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."
Survivor of the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest,
13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division
Joseph Salzano Image Circa November 1945
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: 8th Infantry Division,
13th Infantry Regiment
- Dates: 1940 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Birth Year: 1922
- Entered Service: New York, NY
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  indicate the Page # from the original document.
47th Volks Grenadier Division at the Western Front.
Report of Emil Weib
Report of Emil Weib, soldier in 6th Company, GrenReg 404 of 246th VGD.
I was in unit 6/404. We dug in in the fields between Inden and Pier. We received replacements in Pier. Then we moved into the positions along the railroad embankment Inden-Pier. As far as we knew about the other side, they were said to be colored. We launched our attack all the way to the Inde with nine Tigers and four Panthers. The American retreated, vacated Inden, and fell back on Pattern. As far as I know Inden has changed hands five or six times. Combat was very tough, especially the hand-to hand fighting. The Americans attacked with tanks over and over again. They mostly shelled the area around the train station, our center of gravity. In our final attack, Regiment 404 was wiped out except for 44 men. Most of the casualties were due to artillery fire, many comrades had died or been captured.
After we had regrouped, we were pulled back to Niederzier on 12/11/44. We should launch an attack on Lucherberg on 12/12, reinforced with newly assigned Luftwaffe forces (paratroopers). We let Inden be Inden for now. The assault was well prepared by tanks and artillery. A barrage of approximately 2,000 rounds was supposed to hit the enemy.
Regiments 404 and 689/246th Division, Major Ritter, carried the assault to about 150 meters short of Lucherberg. We took up positions 200 meters outside Lucherberg. From here the infiltration should be initiated by tanks after a brief artillery assault. We waited for the artillery barrage but it only comprised of about 600-800 rounds, much less than planned. As soon as it stopped we rose and charged at Lucherberg. The Americans must have noticed the attack early because there was no artillery activity, only single shots, while on the other days there had always been barrages on our dugouts.
The attack bogged down under the sudden outburst of the American artillery, which formed a ring around Lucherberg. Even American positions were hit by that wild barrage. We suffered heavy casualties, especially since the attack had failed. When both regiments reached the jump-off line again, there were only four men left. Lucherberg had been attacked in a semi-circle, along 800 meters of front-line. But the enemy did not capitalize on this moment of weakness, instead he just remained where he was. We had attacked Lucherberg because we intended to gain this strategically important look-out deep into the hinterland.
The remainders were gathered in Pier after that disastrous assault. Added to the mix were all the troops that were still available in Niderzier, Luftwaffe and paratroopers. We took up prepared positions in Kirchberg. This position was needed for the Rundstedt offensive, Our objective was solely to withstand the pressure. We noticed much decrease in the American pressure after the Rundstedt offensive, especially the artillery was much less active. The enemy kept quiet. Only occasionally we could observe American reconnaissance patrols on the road Inden-Pier. The assault on Lucherberg was the last bigger fight near Inden.
Adversaries 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
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.
September 5, 2002.
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