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.
A Chronile: the Huertgen Forest Campaign
The Adversaries, Miscellaneous Units:
3rd PanzerGrenDiv in combat near Inden
3rd PanzerGrenDiv was in the Würselen area, northeast of Aachen, prepared for defensive actions, when the American offensive started on 11/16/44. In the course of the enemy's attacks the division fought its way to the rear, eastward. Its defense was based on Altdorf, Inden, and Lamersdorf by 11/27/44. The crucial point was to prevent or at least delay the enemy from advancing to the Roer (Rur) and subsequently the Rhine.
2.) The terrain:
The towns mentioned above are all located in the Inde valley but from there the terrain ascends steeply to the west and soon offers an unobstructed view over Pattern, Lohn, Pützlohn, and even farther. The eastern banks of the Inde are much higher than the western banks, especially in the southern sector of the division. The Lucherberg area offered especially good surveying opportunities for the artillery and later also for the heavy weapons of the infantry.
3.) Our tactical situation:
The defenders lay in positions on the ridge south of Altdorf, Inden, and Lamersdorf. Combat group by combat group, with good cooperation and a good connection to the heavy weapons. Enemy attacks had been repulsed for two days from these positions. The casualties of the battles so far didn't allow anything more than such a loose defense, base by base along the ridge. A consequence of this loose formation was that the defenders survived enemy air raids and artillery fire it also increased the danger of enemy infiltration at dark. A breakthrough was a possibility if one or two bases were to be taken out. Furthermore, it was no longer possible to build up sufficient forces for counterattacks so that the fights in the villages had to be conducted with soldiers who were streaming back from the bases.
4.) The battle on 11/27 and 11/28:
The days between 11/24 and 11/26 were rather quiet from an infantry point of view even though there was strong artillery fire and fighter-bomber activity.
On 11/27/44 the enemy resumed his attack against the Inde bridgehead. With about a battalion each, and tank support, he attacked from Pattern to the east and from Frenz to Lamersdorf. The main-combat line was held in fierce fighting.
On 11/28/44 the enemy formed to attack at about 4 a.m. in the Pattern-Lohn area. Under cover of the night he managed to outflank our widely dispersed bases, just as it had been feared. Some of them fell to the enemy that was coming at them from all directions. Altdorf fell at approximately 7 a.m.
Almost simultaneously, the enemy pushed into the northern part of Inden. The town was defended by parts of PanzerGrenReg 29, which had the Combat Group Nohse as an  additional external unit. A counterattack that was immediately started was stopped by the fierce defense after initial gains. The northern part of Inden remained in the hands of the enemy.
Lamersdorf was attacked thrice. The assaults were repelled but the enemy managed to infiltrate the south of the town. A very adeptly conducted counterattack, by only two oflicers, a few men, and some assault guns, recovered the town. It was completely under our control again.
5.) Assessment of the situation:
The general situation, the broader picture, showed that the battle so far had significantly contributed to slowing down the enemy advance. Every additional day that the Inde bridgehead could be held was a success. But if we wanted to win the battle and especially to hold on to the still intact bridge, we had to recover all of Inden. The uninjured state of the main bridge in Inden, which could still be used by vehicles of all kinds, came as a surprise. The division had expected that all bridges across the Inde would be destroyed in enemy air raids or by long-range artillery. In order to counter the effect we had assembled bridge-building material so that we could have had a chance to cross the river if need be. Even after all available vehicles had left the western banks of the Inde, we still needed armored vehicles and lead vehicles in order to defend the bridgehead. This was another reason why a river crossing had to be kept open. Hence the division ordered a counterattack against the northern part of Inden for early morning of 11/29/44. Naturally, this included defensive activities in the west and south of the town.
6.) The battle on 11/29/44:
The counterattack, led by PanzerGrenReg 29 and the subordinate Combat Group Lohse, gained ground slowly. It was a hard fight, with all the difficulties of in-town combat. The enemy clung to each and every house and despite the gains made in the attack, Inden was not fully recovered. There was still close contact to the enemy on the northern fringes of town. The 84 prisoners that were taken and the enemy casualties, made the attack a success of sorts nevertheless. Enemy pressure on Inden from the north was decreasing. But in the afternoon the enemy attacked Inden from the northwest, supported by tanks. This attack was repulsed and several tanks were disabled. We still held the town.
At dawn of the same day the enemy attacked Lamersdorf. using a battalion and 10 tanks operating out of Frenz. There was tough seesaw combat over there too. In the course of the events the enemy managed to infiltrate Lamersdorf South. The breakthrough was sealed off, however. The successful anti-tank measures and the artillery fire that was directed from the hills near Lucherberg, Had enabled the defenders once again to withstand a force superior in numbers and equipment. But in the early afternoon the enemy attacked again, with stronger forces, we counted 24 tanks. This time the attack came from the northwest, west, and southwest. Assault guns and panzer Jäger disabled five tanks, another one was hit in close-range combat. After all anti-tank guns had been taken out by either enemy fire or defects, the town could no longer be held. The  defenders were shifted to the eastern banks after the bridge had been destroyed. Lamersdorf fell to the enemy in the evening hours.
The division was finally relieved in the night 11/29-30, as far as I remember by 246th VolksGrenDiv in Inden and to the north and by 3rd ParaDiv to the south.
With that the deployment of 3rd PanzerGrenDiv in the Inde area was over. The division had suffered heavy casualties in the fierce defensive battle since 11/16/44. But the division had also contributed to the slowing down of the enemy assault on the Roer, especially with her stand in the Inde bridgehead. This was not without influence on the greater tactical situation.
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 20 October 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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