The Siegfried Line Campaign

The Siegfried Line Campaign

The Siegfried Line Campaign

The Siegfried Line Campaign

Excerpt

Some who have written of World War II in Europe have dismissed the period between 11 September and 16 December 1944 with a paragraph or two. This has been their way of gaining space to tell of the whirlwind advances and more spectacular command decisions of other months. The fighting during September, October, November, and early December belonged to the small units and individual soldiers, the kind of warfare which is no less difficult and essential no matter how seldom it reaches the spectacular.

It is always an enriching experience to write about the American soldier--in adversity no less than in glittering triumph. Glitter and dash were conspicuously absent in most of the Siegfried Line fighting. But whatever the period may lack in sweeping accomplishment it makes up in human drama and variety of combat actions. Here is more than fighting within a fortified line. Here is the Huertgen Forest, the Roer plain, Aachen, and the largest airborne attack of the war. The period also eventually may be regarded as one of the most instructive of the entire war in Europe. A company, battalion, or regiment fighting alone and often unaided was more the rule than the exception. In nuclear war or in so-called limited war in underdeveloped areas, of which we hear so much today, this may well be the form the fighting will assume.

As befits the nature of the fighting, this volume is focused upon tactical operations at army level and below. The story of command and decision in higher headquarters is told only when it had direct bearing on the conduct of operations in those sectors under consideration. The logistics of the campaign likewise has been subordinated to the tactical narrative. It is a ground story in the sense that air operations have been included only where they had direct influence upon the ground action. It is also an American story. Although considerable attention has been paid British and Canadian operations where U.S. units were involved, this is designed only to place U.S. operations in proper perspective.

In the fullest sense of the term, this volume represents a co-operative enterprise. Reference in the footnotes and the bibliographical note can give only partial credit to the scores of officers and men who furnished information or unraveled questions of fact. Nearly every officer who held the post of division commander or above during the campaign has read the manuscript of this volume, and at least one ranking officer from each division, corps, and army headquarters has read and commented upon the manuscript.

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