88th Infantry Division (United States)

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88th Division
88th Infantry Division
88th Infantry Division SSI.svg
88th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia.
Active 1917–1919
1942–1947
Country  United States of America
Branch Seal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname(s) "Fighting Blue Devils"
"Clover Leaf Division"
Engagements

World War I
World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Paul Wilkins Kendall

The 88th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the United States Army that saw service in both World War I and World War II. It was one of the first of the Organized Reserve divisions to be reactivated, created nearly "from scratch" after the implementation of the draft in 1940. Previous divisions were composed of either Regular Army or National Guard personnel. Much of the experience in reactivating it was used in the subsequent expansion of the U.S. Army.

By the end of World War II the 88th Infantry fought its way to the northernmost extreme of Italy. In early May 1945 troops of its 349th Infantry Regiment joined the 103d Infantry Division of the VI Corps of the U.S. Seventh Army, part of the 6th Army Group, which had raced south through Bavaria into Innsbruck, Austria, in Vipiteno in the Italian Alps.[1]

According to the National WWII Museum, the title "Blue Devils" was not attributed to the unit until a later deployment in WWII. Originally, the unit was known as the "Clover Leaf Battalion" but later became known as the "Fighting Blue Devils". This name was taken from German propaganda, which was shouted over speakers with the intentions of demoralizing U.S. troops. Instead the unit took the name "Blue Devils", which was intended to be an insult which called them deceptive and ruthless, to their liking and chose to rename their unit.

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:
  • 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.[2]
  • First Organization Committed to Line: 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment plus attachments[3]
  • First combat fatality: 3 January 1944
  • Began post war POW Command: 7 June 1945. Responsible for guarding and later repatriating 324,462 German POWs.[4]

The 88th Infantry Division was one of the first all-draftee divisions of the United States Army to enter the war. Formed at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, the division, commanded by Major General John E. Sloan, arrived at Casablanca, French Morocco on 15 December 1943, and moved to Magenta, Algeria, on the 28 December for intensive training. Destined to spend the war fighting on the Italian Front, the 88th Division arrived at Naples, Italy on 6 February 1944, and concentrated around Piedimonte d'Alife for combat training. An advance element went into the line before Monte Cassino on 27 February, and the entire division relieved the battered British 46th Infantry Division along the Garigliano River in the Minturno area on 5 March. A period of defensive patrols and training followed. The 88th formed part of Major General Geoffrey Keyes' II Corps, part of the U.S. Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark.

After being inspected by the Fifth Army commander on 5 May, the 88th Division, six days later, drove north to take Spigno, Mount Civita, Itri, Fondi, and Roccagorga, reached Anzio, 29 May, and pursued the enemy into Rome, being the first unit of the Fifth Army into the city on 4 June, two days before the Normandy landings, 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 on 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 88th Division, now commanded by Major General Paul Wilkins Kendall, opened its assault on the Gothic Line on 21 September, 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 on 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 artillery barrage and the Po River was crossed on 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 on 30 April. The 88th was driving through the Dolomite Alps toward Innsbruck, Austria where it linked up with the 103rd Infantry Division, part of the U.S. Seventh Army, when the hostilities ended on 2 May 1945.[1] The end of World War II in Europe came six days later. Throughout the war the 88th Infantry Division was in combat for 344 days.

Casualties[edit]

  • Total battle casualties: 13,111[5]
  • Killed in action: 2,298[5]
  • Wounded in action: 9,225[5]
  • Missing in action: 941[5]
  • Prisoner of war: 647[5]

Units[edit]

Free Territory of 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 when the Italian peace treaty came into force. The 351st Infantry was relieved from assignment to the division on 1 May 1947 and served as temporary military Government of the Free Territory of Trieste, securing the new independent State[6] between Italy and Yugoslavia on behalf of the United Nations Security Council.[7] 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 mission ended upon the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding of London [8] establishing a temporary civil administration in the Anglo-American Zone of the Free Territory of Trieste, entrusted to the responsibility of the Italian Government.[9]
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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Fifth Army History • Race to the Alps, Chapter VI : Conclusion [1] "On 3 May the 85th and 88th [Infantry] Divisions sent task forces north over ice and snow 3 feet deep to seal the Austrian frontier and to gain contact with the American Seventh Army, driving southward from Germany. The 339th Infantry [85th Division] reached Austrian soil east of Dobbiaco at 0415, 4 May; the Reconnaissance Troop, 349th Infantry [88th Division], met troops from [103rd Infantry Division] VI Corps of Seventh Army at 1051 at Vipiteno, 9 miles south of Brenner."
  2. ^ Delaney, p. 37
  3. ^ Delaney, p. 45
  4. ^ Delaney, p. 359
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Article 21 and Annex VII, Instrument for the Provisional Regime of the Free Territory of Trieste. See: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%2049/v49.pdf
  7. ^ see: United Nations Security Council Resolution 16, 10 January 1947: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/16(1947)
  8. ^ UNTS Vol.235, 3297 Memorandum of Understanding of London
  9. ^ Memorandum of Understanding of London, article 2: see https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20235/v235.pdf
Bibliography
  • The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/cbtchron.html. (public domain, work of U.S. government)
  • About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, by David Hackworth: pp 35, 308.
  • Brown, John Sloan. Draftee Division: the 88th Infantry Division in World War II. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1986. ISBN 0813115817
  • Delaney, John P. The Blue Devils in Italy: a history of the 88th Infantry Division in World War II. Washington: Infantry Journal Press, [1947] OCLC 2617939 1988 reprint is also available.

External links[edit]