Heroes: the Army


"In combat, being under enemy fire can best be described as being placed in a railroad marshaling yard. You are standing on one side facing the row upon row of tracks in front of you. You are then blindfolded and ordered to slowly walk across the busy tracks. The not knowing if and when one of those moving trains will hit you as you slowly proceed across is a little like facing enemy fire."


Joe Salzano,
Survivor of the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest,
13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division



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 Joseph Salzano

  • Branch of Service: Army
  • Unit: 8th Infantry Division,
    13th Infantry Regiment
  • Dates: 1940 - 1945
  • Location: European Theater
  • Rank:
  • Birth Year: 1922
  • Entered Service: New York, NY


Joseph Salzano Image Circa November 1945



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IMAGE of WWII medal


IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal



German Accounts of Actions Opposing the 8th Division:

We at World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words, have been given permission by the contributor, Mr. Joseph Salzano, to place the following German accounts of some of the fierce battles in which his unit, the 13th Regiment, 8th Division participated in.

The following accounts contain some five additional pages that have been added to the accounts of Mr. Joe Salzano's personal accounts of his actions during this major campaing.

By reading the following pages, you can get an idea of how this heated action was viewed by the adversaries facing the American advance into Germany.

These accounts also give some individual soldier's recollections as well as some civilian accounts of their experiences during this major campaign.

The following pages were originally documents written in German -- and then were painstakingly translated into English at the University of Maryland.

The following are accounts relating to the Battle of the Huertgen Forest -- in which the American forces suffered some 28,000 casualities -- while the German casualities can be only guessed at...

Notations as such [1] indicate the Page # from the original document.



47th Volks Grenadier Division at the Western Front.


Report of Anton Hall


On October 18, 1944, I arrived in Denmark at the headquarters of 4th Company, GrenReg 1./15 (47th VolksGrenDiv). I had traveled with a rear-guard from the training ground in Wildflecken.

I took command over an SMG group. Equipment and training level were insufficient. The young soldiers had only gone through eight weeks of basic training. On November 9, 1944 we were put on trains and sent off to the western front. We disembarked in bright daylight in an open field somewhere near Duren. We were very lucky indeed that no enemy bombers were in the area flying at low-altitude because of the rainy weather conditions. Since I had already gained combat experience in southern Italy, I was assigned to the advance guard. We drove a small truck to the city limits of Stolberg. There I experienced the shelling of Duren. The earth was shaking and this impact could be felt all the way to Stolberg. After dusk we relieved a unit I didn't know and we ourselves were relieved by midnight. It was our bad luck that our arrival in the area coincided with a beginning American offensive. The inexperienced regiment was in way over their heads.

The regiment consisted of only two battalions; usually there are three. At night we arrived at a castle or maybe a forester's house and spent some time in the farm-buildings. The next morning enemy tanks attacked and we didn't even have one measly grenadelauncher. We ran out of the building and dug in in a hedgehog position so that we could defend ourselves to all sides. Nothing happened, however. A reconnaissance group detected that we were behind the enemy's main-combat line. We left at dusk, the objective being to reach Merode. After a few hundred meters we captured six Americans who had been busy laying cable for field-phones. Subsequently, we came under heavy mortar fire and the company was split up. We had wounded men to contain with and we advanced very slowly. At dawn we reached a German advance post, a listening post in the Marienbildehen area. We got permission to stay in Merode for the following day and night. We also got food, finally. The livestock was bleating in the stables. In the afternoon a woman approached me and asked me to help her taking care of the animals. I was happy to help. One cow had already died, others were wounded. Since I myself am a farmer, I was 20 years old at the time, this showed me again how cruel and pointless war is.

The next morning a defensive position was established in the direction at Schonthal. The Laufenburg had already been taken by the enemy. Around noon of 11/24/44 we learned from a wounded prisoner that an attack was planned for 1 p.m. &emdash; 1 battalion was scheduled for that time. We were running out of time. We had to retreat in the face of such an immensely superior American force. At 4 p.m. we had to surrender, right at the wooden tower (Point 224.9). There was no way out. They came at us like birds of prey. Watches and such were very much sought-after items. But the Americans overlooked a hand-grenade in the pocket of my uniform coat. I dropped it and it may still be lying somewhere on the ground in the forest today. Before we could be taken away soldiers from Merode arrived, carrying food. They walked straight into captivity with full food [14] containers. The containers were emptied-out right before our yes. And we were so hungry. We had eaten our iron ration long ago. Now we had to march to Merode, hands up in the air all the way. Military police had also arrived in Merode.

I came to the U.S. in April 1945, in May 1946 it was back to France. We were eventually transferred to French authorities, which was a bitter experience! I worked for a nice family in southern France, agriculture, and was released in March 1948.

A painful time with many hardships was now over. I still praise the Lord that I have survived the war, especially given that three of my brothers fell in Russia. [15]


image of NEWAdversaries of the 8th Infantry Division
Some Stories and View Points from the German Side

Following the receipt of the letter above, Mr. Salzano offered to allow us the use of the following information. The next segments portray images of the adversary -- the German side of the bloody battles that the 8th Infantry Division took part in.

Joe Salzano, 8th Infantry Division, 13th Regiment

47th Volks Grenadier Division at the Western Front

A Chronicle
Experiences of Johann Trostorf & Wilhelm Brvenich

Memories of Hubert Gees
Selections from the History of 363rd Infantry Division

Miscellaneous German Units




Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...

8th Infantry Division

Combat Chronicle: 8th Infantry Division

Combat History of the 8th Infantry Division in WWII

Personal Stories from the 8th Infantry Division

Chronology of the 8th Infantry Division

Divisional Information: 8th Infantry Division

Historiography of the Huertgen Forest Campaign 1944-1945

American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll


Information and photographs were generously provided to World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words by Mr. Joseph Salzano of Rockville, Maryland. Our sincerest THANKS for allowing us to share this stories!

Original Story submitted on 9 August 2003.
Story added to website on 30 September 2003.

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