16th Armored Division (United States)
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|U.S. 16th Armored Division|
|Active||15 July 1943 – 15 October 1945|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Engagements||World War II|
|John L. Pierce|
|U.S. Armored Divisions|
|14th Armored Division (Inactive)||20th Armored Division (Inactive)|
The 16th Armored Division was an armored division of the United States Army in World War II. In its one and only combat operation, the 16th Armored Division liberated the city of Pilsen in western Czechoslovakia (modern Bohemia in the Czech Republic), an operation that influenced the landscape of post-war Europe.
The division was activated on 15 July 1943 at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas. They performed all of their training at Camp Chaffee until they received their staging orders. They staged at Camp Shanks at Orangeburg, New York on 28 January 1945, until got their port call. They sailed from the New York Port of Embarkation on 5 February 1945.
The 16th Armored Division arrived in France in stages between 11 and 17 February 1945, and processed into the European Theater of Operations. They had been assigned to the Fifteenth United States Army on 29 January 1945, but were waiting for an assignment to a unit actually involved in fighting.
The division was assigned to Third United States Army on 17 April 1945, and entered Germany on 19 April 1945. It crossed the Rhine at Mainz, and relieved the 71st Infantry Division at Nürnberg on 28 April 1945. The 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron participated in combat from the Isar River to Wasserburg with the 86th Infantry Division. While under the control of that organization, it crossed the Isar River at Granek on 30 April 1945, advanced to Indorf, seized several small villages, and was driving toward Wasserburg against slight resistance when ordered to return to Nürnberg. The division was given a security and training mission at Nürnberg, Germany, until 5 May. When the 23rd Cavalry Squadron arrived at Nürnberg on 4 May, it reverted to the control of the 16th Armored. The division assembled and proceeded to Waidhaus, Germany on 5 May.
During the final days of battle in Europe, the final stronghold of German armed forces was a pocket in Czechoslovakia. As Soviet Red Army and American forces moved to the area, there was debate between US and British leaders regarding attempts to deny the Soviets a post-war foothold in Czechoslovakia. It was decided that the American forces would help the Soviets subdue the estimated 141,000 German troops before exiting the area. The task was aided by the desire of German forces to avoid imprisonment by the Soviets, with numerous German divisions arranging surrender to US forces, if the Americans arrived first. This did not stop fanatical German SS Troops from continuing to fight both Czechoslovakian and, as they arrived, American forces.
The 16th Armored Division was assigned to V Corps on 6 May, and attacked through the lines of the 97th Infantry Division, with Combat Command B (CCB) making the main effort. They advanced along the Bor–Pilsen Road that same day, launching an attack on Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, designed to capture the Skoda Munitions Plant. Combat Command Reserve (CCR) advanced through Pilsen to assigned high ground east of the city. The division spent 7 and 8 May in mopping up activities and patrolling. General Patton ordered elements of the 16th AD to move towards Prague, where the German commander was waiting to surrender to US forces, but the troops were recalled to Pilsen per the agreement with the Soviet Union. Aside from the few hours on the road to Prague, the capture of Pilsen marked the deepest point of American penetration into Czechoslovakia, .
The Division suffered the lightest casualty count of all US Armored Divisions in Europe, with only 12 wounded, and spent 3 days in combat.
The division returned to the New York Port of Embarkation on 13 October 1945 and was inactivated at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey on 15 October 1945.
The division was composed of the following units:
- Headquarters Company
- Combat Command A
- Combat Command B
- Reserve Command
- 5th Tank Battalion
- 16th Tank Battalion
- 26th Tank Battalion
- 18th Armored Infantry Battalion
- 64th Armored Infantry Battalion
- 69th Armored Infantry Battalion
- 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized)
- 216th Armored Engineer Battalion
- 156th Armored Signal Company
- 16th Armored Division Artillery
- 393rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion
- 396th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
- 397th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
- 16th Armored Division Trains
- 137th Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
- 216th Armored Medical Battalion
- Military Police Platoon
Attachments to the 16th AD
- 633rd Tank Destroyer Battalion (Self-propelled) 1 May 1945 – 14 June 1945
- 571st Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion 20 April 1945 – 19 May 1945
I 1st Platoon, 994th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company 6 May 1945 – 10 May 1945
- B Battery, 987th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Gun) 6 May 1945 – 15 May 1945
Assignments in the European Theater of Operations
- 29 January 1945: Fifteenth Army, Twelfth Army Group
- 17 April 1945: Third Army, Twelfth Army Group
- 6 May 1945: V Corps, Third Army
- MG Douglass T. Greene – 15 July 1943 – September 1944
- BG John L. Pierce – September 1944 – 15 October 1945
Division artillery commander
- COL. Barksdale Hamlett
16th Armored Division Association
- 16th Armored Division Association
- 2517 Connecticut Avenue
- Washington, D. C.
- The 16th Armadillo, first published in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia in June 1945 
- Prague Offensive
- 633rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
- United States Third Army
- Twelfth United States Army Group
- Dickerson, Bryan J. "There at the End: The U.S. 16th Armored Division's Liberation of Plzen". World at War. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- "16th Armored Division". U.S. ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Zaloga, Steven J. (2004). US Armored Divisions - The European Theater of Operations, 1944-45. Battle Orders. Vol. 3. Osprey. p. 92.
- Army Battle Casualties and Non battle Deaths (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953
- "Order of Battle of the US Army - WWII - ETO - 16th Armored Division". US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
- "16th US Armored Division". World War II Unit Histories. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- ""The Sixteenth Armadillo" - 16th Armored Division". The Lone Sentry. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Stanton, Shelby L. (1984) ORDER OF BATTLE: US Army in World War II; Presidio Press:Novato, CA. ISBN 978-0891411956
- McGaw, E. J., The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, pp. 510–592
- U.S. Army Center of Military History - 16th Armored Division - World War II Divisional Combat Chronicles Archived 8 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine access date = 3 October 2015
- Dickerson, Bryan J. There at the End: The U.S. 16th Armored Division’s Liberation of Plzen. access date = 3 October 2015