WITH THE FRENCH 1ST ARMY, Sept. 29 (S&S) — The French army came under the appraising eye of Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower this morning as the Supreme Allied Commander watched French troops expand their northern bridgehead on the east bank of the Rhine.
For nearly two-and-a-half hours, the SHAPE commander conducted a rapid question-and-answer session as he inspected troops and positions of the French 1st Armd Div.
The general took off later from Wiesbaden Air Base for Luxembourg. He had been with the maneuvers two days.
In his inspection today, Eisenhower started with corps and division commanders at a briefing session and then went out in the field to talk to junior officers and tankers, who were entering the second day of "Operation Jupiter," French-run war. games.
Eisenhower arrived at the French bridging site at Oppenheim at 9 am and immediately started his American interpreter shooting questions at French Maj Gen Paul R. Cherriere, II Corps commander, and Maj Gen Raymond Chomel, CG 3d Inf Div, whose forces carved out the initial bridgehead yesterday at the bridging site.
"How long did it take to throw up that bridge?" Eisenhower asked as he pointed to the 960-foot span.
When told that French engineers threw up the span 100 feet an hour, Eisenhower replied: "Wonderful, wonderful. That sounds like a record."
Eisenhower then got in a jeep and followed rumbling French M26 tanks and half-tracks across the bridge to the expanding bridgehead area on the east bank.
At one point, Eisenhower stopped while Cherriere briefed him on the developing situation. "How are your medical and supply services working, general?" Eisenhower asked.
"They're working fine, sir," Cherriere replied. "I've instructed my staff not to get lost in paper work but to get out in the field and. do some real services."
"Hurrah for you," Ike laughingly answered.
At the town of Dornheim, about six miles from Gross Gerau on the road to Wiesbaden, Ike stopped to question a French tank crew.
Ike then inspected a French halftrack. When one soldier hesitated when asked the firing range of the .50-cal. machine gun, Ike answered: "You'd better know. Your life may depend on it some day."