The primary source for writing "Objective: Schmidt" was a series of detailed and comprehensive combat interviews conducted soon after the battle by Capt. William J. Fox, Capt. John S. Howe, and 1st Lt. Harry Jackson, of the 2d Information and Historical Service. Although their work was interrupted when the 28th Division was hit by the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes, they nevertheless produced more interviews on this action than were obtained for any other specific ground operation in the European theater.
These interviews, so essential in a narrative at the small-unit level, are generally excellent, and, where checked and supplemented by unit records, can be considered highly reliable. Although the interviewers were in the general area at the time of the battle, they were not able to go over the terrain with the survivors and had to rely on map study when conducting their interviews. The vagaries of the Huertgen Forest terrain added to the problems of locating positions on a map. The only major gap in the interview material is the lack of interviews with artillery troops. Because of the limitations in scope of this study, detailed interviews with 109th and 110th Infantry personnel could not be fully utilized.
After Action Reports of infantry units proved of little value: they are too general and they tend to minimize reverses and overemphasize successes. The latter tendency is true only to a limited degree of the armored units' After Action Reports. Those of the artillery units were the basic source for accounts of artillery action, and their only major fault is in lack of detail. No battalion journals of the 28th Division were turned in for permanent record, and entries in the 112th Infantry regimental journals are often sketchy, erroneous, or even nonexistent at vital phases in the operation. The division journals are generally excellent, and the journal of the 1171st Engineer Combat Group often provides valuable messages, orders, and reports. A study of investigation, the V Corps Factual Study, conducted soon after the battle on almost every phase of the operation by designated officers of V Corps, is comprehensive, but its statements do not correspond in all cases to contemporary sources. All combat interviews, unit records, and the V Corps Factual Study may be found in the Historical Records Section, Office of the Adjutant General.
Postwar interviews with Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota and Col. Carl L. Peterson and correspondence with Brig. Gen. George A. Davis, Maj. Albert L. Berndt, and Col. Edmund K. Daley proved extremely valuable. These are in the files of the Office of the Chief of Military History (formerly the Historical Division, Special Staff, U. S. Army).
Maj. Henry P. Halsell's unpublished manuscript, Huertgen Forest and the Roer River Dams, provides a thorough study of the Schmidt operation. Valuable assistance was gained also from a preliminary manuscript entitled
The Siegfried Line, which was prepared immediately following the war by the Siegfried Line Subsection, Historical Section, ETO. Those portions most helpful in writing the Schmidt narrative were prepared by Capt. Frank C. Mahin, Jr., and Maj. Fred L. Hadsell. Neither of these manuscripts was used as a primary source, but both were helpful as indexes to original material. They also may be found in the OCMH.
Sources for German materials were primarily postwar manuscripts prepared by captured German officers; entries found in the KTB (War Diary) of OB WEST, and letters, orders, and reports found in annexes to the KTB; and a document issued by the 89th Division as an Order of the Day, giving an account of the battles for Schmidt and Kommerscheidt. The original of this captured document cannot be found, but a translation is reproduced in Major Halsell's manuscript. The information it gives is of a public relations nature and must be checked carefully against other sources; the translation itself is awkward in places and contains a number of minor errors, some of them possibly typographical. The manuscripts by the German officers are of limited value for a narrative written at the level of "Objective: Schmidt." They are often vague and muddled and sometimes biased, but are nevertheless useful to substantiate and elaborate upon information gained from official German sources or known from the American side of the story. None of the manuscripts compare favorably in reliability and factual reporting with the Krause manuscript on the Arnaville action, although the quality of the Gersdorff manuscripts is readily apparent in his reporting of high-level strategy and the broad outlines of the Schmidt battle. The most trustworthy enemy information is to be found in the KTB and the annexes to the KTB. The annexes are particularly valuable in determining times of enemy action and units involved and in pinpointing locations. The manuscripts are in the files of the OCMH, and the official German records in the German Military Documents Section, Departmental Records Branch, Office of the Adjutant General. Additional information on the enemy side came from S-2 and G-2 journals and files of the 112th Infantry and the 28th Division. When checked against the German material, these proved valuable in locating movements and positions of enemy units.
A unit history of the 28th Division was published in 1946 but was of little value in preparing this study. A number of journalistic accounts appeared in U. S. newspapers soon after the action in 1944, but these too are lacking in accuracy and objectivity. The following two works are useful for background information: V Corps Operations in the ETO, 6 January 1942 to 9 May 1945, and First U. S. Army Report of Operations, 1 August 1944 to 22 February 1945, Volume I, in the Historical Records Section, Office of the Adjutant General.
Primary sources of air information were the 28th Division G-3 Air Journal; the Unit History of the IX Fighter Command and IX Tactical Air Command; and a combat interview conducted by Captain Howe with Maj. Edwin M. Howison, air liaison officer to the 28th Division from the IX TAC. The 28th Division G-3 Air Journal and the Air Corps records are sometimes in disagreement.
The interview and the air journal are in the Historical Records Section, AGO, and the other air records in the Historical Archives, Historical Division, Air University Library, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Information on terrain is based on maps and photographs in OCMH files, combat interviews, the V Corps Factual Study, and a visit by the author to the area some five years after the action.