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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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.


The Experiences of Corporal Steinberg


On November 16, 1944, during the day, I was in Eschweiler with the II. Platoon of 1 3th Company, GrenReg 115, 47th VGD. After having been reconfigured, II. Platoon had four heavy mortars, caliber 12. My order was to stay hidden from the enemy during the day because of his air superiority and to wait for new orders. In Eschweiler I ended up with all the gunner crews in the basements of the local high school (Gymnasium). Horses and mortars were hidden away in suitable cellars close by. After I had meticulously searched out the town, I withdrew to the basement of the high school. It seemed that the basement walls were reassuringly thick and it would be hard to even get them to shake. This fact was very reassuring given the likelihood of enemy artillery assaults. Suddenly air-raid alarm sounded. The ham radio in the basement issued the warning: "Enemy air wings approaching Duren." An anxious uneasiness could immediately be felt because Duren and Eschweiler weren't far apart and from the air they may almost look like one city. Now the roaring sound of the enemy bombers could be heard and the storm broke loose. The dropping and exploding of the bombs filled the air with noise. The basement walls shook and one expected the structure to collapse any moment now. For how long this went on I can't say. Obviously, the soldiers breathed a sigh of relief once the all-clear signal had been given. Only later we learned of the scope of the disaster. Duren had been leveled. A few bombs had also been dropped on Eschweiler but without causing much damage. In the late afternoon a runner gives me new orders. I had to move with the whole platoon to the prepared firing positions immediately. Thank God it is already evening and he don't have to deal with low-altitude bombers at least. We leave Eschweiler into a large forest area. Upon reaching the positions I get a new objective.

Another runner takes me and my orderly to the regimental command post somewhere in that forest. The path leads us past dumps of coal, railroad tracks, and abandoned wagons. Occasionally the enemy artillery fires. But we do reach the combat post just a little bit later. Here I am told about my new objective. I am supposed to work as FORWARD OBSERVER inside the new main-combat line. My task is to help with heavy guns to fight off the enemy attack, which is expected for the early morning hours. What a pleasant surprise! Another runner is supposed to take me to a certain lieutenant in our main-combat line who will have additional orders for me. We leave into the darkness and follow a certain railroad track, always very careful not to make much noise. The runner was a very young fellow and he was quite uneasy, even his pants were shaking. The parole for the night was "Black-White!" Without saying a word we walked on the tracks and listened into the night. Suddenly tow shadows, right in front of us. It turned out to be ammunition carriers of the lieutenant I was supposed to meet. Well, I could join them and release the young chap who was very happy about that. In the meantime the moon painted the tracks in pale light and this exhorted the carriers to be extra-careful.

(This document breaks up at this point and I am tempted to say that First.doc is the one that follows, were it not for the single fact that the NCO in said document arrives in the bunker with his runner &emdash; The Translator) [22]


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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