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:


Report by Lieutenant General Griedrich Sixt


(Pages 1-3 appear to be missing)


Between 12/5/44 and 12/9/44 the pressure on the 3rd ParaDiv was low. This can be traced back to reorganizations and the arrival of reinforcements on the enemy's side. The fight [59] for Lucherberg, Luckem, and Merode still raged but the enemy didn't advance with more than one Company at a time any more. Furthermore there were fewer tanks. All of the attacks could be repelled.

The expected new major offensive of 1st American Army began on 12/10/44 along the front from Altdorf to the Hürttgen Forest. This had been prepared by several hours of artillery fire and carpet-bombing by fighter-bombers. 3rd ParaDiv was hit by an assault of superior enemy tank forces and infantry coming from Luchem and Langerwehe. This seemed parts of 3rd American tank division. A three-kilometer-wide gap opened up and about 100 enemy tanks and infantry reached the heights west of Echtz. Other forces, including 50 tanks advanced along the road to Düren and reached the cross-roads at Rothaus, southwest of Obergeich, near D'horn. There were also attacks in the Merode sector.

To the right, the enemy advanced against 3rd ParaDiv of 246th VGD, near Altdorf and Inden he crossed the Inde. The enemy also gained ground against the right flank of 7th Army. The next days the attack was continued schematically without decisive deep thrusts. The German troops managed to keep an intact line despite the shortage of good artillery ammunition. This was done by a mobile defense. But the troops were slowly driven back to the Rur into a bridgehead in Düren that was only about 2 kilometers deep.

On 12/12/44 the enemy took Echtz and penetrated Mariaweiler to where the command post of ParaReg 5 had been moved. On 12/13/44 246th VGD lost Pier while parts of II./ParaReg 5 were able to hold Konzendorf despite enemy assaults. The paratroopers of the 3rd Division repeatedly repelled attacks by day and night. All our hopes crumble in the area right in front of the bridgehead. The neighboring divisions of 3r ParaDiv were driven back behind the Rur. After 12/13/44, 3rd ParaDiv was taken out of the order of battle by 47th VGD that had been led back to the front after a brief period of rest. The ParaDiv began its march to the gathering point for the Ardennes offensive on 12/15/44. It was in the Schnee-Eifel.

3rd ParaDiv had shown excellent morale, at least in the judgment of the commanding general of LXXXI. Corps. But there had been shortcomings in leadership and combat training of the infantry reserves. The division had played a major role in slowing down the enemy's advance to the Rur and had inflicted heavy casualties.

They had made it possible for 47th VGD to hold the well-fortified bridgehead in Düren for some time. This was crucial to the success of the Ardennes offensive.

This report, written by Lieutenant General Friedrich Sixt in June of 1954 only shows a part of the story. Not mentioned at all are the enormous difficulties or the lives and death of the paratroopers. It is a very matter-of-fact report. Those who were there know what it says. General Sixt died on 8/4/1976, at age 81.



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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