As for the thirsty, each general in First Army received a monthly consignment of a case of gin and half cases of scotch and bourbon; lesser officers combined their allotments in a nightly ritual to make 12 quarts of martinis for the Hôtel Britannique mess, a grand ballroom with mirrors on three walls and exquisite windows filling the fourth. A killer. It might as well be an unpopular item for American history-writing because of the lack of success and the massive losses. There is a German cemetery nearby and I would recommend visiting that also. The 112th Infantry’s 2nd Battalion was considered “destroyed as a fighting unit,” another unit smashed to pieces. In late October the Bloody Bucketeers—as they called themselves with sardonic pride—assembled beneath the yellow-gashed firs. The dead accumulated in stiff piles, covered with fir branches until graves registration teams could bear them away. “Lieutenant, are my legs still there?” a wounded soldier asked his platoon leader. Had the generals seen the battlefield clearly, reclaiming Schmidt would have been the least of their concerns. 2,347 are buried here), HURTGEN CEMETERY – The Hurtgen German Military Cemetery (3,0001 burial’s) and the story about Lt Lengfeld – The German officer who lost his life, trying to aid a severely wounded American soldier, in the minefield in this location, A Field grave, in the forest, near Germeter, of a young 19 year old Luftwaffe soldier -Benno Schott, Field grave of an American soldier (Sgt Lemuel Herbert) at Kommerscheidt, The intense fighting in and around Obermaubach & Untermaubach and it’s important bridge. A relief battalion from the 110th Infantry that had been ordered to huddle together for warmth in Vossenack—“just like cattle do in a storm,” one survivor reported—attracted a 30-minute artillery barrage. With that, the final battle for Europe would unfold, he said, in “three general phases”: an unsparing struggle west of the Rhine, the seizure of bridgeheads over the river, and finally a mortal dagger thrust into the heart of Germany. Translated by Paul Patton 1995. Seven dams built for flood control, drinking water, and hydroelectric power stood near the headwaters of the Roer, which arose in Belgium and spilled east through the German highlands before flowing north across the Cologne plain and eventually emptying into the Maas southeast of Eindhoven. Hurtgen Forest (2) Subscribe. Such a command climate bred inordinate caution, suppressing both initiative and élan, and the men making up First Army’s senior staff made it worse. Pulling on an Old Gold, Hodges also berated Cota, but then rounded on Gerow in a crimson tirade—“tougher than I had ever heard him before,” Collins later recalled. His body was found in July 1981, RAFFELSBRAND – The battles for the heavily defended Raffelsbrand Road Junction Bunkers & extensive trench systems, Remnants of ” The Westwall” (Dragon’s Teeth) at Simmerath, Paustenbach & Lammersdorf, Rott (Norman “Dutch” Cota’s Command post -28th Infantry Division), James E Rudder’s Command Post – Germeter (2nd Ranger Battalion), Roetgen/Rott (Dragon’s Teeth) – 1st penetration of the Siegfried Line – September 13th 1944-Task Force Lovelady – 3rd Armored division. A relief force of 400 men had fought across a firebreak in the Kall gorge to reach Kommerscheidt on Sunday, but none of the accompanying tanks or tank destroyers could bull through German roadblocks. The Hürtgen neutralized U.S. military advantages in armor, artillery, air power, and mobility, but Hodges was convinced that no First Army drive to the Roer was possible without first securing the forest and capturing Schmidt, from which every approach to the river was visible. Machine gun post manned by men of 1st Battalion 157th Regiment US 45th Division near Bastogne Belgium; note M1919 Browning heavy machine gun. je eigen pins op Pinterest. No terrain analysis was undertaken, nor were the dams mentioned in tactical plans. A soldier asked Iris Carpenter as she scribbled in her reporter’s notepad, “Do you tell ’em their brave boys are livin’ like a lot of fornicatin’ beasts, that they’re doin’ things to each other that beasts would be ashamed to do?” A veteran sergeant who believed the Hürtgen more wretched than anything he had experienced in North Africa, Sicily, or Normandy, quoted King Lear, act 4, scene 1: “The worst is not / So long as we can say ‘This is the worst.’”, To a soldier named Frank Maddalena, who went missing in the forest in mid-November, his wife, Natalie, mother of his two children, wrote from New York: “I see you everywhere—in the chair, behind me, in the shadows of the room.” In another note she added, “Still no mail from you. There by chance Model had just started a map exercise with his top commanders, positing a theoretical American attack near the Hürtgenwald. This is a less-known but very impressive battle during the Allied 1944-autumn offensives in Western Europe. He drove 20 miles to Rott, strode into the gasthaus where Cota had put his headquarters, and voiced his pleasure that the 28th Division was obviously “in fine fettle, rarin’ to go.” The battle plan, Hodges informed Cota, was “excellent.”, In fact, it was badly flawed. “This was my personal Valley of the Shadow,” a medic wrote. “It turned out to be the worst place of any.”, The Hürtgenwald had been fortified as part of the Siegfried Line, beginning in 1938. Site of blown bridge. A German engineer interrogated in Spa intimated that a wall of water could barrel down the Roer. We can enter one of these bunkers, to see how well they were built and how the young German soldiers lived, SCHMIDT -The 2 ferocious Battles for Schmidt (28th & 78th Infantry Divisions), GERMETER – The Germeter – Hurtgen road and the location where a Sherman tank fell into a huge crator, WILDESAU -The former massive German “Wildesau” (Wild Sow) Minefield location, on the Germeter-Hurtgen road (b399), Field Marshall Walter Model’s grave & The Vossenack German Military Cemetery (Hill 470). I really don’t know what to think anymore. An abrupt, piercing scream unmanned Company G, which fled for the rear through Vossenack, and the contagion instantly infected the ranks. You’re getting yours, aincha?”. Copyright © 2013. Early in the morning of September 14th, 1944, elements of the 9th Infan… War History Online. MERODE – a fine example of extensive German trenches can be clearly seen here, in the now peaceful forest. “The 28th Division situation is going from bad to worse,” First Army’s war diary noted on Tuesday. German engineers more recently had pruned timber for fields of fire, built log bunkers with interlocking kill zones, and sowed mines by the thousands on trails and firebreaks; along one especially vicious trace, a mine could be found every eight paces for three miles. First Army’s capture of Aachen and breach of the Siegfried Line in the adjacent Stolberg corridor left barely 20 miles to traverse before the Rhine. The New York Times war correspondent Drew Middleton reported that fleeing German troops had left behind in an Italian restaurant a recording of “Lili Marlene”; GIs played the disc incessantly while assuring skeptical Belgians that “the song had been taken prisoner…and could no longer be considered German.” Almost hourly, the clatter of a V-1 bound for the key Belgian shipping port of Antwerp from one of the launch sites in the Reich could be heard in the heavens above Spa. “Damn the dams.”, ATTACKING THE WORST PLACE OF ANY now fell to Major General Norman “Dutch” Cota and his 28th Division, still recovering from the September skirmishes that had revived the division’s World War I nickname, the Bloody Bucket, so called for their red keystone insignia. The exploded and buried German bunkers and a long impressive stretch of Dragon’s Teeth can be seen here. German machine-gun bullets ripped through foxholes; scarlet tank fire blew the town apart, house by house. By mid-October the division was still far short of Schmidt and had suffered 4,500 casualties to gain 3,000 yards—a man down every two feet—and no battalion in the two spearhead regiments could field more than 300 men. To find out more about my “Hell of the Hurtgen Forest” WW2 Tour please contact me for more information. It was the longest battle on German ground during World War II. Items include 2 civilian silver spoons, a coffee ration packet, various kit buttons, shrapnel, M1 Garand rifle bullets, Garand ammo clip, an Artillery uniform button, wire and the best discovery of all – a sewing thimble. By day’s end the 110th had gained not a yard, and by week’s end the regiment would be rated “no longer an effective fighting force.”. This Week in History - WWII - 1944 - The Battle of Hurtgen Forest. No, that did not happen, would not, could not. All told, 120,000 soldiers sustained 33,000 casualties in what the historian Carlo D’Este would call “the most ineptly fought series of battles of the war in the West.” A captured German document reported that “in combat in wooded areas the American showed himself completely unfit,” a harsh judgment that had a whiff of legitimacy with respect to American generalship. Hürtgen Forest, Germany has been a favorite spot of collectors since WWII. Army engineers grooming the trail ran for their lives, as German sappers mined the switchbacks, set up ambushes, and cut off more than a thousand GIs east of the ravine. As the members of this colicky command group settled into Spa and prepared for the coming campaign, they all agreed with the GIs: It was time to take the “hit” out of Hitler. The attack began no better for the 109th Regiment on the left flank. The army historian Forrest Pogue described one cashiered officer waiting by the road for a ride to the rear, belongings piled about him “like a mendicant.”. Battle of Hurtgen Forest. Charles B. MacDonald, the author of the army’s official account, described the retreat: “Like blind cattle the men thrashed through the underbrush. “The enemy has continued to reinforce his forces in the West,” he cabled his lieutenants. Exhausted after Friday’s trudge through the Kall gorge in heavy overcoats with full field packs, the 3rd Battalion sent out no patrols and scattered 60 antitank mines—delivered during the night by tracked M29 Weasel cargo carriers—on three approach roads without attempting to implant or camouflage them. Plus a visit to the excellent Vossenack Museum. Colonel Dickson, First Army’s intelligence chief, disagreed. Reeling from lack of sleep and grieving for his gutted command, Cota phoned Gerow to propose that survivors marooned across the ravine retreat to a new line west of the Kall. Definitely worth a visit. Peevish and insulated, ever watchful for hints of disloyalty, Hodges showed an intolerance for perceived failure that was harsh even by the exacting standards of the U.S. Army. Browse more videos. Two American battalions in column spilled down a twisting cart track, then forded the icy Kall near an ancient sawmill and emerged from the beeches limning the far ridge to pounce on the drab hamlet of Kommerscheidt. The First Army commander, Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges, moved his office into Hindenburg’s old Britannique suite and settled in to ponder how to wage a late autumn campaign in northern Europe. Germany. German bunkers here and M.G position, Hill 203 – Heistern -many American 18th Infantry foxholes here, The heavily defended town of Lammersdorf. Senior officers in First Army would spend the rest of their lives trying to explain the tactical logic behind their Hürtgen battle plan. He sometimes insisted that situation reports show even platoon dispositions—a finicky level of detail far below an army commander’s legitimate focus—and he complained in his war diary that “too many of these battalions and regiments of ours have tried to flank and skirt and never meet the enemy straight on.” He believed it “safer, sounder, and in the end, quicker to keep smashing ahead.” “Straight on” and “smashing ahead” would be Hodges’s battlefield signature, with all that such frontal tactics implied. Barking officers grabbed at their soldiers’ herringbone collars in an attempt to turn them, but hundreds leaked down the road toward Kommerscheidt, forsaking their dead and wounded. World War 2 Relic & Treasure Hunting in Hurtgenwald in Germany If they had been, even under heavy German artillery fire, casualties “would not be high nor would ground be lost.” During the battle, Hodges complained, the division staff appeared to have “no precise knowledge of the location of their units and were doing nothing to obtain it.” The First Army commander wanted Cota to know that he was “extremely disappointed.” Before driving back to Spa, Hodges told Gerow that “there may be some personnel changes made.”, The gray weather grew colder. The last of the Hohenzollerns to wear the crown, Kaiser Wilhelm II, arrived here from Berlin in October 1918, to fantasize about unleashing the army on his own rebellious volk; instead he chose abdication and exile in the Netherlands. Low clouds and fog had impaired Allied fighter-bombers for the past two days; with luck, reinforcements could hasten forward, unimpeded, on the good roads threading the Roer valley. (Jump off-positions began here). This article is excerpted from the third and final installment, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944–1945, by Rick Atkinson. Plus some great “Then & Now” photos, inc one at the location of the so-called “Hurtgen Hotel” – 8th Division’s – 121st Infantry Regiment’s temporary C.P. Date of experience: November 2016. Prominent along the medium-sized river were the massive dams at Schwammenauel and Urft, which together restrained 123,000 acre-feet of water. “I wish everybody could see them,” he said in his soft drawl. Ernest Hemingway, who for several weeks would live in a fieldstone house south of Stolberg near the village of Vicht while filing reports for Collier’s, suggested that it would “save everybody a lot of trouble if they just shot them as soon as they got out of the trucks.”. But Hodges saw no reason to delay clearing the Hürtgen and seizing Schmidt. The Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. Ernie Kovacs, U.S. comedian and television personality. A smaller group of litter-bearers carried the wounded down the trail, past GI corpses crushed to pulp by the earlier armor traffic, while several hundred “effectives” set out cross country, each grasping the shoulder of the man in front and moving through woods so dark they produced the illusion of walking into a lake at midnight. Of the 13 corps and division commanders relieved in 12th Army Group during the war, 10 would fall from grace in First Army, the most recent being Major General Charles Corlett of XIX Corps after the German surrender at Aachen earlier in the month. Medics distributed liquor rations donated by rear-echelon officers. 10 December 1944. On Tuesday morning, November 7, the engineers helped beat back a panzergrenadier assault, keeping Vossenack in American hands except for the eastern fringe, dubbed the Rubble Pile, which the Germans would hold for another month. 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