88th Infantry Division (United States)

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88th Infantry Division
88th Infantry Division SSI.svg
88th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917–1919
1942–1947
Country United States of America
Allegiance United States of America
Branch United States Army
Nickname "Fighting Blue Devils"
"Clover Leaf Division"
Engagements World War II
US infantry divisions (1939–present)
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87th Infantry Division 89th Infantry Division

The 88th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War I and World War II. It was unique in that it was the first Army of the United States division to be created "from scratch" after the implementation of the draft in 1940. Previous divisions were regular army, reserve or National Guard. Much of the experience in creating it was used in the subsequent expansion of the Army of the United States.

World War I[edit]

  • Activated: 5 August 1917, Camp Dodge, Iowa
  • Overseas: 7 September 1918
  • Major Operations: Did not participate as a division
  • Casualties: Total-78 (KIA-12; WIA-66)
  • Commanders:
    • Maj. Gen. Edward H. Plummer (25 August 1917)
    • Brig. Gen. Robert N. Getty (27 November 1917)
    • Maj. Gen. Edward H. Plummer (19 February 1918)
    • Brig. Gen. Robert N. Getty (15 March 1918)
    • Brig. Gen. William D. Beach (24 May 1918)
    • Maj. Gen. William Weigel (10 September 1918)
  • Inactivated: 10 June 1919, Camp Dodge, Iowa

World War II[edit]

Combat chronicle[edit]

  • First Entered combat: Advance party on night of 3–4 January 1944 in support of Monte Cassino attacks. (Delaney, p. 37)
  • First Organization Committed to Line: 2nd Battalion, 351st Regiment plus attachments (Delaney, p. 45)
  • First combat fatality: 3 January 1944
  • Began post war POW Command: 7 June 1945. Responsible for guarding and later repatriating 324,462 German POWs. (Delaney, p. 359)

The 88th Infantry Division was one of the first all draftee divisions to enter the war. Formed at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, the division arrived at Casablanca, French Morocco, 15 December 1943, and moved to Magenta, Algeria, on the 28th for intensive training. It arrived at Naples, Italy, 6 February 1944, and concentrated around Piedimonte d'Alife for combat training. An advance element went into the line before Cassino, 27 February, and the entire unit relieved British elements along the Garigliano River in the Minturno area, 5 March. A period of defensive patrols and training followed.

On 11 May, the 88th drove north to take Spigno, Mount Civita, Itri, Fondi, and Roccagorga, reached Anzio, 29 May, and pursued the enemy into Rome, being the first American unit into the city on 4 June, after a stiff engagement on the outskirts of the city. An element of the 88th is credited with being first to enter the Eternal City. After continuing across the Tiber to Bassanelio the 88th retired for rest and training, 11 June. The Division went into defensive positions near Pomerance, 5 July, and launched an attack toward Volterra on the 8th, taking the town the next day. Laiatico fell on the 11th, Villamagna on the 13th, and the Arno River was crossed on the 20th although the enemy resisted bitterly.

After a period of rest and training, the Division opened its assault on the Gothic Line, 21 September 1944, and advanced rapidly along the Firenzuola-Imola road, taking Mount Battaglia (Casola Valsenio, RA) on the 28th. The enemy counterattacked savagely and heavy fighting continued on the line toward the Po Valley. The strategic positions of Mount Grande and Farnetto were taken, 20 and 22 October. From 26 October 1944 to 12 January 1945, the 88th entered a period of defensive patrolling in the Mount Grande-Mount Cerrere sector and the Mount Fano area. From 24 January to 2 March 1945, the Division defended the Loiano-Livergnano area and after a brief rest returned to the front. The drive to the Po Valley began on 15 April. Monterumici fell on the 17th after an intense barrage and the Po River was crossed, 24 April, as the 88th pursued the enemy toward the Alps. The cities of Verona and Vicenza were captured on the 25th and 28th and the Brenta River was crossed, 30 April. The 88th was driving through the Dolomite Alps toward Innsbruck, Austria where it linked up with the 103rd Infantry Division, when the hostilities ended on 2 May 1945.

The unit was in combat for 344 days and sustained 15,173 casualties (killed, wounded or missing).

Units[edit]

Italy-Trieste- Miramare Park – Blue Devils Plaque

Units associated, assigned or attached to the division during World War II included:

Post war[edit]

After the war, the 88th Infantry Division absorbed some personnel and units from the 34th Infantry Division and served on occupation duty in Italy guarding the Morgan Line from positions in Italy and Trieste until 15 September 1947. It was then withdrawn to Livorno and inactivated. The 351st Infantry was relieved from assignment to the division on 1 May 1947 and served as the main component of a garrison command in the Free Territory of Trieste, securing the disputed border between Italy and Yugoslavia. Designated TRUST (Trieste United States Troops), the command served as the front line in the Cold War from 1947 to 1954, including confrontations with Yugoslavian forces. In October 1954 the territory was ceded to Italy and administration turned over to the Italian Army. TRUST units, which included a number of 88th divisional support units, all bore a unit patch which was the coat of arms of the Free Territory of Trieste superimposed over the divisional quatrefoil, over which was a blue scroll containing the designation "TRUST" in white.

TRUST shoulder patch

The division shoulder patch is worn by the United States Army Reserve 88th Regional Readiness Command; however, the division lineage is not perpetuated by the 88th RRC.[citation needed] According to the United States Army Center of Military History, RRCs such as the 88th have the same number as inactivated divisions and are allowed to wear the shoulder patch, but division lineage and honors are not inherited by an RRC, which is not considered as a successor to a division.

General[edit]

  • Shoulder patch: A blue (for Infantry) quatrefoil, formed by two Arabic numeral "8s". A rocker above it with the nickname "Blue Devils" was often worn.
  • During World War II, the Germans thought the 88th was an elite stormtrooper Division. This was most likely due to parallels between the "Blue Devil" nickname and patch rocker and the German SS's use of the Totenkopf death's head insignia.

References[edit]

1st Lieutenant James Henry Taylor

  • The Blue Devils in Italy, by John P. Delaney, Battery Press, 1988 (official unit history)
  • Draftee Division : the 88th Infantry Division in World War II , by John Sloan Brown, Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c1986.

xii, 225 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm.

External links[edit]