World Battlefronts: Goodbye to the Rhineland

Five thousand U.S. artillery shells rained down on Coblenz — one of them blowing to smithereens a statue of Emperor Wilhelm I. Then, one evening, a lone U.S. medium tank equipped with a loudspeaker rolled up to the Moselle river bank and hurled a surrender ultimatum across to the survivors of the Coblenz garrison. There was no answer.

At 3 a.m., units of the Third Army's 87th Division crossed the Moselle in as sault boats. Weak enemy, mortar and machine-gun fire soon died out, and later that day Coblenz was in U.S. hands. The Nazis...