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.
Experiences of Erwin Bergfeld
I was a Lance Corporal in 13th Company, GrenReg115 (heavy infantry guns --- light infantry guns --- and 12-cm mortars). I was in the 3rd Platoon.
On November 18, 1944 we reached Obergeich from Merode. Our position was to the right of the Hohlweg above Schlohstrabe behind the gardens between the village and the forest. We had tow heavy infantry guns and one light infantry gun positioned under the fruit trees behind the houses. This is where we were until relief came on November 28, 1944.
I was in the dugout for the whole time, no relief except for one night during which I could sleep for a few hours in a basement in Merode. We were lying on coals covered by straw in a cellar. The vault was so low, or coals and straw were stacked so high, that we only crawl into our beds. Most likely it was the house of farmer Ignatz Hourtz.
On a certain day my comrade Sievers was hit in the back by a splinter. I brought him to Merode castle while it was still dark. Medical Orderlies took him over at the gate. We went back into our position.
I don't recall to have fired as much as one single shot with the light infantry gun. How Sievers had gotten the wound remained a mystery to me. I do remember seeing many American planes though.
The only gun that fired was the heavy infantry gun to my right. Our forward observer was Corporal Steinberg.
As I have already said relief came on November 28, 1944.
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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