1705– 6th Guards Tank Division is entirely on the eastern bank of the Leine at Freden. The tail-end elements are moving into the area south of the crossroads of B64 and B3 roadways which has been designated as the division’s rear area.
1730– Crossing operations get underway at the now-operational Greene bridgehead. Lead elements of 8th Guards Tank Division are the first units to move across the river with the division’s heavier tank and motor rifle regiments anxiously awaiting their turns.
1750– 3rd Shock Army’s commander monitored progress at the bridgeheads and anxiously glanced at the clock every few minutes. Time was becoming a critical factor once again with dusk now just under three hours away. As reluctant as he, and his superiors were to admit openly, NATO’s control of the skies over the battlefield after dark was almost complete. The extent of the Freden and Greene bridgeheads would be realized by NATO and it would only be a matter of time before their airpower made a concerted effort to destroy the southern Leine bridgeheads. It was crucially important for most of 8th Guards TD to be across the river and moving by midnight, otherwise the entire battleplan would unravel.
1755– In the Group Soviet Forces Germany (GSFG) wartime command bunker deep in the German Democratic Republic, General Boris Snetkov reached the same conclusion. Earlier in the afternoon, through intimidation and outright threats, Snetkov gained a solemn vow from his air commanders that the southern bridgeheads would be protected by at least one regiment of Su-27 Flankers through the night. Snetkov was uncertain how well the agile fighter aircraft could fight in the dark, or how proficient the pilots were in night air combat. Frankly, he didn’t care if the regiment was completely destroyed by first light, so long as the bridgeheads remained intact and operational through the evening.
1835– A second attack by the 47th Guards Tank Division in the late afternoon had pushed the West Germans from Halle. Given the proximity of the village to the Weser, the West German 20th Panzer Brigade counterattacks at once and checks the continued Soviet advance north in their sector for the time being.
2000– With pressure mounting on the approaches to Hameln, the West German 7th Panzer Division is planning a brigade-sized strike on the right flank of the 47th Guards TD to drive a wedge between the tank division and the motor-rifle division to its east. If successful, the attack should relieve pressure on the West German and British defenders in front of Hameln.
2024- NATO airstrikes against the Leine bridges commence. The heavy presence of Soviet fighters over the southern bridgeheads sparks curiosity, and then concern at NORTHAG and then in Brussels as the news travels up the line.
2040– A Belgian Alouette II light helicopter reports the presence of Soviet bridges at Greene.
2100– A Belgian Mirage flies a recon mission in that area and confirms the earlier report
2150– The first air attacks are made against the Greene bridgehead, with moderate damage being inflicted. Going from the reports of the Belgian F-16 pilots who flew the mission, NATO intelligence officers estimate a Soviet tank division is in the process of crossing the Leine, with another division preparing to cross at Freden.
2300– News of two or more Soviet divisions moving towards, or crossing the Leine in front of the Belgians sends multiple NATO command posts into near panic.
2322– Two-thirds of the 8th Guards TD is now on the western side of the Leine. The division commander estimates the entire division will be across by 0030 and moving west.
2345-General Snetkov is updated on the situation near the Weser by his intelligence chief, who is quite concerned that NATO is becoming aware of the Soviet grand plan. Snetkov waves the apprehension away. NATO could never be kept in the dark indefinitely, he knew. Yet in this case, they’d been blinded just long enough for 3rd Shock to skillfully, and expeditiously maneuver the bulk of the follow-on tank army within striking distance of the river. All that now stood between the Soviet divisions and the Weser was a thin line of Belgian troops.
2352– That was the same conclusion SACEUR was coming to in Brussels. There was no mistaking it now. The main Soviet attack was not aimed at Hameln. It was about to fall to the south with the probable objective of reaching the Weser at Höxter and establishing a crossing in force. If that took place, the Ruhr Valley and Low Countries would be directly threatened. NATO would have little choice but to disengage along the length of NORTHAG’s area of responsibility and establish a new defensive line far to the west. To put it bluntly, NORTHAG had been caught with its pants down.
2359– General Galvin, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, officially relieves General Martin Farndale of his duties as NORTHAG commander-in-chief and personally orders the 1st Cavalry Division to pack up and head south to Höxter immediately.