HISTORY OF UNITS WE PORTRAY
NORTH WEST MILITARY COLLECTORS
The 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion was a part of the 2nd Armored Division,
was activated July 15, 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia for World War II. The organization was made up of trained men, from cavalry and reconnaissance units. The reconnaissance battalion was known as the "eyes and ears", of the 2nd Armored Division.
The battalion mainly used the M-8 Light Armored Car, as it was fast, up to 56 mph (90 km/h), and gave some protection from small arms fire. M8 was equipped with a 37 mm gun and 6X6 wheel drive. The M8 was the main reconnaissance vehicle used by the US military in WW2. Also used was M20 scout car, which was a M-8 without the 37 mm gun and turret. In its place was an anti-aircraft ring mount for a .50-caliber machine gun. A bazooka was provided for the crew to compensate for its lack of anti-armor weaponry. With this vehicles, the 82nd could scout ahead of the slower M4 Sherman tank with a top speed of 25 mph to 30 mph. Also used for reconnaissance and to run messages Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycles were used by the 82nd as well. Almost all units used Jeeps as they were fast four-wheel drive utility vehicles.
48th Armored Medical Battalion
The 48th Armored Medical Battalion was an American military medical/surgical unit attached to the 2nd Armored Division throughout World War II. The 48th participated in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Normandy.
The unit was formed on July 15, 1940 under the command of Col. Abner Zehm. In February 1942, Major John S. Wier became the Battalion Commander.
Major Wier requested surgical trucks for the unit. The army gave him six thousand dollars, enough for six 2 1⁄2 ton trucks to be converted for medical use.
On December 11, 1942 the 48th left Fort Dix, New Jersey for North Africa, landing at Casablanca on December 24, 1942.
In the spring of 1943 they proceeded to Arzew in Algeria, then on to Tunis. On to Sicily and then to Tidworth Camp, England for an extended period of time.
The battalion landed on Omaha Beach on June 9, 1944 (D+3 at 13:00). The battalion stayed with the 2nd Armored Division throughout the advance on into Germany and then to Berlin.
After the war the unit returned to Camp Hood, Texas for retraining before being disbanded.
The Battalion’s World War II unit insignia consisted of a rod of Asclepius crossed with a dagger, on a silver bordered, red shield, above the words "Humanity Mashalled".
At a later date the 48th Medical Battalion was reformed, again as part of the 2nd Armored Division, serving until the division’s disbandment in 1991.
The 603rd Recon 6th Armoured
The above is the motto of the Tank Destroyers. On the following pages is the story of the men whose job it is to do the seeking, and as often as not have to strike and destroy also. Lightly armored, fast travelling, these are the men who lead the Armored Divisions, relying on deception and speed, they seek the routes to the objectives. Attempting to by-pass heavy resistance, fight-through it if necessary. This is the story of the 1st Platoon of Reconnaissance Company, 603rd Tank Destroyer Battalion.
A Platoon of 1 Officer, 19 enlisted men, two armored cars and four jeeps. In the middle of DECEMBER 1941 the 603 TD Bn. consisting of Hqs. Co., three gun Companies (A-B-C) and Pioneer Co. was activated at Ft. Lewis, Washington, commanded by Lt. Col. Barkes. Col. Barkes was with the Bn. a short while and then Major Rutte became the new Bn. Commander. forward as Tannenberg, on the Czech border – to be deployed in Zeitz as a garrison unit until the end of the war, some weeks later.
During the month of APRIL 1942 the Bn. made its first move, convoying to Ft. Ord, California. It was at Ft. Ord that Pioneer Co. without changing its personnel became Reconnaissance Co. consisting of Hqs. platoon, 1st, 2nd, 3rd recon. platoons, and the 4th platoon which remained a pioneer platoon. The company C.O. at that time was Capt. Grover; during our stay at Ft. Ord. Capt. Grover was transferred and Capt. Edwards replaced him. Bn. C.O. was also replaced by Major Parks.
SEPTEMBER 1942 the Bn. again moved, this time crosscountry by train to Camp Pickett, Virginia. After a short while in Virginia, Rcn. Co. was taken over by Capt. Tormey. In the early part of JANUARY 1943 the Bn. again moved by train to the newly formed Tank Destroyer center at Camp Hood, Texas. In Camp Hood, Rcn. Co. again welcomed a new C.O., this time Capt. Allan R. Scullen, and also a new Bn. C.O. Lt. Col. Minniece. Early in April 1943 the BN left Camp Hood for Louisiana, where they were on maneuvers until the early part of June, upon completion of the maneuvers the Bn. convoyed to Camp Shelby, Miss. where they stayed until the middle of JULY and then returned to Camp Hood, Texas. Once again the Bn. said goodbye to Camp Hood, when in the latter part of JANUARY 1943 they left for Camp Maxey, Texas, only there a short time they again moved, this time to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey during the last few days of MARCH. APRIL 8th 1944 the Bn. left Camp Kilmer, and by train went to the docks where they loaded on the "Queen Mary'', a former luxury liner.
The Bn. was attached to the Sixth Armored Division while in ENGLAND. And it was while they were at Sherborne that D-day took place. It was also at Sherborne that Rcn. Co. modified their vehicles and prepared them for combat.
On the morning of JULY 16th 1944 Rcn. Co. left SHERBORNE MANOR, and that evening arrived at a marshalling area south of SALISBURY, ENG. The next day they drove all afternoon and late in the day arrived at the docks at SOUTHAMPTON, ENG. Early morning of JULY 18th Rcn. Co. personnel, following their vehicles, were loaded on the liberty ship "PEARL HARBOR", at the crack of dawn the ship left the dock, and that night we dropped anchor somewhere off the coast of FRANCE. The next day they commenced unloading vehicles, and by the 20th of JULY Rcn. Co. complete had unloaded at UTAH BEACH and were assembled in the vicinity of BARNVILLE, FRANCE, after driving across the CHERBOURG PENN. passing through ST. MERE INGLESE, MONTEBOURG, VALONGES, and ST. SAVEUR, it was Rcn's first view of FRANCE and some of its towns had met the full fury of battle.
At this time the 1st platoon of Rcn. Co. consisted of the following personnel Lt. Boggs (Plat. Lead.), S/Sgt. Fick (Plat. Sgt.), Sgt. Civarra (Sec. Sgt.), Sgt. Leibli (Sec. Sgt.), T5 Reed J. (37 mm. gunner), T/5 Schebell (Rad. oper.), T/5 Melvin (Drver--M 8), Pfc. Martinez (37mm. gunner), Pfc. Joseph (driver 1/4 ton), Pfc. Pleasant (30cal. MG), Pfc. Hildebrant (DRIVER 1/4 ton), Pvt. Slack (30cal. MG), Pvt. Smith C.M. (riflmn.), Pvt. Jacobson (scout), Pfc. Kelly (rad. oper.), Pfc. Boudreau (driver M 8), Pfc. Erlick driver 1/4 ton Pvt. Reid M. (30 cal. MG), Pfc. Lucero (riflmn.). Pvt. West (driver), Pvt. McClure (30 cal. MG and Pvt. Purser (scout).
On 1 April 1943 the 2nd Ranger Battalion was formed at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, along with the 5th Ranger Battalion. Both battalions were officially activated in September 1943 and shipped to Great Britain where they were prepared for Operation Overlord as part of six Ranger battalions of the Second World War.
On 6 June 1944, Dog, Easy, and Fox Companies, commanded by Lt. Colonel James Rudder, landed at Pointe du Hoc from LCA landing craft and specially modified DUKW "Ducks" operated by the Royal Navy. The 225 Rangers had set off from Britain to launch an assault upon the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. In order to over-strength the 2nd Battalion, members of what was formerly the 29th Rangers were assigned as well. (needs citation)
Several landing craft containing Rangers and supplies capsized in the stormy waters and many Rangers drowned due to heavy equipment, but others were saved and hoisted into other DUKWs to participate in the attack. The Rangers had planned to land at the base of the cliffs at 0600 hours, however, because of a navigational error, they landed nearly an hour late. This cost the lives of more Rangers as well as the element of surprise. During the attack, the 190 remaining Rangers scaled the cliffs utilizing rope ladders, but only 90 Rangers were still able to bear arms after two days of relentless fighting. During the assault, 2nd Battalion managed to disable a battery of 155mm French artillery captured by the Germans, which was their primary objective. These guns were to be aimed at Utah Beach, however, the Rangers prevented their use, saving American lives on the shores of Normandy.
Meanwhile, Able, Baker and Charlie Companies landed along with the 5th Rangers, the 1st Infantry Division and the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach. They suffered heavy casualties but were able to complete their D-Day objectives. The 2nd Rangers were later involved in the Battle for Brest and the Battle of Hurtgen Forest where they led the assault on Hill 400, Bergstein. The battalion was deactivated after the war together with the 5th and 6th Battalion
The 82nd Division was redesignated on 13 February 1942 as Division Headquarters, 82nd Division. It was recalled to active service on 25 March 1942, and reorganized at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of Major General Omar Bradley. During this training period, the division brought together four officers who would ultimately steer the U.S. Army during the following two decades: Matthew Ridgway, Matthew D. Query, James M. Gavin, and Maxwell D. Taylor. Under Major General Bradley, the 82nd Division's Chief of Staff was George Van Pope.
On 15 August 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division, now commanded by Major General Ridgway, became the first airborne division of the U.S. Army, and was redesignated as the 82nd Airborne Division. The division initially consisted of the 325th, 326th and 327th infantry regiments. The 327th was soon transferred to help form the 101st Airborne Division and replaced by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, leaving the division with two regiments of glider infantry and one of parachute infantry. In early 1943 the division received another change when the 326th was later transferred, being replaced by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under James M. Gavin, then a colonel, who was later destined to command the 82nd.
In April 1943, after several months of tough training, its troopers deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, under the command of Major General Ridgway to take part in the campaign to invade Sicily. The division's first two combat operations were parachute assaults into Sicily on 9 July and Salerno on 13 September 1943. The initial assault on Sicily, by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under Colonel James M. Gavin, was the first regimental-sized combat parachute assault conducted by the United States Army. The first glider assault did not occur until Operation Neptune as part of the D-Day landings of June 6 1944. Glider troopers of the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery battalions and the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (and the 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR) instead arrived in Italy by landing craft at Maiori (319th) and Salerno (320th, 325th).
In January 1944, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Reuben Tucker, which was temporarily detached to fight at Anzio, adopted the nickname "Devils in Baggy Pants", taken from an entry in a German officer's diary. The 504th was replaced in the division by the inexperienced 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. While the 504th was detached, the remainder of the 82nd Airborne Division moved to the United Kingdom in November 1943 to prepare for the liberation of Europe. See RAF North Witham and RAF Folkingham.
In WW2 efficient medical care reduced overall losses to only 4 in each 100 wounded (WW1 8 out of 100) . Better surgery, penicillin, plasma and whole blood are responsible in varying degrees, however the credit must be shared by the entire personnel of the Medical Department, whose painstaking care, surgical skill and devotion to duty under trying conditions saved thousands of lives and preserved the fighting strength of our combat forces ! The soldier with an infection of his wounded leg, or with an open chest wound, or a mutilated face, or an injured brain, was certain to receive, after a short interval, the care of an orthopedic, plastic or neuro surgeon – until he could reach his specialist, the G.I. received the type of care which would get him to that specialist in the best possible condition . Army nurses also gave widely varying types of skilled and sympathetic (=angels) service, some in field hospitals and others in general hospitals farther back . WW2 was also the first war in which nurses automatically held officer rank ! (May 1945 17,314 nurses in ETO) .
Prior to D-Day, June 1944 ETO medical personnel totaled 132, 705, of whom 62,000 were with combat forces and the rest with the Services of Supply (S.O.S.) – by March 1945 the number had increased to 245,387 men . During WW2 the Medical Department’s field forces totaled 13,174 casualties, of which 2,274 were killed . Overall battle casualties in the ETO were as follows: 554,031 men & women (up to V-E Day) . This can be subdivided into KIA = 98,812, WIA = 373,018, MIA = 42,278, POW = 24,783, died of wounds = 15,140 . The percentage among arms and services was split into Infantry = 75.02%, Air Forces = 9.36%, Artillery = 5.40%, Corps of Engineers = 3.03%, Medical Department = 2.47%, Armored Forces = 1.01%, and others = 3.71% . Also, deaths from disease in WW1 were more than 31 times greater than those suffered in WW2, while lost service due to venereal disease (V.D.) was 30 times higher in WW1 than during WW2 (although WW2 still numbered 606 men who came down with VD each day)
DOGS OF WW2
Over the centuries dogs have had many roles with the military, but in WW2 specific duties have been defined where dogs can give the best service. While in the past they have done everything from catch rats to draw fire to expose enemy positions, dogs are given humane tasks where their special skills do the most good
Casualty Dogs, like search and rescue dogs, are trained to search for and report casualties lying in obscure places, casualties that are difficult for collecting parties to locate. In cases of severe shock or haemorrhage, minutes saved in locating such casualties often mean the difference between life and death
These dogs, also called the "M-Dog" or mine detection dog, were trained to find trip wires, booby traps, metallic and non-metallic mines. Units were sent to North Africa in World War II. However, the dogs had problems detecting mines under combat conditions.
The 1st SS-Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (abbreviated as 1. SS-Pz.Div. LSSAH) began as Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguard, responsible for guarding the Führer's person, offices, and residences. Initially the size of a regiment, the LSSAH eventually grew into an elite division-sized unit. The term Leibstandarte was derived partly from Leibgarde – a somewhat archaic German translation of "Guard of Corps" or personal bodyguard of a military leader ("Leib" = lit. "body, torso") – and Standarte: the Schutzstaffel (SS) or Sturmabteilung (SA) term for a regiment-sized unit.
The LSSAH independently participated in combat during the invasion of Poland, and was amalgamated into the Waffen-SS together with the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) and the combat units of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) prior to Operation Barbarossa in 1941. By the end of World War II it had been increased in size from a regiment to a Panzer division.
The Leibstandarte division's symbol was a skeleton key, in honour of its first commander, Josef "Sepp" Dietrich (Dietrich is German for skeleton key or lock pick); it was retained and modified to later serve as the symbol for I SS Panzer Corps. The elite division, a component of the Waffen-SS, was found guilty of war crimes in the Nuremberg Trials. Members of the LSSAH participated in numerous atrocities. They killed at least an estimated 5,000 prisoners of war in the period 1940–1945, mostly on the Eastern Front.
The 21st Panzer Division was a German armoured division best known for its role in the battles of the North African Campaign from 1941–1943 during World War II when it was one of the two armoured divisions making up the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK).
The formation was originally created from the 5th Light Division or the '5th Light Afrika Division' in Africa in early 1941, from an ad hoc collection of smaller units rushed to support the collapsing Italian forces in Cyrenaica, Libya.
It comprised elements of the 3rd Panzer Division, the unit initially earmarked for North Africa in the summer of 1940.
The first unit incorporated was the 39th Panzerjäger (anti-tank) Battalion. This was a motorised unit with halftracks and trucks to tow heavy equipment, including nine 3.7 cm PaK 36 and two 5 cm PaK 38 guns. The armoured element, 5th Panzer Regiment, was moved from the 3rd Panzer Division. Its strength included 20 PzKpfw IV, 75 PzKpfw III, 45 PzKpfw II and 25 PzKpfw I Ausf B tanks which included a number of Befehlspanzer (command vehicles). Even with these seemingly impressive numbers the unit was understrength. The infantry forces were the 200th Schutzen (Rifle) Regiment, the sole artillery unit was a single battalion of the 75th Regiment. The Divisional staff, also from 3rd Panzer Division, included the Chief of Staff, Major Hauser and the intelligence officer; Hauptmann Von Kluge.
The formation was officially named on 18 February 1941; its first divisional commander was Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross winner Generalmajor Johannes Streich, who had commanded the 15th Panzer regiment during the successful French Campaign in 1940. By this time most of the units had arrived in Tripoli, but the last tank elements did not deploy until 12 March 1941, missing the first battles of General Erwin Rommel's Cyrenaica offensive.
The '5th Light Afrika Division' did not have a full establishment of tanks immediately following its deployment. Having only 150 machines of all types of which 130 were actually combat worthy, the rest being an assortment of command and unarmed observer vehicles.
Despite the slow build-up, largely due to most Wehrmacht reinforcements being directed to the Eastern Front to support Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union), by September 1941 the '5th Light Afrika Division' had achieved Panzer Division strength. It was then renamed the 21st Panzer Division.
Throughout its war in the Desert, the Afrika Korps's units were nearly always understrength, made up of any men and equipment that were available.
During World War II, the Luftwaffe raised a variety of airborne light infantry (Fallschirmjäger) units. Unlike the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, and the United States, the German paratroopers were part of the Luftwaffe rather than the Heer (German Army). Starting from a small collection of Fallschirmjäger battalions at the beginning of the war, the Luftwaffe built up a division-sized unit of three Fallschirmjäger regiments plus supporting arms and air assets, known as the 7th Flieger Division (7th Air Division).
Fallschirmjäger units made the first airborne invasion when invading Denmark on the 9 April 1940. In the early morning hours of Operation Weserübung, they attacked and took control of Aalborg Airport which played a key role as a refueling station for the Luftwaffe in the subsequent invasion of Norway. In the same assault the bridges around Aalborg were taken. Other airborne attacks during the German invasion of Denmark were also carried out, including one on a fort on the island Masnedø, protecting the important Storstrøm Bridge.
Interrogation of a Soviet partisan by Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger Paratroopers, Russia 1942
The first opposed airborne attacks occurred during the Norwegian Campaign, first during the initial invasion when Fallschirmjäger captured the defended air base of Sola, near Stavanger. The Fallschirmjäger also had their first defeat in Norway, when a company was dropped on the village and railroad junction of Dombås on 14 April 1940 and was destroyed by the Norwegian Army in a five-day battle.
Later in the war, the 7th Air Division's Fallschirmjäger assets were re-organised and used as the core of a new series of elite Luftwaffe Infantry divisions, numbered in a series beginning with the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division. These formations were organized and equipped as motorized infantry divisions, and often played a "fire brigade" role on the western front. Their constituents were often encountered on the battlefield as ad hoc battle groups (Kampfgruppen) detached from a division or organized from miscellaneous available assets. In accord with standard German practice, these were called by their commander's name, such as Group Erdmann in France and the Ramcke Parachute Brigade in North Africa.
Over 54,449 paratroops were killed in action and over 8,000 are still listed as missing in action. Fallschirmjäger were awarded a total of 134 Knight's Crosses between 1940 and 1945. Twenty-four KC were awarded in the west and 27 were awarded after Crete. Out of the 134 KC, 15 were with oak leaves, five with oak leaves and swords, and one with oak leaves, swords and diamonds.