IX. Hurtgen Forest

Following the fall of Aachen, units of the Battalion remained in defensive positions to the east and northeast of the city until relieved by the 750th Tank Battalion, attached to General Terry Allen's 104th Infantry Division, on November 9 and 10. On these dates our platoons moved with their respective infantry battalions to assembly areas in preparation for an attack through the Hurtgen Forest to the Roer River.

From November 10 to 16 all elements of the Battalion remained in assembly areas waiting for clear weather so the air corps could soften enemy positions with a saturation bombing preceding the attack.

Continued rain, snow, sleet, driving winds and the stickiest, most annoying mud imaginable made life during this period nearly unbearable. All of the platoons were assembled in the woods in expectation of an order to attack, but prospects of clear weather seemed quite distant. The only way in which the men could escape the elements was to prepare log-covered dugouts or log cabins similar to those of the pioneer days. These they built industriously and heated them with ingenious homemade stoves or stoves from bombed-out German homes. Two purposes were accomplished by this work -- keeping the men warm while they were working and keeping them dry and warm after their completion.

November 16 was set as D-Day, and the Air Corps' bombing mission began at 1115 hours with the combined tank and infantry attack scheduled to get under way at 1245. Division and corps artillery, assisted by 667 rounds by our own assault guns, also contributed to the softening-up process. However, the softening up process evidently was not thorough enough because plenty of Jerries remained in their defensive positions and offered the stiffest opposition met by the Battalion since the Normandy beaches.

The attack through the Hurtgen Forest in November marked the most discouraging and the most dismal period in the European history of the 745th. In addition to the most stubborn resistance by a numerous and well-organized enemy, members of the Battalion were hampered by severe cold weather, rain, snow, mud, and a penetrating wind. The enemy confronted our forces with heavy artillery and mortar fire which was much more effective in the dense forest than it could have been in the open or in towns where walls and buildings could offer some refuge. There simply was no refuge from the artillery in the Hurtgen Forest, the tree bursts making it unsafe anywhere - - even in usually substantial foxholes. Casualties were heavy. Fighting through the deep mud and mire was exhausting and seemingly futile as we fought desperately for every yard of ground gained. Because of the miserable weather it was almost impossible to obtain air support.

The Battalion as a whole took its most severe beating of the European phase of the war during that miserable two weeks slaughter. Hurtgen Forest is a name and a battle that never will be forgotten by members of the 745th.

Because of the constant rains and the poor drainage in the forest, the ground was very soggy which resulted in numerous tanks becoming bogged

Previous Page Next Page


Email comments or problems to: comment@745tank.com