106th Infantry Division (United States)

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106th Infantry Division
106Infantry Division.svg
Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
Active 15 March 1943 – 2 October 1945
1 May 1948 – 12 October 1950
Country  United States
Allegiance Army of the United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Puerto Rico (1946–50)
Nickname Golden Lion
Engagements

World War II

Battle honours Distinguished Unit Citation: Ardennes-Alsace Campaign
Commanders
Notable
commanders
MG Alan W. Jones (March 1943)
BG Herbert T. Perrin (December 1944)
MG Donald A. Stroh (February 1945)
US infantry divisions (1939–present)
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104th Infantry Division 108th Infantry Division

The 106th Infantry Division was a division of the United States Army formed for service during World War II. Two of its three regiments were overrun and surrounded in the initial days of the Battle of the Bulge, and they were forced to surrender to German forces on 19 December 1944. The division was never officially added to the troop list following the Second World War, despite having been almost completely organized in Puerto Rico by 1948; subsequently, the War Department determined the division was not needed and deactivated the division headquarters in 1950. Kurt Vonnegut served in this division and used his experiences during the Battle of the Bulge (and captivity as a prisoner of war) in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

History[edit]

The 106th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company was constituted on paper on 5 May 1942 in the Army of the United States. It was actually activated on 15 March 1943 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina with a cadre from the 80th Infantry Division. Following Basic and Advanced Infantry Training, the Division moved on 28 March 1944 to Tennessee to participate in the Second Army #5 Maneuvers.

During World War II, the 106th Infantry Division relieved the 2nd Infantry Division in the Schnee Eifel on 11 December 1944, with its 424th Infantry Regiment was sent to Winterspelt. The Ardennes-Alsace Campaign attack was thrown in force at the 106th on 16 December 1944. Prior to the battle, the US Army Service Manual, one division should be responsible for no more than 5 miles of front. On the eve of the battle, the 106th was covering a front of almost 26 miles.[1]

The division's 422nd and 423rd Infantry Regiments were encircled and cut off from the remainder of the Division by a junction of enemy forces in the vicinity of Schonberg. They regrouped for a counterattack but were blocked by the enemy and lost to the Division on 18 December 1944. The two Regiments surrendered to the Germans on 19 December 1944. The Germans gained 6000 prisoners in one of the largest mass surrenders in American military history. Nearly 50% of the division's strength was brushed aside in the first days of the Battle of the Bulge.[2]

The remnants of the division were reinforced by the 112th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division and withdrew over the Our River, and joined other units at Saint Vith. Along with the city of Bastogne to the south, St. Vith was a road and rail junction city considered vital to the German goal of breaking through Allied lines to split American and British forces and reach the Belgian port city of Antwerp. A scratch force of 106th Division personnel, in particular the division's 81st Engineer Combat Battalion, was organized and led by the 81st's 28-year-old commanding officer, Lt. Col. Thomas Riggs, in a five-day holding action (17–21 December) on a thin ridge line a mile outside St. Vith, against German forces vastly superior in numbers and armament (only a few hundred combat-green Americans against many thousands of veteran Germans). For this action, the 81st Engineer Combat Battalion was later awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for gallantry.

The defense of St. Vith by the 106th has been credited with ruining the German timetable for reaching Antwerp, hampering the Bulge offensive for the Germans.[3]

The 81st and its allied units, including 168th Engineer Combat Battalion, all pulled back from St. Vith on 21 December 1944, under constant enemy fire, and withdrew over the Saint River at Vielsalm on 23 December. The following day, the 424th Regiment, attached to the 7th Armored Division, fought a delaying action at Manhay until ordered to an assembly area. From 25 December 1944 to 9 January 1945, the Division received reinforcements and supplies at Anthisnes, Belgium, and returned to the struggle, securing objectives along the Ennal-Logbierme line on 15 January after heavy fighting. After being pinched out by advancing divisions, the 106th assembled at Stavelot on 18 January for rehabilitation and training. It moved to the vicinity of Hunningen, 7 February 1945, for defensive patrols and training.

In March, the 424th advanced along the high ground between Berk and the Simmer River and was again pinched out at Olds on 7 March 1945. A period of training and security patrolling along the Rhine River followed, until 15 March 1945 when the Division moved to St. Quentin for rehabilitation and the reconstruction of lost units.

The division was reconstituted on 16 March 1945 when the 3rd Infantry Regiment (the Old Guard) and the 159th Infantry Regiment were attached to replace the two lost regiments. The division then moved back to Germany on 25 April 1945, where, for the remainder of its stay in Europe, the 106th handled POW enclosures and engaged in occupational duties.

In the meantime, the 422nd Infantry Regiment and the 423rd Infantry Regiment were reconstituted from replacements in France on 15 April 1945, were attached to the 66th Infantry Division in training status, and were still in this status when the Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945.

At the end of the war the division had seen 63 days of combat. It had suffered 417 KIA, 1,278 WIA, and 53 died of wounds. It lost 6,697 personnel taken prisoner. Of that total, 6,500 POWs were eventually returned to American military control after being released at war's end. The remainder were listed MIA.

Lineage[edit]

  • Moved to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, on 28 March 1944.
  • Staged at Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts on 10 October 1944.
  • Departed Boston Port of Embarkation on 10 November 1944.
  • Arrived in England, 17 November 1944, and trained for 19 Days.
  • Assigned 29 November 1944 to VIII Corps, First United States Army, 12th Army Group.
  • Moved to France, 6 December 1944, where the Division entered the on-going Rhineland Campaign
  • 106th Infantry Division crossed into Belgium on 10 December 1944
  • Relieved from assignment to Rhineland Campaign on 16 December 1944, and Assigned to Ardennes-Alsace Campaign.
  • Relieved from assignment to VIII Corps, and Assigned 20 December 1944 to XVIII Airborne Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group, with attachment to the 21st Army Group.
  • Relieved from attachment to 21st Army Group on 18 January 1945, and returned to XVIII Airborne Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group.
  • Ardennes-Alsace Campaign terminated 25 January 1945. Division resumed assignment to Rhineland Campaign.
  • On 6 February 1945, the 106th Infantry Division relieved from assignment to XVIII Airborne Corps, and assigned to V Corps.
  • On 10 March 1945, 106th Division relieved from assignment to V Corps, and assigned to Fifteenth United States Army, 12th Army Group.
  • 106th Infantry Division returned to France on 16 March 1945
  • Rhineland Campaign terminated on 21 March 1945.
  • Central Europe Campaign started on 22 March 1945.
  • On 15 April 1945, 106th Infantry Division was attached to the Advanced Section, Communications Zone. Fifteenth Army directed the establishment of the Frontier Command segment of the Occupation of Germany.
  • On 23 April 1945, the Frontier Command segment of the German Occupation started.
  • 106th Infantry Division entered Germany on 25 April 1945.
  • On 8 May 1945, Germany signed its surrender.
  • With the termination of the Central Europe Campaign, German hostilities ceased on 11 May 1945.
  • 106th Infantry Division was located at Bad Ems, Germany on 14 August 1945.
  • 106th Infantry Division returned to New York Port of Embarkation on 1 October 1945.
  • Inactivated 2 October 1945 at Camp Shanks, New York.
  • Headquarters Company allotted 25 March 1948 to the Organized Reserve Corps
  • Activated 1 May 1948 at San Juan, Puerto Rico;
  • Inactivated 12 October 1950 at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Order of battle[edit]

Assigned units[edit]

1942 ("Triangular") Organization

  • HHC, 106th Infantry Division
  • 422nd Infantry Regiment[4]
  • 423rd Infantry Regiment[5]
  • 424th Infantry Regiment
  • HHB, 106th Division Artillery
    • 589th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    • 590th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    • 591st Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    • 592nd Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
  • 106th Mechanized Reconnaissance Troop
  • Hqs, Special Troops, 106th Infantry Division
  • Military Police Platoon, 106th Infantry Division
  • 81st Engineer Battalion (Combat)
  • 331st Medical Battalion
  • 106th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
  • 806th Ordnance Company (Light Maintenance)
  • 106th Quartermaster Company
  • 106th Signal Company

Attached units[edit]

  • 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion (Towed): 8 December 1944—4 January 1945.
  • 444th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Auto Weapons): 17 December 1944—25 December 1944.
  • 563rd Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Auto Weapons): 9 December 1944—18 December 1944.
  • 634th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Auto Weapons): 8 December 1944—18 December 1944.

Honors[edit]

Campaign participation credit[edit]

World War II

Decorations[edit]

Unit recognition[edit]

  • Distinguished Unit Citations
  • Belgian Fourragère 1940 (424th Infantry cited per DA GO 45, 1950)
  • Cited in the Order Of The Day of the Belgian Army for action in the Ardennes (424th Infantry cited per DA GO 43, 1950).
  • Cited in the Order Of The Day of the Belgian Army for action at St Vith (424th Infantry cited per DA GO 43, 1950).

Individual recognition[edit]

All infantry members who received the Combat Infantryman Badge were also later awarded the Bronze Star.

Shoulder sleeve insignia[edit]

  • Description. On a blue disc within a white edge, a gold lion's face all within a red border.
  • Symbolism:
The blue is for infantry, while the red represents artillery support.
The lion's face represents strength and power.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPndGKudCc4
  2. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPndGKudCc4
  3. ^ http://7tharmddiv.org/bulge/index.htm
  4. ^ Destroyed in Schnee Eifel salient 19 December 1944 near Schonberg; rebuilt in France, but did not rejoin the division until 16 May 1945. Unit replaced by 3rd Infantry Regiment for the duration.
  5. ^ Destroyed in Schnee Eifel salient 19 December 1944 near Schonberg; rebuilt in France, but did not rejoin the division until 16 May 1945. Unit replaced by 159th Infantry Regiment for the duration.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]