pm, orders were given to capture the bridge across the Meuse by 4pm.

The area was defended by the 102nd Fortress Division and the 61st Division.   


The bridge here, and one upstream had been demolished.  The Germans started to cross in rubber boats, but machine gun fire repulsed them.  A second crossing attempt was also repulsed.  When the location of a French position hidden in a cafe was discovered, German tanks fired on it, allowing the next crossing attempt to succeed.


Upstream Bridge

Upstream from the main road bridge another bridge had been demolished, but not well enough.  A new bridge, presumably on the site of the old one, is on the right side of the panorama.  The Germans were able to use rubber boats and boards to create a makeshift footbridge, allowing more infantry to cross.

With these two crossings, the Germans were able to capture the town.  The heights beyond, however, would be a problem.

Montherme From Heights

With only some infantry across and with French artillery disrupting any crossing, the Germans were unable to capture the heights west of town that night.  Early on May 15th, because of pressure elsewhere along the Meuse, the French here were ordered to retreat.  That same morning, the Germans mounted a successful attack and began crossing their panzers on a newly completed pontoon bridge.  

As a fortress division, the 102nd lacked vehicles and was unable to take its heavy weapons with it.  The retreat became a disaster, with the 10,000 man division reduced to 1,200 on May 16th.  The 61st Division met a similar fate.

By the end of May 15th, Reinhardt's panzers had advanced 37 miles beyond the Meuse, deep into the French rear areas.  With the breakthrough here, at Dinant and at Sedan, seven German panzer divisions were poised to advance to the English Channel, cutting off and surrounding in northern France and Belgium the best of the Allied armies.

Copyright 2010-11 by John Hamill

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