HURTGEN FOREST CAMPAIGN - Nov. 16th thru Dec. 3rd


DECLASSIFIED - Authority NND735017


Private Sussman was inducted into the service on Dec. 31, 1943, and received training in Cooks and Bakers School. Later he was placed on troop trains as a sort of caretaker for the troops. After this, he was shipped to a training center, where he was assigned to Cook school. Shortly after this, he went to the hospital, for an operation, and remained there for a couple of weeks. Then he returned to his organisation, he was transferred along with all the other men in his company to a rifle company. Altogether he received about 17 weeks training in a rifle company.

He left Camp Croft and had a 12 day delay en route to Ft. Meade, Md. From Fort Meade he was shipped to Camp Shanks, N.Y. where he remained 4 or 5 days.

On Nov. 1st or 2nd, he sailed on the Queen Mary and landed at Greenock, Scotland. From Greenock he went by train to Southampton. Sussman spent one night on the Channel sailing to Le Havre. That night he saw one of our transports sunk by mines. At Le Havre he was placed with other replacements on a freight car and rode to Givet, France. There he stayed for 4 days.

He was then placed on a truck and shipped up to Hurtgen Forest. When he arrived at a Replacement Company he was told that he might be there an hour or as much as 4 days. In a half hour's time he was in a truck and on his way to "The Division Service Co.” (Service Co. of the 22nd). That night the men slept in pup tents. About 1100 they were again loaded on trucks and shipped to Bn. From there they walked about a mile to some dugouts. At those dugouts the men received their company assignments and their names and serial numbers were taken down. A guide than started leading them up to the front lines. On the way up they were shelled and saw a number of Jerry and American dead scattered around thru the forest.

Pvt. Sussman said that he was horrified at the sight but felt that he was not effected as much as he might have been because everything appeared as if it were in a dream. In some way the group became detached from their guide and the men almost walked past the front lines. Some G.I. came out of the woods and yelled at them. (Sussman thought that he was from H Co.) He said "where the hell are you man going. You're going right past the front lines."

Soon after this, the 1st Sgt. came back and said, "you men come behind me." He led them up to a group of dugouts. These were probably German dugouts that E. Co. had captured. (Sussman said that all of the men were carrying full field equipment. This included an M-1 rifle, a gas mask, the new field pack, shelter half, a roll with 3 blankets and toilet articles, an extra set of fatigues, and numerous other articles.

In the original group which had gone to service company there were around 60 men of which E Co. received somewhere between 15 and 20. At the present time there are only 2 left in E Co.)

Sussman stayed in the dugout that night and the only information that he had as to his assignment was that he was to be in the mortar section. He knew that he was in E. Co., and he had heard that he was in the 1st Army. He hadn’t the faintest idea what regiment or what division he belonged to. He had received, perhaps at the most, 3 days instruction on the 60 mm. mortar.

Next morning Captain Newcomb, Co. Commander of E Co., called him over and asked him if he know how to operate a 300 radio. He said that he did not and Captain Newcomb handed him the radio and said, "you’re going to learn." The company attacked that day and Sussman followed Captain Newcomb carrying the 300 around with him and telling Capt. Newcomb whenever he heard something coming in over the net. The captain did all the talking.

On the following day Capt. Faulkner took over and the company attacked again. On the day after that the company received an order over the radio that it was to move up and assist B Co.


Nov. 28th - "I moved out into the open space between the woods and Grosshau. I stayed with Capt. Faulkner and Lt. Lloyd and Lt. Railton were there also. As soon as the company attacked out of the woods, we were pinned down by a lot of arty and mortar fire, and also machine gun fire. One shell hit about a yard from Capt Faulkner and me and covered us with dirt. We didn't have any arty observer with us and we tried to get battalion to give us some arty support but we weren't successful. At this time there were only 55 men in E Co. Capt. Faulkner called over the radio and asked battalion for some tank support. He said, 'little man can't do Big Man's job.' The captain was very mad. A short while later 2 tanks did come up and two other tanks or two TDs also. The commander of these tanks was afraid to move up any of the roads because he thought mines would blow his tank up. Captain Faulkner begged him to bring his tanks up. Finally after much persuasion the tanker said, 'We'll go.' The tanks and TDs ? moved out of the woods but their guns jammed. They cleared them while out in the open. One tank went down the middle of the street with a second tank following. The 3rd tank moved around the northern side of the town and the 4th around the southern side. The three leading tanks kept a straight line as they moved eastward. They stopped at each building and all together fired several shots into it. Then 5 or 6 infantrymen would go into the house and clean it out. Germans were captured in every house. The tanks knocked out several machine guns.

"Captain Faulkner and Lt. Railton and I stayed right behind the leading tank and we kept reporting our progress to battalion. Before we had gotten about half way thru the town, darkness had fallen and the moon was beginning to come up. The mopping up proceeded rather hurriedly and Captain Faulkner pushed the company on up to the eastern end of the town. He was very anxious to set up defenses for the night. He had some of the men dig foxholes east of the town facing towards the woods east of Grosshau. Several outposts were set up outside of the town and the tanks were placed around the town.

"F Co. soon came up and took up positions around the southern side of the town. There were still some Germans around in various places, sniping at us whenever we went anywhere.

"The next day the Bn. Hq. moved up and took over our CP." (F and G Companies attacked and took positions on the western edge of the woods during the next two days.)

"We were supposed to consolidate with F Co. Capt. Faulkner and Lt. Mason started looking all over the woods to try to find F Co. I had to report to battalion that they were looking for F Co. They finally found the company and placed E Co. so as to tie in with F. For the next couple of days that we stayed there we received more arty and mortar than ever before. There were a lot of snipers in the woods also. We heard that the 83d Div. was going to relieve us so we sweated that day out. We were to be relieved a platoon at a time. Captain Faulkner wanted the relief to be made during the night but he could not persuade battalion to let him do this. However it was not until after nightfall that Capt. Faulkner, Lt. Mason, and I started back to Grosshau with the Co. Hq and part of the 3rd Platoon. This was a fast march. About 50 to 75 yards from the woods I fell in a hole full of water. It was so dark that nobody saw me and I didn't want to yell for fear that the Germans might hear me. I wandered around for a few minutes and then by the light of the arty flashes I saw the road that we were supposed to march to and headed straight for it. When I arrived at Grosshau I found that I had gotten there ahead of Capt. Faulkner. We marched on thru the town and to the woods west of the town where we were supposed to meet some trucks. There were no trucks there so we had to hike all the way back to Service Co., a distance of around 4 miles. The next day we rode to Luxembourg."

(Sussman said that when he was told that he was going to be a radio operator he felt that that would be a good job because he would be with the captain and he thought that captains stayed "in the rear." This is what he had been told back in the States. Actually ha said that he and Capt. Faulkner quite often found themselves out in front of the whole company.

He said that he believed that the reason so many of the old men - the experienced officers and non-coms - became casualties was that they were leading inexperienced men like himself, who did not know what to do. For instance the business that he had learned about 2 scouts being up front was not true here, because the officers and non-coms could not depend on the new men to act as scouts. They had to go ahead of the platoons themselves and do their own scouting. Also when the men were to attack the officers and non-coms had to go around to each of the men and encourage them to get out of their hole, to make the attack.

Sussman had been to Id back in the States that he would receive at least about 21 days training during which he would have the opportunity of meeting his squad leader and platoon leader and would get to know the names of all the officers and non-coms. None of the replacements had dreamed of being shoved up into the battle without knowing the names of any of their leaders and without getting a little preparatory training. The only reason that he knew the name of his company commander was that he was with him "all of the time." 


Source: N.A.R.A. Archives

Many thanks to John R. Tomawski for providing me a bunch of documents from the National Archives.

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