World Battlefronts, WESTERN FRONT: Ten Minutes to the Good

At Euskirchen, 17 miles west of the Rhine, Major General John W. Leonard heard of Cologne's capture. Other elements of Lieut. General Courtney H. Hodges' U.S. First Army had that situation well in hand. General Leonard's 9th Armored Division could turn southeast to hit the Rhine and envelop more of its west bank. Leonard gave an open order: keep going; if you reach the river try to establish a crossing and hold it.

On the morning of March 7, dark, handsome, Missouri-born Brigadier General William M. Hoge got the order: it was much...