The Bloody Forest: Battle for the Huertgen, September 1944-January 1945

The Bloody Forest: Battle for the Huertgen, September 1944-January 1945

The Bloody Forest: Battle for the Huertgen, September 1944-January 1945

The Bloody Forest: Battle for the Huertgen, September 1944-January 1945

Synopsis

Told largely through the words of men who were there, "The Bloody Forest" evokes one of the deadliest and most ill-conceived campaigns of World War II. "No one does oral history better than Gerald Astor".--Stephen E. Ambrose. 36 photos. 1 map.

Excerpt

In the course of research and interviews while writing a series of books on World War II, I became increasingly aware of the campaign for the Huertgen Forest. While survivors of other battles sometimes criticized the strategy and the orders they were given, there was a depth of anger about the Huertgen that surpassed anything I had encountered elsewhere. The unhappiness with what occurred and the absence of much objective coverage in the memoirs of those in the top command slots convinced me to produce this history.

As I have reiterated in all of my books, which rely heavily on oral or eyewitness reports, there are always the dangers of flawed memory, limited vantage points, and the possibility of self-interest in such accounts. But the almost universal condemnation of their superiors' critical decisions by individuals who were under fire in that "green hell" offers a cautionary note on the accuracy and the truths of histories that draw from the official documents and the personal papers of the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Courtney Hodges (who apparently left little in the way of records), J. Lawton Collins and others in similar positions.

On a personal note, the accounts of those who participated in the Huertgen combat triggered memories of my own service during World War II. I was an infantry replacement, and although I was fortunate to have spent my time in the European Theater guarding prisoners and hauling ammunition, I now realize how poorly I was trained, a condition that unfortunately pertained to many of those committed in the Huertgen and elsewhere.

I spent a great deal of my basic training period learning how to salute and perform close order drill. I had ample practice with an M1 rifle but never touched a BAR or the standard .30-caliber ma-

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