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The battle of Kommerscheidt | Hell in the Hürtgen Forest | Part IV


In the previous episode we concluded four
things. The Germans were able to recapture Schmidt,
but thanks to the tank support, the Americans were able to hold back the German advance
in front of Kommerscheidt. The 110th Infantry Regiment finally made progress
on Simonskall with the first battalion securing the village. Up north however, the 109th was still hopelessly
stuck in front of Hurtgen and finally, the Kall trail was still one big shambles with
tanks bogging down all along the path. During the early morning of the 5th of November,
the 1st and 3rd battalions of the 112th Infantry Regiment at Komerscheidt tried to get whatever
sleep they could in their freezing-cold foxholes. Improvements were made to the defences and
finally the proper situation could be established. All frontline companies were mere skeletons
of their former selves and C company in reserve to the north wasn’t in a position to provide
suppressing fire. B company, also of the 1st battalion was still
back at Richelskaul, but they would be ordered up during the day. Just after dawn, the Germans woke the American
defences with a heavy artillery barrage. It was just another day in the Green Hell
which was the Hurtgen Forest. A handful of Panzers supported by infantry
was seen in front of A company’s left flank. Small arms fire raged at the Germans while
at the same time American counter-artillery crashed down among the new German assault. The German infantry retreated, but the panzers
still posed a major threat for the Kommerscheidt defenders. Fortunately for the 112th Infantry Regiment,
Lieutenant Fleig had stayed behind with his 3 Sherman tanks. Just like the previous day, the three Shermans
took up a favourable position on a slight rise and fired away at the German Panzers. 7 hits were scored on one of the Panthers,
immobilizing the tank. Although the remaining German Panzers continued
to fire away, they didn’t press home their attack and it was eventually beaten off. The Kommerschiedt defence held strong despite
taking a few losses including Captain Rokey, I company’s commander. During the night the Kall trail had been cleared
of obstacles and the M10 tank destroyers of C company, 893rd tank destroyer battalion
were ordered to make a move on Kommerscheidt. Despite some minor issues, 2nd Lieutenant
Leonard’s 1st platoon reached Kommerscheidt by 09h30am. Also 2nd Lieutenant McElroy’s 3rd platoon
reached Kommerschiedt, but McElroy had lost his own tank due to an oil leak. He had to take over the command of one of
his other M10’s. With the arrival of C company, 893rd Tank
destroyer battalion, the Kommerscheidt defences were considerably strengthened. 7 M10’s and 3 Shermans were at that time
aiding the remnants of the 1st and 3rd battalions of the 112th Infantry Regiment. General Cota had sent out a new order to Colonel
Petersen to renew his assault on Schmidt. But, when the order arrived at 09h20am, the
Kommerscheidt defenders were subjected to the second German attack of the day. The German infantry once again attempted to
move forward, this time under the covering fire of their panzers which were back at Schmidt. But, just as the attack was reaching its zenith,
the tank destroyers arrived on the battlefield. Leonard and McElroy immediately contacted
Fleig and deployed their tank destroyers. Leonard’s 1st platoon was put south, while
McElroy’s 3rd platoon was put further north. The 10 Tanks and Tank destroyers fired back
at the German tanks at Schmidt. While the tank destroyers were taking up their
new positions, 2nd Lieutenant Ray Borders of M Company managed to seize and automatic
rifle and enfiladed a large group of Germans knocking out nearly 2 full squads of German
machine gunners. It once again was too much for the German
attackers which cautiously retreated to their lines at Schmidt. Kommerscheidt had stood strong for a second
time on the 5th of November. With the capture of Simonskall by the elements
of the 1st battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, the position held by B Company, 1st battalion
of the 112th Infantry Regiment because unnecessary to hold. So, B company was ordered up to strengthen
the defences at Kommerscheidt, which they did. The company made it to the village without
any difficulties and they quickly took up positions between the 3rd battalion and the
rest of the 1st battalion already in the town. Later in the day the 2 remaining Tank Destroyers
of C Company, 893rd tank destroyer battalion also arrived at Kommerscheidt, both pieces
of the 2nd platoon under 2nd Lieutenant Edmunds took up a new position along the edge of the
woods to the northwest. During the 5th of November, the 3rd battalion’s
commander, Colonel Flood had to be evacuated for minor wounds and overall battle exhaustion. The 1st and 3rd battalions had become so worn
down that Major Hazlett, the commander of the 1st battalion took over the command of
both battalions. Although reinforcements had entered the scene,
the men were still hopelessly demoralized and many suffered from shell-shock. Adding to the horrendous battles were the
poor weather conditions with light drizzle in nearly freezing temperatures. It truly was unbearable. How unbearable the situation may be, the Kall
trail wasn’t going to improve it by itself. Just like the previous days the Engineers
of the 20th Combat Engineer Battalion worked furiously on the trail. Their work was truly acknowledged with the
many tanks and supplies finally reached the Kommerscheidt defences. The Tank destroyers were successfully brought
up to the lines and so were a number of supply columns. The situation was however still far from ideal. An occasional German party managed to reach
the Kall trail and ambush the American parties trying to bring supplies forward. During the afternoon actions were taken to
set up a new Task Force to bring up to Kommerscheidt in an attempt to advance on Schmidt. Colonel Ripple, the commander of the 707th
Tank battalion was to be put in command of the Task Force Named ‘R’ after Ripple
himself. The task force would consist of the depleted
3rd battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, A and D Companies of his own 707th Tank battalion. A company, already being severely reduced
in numbers; and C company of the 893rd tank destroyer battalion already at Kommerscheidt. The day at Vossenack was similar to that of
the 4th of November. The constant shelling wore down the defenders
and many were suffering from combat fatigue, including the battalion commander, Lieutenant
Colonel Theodore Hatzfeld who insisted to remain at his post. In practice, however, Captain John Pruden
took over the major command functions. As darkness fell, the German artillery caused
a handful of casualties to G company. Upon seeing their friends being blown to pieces,
several men retreated to the safety of the houses to the rear. This however created a gap which couldn’t
be closed due to a lack of available reserves. On the 5th of November, the tanks of C company,
707th Tank Battalion were put into action again. They were ordered up to Vossenack after a
possible threat of a German assault on the village. The attack never came, or never really materialized
and the tanks were pulled back later that evening. The 2nd platoon of Quarrie stayed behind in
the village as one platoon had to be kept in Vossenack at all times. The tank destroyers of B company, 893rd tank
destroyer battalion had had a tough day. All 4 TD’s of Lieutenant Davis’ 1st platoon
had been hit multiple times and the 2nd and 3rd platoons thus pulled back to safer positions. During the night, B company of the 707th Tank
Battalion which had been in support of the 110th Infantry Regiment was transferred to
Vossenack to take over from C company, 707th Tank Battalion. Germeter was eventually reached after some
difficulties. During the night, the Germans made their presence
known to the Engineers working on the Kall trail. After a whistle was blown, the Germans opened
a withering fire on the trail, after a half an hour, the firing died down and all went
quiet again. The 5th of November went pretty uneventful
for the 109th Infantry Regiment, engineers were brought up to clear a path in the minefield
and one company managed to occupy the main road. Several German patrols of the 60th Panzer
Grenadier Regiment were beaten off, but other than that they further improved their positions. The 1st battalion of the 110th to the south
unsuccessfully tried to clear a path through the German defences in front of the 3rd battalion. Later during the day, the 3rd battalion was
ordered to move to Kommerscheidt since they were attached to Task Force R. They managed
to safely extricate themselves leaving only the 1st and 2nd battalions on the Simonskall
front. An important linkup was made between elements
of the 116th Reconnaissance battalion and members of the 89th Infantry Division, possibly
the 1056th Infantry Regiment which had taken up a position between Simonskall and the Mestrenger
Muhle. Both units managed to establish contact with
each other along the Kall trail. It became more and more difficult for the
Americans to bring supplies through to Kommerscheidt. The German attacks in front of Kommerscheidt
had been beaten off by the 112th Infantry Regiment, but the Germans had been able to
partially cut off the Kall trail. New orders were given to the Americans to
recapture Schmidt, while on the German side of the line orders had been given to the 60th
and 156th Panzer Grenadier Regiments to make themselves ready to attack the Vossenack defenders. The Germans were slowly increasing their pressure
on the 28th Infantry Division. Dawn on the 6th Of November 1944 came with
a strange silence in front of Vossenack. For several days the 2nd battalion had been
under constant artillery fire, but on the morning of the 6th, hardly a shell landed
among their trenches and foxholes. As the light was growing, the German opened
up with artillery. The beautiful scene of the forests in the
autumn had already taken place for an eerie lunar-like landscape. When the German small-arms fire also joined
the fray, word spread that the Germans were attacking. Several men of the 2nd battalion had had enough
and they scuttled to the rear. After seeing G company retreat, Lieutenant
Kauffman, commanding F company also ordered his platoon commanders to fall back. In doing so he spared his men of potentially
being enveloped by a German attack. What was supposed to be an organized retreat
soon turned into a rout of parties of G and F company all running for the safety of Vossenack. Although no one had actually seen any Germans,
all were convinced of an all-out German attack on the village. Company E of Lieutenant Barrilleaux, who had
just come back from Paris, was also compelled to withdraw. Just as the supposed German attack commenced
and the men of the 2nd battalion retreated, armour support in the form of Lieutenant Anderson’s
1st platoon, B Company of the 707th Tank Battalion arrived at Vossenack. Anderson was supposed to relieve 2nd Lieutenant
Quarrie’s 1st platoon of C Company. Also in the village was the 1st tank destroyer
platoon of B company, 893rd Tank Destroyer battalion. As word spread of the German attack and the
subsequent retreat of 2nd battalion, Captain Granger, in command of B Company, 707th Tank
battalion, at once left his position at Germeter and moved up towards the city centre of Vossenack. Not long after Granger’s departure, his
3rd platoon together with the handful of remaining tanks of Captain West’s C Company also headed
forward to counter the threat. The 3rd tank destroyer platoon and the 2nd
tank platoon of B Company remained at Germeter in support. When the infantry retreated, the Tank destroyers
under Lieutenant Davis remained at their posts until, due to a lack of infantry protection
they were also forced to pull back. They still hadn’t seen any of the attacking
Germans when they pulled back at 08h15am. With the arrival of Lieutenant Anderson, 2nd
Lieutenant Quarrie also pulled back to Germeter. By late afternoon, 2nd platoon, B company
of the 707th Tank battalion under 2nd Lieutenant Sherman and the 1st platoon under Anderson
were on the eastern side of Vossenack. The 3rd platoon of C company was in the vicinity
of the church, but other than that most of the infantry had fled and the 3 tank platoons
were largely left to their own. During all the commotion, not a single German
had been sighted. The Engineers at the entrance of the Kall
trail also got permission to fall back on Germeter. Captain Lutz of B company, 20th Engineers
was knocked unconscious as a stray shell exploded close by. Although Lutz was fine, his administrative
officer, 2nd Lieutenant Gray wasn’t. He had been killed by the shrapnel. As the Americans were moving out of Vossenack,
the defenders of Kommerscheidt were ready for yet another trying day in the Hurtgen
Forest. Just after dawn, 3 Panzers aided by infantry
were seen coming from Schmidt. Although the counter artillery proved to be
incredibly effective in preventing the German infantry to link up with their panzers it
didn’t prevent the German tanks from firing at the Kommerscheidt defenders. At least 11 men were killed as a result of
the German shelling. The available tanks and tank destroyers did
their level best, but there was nothing that could be done to counter the Germans Panzers
on the high ground on the northern side of Schmidt. While the German attack ground to a halt in
front of Schmidt, more and more Americans became anxious of getting surrounded. During the night they had heard the firefight
at the Kall trail and the Kommerscheidt defenders, especially C company, closest to the stream
were getting increasingly nervous of the thought of getting attacked from the rear. The firing at Kommerscheidt, although never
ceasing, gradually died down. None the less most men were still pinned down
in their damp and icy cold foxholes. Also during the morning, Task Force R moved
up towards Kommerscheidt, the 3rd battalion of the 110th Regiment made contact with C
company, 1st battalion 112th Regiment shortly after 08h30, but they had lost several men
during their fight across the Kall gorge. Rather than moving across the open fields
to the north of Kommerscheidt, an alternative route through the woods was chosen. A scouting run through the woods to the southwest
led to a few casualties on both sides, but the Americans eventually managed to clear
it. The Kommerscheidt bridgehead had become a
chaotic mess of various intermingled units all with different orders. Around noon on the 6th of November, the Germans
increased their panzer activity once more. Upon seeing the German Panzers fire from Schmidt,
various infantrymen started to clear their foxholes at Kommerscheidt and run back to
the safety of the woods. With the number of infantrymen rapidly shrinking
it was up to the tanks to make a move. The 3 Sherman tanks under Fleig drove up to
a small crest while the Tank Destroyers of the 1st platoon attempted to outflank the
German tanks. The Tank Destroyers where however unable to
proceed and both Fleig and Leonard’s platoon were compelled to abandon the attempt. 2 Sherman turrets had been jammed, but one
Panzer was reported as knocked out. The last German attempt of the day to capture
Kommerscheidt had also ground to a halt. Although the Germans temporarily halted their
attacks, casualties continued to mount on both sides. Only 3 Tank Destroyers remained fully operational
after the trying day. As the 110th Infantry Regiment’s 3rd battalion
arrived late, the planned attack on Schmidt had to be postponed. None the less, Colonel Petersen and Colonel
Ripple, the commander of the task force tasked with the assault were still planning on making
the attack. It was only when I company’s commander was
shot while trying to reconnoitre the start line that the plans were abandoned. Without sufficient armour and with the understrength
infantry battalion it was deemed impossible to attack Schmidt. The rest of the day was spent consolidating
the positions. Back at Vossenack, the Germans had made use
of the retreat of the 2nd battalion, 112th infantry Regiment. By noon several German parties had been able
to move up as far as the Vossenack church. During the retreat, several American officers
were able to halt a few soldiers and they were placed in defensive positions near the
Vossenack crossroads. Soon, others followed the example of those
who stayed behind. Lieutenant Barrilleaux ordered his 2nd platoon
under 1st Lieutenant Clifton Beggs up to the newly established zone. This considerably strengthened the line. The tanks in the vicinity also moved up, or
in some cases back, to conform with the new line in the centre of Vossenack. Later during the day, Lieutenant Davis’
Tank destroyers were also called up again. This was done while the other two platoons
of B company 893rd Tank Destroyer battalion remained at Germeter. A new line had been established and the precarious
situation was somewhat restored at Vossenack. During the evening, 2nd Lieutenant Quarrie
of C company relieved Anderson’s platoon of B company and so the whole of B company,
707th Tank Battalion withdrew to Germeter. With the German threat at the Kall trail,
the 146th and 1340th Engineers were also thrown into the fight at Vossenack. The Germans of the reconnaissance battalion
of the 116th Panzer Division had however pulled back after contact with Task force R which
was trying to reach Kommerscheidt earlier during the day. None the less, the Kall trail was still in
great peril. The Engineers had to spend most of their time
defending it from various German parties. The area around the bridge, defended by C
company of the 1340th Engineers was nearly continuously harassed by the Germans throughout
the night. During all the turmoil, supplies were continuously
brought up the Kommerscheidt. The 28th Infantry Division’s front was all
one chaotic mess. The 6th of November saw nothing new for the
men of the 109th Infantry Regiment. A few of their attempts to move up failed
and at the same time they were able to beat off a few German probing attacks themselves. During the afternoon they received the welcome
order that they were to be relieved by the men of the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th
Infantry Division. Nothing changed in the line of the 110th Infantry
Regiment which remained in its positions in the dense woods around Simonskall. The day had seen new half-hearted German attacks
on Kommerscheidt. All attempts were once again beaten off the
American defenders aided by tank support. The day had been more trying at Vossenack
where during the morning, the 2nd battalion 112th Infantry Regiment left its foxholes. A new lines was established in the centre,
but they would have to recapture their positions as soon as possible in order to keep the entrance
of the Kall trail open. On the trail itself, the engineers found themselves
nearly continuously harassed by small German attacks. In the next episode, which will be the final
one of the series we will take a look at the endgame at Kommerscheidt. Stay tuned! Thank you very much for watching and don’t
forget to like and subscribe for more! Cheers!

33 Comments

  1. War Is Wrong Author

    Super. Am anfang, bitte Sagen Sie uns wer ist wer. The map showed iron crosses aber Sie haben die Eindruck gegeben das die Amerikaner besetzten das Ort. Or were they Canadians? You never gave the nationality of those with English speaker names

    Reply
  2. Trouser Snake Author

    Great channel this , some people just think it was Conquering Normandy then straight to Germany, but the amount of battles on the way to Germany facing hardcore SS units I don't think people are aware of.
    Always get clicks from me, your knowledge on World War 2 History is enormous and very entertaining..I now think it would have been impossible for the Allies to land and take Germany without Hitlers decision to invade Russia.
    Hitler wasted 3 million soldiers and Many Tank units in Russia. Imagine if they were around to resist the allies ?

    Reply
  3. john white Author

    sadly a battle that should not have been fought. I think that due to everyone seeing how stupid it was the US army does not talk about this battle. Thanks

    Reply
  4. Mr. Waffentrager Author

    Pure quality …! Longer ! Better than mark felt on production ! This series worth every minute ..
    Mark felt on has 130k subs
    But you will be better !
    Just don't quite
    bY tHE wAY I liKE tHe eAsTeRn fRoNt !

    Reply
  5. WarblesOnALot Author

    G'day,

    Yay Team !

    You've taken a really fine-grained look at all this, to a degree which is absolutely amazing…; very well done !

    Have a good one.

    ;-p

    Ciao !

    Reply
  6. Don Nicoll Author

    What a fantastic series. Your research and delivery is excellent. I am just sorry there is only 1 part left to go. Thanks for your hard work making this really interesting.

    Reply
  7. Greg Lucas Author

    I am adding to my text,as you proceed I hope you don't mind but I am transferring your work to my records .This is just spectacular. Keep up the good work and please continue.

    Reply
  8. Phil Hall Author

    Other waste of men on both sides, Germany was already beat by Russia.. Yet Hitler just wonted to get as many of the German army killed of his lost

    Reply

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