16th Armored Division (United States)

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U.S. 16th Armored Division
16th US Armored Division SSI.svg
Shoulder sleeve patch of the United States Army 16th Armored Division
Active 15 July 1943 – 15 October 1945
Country USA
Allegiance  United States of America
Branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Type Armored division
Nickname(s) Armadillo
Engagements World War II
*Central Europe
Commanders
Notable
commanders
John L. Pierce
U.S. Armored Divisions
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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 may have been light in casualties but that played a critical part in a much larger drama setting up the contours of post-war Europe.[1]

History[edit]

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.[1]

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.[1]

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, [1] 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.

Czechoslovakia[edit]

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.[1] It was decided that the American forces would help the Soviets subdue the estimated 141,000 German troops before exiting the area.[1] 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.[1] 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 BorPilsen 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 May 7 and 8 in mopping up activities and patrolling.[2] 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.[1] 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 was instrumental in the rescue of a number of Sudeten German civilians were living in this part of Czechoslovakia. In Brno, 25,000 German civilians were force marched at gun-point to the Austrian border by armed Czechoslovak citizens. There, the Austrian guards refused them entry, the Czech guards refused to re-admit them. Herded into an open field they died by the hundreds from hunger and cold before the survivors were rescued by the 16th Armored Division on 8 May 1945.[citation needed]

Three months later, the 16th AD was still located in Czechoslovakia, in Stříbro (west of Pilsen), on VJ Day.

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.

Order of Battle[3][edit]

Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Combat Command A
Combat Command B
Combat Command R
5th Tank Battalion
16th Tank Battalion
26th Tank Battalion
18th Armored Infantry Battalion
64th Armored Infantry Battalion
69th Armored Infantry Battalion
393th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
396th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
397th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
516th Counterintelligence Corps Detachment
216th Armored Medical Battalion
137th Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
Military Police Platoon
216th Armored Engineer Battalion
156th Armored Signal Company

Attachments to the 16th AD[4][edit]

633rd Tank Destroyer Battalion (Self-propelled) 1 May 1945 – 14 June 1945
571st Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion 20 April 1945 – 19 May 1945
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 [4][2][edit]

29 January 1945: Fifteenth Army, Twelfth Army Group
17 April 1945: Third Army, Twelfth Army Group
6 May 1945: V Corps, Third Army

Honors[edit]

Campaigns[edit]

Individual Awards[2][edit]

Commanders[edit]

Division artillery commander

Casualties[edit]

  • KIA: 4
  • WIA: 28
  • Died of Wounds: 1.

16th Armored Division Association[edit]

  • 16th Armored Division Association
2517 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, D. C.

Newspaper[edit]

  • The 16th Armadillo, first published in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia in June 1945 [5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dickerson, Bryan J. "There at the End: The U.S. 16th Armored Division’s Liberation of Plzen". World at War. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "16th Armored Division". U.S. ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  3. ^ U.S. Army Center of Military History, Office of the Theater Historian (December 1945). Order of Battle of the United States Army. World War II. European Theater of Operations. Divisions - 16th Armored Division. U.S. Army European Theater of Operations History Section. pp. 546–551, 559. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "16th US Armored Division". World War II Unit Histories. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  5. ^ ""The Sixteenth Armadillo" - 16th Armored Division". The Lone Sentry. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]