Battlefield Tour - Huertgen Forest 2015

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I'm looking for info (Documents & After Action Reports) on the 9th US Infantry Division in the fighting for the Huertgen Forest (Sept/Oct 1944).
     
  2. Bedee

    Bedee Active Member

    Stolpi,

    Maybe you know these already, maybe a good start is Yuri the Dutch researcher.


    Use of Armor
    http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p4013coll8/searchterm/hurtgen/order/nosort

    The 9th Army Overview of European Operation Report is available below
    http://83rdinfdivdocs.org/docs/various/

    A dutch researcher maybe you can contact him
    http://9thinfantrydivision.net/researching/
    http://9thinfantrydivision.net/battle-of-the-hurtgen-forest/

    http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/finding_aids/pdf/US_Army_Unit_Records_4.pdf
     
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot Bedee; some of it I knew already, some not. I contacted the Dutch researcher you mention. I hope he wil respond.

    I'm still looking for the AARs (especially 39th and 60th Infantry Regiments for Sept & Oct 44). Next November I will conduct a four-day BFtour with Dutch Army Officers to the Huertgenwald.
     
  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Lammersdorf & Paustenbacher Höhe (aka Hill 554)


    Yesterday, I visited Lammersdorf & nearby Hill 554, located in the northern region of the Eifel, near Monschau, Germany, preparatory to a BFTour on the 'Battle of the Huertgen Forest'.

    The actions at the small village of Lammersdorf proved decisive for shaping the battle of the Huertgen Forest. Because of heavy resistance, the advance of the right prong of the 9th US Inf Div, formed by the 39th US Inf Regiment, was stalled at the first defensive belt of the Westwall at Lammersdorf. It brought an end to their part in the Pursuit which had started about six weeks earlier in Normandy. If the 39th Infantry had been able to quickly penetrate the Siegfried Line at this place in mid-September 1944, it probably could have swept through the southern half of the Huertgen Forest; just like it's sister regiment, the 47th Infantry, did in the northern half of the forest. The latter advanced through the forest and reached the eastern exit of the woods near Schevenhütte against only scattered opposition on 16 Sept 1944. Had the 39th Infantry succeeded, much of the bloody fighting within the Huertgen Forest might have been avoided.

    The 39th Infantry Regiment bogged down at the Westwall in front of Lammersdorf and had to fight for the rest of the month of September to clear the Germans from this defensive line. The first belt of the Westwall to the north and northeast of Lammersdorf only fell to the 39th Infantry after hard fighting during the periode of 14 - 17 Sept 1944. Even then a further advance was made impossible by a commanding stretch of high ground hard south of the village of Lammersdorf, aka Hill 554, which was still in enemy hands. Hilll 554 proved a hard nut to crack. From 15 - 29 Sept 1944 it was the scene of bitter fighting between a battalion of the 9th US Inf Division (3rd Bn/39th Infantry) and elements of the 89th Volksgrenadier Division. The hill formed part of the 1st line of the Westwall defence in this area (aka 'Scharnhorst Line') and was protected by a band of 'Dragon's Teeth' and invested with pillboxes.

    On the 29th, with the support of a platoon of Sherman tanks, the American infantry finally broke the German defence and took the high ground. The battle practically coincided with the 'Market-Garden' operation. By that time Lammersdorf was no longer of interest, as the American Command from 19 Sept 1944 onwards started to focus on the area of the Wehe Creek, further to the east and deep inside the bowels of the Huertgen Forest.

    Planned routes of advance of 9th US Inf Div 12 Sept 44:
    HrtgenForest Monschau Corridor.jpg

    Situation 18 Sept 44 when the 9th US Inf Div started to shift forces into the area of the Weisser Wehe creek between Schevenhütte and Jägerhaus (NE. of Lammersdorf). By that time the German command had already taken measures to close the 'Gap' in their line. On Sept 16th 1944 the worn out 353rd Inf Div moved into the forest to establish a defense along the Wehe Creek, while command of the Forest area was given to the 74th Armee Korps of General Straube by shifting the corps boundery to the north to Schevenhütte (note that Straube was later in command of the 86th Armee Korps in the Rhineland, during Op Veritable):
    HrtgenForest Gap.jpg

    In 1947 the local inhabitants built a memorial on top of Hill 554, in the shape of a wooden cross: the 'Eifel Kreuz'. It commemorates all who fell during the battle in the area.
    Some impressions:

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    View on Lammersdorf from Hill 554. At the time the village was already in US hands, it fell on 14 September 44.
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    Site of one of the pillboxes:
    031.JPG

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    The monument as it appeared in 1947. One of the pillboxes, equiped with a small steel dome with six firing appertures, is visible just behind the cross. There were two of this type on the crest of the hill, each carrying two MGs. Now-a-days all of the bunkers are gone. They have been removed or covered up with dirt.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    For those interested in the Battle of the Huertgen Forest: this is an excellent site that provides loads of info, including a score of official After Action Reports of the American units involved in the battle.

    http://home.scarlet.be/~sh446368/home.html
     
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Some impressions of my BFtour to the Huertgenwald

    1. Bunker Group at Der Buhlert

    Just off the main road connecting Simmerath to Schmidt, at a place known as Der Buhlert, an almost intact group of Westwall bunkers is still visible in the woods. These bunkers were captured in early Feb 45 by the 78th US Inf Division.

    014a.jpg

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    2. Lammersdorf:

    The only preserved steel gate, used to close the band of Dragon's Teeth in the Westwall, is located near Lammersdorf (Germany).

    016a.jpg

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    3. Kall trail:

    The steep narrow track, running through the valley of the small Kall River, used by the 28th US Inf Div as main axis in the November 44 attack on the village of Schmidt.

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    Approach to the Kall Trail from Vossenack. The villages of Kommerscheidt and Schmidt, the objectives of the 28th US Inf Div operation, are visible across the valley.

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    Entrance of the Kall Trail (this is really going down steeply!)

    attachment: looking back up the track from about the same position
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    Inside the forest: Kall Trail now

    USA-E-Siegfried-p354.jpg
    ... Kall Trail then


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    On one side a steep ascent, on the other a 'soft' shoulder

    tippsundtermine_allerseelenschlacht100_v-ARDFotogalerie.jpg
    Sherman tank on the Kall Trail

    053a.jpg
    Still steep and narrow

    USA-E-Siegfried-p356.jpg
    ... Kall trail then

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    Remnants of the rock outcropping that held up the advance of the Sherman tanks until engineers managed to blow up part of the rocks

    For the full story of the attack on Schmidt by the 28th US Inf Div see: HyperWar: The Siegfried Line Campaign


    4. Huertgenwald German War Cemetery near Vossenack

    021a.jpg

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    This cemetery also is the place where Field Marshal Walter Model is buried. His headstone was missing, stolen ... again. According to the Cemetery keeper for the 8th or 9th time this year. It' s a real collectors item!?

    5. Bergstein: Castle Hill (Hill 400)

    In the first week of December 44, this high vantage point, which dominates the entire area for many miles, was seized by the 2nd US Rangers, the veterans of Point du Hoc.

    068a.jpg
    Castle Hill (400) as seen from Vossenack. At the foot of the hill the village of Bergstein. To the left the village of Brandenberg. The Bergstein - Brandenburg hill mass completetly dominated the American held ridge of Vossenack. It was from there that the Germans directed their artillery fire on to the US positions.

    079a.jpg
    View from the west, from the Start Line of the Rangers D-Coy, the right-hand assault Company.

    The D-Coy men used this hedgerow as Start Line but were spotted by the enemy, just before the US mortar barrage would land on the enemy positions. A barrage of enemy mortar bombs began to fall just behind the waiting line of Rangers and gradually moved in their direction. Rather then wait for the enemy shells to hit home, the Rangers decided to launch the attack and rushed forward, thereby braving their own opening barrage.
    080.JPG

    The shallow hollow road which was the Start Line of F-Company. The men of F-Company charged right across the open field towards Castle Hill. However, they ran into a well camouflaged and thusfar undetected big bunker at the foot of the hill just across the open field. The enemy defenders opened up from there with whithering MG-fire. During the opening barrage the defenders had sheltered inside the bunker. The bunker was nevertheless taken. On photo 2 the open field with the location of the bunker just behind the grey concrete slab which is visible at the woods edge in the center of the photograph.
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    .
    The bunker at the foot of the hill which was taken in the first onrush by F-Coy of the Ranger Battalion.
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    The leading Ranger companies then charged right up the steep incline of Castle Hill and captured the group of command bunkers on top of it.
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    View from Castle Hill across the Rur valley to Nideggen and its medieval Castle

    Plan of attack on Castle Hill by 2nd Rangers, which was in fact a daring full frontal attack by two Companies. The other Companies, meanwhile, secured the village of Bergstein:
    20151114-35 Opstellingen op de Burgberg of Hill 400.jpg

    See for more details: HyperWar: The Siegfried Line Campaign
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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