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HELL IN HURTGEN FOREST: The Ordeal and Triumph of an American Infantry Regiment. In 18 days, the 4th Infantry Division's 22nd Infantry Regiment suffered more than 2,800 casualties or 86% of its normal strength.

Click to EnlargeHELL IN HURTGEN FOREST: The Ordeal and Triumph of an American Infantry Regiment. Some of the most brutally intense infantry combat in World War II occurred within Germany's Hürtgen Forest. Focusing on the bitterly fought battle between the American 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division and elements of the German LXXIV Korps around Grosshau, Rush chronicles small-unit combat at its most extreme and shows why, despite enormous losses, the Americans persevered in the Hürtgenwald "meat grinder."

Focuses on the 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, but also covers US 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 8th Infantry Division, 47th Infantry Regiment / 9th Infantry Division, 104th Infantry Division "Timberwolves", 3rd Armored Division, 70th Tank Battalion, 46th Armored Infantry Battalion, 28th Infantry Division, and their opposing German forces.

On 16 November 1944, the 22d Infantry entered the Hürtgen Forest as part of the U.S. Army's drive to cross the Roer River. During the next eighteen days, the 22nd suffered more than 2,800 casualties--or about 86 percent of its normal strength of about 3,250 officers and men. After three days of fighting, the regiment had lost all three battalion commanders. After seven days, rifle company strengths stood at 50 percent and by battle's end each had suffered nearly 140 percent casualties.

Despite these horrendous losses, the 22d Infantry Regiment survived and fought on, due in part to army personnel policies that ensured that unit strengths remained high even during extreme combat. Previously wounded soldiers returned to their units and new replacements, green to battle, arrived to follow the remaining battle-hardened cadre.

The German units in the Hürtgenwald suffered the same horrendous attrition, with one telling difference. German replacement policy detracted from rather than enhanced German combat effectiveness. Organizations had high paper strength but low manpower, and commanders consolidated decimated units time after time until these ever-dwindling bands of soldiers disappeared forever: killed, wounded, captured, or surrendered. The performance of American and German forces during this harrowing eighteen days of combat was largely a product of their respective backgrounds, training, and organization.

400 pages, 18 photographs, 17 maps, 6"x9". Rush's work underscores both the horrors of combat and the resiliency of American organizations. While honoring the sacrifice and triumph of the common soldier, it also compels us to reexamine our views on the requisites for victory on the battlefield.

REVIEWS: "A gripping tale of American GIs facing combat under the worst imaginable conditions."__Peter Mansoor, author of The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941­-1945

"A superb combat history that shatters long-held concepts on American versus German performance and vividly describes the horror and agony of close combat."__Edward G. Miller, author of A Dark and Bloody Ground: The Hürtgen Forest and the Roer River Dams, 1944­-1945

"Convincingly challenges popular beliefs on motivation in battle. Professional soldiers simply cannot ignore the lessons of this provocative, benchmark study." __Michael D. Doubler, author of Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944­-1945

ROBERT STERLING RUSH, Command Sergeant Major (ret.), served in the U.S. Army at every organizational level and at the U.S. Center of Military History. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University and is the author of The Soldier's Guide: 5th Edition and The NCO Guide: 6th Edition.

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