Battle of the Hürtgen
• Battle of Hürtgen Forest is name given to series of
battles fought in the Hurtgen Forest, afterwards
known to both Americans and Germans simply as the
The snow hit us as we hit Hurtgen.
• The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was overshadowed by the
American victory in the Battle of the Bulge, and as a result, few
books and articles have been written about it.
Looks pretty but it ain't.
• The American High Command was flush with
success after the breakout at Normandy and the race
to Germany, and therefore overconfident.
Gen. Oliver, Gen Bradley, Lt. Col. MacFarland, Gen. Eisenhower, Col. Cole,
Lt. Col. Entrekin, Lt. Col.Foss confer near Zweifall, Germany.
• The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was fought in an area of
heavy forestation between September 13, 1944, through
February 10, 1945.
November 2, 1944. G.I.'s of CO E, 110th IR/28th ID moving through the forest near
the Raffelsbrand road junction.
• The Hürtgen Forest, was described by those who were
there, as a "weird and wild" place. It was not a ancient
forest but it was hand planted in modern times at the
order of the Army to take the most advantage of every hill
and valley using the spruce and balsams thick squat
limbs like football linemen challenging advance. Here
"the near one hundred foot tall dark pine trees and dense
tree-tops gave the place, even in daytime, a somber
• It was like a green cave, always dripping water, the firs
interlocked their lower limbs so that everyone had to
stoop, all the time. The forest floor, always in darkness,
had no underbrush. Add to this gloom, a mixture of sleet,
snow, rain, cold, fog and almost knee deep mud. This was
to be setting for the most tragic battle of World War II.
This mine exploder on a tank didn't last long enough.
• And it was fought in a corridor barely 50 square miles
in an area that begins about 5 miles south and east
of Aachen, Germany and falls into a triangle outlined
by Aachen, Duren and Monchau on the border of
• Although the battle did not officially end until
February of 1945, the major part of the Battle
of Hürtgen Forest was fought during the 3 wet, cold,
miserable months of mid-September through mid-
December 1944. The battle claimed 24,000
Americans; killed, missing, captured and wounded,
plus another 9,000 who succumbed to trench foot,
respiratory diseases and combat fatigue
But we couldn't keep them dry..
• The Germans were delighted that the Americans wanted to
throw their weight into an attack against dug-in troops in a
forest where the American preponderance of artillery and
command of the air would be of little value. Also,
delighting the Germans was that the Hürtgen Forest was of
little military value and, if lost to the Americans, could be
flooded since the Germans held flood control dams above
the level of the forest. It was a battle that the Germans
really couldn't lose.
• The battles were characterized by the American High
Command not recognizing the true objectives of the
forest, the dams that controlled the height of the Roer
River, until December.
Brandenburg and Bergstein are representative of the edge of the Hurtgen Forest near the Roer River. The
high ground on the north side of the Roer permitted observation for the enemy artillery and mortar fires
even after the Germans had been forced across the stream.
The area of the Roer River dams can be seen in the distance.
• Had the Germans blown the dams, they could have
flooded a region far to the south, delaying American
advances. Multiple divisions were sent in, only to be
wrecked and replaced by still more divisions.
• British General Horrocks (one of the few generals, if not
the only general to do so) made a surprise front line visit to
the 84th division and he was disturbed by the failure of
American commanders and their staffs to ever visit the
front lines. He was greatly concerned to find that the men
were not even getting hot meals brought up from the rear,
in contrast to the forward divisions in the British line. He
reported that not even battalion commanders were going to
the front. Senior officers and staff didn't know what they
were ordering their rifle companies to do. They did their
work from maps and over radios and telephones. And
unlike the company and platoon leaders, who had to be
replaced every few weeks at best, or every few days at
worst, the staff officers took few casualties, so the same
men stayed at the same job, doing it badly.
• Air, artillery, and armor, all advantages of the
Americans at this time were nullified because of the
terrain, and the Germans were happy to delay the
much stronger force using smaller numbers and good
This one came into Gergstein and was captured.
A German self-propelled 75 mm
When American troops who had fought in Sicily, Italy,
Normandy and Holland, finally took the forest, they said they
had never seen anything that could compare to this for the
amount of shattered military equipment scattered throughout
and the countless American bodies..
Recovery of American bodies for American Graves Registration