Three months after the first D-Day landings in France, Major General Norman Cota commanding the 28th Infantry Division, was involved in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest. The plan to attack the dug in German defenses in a heavily forested region, was the brain child of General Omar Bradley.
Gen. Cota was not happy with Bradley’s plans. It required him to send in three regiments on different paths to three different objectives. Bradley limited this action to only Cota’s Division, which would be spread out over a 150 mile front. Cota complained to V Corps Commander Leonard Gerow, but his complaints were for naught.
The start of the battle, achieved little. Neither the northern or southern advances succeeded. The center regiment, comprising the 112th Infantry, captured several villages but were repulsed by the Germans.
General Cota, took the brunt of the blame, for the failed operation. The first complaint, was that neither Cota or his staff ordered reconnaissance patrols. Secondly, a narrow trail was chosen for his supply route, compromising the mission. Third, Cota didn’t use extra armor units he had for infantry support, thinking the roads and terrain, unsuitable for their use. The coup-de-grace, was criticism that he remained in his command post, visiting the front only one time near the end of the battle.
In the end, the battle was a defensive win for the Germans and a defeat for the Americans. Cota’s 28th Infantry Division sustained heavy losses and failed in all attempts to archive their goals. In total, the Battle of Hurtgen Forest cost the U.S. Army approx. 33,000 casualties, including 12,000 KIA. German loses were similar.
Whether or not General Cota, was entirely to blame, he lost the respect of his superiors and was never again to equal the fame of his D-Day Normandy Landing.
Several interesting in-depth articles on this operation follow:
By, Mr. Thomas G. Bradbeer
A 1st Infantry Division half-track plows its way through a muddy road in the Hurtgen Forest. 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. 15 Feb 1945. (www.army.mil-Photographer: T/5 Edward Norbuth-Lic. USFG-PD)
File: Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J28303, Hurtgenwald, schweres Infanteriegeschutz.jpg (Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J28303 / CC-BY-SA)
File: HurgenForest.jpg-Source= http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-vetscor/983328/posts-Lic: US-PD