France, Belgium, and the Hürtgen Forest

In late July 1944, the regiment was still in division reserve when it was ordered to be prepared to assist in a breakout through the German line near St. Lo. On 25 July, the Big Red One closely followed the 9th Infantry Division in the breakout attempt. Two days later the 16th Infantry was launched on an attack through a break in the lines near Marigny and seized the city of Coutances on 29 July. By this time, the Germans were in headlong retreat and attempting to establish a new line well to the east.

Meanwhile, in an effort to keep up with the retreating Germans, the men of the 16th Infantry piled on trucks, tanks, and anything else they could find to move eastward as quickly as possible. After motoring south past Paris, the regiment caught up with the enemy again near Mons, Belgium, where it helped the 1st Infantry Division destroy six German divisions in August and early September. From Mons, the regiment pushed on with the Big Red One toward Aachen, Germany, just across the German frontier. For the next three months, the men of the 16th Infantry would experience some of the most grueling fighting of the war in the infamous Hürtgen Forest near Aachen, Stolberg, and Hamich, Germany.

  • A 16th Infantry halftrack and other vehicles from the 3rd Battalion arrive in Mons, Belgium, in early September 1944.

  • Soldiers of B Company advancing through Battice, Belgium, en route to Aachen, 10 September 1944.

  • Troops of HQ Company, 1st Battalion just after crossing into Germany near Aachen on 12 September 1944. They celebrated by breaking out the American flag.

  • 81 mm mortarmen of M Company. They set up their fire direction center in a destroyed German pillbox near Stolberg, October 1944.

  • Soldiers of F Company moving up into position in the Hurtgen Forest, 18 November 1944. They were about to partake in the bloody fighting around Hamich, Germany, one of the toughest battles for the regiment in the entire war.

  • The weather during the Hürtgen Forest fighting was miserable. This view of the forest near Hamich illustrates the conditions and thickness of the trees.

  • These troops were lucky, At least they had tents to keep the rain and snow away.

  • The entire 16th Infantry Regiment conducted grueling attacks on Hamich, Germany on 16 and 17 November 1944. The 3rd Battalion was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions there.

  • A knocked out Sherman tank in the middle of Hamich. This tank likely supported the 3rd Battalion’s attack on 18 November.

  • The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered to join the attack against Hamich on 17 November. This and the next few images show the route of the 2nd Battalion toward Hill 232.

  • Troops of the 2nd Battalion advancing on Hill 232 (in the distance).

  • The route was paralleled by a tram line coming north out of Gressenich.

  • Troops using mine detectors to clear the way forward.

  • The advance continues.

  • Officers observing friendly artillery fire prepping Hill 232 for the 2nd Battalion attack.

  • Trenchline of the 12th Fusilier Battalion, 12th Volksgrenadier Division on Hill 232.

  • Dead Fusilier on Hill 232.

  • Elements of the 116th Panzer and 47th Volksgrenadier Divisions conducted counterattacks on 19 November to retake Hamich and Hill 232. This is a Pzkw Mark-IV that rolled over into a bomb crater while prowling through town in the dark that morning.

  • Another view of the same Panzer Mark-IV.

  • A Panzer Mark-IV knocked out on the outskirts just north of the village.

  • This is a Jagdpanzer Mark-IV assault gun knocked out by the 16th Infantry near Hamich.

  • A Panzer Mark-IV tank of the 116th Panzer Division destroyed while conducting the counterattack of 19 November.

  • Much heavy fighting by the regiment took place here 21-24 November 1944 at Rösslerhof farm, a piece of tactically significant high ground near Hamich. The Rösslerhof is the house in the background.