83rd Infantry Division (United States)

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83rd Infantry Division
83rd Infantry Division SSI.svg
83rd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917–19
1921–46
2014–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Fort Knox, Kentucky
Nickname(s) "Thunderbolt" (special designation)[1] or "Ohio Division"
Engagements

World War I
World War II

Commanders
Commander COL Ernest Parker[2]

The 83rd Infantry Division ("Thunderbolt"[1]) was a formation of the United States Army in World War I and World War II.

World War I[edit]

The division was activated in September 1917 at Camp Sherman, Ohio, and went overseas in June 1918. It was designated a depot division. Thus it supplied over 195,000 officers and enlisted men as replacements in France without seeing action as a complete formation. Certain division units saw action, such as the 332nd Infantry Regiment, in Italy (Battle of Vittorio Veneto). Its commanders were Maj. Gen. Edwin F. Glenn (25 August 1917), Brig. Gen. Frederick Perkins (13 January 1918), Brig. Gen. Willard A. Holbrook (23 March 1918), and finally Maj. Gen. Edwin F. Glenn (3 April 1918). It was inactivated in October 1919.

World War II[edit]

Composition[edit]

ORGANIC UNITS

  • 329th Infantry
  • 330th Infantry
  • 331st Infantry
  • 83rd Reconnaissance Troop (Mecz)
  • 308th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 308th Medical Battalion

83rd Division Artillery

  • 322nd Field Artillery Battalion (105 Howitzer)
  • 323rd Field Artillery Battalion (105 Howitzer)
  • 908th Field Artillery Battalion (105 Howitzer)
  • 324th Field Artillery Battalion (105 Howitzer)

Special Troops

  • 783rd Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
  • 83rd Quartermaster Company
  • 83rd Signal Company
  • Military Police Platoon
  • Headquarters Company
  • Band

Combat chronicle[edit]

The 83rd Infantry Division, commanded by Major General Robert C. Macon, arrived in England on 16 April 1944. After training in Wales, the division, taking part in the Allied invasion of Normandy, landed at Omaha Beach, 18 June 1944, and entered the hedgerow struggle south of Carentan, 27 June. Taking the offensive, the 83rd reached the St. Lo-Periers Road, 25 July, and advanced 8 miles (13 km) against strong opposition as the Normandy Campaign ended.

After a period of training, elements of the division took Châteauneuf-d'Ille-et-Vilaine, 5 August, and Dinard, 15 August, and approached the heavily fortified area protecting St. Malo. Intense fighting reduced enemy strong points and a combined attack against the Citadel Fortress of St. Servan caused its surrender, 17 August. While elements moved south to protect the north bank of the Loire River, the main body of the division concentrated south of Rennes for patrolling and reconnaissance activities. Elements reduced the garrison at Ile de Cézembre, which surrendered, 2 September. On 16 September 1944: the only surrender of a German Major General Botho Henning Elster (de) to US-troops with 18,850 men and 754 officers at the Loire bridge of Beaugency.[3] The movement into Luxembourg was completed on 25 September. Taking Remich on the 28th and patrolling defensively along the Moselle, the 83d resisted counterattacks and advanced to the Siegfried Line defenses across the Sauer after capturing Grevenmacher and Echternach, 7 October. As the initial movement in operation "Unicorn," the division took Le Stromberg Hill in the vicinity of Basse Konz against strong opposition, 5 November, and beat off counterattacks.

Moving to the Hurtgen Forest, the 83rd Division thrust forward from Gressenich to the west bank of the Roer. It entered the Battle of the Bulge, 27 December, striking at Rochefort and reducing the enemy salient in a bitter struggle. The division moved back to Belgium and the Netherlands for rehabilitation and training, 22 January 1945. On 1 March, the 83rd Division advanced toward the Rhine in Operation Grenade, and captured Neuss. The west bank of the Rhine from north of Oberkassel to the Erft Canal was cleared and defensive positions established by 2 March and the division renewed its training. The 83rd Division crossed the Rhine south of Wesel, 29 March, and advanced across the Munster Plain to the Weser, crossing it at Bodenwerder. As opposition disintegrated, Halle fell on 6 April. The division crossed the Leine, 8 April, and attacked to the east, pushing over the Harz Mountain region and advancing to the Elbe at Barby. That city was taken on the 13 April. The 83rd Division established a bridgehead over the river.

On 11 April 1945 the 83rd Division encountered Langenstein, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. At the camp, the troops found approximately 1,100 inmates. The inmates were malnourished and in extremely poor physical condition. The 83rd Division reported the death rate at the camp to be 500 per month. Also, that the prisoners had been forced to work 16-hour days in nearby mines, and were shot if they became too weak to work. After liberation, the death rate continued at approximately 25–50 people per day, due to the severe physical debilitation of the prisoners.

To slow the spread of sickness and death, the 83rd Division ordered the local German mayor to supply the camp with food and water. Also, medical supplies were requisitioned from the U.S. Army's 20th Field Hospital. In addition, the 83rd Division recovered documents for use by war crimes investigators.

Casualties[edit]

  • Total battle casualties: 15,910[4]
  • Killed in action: 3,161[4]
  • Wounded in action: 11,807[4]
  • Missing in action: 279[4]
  • Prisoner of war: 663[4]

Assignments in ETO[edit]

  • 8 April 1944: VIII Corps, Third Army
  • 25 June 1944: Third Army, but attached to the VIII Corps of First Army
  • 1 July 1944: VII Corps
  • 15 July 1944: VIII Corps
  • 1 August 1944: XV Corps, Third Army, 12th Army Group
  • 3 August 1944: VIII Corps
  • 5 September 1944: VIII Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
  • 10 September 1944: Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
  • 21 September 1944: Third Army, 12th Army Group
  • 11 October 1944: VIII Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
  • 22 October 1944: VIII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group
  • 8 November 1944: Third Army, 12th Army Group
  • 11 November 1944: VIII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group
  • 7 December 1944: VII Corps
  • 20 December 1944: Attached, with the entire First Army, to the 21st Army Group
  • 22 December 1944: XIX Corps, Ninth Army (attached to the British 21st Army Group)
  • 26 December 1944: VII Corps, First Army (attached to British 21st Army Group), 12th Army Group
  • 16 February 1945: XIX Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
  • 8 May 1945: XIII Corps

The Rag-Tag Circus[edit]

During the rush for the Elbe river the 83rd was nicknamed "The Rag-Tag Circus" by wartime correspondents[5] due to its resourceful commander, Major General Robert C. Macon, ordering to supplement the division's transport with anything that moved; "no questions asked."[6]

This ended up with the 83rd moving as fast as an armored task force in a weird assortment of hurriedly repainted captured German vehicles: Wehrmacht jeeps, staff cars, ammunition trucks, Mark Very and Tiger panzers, motor bikes, buses and two cherished fire engines. Every enemy unit or town that surrendered or was captured subscribed its quota of rolling stock for the division, usually at gunpoint. Every newly acquired vehicle got a quick coat of olive-green paint and a U.S. star slapped on its side; then it joined the 83rd.[7] The men of the Rag-Tag Circus had even managed to liberate a German ME-109 and surprisingly found someone to fly it.[6]

From the air the column bore no resemblance to either an armored or an infantry division. In fact, but for a number of U.S Army trucks interspersed among its columns, it might easily have been mistaken for a German convoy.[6]

U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Training Center[edit]

The 83rd United States Army Reserve Readiness Training Center trains soldiers in leader, functional, and DMOSQ programs.

General[edit]

  • Nicknames: Thunderbolt Division, The Rag-Tag-Circus and Ohio.
  • Shoulder patch: A black isosceles triangle with its vertex pointed downward in the center of which, within a gold circle, appear the letters "O," "H," "I," and "O," in a monogram pattern.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "COL Ernest Parker". United States Army Reserve. United States Army Reserve. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  3. ^ 83rd Infantry Division, PRO (25 September 1944). "20,000 Nazis Surrender" (PDF). 83rd Spearhead. London. pp. Volume 1, Number 2, Page 1. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths, Final Report (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953)
  5. ^ https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/newspapers/articles/83rd_Rag-Tag_Stars-and-Stripes.pdf
  6. ^ a b c "The Last Battle" by Cornealius Ryan
  7. ^ https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/newspapers/articles/83rd_Race_to_the_Elbe.pdf

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]