Marine

The longest land battle in US historical past was an enormous mistake


The battle for the Hurtgen Forest was one of the devastating battles of all World Conflict II Europe and one among few the U.S. Military misplaced after touchdown at Normandy on D-Day. The comparatively fast advance by means of France gave Allied commanders the drive to race to enter Germany. The tempo was so quick, they outran their provide traces and needed to take a pause – a pause that will consequence within the longest land battle in U.S. army historical past.

Having to attend for the Allied provide traces to catch as much as the entrance gave the beleaguered Nazis the possibility to regroup and quiet down in one among Europe’s most dense and darkish forests. It was a spot the Military ought to by no means have entered.

Battle of Hurtgen Forest
American troops man a machine gun in a captured German place through the 1944 Battle of Hurtgen Forest.

To place it mildly, the forest was the best place to defend. Because the summer season was turning to fall, which might quickly see winter, the dense wooden would see snow and rain that will churn the dust to mud. Dense forests, deep ravines, and steep hills additionally gave the German defenders the benefit within the forest. To high all of it off, there have been additionally deserted and overgrown concrete bunkers, a part of the previous Siegfried Line of defensive fortifications all through the forest – and that’s precisely what drove the Individuals into the bunker.

So after they gave the Germans time to roll out the barbed wire, booby traps, and minefields, the Individuals determined to assault the forest head-on in an try to be the primary to battle and take the vaunted Siegfried Line and thus be the primary to enter Germany.

Associated: Cpl. Henry Warner fought off a German tank together with his pistol

Not my first alternative of goal, however okay.

The forest itself was 70 sq. miles and was located between Aachen, a metropolis below siege that will not give up, and the Ruhr Dam alongside the Rhine, one the Allies had been afraid the Nazis would simply destroy in an try to flood the Allied advance. The Individuals determined they might assault the forest immediately, and swiftly neutralize the menace to the dam whereas guaranteeing the autumn of Aachen. That didn’t occur.

American tanks and airpower had been ineffective whereas preventing within the forest and the machine gun – which the Wehrmacht had in spades – was the best weapon, particularly contemplating the problem seeing for any sort of distance, together with the hills and ravines all through the forest. The Germans zeroed of their mortars earlier than the Individuals ever arrived. The Individuals ought to by no means have engaged the forest in any respect.

Ernest Hemingway WWII
Even Ernest Hemingway, who feared nothing and nobody, opted to not keep at Hurtgen Forest. No joke.

The U.S. Military didn’t have to enter the woods. The Siegfried Line was being assaulted all alongside its perimeter. The debacle at Hurtgen price wherever from 30,000-50,000 casualties at a value of simply 28,000 German casualties. To make issues worse, the months’ slowdown in development allowed the Germans to interrupt out in a winter offensive, an advance that will come to be generally known as the Battle of the Bulge.

This text by Blake Stilwell was initially revealed by We Are the Mighty.

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