The Battle of Hurtgen Forest: The Untold Story of a Disastrous Campaign Hardcover – 1 Jun 1989
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About the Author
Charles Whiting served with a reconnaisance outfit in WWII and has since become one of the premier historians of the war. Among his many best-selling works are Patton, The Last Assault, and Death on a Distant Frontier. He currently lives in York, England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Whiting's argument is that this was an unnecessary battle that was continued for reasons of prestige as senior officers did not want to lose face and continued to feed in new units and replacements to take ground that had little strategic value and which the advantages that the US forces had e.g. close air support and ample artillery were nullified by the terrain so it became an infantry slugfest with severe casualties among the front-line infantry battalions and support troops (tank and engineer) who were rotated into the battle.
I first read this book shortly after publication and without the ease of research that is now available on-line and my own limited reading at the time I tended to accept his rationale. On re-reading his book today, however I find that I am far less trusting given my ability to read alternative accounts of the battle on-line and have acquired a more critical outlook.
For example, Whiting uses few primary sources e.g. no official documents to support his case although there are references to interviews and letters. His footnotes refer mainly to memoirs and secondary works but are incomplete as there are no page numbers for works cited and no separate bibliography either.
In his Introduction on page x, Whiting quotes Charles B.Read more ›
So, this is an important, but little known, battle, if only to demonstrate that the rush from Brittany to Germany was not without its difficulties and that the Germans fought a hard campaign of attrition on the Allies.
What I had more difficulty with is Mr Whiting's style. It struck me right from the start with his constant references to the commanders (general level) as the 'Top Brass', an expression you don't hear frequently these days. Mr Whiting served during the war (52nd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in NW Europe) and I don't know if he had some bad experiences with generals, but he certainly has little time for them.Read more ›
The Battle of Hürtgen was undertaken by US commanders trying to pin down German forces in the area to keep them from reinforcing front lines further north (Battle of Aachen, where the Allies were fighting a trench war between a network of fortified industrial towns and villages speckled with pillboxes, tank traps and minefields).
Believing the German units were under strength, their fighting spirit collapsed under the stress of the Normandy breakout and the reduction of the Falaise Pocket. What they failed to appreciate was that the German commander (Model) knew the Arnhem assault had foundered, that Hürtgen would served as a staging area for what would soon be known as the Battle of the Bulge and the mountains that commanded access to the Rur Dam, which if used to flood low-lying areas would prevent German forces crossing the river.
The ground was well-chosen and near perfect for a defensive battle: American commanders misunderstood how the dense forest favoured the defender by reducing the effectiveness of artillery; made air support impracticable; gave ample scope for ambushes; and demonstrated how defensive techniques such as widespread use of snipers and 'shoe mines' could swiftly bring advances to a standstill... which allowed the environment itself to cause casualties: exposure; trench foot; fatigue; all compounded the oppressive atmosphere and provoked a deterioration of morale and psychological damage for men and officers alike.
What is astonishing was the battle was not fought as part of a strategic effort but tactically rather than in the interests of achieving particular objectives rather than bypassing them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An absorbing book. I've read it twice. It confirms my opinions of the calibre of the upper echelons of the U.S. Army in Europe at
that time. Out touch with reality
This is an interesting read on a battle which most of us will not have heard of before. It's a story which, at times, beggars belief. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Phililp Swan
A wonderful description fo what appears to be one of the most costly and yet useless battles of WW2. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Would highly recommend this and all of Charles Whiting books if you are into WW2 history.Published 4 months ago by Tigger
A graphically detailed description of the pointlessness of war - made more poignant when you are familiar with the area involvedPublished 4 months ago by craftaholic
Every page proclaims why the American brass keep quiet about this pointless waste of young soldiers lives. Read morePublished 4 months ago by The Jannie
A good read, and an eye opener regarding the personal egos and vanity of American Generals, which resulted in the horrific loss of life of the American soldiersPublished 4 months ago by j williamson