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.


Memories of Captain Willi Arend,
II. Battalion, Grenadier Regiment 115
of 47th Volks Grenadier Division


The railroad transport of my II. Battalion, GrenReg 115, stopped at the eastern boundary of Eschweiler as far as I could see, north of the Autobahn. The station I which we disembarked was probably Station Frenz. At first, a deployment in the bunker area of the Westwall south of the Autobahn had been intended. I remember having visited some of the bunkers with an advance commando group. The plan was changed, however, and my battalion received orders to move into position in the Merode area, at the edge of a wide-open field, about 500 meters east of Merode Castle. I found the regimental command post in a cellar of a house in the lower part of the village. There my battalion received more precise orders as to what fortified position to defend. We were sent to a clearly defined area that ran west of the castle for several hundred meters in north-south direction. The companies moved into their positions at the edge of the large forest, which begins on the foothills west of the castle and expands south and west from there. I established my battalion command post in a tower of the castle. The first-aid unit was also located there.

The position was quiet at first. We had no contact with the enemy. There was only little artillery fire. Occasionally, reconnaissance planes appeared.

Two days later I received orders to attack westward through the forest in order to wrestle down the enemy. I myself have been part of a reconnaissance patrol the night before the attack in order to gain a personal impression of the situation on the enemy's side. We met advance guards of the enemy about 1 km west of our positions and were immediately taken under artillery fire. It was impossible to find out anything precise about the enemy's position, his strength, etc. due to the woodland that was very difficult to survey.

As we learned, there was no sufficient artillery support for our attack the next morning. Therefore we were advised to use all available anti-tank guns as artillery pieces in the attack even though there was a clear lack of experience with such a usage.

The attack was conducted westward into the woods and the enemy could easily spot it with help of aerial reconnaissance as we still built up our troops. Artillery fire started and made it very difficult for us to advance but we did not stop. Already in this early phase of the engagement, a grenade splinter burst through my left foot and made it impossible for me to walk. During a break in the battle I was brought to Merode Castle and from there I was taken to the hospital in Bad Godesberg via Dren at night.

The affiliation to GrenReg 115 had a very inexplicable character for me especially since I had been a soldier in France, and, even more so, in Russia, for two years.


(This may or may not be part of the same account)

As I noticed, most of the remainders of the combat group of GrenReg115 had been captured on 12/17/1944. During the prisoner transport I met several comrades from the battalion. If I am not mistaken Captain Dohrmann was one of them. I did not know him well. Others I knew only by name. [10]

My last field post number was 22258C. Two letters, dated 1/21/45 and 1/26/45 respectively to my parents were labeled:

Dienststelle 22258C and were signed by sergeant major Schoale and the company CO Stricker. [11]

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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