This collection contains aerial photographs and battle maps used by Col. James Carroll Kemp, Sr. during World War II. The key battle detailed in the map collection is that of Hürtgen Forest. The Battle of Hürtgen took place from September 19, 1944 to February 10, 1945 and was the longest battle on German soil during World War II.
The Hürtgen forest is located along the border between Belgium and Germany in the southwest corner of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Rur River runs along the eastern edge of the forest.
The Battle for the Hürtgen Forest occurred at varying times between 19 September to 13 December 1944 and was the longest battle on German soil during World War II. The 4th Infantry Division, to which the 22nd Infantry belonged, participated during the period 16 November to 4 December 1944.
From an Allied perspective, the initial objective to secure the Hürtgen in September was to prevent German forces from reinforcing troops engaged in the Battle of Aachen and later plans for crossing the Rhine River included the 28th Infantry Division’s seizure of the Schwammenaul Dam on the Rur River (Phase I); with Phase II (Operation Queen) the Army’s VII Corps advance beyond the Rur River to cross the Rhine below Cologne (as part of Operation Queen). VII Corps was the Army’s main effort with its’ mission penetrating the Rhine River south of Cologne. The Corps designated the 1st Division as its’ main effort with the 4th the supporting effort.
On 16 November 1944, the First U.S. Army consisting of ten divisions had its left boundary north of Aachen and its right south of Luxembourg. During the third period of the Hürtgen Forest fight, the First Army suffered 39,532 casualties, 19,831 killed, wounded and missing during actual combat, and the remainder non-battle—those died or injured not relating to combat, those sick and those assessed with battle fatigue.
The Hürtgen Forest battle ranks in severity with the Normandy hedgerows, the Vosges Mountains and the Ardennes counter offensive. Along with other regiments of the 4th Infantry Division, the 22d Infantry Regiment, with an assigned strength of 3,197 on 16 November, remained in the line for eighteen days in the Hürtgen Forest and sustained 2,806 casualties, while receiving 2,013 replacements for 6,000 yards of terrain gained. During that period, it lost every battalion commander, with some battalions losing more than one, and had at least 31 commanders for its nine rifle companies-with the “next man up” usually becoming the new commander. By the night of 20 November, just five days into the battle, the regiment’s rifle companies had lost more than 40 percent of their beginning strength and by the end of this eighteen-day battle, rifle company casualties had reached a staggering average of 134 percent.
For then Major Kemp’s 3rd Battalion, out of its’ original complement of 873, there were total 590 casualties, with the rifle companies losing over 83 percent. Replacements arriving during the battle suffered additional casualties.