United States Army in World War II
European Theater of Operations

The Siegfried Line Campaign

by
Charles B. MacDonald


The Siegfried Line

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF MILITARY HISTORY
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1963

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 62-60001


UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II
Stetson Conn, General Editor

Advisory Committee
(As of 24 May 1961)
 
Fred Harvey Harrington
University of Wisconsin

 

Maj. Gen. Louis W. Truman
U.S. Continental Army Command

 

William R. Emerson
Yale University

 

Maj. Gen. Evan M. Houseman
Industrial College of the Armed Forces

 

Oron J. Hale
University of Virginia

 

Brig. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr.
U.S. Army War College

 

W. Stull Holt
University of Washington

 

Brig. Gen. William A. Cunningham III
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

 

Bell I. Wiley
Emory University

 

Col. Vincent J. Esposito
United States Military Academy

 

C. Vann Woodward
Johns Hopkins University

 

Office of the Chief of Military History
Brig. Gen. James A. Norell, Chief of Military History

Chief Historian Stetson Conn
Chief, Histories Division Col. Leonard G. Robinson
Chief, Publication Division Lt. Col. James R. Hillard
Editor in Chief Joseph R. Friedman


. . . to Those Who Served


CONTENTS

  Foreword ix
  The Author x
  Preface

xi
Chapter     Page
 PART ONE
Breaching the Siegfried Line

 

I.  THE ROAD TO GERMANY 3
    Allied Strategy 3
    The Shadow of Logistics 6
    The Germans in the West 14

II.  THE FIRST U.S. ARMY 20
    Weapons and Equipment 25
    The Terrain and the West Wall 28
    A Pause at the Border 36

III.  V CORPS HITS THE WEST WALL 39
    The Race for the West Wall 41
    Into Germany 43
    Battle of the Schnee Eifel 49
    Bridgehead at Wallendorf 56
    Defense of the Bridgehead 63

IV.  VII CORPS PENETRATES THE LINE 66
    German Developments 69
    The Battle of the Stolberg Corridor 71
    The Drive on the Second Band 75
    A Wall About Aachen 80
    Battle of the Monschau Corridor 82
    The Germans Strike Back 86
    The Onset of Position Warfare 90
    The First Fight in the Forest 92

V.  ACTION ON THE NORTH WING 96
    Defense of the Albert 98
    From the Albert to the Border 101
    Delay in the Assault 112

 PART TWO
An Airborne Carpet in the North

 

VI.  OPERATION MARKET-GARDEN 119
    The Germans in the Netherlands 123
    Seven Days for Planning 127
    What Did the Germans Know? 134
    The Flight to the Corridor 136

VII.  INVASION FROM THE SKY 140
    "a remarkably beautiful late summer day" 140
    Hell's Highway 143
    Six Bridges and a Ridge 154
    Taking the Objectives 160
    The Red Devils at Arnhem 170

VIII.  DECISION ON THE GROUND 174
    Developments on D Plus 2 (19 September) 174
    The Fight for the Nijmegen Bridges 179
    First Attempts To Drive on Arnhem 184
    Keeping the Corridor Open 186
    The Outcome at Arnhem 195
    The Achievements and the Cost 198
    Release of the U.S. Divisions 201

IX.  THE APPROACHES TO ANTWERP 207
    The Controversy About Antwerp 209
    The Battle of the Schelde 215
    Baptism of Fire 222
    South Beveland and Walcheren 227
    Something Beastly in Antwerp 229

X.  THE PEEL MARSHES 231
    First Army Draws the Assignment 231
    The British Attempt 241
    A Spoiling Attack 242

 PART THREE
The Battle of Aachen

 

XI.  A SET ATTACK AGAINST THE WEST WALL 251
    First Army Readjusts the Front 251
    Planning the West Wall Assault 252
    "Those infantrymen have guts!" 260
    Commitment of CCB 269

XII.  CLOSING THE CIRCLE 281
    The 18th Infantry Drives North 287
    The 30th Division Strikes South 293
    Sealing the Gap 304

XIII.  ASSAULT ON THE CITY 307
    The Assault Begins 309
    Holding the Last Link 313
    The Final Blow 314
    What Aachen Cost 317

 PART FOUR
The Roer River Dams

 

XIV.  THE FIRST ATTACK ON SCHMIDT 323
    The Neglected Objective 324
    Objective: Schmidt 328
    To the First Clearing 331
    Toward Raffelsbrand and Vossenack 334
    Regiment Wegelein 337

XV.  THE SECOND ATTACK ON SCHMIDT 341
    Planning the Thrust 343
    Objective: Schmidt 348
    The Germans React 352
    Events Along the Trail 359
    Catastrophe in Vossenack 364
    The Kall Gorge 366
    Climax at Kommerscheidt 368
    Withdrawal Across the Kall 369
    New Missions 372

 PART FIVE
The Huertgen Forest

 

XVI.  THE BIG PICTURE IN OCTOBER 377
    Air Support 381
    An Enigma Named Logistics 382

XVII.  NEW PLANS TO DRIVE TO THE RHINE 390
    German Resurgence and Deception 392
    First Army Plans 397
    Ninth Army Plans 400
    Operation QUEEN 403
    The Roer River Dams and the Weather 406

XVIII.  VII CORPS MAKES THE MAIN EFFORT 408
    The State of the LXXXI Corps 409
    Preliminary Bombardment 411
    The Push Northeast From Schevenhuette 415
    Armor in the Stolberg Corridor 421
    The Second Battle of the Donnerberg 424
    Another Victim of the Huertgen Forest 428

XIX.  V CORPS JOINS THE OFFENSIVE 440
    A Fourth Fight on the Bloody Plateau 440
    The Fight for Huertgen 447
    An Armored Drive on Kleinhau 448
    Broadening the Effort 451
    Bergstein and Castle Hill 457

XX.  THE FINAL FIGHT TO BREAK OUT OF THE FOREST 464
    The Fruits of Deception 464
    A Handful of Old Men 470
    Resuming the Corps Main Effort 474
    Towns, Woods, Hills, and Castles 479
    German Reinforcements 487
    Debacle at Merode 490

 PART SIX
Battle of the Roer Plain

 

XXI.  CLEARING THE INNER WINGS OF THE ARMIES 497
    The Fight North of the Boundary 499
    The Fight South of the Boundary 503
    The Push to the Inde 506
    Taking the High Ground 510

XXII.  THE ROER RIVER OFFENSIVE 516
    Planning Period 516
    D-Day on the Roer Plain 522
    Armor Attracts Armor 530
    Finding the Formula 534
    The Push to Gereonsweiler 540

XXIII.  THE GEILENKIRCHEN SALIENT 545
    Operation CLIPPER 546
    The Jump-off 550
    An Exercise in Frustration 554

XXIV.  NINTH ARMY'S FINAL PUSH TO THE ROER 558
    ". . . in effect we are there . . ." 560
    A Hundred Men of the XIII Corps 566
    A Shift in the Main Effort 571
    Gut Hasenfeld and the Sportplatz 574

 PART SEVEN
Conclusion

 

XXV.  THE APPROACHES TO DUEREN 581
    On the Plain 583
    In the Forest 587
    To the River 590

XXVI.  OBJECTIVE: THE ROER RIVER DAMS 596
    The Neglected Objective 596
    The Second Battle of the Monschau Corridor 602
    Heartbreak Crossroads 606
    Something in the Air 611
    The VIII Corps in the Ardennes-Eifel 612

XXVII.  THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN 616
 
Appendix     Page
A.  A TABLE OF EQUIVALENT RANKS 623
B.  RECIPIENTS OF THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS 624
C.  FIRST ARMY STAFF ROSTER AS OF 11 SEPTEMBER 1944 627
D.  NINTH ARMY STAFF ROSTER AS OF 4 OCTOBER 1944 628
 
  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 629
  GLOSSARY 633
  CODE NAMES 636
  BASIC MILITARY MAP SYMBOLS 637
  INDEX 641

 
MAPS
 
1.  Drive From the Albert Canal to the West Wall, XIX Corps, 10-19 September 1944 97
2.  The Battle of the Schelde, 2 October-8 November 1944 216
3.  Operations in the Peel Marshes, 29 September-3 December 1944 234
4.  Encirclement of Aachen, 7-20 October 1944 282
5.  The Roer River Dams 324
6.  The First Attack on Schmidt, 9th Division, 6-16 October 1944 329
7.  The Second Attack on Schmidt, 28th Division, 2-9 November 1944 344
8.  Tanks Along the Kall Trail 345
9.  Objective: the Roer River Dams, V Corps, 13-15 December 1944 599

  Maps I-X Are in Inverse Order Inside Back Cover  
I.  Cosmopolitan World (Rand McNally Map)  
II.  Pursuit to the Border, 26 August-11 September 1944  
III.  V Corps Hits the West Wall, 11-19 September 1944  
IV.  Breaching the West Wall South of Aachen, VII Corps, 12-29 September 1944  
V.  Invasion from the Sky, Operation MARKET-GARDEN  
VI.  XIX Corps Breaks Through the West Wall, 2-7 October 1944  
VII.  The Huertgen Forest, 16 November-9 December 1944  
VIII.  Drive to the Roer, 16 November-9 December 1944  
IX.  The Approaches to Dueren, 10-16 December 1944  
X.  The Siegfried Line Campaign, 11 September-15 December 1944  
 

ILLUSTRATIONS
 
1.  The Siegfried Line Frontspiece
2.  The Our River Facing 1
3.  Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery and General Dwight D. Eisenhower 9
4.  Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model 17
5.  Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt 17
6.  Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges 21
7.  Thirteen Commanders of the Western Front 22
8.  Captured Panzerfaust 26
9.  Captured Nebelwerfer 28
10.  Plan of Typical German Pillbox 32
11.  Interior of German Pillbox [1] [2] [3] [4] 33
12.  Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow 41
13.  Dragon's Teeth 51
14.  Wallendorf 58
15.  Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins 67
16.  General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger 69
17.  Task Force Lovelady 73
18.  Remains of a Pillbox 79
19.  Maj. Gen. Charles H. Corlett 98
20.  Fort Eben Emael 104
21.  The Albert Canal 105
22.  MARKET-GARDEN 117
23.  Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton 128
24.  Generaloberst Kurt Student 141
25.  Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor 143
26.  101st Airborne Division Landings [1] [2] 144
27.  506th Parachute Infantry 149
28.  Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin and Lt. Gen. Sir Miles C. Dempsey 155
29.  82d Airborne Division Drop 159
30.  Dutch Farmer Near Zon 183
31.  Hellís Highway 194
32.  Nijmegen Highway Bridge 202
33.  General der Infanterie Gustav von Zangen 218
34.  Troops of the 104th Division 225
35.  The Peel Marshes Area 239
36.  Aachen Facing 249
37.  Practicing Flame Thrower Technique 256
38.  Abandoned Crossing at the Wurm River 265
39.  Rimburg Castle 268
40.  Slag Pile and Tower Used for Observation 271
41.  A German Boy 300
42.  Civilian Refugees Leave Aachen 308
43.  Rifleman in Burning Aachen 311
44.  Col. Gerhard Wilck 317
45.  Aachen Munster 318
46.  View of Ruined Aachen 319
47.  Urft Dam Facing 321
48.  Schwammenauel Dam 325
49.  Kall Trail [1] [2] 354 and 356
50.  Weasel 370
51.  The Huertgen Forest Facing 375
52.  Lt. Gen. William H. Simpson 380
53.  A Winter Overcoat Reaches the Front Line 387
54.  Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley and Generals Eisenhower and Gerow 391
55.  General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel 394
56.  A Rest Period Behind the Lines 398
57.  155-mm. Self-Propelled Gun 415
58.  American Tank Burning Outside Hamich 423
59.  Struggling up a Wooded Hillside 435
60.  V Corps Rocket Launchers 443
61.  Engineers Repair a Road 447
62.  A Tank Moves Through Huertgen 449
63.  A Sea of Mud in the Huertgen Forest 456
64.  Veterans of the Huertgen Forest 458
65.  Medics Aid a Wounded Soldier 468
66.  Infantry and Tanks Near Huecheln 483
67.  The Frenzerburg 486
68.  The Roer Plain 494
69.  Maj. Gen. Raymond S. McLain 499
70.  Devastated Duerwiss 504
71.  Maj. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr 517
72.  Captured German Tiger Tank 531
73.  British Flail Tank 549
74.  British Churchill Tanks 552
75.  British Flame-Throwing Crocodile 553
76.  Gut Hasenfeld 575
77.  Entrance to Swimming Pool Near Sportplatz 578
78.  Winter Battlefield Facing 579
79.  Men of the 331st Infantry Advance on Gey 588
80.  2d Division Troops 605
81.  Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton 613

Illustrations are from Department of Defense files.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation