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:


The fight of 3rd ParaDiv between 11/27 and 11/30/1944


The battalions of 3rd ParaDiv, which had just two days earlier taken over the defense of the eastern banks of the Rur south of Düren, seem to have been led across the river to the western banks on 11/26/44 already. For the following outline I fully rely on the reports from ParaReg 5 that I have received.

The counterattack fixed for the morning of 11/27/44 on both sides of Frenzerburg &emdash; apparently ParaReg 5 only, no I. Battalion &emdash; with the objective to clear out the area into which the enemy had already penetrated, wasn't approved. Only when the enemy had already approached the fringes of Langerwehe and Jüngersdorf in an assault of strong forces from west and southwest, the paratroopers were finally deployed to relieve parts of the infantry of 47th VGD. Langerwehe now saw fierce street fighting between III./ ParaReg 5, which had been reinforced with heavy guns of the regiment, and the enemy. The reinforced II./ ParaReg 5 attacked near Jüngersdorf The command post of ParaReg 5 was in the eastern part of Langerwehe. Apparently, on 11/26/44, II./ ParaReg 8 of 3rd ParaDiv had also been deployed. It had been assigned to 344th InfDiv, the neighbor to the left of Group Engel. Gathering point was the forest 3 kilometers southwest of Gürzenich. The battalion was then transferred to the command of 353th InfDiv, which replaced 344th InfDiv on 11/27/44.

At noon of 11/28/44, the forward front-line of Group Engel ran from Lamersdorf through Frenz and east of Frenzerburg to the western fringes of Langerwehe. From there it went south along the railroad tracks until just before Lochmühle and further on to the western fringes of Merode, defending Bendenmühle and Jüngersdorf

The enemy took Jüngersdorf on 11/28/44. His assault on Merode from the west could be repelled. Langerwehe, except for the eastern part, was lost in the night from 11/28 to 11/29/44. The command post of ParaReg 5 was shifted to Obergeich.

At the northern neighbors, 3rd Tank GrenDiv, the enemy broke through to Altdorf and Inden on 11/28/44. The concentric attacks on Lamersdorf were defeated. Strong assaults now focused on the part of the front Gey-Hürtgen, the northern flank of 7th Army.

Despite difficult conditions, the relieve of Group Engel by ParaDiv 3 went according to plan. At first the infantry of 47th VGD was relieved, then the infantry of 12th VGD, and a few days later the artillery and anti-tank forces. On 11/28/44 ParaReg 8 and ParaReg 5 moved their last troops into the order of battle. ParaReg 9 reached the area southeast of Düren. The commander of ParaDiv 3, Major General Wadehn, took over command of the whole area that the two VGDs had defended. Parts of their infantry and artillery remained in place until 12/2/44. Border to 3rd Tank GrenDiv was still the bridge over the Inde southeast of Lamersdorf- southern Pier- Oberzier.

Enemy pressure on Lamersdorf continued on 11/29/44. Two enemy companies with seven tanks penetrated the German lines west of Merode and moved into the town itself On 11/30/44 I./ParaReg 5, reinforced by parts of II./ParaReg 5 and the heavy guns of [67]

ParaRegs 5 and 8, managed to recover the ground and to reestablish the old main-combat line west of Merode. In the course of the events, lst American division lost 120 prisoners, a counted 200 dead, seven tanks, and 10 officers who were among the prisoners. Enemy counterattacks remained unsuccessful. The same day the artillery of ParaDiv 3 targeted a tank position in Frenz.

The neighbor to the left of the division, 353rd InfDiv, defeated enemy attacks in the forest north and southwest of the road to Gürzenich. Since 11/29/44 the enemy air forces have participated in the fighting on the ground after they had been hindered by the bad weather of the previous days.

Between 12/1 and 12/4/44 the enemy's pressure focused mostly on the two flanks of 3rd ParaDiv. In Merode, daily enemy assaults penetrating the German lines, coupled with the counterattacks by I./ParaReg 5 and parts of II./ParaReg 5 led to close-range combat. This appears to have been connected to the attack in the forest south of Merode against 353rd InfDiv that had begun on 12/2/44. The right wing of the InfDiv was formed by GrenReg 942. II./ParaReg 5 launched a counterattack on 12/3/44. This was successful at first but then the battalion was hit by an assault of superior enemy forces and the losses of terrain of 12/2/44 couldn't be recovered.

In the northern sector of ParaDiv 3, the enemy took Lucherberg, a town on a hilltop, in a surprise attack during the night 12/2-12/3/44. All counterattacks of 3rd ParaDiv failed as well as an assault by the newly deployed 246th VolksGrenDiv. The town overlooked the Inde to the west and the terrain to east and southeast all the way to the Rur. The possession of this town thus played a major role in the further defense of the terrain west of the Rur. The German artillery east and southeast of Lucherberg was endangered. It was successfully moved to the eastern banks of the Rur, with only minor losses.

Due to its significance, Lucherberg had been secured by infantry, combat engineers, and by the possible link-up of four light and three heavy artillery units. The commanding general of LXXXI. Corps concluded that the town was lost because a battalion of paratroopers, which one is unknown, had just taken over the town and was too inexperienced in close-range combat. Even the good personnel and equipment had not been enough to compensate for this lack of experience. The counterattacks suffered from a noticeable shortage of artillery and mortar ammunition. Additionally, assault guns and tanks could support the infantry only sparingly because of the turned up ground.

The enemy took Lützeler and Luchem on 12/4/44. Our main-combat line had to be shifted to the east between Lucherberg and Luchem, beyond the road leading to Langerwehe. An enemy pursuit northeast of Langerwehe was defeated. ParaReg 5 appears to have shifted its command post from Obergeich to Geich in those days.



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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