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


IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal

IMAGE of WWII medal


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:


Reported by Alfred Schunke, 6th Company/ParaReg 8


[62] Lance Corporal Martin Schlörith and I joined the 6th Company, ParaReg 8 straight from the 3rd NCO school of the Luftwaffe. The company was put together solely from remainders form other units. We were deployed northwest of Düren in late November 1944. It was our first baptism of fire. Whenever a special mission had to be done the guys form the NCO school had to do it. Martin and I both had a MG 42 but we belonged to different groups.

In the night of November 30, 1944, we had to leave our main-combat line. It was the onetracked narrow-gauge railroad for the lignite opencast working. It came form Konzendorf, bypassed Geich to the southwest, and led to Luchem. We were supposed to take up new positions in the chain of advance guards west of Stüttgerhof-ÖlmühleMettlermühle. Just as we were ready to leave Sergeant Schwierer gave the order that a second MG had to be taken along. This is how my friend Lance Corporal Schlörith joined us. While we sneaked forward, Martin said rather joyfully: "I had to come, something will happen for sure."

Martin went to the Ölmühle with his MG 42 while I took up a position to the right, at the Wehebach. The area looked pretty beaten-up already, shell holes all around. The 1st Platoon that had been positioned here and that we were relieving, had nearly melted away. The whole night went by rather quietly. As they always say, "the calm before the storm," and it was right. Not a single shot fell and noon was already approaching. It must have been about 1 p.m. when pointed artillery fire hit the Ölmühle. It was so heavy that we thought the end had come. After half an hour we could see the red star shells above our heads. The Americans were attacking. I could distinctly hear Martin's MG 42, it fired without a break. The nightmare lasted for a quarter of an hour, the Amis lay on the ground and their artillery nailed us, even heavier this time. Sergeant Schwierer and three other comrades were wounded in this barrage. Rifleman First Class Alfons Faul, the deputy platoon leader, came running behind the farmhouse when the barrage had stopped and he shouted: "We have to retreat!" I could see that the Sergeant was still bleeding from several wounds and him and six comrades ran for the rear while Martin was still firing with his MG. While my 2nd gunner called for him, I changed locations, about 20 meters further back into a shell hole. My 2nd gunner, Lance Corporal Willi Knapp from Essen suddenly lay next to me and didn't move anymore. Only two of the other men retreated. The rest lay on the field and didn't move. Our artillery didn't fire as single shot, which is why the Ami continued the attack.

It was silent now in the Ölmühle. Shortly afterwards, Martin came out of the door with his MG, he was alone. He dropped the gun right in front of me, stumbled, and said while falling: "My leg &emdash; stay with me &emdash; I can't go on." When I opened his pants I could see that it was a stomach wound that caused him pain. He had been hit opposite of the appendix, the bullet had gone out above the buttocks, one of the main arteries had been hit in the process, very fast and heavy bleeding! The shell hole was halfway filled with water. It gave me a hard time to put on a makeshift bandage while standing in the water. I had eased Martin on an assault pack and this stopped him from sinking. For a bandage I used a white shawl but it couldn't stop the bleeding. Martin was quiet, told some story but when the Amis approached he solemnly begged me: "Leave our the will get you, I will be [63] gone soon anyway, only leave me a hand grenade." But I didn't leave. If Martin was to die soon I didn't want to go back. My depression ran deep, therefore captivity?

Then the first Americans reached the shell hole. One of them fired; I raised my hands up in the air and two of them pulled me out. The left Martin behind despite me pointing at him.

Our men now fired form the main-combat line into our advance-guard chain. 1 was dragged into the Ölmühle and had to take cover alongside the Amis behind a wall when our artillery targeted the farmhouse. The Amis suddenly ran and left me be. I turned around and jumped back into a water-filled shell hole. I lay in the water until night had come. What a terrible wait, cold, sleep.

When it got dark I crawled out o the hole. I didn't dare to get on my feet because star shells lightened up the area again and again. Crawling I came by the hole in which Martin was still lying. I crawled toward him, shook him, and only now realized that he had already died. This was incomprehensible to me. I just sat there and thought about the time we had spent at the NCO school. Martin had been my roommate, always happy, had advice for all situations, helped wherever he could. Now he was lying there, incredible but it was the naked truth

From then on I don't remember much. I wanted to get back, stayed, wanted to get back, didn't know what I wanted. When I woke up I was in a basement that served as aid station. One of our reconnaissance groups, searching for wounded during the night, had found me and Rifleman First Class Hans-Udo Blancke. Blancke had suffered two hits in the thigh and had lost a lot of blood. Only now I realized that I had been wounded myself Blancke and I were taken back a few villages. I remained there and was declared "ready for combat" 14 days later.

When I arrived back at the company on 12/13/44, only 19 veterans of the old company were left. We were somewhere in a factory near Hoven.

The grave of Martin Schlörith is situated on the Ehrenfriedhof (Cemetery of Honor) in Lucherberg. The field-graves of Sergeant Alfons Faul, Sergeant Heinrich Schäfer, Rifleman First Class Anton Kentenich, and Lance Corporal Stephan August are probably still somewhere between the Ölmühle and the Stüttgerhof.



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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