Sergeant James Magill was killed in action at the latter stages of the battle for Hurtgen Forest, just after the seizure of the Schwammenauel Dam.
In the two months after December 9th, the 78th Division had held the north shoulder of the Bulge, cleared more than thirty-five square miles of Siegfried Line defenses, captured sixteen towns and taken 2,700 prisoners. In the process the 303rd Engineers had placed about 28,400 antitank mines and 3,500 antipersonnel mines, gapped many minefields, and blown up numerous pillboxes.
With the seizure of Schwammenauel Dam, the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest was essentially over, five months after it began, and at terrible cost. During this period, seven American infantry divisions, one armored combat team and one airborne regiment tried to break through the Hurtgen. All emerged mauled. Only two got all the way through–the 1st Infantry Division along the northern edge and the 78th Infantry Division, which completed the campaign by seizing the big dam. Statistics reveal that for every yard gained, the Hurtgen claimed more lives than any other American objective in Europe. Of 120,000 GI’s who fought there, nearly 30,000 were killed or wounded, and 9,000 more were lost to battle fatigue or disease. The 80,000 Germans in the Hurtgen suffered proportionate casualties. These losses seriously depleted the German army, diverting up to seven divisions from participating more directly in the Battle of the Bulge. This battle between September 1944 and February 1945 in the 50 square mile Hurtgen Forest along the German-Belgian border was the longest battle of World War II.
Sergeant Magill's group includes his officially engraved slot brooch posthumous Purple Heart and the presentation case.
This medal has been transferred to the custody of another collector. (2012)