The relief of the 28th Infantry Division | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part V

The relief of the 28th Infantry Division | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part V


Previously on Hell in the Hürtgen forest
we saw how a queer action led to loss of half of Vossenack and we also saw how Kommerscheidt
became more and more of a mess filled with various different units. Although the Americans managed to keep the
Germans out of Kommerscheidt, the mental state of the GI’s was rapidly decreasing. The veterans had either been killed or wounded
and many green recruits had taken their place. In this final episode of the series we will
take a look at the endgame of the 28th Infantry Division In The Hürtgen Forest. As light started to grow on the 7th of November
1944 the Germans started to bombard the defences at Kommerscheidt. Next to the shells was the cold, almost icy
rain. After several days of failed attempts to take
the town, the Germans were determined more than ever to finally break the Kommerscheidt
defences. Finally, after the 30 minute long bombardment
the Germans attacked. Just under 20 Panzers of the 16th Panzer Regiment
advanced together with the infantry of the 89th Infantry Division. The Panzers inflicted heavy losses, especially
to the left flank of A company, 112th Infantry Regiment. The company’s command post was fired at
multiple times and A company’s commander, Captain Frear was among the wounded. On the American right flank, the Panzers managed
to move in on the foxholes of company B, 112th Infantry regiment. But, thanks to personal initiatives the Panzers
were forced to back up. The heavy weapons of M company also suffered
terrible losses, but its commander Captain Hackard managed to avenge the loss of multiple
of his mortars and heavy machine guns by knocking out one of the Panzers with a bazooka. The American tanks got stuck into the fight
as well. Lieutenant Payne, a platoon commander in A
company 707th Tank battalion managed to knock out a German tank which tried to flank the
right side of the village. Payne was aided by two tank destroyers before
they finally managed to bring the panzer to a crashing halt. In the centre of the Hamlet, Lieutenant Edmund
in his M10 managed to knock out a Panther at point blank range and another M10 also
destroyed another German tank. In return 3 M10’s were also quickly put
out of action, including Lieutenant Edmund’s. As the German tanks entered the village, Colonel
Ripple and Colonel Peterson were just in time to leave their command post as one of the
panzers was starting to blaze away at it. Major Hazlett jumped from post to post to
encourage his men to fight on, but despite his best of efforts, many were already leaving
their foxholes. Captain Rumbaugh, in command of the 3rd battalion
110th Infantry Regiment at the wood line was ordered up to aid in the defence but before
Rumbaugh could assemble his men his orders changed as Colonel Peterson arrived at the
wood line. C company of the 112th Infantry Regiment was
committed instead. Just as Peterson had given his orders to C
company, a message arrived stating that he was expected at the divisional headquarters. Peterson at once left in a jeep. Finally he was given the opportunity to clarify
the true situation at Kommerscheidt to his superiors. Colonel Ripple thus took over the command
at Kommerscheidt. C company was ordered forward but the company
didn’t move out of their foxholes, even Ripple’s presence was unable to convince
the men of C company to move into Kommerscheidt. As more and more Panzers entered Komemmerscheidt,
more GI’s started to withdraw. A few tanks were sent up to stem the tide,
but it was all in vain, two more Sherman tanks as well as a Tank Destroyer were destroyed
in quick succession. The remaining American tanks started to drive
back. Eventually only one Sherman and two M10’s
remained on the battlefield and with the armour pulling back, Major Christensen of 3rd battalion
also ordered his men to withdraw. Gradually more men withdrew including a party
of 75 men of A company. Everything was done to establish a new defensive
line at the edge of the woods overlooking the hamlet. Kommerscheidt was lost to the Germans at 11h25am. Chaos reigned on the battlefield. Units were reorganized while the wounded men
poured down into the Kall valley towards the aid station. At the edge of the woods were the 3rd battalion,
110th infantry regiment, C company of the 112th Infantry Regiment and some 200 survivors
of the fighting at Kommerscheidt. In order to prevent a blue on blue incident,
the Americans hardly fired an artillery round at Kommerscheidt which was still full of wounded
GI’s. None the less, the approaches from Schmidt
were continuously fired on. Just like the attack at Schmidt a few days
before, the Germans didn’t press home the attack. This gave the Americans valuable time to reorganize
and improve the new defences. At about 18h30pm, the Germans renewed their
attacks. A handful of Panzers tried to get across the
open, but the artillery fire knocked out the leading Panzer and the others subsequently
withdrew. The situation was somewhat restored but the
28th infantry Division was facing a very stressful night. During the day, Colonel Peterson had been
ordered up to the divisional headquarters. He was to be relieved by Colonel Gustin Nelson. Peterson meanwhile had been forced to abandon
his jeep after being fired upon by a German squad along the Kall trail. After a trying trek across the Kall gorge,
dodging various German parties, the WW1 veteran was eventually hit by a piece of shrapnel. One of the men with Colonel Peterson, Private
Seiler was killed in the attempt to cross the woods. After spending the last stretch along the
river bank crawling, the colonel had lost his energy and instead gambled on crying out
his name until he was eventually picked up by two GI’s who applied morphine and brought
the exhausted and wounded Peterson to the rear. As Colonel Peterson and the Engineers along
the Kall trail found out the hard way, the Germans had managed to reach the trail and
it became more and more difficult to move supplies or reinforcements up to or from Kommerscheidt. While the Germans were attacking Kommerscheidt
in force, the Americans were making plans to recapture their lost positions in front
of Vossenack. At 08h00am, the 146th Engineers who were going
to perform the attack postponed it for about 15 minutes. As the American artillery lifted, the Germans
immediately laid down a counter-barrage. 1st Lieutenant Meier’s 2nd platoon, of C
company was ordered to recapture the houses on the left of the main street. His platoon took multiple casualties in the
attempt to move up. A company under Captain Ball at the same time
rushed ahead in order to capture the damaged church. A firefight ensued in the church which resulted
in several Germans being killed and the capture of some 16 others. The men of A company also overcame a machinegun
position in the cemetery. From the cemetery position they were able
to support 1st Lieutenant Meier’s advance on the left. At the same time the supporting tanks of 2nd
Lieutenant Johnson, 2nd platoon B company of the 707th Tank battalion also moved up
to support the infantry. Although the tanks weren’t of much use in
the close-quarters combat they did provide moral support. The men of Meier proceeded, house by house
capturing 19 Germans in one single building. Later during the fight, the air force was
called up and although most planes successfully bombed their targets, two of the P47’s mistakenly
bombed the friendly lines. But, in spite of this incident, most of Vossenack
had been recaptured by the evening. At noon the 109th Infantry Regiment was finally
relieved by the men of the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. The three battalions of the 109th weren’t
finished with the Hurtgen Forest though. After dark, the second battalion relieved
the 146th Engineers in Vossenack. Of the 109th Infantry Regiment, only the 1st
battalion had received reinforcements, some 200 men in total. The 3rd battalion on its turn was to be a
part of Task Force Davis which was ordered to recapture Schmidt. The taskforce further consisted of the 112th
Infantry regiment, minus it’s 2nd battalion, companies A and C of the 707th Tank battalion
and companies B and C of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. All forces were desperately understrength
and the tanks had received a blow during the fighting for kommerscheidt. Besides, the Tank Destroyers of the taskforce
still had to cross the Kall trail which was infested with Germans. None the less General Davis in command of
the taskforce ordered the tank destroyers under his command to immediately cross the
trail. While the M10’s were moving up, the 3rd
battalion of the 109th proceeded to the Kall bridge. Or at least that’s what they thought they
were doing. In theory, the 3rd battalion had lost its
way and they eventually ended up behind the 110th Infantry Regiment to the southwest. In order to conform with the general’s wishes,
4 M10’s of B company’s 2nd platoon were ordered to make a dash for the Kall trail. As the four Tank destroyers broke the cover
of Vossenack at about 15h00pm, they were met by a hail of fire coming from across the valley. Two M10’s received a direct hit and were
knocked out while another was hit in the drive sprocket and veered-off. The fourth and last tank destroyer made it
to the wood line, but they went too fast and slid off the path, plunging into the valley
below. Although badly shaken, the crew made it out
alive. During the day General Cota, in command of
the 28th infantry division had a meeting with the V corps and First army commanders in which
he suggested that his troops be withdrawn across the Kall stream. Both the corps and the army commanders agreed. It was the beginning of the end. While the 1055th Infantry Regiment had successfully
captured Kommerscheidt, the men of the 156th and 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiments had to
give up the eastern part of Vossenack to the American Engineers. At the same time however, the Germans were
able to infiltrate the lines along the Kall trail. On the next day, November 8th, the 3rd battalion
of the 109th Infantry Regiment was called out again to proceed to the Kall river from
where they were to act as the basis of the withdrawal across the stream. They eventually arrived at the Kall trail
at 13pm. L Company stayed behind between Simonskall
and the bridge at the Mestrenger Mühle in order to provide flank protection. In the meantime contact was established with
Colonel Nelson and eventually with Colonel Ripple as well. The commanders on the field quickly made plans
for a smooth withdrawal across the Kall stream. At the wood line in front of Kommerscheidt
the day was appearing to be pretty calm until 6 Germans Panzers were spotted around Kommerscheidt,
but thanks to the counter-artillery the German attack never really materialized. The Germans tried again during the afternoon,
but with the help of the M10 Tank Destroyers of Lieutenant Davis across the valley at Vossenack,
all six of the German panzers were reported as knocked out. As Colonel Nelson finally arrived at the wood
line, measures were taken to start the process of the withdrawal. The wounded were being brought back and L
company of the 110th was chosen as the covering force. As darkness fell, the artillery would lay
down a covering barrage to conceal the withdrawal. The withdrawal itself consisted of two parts,
a group with the wounded and a group with the men who were still fit to fight, some
300 fighting men in total. As the men set out, German mortar fire started
to fall near the Kall trail and the men were forced to spread out. As it was dark the reorganization of the group
was nearly impossible. Colonel Nelson with his group made it safely
past the column of wounded GI’s and also managed to cross the Kall bridge to safety. The wounded meanwhile walked on until they
came across the Germans guarding the bridge. After a bit of negotiating all men of the
group were allowed to pass, including the armed soldiers who were carrying some of the
wounded. The withdrawal was a success. Most of the scattered parties managed to make
their way across the stream to the designated assembly area. The group with Colonel Ripple was one of these
scattered parties which eventually reached the 3rd battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment. Only a few soldiers didn’t make it. Others did make it, but went to Vossenack
instead, like Lieutenant Fleig who you might remember from the battles at Kommerscheidt. Over at Hürtgen, the 12th Infantry Regiment
immediately sent out one battalion to eliminate a German salient along the Weisser Weh creek. The battalion was unable to make good progress
and eventually turned back to the initial start line. To the south at Raffelbrand, the 2nd battalion
110th Infantry Regiment made an attempt to attack the German-held pillboxes, but their
attack was repulsed. During the night everything was done to give
the wounded of Kommerscheidt the treatment they needed. But as the aid-stations became crowded, the
walking wounded were simply advised to walk back to the rear and seek medical attention
there. Several parties along the Kall trail were
harassed by the Germans overlooking the only supply route of the Americans. That same day the 112th Infantry Regiment
received some 500 replacements to bring the battalions back to combat strength. The next day, November 9th, the weather went
from bad to worse with snow falling on the 28th infantry Division’s positions. The already difficult task of getting vehicles
through became even more difficult now that snow was falling down. That 9th of November, Major Berndt the surgeon
of the 112th Infantry Regiment asked his superiors if he could set up a truce to bring in the
wounded still left on the battlefield. His suggestion was declined and the response
he got was that he should instead find out what the Germans thought of such a truce. Major Berndt then moved up to the aid station
at the Kall trail to see the situation for himself. Unware that the division had by then authorized
a truce, Berndt and his interpreter went out the bridge on their own to seek the German
commander in the area. Eventually a Leutnant came out to meet them. Berndt was surprised to hear that all the
wounded along the wood line at Kommerscheidt had already been taken away. But, there was still the situation at the
Aid station which was piled with wounded men awaiting evacuation. The German officer agreed that his men would
let the evacuation vehicles past, but he couldn’t vouch for the German artillery. Both Americans and Germans worked together
in order to evacuate the wounded. Later problems arose on the Kall trail closer
to Vossenack when a German Captain was unaware of the truce. The German officer insisted that only the
seriously injured soldiers and the medical personnel could be evacuated. Slowly but surely, the wounded were evacuated
under the close watch of the German Captain and his men. By that time, the German 89th infantry Division
had relieved almost the entirety of the 116th Panzer Division which was shifted to Hürtgen
for a new German attack on the salient held by the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry
Division. On the 10th of November, unaware of the new
German peril at Hürtgen, the Americans attacked to even their lines. The 1st battalion of the 109th had to take
over from the 112th Infantry Regiment since the latter consisted nearly entirely of fresh
recruits. The 109th partially reached their objectives. On the 11th of November a new truce was established,
this time by a German Medical officer who wanted to collect the German dead in the Kall
gorge. The Americans were given time to find a new
route, avoiding the German Captain to the north. Eventually the entire US aid station was evacuated. The next day, the 110th Infantry Regiment
made yet another attempt to capture the Raffelsbrandt pillboxes, but the companies were so worn-down
that the attack never really materialized. All elements of the 112th Infantry Regiment
were finally relieved after the 2nd Ranger battalion was attached to the 109th Infantry
Regiment on the 14th of November. On the 17th of November, with the arrival
of the 8th Infantry Division, the 110th Infantry Regiment was also relieved and moved out of
the Simonskall sector. The relief of the 28th infantry Division was
completed by the 19th of November as the 8th infantry division also took over the positions
of the 109th infantry Regiment. The 28th Infantry Division was finally out
of the front line at Vossenack and Hürtgen. In November of 1944, the 28th infantry Division
had suffered 5 684 casualties and if you add attached units the sad total comes to 6 184. The hardest hit regiment was the 112th which
deplored 2093 casualties, 232 were captured, 431 men were missing, a further 719 were wounded
while 167 men were killed. The regiment also had 544 non-battle casualties. The Germans also endured heavy losses. It is estimated that they had some 2000 casualties
of all types. The Americans also lost 16 of the 20 M10 tank
destroyers and 31 out of the 50 tanks in the endeavour to capture Schmidt. The Hurtgen campaign of the 28th Infantry
Division had come to an end. The soldiers had behaved well under trying
conditions but casualties were incredibly high. The attack to take Schmidt and act as a divergent
for other American attacks had failed. The one-way supply route which was the Kall
trial was a major factor which lead to the eventual defeat. So was the weather and the quick move by the
116th Panzer Division. I hope you enjoyed this series, I most certainly
did making it. I thank you very much for watching and I hope
to see you in a future video! Don’t forget to like and subscribe and do
leave a comment down below! Cheers!

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51 thoughts on “The relief of the 28th Infantry Division | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part V”

  1. Great series I appreciate your time and effort creating these videos, the western world unfortunately today is still suffering the losses of these men.

  2. Great video of the Battle of the Bulge. I truly enjoyed the series. It details pretty good the who, where, when, and the why of the battle. Keep up the great job that you're doing. Once again, thank you for the series of this historical battle.

  3. Excellent series. I never really took the time learning about this battle. Thank you for correcting that with this excellent documentary. Happy holidays and a very happy new year from one of your northern neighbors.

  4. Thank you for your superior work. Why wasn't the allies air power used more ? Bad weather ?
    have a Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

  5. Hi, i dont understand. The reason Americans abandoned Kommerscheidt is the 20 panzer attack. Thats alot of armor moving undetected. I dont know how affective the bombardment was. Regardless, the break in US lines, was the heavy german attack, undetected, very strange. The Kall trail was difficult, but it was operational. How exactly is the trail the reason the americans lost kommerscheit? How long was the fighting in the town. If the road let say was a wide, and tough paved road, how would that be key to hold Kommerscheit during that attack? Did US have a large TD detachment in reserve, on a short notice, that just couldn't move through the trail? Any reason no air support? You mentioned Kommerscheit was a decoy effort. So is that the reasons Americans lacked everything there (if they did)?
    In any case, of course good work.
    Just to verify, was American main objective to secure the flanks achieved?

  6. Good video how many died when they bombed friendly lines. It’s weird when you look at the landscape you wouldn’t know there was a batel there

  7. Merry Christmas to you The series was very accurate as usual If you get the time a closing episode of all would be smashing .Your work is right up there and knowledgeable.

  8. Read "Alamo in the Ardennes". The 28th at Hosingen helped wreck the German timetable of advance, or there wouldn't have been a "Heroic defense of Bastogne".

  9. "Man o man"… What a slugfest. I thought I knew a lot about WW2 but Ace has shown me differently. Ace Thanks!
    As Western and First World nations, please God, do NOT let us fight like this again. It was a tragedy and we must all learn from this.
    Frohe Weihnachten to all! Peace on Earth!

  10. Detailed play by play of this historical casualty ridden battle.The contrast between the old footage in combination with the present day ones enhances the amazing production on this documentary series.Cheers!

  11. What a great example of how the fog of war, the unforgiving aspects of nature and a determined foe can create a no win situation. The Americans didn't achieve what they wanted but the Germans didn't lose either. Perhaps in the end what mattered most was the shared experience that allowed the evacuation of the dead and wounded.

  12. WWII buffs like myself really appreciate presentations such as this, of smaller scale operations of the war. You even get down to the scale of individual casualties! (They are often junior officers leading companies or platoons, who suffered terribly high casualties.) The information is presented sometimes too rapidly, but that is what the pause button is for. Well done!

  13. My Dad was in the 28th ID – he was eventually captured on Dec 20, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He never talked about his time in the Army while in the 28th.
    All I know about his time as a Infantryman is that he was awarded the bronze star – but he turned it down.

  14. Whenever I discuss history and the scope of the fighting that went on during WWII it amazes me at how little is being taught in schools and even college any longer. Most young people think after DDay that there were a few big battles and then the war was over. When I go into detail on how many battles were being fought on a day to day basis and the massive amount of men and equipment that was lost they sometimes act as if I am making it all up.

    Thank you for this Ace.

  15. Ace. This has been a wonderful series. So interesting and so informative. Your research to present it is amazing. You brought this battle to life and I eagerly awaited each video. I thank you for this brilliant series. Happy Christmas. Don in Ireland .

  16. G'day,

    Yay Team !

    With the amount of time you've put into this, and modern access to declassified (surviving) doccuments from all participating Sides ; you've probably developed a better overview of what happened than any dozen surviving Veterans who were there – on all sides, combined.

    Because, so they say, everybody's Attention becomes wonderfully concentrated when they're being shot at ; so the participants tend to emerge havinga clear recollection only of what they actually (think that they) saw going on around them – the famous,

    "Fog Of Waaauugh(!)"

    apparently.

    It's always a terribly suspect proposition – whenever some Politician proclaims it be time for other people's Children to go far & away to die in a Ditch in the muddle of nowhere that anybody involved had ever previously heard of – while trying to sneak up on & kill a bunch of Strangers…; all because the Shinyness of their "National Honour" depended on their Blood fertilising (someone else's) Soil.

    Victory, Hurrah…(?) !

    If Confucious failed to say all that, then he was probably distracted on the day, and forgot to mention it to his Scribe…(?).

    Happy Solstice Festival…!!!

    We're having a magnificent Bonfire Competition this year here, measured in Flamefront Heights (60 metres is winning at the moment), and Houses burned per day (which is still being held by Wytaliba on 8 November, with 60 destroyed in the one evening).

    I think of this-all as being perhaps the result of Gestalt National Karmic Feedback-Loops, within the Kosmic Scoreboard Effect…, arising from all of the Patriotic Imperial Lancasters & Aircrews financed and sent by my father's & grandfathers' Taxes, to go dropping Incendiaries onto Cities all over Europe…., with great fanfare & celebrations still ongoing here regarding the achievement (about 40 RAAF Aircraft were Firebombing at Hamburg, & 60 at Dresden – my father's cousin flew a Lancaster to burn Hamburg, & Cologne, and 28 other Targets in 1942-'43…) ; so I can't really argue against the fairness of Oz having to face these Solsticial Firestorms…

    If it be not the Karma of Oz having helped to cook all those Hamburgers in the Waybackwhen.., then perhaps it might be our Just Deserts for all the Coal & Gas which we extract & export, thus enriching ourselves by enabling millions of other Nations' people to burn Australian Fossils – far Far FAR Faster than we could ever have burnt them on our own…(!).

    Fiedishly clever, are the Political EcoGnomists…, and what a terribly shiny sparkling sophisticated ("adulterated & impure" ) artificial Gem is the whole bloody Global Vile Age, which they have inflicted onto the Planet…, over this past 12,300 years (!).

    Ah…
    Progress ;
    Eventually
    It does
    END…(!).

    Such is Life,

    Have a good one.

    ;-p

    Ciao !

  17. Fantastic video, Ace, and an even greater series. Thank you for taking the time to create and share it with us – kind of like an early Christmas present for all of us history nerds! I dunno if you've considered doing a video on this so i've curious… what are some future stories and or series do you have planned? Anything more coming up from the German perspective? Anyways, THANKS again and take care! Great quality, history, and information. Merry Christmas mate.

  18. Thanks for your diligent work on this series. I have an interest in the battle of the Hürtgen Forest because it is overlooked. The soldiers on both sides deserve to be remembered and the fact that they showed decency when they could is very important. Thank you again.

  19. A great complement to this series is "Victory Was Beyond Their Grasp: 272nd VGD" by Nash. This book has the 272nd VGD assuming some of these positions just before the Ardennes Offensive begins.

  20. very well done!!…detailed to identify certain persons by name and exact military units. I also loved the recent videos of the towns in which the battles in the hurtgen were located, then and now sequence

  21. Again… very nice work!
    Best Regards from the Hürtgen Forest (i`m living in a little village nearly 25 km from this area…).

  22. This content is great for filling in the gap between the major tactical or strategic themes, and the individual interviews with soldiers. Very good. There is still scope for inclusion of interviews with the combatants, but I imagine that most are subject to copyright. I loved this series.

  23. A lot of these major battles get lost in history and even if they aren't they are only glanced over by historians and they don't see the massive amount of fighting that took place. Glad to see you are bringing the hell of the Infantry soldier to light (as I am also an Infantry combat veteran) it means a lot to me to see someone putting in this much effort. You are criminally under subscribed for what you do!!

  24. The detail makes the action come alive and exposes it's shortcomings. Like the failure to 101 secure a supply route which by itself doomed the Americans to failure. Germans, as you should do, kept infiltrating the route and so regularly disrupted supply without being seriously challenged. Metz would be another action very much worth looking at.

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