United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations

The Siegfried Line Campaign

by Charles B. MacDonald

. . . to Those Who Served

The Siegfried Line

The Siegfried Line

Table of Contents


The Author


Part 1: Breaching the Siegfried Line

Chapter 1: The Road to Germany

Allied Strategy—The Shadow of Logistics—The Germans in the West

Chapter 2: The First U.S. Army

Weapons and Equipment—The Terrain and the West Wall—A Pause at the Border

Chapter 3: V Corps Hits the West Wall

The Race for the West Wall—Into Germany—Battle of the Schnee Eifel—Bridgehead at Wallendorf—Defense of the Bridgehead

Chapter 4: VII Corps Penetrates the Line

German Developments—The Battle of the Stolberg Corridor—The Drive on the Second Band—A Wall About Aachen—Battle of the Monschau Corridor—The Germans Strike Back—The Onset of Position Warfare—The First Fight in the Forest

Chapter 5: Action on the North Wing

Defense of the Albert—From the Albert to the Border—Delay in the Assault

Part 2: An Airborne Carpet in the North

Chapter 6: Operation MARKET-GARDEN

The Germans in the Netherlands—Seven Days for Planning—What Did the Germans Know?—The Flight to the Corridor

Chapter 7: Invasion from the Sky

“a remarkably beautiful late summer day”—Hell’s Highway—Six Bridges and a Ridge—Taking the Objectives—The Red Devils at Arnhem

Chapter 8: Decision on the Ground

Developments on D Plus 2 (19 September)—The Fight for the Nijmegen Bridges—First Attempts To Drive on Arnhem—Keeping the Corridor Open—The Outcome at Arnhem—The Achievements and the Cost—Release of the U.S. Divisions

Chapter 9: The Approaches to Antwerp

The Controversy About Antwerp—The Battle of the Schelde—Baptism of Fire—South Beveland and Walcheren—Something Beastly in Antwerp

Chapter 10: The Peel Marshes

First Army Draws the Assignment—The British Attempt—A Spoiling Attack

Part 3: The Battle of Aachen

Chapter 11: A Set Attack Against the West Wall

First Army Readjusts the Front—Planning the West Wall Assault—“Those infantrymen have guts!”—Commitment of CCB

Chapter 12: Closing the Circle

The 18th Infantry Drives North—The 30th Division Strikes South—Sealing the Gap

Chapter 13: Assault on the City

The Assault Begins—Holding the Last Link—The Final Blow—What Aachen Cost

Part 4: The Roer River Dams

Chapter 14: The First Attack on Schmidt

The Neglected Objective—Objective: Schmidt—To the First Clearing—Toward Raffelsbrand and Vossenack—Regiment Wegelein

Chapter 15: The Second Attack on Schmidt

Planning the Thrust—Objective: Schmidt—The Germans React—Events Along the Trail—Catastrophe in Vossenack—The Kall Gorge—Climax at Kommerscheidt—Withdrawal Across the Kall—New Missions

Part 5: The Hürtgen Forest

Chapter 16: The Big Picture in October

Air Support—An Enigma Named Logistics

Chapter 17: New Plans to Drive to the Rhine

German Resurgence and Deception—First Army Plans—Ninth Army Plans—Operation QUEEN—The Roer River Dams and the Weather

Chapter 18: VII Corps Makes the Main Effort

The State of the LXXXI Corps—Preliminary Bombardment—The Push Northeast From Schevenhütte—Armor in the Stolberg Corridor—The Second Battle of the Donnerberg—Another Victim of the Hürtgen Forest

Chapter 19: V Corps Joins the Offensive

A Fourth Fight on the Bloody Plateau—The Fight for Hürtgen—An Armored Drive on Kleinhau—Broadening the Effort—Bergstein and Castle Hill

Chapter 20: The Final Fight to Break out of the Forest

The Fruits of Deception—A Handful of Old Men—Resuming the Corps Main Effort—Towns, Woods, Hills, and Castles—German Reinforcements—Debacle at Merode

Part 6: Battle of the Roer Plain

Chapter 21: Clearing the Inner Wings of the Armies

The Fight North of the Boundary—The Fight South of the Boundary—The Push to the Inde—Taking the High Ground

Chapter 22: The Roer River Offensive

Planning Period—D-Day on the Roer Plain—Armor Attracts Armor—Finding the Formula—The Push to Gereonsweiler

Chapter 23: The Geilenkirchen Salient

Operation CLIPPER—The Jump-off—An Exercise in Frustration

Chapter 24: Ninth Army’s Final Push to the Roer

“... in effect we are there ...”—A Hundred Men of the XIII Corps—A Shift in the Main Effort—Gut Hasenfeld and the Sportplatz

Part 7: Conclusion

Chapter 25: The Approaches to Düren

On the Plain—In the Forest—To the River

Chapter 26: Objective: The Roer River Dams

The Neglected Objective—The Second Battle of the Monschau Corridor—Heartbreak Crossroads—Something in the Air—The VIII Corps in the Ardennes-Eifel

Chapter 27: The End of the Campaign


Appendix A: A Table of Equivalent Ranks

Appendix B: Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross

Appendix C: First Army Staff Roster as of 11 September 1944

Appendix D: Ninth Army Staff Roster as of 4 October 1944

Bibliographical Note


Code Names



I: (not included)

II: Pursuit to the Border, 26 August-11 September 1944

III: V Corps Hits the West Wall, 11–19 September 1944

IV: Breaching the West Wall South of Aachen, VII Corps, 12–29 September 1944

V: Invasion from the Sky, Operation MARKET-GARDEN

VI: XIX Corps Breaks Through the West Wall, 2–7 October 1944

VII: The Hürtgen Forest, 16 November–9 December 1944

VIII: Drive to the Roer, 16 November–9 December 1944

IX: The Approaches to Düren, 10–16 December 1944

X: The Siegfried Line Campaign, 11 September–15 December 1944

Inline Maps

1. Drive From the Albert Canal to the West Wall, XIX Corps, 10–19 September 1944

2. The Battle of the Schelde, 2 October-8 November 1944

3. Operations in the Peel Marshes, 29 September–3 December 1944

4. Encirclement of Aachen, 7–20 October 1944

5. The Roer River Dams

6. The First Attack on Schmidt, 9th Division, 6–16 October 1944

7. The Second Attack on Schmidt, 28th Division, 2–9 November 1944

8. Tanks Along the Kall Trail

9. Objective: the Roer River Dams, V Corps, 13–15 December 1944


The Siegfried Line—The Our River—Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery and General Dwight D. Eisenhower—Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model—Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt—Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges—Thirteen Commanders of the Western Front—Captured Panzerfaust—Captured Nebelwerfer—Plan of Typical German Pillbox—Interior of German Pillbox—Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow—Dragon’s Teeth—Wallendorf—Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins—General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger—Task Force Lovelady—Remains of a Pillbox—Maj. Gen. Charles H. Corlett—Fort Eben Emael—The Albert Canal—MARKET-GARDEN—Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton—Generaloberst Kurt Student—Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor—101st Airborne Division Landings—506th Parachute Infantry—Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin and Lt. Gen. Sir Miles C. Dempsey—82nd Airborne Division Drop—Dutch Farmer Near Zon—Hell’s Highway—Nijmegen Highway Bridge—General der Infanterie Gustav von Zangen—Troops of the 104th Division—The Peel Marshes Area—Aachen Facing 249—Practicing Flame Thrower Technique—Abandoned Crossing at the Wurm River—Rimburg Castle—Slag Pile and Tower Used for Observation—A German Boy—Civilian Refugees Leave Aachen—Rifleman in Burning Aachen—Col. Gerhard Wilck—Aachen Munster—View of Ruined Aachen—Urft Dam—Schwammenauel Dam—Kall Trail—Weasel—The Hürtgen Forest—Lt. Gen. William H. Simpson—A Winter Overcoat Reaches the Front Line—Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley and Generals Eisenhower and Gerow—General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel—A Rest Period Behind the Lines—155-mm. Self-Propelled Gun—American Tank Burning Outside Hamich—Struggling up a Wooded Hillside—V Corps Rocket Launchers—Engineers Repair a Road—A Tank Moves Through Hürtgen—A Sea of Mud in the Hürtgen Forest—Veterans of the Hürtgen Forest—Medics Aid a Wounded Soldier—Infantry and Tanks Near Huecheln—The Frenzerburg—The Roer Plain—Maj. Gen. Raymond S. McLain—Devastated Duerwiss—Maj. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr—Captured German Tiger Tank—British Flail Tank—British Churchill Tanks—British Flame-Throwing Crocodile—Gut Hasenfeld—Winter Battlefield—Men of the 331st Infantry Advance on Gey—2nd Division Troops—Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton

Illustrations are from Department of Defense files.

Office of the Chief of Military History

Department of the Army

Washington, D.C.

United States Army In World War II

Stetson Conn, General Editor

Advisory Committee, (as of 24 May 1961)

Fred Harvey Harrington, University of Wisconsin

Maj. Gen. Louis W. Truman, U.S. Continental Army Command

William R. Emerson, Yale University

Maj. Gen. Evan M. Houseman, Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Oron J. Hale, University of Virginia

Brig. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr., U.S. Army War College

W. Stull Holt, University of Washington

Brig. Gen. William A. Cunningham III, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Bell I. Wiley, Emory University

Col. Vincent J. Esposito, United States Military Academy

C. Vann Woodward, Johns Hopkins University

Office of the Chief of Military History

Brig. Gen. James A. Norell, Chief of Military History

Chief Historian, Stetson Conn

Chief, Histories Division, Col. Leonard G. Robinson

Chief, Publication Division, Lt. Col. James R. Hillard

Editor in Chief, Joseph R. Friedman