Battle Of Hurtgen Forest Essay

1307 words - 5 pages

Battle of the Hurtgen Forest September 19 - December 8, 1944 September, 1944. Allied forces were pushing into Germany. General Courtney Hodges wanted to close to the Rhine River, and to do that required driving Nazi forces out of the Hurtgen Forest. Laying on the German-Belgian border, just east of the Roer River, the forest was about 50 square miles. It was densely wooded, with fir trees that reached 20-30 meters into the air. Lack of sunlight turned the forest floor into a dark, damp place devoid of underbrush. Sgt. George Morgan, 4th Division, describes it best: "The forest was a helluva eerie place to fight. You can't get protection. You can't see. You can't get fields of fire. Artillery slashes the trees like a scythe. Everything is tangles. You can scarcely walk. Everybody is cold and wet, and the mixture of cold rain and sleet keeps falling. They jump off again, and soon there is only a handful of the old men left." (Ambrose, p. 167) Not only were the fighting conditions horrible, but the reason for the soldiers to be there was meaningless. If Allied troops got to the river valley, the Germans to the north could release the Roer's Dams and flood the valley. The forest without Roer's dams was completely useless. The real objective should have been the Dams, which would have been a priceless asset to the Allies. The plan of attack was also severely flawed, turning the campaign into one of the most useless battles in the European Theater of Operations. On September 19, the 3rd Armored and 9th Infantry Divisions began the attack. Lieutenants and captains soon found that controlling their men was impossible. The troops couldn't see but a few feet past their faces. The forest contained no clearings, and only narrow trails. When the German troops saw the Allied troops from their bunkers, they called in presighted artillery fire. The few roads that allowed passage of vehicles were either too muddy, too heavily mined or too narrow to allow passage, thus rendering tank and jeep assistance unavailable. Air support was also not available. Sgt. Mack Morris described the situation, "Hurtgen had its firebreaks, only wide enough to allow two jeeps to pass, and they were mined and interdicted by machine-gun fire. There was a Teller mine every eight paces for three miles. Hurtgen's roads were blocked. The Germans cut roadblocks from trees. They cut them down so they interlocked as they fell. Then they mined and booby trapped them. Finally they registered their artillery on the, and the mortars, and at the sound of men clearing them they opened fire." In September, the 9th and 2nd Armored Divisions lost 80% of their front line troops while gaining almost no ground. There were 4,500 casualties on the Allied side, and only 3,000 meters were gained. By November 13, all officers in rifle companies had been killed or wounded. Nearly every front line soldier was a casualty. Between November 7 and December 3, losses were 167%.The GI's...

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