Cologne is the largest city that the G.I.s will take during the war. Nazi propaganda has declared the city to be defended to the last cartridge.
Eight months after D-Day, the US troops are now on the cusp of a long-awaited milestone, the crossing of the Rhine. The impending battle has dominated the headlines of the world press for days. Dozens of correspondents, photographers, and cameramen have followed the US troops in order to report in detail on the event. Some of the shots taken by the cameramen of the US military are still perceived in the USA as the most famous scenes of World War II. The battle for Cologne ends with a final, dramatic tank duel at the base of the Cathedral. This video explains the engagement of the possibly most famous tank duel in WWII.
Clarence Smoyer- Gunner of the Pershing tank
Shortly before our T26 “Pershing” tank destroyed the German Mark V Panther tank in the Cologne Cathedral square, the same German tank destroyed one of our Sherman tanks and killed three of its crew. When this happened, our crew was ordered to go down the adjacent street and destroy the Panther. We were told to just move into the intersection far enough to fire into the side of the enemy tank, which had its gun facing up the other street. However, as we entered the intersection, our driver had his periscope turned toward the Panther and saw their gun turning to meet us. When I turned our turret, I was looking into the Panther’s gun tube; so instead of stopping to fire, our driver drove into the middle of the intersection so we wouldn’t be a sitting target.
(Source: 3rd Armored Division Website )