Warfare History Network
Key point: The long battle for Hurtgen Forest was brutal and personal. It would last three months and result in a Nazi victory.
Gray skies hung low and a steady drizzle dripped through the tall, dense fir trees near the German-Belgian border on the morning of Thursday, November 16, 1944, during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
As artillery volleys thumped occasionally in the distance, small groups of chilled soldiers ventured out from the forward foxholes and bunkers of German General Hans Schmidt’s 275th Infantry Division, scouting for signs of an expected American attack. Only a mile away, men of the U.S. 22nd Infantry Regiment’s rifle and weapons companies rolled up their blankets and ate breakfast. It would be their last hot meal for 18 days. Officers and sergeants made last-minute preparations for an assault.
The “Double Deucer” Regiment had landed at Utah Beach with Maj. Gen. Raymond O. “Tubby” Barton’s 4th Infantry (Ivy) Division on June 6, 1944, and suffered heavy casualties in the Normandy campaign. But, seasoned and with high morale, it was rated one of the best infantry regiments in the U.S. Army. Captain William S. Boice, one of its chaplains, called the 22nd Regiment “a fighting machine trained to an efficiency not matched at any time during the war.” Its motto was “Deeds, Not Words,” and it would be awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation.