The battle was the longest battle fought on German soil during the war. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was a campaign that could and should have been avoided—a campaign of prolonged and bitter attrition in which U.S. infantrymen were challenged by stubborn, unyielding defenders, rugged terrain, and appalling weather. Thunderbolts, Lightnings, and Typhoons pounded the German border defenses. The forest was not cleared until March 9. It would be their last hot meal for 18 days. This victory belonged to the Germans. HURTGEN FOREST TOURS . Some led to small successes, though they were often swept away in counter-attacks. The American forces suffered 33,000 casualties (9,000 of which were attributed to non-combat causes such as illness and friendly fire), while … But they kept pushing. À l'automne et à l'hiver, les fortes pluies et la neige, ainsi que l'absence de routes, rendent la progression très difficile, aussi bien pour les soldats à pied que pour les troupes motorisées. Combat fatigue, pneumonia, and trench foot claimed another 9,000 men. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. The ferocity and horrors of this long running engagement rank near the top for World War II. Small arms fire hit trees and branches with a sharp crack, and the enemy often appeared suddenly close at hand and engaged in embittered close combat.”. 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. The hapless Bradley responded cryptically, “You don’t make your main effort with your exterior force.”, Lieutenant Frank L. Gunn, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, which captured the village of Merode, said, “In retrospect, it seemed to me that the Hürtgen Forest could have been contained rather than assaulted, and a large flanking or encircling movement performed by corps. Taken from the Battle Of The Bulge Campaign supplement. Collins and Hodges made no plans to capture the hydroelectric and flood-control dams on the river, just inside the forest. Besides the weather, the Allied armies were plagued by shortages of ammunition and supplies. By the night of November 20, after five days in action, the 22nd Regiment’s rifle companies had lost more than 40 percent of their strength. 111-SC-196619 - Weary infantrymen take a brief rest on a slope in the Hurtgen forest in Germany. You can’t get fields of fire. The Battle of the Bulge had begun. This film told the story of the battle of the Hürtgen Forest. Nonetheless, the Allies pushed into the rough and unfamiliar terrain in order to secure their advance towards the Rhine. Gen. Maurice Rose’s 3rd Armored Division in September 1944. Eliminate the enemy observer before you attack the enemy positions. Battle of Hürtgen Forest, also known as Hürtgen Forest, or simply Hürtgen is a ground forces map available in all modes. American soldiers faced no greater odds under such harrowing conditions in World War II than did the riflemen, machine gunners, and mortarmen who struggled through the Hürtgenwald. During World War II, the U.S. and German armies took part in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. Many went without hot food for days on end. Everybody is cold and wet, and the mixture of cold rain and sleet keeps falling. Booby traps in abandoned foxholes and ditches turned promised sanctuaries into graves for the unwary. The author Charles B. McDonald was a highly decorated junior officer in WWII and was very aware of the conditions and mindset of leadership values utilized on the European battlefield of those times. “By mid-December, the three line companies of my armored infantry battalion had left only four officers and 170 enlisted men; at full strength, its complement was 18 officers and 735 enlisted men. Maurice Berzon, Buffalo, N.Y., SSgt. 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 feeling of fear and I’ll show you a liar. Directed by John Irvin. The Germans under Field Marshal Model had held them up for six months. Battle Of The Hurtgen Forest-The Hürtgen Forest, located on the border between Germany and Belgium, was an area of about 129 square kilometers wide, completely wooded.And it was the scene of a battle of great historical significance: the well-known battle of the Hürtgen forest. “Tubby” Barton’s 4th Infantry (Ivy) Division on June 6, 1944, and suffered heavy casualties in the Normandy campaign. Before the Battle of Hürtgen Forest and the campaigns of the winter of 1944-1945, no American soldiers had suffered such hardships as did the men in that nightmarish forest. The bloodletting, particularly the fight around the villages of Hürtgen, Kleinhau, and Grosshau, may have altered the outcome of the Battle of the Bulge by presenting a strong shoulder that the German Sixth Panzer Army never broke. Because it was so disastrous, and because Americans tend to remember only victories, the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest has been virtually forgotten. Captain William S. Boice, one of its chaplains, called the 22nd Regiment “a fighting machine trained to an efficiency not matched at any time during the war.” Its motto was “Deeds, Not Words,” and it would be awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. Ironically, some experts saw the disastrous Battle of Hürtgen Forest as having unintended consequences beneficial to the American cause. Army/National Archives) IN LATE OCTOBER 1944, the U.S. The forest was more heavily fortified than anyone had guessed. Some men shot themselves in the foot to get out of combat. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was a series of battles fought between German and American forces in Hürtgen Forest. You can read more about Private Art Pranger’s wartime adventures at www.private-art.com. The Hürtgen Forest area today is little different than it was in late 1944 before the battle started. Media in category "Battle of Hürtgen Forest" The following 24 files are in this category, out of 24 total. The first American unit involved in the Hurtgen Forest battle was the 9th Infantry Division. It was a miserable season for both sides, but particularly for the Americans. The first engagements during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest were fought by Brig. … The Shamrock. One British Army officer reported, “What surprised us was the apparent indifference of the American commanders to the physical needs of their men in winter warfare. Reinforcing combat groups were fed piecemeal into the Hürtgen cauldron. The attack was originally launched to guard the flank of VIII Corps’ advance into Germany. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was overshadowed by the American victory in the Battle of the Bulge, and as a result, few books and articles have been written about it. Men fight with greater cheerfulness even on the cheapest form of pig’s belly of transatlantic origin masquerading as bacon, if hot, or the bully beef and tea and biscuits which maintained the British. The attack was originally launched to guard the flank of VIII Corps’ advance into Germany. You can’t get protection. Overshadowed by Operation Market Garden, the Allied invasion of Holland in September 1944, and the momentous Ardennes campaign of December 1944 and January 1945, the tragic Battle of Hürtgen Forest  was accorded only brief mention in the memoirs of such generals as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar N. Bradley and has been overlooked by most historians. They swept the story aside and focused on fighting elsewhere. 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. The Germans sometimes planted explosives underneath wounded men; one GI lay motionless for 72 hours, struggling to remain conscious so that he could warn whoever might come to his rescue. A series of attacks in the forest were ill fated, and from the beginning the campaign reflected little credit on the senior American commanders. Early in the morning of September 14th, 1944, elements of the 9th Infantry Division, supported by the 746th Tank Battalion started their advance across the Belgian – German border at the villages of Roetgen and Monschau. 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 south of Aachen, the first major German city to fall to the Allies. Besides the enemy and the weather, the GIs battled exhaustion, hunger, battle fatigue, pneumonia, and trench foot. Logan Nye. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was fought in an area of heavy forestation, of some 50 square miles in an area that begins about 5 miles south and east of Aachen, Germany and falls into a triangle outlined by Aachen, Düren and Monschau. It was some of the most brutal fighting of the Second World War, a grinding battle in which thousands of American and German lives were lost. A private in the latter days of WWII on the German front struggles between his will to survive and what his superiors perceive as a battlefield instinct. From September 1944 to February 1945, American and German forces fought over the Hurtgen Forest, an area of wooded hills on the border between Belgium and Germany. The Hürtgen Forest is a terrain well known by it’s defender. The Battle of the Huertgen Forest began in September 1944 and culminated in mid-February 1945. Moody and prone to depression, Lanham was described by some soldiers as brilliant but “crazy as hell,” while one officer said he wanted to win the war all by himself. Everything is tangled. There are moments in military history that forever alter the flow of human events. A private in the latter days of WWII on the German front struggles between his will to survive and what his superiors perceive as a battlefield instinct. The Battle of Hürtgen was undertaken by US commanders trying to pin down German forces in the area to keep them from reinforcing front lines further north (Battle of Aachen, where the Allies were fighting a trench war between a network of fortified industrial towns and villages speckled with pillboxes, tank traps and minefields). Battle of Hürtgen Forest Interactive Map. The scrappy Lanham led from the front to the point of foolhardiness and expected his junior officers to do the same. It was a site of great heroism and futile tragedy, in which the fighting was so deadly that soldiers called it “the Death Factory”. Schmidt lies in a depression, ravine-like, through which runs the small Kall Valley and a river. Concentrate your attention to the town of Schmidt, just kilometers from the Siegfried Line, with its dragons' teeth tank stoppers. The Hürtgen Forest consisted of thick woodland, bare hilltops and deep gorges. By the end of the sixth day, the regiment had suffered 50 percent casualties, the point at which an infantry unit is considered to have lost much of its effectiveness. The slaughter and misery dragged on well into December 1944, when the Americans were ordered to pull out of the forest. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was a series of fierce battles fought from 19 September to 16 December 1944 between American and German forces, it was the longest battle on German ground during World War II, and is the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought. Plus an insight into the 6 day battle here, the heavy fighting in and around the beautifully restored Merode Castle (39th Infantry) and a … Map showing the area of the battle. They were starting 18 days of hell in the Hürtgen Forest “meat-grinder.” Famed novelist Ernest Hemingway, a friend of Colonel Lanham and a correspondent for Collier’s magazine, described the Battle of Hürtgen Forest as “Passchendaele with tree bursts.” He was recalling the grim Western Front battle of 1917 in which British and Canadian troops suffered 300,000 casualties in gaining a five-mile-deep salient. This WW1 Battle was like Something out of a Horror Movie, Live Like a Bond Villain, 3 Remote Napoleonic-Era Forts For Sale, Eleven Military Uniforms That Got Soldiers Killed, French Couple Discovered WWII Cache of Weapons Hidden in Their Home, The Highest-Scoring Female Fighter Ace Ever: The Short but Daring Life of Lydia Litvyak, Exploring the wreck of the Bismarck – and it is in remarkable condition, RIP ‘Wild Geese’ Star and Battle-Hardened Veteran Ian Yule. In total, nearly 30,000 Americans were killed or wounded and thousands more were knocked out of action by combat exhaustion. The little known Battle of Hürtgen Forest was fought from October 1944 to February 1945 south and east of Aachen, Germany. Its defenses—both natural and man-made—were strong, and it was resisting the Allied crusade more stubbornly than ever. The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was the longest battle the Americans had ever fought in the history of the United States military. There, the Germans were able to delay and wear down the Americans, providing security and buying critical time to prepare for the Ardennes counteroffensive. Then, Colonel Lanham’s men fought for another 12 days. Two regiments suffered losses equaling 100% of their fighting strength. Author Michael D. Hull was a frequent contributor to WWII History. Officers and sergeants made last-minute preparations for an assault. It was one of the worst reverses for the U.S. Army in the European Theater. The German Army was being pushed back to its home ground, but it was still a well-disciplined and formidable force. 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 Battle of Hürtgen Forest echoed the horrors of the World War I killing grounds and brought much suffering to the enemy soldiers as well as the GIs. Times when the very landscape appears to shift. Like the Hürtgen campaign, the Reichswald struggle bore marked similarities to the grim fighting on the Western Front in 1914-1918 and has been overlooked by most historians. A German officer reported, “Great losses were caused by numerous frost bites. It changed the world more than any other single event in history. It would not be until February 1945 that Hodges had control of the dams and was able to confidently place troops on the eastern bank of the Roer River. The fighting was often at such close quarters that hand grenades were the only decisive weapons. When Salinger entered Hürtgen, he crossed into a nightmare world. The mobility and superiority of tanks and aircraft were largely canceled out. They were the key to the river, but it would take a bitter struggle in the forest by several divisions before Hodges ordered an attack against them. By September 1944, the British, American, and Canadian Armies were crowding against the borders of Germany. And with the enemy drawing near, now reinforced it further with minefields and barbed wire. 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 … Because it wasn’t a success, the American government and press didn’t draw attention to the fighting for the Hurtgen. British troops played a minor part in the campaign, but they were able to gain new respect for the fighting spirit and fortitude of their allies. When the appalling losses were revealed, some participants and high-ranking officers, both American and German, questioned the necessity of the campaign and regarded it as a major blunder on the part of General Bradley. General J. 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