7. Huertgen Forest, Germany, September-December, 1944
The Battle of the Huertgen Forest took place in the fall of 1944, as American troops entered into Germany near Belgium. It remains the longest single battle ever fought solely by the United States Army. The Americans attacked the German forces in the difficult terrain to keep them from reinforcing German positions to the north. In fact, the Allies failed to achieve many of their goals. One particular hard fought for hill in the forest, designate hill 400, was captured by the Americans, subsequently recaptured by the Germans, and remained in German hands until February of 1945. In the autumn of 1944 unusually wet conditions rendered vehicular movement in the forest even more difficult. Tanks were difficult to get in position and could often not reach where they were needed due to the lack of roads.
American attacks in the region were frequently broken up by German artillery, which fused their shells to burst at treetop height, allowing fragments to rain down on the troops below. This forced Americans to violate their training, which had been to hit the ground when under cannon fire. They adjusted to huddling under the trees, their canopies providing some protection. Before the fighting for the Huertgen Forest ended, which occurred when the Germans launched the Ardennes offensive on December 16, 1944, more than 12,000 American soldiers were killed in what was in fact a defensive victory for the Germans. The United States suffered more 60,000 total casualties, including wounded, missing in action, or captured by the Germans. Other casualties were the result of illness, accidents, trench foot, and training errors and numbered over 70,000.