Archive for November, 2015

Engineer Moment in History November 1944

Kall River Trail

A picture of the Kall River Trail showing the difficult terrain of the Hurtgen Forest

The 20th Engineer Battalion Keeps Supply Route Open Along Kall River

In autumn of 1944, allied forces had broken through the Siegfried Line near Belgium, and needed to seize dams on the Roer River in order to advance. In order to seize these dams, the town of Schmidt Germany would have to be seized. This town was perched on top of a hill overlooking all approaches. In late October of 1944 the 20th Engineer Combat Battalion was tasked to support the 112th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Division so that they could seize the town. The 20th Engineer Combat Battalion’s mission was to open and maintain a supply road from the towns of Germeter to Schmidt.

The attack on the town started well and the 20th assisted the infantry in seizing the bridge over the Kall River. Using hand tools and dozers and despite poor weather and difficult terrain, the engineers were successful in opening the trail leading to the bridge.

However, the first tanks to move down the trail became disabled and blocked the road. Under heavy enemy artillery fire, the 20th cleared and improved the trail so that friendly vehicles could continue. German forces then counterattacked, driving the 29th Infantry Division troops from Schmidt. The 20th Engineer Battalion was then tasked as infantry to hold the German forces along the Kall River. This was one of the heaviest fighting in which the 20th had been engaged, suffering over 140 casualties by the time they were relieved on November 10th, but were successful in keeping the supply route open and holding the German forces back.

(Source: USAES Unit History Documents, Twentieth Battalion Engineers, 8 Jan 1947, p 29-31. Photo: Army History Office

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