At 0700 hours on 18 April, Company B crossed the line of departure (LD) at the North-Eastern edge of Benneckenstein, keeping to the left side of the main road, with Company C on the right. Both companies followed this route for roughly two-thousand yards before Company B swung north and then north-east towards a clearing, denoted ‘point X’. The plan called for B Company to move through ‘point X’ and attack the town from the south-east, whilst C Company moved along the main road with a platoon of Sherman tanks and enter Rübeland from the south.
At around 0815 hours, B Company left the main road as planned and proceeded towards ‘point X’. The terrain became densely wooded and visibility was drastically reduced between the advancing platoons. The company moved through the woods in four columns, with the weapons platoon following in reserve. After walking through the forest for forty minutes, the lead scouts came to a large clearing which marked ‘point X’ and the company spread out along the treeline on the edge of the clearing. This open space left the company very exposed for miles around due to the hilly terrain that denoted the Harz Mountains, but due to poor maps and the danger of becoming completely lost in the thick woodland, there was no choice but to continue through the clearing. Several squads sent scouts into the clearing and they cautiously advanced towards the treeline on the other side. Minutes after entering the clearing, the scouts and waiting platoons were hit by a storm of enemy rifle and machine gun fire, as well as several German rockets from their portable rocket launchers, called Panzerschrecks, that burst amongst the trees and showered splinters down on the American GIs. It was not clear where exactly the fire was coming from so the infantrymen immediately became pinned and returned fire in the general direction of where the fire was coming from. The firing came to a halt as quickly as it began and an uneasy silence settled across the clearing. The company commander, First Lieutenant Lawrence W. Stricklin from Cullman, Alabama, stepped out into the clearing and called out to the German defenders to surrender. A single shot rang out and Strickland fell, mortally wounded in the chest by an enemy rifle. The company’s executive officer, First Lieutenant Harvey Hanna, rushed to the front of the column but Strickland was dead by the time he arrived.