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

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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 Diary of Karl Schacht


It is impossible for me to report my personal experiences during the deployment in the Langerwche-Duren-Merode area. It would make up a whole book. Contrary to most of my comrades I had actually received a good infantry training (pre-military training in life in the field and shooting at the Reichstraining ground Germeter near Hurtgen). Tragic: two years later, only a few kilometers away, in the Merode forest, it was suddenly serious. Infantry training with the Grenadier Reserves Battalion 116 in Marburg/Lahn. Because I had the luck of a soldier to survive the deployment in the combat group I now have many memories about comrades, superiors, enemies (things that were both positive and negative).

Therefore, I have listed the following as a chronicle of GrenReg 115 about the course of events during my time with 6th Company:

10/1 &emdash; 10/10/44

Training ground Wildflecken., Company leader Lieutenant Stricker, Platoon leader 3rd Platoon Sergeant Behrend, Group leader Lance Corporal Meyer (still listed as missing in action), Company Sergeant Major Schwab.
Field post number 48476 C

10/11 - 10/12/44

Railroad transport

10/13 &emdash; 11/11/44

Denmark (Allestrup), at about the end of the month: new company leader &emdash; don't remember name &emdash; was a lieutenant and had been a staffer, Lieutenant Stricker was now platoon leader of 1st Platoon, company got bikes, field post number 22528 C

11/10 &emdash; 11/14/44

Railroad transport


Disembarking in Elsdorf/Rhineland

11/13 &emdash; 11/14/44

Are at Buir near Duren. 2nd Platoon receives anti-tank guns


Bike ride to Eschweiler. Spend time in an ak- raid shelter. Bikes are parked in a barn, won't ever see them again. Nightly march into a forest (ridge south of Eschweiler) in the sector of 12th VolksGrenDiv. There, waiting for a few hours.


Heavy artillery assault and breakthrough of the Americans near Stolberg.

11/16 &emdash; 11/17/44

Forced march to Lamersdorf near Langerwehe. Stay in a bunker, a concrete barrel actually, near a mill or farmhouse in the valley. Company leader fell victim to grenade splinters in the chest, 5 meters away from me, just as we were going to get the food. [23]

Lieutenant Stricker regains command over the company. Night march to Schlich.


Night march to Schlich. (Repetition in the original &emdash; the translator)

11/19/44 4 a.m.

10 a.m.

March into the position on a ridge near Merode

Attack, direction of the Laufenburg, group leader Meyer likely to have died in a direct artillery hit, is listed as MIA. Two dead, one severely wounded in my group. I suffer a contusion in the foot and take a seriously wounded soldier to the aid station in Merode castle, two comrades help me.

In the evening we are taken to a bigger aid station in Arnoldsweiler in an ambulance.

11/20 &emdash; 11/22/44

Stay in the aid station Arnoldsweiler.

11/22 &emdash; 11/23/44

March on foot to Merode.


Stay in a gathering point for soldier that have been split from their units, in Derichsweiler. In the evening on to the regimental command post in Merode.


By night into position of 6th Company in the spruce enclosure, along with the meal- carriers. Lieutenant Stricker reportedly shot in the arm on 11/21 or 22. Platoon leader Sergeant Behrend severely wounded on 11/22. New company and platoon leaders, names unknown.

11/26 &emdash; 11/27/44

Static warfare in the spruce enclosure. American attacks without success.

11/28/44 midnight

Relieved by parts of 3rd ParaDiv in the spruce enclosure.


Foot march from Merode to Oberzier to the company tram.


Stay in Oberzier. We are only 8 men now. At night march to Heimbach/Eifel.


Stay in Heimbach. Company reinforced by remainders of other units and reserves.

Did we keep the name 6th Company? I think so.


Night march Heimbach &emdash; Kreuzau

12/03 &emdash; 12/08/44

Gathering point Kreuzau, at the Rur. [24]

12/09 &emdash; 12/13/44

Trenches north of Gurzenich at the railroad Aachen &emdash; Duren.


American attack on Gurzenich and our entrenched position. Company retreats. I am the only one of my group who reaches the company. All others are taken prisoner. The rest of the company takes up new positions in Mariaweiler. Renewed American attacks in the afternoon. The railroad bridge across the Rur is blown up, behind us. We have suffered heavy casualties and escape across the remaining pieces of the bridge, respectively through the water to the other bank.


Report in the regimental command post in Duren. In the evening selection of an assault platoon consisting of a lieutenant and three groups of the regiment.


After a night march to the eastern city limits of Gurzenich no contact with the enemy at first. Later the lieutenant and his first assault group are wiped out. The other two groups remain under cover.

At dark a comrade and I retreat to Rolsdorf. Everyone else is taken prisoner. We reach our main-combat line in Rolsdorf. We haven't slept in three days and nights. We fall asleep because of exhaustion.

12/17/44 10 a.m.


2 p.m.

We wake up. The Americans march past the basement window.

The Americans now search the houses. I am captured. [25]

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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