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.
Hans Zeplien, Captain (Ret.)
Report about my deployment in the Langerwehe area and about the replacement of 1st Company, GrenReg 89 on 11/30/1944 by a company of 3rd ParaDiv:
During the night 11/26-11/27/44 I retreated with my company squad of 14th panzer Infantry Company, GrenReg 89, from the fringes of Weisweiler to Langerwehe via Frenz. This was according to orders I had received. Company squad meant I officer and 3 runners. Coming from Frenz we reached a highway bridge that night and that promised maximum protection against artillery fire. At first I thought we should dig in there until 1 st Tank Destroyer Platoon (Sgt. Peters) and the remainders of 1./89 passed by. But since I didn't have any connection to I. Battalion, GrenReg 89 that night, we marched on to Langerwehe, looking for the regimental command post. We found it in a basement on the northwestern fringes of Langerwehe, near the road to the Frenzerburg. I reported at the regimental office and then set up my company command post in the basement of the house next door. I reported with the regimental CO, Lieutenant Colonel Lembke, in the morning of 11/27/44.
Early in the evening of 11/27/44 1 left with one runner toward the Frenzerburg. The idea was to organize the tank defense in cooperation with Sergeant Peters, the leader of 1 st Tank Destroyer Platoon, who had been sent there earlier. We walked along a back road, downhill until we reached the meadows. This edge of Langerwehe did not lie under American artillery fire at that point. We could see the Frenzerburg further back in the meadows in the fading light of dusk. That was very important because we didn't really know the area well and didn't have maps.
We went along a drain that was partially covered by willow trees and that led toward the Frenzerburg. Ahead of us everything was quiet. No American artillery fire, no tanks shooting. Only the northwestern part of Langerwehe was still under artillery fire. The ditch that we followed in the dark led to the Frenzerburg, more precisely to the back of the castle. Very shadowy, we could make out an orchard. We sneaked through the orchard toward the parts of the castle that had been damaged by shells, not knowing where exactly our troops were positioned and of course not knowing the positions of the Americans either. When we heard German words, we approached two soldiers of 1./89 and asked for Sergeant Peters. We met him in a hall on the ground floor in the main part of the castle. He walked across the inner yard with me and pointed out the positions of the mortar and the two grenade launching guns. A destroyed Sherman tank stood in the gateway. It blocked the gate. I don't know who had hit the tank. Probably soldiers of 1./89 or soldiers who had been here before them.
On the way back from the grenade launcher positions I met my old fellow group leader from 3rd Platoon of 1st Company, GrenReg 89, Willi Schriewer. We had been in that platoon together in 1940. He was now a First Lieutenant and led the 1st Company of GrenReg 89 that had to defend the Frenzerburg against American infantry assaults but also against a few tanks. We were very happy about this chance encounter after four years.
As we were standing there in the dark, First Lieutenant Schriewer told me that American infantry occupied the houses along the road and I think, if I recall correctly, also part of  the outer ring of the castle. There were still German wounded in that part who had been taken prisoner.
I didn't know where the outhouses of the castle were located because I had entered the castle from the rear, i.e. through the orchard. He wanted to free these German wounded that night and was about to organize an assault squad. I offered him supporting fire and anti-tank means through a grenade launcher.
Subsequently, I left with my runner, we had to get back to Langerwehe. We walked along the ditch in a frantic pace and we advanced quickly since we now knew the enemy positions. We reached Langerwehe without drawing artillery fire. I reported to Lieutenant Colonel Lembke how the positions and situation in the Frenzerburg looked like. I also told him about First Lieutenant Schriewer's plans to free the prisoners.
Late in the afternoon on 11/29/44 I received the order, straight from the regimental CO, to lead a company of 3rd ParaDiv into the Frenzerburg after dark to relieve the remainders of 1st Company, GrenReg 89. I met the soldiers of the ParaDiv near the regimental command post. With one runner and the company leader of the about 80 men strong company I went forward to the Frenzerburg along the ditch. We didn't draw any artillery fire on the way. This was a signal to us that the Americans hadn't noticed the advance of the relief troops.
Inside the Frenzerburg I took the company leader of the paratroopers to the company leader of I ./89, First Lieutenant Schriewer. Schriewer told me on that occasion that he had freed the German wounded and had taken 50 American prisoners in a successful assault the previous night. First Lieutenant Schriewer did not want to join his men on their march to Langerwehe, but instead opted to stay in the castle until he could instruct the new company by daylight.
Thus I returned to Langerwehe only with my runner along the now well-known path, around midnight. No artillery fire. I reported to Lieutenant Colonel Lembke that his orders had been followed and I told him about the current situation inside the Frenzerburg.
Hans Zeplien, Captain (ret.)
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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