The advance on Schmidt | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part II

The advance on Schmidt | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part II


In the first episode we left the 28th infantry
Division right after their initial attacks on the 2nd of November around Hürtgen, Vossenack
and Simonskall. The attacks to capture Schmidt and the nearby
water dam hadn’t gone completely as planned. To the north, the 109th Infantry regiment
was able to capture one of its two objectives, but its 3rd battalion was bogged down on the
Germeter-Hürtgen road. The 112th Infantry Regiment in the centre
had the same mixed success. Vossenack was captured with relative ease,
but the 1st battalion which was supposed to be the main drive on Schmidt had run into
stiff German opposition and was forced to retreat to the main starting line of the 2nd
of November. Down south, the 110th Infantry Regiment hadn’t
made any progress all day and instead it took heavy casualties. In this episode we will take a look at the
actions on the 3rd of November. How did the 28th Infantry Division adapt to
still reach its objectives. The initial plan to attack with the 1st battalion
south of Vossenack was abandoned. Instead, it was decided to attack from Vossenack
itself. The attack would commence at 07h00am in the
centre of Vossenack, since no real opposition was met there the day before. From the centre the 3rd battalion of the 112th
was to attack down to the bridge at the Mestrenger Mühle leading over the Kall stream. The men of the 3rd battalion were to capture
Kommerscheidt and once the village was safely in their hands, the 1st battalion would take
over the final drive on Schmidt, which was still the primary objective of the day. Leading the 3rd battalion’s advance was
K company under Captain Eugene O’Malley. They were supported by the 3rd platoon of
Sherman tanks of A company, 707th Tank battalion. Slightly further back on the left would be
L company with the 2nd Tank platoon. I company was to follow up behind L company. They would on their turn be followed by the
1st tank platoon. 1st battalion’s A company acted as the mobile
reserve. In order to protect the flank, eleven men
called the ‘Greene Hornets’ under 1st Lieutenant Jack Greene were to reconnoitre
to the north of Vossenack. The weather of the 3rd of November was similar
to that of the days before and it was typical to the Hürtgen campaign. The temperatures were just above freezing
level, the thick mist hung in the dense woods and open plains and at any minute there was
the chance that it turned into light drizzle. All in all, the weather was far from ideal. To top it all of the quagmire was horrendous
to fight in, let alone getting the supplies through to the forward lines. By 07h30am, the infantry and tanks moved forward
towards their starting positions inside Vossenack. Suddenly a fierce artillery barrage struck
the infantry companies who quickly sought cover in the various houses along the main
street. Fortunately for the 112th Infantry Regiment,
only one man was wounded. During the reorganization of the attacking
companies, the tanks of A company, 707th Tank Battalion under the command of Captain Bruce
Hostrup pulled ahead in order to spray a possible German strongpoint in the woods to the east
of Vossenack. In doing so, the command tank of 2nd platoon
under 2nd Lieutenant John Clarke veered-off to far east and it struck mine, immobilizing
the tank. The rest of the platoon managed to pull back
safely. Shortly after, K company stared to clear its
positions in Vossenack. There was no artillery covering them, so the
attack went on in an eerie silence, which was at times broken by an odd German shell
landing in the thick mud. K company made rapid progress and by 08h45am
they had already reached the woods to the east of Vossenack. Meanwhile, off in the distance firing could
be heard coming from the 109th Infantry Regiment in front of Hürtgen. At about 07h30am, two company-sized assaults
were made on the foxholes of the 1st battalion. The 3rd battalion, which was to renew its
assault across the minefield, sent over two of its companies upon hearing the firefight
unravelling up north. The attacks on the 1st battalion’s front
were repulsed with relative ease, but because the 3rd battalion sent two companies over,
the attack across the minefield had to be postponed as only K company was left. The attack northward on Hürtgen had ground
to a halt once again. Back south at Vossenack, K company descended
down into the Kall valley, where they were met by German artillery fire which caused
3 men killed and one wounded. Gradually, sniper fire was also starting to
harass the advancing infantry. When they reached the Kall stream, the men
of K company came upon a party of ten Germans. A quick firefight broke out in which one German
was killed while the other nine surrendered. Apart from a few odd stranglers, virtually
no other opposition was met. By 09h00am, the men of K company started to
cross the Kall stream by wading through its ice cold water just south of the Mestrenger
Mühle. A mill in the forest. Gradually, the men of K company climbed the
steep slopes leading towards Kommerscheidt and soon they reached the edge of the woods
overlooking the village. Kommerscheidt in the meantime was under fire
from the Sherman tanks at Vossenack providing supporting fire for the advancing infantry. A small firefight ensued between the handful
of defenders and the American attackers, but the defence quickly faltered. Upon seeing the men of K company advance across
the open fields, the Sherman tanks ceased their fire. By 13h00pm, K company had successfully captured
Kommerscheidt against practically no opposition. With the capture of Kommerscheidt, the main
objective of Schmidt was well within reach. Standing between their main objective and
the Americans were only a handful of pillboxes. Captain O’Malley quickly tried to reorganize
his men, but it was made extra difficult due to a brisk German artillery barrage. As soon as the barrage lifted and the company
was reorganized, the men under O’Malley moved forward towards Schmidt. The few pillboxes were quickly overcome and
K company had quickly reached the village without any real opposition. Upon entering the village, O’Malley quickly
split his company in two, one group would clear the centre, while the other would head
straight for the Schmidt – Strauch road to the southwest. The attack on Kommerscheidt and Schmidt had
apparently come as a surprise to the Germans. About a battalion of the 275th Infantry Division
had been tasked with the defence of both villages, but most of them had retreated or were captured. By 14h30pm, Schmidt was captured and the town
fell in American hands. The 28th Infantry Division had reached its
primary objectives with only minor casualties. L company, under the command of Captain Jack
Walker had carefully moved behind K company’s advance. At 15h00pm, L company received the message
that Schmidt had been captured and that they were ordered up to strengthen the lines. I company in reserve had also moved up to
Schmidt by 16h00pm. The three companies of the 3rd battalion started
to set up their defences and they dug in for the night. M company of Captain Guy Piercey also moved
up towards Schmidt in order to bolster the forward lines even more. With the success at Kommerscheidt and the
rapid advance on Schmidt, 1st battalion under Major Hazlett was transferred from the Richelskaul
area towards Vossenack from where they were to move up on Schmidt as well. The shaken B company stayed at Richelskaul
to protect the right flank of Vossenack and Germeter. The rest of 1st battalion however was soon
around the Kall stream in the valley and they started to dig in. But, later in the day orders were given to
Major Hazlett to continue the advance and soon C company crested the ridge overlooking
Kommerscheidt. They decided to dig in around the edge of
the woods. Company A and the rest of the battalion advanced
through to occupy Kommerscheidt itself. At 16h15pm, the Chief of staff of the 28th
Infantry Division sent a message to Colonel Petersen of the 112th infantry Regiment that
his 1st battalion was to move up on Schmidt as well. But the 1st battalion decided otherwise and
they remained in Kommerscheidt, probably because the 3rd battalion was already in Schmidt and
they didn’t want to overcrowd the place. As darkness fell, Colonel Petersen’s regiment
had one battalion at Vossenack, one at Kommerscheidt and the last battalion was on top of the main
objective, Schmidt. The regiment settled down, prepared the defences
and nervously awaited what the next day would bring. A Company at Kommerscheidt deployed its 1st
platoon on the eastern part of the village while the 2nd platoon was deployed on the
southern end. The 3rd platoon was sent to the southwest. Major Hazlett and the rest of his battalion
staff occupied a small dug out on the northern side of the hamlet. The defences around Schmidt were also quickly
set up. L Company took up the defences on the eastern
part of the village. 3rd platoon was put on the right, the 2nd
in the centre and 1st platoon was on the left. K company of Captain O’Malley which had
acted in a superb manner during the day was positioned on the southern side of the village. I company was put on the north and west. It’s second platoon was put up north while
the 3rd platoon was put west. Completing a full circle around Schmidt. While the 3rd battalion was advancing on the
main objective and while the 1st battalion also moved up along the Kall trail, 2nd battalion
remained in their trenches on the forward slopes of the Vossenack hill. The 3rd of November went rather uneventful,
but for the infantry in the forward trenches it quickly became apparent that moving amongst
the various rifle slits and trenches was nearly impossible during the daytime hours. Every time someone tried to change his position
he was met by a hail of fire coming from the Germans inside the woods and across the valley. As the day gradually turned into night, the
Schmidt defenders were nearly continuously harassed by sniper fire. The most important victim of the German sniper
fire was Captain O’Malley, the commander of K company who had led his men so well during
the day. He was hit in the stomach and had to be taken
away. The chaotic nature of the fighting in the
Hürtgen Forest was also very much present at Schmidt. During the night various German parties wandered
in the American defences. A great number of prisoners were actually
taken because of it. The 3rd battalion’s commander, Lieutenant
Colonel Albert Flood was concerned about possible German armoured assaults on his positions
since he had nothing to protect himself and his infantry from tanks. He called for Tank Destroyers or even regular
Anti-Tank guns, but since it was dark it was deemed impossible to send them through the
treacherous Kall trail. Instead, a few Weasel supply vehicles brought
up some 60 anti-tank mines. The mines were placed on the three roads leading
into the village. Next to the few mines only a handful of bazookas
could protect the American Infantry from a possible tank assault. It were stressful hours for the Americans
in Schmidt, carefully awaiting what the Germans would throw at them. One of the major problems facing the Americans
wasn’t the Germans. Nor was it the weather. For their assault on Schmidt, the only possible
resupply route was the Kall trail. This narrow path heading from Vossenack to
Kommerscheidt was hardly practical to let jeeps through, let alone tanks… The 20th Engineer Combat Battalion was put
to work on the trail while the 3rd and 1st battalions moved up on their objectives. B company under Captain Edwin Lutz was charged
with opening and maintaining the one way path from Vossenack to Kommerscheidt. A company of the Engineers was tasked with
the bridging of the Kall stream down at the Mestrenger Mühle. An attempt was made by Captain Bruce Hostrup
of A company, 707th tank battalion to move through the Kall trail after he had received
the green light from the engineers. But, upon entering the woods via means of
the trail, one of Hostrup’s tanks nearly slid off the path as the path was giving way
under the weight of the 30 tonne Sherman tank. In order not to plunge down the bank it was
decided to abandon the attempt. A new attempt was to be made by first light. While the 112th had fought its way up towards
Schmidt, the 110th had also attempted to renew its attacks on Simonskall. The 3rd battalion made two attacks towards
the southeast while the 2nd battalion advanced on the Raffelsbrand pillboxes. Once again, both battalions suffered terrible
losses while nothing was gained. The 1st battalion, which had been in reserve
the day before was put forward and was tasked with the defence of the Richelskaul – Raffelsbrand
road. Orders came in at the 110th Infantry Regiment’s
headquarters from General Cota stating that the 1st battalion was to move towards Vossenack
the first thing next morning to attack southwards towards Simonskall. That way pressure could be lifted off the
men opposite Raffelsbrand as the 1st battalion would be in a position to envelop the German
defenders. But, by committing the 1st battalion of the
110th Infantry Regiment, General Cota also committed his last infantry reserve. In order to cover the gap which would occur
in the 110th Infantry Regiment’s positions, task Force Lacey under 1st Lieutenant Virgil
Lacey was formed. The 60 men strong task force would plug the
gap which the 1st battalion was covering. With the American thrust on Schmidt, all German
units in the area were put on high alert. Especially the elements of the 89th Infantry
Division which had begun to move out of the line since it was being relieved by members
of the 272nd Infantry Division. The 1055th Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division
at Harscheidt received new orders since they were the nearest German elements at Schmidt. The third battalion immediately dug defensive
positions around the Harscheidt-Schmidt road. The regiment’s second battalion only arrived
late at night and they covered the Schmidt-Strauch road to the west. Further to the northwest, the elements of
the 60th Panzer-Grenadier Regiment of the 116th Panzer Division had arrived at Hürtgen,
they were to attack at first light the next morning. The panzers of the 116th Panzer Division’s
16th Panzer Regiment were sent towards Schmidt where they would provide cover for the men
of the 1055th Regiment which were to counterattack the Americans in the village. All in all it had been a tough day for the
28th infantry Division. The 112th infantry Regiment of Colonel Petersen
encountered success, while the others frankly didn’t. Petersen had one battalion on the division’s
final objective while another battalion was just behind it. There were however no proper anti-tank defences
and the supporting Sherman tanks had been unable to clear their way through the slimy
and treacherous kall trail. Furthermore, the Germans were starting to
show up in strength by sending two battalions supported by a dozen tanks to the threatened
zone. Up north, the 109th regiment may have beaten
off two German assaults, the main business of crossing the minefield had been postponed. At Simonskall, the 110th had attempted to
move out once more, but yet again, the attack was in vain, thinning out the depleted battalions
even more. In the next episode we will take a closer
look at the German counterattacks on Schmidt and Hürtgen and the American reaction to
the new threat imposed by the German armour. Stay tuned! Don’t forget to like and subscribe and do
leave a comment down below! Cheers!

36 thoughts on “The advance on Schmidt | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part II

  • Thank you. Have a great weekend. Is your own footage from the exact places you are talking about at that moment in the video or is it from the general area?

  • Great presentation and narration as usual but one possible request. I like about 20-30 % of men have a degree of colour blindness. For me it's greens, browns, reds. If I see numbers and letters on back grounds like you have on your maps. It's very difficult for me to make out the writing. I still don't really know what colours the writing is in lol. If there's nothing you can do it's alright but if it's a choice I'd hope for something else in future videos. Again I'm not demanding anything just something to keep in mind if possible. Thanks.

  • There are mountain bike trails from the left most edge of vossenack down to simonskall. When I rode there I found the woods eerie. Saw the leftovers from what I suspected were foxholes. Now Ive seen this, they must have been

  • Enjoying this episode. My Father was in the 28th ID. 109th regiment. He told me stories about the Hurtgen Forest battle!

  • Hi. So the whole reason for the forest drive was to cover the flank for drive into the ruhr germany. Is that right?

  • Just shows how victory is obtained at times via a terrible cost. Your video shows what an absolute grind of a battle this was for both sides.

  • Astounding Work, I enjoyed it a lot!, See this New Album 'Monish Jasbird – Death Blow', channel link www.youtube.com/channel/UCv_x5rlxirO-WKjLIyk6okQ?sub_confirmation=1 , you might like 🙂

  • G'day,

    Yay Team !

    You're making good Doccumentaries mate.

    We're beset with Firestorms, here.

    Friday night my son drove 8 Km through fire both sides of the road, crossed a burning bridge, got stopped by lack of visibility & burning branches falling onto his Firetruck…..

    Of the 80 Houses on Wytaliba, 60 burned down, 30 people have burn injuries, 2 are dead & 5 still missing.

    That was one of 17 fires running at Declared Emergency level, of 90 fires in the State.

    And next week is firecast (!) to be worse ; so I may be too busy to comment for a while.

    You should see how bright and shiny is my Fire-Plan, check the "Tower of Shower and Light…"

    It might even save my Hut.

    Such is Life,

    Have a good one.

    ;-p

    Ciao !

  • Excellent description of a critical part what can be a confusing battle, even with 20/20 hindsight. Key points—the inadequate logistical route of the sole trail, and the consequent lack of defense against armored counterattack—are clearly made. This is already superior to many published accounts. Well done!

  • Man this is fantastic.
    Great work. I enjoyed this very much.
    Thank you very much.
    Very much look forward for the next video.
    🙋‍♂️🐈😼🇺🇸

  • I wonder if Capt. O'Malley has survived his wound ? He was doing a great job. Also I wonder what did they do whenever they captured German snipers they surely caused many casualties….Thank you for part ll.

  • Similar to the Gettesgarden Battle near Kitzbühel. Hostilities were ended by an armistice signed on November 3, 1918. The Austro-Hungarian high command, which had blundered into the war unprepared in 1914, did little better at its conclusion. Owing to inaccuracies in the wording of the documents, more than 300,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers were taken prisoner by the Italian army. It compelled the end for the Nazi Empire and forced Austria to claim it was Germany's "first" victim.

  • Your presentation is better and adds more precise detail than my text. I am pleased with the presentation and video. Your standards still sail and add super detail to a battle I studied , but not in detail. Always a pleasure to hear from you and your documentary presentation.

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