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A DARK & BLOODY GROUND: HURTGEN FOREST and Roer River Dams, 1944-45. The ominous prelude to the Battle of the Bulge and reveals for the first time one of the U.S. Army's bloodiest nightmares of World War II.

Click to EnlargeA DARK and BLOODY GROUND: The HURTGEN FOREST and the Roer River Dams, 1944-1945. Overshadowed by the fame of the Battle of the Bulge, the bloody battle in Germany?s rugged Hurtgen Forest was one of the U.S. Army?s most disastrous campaigns & sustained one of the highest casualty rates of WWII. U.S. Commanders ordered as many as seven divisions into the hilly dense forests to be chewed up piecemeal by entrenched German infantry and artillery. Tragically, thousands of Americans became casualties before senior commanders recognized that the objectives were a series of dams protected by the forests which controlled the level of the Roer River and the outcome of the Allied offensive. .

In late 1944, the American army had pushed through Belgium almost unopposed. As small units advanced into the hilly woods southeast of Aachen, Germany, they encountered a forest bristling with German troops. The face-off took place in some of Germany's most rugged territory and at the beginning of the worst fall and winter weather in decades. For weeks, without a clear-cut reason for attacking through the forest, U.S. commanders nevertheless ordered units of as many as seven divisions into the woods to be chewed up by German infantry and artillery. Small units, cut off by the rugged terrain and trees, unable to employ tanks or artillery effectively, fought entrenched and camouflaged Germans in the woods and villages of the region. The troops were exposed to rain, sleet, and freezing temperatures without proper winter clothing. Many companies suffered huge numbers of casualties.

The Battle of the Bulge interrupted the Hürtgen Forest battles but did not end them. The Bulge provided a hiatus for the wartorn countryside around the forest and the Roer River dams. Then, beginning in January, 1945, American forces resumed their offensive and, with the clear goal of taking the dams, were finally able to break through.

For many years after the war the full extent of the disaster was not well known outside army circles. Only in the last decade have military historians begun to look at the fighting in the Hürtgen Forest.

The book examines uncertainty of command at the army, corps, and division levels and emphasizes the confusion and fear of ground combat at the level of company and battalion. Its gripping description of the battle is based on government records, a rich selection of first-person accounts from veterans of both sides, and author Edward G. Miller's visits to the battlefield.

U.S. Divisions: 1st Infantry Division - 2nd Infantry Division - 4th Infantry Division - 8th Infantry Division - 9th Infantry Division - 28th Infantry Division - 78th Infantry Division - 83rd Infantry Division - 2nd Armored - 3rd Armored - 2nd Ranger Battalion. 6"x9". 272 pages. 22 b&w photos. 7 maps. Bib. Indexed. The book's foreword is by retired Maj. Gen. R. W. Hogan, who was a battalion commander in the forest.

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