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.
|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.
|With only some infantry across and with French artillery
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.