28th Infantry Division in World War II

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Our Mission - Preserving Division History

Courtesy of the 28th Infantry Division Association
1400 Calder Street, Harrisburg, PA 17103-1297
E-mail: info@28thinfantrydivision.org

"ROLL ON!" Newsletter

Volume: 2007 -- Winter/Spring -- January 31, 2007 -- Issue #1

On Feb. 17, 1941, the 28th Division was ordered into federal service for one year of active duty. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 led soldiers of the 28th to remain on active for the duration of the war. Having conducted specialized combat training in everything from offensive maneuvers in mountainous terrain to amphibious warfare, the Division's intensive training agenda culminated in its deployment to England on Oct. 8,1943.

After another 10 months of training in England and Wales, the first elements of the Division entered combat on July 22, 1944, landing on the beaches of Normandy. From Normandy, the 28th advanced across western France, finding itself in the thick of hedgerow fighting through towns such as Percy, Montbray, Montguoray, Gathemo and St. Sever de Calvados by the end of July 1944. The fury of assaults launched by the 28th Infantry Division led the German Army to bestow the Keystone soldiers with the title "Bloody Bucket" Division.

In a movement north toward the Seine in late August, the Division succeeded in trapping the remnant of the German 7th Army through Vorneuil, Breteuil, Damville. Conches, Le Neubourg and Elbeuf before entering Paris to join in its liberation. The famous photograph of American troops before the Arc de Triomphe, marching in battle parade down the Champs Elysees, shows the men of 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. With no time to rest, the Division moved on to fight some of the most bloody battles of the War the day following the parade.

The advance continued through the Forest of Compeigne, La Fere, St. Quentin, Laon, Rethel, Sedan, Mezicres, Bouillon and eventually across the Meuse River into Belgium. The Keystone soldiers averaged 17 miles a day against the resistance of German "battle groups." The city of Arlon, Belgium, fell to a task force as the Division fanned out into Luxembourg in early September. On September 11, 1944, the 28th claimed the distinction of being the first American unit to enter Germany.

After hammering away in assaults which destroyed or captured 153 pillboxes and bunkers, the Division moved north toward the Siegfried Line, clearing the Monschau Forest of German forces. After a brief respite, the Keystone soldiers made another move northward to the Hürtgen Forest in late September. Attacks in the forest began November 2, 1944. The 28th Infantry Division stormed into Vossenack, Kommerscheidt and Schmidt amid savage fighting and heavy losses.

By November 10, the 28th began to move south, where it held a 25-mile sector of the front line along the Our River. It was against this thinly fortified division line that the Germans unleashed the full force of their winter Ardennes "blitzkrieg" offensive. Five Axis divisions stormed across the Our River the first day, followed by four more in the next few day.

Overwhelmed by the weight of enemy armor and personnel, the Division maintained its defense of this sector long enough to throw Von Runstedt's assault off schedule. With allied forces able to a move in to counterattack, the "Battle of the Bulge" ensued, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy forces.

Having sustained a devastating 15,000 casualties, the 28th withdrew to refortify. But within three weeks, the Division was back in action. By January 1945, Division soldiers had moved south where they served with the French First Army in the reduction of the "Colmar Pocket." The 109th Infantry Regiment was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for its action which helped lead to the liberation of Colmar, the last major French city in German hands.

By February 23, 1945. the Division returned north to the American First Army. The 28th was in position along the Olef River when an attack was launched on March 6, 1945, carrying the Division to the Ahr River. Schidden, Germund, Kali, Sotenich. Sistig and Bhtnken-heim all fell in a raid advance. By early April, the Division moved west of the Rhine and took up occupation duties in the area north of Aachen along the Holland-German border.

Permanent occupation came two weeks later at the Saurland and Rhonish areas. In early July 1945, the 28th began its redeployment to the U.S. rare. ....

28th Infantry Division - In The Liberation of Paris

Paris went wild with joy ....

The liberation of Paris was the most romantic event of World War II. It was not necessarily the most dramatic or the most important. The D-Day invasion and the atomic bombing of Japan were surely more dramatic, while the defeat of France in 1940 and the cross-Channel evacuation from Dunkirk were certainly more important developments from a strategic standpoint. But for sheer romance, joy, delight, tears of happiness and emotional dizziness, the liberation of Paris surpassed all the other momentous events of the war.

It was a moment of supreme elation.

To make it clear that Paris had been liberated through the strength of Allied arms, Eisenhower planned to march the 28th Infantry Division through Paris to the front. On August 29, the division made its way through the city. Eisenhower, Bradley, Grow, de Gaulle, Koenig and Leclerc reviewed the parade from an improvised platform, an upside-down Bailey bridge. Eisenhower had invited Montgomery to attend, but the British general said he was too busy to come.

Eisenhower remained serene above the fray, telling one associate. "We shouldn't blame them [the French] for being a bit hysterical." He did, however, parade the 28th Infantry Division through Paris on 29 August. Eisenhower did this partly to get the division through the city quickly and to provide de Gaulle with a show of support but also to drive home to Parisians that their city had been liberated not by the Resistance but by Allied arms.

The famous photograph of American troops before the Arc de Triomphe, marching in battle parade down the Champs Elysees, shows the men of 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division in late August 1944. With no time to rest, the Division moved on to fight some of the most bloody battles of the War the day following the parade. (The song that was playing was "Khaki Bill".)

[Read also, "Follow Me and Die": the destruction of an American division in World War II, by Cecil B Currey
Language: English Type: Book
Publisher: New York: Stein and Day, 1984.]
{Compiled by Sfc. John M. Holman, Personnel Section, Service Company, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, APO 111, Germany, 1951-1953}

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