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.


A Chronile: the Huertgen Forest Campaign


The Adversaries, Miscellaneous Units:


The Deployment of 3rd ParaDiv in the Düren area between the end of November and mid-December 1944


On 11/22/44 headquarters of Heeresgruppe B requested that the 3rd ParaDiv, already in transfer to the rear should be redirected closer to Düren. The reason was the serious danger to the front due to the resuming allied attacks against Jülich and south of the city as well as due to the planned retreat form the bridgehead Venlo. Army Supreme Command (0KW) and the Chiefs of Staff of the Wehrmacht approved of this redirection but ordered the division to remain east of the Rur. On 11/24/44 the two battalions that had disembarked first were deployed as guards on the eastern bank of the Rur between Niederau and Üdingen. The same day, at 7:30 p.m., 0KW ordered the deployment of 3rd ParaDiv in the Düren area as replacements for 12th and 47th VolksGrenDivs (Group Engel).

Enemy forces, the 9th and 1st U.S. armies had resumed their assault in the greater Aachen area against our 5th Tank Army and the right wing of 7th Army with full steam on 11/16/44. The border between the two German armies ran roughly along a line from Düren-Süd to Stolberg-Süd. The clear objective of the enemy in this "Third Battle of Aachen" was to clear the Rur-area and to breakthrough to the Rhine. The enemy assault was directed most heavily against the Lindern-Linnich section of XII. SS Corps, the Rur bridgeheads Jülich and Düren of LXXXI. Corps, and the northern flank of 7th Army &emdash; LXXXI V. Corps south of Düren.

According to German intelligence there were four additional armored divisions and two infantry divisions held back behind the front. They were surely meant to be the key reserves to force a breakthrough across the Rur to the east.

West of Düren, between the sectors of 3rd Armored GrenDiv and 344th InfDiv, 12th and 47th VGD defended the bulge in the front (to the West) from Lammersdorf via Weisweiler to Merode. The two VGDs had been combined under Group Engel under the command of the CO of l2th VGD. Both divisions had suffered extremely heavy casualties in previous constant combat. Fresh troops absolutely had to be brought in as replacements. Group Engel formed the southern flank of LXXXI. Corps with its combat post in Etzweiler, which included Group Manteufel, the cover name of AOK 15 under its commandeer, General of the Infantry von Zangen.

11/26/44 was another day that brought heavy casualties for Group Engel. Resuming its attacks from the previous day, the enemy assaulted the front-line between Lamersdorf and Jüngersdorf. In the afternoon the enemy gained ground on both sides of Frenzerburg due to support from about 40 tanks and 150 fighter-bombers. The town itself remained in German hands. The enemy took Height 203 south of Langerwehe in an attack from southwest. The already thin German front-line was weakened by a gap northwest of Merode. They tried to close it with counterattacks from the north and east.

(And there the report stops. There is only that one page in the folder as it seems.)

[65 - 66]


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 20 October 2003.

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