88th Infantry Division (United States)
|88th Infantry Division|
88th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
|Branch||United States Army|
|Nickname(s)||"Fighting Blue Devils"
"Clover Leaf Division"
The 88th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War I and World War II. 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.
By war's end 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 Seventh Army of the 6th Army Group, which had raced south through Bavaria into Innsbruck, Austria, in Vipiteno in the Italian Alps.
World War I
- 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)
- Inactivated: 10 June 1919, Camp Dodge, Iowa
World War II
- Called to active service: 15 July 1942, Camp Gruber, Oklahoma
- Overseas: 6 December 1943
- Distinguished Unit Citations: 3
- Campaigns: Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley
- Days of combat: 344
- Awards: Medal of Honor-3 ; Distinguished Service Cross (United States)-40 ; Distinguished Service Medal (United States)-2 ; Silver Star-522; Legion of Merit-66; Soldier's Medal-19 ; Bronze Star Medal-3,784.
- Unit citations: Third Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment (action vicinity Laiatico; 9–13 July 1944). Second Battalion, 350th Infantry Regiment (action on Mt. Battaglia, 27 Sept – 3 Oct 1944). Second Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment (action vicinity Mt. Cappello, 27 Sept – 1 Oct 1944).
- Inactivated: 24 October 1947 in Italy
- 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.ref name=Alps/>
The unit was in combat for 344 days and sustained 15,173 casualties (killed, wounded or missing).
Units associated, assigned or attached to the division during World War II included:
- 349th Infantry Regiment
- 350th Infantry Regiment
- 351st Infantry Regiment
- 337th Field Artillery Battalion
- 338th Field Artillery Battalion
- 339th Field Artillery Battalion
- 913rd Field Artillery Battalion
- 313rd Combat Engineer Battalion
- 313rd Medical Battalion
- 752nd Tank Battalion (attached)
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.
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. 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.
- 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.
- Fifth Army History • Race to the Alps, Chapter VI : Conclusion  "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."
- 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.
- 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.,  p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm.
- History of the 88th Division in the Great War
- The 88th Division in the World War of 1914 – 1918
- We Were There: From Gruber to the Brenner Pass
- The battle of Cornuda, the 88th division's last battle of World War II
- Oral history interview with Nicholas Cipu, a Staff Sergeant in the 88th Infantry Division, during World War II from the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University
- 752nd Tank Battalion in World War II