A group of U.S. Third Army men are waiting to be transported over the River Rhine. The man sitting in the foreground is wearing the standard wool shirt and trousers and M1941 field jacket. He has a privately acquired red bandanna around his neck to reduce chafing. This bandanna would probably have been removed closer to the front line, as its bright color could expose the wearer to unnecessary attention. Around his waist, the man is wearing a navy life-preserver. This life-preserver could be inflated with either two CO² catridges at the front of the belt or manually. Many veterans of the Normandy landings complained that when these life-belts were inflated, they caused the wearer to flip upside down! The US Third Army carried out four river assaults in late March 1945. The 5th Infantry Division undertook the first on March 22, 1945, crossing the Rhine at Oppenheim, south of Mainz. They crossed without the usual artillery preparation, a maneuver that caught German troops by surprise. Within 48 hours, four US divisions had crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim and positioned themselves to advance into Germany. Third Army troops soon also successfully assaulted the Rhine at three other locations: Boppard, St. Goar, and south of the city of Mainz. Two divisions of the US Seventh Army crossed the Rhine near the city of Worms on March 26, 1945. All of these operations were vital in facilitating the encirclement of the Ruhr and the conquest of Germany.
Book "Patton's Third Army" by Christopher J. Anderson