Document Source: Order of Battle US Army World War Two, War Department, Washington DC, Combat Narrative, US Army World War Two, Shelby L. Stanton, Presidio Press, Novato, California, USA, 1984

10th Mountain Division patrol on the Apennine Mountains (Gothic Line)

The 10th Light Division (Pack Alpine) was constituted on July 10, 1943, and activated five days later at Camp Hale, Colorado, under the command of Gen Lloyd E. Jones. At the time, the division had a strength of 8500 men out of the 16.000 planned, so the military transferred troops from the 30-ID, 31-ID, and 33-ID along with volunteers from the National Guards of the Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Washington State (Specifically men who are from the Rocky Mountains region and those who are from the Northern States close to the 49th Parallel of the US-Canadian Border), to fill out the remainder of the division. This, of course, lowered morale and the division faced many difficulties in the new training, which had no established army doctrine. The 10th Light Division had centered on regimental commands; the 85th Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Regiment, and 87th Infantry Regiment. Also assigned to the division were the 604th, 605th, and 616th Field Artillery Battalion, the 110th Signal Company, the 710th Ordnance Company, the 10th Quartermaster Company, the 10th Reconnaissance Troop, the 126th Engineer Battalion, the 10th Medical Battalion, and the 10th Counter-Intelligence Detachment. It was equipped with vehicles specialized in snow and mountainous operation, M-29 Weasel, as well as winter weather gear like the white camouflage suits, skis specifically designed, and climbing equipment. Preparing for the invasion of the mountainous areas in Italy, the men were sent to the Seneca Rocks in West Virginia for the climbing part of their training.

110th Signal Company members ready for ascent into mountains to set up Signal Company Headquarters for communications

On June 22, 1944, the division was shipped to Camp Swift, Texas to prepare for maneuvers in Louisiana, which were later canceled. A period of acclimation to a low altitude and hot climate was thought necessary to prepare for this training. On November 6, 1944, the 10th Light Division was renamed 10th Mountain Division and one blue-white ‘Mountain’ tab was authorized for the division’s new shoulder sleeve insignia. The 10-MD staged then at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on December 27, until departed Hampton Roads POE on January 6, 1945, and completely arrived in Italy on January 18. When hostilities ceased, the 10th Mountain Division was sent back to the USA on August 11, moved to Camp Carson, Colorado, on August 16, and was inactivated there on November 30, 1945.

Casualties 10-MD – WWII Killed in Action 872, Wounder in Action 3134, Died of Wounds 81

A 10th Mountain Division BAR man on the sharp end, Italy, March 1945

Brig Gen Lloyd E. Jones, Jul 1942 – Nov 1944
Maj Gen George P. Hays, Nov 1944 – Deactivation

Ordre of Battle – WW-2
HQ 10th Mountain Division
85th Mountain Infantry Regiment
86th Mountain Infantry Regiment
87th Mountain Infantry Regiment
Division Artillery, 10th Mountain Division
HHB, Div Arty, 10th Mountain Division
604th Field Artillery Battalion (75-MM Pack)
605th Field Artillery Battalion (75-MM Pack)
616th Field Artillery Battalion (75-MM Pack)
1125th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM SP)(att)
10th Mountain Infantry AT Battalion
10th Mountain Medical Battalion
10th Mountain QM Battalion
126th Engineer Mountain Battalion
10th Mountain Cavalry Recon Troop
HQ Special Troops, 10th Mountain Division
110th Mountain Signal Company
710th Ordnance Light Maint Company
Military Police Platoon
10th Counter Intelligence Corps Det

Combat Narratives

The 10th Mountain Division had been activated as the 10th Light Division (Pack, Alpine) at Camp Hale, Colorado, on July 15, 1943, using several specially designated mountain units assembled at the Mountain Training Center which had trained at Lake Placid, Old Forge, and Mount Rainier. It had received intensive training in fighting across snow and mountainous terrain, and its mountaineer and ski personnel represented elite resources which led to the division being re-designated to the 10th Mountain Division on November 6, 1944. The division was now ready to enter the war in Italy.

10-MT Italy 1945

The 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment departed Camp Swift at the end of November and arrived at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia for overseas processing. On December 3, a six-man advance detachment flew into Naples, Italy. During the month of December, the rest of the 10-MD moved to Camp Patrick Henry. On December 11, the 86-MR left Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation boarded the USS Argentina, and arrived in Naples on December 22. The 85-MR and the 87-MR left the US on January 4, 1945, crossed the ocean aboard the USS West Point, and arrived in Naples, eleven days later, on January 15. Finally, the rest of the 10th Mountain boarded the USAT General Meigs on January 6 and arrived in Naples on January 18.

After a brief training period, the division entered combat on January 8, 1945, near Cutigliano and Orsigna. After preliminary defensive actions, the division scaled the steep SarasicciaCampania cliff and took the German defenders by surprise during the night of February 18/19, 1945. It made its main effort on the BelvedereGorgolesco Hillmass with the 85th and 87th Mountain Regiments, omitting artillery preparation to gain surprise. Counter-attacks against the Sarasiccia-Campania Ridge were defeated and the division gained the crests of both Mount Belvedere and Mount Gorgolesco on February 20. It advanced against the crest of Mount Torraccia in the face of strong German opposition and reached its summit after heavy fighting on February 24. Next, the division made a limited offensive to secure the heights west of Highway 64, which was opened by the 86th and 87th Mountain Regiments on March 3. The 87th seized Mount Terminale and Mount Della Vedetta and blocked the Pietra Colora Road, and then advanced and took Mount Acidola and adjacent mountaintops.

10th Mountain Patrol, Italy

The 86th meanwhile cleared Mount Grande d’Aiano. The 85th was committed to the attack on March 5 and pushed forward to Mount Della Spe where it repulsed several German counter-attacks. On March 9, the division was able to improve its positions north of Castelnuovo with the unopposed seizures of both Mount Valbura and Mount Belvedere. The final offensive was initiated on April 14, as the division cleared the Pra del Bianco basin, securing Torre Iussi and Rocca di Roffeno. As the division spearheaded the drive, it took Mount Pigna and Mount Mantino on April 15 and went on to capture Mount Ferra, San Prospero, and Mount Moscoso on April 17. Emerging from the Apennines into the Po Valley, the division crossed Route 9 in the vicinity of Ponte Samoggia on April 20. The Panaro River bridge at Bomporto was taken intact on April 21 and the division crossed the Po River in assault boats on April 23, striking north toward the Villafranca Airport, southwest of Verona. After the 85th made an amphibious crossing of Lake Garda which took Gargnano, the division secured Portio di Tremosine on April 30. German resistance in Italy formally ended on May 2, 1945.

Members of the 86th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, march north, near Malcesine, on Lake Garda, without meeting any resistance, April 29, 1945

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