Co. L, 39th Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
I was a replacement sent to Company L of the 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division on Oct. 13, 1944. There were 29 of us.
The day before, the company in the attack had been ambushed near Germeter and had lost half its strength. We first were at the kitchens and then were taken three or four at a time by jeep and trailer to the battalion forward headquarters. There we were given a box of handgrenades and extra bandoliers of M1 ammunition to carry and started up the road toward Germeter. Mortars were falling on the slope of the Weisser Wehe creek hillside west of Germeter.
We went through the woods, already much knocked
down by shellfire, ran across a meadow and an apple orchard and ended
up in the cellar of a house in Germeter, L Company headquarters. We
spent the night there and the next morning six of us were sent down
to the front line in the woods to plug holes in the line. L Company
had a single officer left. We worked at making the holes we were assigned
deeper and then were hit by a barrage of about ten mortar shells. Two
of the six were wounded and we never saw them again. They had been in
combat all of 15 minutes.
That afternoon were were "pinched off" by other companies and left the front and marched back to reserve. The division thereafter was on the defensive, we got another 80 replacements the next day, reorganized and spent a week or so in various positions around Germeter before going into Army reserve near Elsenborn. We came back to almost the same place in February, 1945 after the forest was cleared and before we crossed the Roer River into the Rhineland.
I got wounded Jan. 1, 1945 near Kalterherberg and spent a month in the hospital, but returned to the company in February and served until the end of the war.
I can't possibly convey what the forest was like, except to say it was the epitome of war: dark, forboding, wet, muddy, gloomy and terrible. Anyone who was there never forgot it, but not many people remember it. Otherwise it was a pretty "normal" infantry kind of war for me, scared, dirty and tired and cold most of the time, glad to have been a part of it, glad when it was over. The Huertgen Forest, however, was unforgettable.
June 18, 1922 - † September 4, 2014