Operations of the 22d Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
In the Huertgen Forest, Germany
November 16 1944 – December 3 1944
Maj Frederick T. Kent
This report covers the operations of the 22-IR (4-ID), in the Huertgen Forest east of Zweifal, during the period Nov 14 – Dec 3 1944. This operation can be summarized briefly by stating that it involved some of the fiercest fighting of the whole war under some of the most difficult conditions of weather, terrain and enemy resistance that were experienced anywhere on the European continent. The accomplishment of the regimental mission despite all these obstacles resulted in the award of the second distinguished unit citation received by the 22-IR. Prior to the beginning of this operation, the 4-ID was assigned to V Corps and occupied positions in the line south and east of Monschau, on the southern flank of V Corps. The situation had been comparatively static in this area for some time; and, as a result, the Division was in good condition for the resumption of its usual mission – hard fighting against determined resistance. The 1A plan called for a large-scale coordinated attack beginning approximately Nov 11 to force crossings of the Roer River and permit the movement of 1-A to the assault on Koln. In order to bolster the strength of the VII Corps for the attack in its zone, two divisions, the 4-ID and the 104-ID, transferred to VII Corps. The 4-ID was relieved by the 9-ID and started moving to its new area on Nov 6 1944. The 22-IR moved during the night of Nov 8/9 under conditions of extreme secrecy. All identifying markings on vehicles, uniforms, and equipment were removed or covered; telephone code names were changed; and a code word “Red Wing” was used during the movement itself to identify the unit to traffic control personnel along the route. The movement was completed without serious incident, although driving conditions were extremely bad due to poor visibility, intermittent snow squalls, and slippery roads.
The regiment closed into its assembly area east of Zweifal by daylight, Nov 9 and started preparing to relieve elements of the 28-ID prior to the attack. The 4-ID was assigned the mission of seizing crossings along the Roer River in the vicinity of Düren and to the south thereof and to assist the later advance of the 1-ID (to the north) to seize Koln. The attack by the 1-A was to be coordinated with an attack by the 9-A, and was scheduled to follow an intensive aerial bombardment along the entire front. This air preparation was dependent on the weather, and D Day was set for some time during the period Nov 11-16. The weather continued bad, and the attack was postponed from day to day until Nov 16, when it was finally initiated. The air operation, officially known as Operation Q was the largest close-support bombardment ever flown by the Royal Air Force and Army Air Force. A total of over 9300 tons of bombs were dropped on enemy positions opposite the 1-A and 9-A fronts. The ground attack, which jumped off at 1245, Nov 16, progressed slowly in the VII Corps zone, and the 22-IR fought continuously, except for a few brief pauses for reorganization, resupply, and mopping-up operations, until Dec 2 when its final objectives were taken and the regiment was relieved.
Enlisted man walking through the German mud in his bivouac area. The Allied advance was halted at the German border by poor weather conditions, difficult terrain, stiffening German resistance, and, most of all, by lack of supplies. At this time the decision was made to employ the greatest strength in the north to attain flanking bridgeheads across the lower Rhine River beyond the main fortifications of the West Wall. This area was chosen for the drive since the terrain to the south was considered unsuitable for a rapid advance because of the mountainous and forested country.
General Comments on the Operation
The belt of wooded, hilly terrain which included the Huertgen Forest was considered by the German High Command to be so vital to the defense of the approaches to the Roer River and its dams, Düren, and Koln, that four divisions and numerous other miscellaneous units were sacrificed in a vain attempt to stop the drive of one American division. Prisoners taken by the 22-IR totaled 775 during the 17-day operation, and were found to represent 25 different German units ranging from separate companies to regiments. Some of the obstacles which slowed the attack were :
1 – The Bad weather. Heavy precipitation, either rain or snow, caused extreme discomfort and reduced roads and trails to pools of mud which frequently became impassable to both wheeled and track-laying vehicles. Low visibility also greatly reduced the effectiveness of air support.
2 – Mines and booby traps. The enemy impeded our movement by his extensive use of mines and booby traps not only in roads and trails, but also within the heavily wooded areas through which the attacking units moved. Mines were laid in layers over each other so that clearing one layer was no assurance that the area was safe. Continued use of the road or trail soon cut deep enough into the mud to activate the next layer of mines. In one instance a supply truck was blown up by the third layer of mines after two layers had been removed. Anti-lifting devices were attached to most mines, necessitating their destruction in place and refilling the craters.
3 – Dense woods. In many areas the woods were so dense that maintenance of direction and control was almost impossible because of the extremely limited visibility. In addition, the tree tops detonated thousands of artillery and mortar shells and caused the same casualty effect as air bursts. Most of the casualties resulted from this type of fire.
4 – Intense high explosive fire. The regiment was subjected to almost continuous artillery and mortar fire of all calibers up to and including at least one large caliber railroad gun. It was found later that a total of 55 battalions of enemy artillery opposed the four divisions on the VII Corps front. The number of mortar batteries which fired on the 22nd Infantry was not ascertained, but the fires were the heaviest ever experienced by the regiment.
5 – Difficult resupply and evacuation. The woefully inadequate road net, steep slopes, unbridged icy mountain streams, dense woods, and deep mud all combined to make resupply and evacuation problems the most difficult ever encountered by the regiment. Long hand-carries were required practically all the time, and personnel were taken from headquarters, service, and reserve units to form additional carrying parties to move ammunition and rations forward and to evacuate dead and wounded to the rear. These carrying parties frequently were subjected to fire by enemy which had infiltrated to rear areas or had been by-passed by the advancing assault troops.
6 – Uncertain communications. Despite the continuous efforts of communications personnel, communications lines were frequently broken by artillery and mortar fire. Telephone instruments, wire lines, and radios were destroyed faster than they could be replaced. Control was thereby reduced and the coordination of attacking units was frequently delayed considerably.
7 – Inadequately trained replacements. The regiment received a total of 1951 enlisted and 45 officer replacements during the operation. Practically all of these replacements had had no battle experience, and it was almost criminal to send them to the front lines so unprepared for the conditions awaiting them. Many of these replacements became casualties before they ever reached their units because of enemy shelling of our few routes of communication.
8 – Ammunition allocation. Although the regiment had accumulated a stock pile of several thousand rounds of mortar ammunition, the limitations imposed on the expenditure of mortar and artillery shell often prevented the desired support from these weapons.
Tired, Dirty, Hungry Infantrymen eat their first hot meal after fifteen days of siege of the town of Huertgen.
Regimental Situation, November 15 1944br>
The day by day postponement of the attack from Nov 11 through Nov 15 provided the regiment with valuable time for preparation for the attack. All company grade officers received additional instruction in the conduct of woods fighting and adjustment of artillery fire. In anticipation of serious communications problems during the attack, plans were made to augment the normal communications system. A surplus of wire and radio equipment was obtained, communications personnel within the rifle battalions was increased, and plans were made to provide double wire lines to all battalions during the attack. Evacuation difficulties were also expected. To take care of this problem, extra litter squads were organized. Flans were made to use Weasels (Carrier, cargo, M-29) to evacuate wounded from areas impassable to the 1/4 ton truck, which proved unable to operate in deep mud. The weasels were not effective since logs, stumps, and ruts caused them to throw their tracks very frequently. All 81-MM mortars of the regiment were massed and placed so as to be capable of supporting any unit of the regiment. Wire communication was maintained between each battalion and the mortar position. The regiment was supported by the :
44th FA Battalion (105-MM Howitzers)
20th FA Battalion (155 MM Howitzers)
Attached to the regiment were the medium tanks of :
C Co 70th Tank Battalion;
one platoon of light tanks from D Co, 70th Tank Battalion;
C Co 87 th Cml Battalion (less one platoon);
one platoon C Co, 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion (S.P);
one platoon C Co, 4th Engineer (c) Battalion;
C Co, 4th Medical Battalion
Tanks and tank destroyers were initially held in reserve, as the rough terrain and dense woods were not suitable for their effective employment. The regiment planned to attack initially in a column of battalions, in the order 2nd, 1st, and 3rd.
The Attack, Nov 16 – Dec 5 1944
At 0100, Nov 16, the regiment was notified that D Day was Nov 16. A later message announced H-hour as 1245. Preceding the jump-off, heavy artillery preparations were fired on both flanks of the area which the regiment planned to penetrate. At 1245 the 2nd Bn crossed the line of departure and advanced about 600 yards before making contact with the enemy. Resistance increased and the advancing battalion was slowed down so that by 1610 the total gain was about 1500 yards and the battalion front had swung to north so that it was generally perpendicular to the line of departure. The 1st Bn crossed the line of departure, turned north, and passed through one of the 2nd Bn rifle companies to attack along Trail E. This attack encountered the flank and rear of a well-organized enemy position and gradually slowed down. The battalion dug in for the night at 1640 after securing advantageous positions for the resumption of the attack the next day. The 3rd Bn dispatched one company at 1500 to clear the southern portion of Trail E and secure it for use as a temporary MSR (Main Supply Road). Another company soon followed and positions were taken which secured the trail and protected the south flank of the regiment.
Enemy mortar and artillery fire increased in intensity as the location of our effort became known to the Germans. The attack for the 17, to be made by 1st Bn, was aimed at securing the high ground north of trail junction X and advancing eastward to seize the high ground which dominated Road A. The attack was delayed from 0830 until 0945 by very heavy enemy mortar and artillery fire in which two battalion commanders were lost. The attack finally got under way at 0945 following a 30-minute artillery preparation. Fighter planes of the IX TAC supported the attack. Intense enemy fires of all types and extensive mine fields retarded the advance of the 1st Bn.
Firing Rockets during the fighting in the Huertgen Forest area. In the above pictures 4.5-inch multiple Rocket Launchers T-27 are mounted on 2 1/2-ton trucks and consist of eight tubes in a single bank. Two banks are mounted on each of the trucks with the rockets being fired at half-second intervals.
The 2nd Bn was ordered to push to the east to positions dominating Road A. However, enemy infiltration to the rear of the battalion position and stiff resistance to the front combined to slow down the advance. By 1630 both battalions had reached positions which dominated Road A. The platoon of light tanks was used to support the 1st Bn in this day’s operations, but early in the day two tanks were knocked out by mines and the remaining two could not be employed because of dense woods and heavily-mined fire breaks. The enemy infiltration was cleared by using one company of the reserve battalion to clean out the area. Noteworthy in this day’s operations was the enemy’s heavy and accurate fire on all trails and fire breaks which could be used as supply and evacuation routes. Engineer troops engaged in mine-sweeping and road maintenance were seriously hampered by this fire. This fire, as well as fire on the front-line units, continued during the night. The plan for the following day called for the 1st and 2nd Battalions to attack abreast, cross Road A to seize hills Y and Z. The 3rd Bn, in reserve, was to protest the MSR.
The attack started at 0830 on Nov 18 as scheduled, and proceeded slowly against heavy fire. During the advance of the 2nd Bn, F Co, which had been protecting the south flank and had repulsed a small counterattack at daylight, started to move forward and lost direction and contact to such an extent that the company was not located again until late in the afternoon. Another unusual occurrence was the loss of the battalion commander, S-3, and communications officer. The Battalion Executive Officer and a new S-3 moved forward to assume command. Within 5 minutes after arriving at his command post, the new battalion commander was wounded and the new S-3 was dead. The Regimental S-2 then came forward to command the battalion. By the time he arrived at the battalion command post the entire staff had been evacuated. The S-2, assisted by one runner, regained control of the battalion and by 1650 had the battalion on its objective.
Since the regiment had both flanks and its rear open, with a frontage of more than 3500 yards of dense woods, only about 1500 yards of which were occupied, all-around defense was of vital importance and the units assumed night positions similar to the British hollow square. Ammunition and rations were pushed forward continuously to maintain a two-day supply within each battalion area at all times in case the unit was cut off from the remainder of the regiment.
The advances of the assaulting battalions and the heavy rains had now increased the road maintenance problem far beyond the capabilities of the one engineer platoon in support of the regiment. The fire breaks which were the main routes of communication became so soft and muddy that no vehicular traffic could negotiate them, and to get supporting armor to the front line units was out of the question. A considerable degree of assistance was received in this respect when two additional engineer platoons were placed in support of the regiment on Nov 18. At the close of the first three days of fighting, the regiment had advanced approximately 2000 yards at a cost of 300 enlisted and 24 officer casualties.
Wounded Soldiers being evacuated in tracked vehicles during the winter months. Cargo carrier M-29 (top); half-track personnel carrier M-3 (bottom).
No attack was planned for November 19 as :
(1) road A in CT 8’s zone was still in enemy hands;
(2) trail MSR was still not clear of mines, and engineers were now removing the third layer from beneath the mud;
(3) the hand carry of supplies and wounded had become so long that the use of all available personnel, including newly-arrived replacements, was still not enough to provide adequate supply and Circulation services;
(4) the bridge across the swift-running stream at the junction of Roads A and B had been blown out and the site was under such heavy and continuous mortar and artillery fire including the fire of railroad guns, that it had been impossible to construct a new bridge, thus forcing all carrying parties and litter squads to ford the neck-deep icy water;
(5) the 3rd Bn could not be counted on as an effective fighting force since I Co, which had taken over the defensive flank on the north when the 1st Battalion had turned east from Trail B, had not been relieved by the 24-Cav-Rcn-Sq, although this relief had been directed 34 hours earlier; and L Co had been seriously weakened by the loss of key personnel and the failure of mop-up parties to return.
The day was used to consolidate positions, reorganize, resupply, and open Trail E. Patrols were active on both sides and enemy mortar and artillery fire caused 109 casualties in the regiment. In the afternoon an enemy strong point to the east of the regimental command post opened fire on the security outpost. This enemy position had been by-passed by the 2nd Bn and its existence indicated that it probably had been used to adjust the unusually accurate artillery fire which the 2nd Bn had received on Nov 18. K Co was moved to secure the command post and prepare to reduce this position. The attack was resumed at 0850, Nov 20. The 1st and 2nd Bns were to advance along Road B to dominating ground about 600 yards to the east. The 3rd Bn was to clear Road A, to the regimental north boundary. The regimental zone of action was reduced in width by about 1000 yards by moving the boundary between the 22IR and 12IR to the north. The enemy launched a coordinated attack against the 2nd Bn positions at the same time that the 2nd Bn attacked, and a hard, close-in fight resulted. The battalion advanced slowly and had one company on the objective by 1000.
The 1st Bn met moderate resistance, reached its objective by 1017, mined Road B and repelled a small counterattacking force. An infantry-armor counterattack was launched against the 2nd Bn at 1050. L Co was sent to reinforce the battalion, the counterattack was repulsed, and L Co took up defensive positions covering the 2nd Bn’s right flank. K Co attacked the strong point near the regimental command post at 1300, but did not reduce it by dark and was forced to wait until the following day to resume the attack. Engineer troops started the construction of a bridge in the woods above the bridge site, as the enemy continued to interdict the road junction and bridge site. During the night of Nov 20-21 the bridge was finally installed, Trail E was cleared, and armor was able to move to the forward battalions.
No attack was scheduled for Nov 21, but several incidents occurred which aided the situation considerably. A small group of Germans who had hidden within a few hundred yards of the bridge site surrendered to armored vehicles which had just crossed the new bridge. They undoubtedly had been directing the effective artillery fire which had kept the area untenable. K Co attacked the strong point near the command post, this time with one tank and a tank destroyer, and reduced the enemy position. Road A was cleared to the 8th Infantry positions.
Battle-weary Germans who were among the last to surrender after the battle of the Huertgen Forest which lasted for several weeks.
In spite of the comparatively inactive day, the regiment suffered 306 casualties, mostly from mortar and artillery concentrations. This brought the total casualties for the operation up to 900 enlisted men and 42 officers. Replacements received through this day totaled 513 enlisted men and one officer. The regiment resumed its advance on Nov 22, with the 3rd Bn passing to the left of the 1st Bn and attacking to the southeast, with the 2nd Bn attacking between roads B and C toward Grosshau (GER). The 1st Bn assisted by feinting several frontal attacks, distracting the enemy and allowing the 3rd Bn to gain surprise effect. By the end of the day, the 3rd Bn dominated the road junction west of Grosshau. The 2nd Bn had an exposed right flank which, became more dangerous as the day passed, and one company of the 1st Bn and 100 2nd Bn replacements were sent to protect this flank.
On the 23rd, operations consisted of consolidation, clearing Road B to the road junction west of Grosshau, moving up armor and antitank guns, and mopping up. Limited objectives consisting of close-in trail junctions were secured or dominated by fire. A platoon of tanks moved to the 3rd Bn and remained to support the battalion. The 24th was another day of consolidation, reorganization, readjustment, mopping up, and resupply. Road C was cleared to the front lines. The 12IR advanced in its zone and relieved some of the pressure on the 2nd Bn’s right flank, permitting B Co to return to 1st Bn control. A Co moved east, tying in and extending the 3rd Bn’s left flank. Enemy fire continued to harass the regiment, and casualties now totaled 1317 enlisted men and 52 officers. Replacements through this date now totaled 1093 enlisted men and 32 officers, leaving the regiment still considerably under strength and painfully short in experienced specialists.
The attack on Nov 25 by the 2nd and 3rd Bns was scheduled to be made with no artillery preparation in the hope of obtaining maximum surprise effect. The plan called for the 3rd Bn to envelop Grosshau from the north, capturing the town from that direction. The 2nd Bn’s objective was the eastern edge of the woods at the regimental right boundary – a position from which direct fire could be placed on both Grosshau (GER) and Kleinhau (GER).
The attack jumped off at 0745 and the 3rd Bn had no trouble reaching a position about 800 yards north of Grosshau. At that time the battalion stopped while armored support was brought up to aid in the assault on the town. Due to the rough terrain and soft ground, this armor was delayed and the attack was not resumed until 1145. When the battalion started across the open ground, the enemy reacted vigorously. Self-propelled guns, mortars, and small arms fire from organized positions in the town stopped the attack, disabling four tanks and two tank destroyers. The battalion was unable to advance further due to the intensity of the enemy fire, and at 1500 dug in for the night.
Grosshau (above), Kleinhau (bellow).
The road to the 2nd Bn was too soft to carry tanks, and the battalion was compelled to attack without armor in support. The battalion jumped off at 0820, and, in spite of intense enemy fire, drove to its objective by 1030. Tank support reached the battalion by late afternoon. The 1st Bn, in reserve, moved up close behind the 3rd Bn. No major attack was scheduled for Nov 26 as the regiment again needed reorganization. Positions were consolidated and improved. It became apparent that Grosshau, instead of being just another German village, was actually a fortified, heavily-defended strong point, and that a major effort would be required to take the town. During the day C Co attacked astride Road B to clear the area between the 2nd and 3rd Bns and to free the road from enemy observation and direct fire. The two forward reduced the width of the regimental zone to 1200 yards, compared with the original 3500, and for the first time in the operation the regiment was able to cover its entire zone with no excessive gaps.
The only attack on 28 November was one on the north flank by a task force from the 3rd Bn, in coordination with an attack by the 12th Infantry to seize the hill north of Grosshau. This mission was accomplished without much difficulty.
During the night of Nov 28-29 a patrol reached Road D north of Grosshau and mined it, then withdrew back to its unit. At the end of Nov 28, total casualties had reached 1867 enlisted and 80 officers, and replacements totaled 1614 enlisted and 35 officers.
On Nov 29 the 3rd Bn was ordered to attack east through the woods north of Grosshau and seize the high ground northeast of the town. The 1st Bn was to follow the 3rd and protect its flanks and rear. The 2nd Bn was ordered to contain Grosshau and protect the right flank of the regiment south, of the town. It was hoped that this would make the town untenable and force the enemy to surrender without the regiment making a costly frontal assault against the town itself. Heavy artillery fire delayed the jump-off until 1200, an hour later than the scheduled time. The 3rd Battalion pushed relentlessly against very stubborn resistance and reached its objective by 1830, well after dark.
Just before noon the regimental commander received a direct order to take Grosshau that day. This order came originally from Corps and could not be modified. Against the better judgment battalions supported the attack by fire, but in spite of this support the company met bitter resistance. It fought until dusk, when a German counterattack supported by self-propelled guns hit the company and drove it back to its position of the night before. At the end of the day C Co’s effective strength was 20 officers and men. This was not unusual in this operation. Companies frequently dug in for the night with only 20 to 40 men left, sometimes commanded by an enlisted man who had joined only a few days before.
The next day B Co attacked over the ground which C Co had taken and lost on the 26th. Under direct artillery fire and extremely heavy machine gun fire, 105 men attacked a well organized position on dominating ground. The company was stopped, and only by several examples of outstanding individual heroism was the enemy driven from his position. In this action Pfc Macario Garcia, ASN38246362, advanced alone after being wounded and knocked out two enemy machine gun crews. He received the Medal of Honor for this action. At 1230 the company, now reduced to 35 men, assaulted across a short stretch of open terrain, and reached its objective. E Co pushed to the north and east and reached a position on the right of B Co. Now armor could move along Road B unobserved, but the tank and tank destroyer units were reluctant to travel over a road which had not been swept for mines. After an infantry lieutenant from the Antitank Co drove a half-track over the road to prove that it was not mined, the armored vehicles moved forward.
On Nov 28, the 12-IR was assigned a zone of action on the left of the 22-IR. The new boundary of the regimental commander, he ordered the 2nd Bn to assault Grosshau from the west. This attack was launched at 1250, and at the same time a tank attack on the town from the south was to start. The tanks almost immediately ran into a heavy mine field and two tanks were lost. A bog further restricted the movement of the tanks, but they continued seeking a route into Grosshau. An entry was finally found and the tanks contacted the 2nd Bn foot troops in the western part of the town. Pierce fighting continued after dark and by 1915 Grosshau had fallen. Now the town was found to consist of buildings with reinforced concrete basements, equipped with steel doors and firing slits. Air bombardment and artillery fire had had little effect on these fortifications. Roads and trails taken during the day were cleared of mines, an antitank defense was set up with mines, antitank guns, tanks and tank destroyers, and supplies were delivered to the battalions. Enemy mortar and artillery fire was received during the night.
The 46-AIB was attached to the regiment to bolster its strength for subsequent attacks.
The plan of attack for Nov 30 was to use the 3rd and 2nd Bns and the 46-AIB abreast, in that order from left to right, attacking to the northeast to capture and secure the edge of the woods south of Gey, a position from which a coordinated infantry-tank attack could be launched toward Düren. At first the 3rd Bn met relatively little resistance, but as it approached its objective the resistance stiffened. The battalion was stopped and dug in for the night about 300 yards short of the edge of the woods. The 2nd Bn advanced slowly across the open terrain in its zone against heavy small arms, mortar, and artillery fire, gained a total of about 300 yards, and was stopped. In this attack the battalion moved around the high ground in its zone and crossed the corps boundary.
The 46-AIB, moving out to its line of departure, started receiving fire at 1020 from the high ground northeast of Kleinhau. This ground had been reported the previous day as being held by CCR-5-AD, a report which was entirely false. Consequently, the 46-AIB was forced to fight hard to reach its line of departure, and by the end of the day had reached the edge of the woods southeast of Grosshau, losing an estimated 50% of its fighting strength in the day’s operation. The enemy was still offering determined resistance in his effort to keep us from breaking out of the forest.
The 1st Bn moved forward in rear of the 3rd Bn, organized a defensive position on the hill northeast of Grosshau, and covered the gap between the 2nd and 3rd Bns. The enemy maintained continuous pressure on the 2nd Bn.
On Dec 1st, the 3rd Bn was to continue its advance east to the edge of the woods. The 1st Bn was to attack southeast, hitting the enemy facing the 2nd Bn on its flank while the 2nd Bn attacked by fire only. After reducing this enemy resistance, the 1st Bn was to swing to the east and extend the 3rd Bn line along the edge of the woods. The 2nd Bn was to attack northeast. The 3rd Bn reached its objective at 1010 against moderate resistance. The 1st Bn attacked behind a smoke screen, achieved a high degree of surprise, overran German machine gun positions and an artillery CP, and advanced through the woods to a point about 500 yards northeast of the 2nd Bn. It then turned and attacked to the northeast, leaving one company behind to contact the 2nd Bn. The 1st Bn reached its objective by 1220 and tied in with the the 3rd Bn. In spite of the help furnished by the 1st Bn, the 2nd Bn met stiff resistance and progressed very slowly. In the late afternoon a strong counterattack hit F Co, and the rest of the battalion was committed. F Co suffered severe casualties but the battalion line was finally secured at dusk.
The 46-AIB attacked on Dec 1 despite its severe losses of the previous day, made very little progress, and at 1112 was directed to return to its jump-off position and hold there. The battalion was detached from the regiment at 2400. The regiment was once again very weak in fighting effective. Casualties had mounted to 2304 enlisted men and 100 officers. Replacements received amounted to a total of 1699 enlisted and 35 officers.
On Dec 2, elements of the 1st and 3rd Bns were directed to attack south to clear the woods in front of the 2nd Bn and assist its advance. Before the attack could be started, a strong German attack by a battalion of 250 fresh infantry troops hit I Co at 0650, broke through the line and headed for the high ground northeast of Grosshau. K Co moved south to seal off this penetration, and the 2nd Bn was prepared to assist the 3rd. At 0740 the 3rd Bn requested additional support, and a 60 man detachment from the AT Co which had been organized as a reserve and placed in Grosshau was moved forward. Another 80 man detachment, which had been organized from Headquarters and Service Companies the night before, moved to Grosshau to defend it and constitute the regimental reserve. CP’s of the 1st and 3rd Bns were attacked at 0815. Soon after that, enemy were reported on the high ground northeast of Grosshau. All available armor was assembled and directed to retake the hill. The penetration was sealed off, the enemy force was gradually mopped up, and the situation once again became stable on lines held the night before except for a slight withdrawal to more defensible terrain at the point of penetration by the enemy.
Information was received that the regiment would be relieved on Dec 3 by the 330-IR (83-ID). Accordingly, positions were improved to attain the maximum defensive strength. On Dec 5 the relief of the regiment began. It was retarded by an enemy attack against the 1st Bn in the morning, an air attack by approximately 40 German fighter planes in the afternoon, and heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire in the 2nd Bn’s area. Smoke was used to screen the movements, but even with this aid the relief could not be completed until after dark.
Responsibility for the area was turned over to the Commanding Officer, 330-IR, at 1900 and the 22-IR moved to assembly areas approximately five miles west of the front lines preparatory to moving to Luxembourg the next day. The 22-IR had completed the most difficult task, assigned to it during its combat operations in Europe and had made a substantial contribution to the success of the 1-A attack toward Koln. However, the regiment had lost officers and men who could never be replaced. The total losses for the eighteen days of fighting In the Huertgen Forest amounted to 2575 enlisted men and 103 officers. The losses in equipment were proportionately high, and the wear and tear on weapons and vehicles was the heaviest ever suffered in so short a period.
Although this monograph describes only the operations of the 22-IR, the attached units which endured the same hardships and discomfort and fought the weather, the forest, the mud and the enemy with the regiment deserve the same recognition for their achievements as that received by the regiment, for without their aid the mission would have been far more difficult to accomplish. For its action in the Huertgen Forest, which advanced our front lines 7500 yards to the open ground which formed the approaches to Düren, the regiment received a commendation from the division commander and the division was commended by the corps commander. The regiment later was cited for this action.