PARIS -- U.S. Seventh Army troops captured the historic Bavarian gate city of Wissembourg Saturday and crossed the Reich frontier at a third point but the Germans, launching a series of diversionary counter-attacks to the north, drove back into Belgium at a point 50 miles below Aachen.
The German command also hurled crack reserves including a Panzer division from another front against Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch's Seventh Army spearheads, which had invaded Bavaria to a depth of two miles in their crossings of the frontier between Wissembourg and the Rhine on a 12-mile front.
Breasting stiff fire from the Siegfried Line, the Seventh Army captured the French border town of Lauterbourg, nine miles east of Karlsruhe, denying the hard-pressed enemy a potential Rhine Valley anchor at that point.
Not fully joined
The battle on the Rhenish plain before the great industrial centers of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen apparently had not yet been fully joined because Patch's spearheads were operating under security wraps on the grounds they had not yet engaged major German defense forces.
In the northern Rhineland the new American 78th Division, only two months out of the United States, and the veteran Second Division jointly blasted another First Army breach in the Siegfried line 12 miles below the original Aachen gap.
Beset on both the upper and lower Rhine and with the Third Army pounding relentlessly against the Saar river section of the Siegfried line, German tanks and infantry lashed out in a rash of small-scale attacks against the long-dormant hinge between the First and Third Army fronts.
These thrusts extended along a 75-mile front from Duren to below Trier. Enemy forces crossed back into Belgium at Peterskirche, 10 miles south of Belgian St. With and 50 miles below Aachen, where the American line had extended just over the German frontier near its convergence with the Belgian and Luxembourg borders.
This represented a First Army setback of about two miles from the farthest advanced position of last Autumn although modifications of the line may have been made since then.
The First Army's second Infantry division after a four-day assault captured the strategic crossroads of Wahlershied, five miles southeast of Monschau on the lower flank of the main Rhineland front., gaining a wide vantage point over the Cologne plain.
The Seventh Army's 79th division carried out the third crossing of the Rhine Palantinate or western Bavarian frontier in the area between Lauterbourg and Scheibenhard, one and one-half miles to the west, after ending the last German resistance in both these towns.
Crack reserves from the German strategic reserve pool, including at least one Panzer division, were rushed down to check the swelling Seventh Army threat and late reports said the two forces already were at grips in a battle to decide the fate of the vital Ludwigshafen-Mannheim area.
With six Allied armies now thrusting into the Reich's main western ramparts, the Germans unleashed their most extravagant artillery barrages since the norman invasion along a front of more than 300 miles from southeastern Holland to the Karlsruhe corner bridgehead at Saariautern.
Giant rail guns
Giant railway guns from deep in the Siegfried line opened up against Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch's Seventh Army spearheads but so far had failed to check the rapid deterioration in the German position in the critical Bavarian corner where the enemy had been caught undermanned,