The 8th Infantry Division, was an infantry division of the US Army during WW-14 and WW-2. Initially activated in Jan 1918, the unit did not see combat during WW-1 and returned to the USA. Activated again on Jul 1, 1940, as part of the build-up of military forces prior to the US’s entry into World War II. The division saw extensive action in the ETO. Following WW-2, the division was moved to west Germany, where it remained stationed at the Rose Barracks in Bad Kreuznach until it was inactivated on Jan 17, 1992.
The 8th Division was activated during the month of Jan 1918. Gen William S. Graves, his staff, 5000 men, and 100 officers were transferred to Siberia in Aug 1918. Gen Eli A. Helmick succeeded Graves in command of the division. The overseas movement of the division to Europe began on Oct 30. The 8th Field Artillery Brigade, 8th Infantry Regiment, 16th Infantry Brigade headquarters, and the 319th Engineer Regiment were the only divisional units to go to France. The 13th and 62nd Infantry Regiments were at sea when recalled after the Armistice, and the 12th Infantry did not leave its pre-embarkation point at Camp Mills, New York, because it was quarantined for Spanish influenza. The troops who did reach France became the garrison of Brest and assisted in building huge camps for troops about to embark for return to the USA.

The 8th Infantry Regiment became part of the American occupation forces in Germany until Aug 1919. The 8th Division officially demobilized at Camp Lee, Virginia, in Sept 1919, but partially reconstituted on Mar 24, 1923, the outfit was allotted to the Third Corps Area for mobilization purposes, assigned to the III Corps and sent to Camp George G. Meade, Maryland. The 16th Infantry Brigade (12th and 34th Infantry Regiments), the 1st Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, the 15th Ordnance Company, and the 8th Tank Company (Light) were assigned to the division and, as Regular Army Active Units, formed the force from which the remainder of the division would be reactivated in the event of war. The commanding general of the brigade was considered the division commander for planning purposes. The 16th Infantry Brigade was stationed at Fort Howard, Maryland, 1922-1928; Fort Hunt, Virginia, 1928-1931; in Washington, DC, 1931-1936; and at Fort Meade from 1936 to the activation of the division. The division headquarters was organized in Apr 1926 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a Regular Army Inactive Unit using personnel of the Organized Reserve. The active units of the division conducted annual training with the III and XIII Corps and the 79-ID, the 80-ID and the 99-ID. Summer training camps were usually conducted at Camp Meade.

The 16th Infantry Brigade’s regiments, reinforced by the 3rd Cavalry and the District of Columbia National Guard’s 260th Coast Artillery, were called out on Jul 28, 1932, to quell potential trouble from the Bonus Army in Washington DC. The 12th Infantry was ordered to clear the US Capitol and the camps on the Anacostia Flats of the veterans that afternoon. The division was also provisionally organized in 1939 for the First Army Maneuvers at Manassas, Virginia, with the 16th Brigade reinforced by the 66th Infantry (Light Tanks). In preparation for becoming a triangular division, the 8th Division was reactivated on Jul 1, 1940, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, without its Reserve units and assigned to the I Corps. Renamed 8th Infantry Division, the unit trained at Camp Laguna in California in and was sent overseas (Ireland) on Dec 5, 1943. After training in Ireland, the 8-ID landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, on Jul 4, 1944, and entered combat on Jul 7.

Casualties
Killed in Action, 2239
Wounded in Action, 10370
Missing in Action, 514
Captured, 335
Battle Casualties, 13458
Non-Battle Casualties, 7598
Total Casualties, 21.056

Commanding Generals
Maj Gen William C. McMahon, Dec 15, 1943; Brig Gen Donald A. Stroh, Jul 12, 1944; Maj Gen Donald A. Stroh, Aug 30, 1944; Brig Gen W. G. Weaver, Nov 28, 1944; Brig Gen James A. Pickering (Acting), Jan 8, 1945; Brig Gen W. G. Weaver, Jan 14, 1945; Maj Gen W. G. Weaver, Feb 4, 1945; Brig Gen Bryant E. Moore, Feb 25, 1945.

Assistant Division Commander
Brig Gen Nelson M. Walker, February 15 1944
Col Cyrus H. Searcy, July 12 1944
Col Charles D. W. Canham, July 26 1944
Brig Gen Charles D. W. Canham, September 1 1944

Artillery Commander
Brig Gen James A. Pickering, December 15 1943.

Chiefs of Staff
Col Thomas J. Cross, Feb 15, 1944; Lt Col Thomas B. Whitted Jr, Nov 27, 1944; Col Thomas B. Whitted Jr, Feb 9, 1945; Lt Col Joseph K. Gibson, Mar 22, 1945.

Assistants CoS G-1
Maj Edwin W. Grenelle, Feb 1, 1944; Lt Col Edwin W. Grenelle, Mar 31, 1944.

Assistants CoS G-2
Lt Col Joseph K. Gibson, Dec 15, 1943; Maj Laban G. Lively, Mar 22, 1945; Lt Col Laban G. Lively, May 1, 1945.

Assistants CoS G-3
Lt Col Thomas H. Beck, Feb 16, 1944; Lt Col Fielder P. Greer, Apr 1, 1945.

Assistants CoS G-4
Lt Col Thomas B. Whitted Jr, Feb 15, 1944; Maj Jacob Shacter, Nov 27, 1944; Lt Col Jacob Shacter, Dec 20, 1944.

Assistants CoS G-5
Maj Richard G. Croft, May 13, 1944; Lt Col Richard G. Croft, Nov 6, 1944; Maj Lester A. Ahroon, Apr 16, 1945.

Adjutants General
Lt Col James D. C. Breckinridge, Feb 15, 1944; Maj Marion Cromartie, Feb 3, 1945.

COs – 13-IR
Col Robert A. Griffin, Jul 8, 1944; Lt Col Earle L. Lerette, Nov 25, 1944; Col Numa A. Watson, Dec 1, 1944.

COs – 28-IR
Col Lester A. Webb, Jul 8, 1944; Lt Col Henry B. Kunzig (Acting), Jul 9, 1944; Col Kenneth E. Anderson, Jul 14, 1944; Col Merrith E. Olmstead, Aug 31, 1944; Col Thomas H. Beck, Mar 4, 1945.

COs – 121-IR
Col Albert H. Peyton, Jul 8, 1944; Col John R. Jeter, Jul 9, 1944; Col T. J. Cross, Nov 25, 1944; Lt Col Earl L. Lerette, Mar 22, 1945.

Statistics: Activated Jul 1, 1940; Arrived ETO Dec 15, 1943; Arrived Continent (D+28) Jul 4, 1944; Entered Combat (First Elements) Jul 4, 1944; Entered Combat (Entire Division) Jul 8, 1944; Days in Combat 266.

Campaigns: Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Central Europe.

Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, 32; Legion of Merit, 11; Silver Star, 709; Soldiers Medal, 30; Bronze Star, 2287; Air Medal, 106; POWs Taken, 316.187.

8-ID Order of Battle (44/45)
Hqs & Hqs Company
13th Infantry Regiment
28th Infantry Regiment
121st Infantry Regiment
8th Recon Troop (Mecz)
12th Engineer Combat Battalion
8th Medical Battalion
Hq Battery, 8th Infantry Division Artillery
43rd Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
45th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
56th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
28th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)
Special Troops
708th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
8th Quartermaster Company
8th Signal Company
Military Police Platoon
Band

8-ID Detachments

Antiaircraft Artillery
445th AAA-AW Bn (Mbl), Jul 11, 1944 – May 12, 1945

Armored
709th Tank Bn, Jul 13, 1944 – Jan 26, 1945
CCR (5-AD), Nov 20, 1944 – Dec 15, 1944
Able Co 745th TB, Feb 6, 1945 – Feb 7, 1945
740th Tank Bn, Feb 6, 1945 – Mar 13, 1945
740th Tank Bn, Apr 6, 1945 – May 12, 1945
CCR (13-AD), Apr 14, 1945 – Apr 17, 1945

Cavalry
89th Cav Recon Sq (-Trs C&D) (9-AD), Oct 23, 1944 – Nov 10, 1944
13th Cav Group, Dec 25, 1944 – Feb 5, 1945

Chemical
86th Cml Mort Bn, Jul 7, 1944 – Sept 20, 1944
86th Cml Mort Bn, Nov 19, 1944 – Dec 24, 1944
Charlie Co 87th Cml Bn, Feb 9, 1945 – Mar 10, 1945
Dog Co 87th Cml Bn, Feb 9, 1945 – Mar 10, 1945
Charlie Co 95th Cml Mort Bn, Apr 4, 1945 – Apr 18, 1945
Dog Co 95th Cml Mort Bn, Apr 4, 1945 – Apr 18, 1945
Baker Co 89th Cml Mort Bn, Apr 29, 1945 – May 12, 1945
Charlie Co 89th Cml Mort Bn, Apr 29, 1945 – May 12, 1945

Field Artillery
174th FA Group, Aug 16, 1944 – Sept 20, 1944
196th FA Group, Aug 20, 1944 – Sept 20, 1944
402d FA Group, Sept 13, 1944 – Sept 20, 1944
969th FA Group – October 2 1944 – November 10 1944
687th FA Group, Oct 2, 1944 – Nov 10, 1944
76th FA Bn (105-MM HOW), Nov 19, 1944 – Dec 21, 1944
18th FA Bn (105-MM HOW), Nov 20, 1944 – Dec 6, 1944
188th FA Bn (155-MM HOW), Nov 26, 1944 – Dec 11, 1945
987th FA Bn (155-MM GUN), Nov 26, 1944 – Dec 11, 1944
7th FA Bn (1-ID)(105-MM HOW), Feb 6, 1945 – Feb 7, 1945
188th FA Bn (155-MM HOW), Feb 8, 1945 – Feb 28, 1945
210th FA Group, May 2, 1945 – May 12, 1945
548th FA Group, May 2, 1945 – May 12, 1945
965th FA Group, May 2, 1945 – May 12, 1945

Infantry
2nd Ranger Bn, Dec 17, 1944 – Dec 20, 1944
52nd AIB (9-AD), Oct 23, 1944 – Oct 30, 1944
60th AIB (9-AD), Nov 2, 1944 – Nov 9, 1944
112th RCT (28-ID), Feb 4,,1945 – Feb 11, 1945
2nd Ranger Bn, Nov 19, 1944 – Dec 16, 1944
311th IR (78-ID), Dec 9, 1944 – Dec 23, 1944
16th RCT (1-ID), Feb 6, 1945 – Feb 7, 1945
Able Co 1st ECB (1-ID), Feb 6, 1945 – Feb 7, 1945
1/343-IR (86-ID), Apr 6, 1945 – Apr 7, 1945

Tank Destroyer
644-TDB (SP), Jul 15, 1944 – Apr 28, 1945
893-TDB (SP), Nov 19, 1944 – Dec 10, 1944
817-TDB (T), Dec 9, 1944 – Feb 8, 1945
Charlie Co 634-TDB (SP), Feb 6, 1945 – Feb 7, 1945

Engineer
Charlie Co 12-ECB to 82-A/B, May 1, 1945 – May 1, 1945

4-ID Attachments

Field Artillery
28-FAB to 4-AD, Jul 27, 1944 – Aug 3, 1944
56-FAB to 83-ID, Aug 6, 1944 – Aug 15, 1944
45-FAB to 6-AD, Aug 18, 1944 – Aug 21, 1944
28-FAB to 6-AD, Aug 18, 1944 – Aug 21, 1944
43-FAB to 82-A/B, Apr 29, 1945 – May 1, 1945
56-FAB to 82-A/B, Apr 30, 1945 – May 1, 1945

Infantry
13-IR to 4-AD, Jul 27, 1944 – Aug 3, 1944
121-RCT to 83-ID, Aug 6, 1944 – Aug 15, 1944
1/28-IR to 6-AD, Aug 8, 1944 – Aug 18, 1944
28-IR to 6-AD, Aug 18, 1944 – Aug 21, 1944
3/121-IR to Com Z, Sept 26, 1944 – Nov 19, 1944
3/121-IR to 5-AD, Dec 17, 1944 – Dec 21, 1944
13-IR to 3-AD, Feb 26, 1945 – Mar 17, 1945
3/13-IR to 3-AD, Mar 17, 1945 – Mar 19, 1945
13-IR to 82-A/B, Apr 28, 1945 – Apr 30, 1945
121-IR to 82-A/B, Apr 29, 1945 – Apr 30, 1945

Command Posts

1943
Dec 15, 1943, Belfast, N Ireland

1944
Mar 1, 1944, Knockmore, N Ireland
Mar 15, 1944, Omagh, N Ireland
Jun 30, 1944, (Afloat)
Jul 4, 1944, Utah Beach (landed), France
Jul 9, 1944, La Fosseraie, France
Jul 25, 1944, La-Haye-du-Puits, France
Jul 27, 1944, St-Patrice-de-Claids, France
Jul 28, 1944, La-Haye-du-Puits (vic SE), France
Aug 5, 1944, Betton (vic E), France
Aug 18, 1944, Lesneven, France
Aug 30, 1944, Plouvien, France
Sept 14, 1944, La Fontaine Blanche, France
Sept 20, 1944, La Bosere, France
Sept 22, 1944, Lanviguer, France
Sept 30, 1944, Grosbous, Luxembourg
Oct 3, 1944, Wiltz, Luxembourg
Nov 19, 1944, Rott, Germany
Dec 17, 1944, Germeter, Germany
Dec 27, 1944, Zweifall, Germany

1945
Jan 16, 1945, Groshau, Germany
Feb 10, 1945, Merode, Germany
Feb 25, 1945, Düren, Germany
Mar 2, 1945, Bergerhausen, Germany
Mar 28, 1945, Hachenburg, Germany
Mar 31, 1945, Haiger, Germany
Mar 7, 1945, Siegen, Germany
Apr 9, 1945, Buschhutten, Germany
Apr 11, 1945, Olpe, Germany
Apr 12, 1945, Kierspe, Germany
Apr 13, 1945, Meinerzhagen, Germany
Apr 14, 1945, Filde, Germany
Apr 15, 1945, Milspe, Germany
Apr 23, 1945, Elberfeld, Germany
Apr 27, 1945, Gerdau, Germany
May 2, 1945, Hagenow, Germany
May 3, 1945, Schwerin, Germany

Narrative

During WW-2, the 8-ID was sent to Europe to fight against the Axis. After training in Ireland the Division landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, on Jul 4, 1944, and entered combat 3 days later, on Jul 7. Shortly after its arrival, the division captured Rennes. Fighting through the hedgerows, it crossed the Ay River on Jul 26, pushed through Rennes on Aug 8, and attacked Brest in Sept. When Gen Charles Canham, who was at the time the deputy commander of the 8-ID, arrived to accept the surrender of German troops in Brest, the commander of the Brest garrison, Gen Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke asked the lower-ranking man to show his credentials. Canham pointed to his nearby troops and said these are my credentials. That phrase has since become the 8th Infantry Division’s motto.

The Crozon Peninsula was cleared on Sept 19, and the division drove across France to Luxembourg, moved to the Hürtgen Forest on Nov 20, cleared Hürtgen on Nov 28, and Brandenberg on Dec 3. The 8-ID pushed then on to the Roer, a river which was crossed on Feb 23, 1945. Düren was taken on the 25 and the Erft Canal crossed on the 28. The 8th reached the Rhine near Rodenkirchen on Mar 7 and maintained positions along the river near Koln. In early Mar 1945, the 8-ID had advanced into the Rhineland.

On Apr 6, the division attacked northwest to aid in the destruction of enemy forces in the Ruhr Pocket, and by Apr 17, had completed its mission. After security duty, the division, under the operational control of the British 2-A, drove across the Elbe on May 1 and advanced into Schwerin when the war in Europe ended. On May 2, 1945, as it advanced into northern Germany, the 8-ID encountered the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Wöbbelin subcamp, near the city of Ludwigslust. The SS had established Wöbbelin in early Feb 1945 to house concentration camp prisoners who had been evacuated from other Nazi camps to prevent their liberation by the Allies. Wöbbelin held some 5000 inmates, many of whom suffered from starvation and disease. The sanitary conditions at the camp when the 8-ID and the 82-A/B liberated the place were deplorable. There was little food or water, and some prisoners had resorted to cannibalism. In the first week after the liberation, more than 200 inmates died. In the aftermath, the US Army ordered the townspeople in Ludwigslust to visit the camp and bury the dead. The 8th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the US Army’s Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.

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