Following the successful offensive on D-Day in early June, the Allies spent the next three months pushing the front line to the borders of German territory. The rapid advancement had pushed the communication and supply lines to the extent that any further large-scale operations would be impossible. Taking the time to regroup gave the enemy a breathing spell and allowed them to build up what would become a formidable defensive line.
In early November 1944, holding the front line of the Hurtgen Forest in the Rhineland were the “1st Infantry Division in the Aachen area, the 3d Armored Division in the Stolberg area, and the 47th RCT of the 9th Infantry Division to the south.” They would later be reinforced by three additional infantry divisions. Casualties were high as they launched their offensive in the following days. Soon, replacements were called in – Privte Lund was one of them.
After regrouping, the plan of attack was a simultaneous attack from the 16th and 26th Infantry Regiments, the 16th Infantry “attacking from the left to seize its first objective Hamich” and protecting the left flank while the 26th did the same with the right flank. At the time, Lund was fighting alongside the 16th Infantry Regiment.
Once the area was secured, troops of the 16th and 26th were relieved and settled down in forest bivouacs, taking advantage of the natural camouflage that the forest had to offer.
Regimental orders were soon given to push toward the Roer River, and Lund continued the attack with the 2nd Battalion of the 26th Infantry Regiment. The drive to the Roer was set for November 11 with plans for preliminary support bombing. However, weather conditions delayed the plan. “Successive postponements of 24 hours [were] called until November 16 which was to be the deadline regardless of weather.”
The conditions persisted until November 15th, and the Lund’s unit continued to enjoy hospitality without realizing that another postponement would mean the lack of air support. The following morning was no different, but as the afternoon approached, the clouds began to clear. The bombardment finally took place, and Lund’s unit began their muddy march to the front line.
As the 2nd Battalion approached the enemy line, “heavy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire opened up” and seemed to continue without letting down. Progress was slow, but the battalion along with other a few other units eventually made it past the enemy’s prepared defenses.
On the following morning of November 17th, the battalions continued their attack but soon ran into mines, wires, and fire from concrete pillboxes. By nighttime, little progress was made. Artillery fire was constantly traded between the two lines as shells flew over the dense trees.
November 18th saw the same pattern as the previous two days, but on the following day, the 2nd Batallion was successful in securing a road junction, allowing for the 3rd Batallion to spearhead the attack with tanks.
By now, Lund’s unit was ordered to hold their position north of the Kloster Ruins, for the rest of the line was facing heavy opposition and waiting for reinforcements.
A coordinated attack between the battalions was set for November 22nd. The 2nd Battalion, however, simply “absorbed another day of punishing mortar and artillery fire,” resulting in high casualties.
In preparation for the push to the small town of Merode, the 2nd Battalion was moved into reserve positions. The 1st and 3rd Battallion were to capture Jungersdorf before the 2nd was to seize Merode.
Though most of his battalion was sent in to seize Merode, Lund was one of the men who remained to hold the present line. The operation appeared to be successful at first as the troops slowly cleared out the town, but by November 30, “the Germans had recaptured” the small town.
With no incoming reserves and such small numbers, the remainder of the 2nd Batallion, including Lund, continued to hold the right flank as best as they could for the next few days. On December 4th, the regiment was notified that “elements of the 9th US Infantry Division would relieve the 26th Infantry” on December 5th. The following day, the regiment was relieved and “moved to a rear bivouac area in the vicinity of Henri-Chappelle (Belgium) for rest and rehabilitation.”
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