In the first few days, the infantry of the 84th Division were expected to exist on packets of odd items such as eggs and bacon compressed into tablets, gum and candy, with nothing hot to drink. The little known Battle of Hürtgen Forest was fought from October 1944 to February 1945 south and east of Aachen, Germany. Hürtgen Forest Battle Helmet Hey guys! The Hürtgenwald was valuable territory to the Germans, and its loss would threaten their entire defense line west of the Rhine. Several men were awarded the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, and there were many other acts of gallantry that never came to light. Army/National Archives) IN LATE OCTOBER 1944, the U.S. The historian of the crack British Guards Armored Division, which exchanged officers and men with the Americans, reported, “Their [the Americans’] methods might be somewhat curious and unorthodox, but there could be no doubt about the excellent results when put into practice. The Hürtgen Forest is a terrain well known by it’s defender. Not until early February was this attack renewed; the dams were captured after several days of heavy fighting. Gray skies hung low and a steady drizzle dripped through the tall, dense fir trees near the German-Belgian border on the morning of Thursday, November 16, 1944, during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. The most direct route to the dams lay through the Hürtgen Forest, a man-made forest preserve of densely packed fir trees in rough terrain. The Germans under Field Marshal Model had held them up for six months. There, the Germans were able to delay and wear down the Americans, providing security and buying critical time to prepare for the Ardennes counteroffensive. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest: Why Hemingway Called it “Passchendaele With Tree Bursts” The area surrounding the Battle of Hürtgen Forest encompassed about 50 square miles of rugged, densely wooded terrain along the German-Belgian border … (PFC G. W. Goodman/U.S. You can’t get protection. The weather worsened that autumn and winter, and a series of bitterly contested battles—Walcheren Island, Aachen, the Saar Basin, the Vosges Mountains, the Reichswald Forest, and the Hürtgen Forest and the Roer River—was fought under the most trying conditions. They stopped where they were, digging foxholes for their own defense. The Battle of the Huertgen Forest began in September 1944 and culminated in mid-February 1945. Then there was the weather—either drenching wet or burning cold. With this battle, the war precipitated by the Nazi regime returned to Germany. The ferocity and horrors of this long running engagement rank near the top for World War II. Two regiments suffered losses equaling 100% of their fighting strength. The generals were determined to have their breakthrough, and kept launching offensives against German positions. The regiment, almost at full strength, was commanded by 42-year-old Colonel Charles T. Lanham, a wiry, graying 1924 graduate of West Point and former Infantry School instructor and War Department staffer. HURTGEN FOREST TOURS . Then, Colonel Lanham’s men fought for another 12 days. Model spent the first year of World War II as a chief of staff, first of IV Corps during the invasion of Poland, and then of Sixteenth Army during the Battle of France. What medics and commanders of the time called “combat fatigue” led to many soldiers having to be taken off the line. And it was not alone, for several divisions and regiments were mauled in the campaign. The first engagements during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest were fought by Brig. Army Colonel David H. Hackworth, a distinguished battalion commander in the Vietnam War, called the Hürtgen battle “one of the most costly blunders of World War II.”. Yet, despite the many hardships and appalling losses, the U.S. infantry there were able somehow to maintain unit integrity and to persevere. As the name suggests the map is set in the Hürtgen Forest; a roughly 50 square miles (130 km2) in area in the west of Germany, near the Belgium-Germany border. Plus an insight into the 6 day battle here, the heavy fighting in and around the beautifully restored Merode Castle (39th Infantry) and a … American infantry tried to advance down narrow trails between tough defenses, only to be stalled by German forces and hit by counter-attacks. Euphoria clouded sound strategic judgment, and some rude awakenings lay ahead. T/Sgt George Morgan, 1/22-IR said of the Huertgen: the forest up there is a helluva eerie place to fight … Show me a man who went through the battle … and who says he never had a … It was also one of the most heavily fortified areas of the Siegfried Line, some 200 square miles of dense woods, deep ravines, and high ridges. The advance into the forest began on the 13th of September, as veterans of the Mediterranean campaign crossed the border from Belgium into Germany. Like many other units engaged, the Double Deucers fought longer than normally expected in the gloomy Hürtgenwald, and few American combat outfits have ever experienced such severe casualties.
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