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Entering Germany 1944

Article about: Thank you Paul, here we go. Why my first Stop in Vossenack????????? It was one of the most tortured villages in the Hürtgenwald, changed several times between germans and americans, even in

  1. #11

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Thank you Paul, here we go.

    Why my first Stop in Vossenack????????? It was one of the most tortured villages in the Hürtgenwald, changed several times between germans and americans, even in the church the battle was fought:

    The "Sühnekirche" St. Josef in Vossenack

    Every church in Hürtgenwald was completely destroyed except the "Bergsteiner Kirche". It had suffered a lot of damage as well, notably holes from bullets aimed at the "Herz-Jesu-
    -Statue". Grenades entering through the exterior walls and windows had exploded inside. But the tower and the main part were still standing. Everything was reduced to rubble in Gey, Grosshau and Hürtgen, as well as in Vossenack. But there was proof here of been one-on-one fighting inside the church. Battles so close, the opponents are eye to eye and are determined to kill each other, in order to survive. It did not appear to be that bad in the other churches. But, who knows. The inhumanity is a deconsecrating of the Houses of The Lord in any case.

    In November 1986 the Church paper reports that, in the Bistum of Aachen, this is the only known case of defilement of a church during the war. This is the reason for the special Worship of the Mother Mary, which began in 1954/55.

    Helga Höppner und Karin Bleckert: Geschichte der Gemeinde Hürtgenwald

    And from here the Americans tried to march to Kommerscheid and Schmidt down by the Kall-Valley to get to the Rur-Reservoirs.

    Here a short story copied out of the village-history of Vossenack:

    The 3rd U.S. Armored Division is given the mission to attack south of Aachen. The American troops call this relatively open, armor-favorable terrain the "Stolberg Corridor." Even though this terrain favors the advance of major mechanized forces, the 3rd Armored Division's advance progresses slowly.
    On the German side, the LXXIV (74th) Army Corps tries to consolidate and hold to the largest possible degree the front line in the Aachen sector in order to exploit the Siegfried Line and its favorable terrain for defense. The wooded terrain offers the defender the opportunity to reduce the effects of the American air, armor and artillery superiority. From 16 September 1944 on, the 12th German Infantry Division brought up from the east is employed in the counterattack on Aachen. Elements of the 353rd German Infantry Division occupy the Siegfried Lines defenses in the Huertgen Forest, while elements of the 89th Infantry Division transition to defense in the area of Monschau. At this time, the German forces' 239 tanks and self-propelled assault guns are confronted by at least 2,300 enemy tanks, that is, a ten-time American superiority.

    Having rejected the Allies' air assault operation at Arnheim (Operation Market Garden), the Germans focus their attention on preventing an Allied breakthrough to the Rhine River by reinforcing their front line troops in the Eifel low-mountain region and on securing the deployment area for the Battle of the Bulge which is in the initial planning stage.
    The 275th German Infantry Division is opposed by the 9th U.S. Infantry Division, whose mission is to take the plateau around Schmidt to secure the VII U.S. Corps' right flank. Further right flank protection affords the upper course of the Roer River. After the seizure of Schmidt, the German forces putting up a Siegfried Line-backed stubborn defense in the Monschau Corridor are to be attacked from the rear and eliminated.
    Following concentrated artillery fire on the entire width and depth of the battlefield, the U.S. infantry battalions launch their attack on 6 October 1944 at 1130 hours. The attacking infantry suffers severe casulties from tree bursts, while the Germans are protected in their field positions. On 7 October 1944, one battalion of the 60th Infantry Regiment loses about 100 men through tree bursts, even though it is not employed on the front line. The fighting in the forest yields very few targets that can be allocated to U.S. artillery and Air Force. As both U.S. infantry regiments have available one avenue of attack only which is interrupted by enemy mines and abatis, neither tanks nor self-propelled guns can support the attacking infantry. Elements of the 39th Infantry Regiment succeed in penetrating into the German positions west of Germeter and eliminating several pillboxes.
    The heavy fighting lasts through 16 October 1944 when the units on both sides are so depleted that combat action dies down. The results of this fighting are as follows: the U.S. territorial gains amount to about 1.7 miles, with the terminus being Germeter; Schmidt remains in German hands; the U.S. casualties of about 4,500, the German casualties of about 3,200 men.

    At the end of October 1944, responsibility for the Huertgen Forest sector is assigned the V U.S. Corps. On 26 October 1944, the 28th U.S. Infantry Division takes over the sector of the battle-weary 9th U.S. Infantry Division. The Germans have no choice but to leave their 275th Infantry Division -- despite its heavy losses -- in position.

    The reinforced 28th U.S. Infantry Division is given the mission to secure the Vosse-nack/Schmidt/Lammersdorf area and to attack the German troops in the Monschau Corridor from the rear. H-hour will be 0900 hours on 2 November 1944, which is All Souls' Day. Therefore, the Germans will later come to refer to this battle as the "All Souls' Day Battle."
    Prior to the attack on Schmidt, the front line runs along the Huertgen - Germeter -Rollesbroich road and from Germeter through the Richelskaul Creek close to Raffelsbrand. The ridges around Vossenack, Brandenberg, Huertgen, Kommerscheidt and Schmidt, partly covered with thick forest, are commanding heights. Their seizure requires air and artillery support. The weather and the forests, however, do not allow either air reconnaissance or air support. Artillery units are deployed in the Zweifall/ Roetgen area.
    When the 28th Infantry Division enters the sector on 26 October 1944, the troops find themselves in a damp, thick forest -- a forest as it is eternalized in old German fairy tales. In addition, they come across disabled supply vehicles, trees destroyed by grenades, mines forgotten along the poor, dirty roads and trails as well as hundreds of grenade craters.
    While various signs indicate an American attack, the Germans know neither its beginning nor its direction.

    According to the American plan of operations, an artillery barrage is to precede the attack 60 minutes before H-hour. The 112th Infantry Regiment is to take Kommerscheidt, Schmidt and Vossenack; defense of the latter village is to secure the regiment's northern flank. The main direction of attack is to be through the Richelskaul Creek already secured and the Kall Creek toward Kommerscheidt and finally Schmidt. The infantry is to be accompanied by medium tanks and antitank weapons. Prior to the attack, however, own minefields emplaced along the roads east of Germeter have to be cleared.
    At 0800 hours on 2 November 1944, American artillery opens the fire. One hour later, the first infantry companies leave their positions in Germeter, protected by tanks.
    On 8 November 1944, the American troops break off combat action. Under cover of darkness, the remnants of the 112th Infantry Regiment are extracted: 300 out of formerly 2,200 men. From its effective strength of about 25,000, the 28th Infantry Division loses more than 6,000 men. After the 9th Infantry Division, the 28 Infantry Division is thus the second major American unit worn out in the November 1944 Huertgen Forest battles

    That histories impressed me very much and I decided to go the famous Kall-Trail with my own feets.

    Near the church of Vossenack I drove my Moritz down the field-road that takes its direction to the Kall-Valley:

    The iron-shell-cross made from the village-people after the war remembers me impressivly what kind of trail it was
    nearly 70 years ago

    Cross made of shrapnel (in Vossenack on the right hand side of the
    Mestreng path)

    This is the last cross put up, which is to be brought in connection with the events of
    the 2. World War in Hürtgenwald. Right here at its site starts the so-called Kalltrail.
    The term has been used by the Americans and has been adopted from them.
    On Nov. 3, 1944 the soldiers of the 112. US Inf. Reg. of the 28. Inf. Div. started from
    there and on through the valley of the Kall River their fatal and unsuccessful attack
    of Kommerscheidt and Schmidt.
    Helga Höppner und Karin Bleckert

    I parked my command-car Moritz after the last houses of Vossenack,
    it was a cold, rainy and cloudy day, not a summerday but even a November-day like in the year 1944.

    Our Summer in germany this year is very, very bad and it brings the right feeling for my walk.

    I took my bike with me(not the best idea for beginning the trail)

    Here the beginning of the trail through the fields, in the background on the hill Kommerscheid and Schmidt,
    seems you can grab it with the hand and not far away...........the same opinion made the american leadership....

    there is a steep valley between Vossenack and Schmidt

    and here you can get an impression how big it is

    The Kall-Trail soon goes down the valley

    A first remembering-cross reminds us that this is not an usual mountain-bike-trail

    Soon the trail is very steep and narrow.
    I had to leave my saddle, the trail was very wet and it was not possible to ride it down, because it is too steep and the
    leaves of the trees fallen down on to the trail made it very slippery

    First fox-holes and little trenches were still easy to see in the wood.

    The americans here had a first aid-station not far from the beginning of the trail.

    The small path is winding down the valley and I had to go it step by step with my bike besides me.

    Worse thing that the trails bottom is a very slippery Devon-Slate, when its wet, it is like an icy road.

    The trail also is winding around some big rocks, here it is not wider than 2 meters

    Looking down the steep side of the trail down to the ground of the valley.

    At least I reached the ground of the Kall-Trail with the sign to the famous Mestrenger-Mill

    After nearly 2 hours I reached the bottom of the Kall-Valley. Sure some time I spent with examinations in the fox-holes, but I made my walk without enemys around me.

    The Americans had the same difficulties as I with my bike, but they did not try it by bike,
    but with tanks, weasels and jeeps.

    That was a very bad decision, to take this narrow, steep and slippery trail to get to the
    Mestrenger Mill and the Kall-Bridge.
    No Spähtrupp was sent first to recon the trail and the desaster happens:

    The first Shermans and M10 were shot by german artillery just in the beginning of the

    The german artillery was very good positioned on the so called Teufels-Ley just on the other side of the Trail and was led by the artillery-posts on the famous Burgberg, the highest mountain overlooking the Kall-Valley

    More Tanks slipped down trying to get around the rocks by the winding steep trail

    The americans had to make her way down step by step without heavy weapons

    And it was a very exhausting trail not even in those days

    many rests and
    helping hands were needful

    and it was a bloody march down

    and the Sani-Foxhole-Bunker in the wood at the beginning of the trail was filling very fast

    Many americans even easylier wounded died here in this big hole because they could not brought back further in an

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-11-2011 at 09:56 AM.

  2. #12

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    There should be more threads like this one. Very interesting.
    Thanks Alex.


  3. #13

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Yes Ingrid, it takes a lot of time to create such a threat.

    I think it will take another week to finish my report.

    Thank you


  4. #14

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    On ground of the Kall-Valley the Mestrenger Mill was a Gefechtsstand first of
    the americans and later of the germans, it was a heavy fighting around this building.

    In our days it is rebuild and a lovely restaurant:

    In the 1970 it looks like this:

    and in 1944 it may have looked as this mill not far away:

    Today you can eat and drink here sitting down in the garden and looking for the special red-trouts

    but never forget the old days and the dead men lying around

    the old mill-wheel still going round and round

    a memory-plate for the owner of the mill, who died here of mines in

    April 1945

    Gedenktafel für Peter Dohr (Mestrenger Mühle) a copy of: Autor: Guido Heinen| 23.06.2001

    An der Außenwand etwas rechts vom Eingang der Mestrenger Mühle ist eine Tafel angebracht, die an den noch vor Kriegsende, am 5. April 1945, "durch Minen" tödlich verunglückten Peter Dohr erinnert. Er war am 29. Nov. 1898 geboren und damals Eigentümer der Mühle. Am 18. Okt. 1944 verließ er mit seiner Familie die Mühle, weil die Front zu nahe kam. Um nach dem Rechten zu sehen, kehrte er schon vor Kriegsende mit seiner Frau zurück. Dabei explodierte eine Mine zwischen der Scheune und dem Mühlenhaus. Seine Frau blieb bei ihm bis er starb. Sie ging dann nach Vossenack wo sie bei Bekannten für die Nacht unterkam. Erst nach 2 Wochen konnte die Leiche von Peter Dohr geborgen und in Niederzier beerdigt werden.

    Die jetzt vorhandene Tafel ist als Ersatz für die bis nach dem Brand der Mühle in den 80er Jahren dort vorhandene Gedenktafel angebracht worden. Diese wurde wahrscheinlich gestohlen. Auf ihr waren noch zwei weitere Namen vermerkt, die im Bereich der Mühle tödlich verunglückt sind.

    Peter Dohr(owner of the mill) looked after his house in 1945 when the fightings ended.
    Between the mill and his house a mine exploded and he died in the arms of his wife.

    Two weeks later he was recovered and buried

    Other men died too here after the fightings in 1945:

    Im Blumengarten der Mühle, dort wo heute der Parkplatz ist, wurde am 29. Juni 1945 der damals 27 Jahre alte Severin Lennartz aus Kommerscheidt ebenfalls durch eine Minenexplosion getötet. Er war erst sechs Wochen vorher aus der Gefangenschaft zurückgekommen. Sein Bruder Rudi war dabei. Er erinnert sich, dass sie Tage vorher ca. 1100 Holzkastenminen von ihrem nahe der Mühle gelegenen Grundstück geräumt hatten. Weiter, dass sie mit mehr als 10 jungen Männern am Sonntag der Schmidter Kirmes einen Spaziergang zur Mestreng machten.

    Severin wollte aus dem Blumengarten eine Rose pflücken. Dabei löste er den Stolperdraht einer Mine aus. Er war schwerst kopfverletzt, alle anderen blieben unverletzt. Sie konnten Severin aber nicht mehr helfen.

    Serverin died in the parking-place of the new mill picking up a rose-flower, he died in the arms of his brother.

    In 1946 even the new owner of the mill died carrying amunition away.
    The explosion was so heavy that even the rests of the houses were damaged.
    Only little pieces of his body were found.

    Im Hofbereich der Mühle wurde einige Zeit danach, noch im Jahr 1945 oder im Frühjahr 1946, auch noch der Pächter Herbert Huth, der keine 30 Jahre alt geworden ist, durch eine Explosion von Sprengmunition getötet. Familienangehörige geben an, dass er beim Aufräumen des Mühlengeländes war. Dabei hantierte er an einer schweren Kiste voll Sprengstoff und dergleichen. Dabei muß wohl irgend etwas passiert sein, was die äußerst heftige Explosion auslöste. Durch sie wurden noch am weiter weg stehenden Gebäude große Schäden angerichtet. Von Herbert Huth fand man nur noch kleinste Überreste, anhand deren man ihn identifizieren konnte.

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-11-2011 at 09:28 AM.

  5. #15

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    After a little rest in the mills garden, I went down to the little Kall-River and the
    famous Kall-Bridge leading towards the hills of Kommerscheid:

    Narrow field-street to the bridge

    looking down to the Kall-River

    the bridge which was blown up in the fightings, only with planks the soldiers could cross the cold river

    The famous sculpture: A time for healing

    short summary

    Memorial sculpture "A time for healing" (Bridge over the Kall River close to
    the Mill of Mestreng
    60 years after the terrible events in the Huertgenwald the disctrict of Dueren,
    the community and the historical association of Huertgenwald organized a
    series of meetings in memory hereof. At the joint celebration on the Bridge
    over the Kall River close to the Mill of Mestreng a sculpture has been unveiled.
    This sculpture is supposed to remind us of an extraordinary act of humanity
    of Dr. Stuettgens at that time. He was an assistant doctor of the 1056. Reg.
    of the 89. Inf. Division. On his own risk he agreed upon a cease fire of several
    hours with the Americans. During this pause of fighting both the Americans
    and the Germans recovered their wounded soldiers who had been left on
    completely chaotic battle ground and crying for help. There was "A time for
    healing". This human act of Nov. 1944 encourages us even today not to
    lose hope. It is an exemplary act and stands good for other unnamed and
    unnumbered similar cases.

    The sculpture, donated by the Konejung founding, has been made out of
    dolomite by the artist Michael Pohlmann from Vettweiß. He himself explains
    that the disc represents the "rough environment" in which the "human encounter"

    There were two Sanitäter-Places near the bridge, one german in the Mestrenger Mill
    and a field sani-place of the americans besides the bridge.

    The german doctor Stüttgen made it possible, that after the horrible retreating of the americans down from Schmidt back to Vossenack, the wounded could be recovered in several fire-pauses.

    Here the remindings of Stüttgen:

    Das Wunder vom Hürtgenwald
    In den USA gilt er als Held, bei uns ist seine Geschichte unbekannt. Der Arzt Günter Stüttgen rettete 1944 Hunderten von verwundeten deutschen und amerikanischen Soldaten das Leben
    Der Wald sieht so anders aus." Günter Stüttgen blinzelt den steilen Hang hinauf in die Sonne. "Aber hier. Hier kamen sie zum ersten Mal raus." Ganz ruhig steht er da, die Karte in der Hand, mitten auf der löwenzahngelben Wiese. Er entschuldigt sich: "Es kommen nur einzelne Szenen in die Erinnerung, nichts Zusammenhängendes. Bis zu diesem Tag kannten wir die Amis nur als Feinde."
    Kampf Mann gegen Mann" umschreiben Militärhistoriker, was in diesen Wochen im Hürtgenwald passiert. "An manchen Tagen hatten wir mehr als 200 Verletzte, viele Tote, allein in meinem Abschnitt", erinnert sich Stüttgen. Sie wälzen sich auf den Wiesen, wimmern in dem kleinen Bachbett, schreien um Hilfe aus Schützenlöchern, die hier wegen des steinigen Bodens viel zu flach sind, um wirklich Schutz zu bieten. Deutsche wie Amerikaner liegen und leiden und sterben dicht nebeneinander.
    Ein unschuldiger Sommertag mehr als 56 Jahre danach. Da ist das enge Tal, das Bächlein Kall fließt wie damals, die klaustrophobisch abfallenden, dicht bewaldeten Hügel. Stüttgen war damals 25. "Vom Steilhang da drüben sahen wir nur die Feuerstöße der Maschinengewehre." Das Blecken des Mündungsfeuers, ab und zu ein Schatten, der von einem Erdloch zum anderen rennt. Auf dem schmalen Weg ins Tal ausgebrannte amerikanische Panzerfahrzeuge, die der Befehlshaber über steile Wege hinabgeschickt hatte ins Verderben, direkt vor die deutschen Panzerfäuste.
    "Mutig war, wer sich an den Panzer heranrobbte, hinten aufsprang, Klappe auf, und die Handgranate rein", erinnert sich Stüttgen. Dafür ziehen die Deutschen ihre Wehrmachtsstiefel aus und Turnschuhe an, um flinker zu sein. Es ist kurz vor Allerseelen. An diesem Feiertag im November wird der Seelen der Toten gedacht, die vor der Aufnahme in den Himmel durch das reinigende Fegfeuer müssen. "Allerseelenschlacht" sagen die Menschen hier noch heute.
    "Eine glasklare Front gab es nicht." Stüttgens Aufgabe: erste Versorgung der vielen Verletzten, Transport weg von der Kampflinie zum Sanitätsbunker, erste Operationen, Amputationen, weiter zu den Verbandsplätzen. Irgendwann liegt der erste angeschossene Amerikaner vor ihm. Und - er versorgt ihn. "Natürlich." Natürlich war gar nichts. Was er tat, reichte für das Todesurteil. Nun ja, er habe das Rote Kreuz auf Brust, Arm und Helm "einfach ernst genommen".
    Die Artillerie beider Seiten schleudert tonnenweise Granaten ins Kampfgebiet. Die deutschen Kanonen stehen an der Rurtalsperre, dem strategischen Ziel der Alliierten. Auch die amerikanischen Geschütze feuern, was die Rohre hergeben - aber oftmals ohne Orientierung. Ihre Granaten gehen auf Deutsche und Amerikaner gleichermaßen nieder. "Wir hatten so die Schnauze voll, auf beiden Seiten", erinnert sich Stüttgen.
    Es ist eine Hölle aus Feuer und Tod, und sie ist tief eingegraben in das Bewusstsein der beiden Völker, Ernest Hemingway kämpfte auf amerikanischer Seite, Heinrich Böll auf der deutschen.
    Die Front verschiebt sich täglich, zuweilen stündlich, aber immer nur wenige Hundert Meter. Das Dorf Vossenack wird an einem Tag drei Mal erobert und wieder verloren, die mächtige Kirche dient der jeweiligen Artillerie als Richtpunkt: Gehen die eigenen Truppen vor, wird ihnen eine Feuerwalze vorangeschickt, um die feindlichen Stellungen in die Deckung zu zwingen. Nach der Eroberung ist es dann umgekehrt. "In diesem Feuerregen saßen wir, Deutsche und Amis gemeinsam, in derselben Scheiße."
    Nicht nur militärisch verschwimmt die Front, auch menschlich. "Die Amerikaner waren völlig demoralisiert." Sie fühlen sich von ihren Befehlshabern allein gelassen. Dieser Wald - ein dunkler, deutscher Albtraum. Viele sterben im "friendly fire" der eigenen Artillerie. Von den Bäumen prallen die Schrapnelle ab. Die Deutschen feuern aus gut getarnten Positionen, die immer erst entdeckt werden, wenn sie schon das Feuer eröffnen. Amerikanische Militärexperten werten heute den Huertgenwald Battle als erste "Waldkampferfahrung" der US Army, als vorgezogenes Vietnam, als verpasste Chance, als Symbol großen militärischen Versagens. "Oftmals standen wir ganz unvermittelt vor verirrten Amis, die sich dann gefangen nehmen ließen."
    Am 7. November kommt es zum ersten, vorsichtigen Kontakt von Sanitätspersonal: Die Amerikaner haben gehört, die Deutschen ließen die Bergung ihrer Verwundeten zu und stellten dafür das Feuer dafür ein. Sie testen es. Drei Sanitäter nähern sich unbewaffnet den deutschen Linien, wollen sie kurz überschreiten, um im Waldstück dort drüben verwundete GIs zu versorgen. Ein deutscher Posten greift sie auf, er spricht kein Wort Englisch. Sie bieten ihm Zigaretten an. "Dann ging es". Günter Stüttgen zählt die damals begehrtesten Währungen auf: Zigaretten für die Deutschen, Kommissbrot für die Amis.
    Einen Waffenstillstand ersehnen beide. Dieser erste Kontakt findet direkt vor dem Lauf eines eingegrabenen schweren deutschen MGs des 1056. Infanterieregiments statt. Freies Geleit, mehr ist es vorerst nicht, aber in diesem von Granaten aufgewühlten Tal eine Sensation.
    So beginnt das "Wunder vom Hürtgenwald", wie es heute von amerikanischen Veteranen genannt wird: Stüttgen und ein Sanitäter, beide mit dem Zeichen vom Roten Kreuz, nähern sich unbewaffnet den amerikanischen Linien und laden einen amerikanischen Einheitsführer in ihren Gefechtsstand ein. Mit verbundenen Augen wird er in die Mestrenger Mühle geführt, von der aus die deutsche Seite die Kämpfe im Tal leitet. In den folgenden Tagen gelingt es Stüttgen drei Mal, einen mehrstündigen Waffenstillstand auszuhandeln. Gedeckt von seinem Regimentskommandeur, Oberst Rösler, ermöglicht er, dass Hunderte von Verwundeten und Gefangenen über die Linien hinweg ausgetauscht und verpflegt werden. Deutsche Sanitäter bergen Amerikaner, tragen sie bis weit in ihre Etappe. Stüttgen betreibt seinen Sanitätsbunker für einige Tage sogar zusammen mit amerikanischen Sanitätssoldaten, die ihm zur Hand gehen.
    "Es war massive Fraternisierung im gemeinsamen unabwendbaren Schicksal", sagt er heute. Die Amerikaner schenken den Deutschen Zigaretten und Verbandsmaterial, die Deutschen revanchieren sich mit dem begehrten Kommissbrot, das ihre Feinde in sich hineinschlingen. Das Elend rührt die deutsche Seite. Einmal, bei der letzten Waffenstillstandsverhandlung, war auch Kompaniechef Heinz Münster dabei. Er beschreibt das Grauen auf der amerikanischen Seite des Tals: "Zwischen verlassenen und abgeschossenen Panzern lagen Verwundete und Gefallene von beiden Seiten. Freund und Feind hockten völlig durchnässt, ausgehungert und deprimiert in ihren Erdlöchern."
    Nach Stüttgens Erinnerungen organisierten Sanitäter und Ärzte alles. "Das Rot-Kreuz-Zeichen wurde stets von allen Seiten respektiert. Im Prinzip war also der Zustand des Waffenstillstands eine medizinische Angelegenheit unter dem Roten Kreuz." Er ist bis heute, bis ins Alter von 82 Jahren, Arzt geblieben. Nach dem Krieg beendete er seine Ausbildung, wurde Facharzt für Dermatologie, arbeitete an der Universitätsklinik Düsseldorf und ab 1969 am Virchow-Klinikum in Berlin und als Lehrstuhlinhaber der Freien Universität - hoch angesehen.
    "Wir hatten Respekt voreinander", erklärt er die außergewöhnlichen Vorgänge im Hürtgenwald. "Respekt, den nur Soldaten voreinander haben können, die den Schrecken des Krieges kennen." Stüttgen steht auf einem der wenigen Bunker, die es heute noch gibt. "Hier waren wir sicher", erinnert er sich, und man spürt noch die Erleichterung, die er empfand, wenn er damals nach geducktem Zickzacklauf von Loch zu Loch, einen Verwundeten mitziehend, endlich seinen Sanitätsbunker erreichte. "Hier kamen selbst die Sherman-Panzer nicht gegen an, aber der Krach da drin war fürchterlich, wenn die auf uns schossen." Er stößt mit dem Fuß ein Steinchen die Treppe hinab ins Dunkel des Betonkolosses.
    Elastischen Schritts läuft er durch die Wiesen, auf denen vor 52 Jahren das Grauen lag. Die kleine Steinbrücke hier - wie oft erobert, verloren, wieder erobert? Doch, etwas hat sich verändert. Kein Baum hier ist älter als 50 Jahre. Nur langsam haben die Pflanzen die granatendurchpflügten Hänge zurückerobert. Unter dem grünen Baumdach immer wieder Trichter, Gräben, Erdwälle, Spuren der Kämpfe. "Der Wald ist so jung", murmelt Stüttgen. Jünger als er.
    So leise und konzentriert, wie er jetzt die Stellen sucht, an denen er Krieg führte, so muss Stüttgen auch damals gewesen sein. Wenn abends die Nahkampfpäckchen verteilt wurden, Schokolade, Bananen, Aufputschmittel, um den Schrecken des Sturmangriffs am nächsten Morgen seelisch zu überstehen, ersäuften viele Landser ihre Angst in Schnaps und Bier. "Ich habe mich lieber körperlich fit gehalten", grinst der passionierte Läufer. Er redet nicht gern, nicht flüssig über seine Erlebnisse. Seine Erinnerungen hängen an Orten, an Grasnarben, Bäumen, Hügelketten: Hier kam der Ami raus, da oben war unser Bunker, diesen Hang haben wir erstürmen müssen.
    Stüttgen, der aus dieser Gegend stammt, hat noch heute Mitleid mit den GIs, die im fremden Land gegen Verteidiger anrennen mussten. Hier, direkt vor den alten deutschen Städten Aachen und Köln, wo die Dörfer urdeutsche Namen tragen wie Gey, Silberscheidt oder Schmidt. Es könnten deutsche Familiennamen sein, Wesen mit uralter Geschichte, seit Jahrhunderten hier. Die Soldaten aus Pennsylvania fühlten sich hier fremd - und zugleich heimisch. "Nicht wenige sprachen Deutsch, hatten direkte deutsche Vorfahren", erinnert sich Stüttgen.
    Es gibt eine Ehrenurkunde für ihn - und ein Gemälde. "A Time For Healing" heißt es. Es wurde ihm zu Ehren in Auftrag gegeben von seinen Feinden von damals, der 28. US-Infanteriedivision. Er und sein amerikanischer Feind und Waffenstillstandspartner haben Kopien 1400 Mal signiert. Stüttgen selbst besitzt ein einziges Exemplar. Er ist nicht eitel. An der Kopie, die im Hürtgenwald-Museum in Vossenack hängt, geht er schnell vorbei. Er will nicht daneben stehen, ebenso wenig wie neben den anderen Dokumenten und Fundstücken aus dieser Schlacht, in der über 240 000 Soldaten kämpften.
    Irgendwann, in einem dieser dunklen, engen Hohlwege, wie einer auf dem Gemälde zu sehen ist, muss sie dann kommen, die Frage, die man sich kaum zu stellen getraut: Und, sind Sie ein Held? Stüttgen, der mit Nahkampfspange und Eisernem Kreuz dekorierte Arzt, der nie schwer verwundet wurde, der noch kurz vor Kriegsende an einem anderen Frontabschnitt ein ganzes Lazarett kampflos dem Feind übergab und dafür in Abwesenheit zum Tode verurteilt wurde, blickt dann ganz streng. So, als analysiere er eine erkrankte Hautstelle. "Nein, wir haben getan, was wir tun mussten." Und wenn er "wir" sagt, meint er auch seine Freunde auf der amerikanischen Seite.

    Günter Stüttgen hat das "Wunder vom Hürtgenwald" fast 50 Jahre lang für sich behalten. Bis heute ist es in Deutschland praktisch unbekannt. In den USA begannen jedoch Militärhistoriker Anfang der neunziger Jahre, nach jenem geheimnisvollen "german doctor" zu suchen, der in so vielen Schilderungen amerikanischer Soldaten auftauchte. Schließlich spürte die noch heute im Dienst stehende 28. US-Infanteriedivision ihren Feind von damals auf. Sie ehrte ihn 1996 als Gast der Nationalgarde in einer Feierstunde, an der auch der deutsche Botschafter Jürgen Chrobog teilnahm. In der Heimat nahm kaum jemand Notiz davon.

    After some remembering thoughts I walked over the bridge

    and left her up in the direction to Kommerscheid and Schmidt


  6. #16

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Going up to Kommerscheid and Schmidt:

    From the bridge I started my walk up to the steep hill to Schmidt.
    Here the Kall-Trail is a bit better, but for tanks it is difficult enough even to climb this road.

    many winding curves are not easily and fast to get through
    it must have been looked similar

    here you can see the very, very old traces of horse-wagons in the slate-ground

    only a second house in the Kall-Ground stands here, badly damaged in war-times

    here you can see the famous tank track still lying on the road

    I made my way steep up the hills

    reaching a resting-point with a super-view over the Kall-Valley

    still the track-markings in the slate could be seen

    views down to the Kall

    an old oak tree fallen down by lightnings, what had it seen in 1944?????????

    in its remains I found this shrapnell

    The very old oak-tree might have seen Colonel Peterson jumping out of his Jeep, trying to retreat from Kommerscheid to Vossenack.

    Here the story:

    Colonel Peterson's Return Trip

    With Colonel Peterson when he left the northern Kommerscheidt woods line in midmorning to report to the division CP were two enlisted men, Pfc. Gus Seiler, 1st Battalion Headquarters Company, and a second soldier whose name the regimental commander did not know. At the second elbow bend in the Kall trail, heavy enemy small arms fire forced the trio to abandon their jeep and cut cross country through the woods. Coming again upon the winding trail near the river, they saw several abandoned weasels and the bodies of two Americans who had fallen on the trail and been run over by a vehicle. They pulled these bodies off the trail and removed several others from the abandoned weasels. As soon as they had finished this task, Germans somewhere along the river opened up with small arms fire.
    Colonel Peterson and the two enlisted men plunged into the woods. They headed south, hoping to ford the river farther upstream. Avoiding occasional groups of Germans, they were finally able to cross the stream, only to come again under small arms fire on the west bank. When they headed once more into the woods to the southwest, they narrowly avoided being hit by enemy mortar fire. Shortly thereafter they engaged in a brief small arms fight and killed two Germans, only to have another mortar concentration come in. A shell fragment hit Peterson in the left leg. At the time, the colonel thought only that he had irritated a piece of metal still in his leg from World War I. The second enlisted man asked permission to go ahead of the others in order to obtain help. Colonel Peterson refused, but the soldier went ahead as a point and kept on, outdistancing the others.
    Partly because Peterson's left leg was giving him trouble and partly because they believed the woods were full of Germans, the colonel and Private Seiler dropped to their knees and began creeping. Fire from a German machine pistol to the left front tore through Seiler's body. Since Peterson had been on the right, the soldier's body served to shield him from the fire. Edging closer, he put an ear to Seiler's chest--the man was dead.
    Another hail of mortar fire fell in the area. This time Peterson felt a burning pain in his right leg; when he tried to move, he found the limb useless. Dragging himself laboriously, unable to use one leg at all and the other only partially, he retraced his route across the river, not knowing exactly what he planned to do after crossing, but hoping vaguely to find another route to the rear and avoid the Germans who seemed everywhere in this section of the woods.
    As he pulled himself from the water on the east bank, three Germans passed near by. The third man in line spotted him. Although Peterson was so dazed that he could not remember actually shooting, he knew that he must have fired his submachine gun, for the three Germans fled.
    Again the officer dragged himself across the river to the west bank. Still edging forward slowly because of his paralyzed right leg, he crossed an open space and entered the woods. American voices and the sound of someone using a pick in the earth reached his ears, and more shells fell. He prayed and had the impression he must have fainted. When he revived he heard Americans talking again and called out for assistance. The picking stopped; again shells fell in the area. Discouraged and hardly aware of any reason for his actions, he again dragged himself to the river, crossed, and then recrossed. When he reached the west bank again a little farther to the north, he saw two Germans walk down the river road and sit down. Later two Americans came along the road and took the Germans prisoner. Colonel Peterson called to them, and the two Americans dropped into firing positions. Hearing nothing further, they walked away with the prisoners.
    The officer had no energy to drag himself farther. Sure now that it was only a matter of time before he would die, he began to call out in a desperate effort to make himself heard: "General Cota . . . Colonel Peterson." Two Americans, apparently the same pair that had taken the Germans prisoner, came out of the woods again. This time they spotted him and took him into their position. After an engineer corporal had administered morphine and plasma, they carried him on a stretcher to the rear.9

    Under the viewing point there was an big american headquarter

    with many fox-holes

    and little trenches

    rough rocks down to the river

    up and up I reached the so called Gavins-meadow

    Whats about the story of Gavin?????

    He passes the Kall-Trail in 1945 after the germans went back out of the Hürtgen-Forest.

    Here his story:

    General James M. Gavin, in his Book: On to Berlin, he describes the Battle of Huertgen in 1944:

    Having been preoccupied with the Battle of the Bulge, the Allies had paid little attention to the Huertgen Forest for the past several months. I found a road that a jeep could travel on, and went to the town of Vossenack on reconnaissance without meeting any enemy. The Germans presumably had withdrawn to the Roer River or very close to it. I left my jeep in the town and started down the trail that crossed the Kall River valley. I was accompanied by the Division G-3, Colonel John Norton, and Sergeant Walker Woods. It really was a reconnaissance, since I did not know what the lay of the land would be, and what, if any, enemy might still be there.
    I found a road that a jeep could travel on, and went to the town of Vossenack on reconnaissance without meeting any enemy. The Germans presumably had withdrawn to the Roer River or very close to it.
    I left my jeep in the town and started down the trail that crossed the Kall River valley.
    I was accompanied by the Division G-3, Colonel John Norton, and Sergeant Walker Woods. It really was a reconnaissance, since I did not know what the lay of the land would be, and what, if any, enemy might still be there. Our orders for the following day were to attack across the Kall River valley from Vossenack and seize the town of Schmidt. By now most of the snow had melted and only small patches remained under the trees. I walked down the trail, which was obviously impassable for a jeep. It was a shambles of wrecked vehicles and abandoned tanks. The first tanks that had attempted to go down the trail evidently had slid off and thrown their tracks. In some cases tanks had been pushed off the trail and toppled down the gorge among the trees. Between where the trail began outside of Vossenack and the bottom of the canyon there were four abandoned tank destroyers and five disabled and abandoned tanks. In addition, all along the sides of the trail there were many, many cadavers that had j ust emerged from the winter snow. Their gangrenous, broken, and torn bodies were rigid and grotesque, some of them with arms skyward, seemingly in supplication. They were wearing the red keystone of the 28th Infantry Division, the "Bloody Bucket." It evidently had fought through there in the preceding fall, just before the heavy snows.

    I continued down the trail for about a half a mile to the bottom, where there was a tumbling mountain stream about six feet wide. A stone bridge that once had crossed it had long since been demolished, and a few planks were placed across the stone arches for the use of individual infantrymen. Nearby were dozens more dead men. Apparently an aid station had been established near the creek and in the midst of the fighting it had been abandoned, many of the men dying on their stretchers. About fifty yards off to the right, a hard road appeared. Across it were six American antitank mines. On the near side of the mines were three or four American soldiers who apparently had been laying the mines and protecting them when they were killed. Beyond the American mines, about ten feet away, were some German Teller mines, connected like beads on a string. And on the other side of these were three or four German dead, a dramatic example of what the fighting must have been like in the Huertgen. It was savage, bitter, and at close quarters. I made my way up the far side of the canyon. One had to be extremely careful because the trail had not been cleared of mines. I assumed that the woods were infested with them and hence did not even get near the edge of the trail.

    As we approached the top, all the debris evinced a bitter struggle. There were more bodies, an antitank gun or two, destroyed jeeps, and abandoned weapons. We emerged from the top of the trail into a wide clearing. A few miles away we could see the small German town of Kommerscheidt. So far, we had not been challenged by any Germans, but I knew they were supposed to be in Kommerscheidt and in the town of Schmidt, beyond. The sun was setting and I was anxious to get back to the other side of the valley before darkness. As evening descended over the canyon, it was an eerie scene, like something from a low level of Dante's Inferno. To add to the horror, a plaintive human voice could be heard calling from the woods quite some distance away. We continued on down and up on the other side, reaching Vossenack in the darkness. During the night, troops were moved up to the town, and I went back down the trail with the leading battalion not long after daylight. I remember vividly the battalion stopping for a short break. A young soldier, a new replacement, was looking with horror at the dead. He began to turn pale, then green, and he was obviously about to vomit. I knew his state of mind: every young soldier, upon first entering combat, is horrified by the sight of bodies that have been abandoned. They always imagine themselves dead and neglected. I talked to him, calmed him a bit, and assured him that our outfit never abandoned its dead, that we always cared for and buried them. Soon the battalion continued down the trail and up on the other side. It attacked across the open land, seized Kommerscheidt and then Schmidt. The fighting was moderate to heavy, and after capturing Schmidt we continued to receive artillery fire. It seemed obvious to me that the regiment could not be supplied across the Kall River canyon, certainly not if the enemy interfered or if artillery fire covered the trail. In addition, the trail was impassable for vehicles. A catastrophe must have occurred there in the fall of 1944. I could not understand why the bodies had not been removed and buried. Neither the corps nor the army headquarters could have been aware of the conditions in the canyon. Otherwise the corpses would have been interred and the disabled tanks recovered. As soon as I returned to the command post, I called the chief of staff of V Corps and explained the situation to him, emphasizing the need for an alternate supply route. There was a good one from Lammersdorf to Schmidt and that was under V Corps. He listened to my story, then laughed and asked, "Have you tried pack mules?" It made me furious. There is nothing that angers a combat soldier more than a higher headquarters staff officer belittling the problems of the combat infantryman. It is as old as soldiering.

    In german translation:

    James Gavin schreibt in seinem Buch "On to Berlin" über die Kämpfe an der Kall:
    "Ich ging den Weg zu Fuß weiter. Mit dem Jeep war kein Durchkommen, da er mit Wrackteilen von umgestürzten Wagen und verlassenen Panzern übersät war. Die ersten Panzer, die versucht hatten, durchzukommen, waren offensichtlich abgerutscht und aus der Spur geraten. In manchen Fällen hatte man sie beiseite geschoben, und sie waren zwischen den Bäumen den Abhang herunterstürzt. Von da, wo der Weg beginnt, außerhalb von Vossenack, bis zum Grund der Schlucht, zählten wir vier verlassene Schützenpanzer und fünf beschädigte und aufgegebene Panzer. Darüber hinaus lagen zu beiden Seiten des Weges viele, viele Tote, deren Leichen nun aus dem Winterschnee wieder auftauchten. Diese von Wundbrand gezeichneten, entstellten und zerfetzten Körper waren starr und wirkten geradezu grotesk. Manche hatten die Arme zum Himmel erhoben, als flehten sie um Hilfe. Sie trugen den roten Keystone der 28. Infanteriedivision, "The Bloody Bucket". Offensichtlich hatten sie im vergangenen Herbst hier gekämpft, kurz vor den ersten schweren Schneefällen.
    Ich folgte dem Weg etwa zwei Kilometer bis zum Grund der Schlucht. Dort musste man einen reißenden etwa zwei Meter breiten Bergbach überqueren. Eine Steinbrücke, die darüber geführt hatte, war zerstört worden. Nur ein paar Bretter führten über die steinernen Bögen, über die die Soldaten nur einzeln gehen konnten. In der Nähe lagen Dutzende von Tragbahren, die Körper darauf waren schon lange tot. Offensichtlich hatte es unweit des Baches ein Lazarett gegeben, das man mitten in der Schlacht aufgegeben hatte, so dass viele Männer auf ihren Bahren sterben mussten. Zur Rechten, etwa vierzig Meter entfernt, begann eine asphaltierte Straße (siehe Bild). Davor lagen etwa sechs amerikanische Panzerabwehrminen. Auf dieser Seite des Minenfeldes zählte ich drei oder vier amerikanische Soldaten, die allem Anschein nach die Minen ausgelegt hatten, als sie getroffen wurden. Hinter den amerikanischen Minen, etwa vier Meter entfernt, lag das deutsche Minenfeld und dahinter drei oder vier tote Deutsche - ein dramatisches Beispiel dafür, wie die Kämpfe in Hürtgen verlaufen sein mussten: heftig, grausam,
    Mann gegen Mann.

    Auf der anderen Seite der Schlucht kletterte ich wieder hinauf. Man musste ungeheuer aufpassen, denn der Pfad war nicht von Minen geräumt worden. Ich vermutete, dass die Wälder dicht vermint waren und wagte mich nicht mal an den Rand des Pfades. Je höher wir kamen, umso deutlicher sprachen die Trümmer von einem erbitterten Kampf. Überall lagen Leichen, ein oder zwei Panzerabwehrgeschütze, zerstörte Jeeps und weggeworfene Waffen. Ganz oben mündete der Pfad in eine große Lichtung. Ein paar Kilometer entfernt konnten wir die kleine Stadt Kommerscheidt sehen. Bislang waren wir noch nicht von Deutschen angegriffen worden, aber ich wusste, dass sie sich in Kommerscheidt und der dahinter liegenden Stadt Schmidt befanden.
    Die Sonne würde bald untergehen, und ich hatte es eilig, zurück auf die andere Seite des Tals zu kommen, bevor es dunkel wurde. Als sich die Dämmerung über die Schlucht senkte, hatte ich eine gespenstische Szene vor mir, wie aus den tiefsten Kreisen von Dantes Inferno. Und wie um den Schrecken noch zu verstärken, erklang jetzt in einiger Entfernung eine klagende Stimme aus dem Wald …"

    Very good reviews towards Vossenack

    Gavin stopped at this meadow and marched back to Vossenack, but after enjoying the views to Vossenack I made my way to Kommerscheid and Schmidt

    View on to the little village of Kommerscheid

    reaching the first houses

    But from Kommerscheid to Schmidt the americans could not take the main road, they had to
    take a forest-street beneath Schmidt

    So did I with my Bike lilke these guys

    and after 1 hour I reached the first houses of Schmidt very exhausted

    The church of Schmidt

    The shell-cross of Schmidt

    But what happened in Kommerscheid and Schmidt??????

    Have a look on the after-action-reports:

    Action Again at Kommerscheidt
    (7 November)
    As daylight approached on 7 November a cold winter rain added to the miseries of combat, and the Germans began to bombard Kommerscheidt with what the hard-pressed men of the 1st and 3d Battalions, 112th Infantry, felt was the enemy's heaviest artillery barrage since their arrival in the battered town. Americans estimated that the Germans employed four or five artillery battalions, and one officer checked the rate of fire. In a one-and-one-half-minute period he counted about fifty explosions. The fire lasted approximately thirty minutes.
    About eighteen enemy tanks then approached, many of them so close behind their artillery fire that some men were not aware of their presence until they opened fire. Enemy infantry variously estimated at from one to two battalions accompanied them, and other tanks or self-propelled guns supported the assault from advantageous positions at Schmidt.1
    On the left flank in the Company A positions one enemy tank moved up close, fired straight at the company command post, and put direct fire into the foxholes of both the 1st and 2d Platoons. Among those wounded was the company commander, Capt. Seth R. Frear. On the right (west) flank as a tank moved in close against men of Company B, an assistant squad leader, Sgt. John Ostrowski, killed three of the accompanying infantry with his M-1 rifle and then hit the tank with a rocket from a bazooka. Black smoke billowed up, and the tank backed away to disappear in the noise and confusion of the battle. The four remaining machine guns and two of the 81-mm. mortars of Company M were knocked out by the enemy tank fire. The tank that fired on the mortars was in turn knocked out by the Company M commander, Captain Hackard, with a bazooka rocket.
    Lieutenant Payne, platoon leader in Company A, 707th Tank Battalion, spotted one of the German tanks moving around the right flank of the town. Although shell fragments the previous day had damaged the elevating mechanism of Lieutenant Payne's gun so that he was unable to depress it sufficiently to hit the hull of the enemy tank, his tank was still mobile and scored two hits on the German's turret. Still the enemy tank kept coming. Only when two American tank destroyers came to Lieutenant Payne's aid, each getting two rounds home, was the German tank stopped.
    In the center of town Lieutenant Edmund's tank destroyer knocked out a Mark V at a range of only thirty yards, and another unidentified destroyer knocked out three enemy tanks. Crewmen estimated they killed or wounded with their machine guns about forty of the accompanying enemy infantry. But. Outside the combined 1st-3d Battalion CP in the dugout in the orchard just north of Kommerscheidt, the 1st Battalion Headquarters Company commander, Capt. Ross Martin, was seriously wounded. As Colonel Peterson and Major Dana, regimental S-3, dragged him into the CP hole, Colonel Ripple, Task Force R commander, called from outside, saying a German tank was approaching the dugout. Leaving a medic with Martin, Peterson, Ripple, and Dana walked back toward the northern woods-line positions, consciously not running because they wanted to avoid starting a general withdrawal. Shortly after they had left, the German tank approached and fired almost point-blank into the CP dugout. Major Hazlett, the 1st Battalion commander, moved among both the 1st and 3d Battalion positions encouraging the troops to hold. By about 0830, however, German tank and infantry infiltration had so unnerved many of the men that they were leaving their holes to run toward the rear and the situation was fast becoming critical. Back at the woods line to the north, a jeep messenger sent by Colonel Peterson relayed instructions to Captain Rumbaugh, 3d Battalion, 110th Infantry, that he organize his harried battalion and move it forward to assist the Kommerscheidt defense.2 Before the battalion could be assembled, Peterson himself appeared--he had withdrawn from the orchard dugout only a few steps ahead of the approaching German tank. The colonel now changed his orders to Rumbaugh, having decided instead to commit the remainder of Company C, 112th (one platoon was already in Kommerscheidt).
    Before Company C could be committed, Colonel Peterson received a written message transcribed by the division radio operator, who had come up the day before with Task Force R, that he was to report immediately to the division command post. He did not question the message for two reasons: (1) feeling that the true situation in Kommerscheidt had been misrepresented to division, he welcomed the opportunity to clear it up; (2) he had heard a rumor that he was to be relieved of his command and that a colonel recently assigned to the division was to replace him. Designating Colonel Ripple to take over the Kommerscheidt defense, Colonel Peterson left with a jeep driver and one other enlisted man for the division CP.3

    After the infantry commander's departure, Colonel Ripple ordered Company C, 112th Infantry, to move into Kommerscheidt, but the Company C commander and his men seemed too dazed to be capable of carrying out that order. Ripple himself attempted to lead them forward, but they would not move. He told them to hold where they were. More and more men in Kommerscheidt were leaving their foxholes and running toward the rear. Some of the retreating men cried out to Lieutenant Payne that German tanks were overrunning the left flank; so Lieutenant Payne's tank and another under Sgt. Andrew J. Lipe moved in that direction. Spotting an enemy tank among the houses in the eastern edge of town, Sergeant Lipe opened fire, hitting the German tank with his first round of armor-piercing ammunition. With enemy fire coming dangerously close to Payne's tank, the lieutenant radioed Sergeant Lipe to withdraw and himself pulled back into the shallow open draw northwest of Kommerscheidt. Apparently Sergeant Lipe did not hear. Another German tank advanced through the center of town, fired, and knocked out both Sergeant Lipe's tank and another under Sgt. Marvin S. Olson. Sergeant Lipe dismounted and took over a tank destroyer whose crew leader had been killed or wounded. He remained with the destroyer until it too was knocked out.
    Minus two tanks and three tank destroyers lost in the enemy attack, the remaining American armor began to withdraw toward the northern woods line. In withdrawing two more tanks threw their tracks. One of these was Lieutenant Payne's, which had bellied on a sharp ridge in the ground. Now there remained only two tank destroyers and one tank.
    With the departure of the scant armored support, the infantry situation deteriorated even more. Major Christensen, the 3d Battalion commander, ordered the few remaining men on the right flank to withdraw, and Captain Piercey left with about fifty men. An enemy tank and two machine guns fired at them as they retreated, and at least one of the group was hit by the machine gun fire. A shell from the tank blew another man almost straight up into the air. The open field over which the men withdrew was soft from the rain, and it seemed to the retreating soldiers that it took a lifetime to get across.
    On the left flank, about seventy-five men from Company A pulled back, but only about fifteen withdrew safely to the Company C, 112th, positions. Three men, Pfcs. Nathanuel M. Quinton, Company A, and Clarence J. Skain and Lewis Gardner, Company B, were pinned down by the enemy fire and could not get out when the others did. Later they turned back several local assaults by enemy infantry before Gardner was killed by a shot from a near-by building. Quinton threw a grenade into the building and silenced the German marksman. He and Skain then made a run for it, crawling toward the woods on the east and eventually making their way back to the northern woods-line positions. They escaped from Kommerscheidt sometime after midday, apparently among the last Americans to leave the town.
    Evidently most of the remaining men who had held and had not heard Major Christensen's orders to withdraw either saw or heard of the enemy tank at the

    CP dugout in the orchard. There a group of American soldiers stood around the tank with their hands raised in surrender, a white flag clearly visible. This seemed to convince any who still held in the buildings or foxholes that all was lost, and the final withdrawal was on.
    As one such group under Captain Walker, Company L, withdrew, a soldier told Captain Walker that "a tall major" wanted to see him. The major proved to be Major Christensen, who told Captain Walker to try to build up another line in the open field north of Kommerscheidt. But the badly shaken men hesitated for only a few minutes before continuing on toward the rear, and any hope for another line in the open field was lost. Captain Walker saw Major Christensen turn and walk slowly back into German-held Kommerscheidt.
    Not all the men fell back on the northern woods-line positions. Many retreated into the woods to the west where they either met more German fire or continued across the Kall. Lieutenant Tyo of Company K was with one group of about twenty-one men, nine of whom were wounded. A heavy enemy artillery concentration wounded five more men in Tyo's group as it approached the Kall bridge. Two were so badly hurt that the others were forced to abandon them. Tyo was later told by medics that these men were recovered. The others forded the river. One man went across with half of a foot gone; all that was left to wrap the stump in was a dirty handkerchief. Across the river the wounded were left at the log cabin aid station, and Lieutenant Tyo and the six remaining men dug in with a group from the 20th Engineers.
    Frantic reorganization was now taking place among the infantry positions of the 3d Battalion, 110th, and Company C, 112th, at the woods line north of Kommerscheidt. Between 150 and 200 survivors of the action in the town had reached them and were hastily formed into a provisional company and placed in a hasty defense. One tank, two tank destroyers, and two 57-mm. antitank guns supplied their support. Although there were no illusions about the status of Kommerscheidt (Colonel Ripple had sent division a message at 1125 that the town was considered lost), the woods-line defenders were still reluctant to call down their own artillery on the town. They knew that many of their wounded had been left there and that other Americans had been captured and still might be in Kommerscheidt.
    Throughout the morning's fight in Kommerscheidt American artillery support had been on the job and it continued now to fire on approaches to the town and on Schmidt. Its communications appear to have been constant throughout, for response to calls for fire had been prompt and accurate. Nevertheless, the shelling had failed to stop the enemy tanks. With some missions directed in the Vossenack vicinity, the 229th Field Artillery Battalion during the day fired 205 neutralizations, three TOT's, and fifty-two harassing missions.4
    Although enemy artillery and mortar fire continued through the afternoon, the
    Germans did not press their advantage on the ground against the woods-line defenders until about 1830 when they fired flares that revealed four or five tanks followed by infantry approaching across the open field from Kommerscheidt. The enemy poured marching fire into the woods-line positions, but the defenders called for supporting artillery, and the lead German tank was knocked out within a hundred yards of the woods line. The other tanks milled about to escape the artillery fire and eventually withdrew. A prisoner captured later said that the assault had been made by a fresh infantry battalion but that the tanks, while
    Thus, on the night of 7 November the remnants of the 1st and 3d Battalions, 112th Infantry; the 3d Battalion, 110th Infantry; one platoon of Company C, 20th Engineers; and one tank, two tank destroyers, and two 57-mm. antitank guns held the woods line north of Kommerscheidt. During the day they had been driven from their town defenses at a cost of many wounded, captured, and killed, including the entire staffs of the 1st and 3d Battalions, 112th Infantry.5
    A New Commander for the 112th
    Even as Kommerscheidt was being lost, Colonel Gustin M. Nelson, formerly trains commander in the 5th Armored Division but desiring a more active combat assignment, was reporting to the 28th Division CP. There he was assigned as commander of the 112th Infantry and told to make his way forward to his command in Kommerscheidt. Colonel Nelson subsequently tried at least four different times during the afternoon and early evening to reach his new command. Each time he was stopped, once because of a guide's failure to find the unit he was to accompany, and three times because of enemy shelling.
    Colonel Peterson, whom Colonel Nelson was to relieve, had not yet reported to either the 112th rear CP or the division CP. There was evidently no apprehension, however, since no one at either CP seemed to know that he was supposed to leave Kommerscheidt, although he had left there between 0900 and 1000 that morning.6
    Along the Kall Trail
    At dawn on 7 November as the battle for Kommerscheidt had begun anew, remnants of Company C, 1340th Engineers, still held a defensive position around the Kall bridge. The German shelling and attack during the night had taken a heavy toll of the company. Near the western entrance of the main supply route into the Kall woods were Company B, 1340th, and some thirty men of Company A, 20th Engineers.
    At approximately 1000 the men at the bridge saw about twenty or thirty Americans, evidently from the Kommerscheidt battle, cross the bridge in single file and head toward Vossenack. A lieutenant accompanied them. The men moved hurriedly, although there were no shots being fired at them and no shelling, and the engineers at the bridge did not know quite what to think. Shortly thereafter the engineers heard shouts from their own 3d Platoon, which with one squad from the 1st Platoon was defending across the river. These men soon came racing back across the bridge, a machine gun from the vicinity of the mill firing at them as they ran. The sight of these men running and the sound of the firing reacted on others among the engineers, and almost all the few remaining men headed for the rear. Among them was S. Sgt. Benjamin A. P. Cipra, Jr., 1st Platoon, who stopped about noon at the Company B, 1340th, positions at the western edge of the woods. Cipra reported to the Company B commander, Capt. Thomas F. Creegan, that all of Company C had retreated from the bridge.
    But at the bridge six men, including the company commander, Captain Lind, and a platoon leader, had remained. They hid behind a slight embankment and observed small groups of Germans working down from the direction of the mill and clustering around a knocked-out American jeep.7
    Company A, 1340th Engineers
    When the other engineers of the 1171st Engineer Combat Group had been committed the day before as riflemen, Company A, 1340th Engineers, had been garrisoning pillboxes and doing road repair work behind the 110th Infantry to the south. The company commander, Capt. Frank P. Bane, reported to Colonel Setliffe, 1340th commander, early on 7 November and was told to move his men to a reserve position in the wooded draw just south of Vossenack. On its arrival, the company was hit by enemy artillery fire and sustained approximately twenty casualties, including one man killed.
    Between 1300 and 1400 Colonel Setliffe learned that the Kall bridge had been deserted. He immediately ordered Captain Bane's company to move to the bridge and "stay there." Preceding the main body of the company, the battalion S-3 took charge of the company's 1st Platoon and moved down the firebreak toward the river. Halfway down the hill the unit encountered six Germans digging in a machine gun. The 1st Platoon overcame the Germans and then dug in along the firebreak as a flank guard for the main supply route. From the woods near by the S-3 heard a voice call out, I have a message for (or from) General Cota." Thinking the call came from a wounded German or that it was a German trick, the S-3 did not investigate.
    Captain Bane and the remainder of Company A, 1340th, moved on down the Kall trail, passing through the 1st Lt. Kelsey C. Manin, six or seven men of Company C, 1340th, under Lieutenant Makousky, and a provisional platoon from the remnants of Company B, 20th, under Lieutenant Horn, which had been defending the southern draw leading up toward Vossenack. The column met no opposition and finally reached the bridge area where Captain Bane made contact with Captain Lind. The two officers decided that they did not have enough men to occupy both sides of the river. Captain Bane's two platoons of Company A, 1340th, dug in on a small knoll just to the north (left) of the Kall trail near the junction with the north-south river road, and the remainder of the engineers were echeloned up the hill toward the northwest, adding depth to an all-around defense. Although patrol contact was maintained with Company B, 1340th, at the western edge of the woods, no contact was made with the infantry at the Kommerscheidt woods line across the river.
    As the engineers began to dig in about 1500, they could see Germans digging in on the other side of the river and fired sporadically to harass them. After dark there was occasional German shelling but no attack. The remaining elements of Company A, 20th, and Company B, 1340th, at the western edge of the woods southeast of Vossenack also experienced nothing more unusual than occasional enemy shelling.8

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-11-2011 at 12:11 PM.

  7. #17

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    After a rest for my old body, I made my way back down the Kall-Trail by bike
    towards the bridge:

    still old iron in the clear water

    now the steeper hill towards Vossenack was waiting for a tired climber

    I thanks my Jesus that he took me back to this point alive and healthy
    because during this heavy trip nobody crosses my way and there was no mobile-reception in the Kall-River-Valley

    I reached again the totally destroyed Vossenack after 5,5 Hours of climbing and biking

    looking from the Vossenack church down to the destroyed houses

    driving through the damaged streets of Vossenack

    totally exhausted like this guy

    but what had happened in Vossenack?????

    Looking into the action-reports:

    Attack To Retake Vossenack
    At approximately 0530 on 7 November Colonel Isley, commander of the 146th Engineers, whose two companies now held the western half of Vossenack, held a meeting with his company commanders, Captain Ball of Company A and Lieutenant Schindler of Company C. Although the tank commander on the scene, Lieutenant Quarrie, did not attend the meeting because his platoon expected to be relieved at daylight, the engineers had promise of tank support for an attack to retake the eastern end of the town. The relieving tank platoon leader, 2d Lt. Clarence A. Johnson, 2d Platoon, Company B, 707th Tank Battalion, and his company commander, Captain Granger, arrived about 0645. Orders were then hastily issued and the attack was scheduled for 0800.
    The engineer plan called for preparatory artillery and mortar fire (including that of the 86th Chemical Battalion) for approximately thirty minutes before the attack. Company A was then to recapture the church. (See Map XI.) Company C's 2d Platoon was next to take all buildings on the left (north) of the main street, while the company's 3d Platoon was to follow through the first building and attack across the street to take the first building east of the church on the south side of the street. Next objective of the 3d Platoon included all buildings on the south side. Company C's 1st Platoon was to follow in a support role. Company A, after taking the church and providing supporting fire to help Company C take its first buildings, was to move behind Company C and garrison the recaptured buildings. The platoon of tanks was to move along the south side of town, firing two rounds from its 75-mm. guns into each building just before the engineers assaulted. The platoon leader of Company C's 1st Platoon, Lieutenant Rollins, was to coordinate with the tank platoon leader, Lieutenant Johnson, by means of a series of simple hand signals: if he wanted more tank fire, he was to point to the building; if he did not, he was to point down the main street. According to Company A's plan to take the church, one squad of its 1st Platoon in the initial move would furnish a base of fire from the second floor of the first building west of the crossroads. Under cover of this fire, the other two squads were to cross the north-south street. The remaining two platoons were to wait under cover until called up to garrison the buildings behind Company C.
    No radio or wire communications were available for the attack--the 146th Engineers had been so hastily committed the day before that this equipment did not reach the unit. Nor were hand grenades available. A case that had been brought up in response to a request lacked fuses.
    The preparatory artillery and mortar fires got off on time; but near the 0800 jump-off hour one of the engineer platoon leaders said he could not be ready, and the attack was postponed until 0815. Just as the American artillery ceased fire, enemy artillery opened up on the western half of the town with a barrage that prisoners later said was to have preceded a German attack. The 2d Platoon, Company C, under 1st Lt. Bernard E. Meier, poised to attack on the left of the main street, had several men slightly wounded, seven wounded badly enough to require evacuation, and three killed in this enemy barrage.
    In Company A's assault against the church, the men moved out at 0815, the two assault squads rushing across the
    street in ones and twos under cover of fire from a third squad. Not a man was hit. No one entered the church until a full squad had built up across the road. Then the men entered one at a time, firing through the main door, rushing inside, dodging to one side, firing again, and ferreting out the enemy in the church's rubble-strewn remains. They killed a number of Germans and took sixteen prisoners. The squads next overcame a machine gun in the cemetery behind the church and took up firing positions to support the Company C advance on the left.
    Lieutenant Meier's 2d Platoon, Company C, which had been hit heavily by the German artillery fire, was to take the buildings on the left of the main street. As the men made ready to assault the first building, they saw the tanks could not fire on this particular building, because an orchard obscured their view. Lieutenant Meier therefore sent word to Company A on the right to divert the Germans' attention by firing into the front of the building, thus allowing his men to rush the machine pistol.
    Company A opened fire, and the muzzle of the machine pistol was withdrawn. Meier and five of his men dashed across the street and flattened themselves against the wall. When the machine pistol reappeared, Lieutenant Meier was on one side of the waist-high window, and Cpl. J. W. Crayton, an assistant squad leader, was on the other. Signaling to the lieutenant, Corporal Crayton jumped out in front of the window and fired his M-1 rifle from the hip, putting five slugs into the German. His body slumped forward on the window sill, and Crayton pushed it aside. As he prepared to enter, another engineer yelled to wait--he had found an American hand grenade. Lieutenant Meier pulled the pin, but before he could throw the grenade a white flag was waved from the window and a lone German came out in surrender.
    Hearing other Germans moving inside, Lieutenant Meier called again to give them a chance to surrender, and then tossed the grenade. The explosion was followed by scuffling of feet and moaning. As the men prepared once again to enter the window, the company commander, Lieutenant Schindler, ran forward with the first German who had surrendered. The prisoner called out to his comrades, and nineteen more enemy soldiers filed out of the window. A search of the building revealed only one other German, his body almost in shreds.
    Meier's 2d Platoon now found itself separated from the next building on the left of the main street by a large garden. Under covering fire provided by the company's machine guns, the platoon moved across the garden and found the Germans in the next house ready to surrender without much show of resistance. Inside the house the men discovered two cases of American hand grenades and divided them with the 1st Platoon. Continuing, the 2d Platoon took the remainder of the houses on the left with comparative ease, repeating the process of covering each assault with machine guns and also receiving assistance from the tanks on the south of town. The engineers found few prisoners, the Germans evidently retreating house by house ahead of the American advance. When the platoon neared the eastern end of town, a large number of Germans attempted

    to escape across the open field toward the woods to the north. The combined fire of Lieutenant Meier's platoon and the Company A men who were following to garrison the buildings accounted for most of those who fled. As soon as the platoon reached the military crest of the hill, approximately four houses from the end of town, it halted because these last houses did not appear to be occupied. The time was about 1500.
    Lieutenant Rollins' 1st Platoon, Company C, had followed Lieutenant Meier's men into the first house on the left of the main street. Supported by fire from the tanks on the south, Rollins' troops stormed across the main street to the first house east of the church and found that the Germans had retreated to the cellar. When the Germans heard the Americans on the first floor, they begged to surrender, and the platoon took twenty-two prisoners. The unit then systematically reduced the remaining houses on the south side of the street, delayed only once when Lieutenant Rollins had to stop to work out signals with the tankers for supporting machine gun fire. The lieutenant was slightly wounded about 1400, but the platoon sergeant, S. Sgt. Donald O. Gray, took command and finished the attack.10
    As the five tanks of Lieutenant Johnson's 2d Platoon, Company B, 707th, had advanced south of Vossenack in support of the engineer attack, one round stuck in the gun tube of Sergeant Cook's tank. The shell casing came off, but the projectile refused to budge. The crew had to use a sledge hammer against the rammer staff to free the round. Enemy fire opened a leak in the gas tanks of another Sherman. The tank stayed in the fight even though its floor was flooded with gasoline.
    Farther forward the tanks began to receive bracketing shellfire and were forced to maneuver well back to the rear and then go forward again closer to the buildings. As Sergeant Cook's tank approached the second north-south street, the engineer platoon sergeant cried out to him to watch for an enemy Panzerfaust behind the building to his left front. Almost immediately a round from a Panzerfaust hit just to the right of Sergeant Cook's tank. Cook quickly replied with two rounds of high explosive. The first missed but the second struck the corner of the building just as another Panzerfaust was thrust around the corner to be fired.
    Another of the tanks, Cpl. Nick P. Orlando's in rear of the platoon, ran over a mine and was disabled. The crew dismounted and took cover in a building east of the church.
    The armor reached the extreme eastern end of town and apparently intended to advance beyond the engineers, who had held up with four houses yet to go. At this point, however, the tanks began to receive direct fire from self-propelled guns or tanks on the Brandenberg-Bergstein ridge line. When Lieutenant Johnson reported this fire to Captain Granger, the tank company commander requested an air strike against the enemy gun positions. The request was answered with twelve P-47's of the 365th Group. Most of the planes bombed and strafed the assigned target, but at least two of the P-47's bombed and strafed Vossenack
    itself. Sergeant Cook saw the planes circle Vossenack twice. Then the lead plane dived straight at the town, opened fire with its machine guns, and released its bombs. One bomb hit the road just in front of Cook's tank; the other dropped beside the main street farther to the rear. The second plane also peeled off and dived on the town, its machine guns chattering. One of its bombs landed in the road, and the second hit the house in which Corporal Orlando's tank crew had taken cover. One man was seriously wounded, and the tank driver was killed. Three of the engineers were slightly wounded; another was covered with debris by one bomb and uncovered by the blast from another. The IX TAC reported this mission against Vossenack as being "at the request of the controller" and also reported that "at request, also bombed and strafed . . . Bergstein."11
    After the misdirected air strike, the engineers in the eastern end of town, fearing counterattack, were concerned about the small number of men they had left after their attack. Late in the afternoon Lieutenant Meier went to the infantry-engineer CP west of the church and rounded up those men who had been sent back as escorts for the wounded and as guards for prisoners. The infantry survivors of the 2d Battalion, 112th, took over the defense of the church to allow an additional platoon of Company A, 146th, to join the easternmost defenses. Before dark the tank that had been leaking gasoline retired to Germeter and Lieutenant Johnson's tank blundered into a bomb crater, thus leaving three operational tanks tied in with the engineer defense.12
    Task Force Davis
    After the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Division assumed responsibility for the 109th Infantry's wooded sector north of Germeter at 1250 on 7 November, it held in place the remainder of the day and night. To the south two companies of the 110th Infantry tried again to close the gap between Simonskall and Raffelsbrand, but without success.13
    The three 109th battalions assembled in the woods west of Germeter. Soon after dark the 2d Battalion relieved the 146th Engineers of its defensive role in Vossenack, and took up positions in and around the houses. Neither the 2d nor the 3d Battalion had received any replacements, and both were thus far below strength. The 1st Battalion had received some 200 men and was to constitute part of a force designed to recapture Schmidt, a force to be known as Task Force Davis.
    On the evening of 6 November General Davis had given Colonel Mays, commander of the 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, a number of rather indefinite references to a second major task force. Its first official designation or recognition was in Field Order 26 dated 070830, specifying a renewal of the attack to capture and hold Schmidt. The task force was to be under the command of General Davis and would consist primarily of the
    following units: the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry; the 112th Infantry (minus the 2d Battalion); the 3d Battalion, 110th Infantry; Companies A and C, 707th Tank Battalion; Companies B and C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion. Small detachments of medics, engineers, signalmen, and chemical mortar men would complete the list. On paper, this force seemed imposing. Not one of the infantry, tank, or tank destroyer units, however, was anywhere near full strength; indeed, only the battalion of the 109th could be termed an effective fighting force, and that only because it had been strengthened during the night of 6-7 November by replacements.14
    About noon on 7 November Colonel Mays was called to the Task Force Davis CP (set up with the 112th Infantry rear CP) to report on the location and status of his destroyers. Colonel Mays informed General Davis that only two tank destroyers remained in the Kommerscheidt area, and only one of them was capable of maneuver. In the Germeter vicinity there remained seven destroyers of Company B and four replacement destroyers of Company C. Four guns of Company B under Lieutenant Davis were stationed throughout the day in the western end of Vossenack.
    The mined and enemy-held Kall trail, Colonel Mays explained, had prevented other tank destroyers from getting to Kommerscheidt. The general nonetheless insisted that all remaining destroyers must cross the Kall immediately. On the grounds that no infantry were available, Davis refused the tank destroyer commander's request for a company, or even a platoon, of infantry to accompany his vehicles through the river gorge. Mays protested that, although the destroyers had machine guns, they were .50-calibers on antiaircraft mounts and were thus difficult to use against infantry at close range; the tank destroyers needed protection to cross the Kall. General Davis said he wanted a platoon of tank destroyers to leave Kommerscheidt immediately, regardless of whether they had accompanying infantry; it was a direct order.15
    As a preliminary to Task Force Davis' move to Kommerscheidt, the 3d Battalion, 109th Infantry, was ordered to move immediately to the Kall bridge and secure it. Although the battalion moved out about 1500 and at 1735 reported it was in position, it was learned later that night that the battalion had lost its way in the woods west of Germeter and had dug in about a thousand yards southwest of Richelskaul in rear of the 110th Infantry.16
    Movement orders for the main infantry component of Task Force Davis, the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry, were not issued through the night. The remaining tanks of Companies B and C, 707th Tank Battalion (seventeen tanks), had been alerted for possible movement to Kommerscheidt but received no specific orders. News of the withdrawal from Kommerscheidt had by this time circulated in the rear areas, and there was an increasing feeling around the combined 112th rear--Task Force Davis CP that the projected attack,

    The Tank Destroyers Try To Cross the Kall
    After General Davis during the afternoon had specifically ordered one platoon of tank destroyers to get to Kommerscheidt immediately, Colonel Mays had instructed his 2d Platoon, Company B, 893d, under Lieutenant Smith and assisted by Lieutenant Fuller, to attempt to run the Kall gantlet. Earlier in the day Fuller had gone forward in a half-track and determined that the main supply route was still blocked; but preparations were made with four destroyers to obey the general's order. Loaded with extra ammunition, rations, medical supplies, four additional machine guns, and with several men from the Reconnaissance Platoon as security, the four destroyers moved out about 1500.
    They had little difficulty getting through Vossenack, now held by the 146th Engineers. When they turned south at the church and attempted to speed across the 1,200 yards of exposed ridge between the town and the woods, German artillery shells, direct fire from self-propelled guns, and long-range machine gun fire showered upon them. Two of the M-10's received direct shell hits and were knocked out. Another was hit by a shell on the left driving sprocket and veered off the road. The last destroyer neared the woods but was going too fast and skidded on the wet slope, plunging out of control over the left bank of the Kall trail and down toward the wooded gorge. The crewmen smashed their radios, removed gun parts, and withdrew toward the rear through the wooded draw south of Vossenack, their attempt at crossing the river a failure.18
    Armor in Vossenack
    The 2d Battalion, 109th Infantry, had assumed responsibility soon after dark for the defense of Vossenack. To avoid drawing enemy artillery fire on the town, the battalion commander and the tankers decided to keep all tanks in ready positions near Germeter. Lieutenant Johnson's tank platoon withdrew to Germeter, and about 2100 the lieutenant's tank was towed out of the bomb crater into which it had fallen.19
    Lieutenant Davis' 1st Tank Destroyer Platoon had remained in Vossenack through the day. After dark the tank destroyer men, using a T-2 retriever, attempted to evacuate the destroyer that had fallen into a cellar on the north side of the street the preceding day. The T-2 eased quietly into position, the tow cables were fastened, and the retriever gunned its motor to pull out the destroyer. At that moment heavy enemy mortar fire came in and one round landed on the nose of the destroyer, wounding two men and killing the driver of the retriever. The attempt at evacuation was abandoned, and Lieutenant Davis' platoon
    passed the remainder of the night uneventfully.20
    After Colonel Peterson was taken to the rear, he was removed to the division CP at Roett, whereupon he asked to see General Cota. The general appeared, and Peterson explained the Kommerscheidt situation, rather incoherently. He told of the message directing him to report to the division command post. General Cota had sent no such message. At the time, he believed firmly that the regimental commander had abandoned his troops. Although he never determined who sent the message, the general later did establish to his "complete satisfaction" that Colonel Peterson had actually received instructions to return to the rear.
    Conversations later that afternoon between General Cota and General Davis and between General Cota and the V Corps and First Army commanders resulted in Cota's positive recommendation that all his troops be withdrawn west of the Kall River. Both the army and corps commanders concurred. V Corps ordered that the 28th Division continue to hold the Vossenack ridge and that part of the Kall gorge west of the river, while withdrawing from the east bank. One regiment was to continue to work toward the south, while a third regiment was to be committed later with the 5th Armored Division to the south to assist in taking Strauch and Steckenborn. Late that night General Cota ordered that the 112th Infantry pull back to an assembly area for reconstitution; that the 3d Battalion, 110th, revert to the 110th Infantry; and that the 109th Infantry continue to hold the Vossenack ridge and move troops into the river gorge.21

    Air Support
    The first air mission of 7 November was at 1115 by a squadron of P-47's of the 365th Group against smoke markings in Ruhrberg, southeast of Strauch, with no results observed. Shortly after noon, thirty-six P-38's of the 370th Fighter Group blaze-bombed eight suspected gun emplacements in the vicinity of Grosshau (some two miles northeast of Huertgen) as marked by smoke from American artillery. Pilots reported smoke and fire blanketing the entire area, and the ground control officer said the targets were well covered by bombs. One aircraft was lost to enemy flak.
    The misdirected mission against Vossenack by twelve P-47's of the 365th Group lasted from 1230 to 1350. Pilots reported "one observation post believed destroyed by bombing, no results observed on strafing." One light gun position was claimed probably destroyed in Bergstein, and the town was left burning. In midafternoon another squadron of the 365th bombed on smoke markings in the "west edge of Schmidt," possibly the mission praised by Major Dana, 112th Infantry S-3, for having bombed a square patch of woods west of Kommerscheidt. After dark the 422d Night Fighter Group flew an intruder mission over the 28th Division sector, giving particular

    Map 30
    28th Division Front
    Dawn, 8 November 1944
    attention to enemy road movements east of Schmidt; no results were recorded.22
    The Enemy Situation
    On 7 November the 1055th Regiment, supported by the 16th Panzer Regiment, finally succeeded in driving the Americans from Kommerscheidt to the northern woods line. This news in enemy reports was tempered somewhat in that the 156th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and elements of the 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiment had lost the eastern half of Vossenack. The Germans had been planning an attack to take the western half of the town at the same time the Americans struck to recapture the eastern half, and in the battle that followed German losses were "considerable." The attack in the Kall gorge during the night of 6-7 November against the 1340th Engineers had been made by the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 116th Panzer Division, which claimed to have taken the Mestrenger Muehle again after having sustained "considerable losses" in the face of "strong enemy resistance."
    On the northern and southern shoulders of the American penetration the enemy situation remained relatively the same. The Germans claimed that the effective employment of mines and mortars stopped another thrust toward Huertgen and that an American attack in company strength was repulsed at Raffelsbrand. Prisoner identifications by the 28th Division on this date indicated that all three battalions of the 1056th Regiment roamed the Kall gorge between Simonskall and Mestrenger Muehle and that
    elements of the 275th Division and miscellaneous fortress units continued to hold in the vicinity of Raffelsbrand.23

    Summary for 7 November and Night of 7-8 November
    At daylight on 8 November the 28th Division was making plans for major readjustments in its lines, including withdrawal of all its troops from east of the Kall River. But many of the division's troops were still in a critical condition. The remnants of the 1st and 3d Battalions, 112th Infantry, had finally lost Kommerscheidt after a disastrous enemy tank-infantry attack but then had held along with the 3d Battalion, 110th Infantry, at the northern woods line overlooking Kommerscheidt. (Map 30) Only two tank destroyers (one of them immobilized), one tank, and two 57-mm. antitank guns remained for antitank defense.
    In the Kall gorge one engineer company (Company C, 1340th) had been virtually annihilated. Four engineer platoons now held positions along the Kall trail, with two of the platoons located so that they could fire on anyone entering the bridge area. A fifth engineer platoon held to the south on the firebreak that ran parallel to the main supply route. The enemy held the Mestrenger Muehle, however, and the American engineers had no contact with the forces along the Kommerscheidt woods line. Approximately three more platoons of engineers were at the entrance of the Kall trail into the western edge of the Kall woods.
    The combined 1st-3d Battalion, 112th, aid station still operated in the log dugout alongside the trail in the gorge, but only walking wounded had been evacuated during the period. Although a charge by four tank destroyers had been attempted, no resupply of any sort to the Kommerscheidt force had been effected across this trail.
    In Vossenack the eastern half of the town had been recaptured during the day in a well-executed maneuver by two understrength engineer companies supported by a platoon of tanks. The engineers, Companies A and C, 146th, had lacked radios, grenades, and mortars. At dark they had withdrawn along with the handful of survivors of the 2d Battalion, 112th Infantry, to assembly areas west of Germeter. The 2d Battalion, 109th Infantry, already battered from a long fight in the woods to the north, had taken over defense of the town. It had been relieved north of Germeter by the 12th Infantry.
    The 109th Infantry had ordered its 3d Battalion to the Kall bridge, but the battalion lost its way behind the 110th Infantry. Although the 1st Battalion, 109th, had been assigned as a part of newly formed Task Force Davis, it was still in an assembly area west of Germeter. The task force had for all practical purposes been abandoned during the night after its mission to retake Schmidt had been negated by corps and army decisions to withdraw from beyond the Kall.
    New orders now awaited the 28th Division. The immediate problems were to withdraw those troops still east of the river and to reinforce the defenders of the Kall bridge area

    For me it was a very hard trip, yes I am over 50 but well trained and the weather was cold,
    but I was wet sweated, yes I had a bike that shortened 1/4 of the distance, yes I had no weapons to carry only a backpack and I had no fire on me but if you have made this trip you cannot understand that the american headquarter forced its men and tanks to do this!!!

    I often drive big tractors and trucks in our farmings anf was a tank-driver in the german Heer but such a road??????????????? Never!!!!!!!!!!

    It was an impressive walk for me and I can only admire both side soldiers in their efforts!!

    Never forget Vossenack!!!!!

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-11-2011 at 02:18 PM.

  8. #18

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Hi Alex,
    This thread of yours is fantastic, superb work with great photo's and research, I love the way you relate your own feelings back to 1944 and the difficulties of the terrain. I have visited this area and walked the Kall trail a few times. Seeing your pictures has brought back many good memories I can picture the spots where you took many of the pictures.
    Did you see the weasel track to the right of the discarded Sherman track. Last time I was there it was slowly disappearing below ground so it may be covered over now?
    I cant wait to see your next post.
    Best Wishes

  9. #19

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Thank you Lucky!!

    No, there was no weasel track anymore to see. On the right there is a modern fence now belonging to the little house downwards.

    Perhaps they recovered it or i have not found it.

    I am preparing the next posts but it takes me a bit of time.


  10. #20

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Absolutely fascinating Alex. Thank you for taking the time to post your experiences, thoughts and feelings and for the pictures of your travels. Superb account.

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