"A testament of the courage and endurance of our fighting men."—New York TimesIn September 1944, three months after the invasion of Normandy, the Allied armies prepared to push the German forces back into their homeland. Just south of the city of Aachen, elements of the U.S. First Army began an advance through the imposing Huertgen Forest. Instead of retreating, as the Allied command anticipated, the German troops prepared an elaborate defense of Huertgen, resulting in a struggle where tanks, infantry, and artillery dueled at close range. The battle for the forest ended abruptly in December, when a sudden German offensive through the Ardennes to the south forced the Allied armies to fall back, regroup, and start their attack again, this time culminating in the collapse of the Nazi regime in May 1945.
In The Battle of the Huertgen Forest, Charles B. MacDonald assesses this major American operation, discussing the opposing forces on the eve of the battle and offering a clearly written and well-documented history of the battle and the bitter consequences of the American move into the forest. Drawing on his own combat experience, MacDonald portrays both the American and the German troops with empathy and convincingly demonstrates the flaws in the American strategy. The book provides an insight into command decisions at both local and staff levels and the lessons that can be drawn from one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
Charles B. MacDonald was deputy chief historian of the Army Center of Military History. He commanded a rifle platoon in World War II, earning the Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and five battle stars. He recorded his wartime experiences in Company Commander, regarded as one of the finest World War II combat narratives.