Museum of Military Memorabilia
The Battle of Hürtgen Forest,
German( Hürtgenwald) is located along the border between Belgium and Germany in the southwest corner of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Scarcely 50 square miles (130 km) in area, the forest lies within a triangle outlined by the German towns of Aachen, Monschau, and Düren. The Rur River runs along the eastern edge of the forest.
The Battle of Hürtgen Forest (German: Schlacht im Hürtgenwald) was a series of fierce battles fought from 19 September to 16 December 1944 between U.S. and German forces during World War II in the Hürtgen Forest about 50 sq mi (130 km2) east of the Belgian–German border. It was the longest battle on German ground during World War II, and is the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought.
The U.S. commanders’ initial goal was to pin down German forces in the area to keep them from reinforcing the front lines further north in the Battle of Aachen, where the Allies were fighting a trench war between a network of fortified towns and villages connected with field fortifications, tank traps and minefields. A secondary objective may have been to outflank the front line. The Americans’ initial tactical objectives were to take Schmidt and clear Monschau. In a second phase the Allies wanted to advance to the Rur River as part of Operation Queen.
Generalfeldmarshall Walter Model intended to bring the Allied thrust to a standstill. While he interfered less in the day-to-day movements of units than at Arnhem, he still kept himself fully informed on the situation, slowing the Allies’ progress, inflicting heavy casualties and taking full advantage of the fortifications the Germans called the Westwall, better known to the Allies as the Siegfried Line. The Hürtgen Forest cost the U.S. First Army at least 33,000 killed and wounded, including both combat and non-combat losses; German casualties were 28,000. The city of Aachen in the north eventually fell on 22 October at high cost to the U.S. Ninth Army, but they failed to cross the Rur or wrest control of its dams from the Germans. The battle was so costly that it has been described as an Allied “defeat of the first magnitude,” with specific credit given to Model.
The Germans fiercely defended the area because it served as a staging area for the 1944 winter offensive Watch on the Rhine (German: Unternehmen: Wacht am Rhein—later known as the Battle of the Bulge), and because the mountains commanded access to the Ruhr Dam at the head of the Ruhr Reservoir (Rurstausee). If the floodgates were opened, the resulting surge would flood low-lying areas downstream and temporarily prevent forces from crossing the river. The Allies failed to capture the area after several heavy setbacks and the Germans successfully held the region until they launched their last-ditch offensive into the Ardennes. The Battle of the Bulge gained widespread press and public attention, leaving the battle of Hürtgen Forest largely forgotten. The Ruhr triangle was later cleared during Operation Blackcock between 14 and 26 January 1945.
From Tree To Tree – One man’s account of The Battle of Hürtgen Forest
William ‘Bill’ E. Loy Jr is a lifelong resident of Elon, North Carolina and a decorated World War II veteran.
In 1998, Bill was interviewed for a high school project in which he recounted his time serving – most notably in The Battle of Hürtgen Forest, one of the bloodiest periods of the war.
The interview was recently rediscovered and is presented here – alongside archive footage – to preserve his memories for future generations, and to acknowledge the sacrifices made by so many.
Pictures and some info courtesy of Wikipedia.com