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8th Infantry Division


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NAME:

Eighth Infantry Division / 8th Division

 

NICKNAME:

“Pathfinder” and "Golden Arrow Division"

 

NICKNAME HISTORY:

The 8th Infantry Division was known as both the "Golden Arrow" and "Pathfinder" division during World War II. Both nicknames originated from the division's insignia, which includes a gold arrow to represent the nineteenth-century explorer of California, John Fremont. The division was formed in California in 1918.

 

BATTLE HONORS:

Brittany

Duren

Cologne

 

ACTIVATED:

Jan 1918

July 1, 1940

1950

 

DEACTIVATED:

Jan 1919

Nov 20, 1945

1992

 

HISTORY:

 

"World War I

 

Activated: January 1918

Overseas: November 1918

 

Commanders:

Col. Elmore F. Taggart (5 January 1918)

Col. G. L. Van Deusen (15 February 1918)

Brig. Gen. J. D. Leitch (25 February 1918)

Maj. Gen. J. F. Morrison (10 March 1918)

Brig. Gen. J. D. Leitch (18 March 1918)

Maj. Gen. William S. Graves (18 July 1918)

Brig. Gen. J. D. Leitch (4 August 1918)

Maj. Gen. W. S. Graves (11 August 1918)

Brig. Gen. J. D. Leitch (12 August 1918)

Maj. Gen. Eli A. Helmick (2 September 1918)

Brig. Gen. J. J. Bradley (20 November 1918)

Maj. Gen. Eli A. Helmick (26 November 1918)

 

The 8th Division did not have battle experience in World War I; it returned to the United States and was inactivated in January 1919.

 

 

World War II

 

The 8th Infantry Division was formed in 1918 during World War I and was sent to France that same year. During World War II, in early July 1944, the "Golden Arrow" division landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, just weeks after the Allies invaded France on D-Day (June 6, 1944). Shortly after its arrival, the division captured the French cities of Rennes and Brest.

 

Following these actions, the 8th turned eastward toward the German border, taking part in the heavy fighting in the Hürtgen Forest in November 1944. In early March 1945, the 8th had advanced into the Rhineland. It fought its way into the Ruhr region the following month. By war's end, the "Arrow" division had advanced to the Elbe River in central Germany.

 

On May 2, 1945, as it advanced into northern Germany, the 8th Infantry Division encountered the Neuengamme concentration camp Wöbbelin subcamp, near the city of Ludwigslust. The SS had established Wöbbelin in early February 1945 to house concentration camp prisoners who had been evacuated from other Nazi camps to prevent their liberation by the Allies. Wöbbelin held some 5,000 inmates, many of whom suffered from starvation and disease. The sanitary conditions at the camp when the 8th Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division arrived were deplorable. There was little food or water, and some prisoners had resorted to cannibalism. In the first week after liberation, more than 200 inmates died. In the aftermath, the U.S. Army ordered the townspeople in Ludwigslust to visit the camp and bury the dead.

 

The 8th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the U.S. Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.

 

Activated: 1 July 1940

Overseas: 5 December 1943

 

Campaigns:

Normandy

North France

Rhineland

Central Europe

 

Days of combat: 266.

 

Distinguished Unit Citations: 5

Awards: MH-3 ; DSC-33 ; DSM-2 ; SS-768; LM-12 ; DFC-2 ; SM24 ; BSM-2,874 ; AM-107.

 

Commanders:

Maj. Gen. Philip B. Peyton (June 1940-December 1940)

Maj. Gen. James P. Marley (December 1940-February 1941)

Maj. Gen. William E. Shedd (February 1941)

Maj. Gen. Henry Terrell, Jr. (March 1941)

Maj. Gen. James P. Marley (April 1941-July 1942)

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Peabody (August 1942-January 1943)

Maj. Gen. William C. McMahon (February 1943-July 1944)

Maj. Gen. Donald A. Stroh (July 1944-December 1944)

Maj. Gen. William G. Weaver (December 1944-February 1945)

Maj. Gen. Bryant E. Moore (February 1945-November 1945)

Maj. Gen. William M. Miley (November 1945 to inactivation).

 

Returned to U. S.: 10 July 1945.

 

Inactivated: 20 November 1945.

 

Major General William C. McMahon was relieved shortly after the Division arrived in Normandy. His replacement, Major General Donald A. Stroh was temporarily relieved during the Hurtgen fighting; the death of his son, a pilot in the U.S.A.A.F. who was shot down over Brittany, had made a deep psychological impact. After a rest, Stroh went on to command another overseas division.

 

 

Combat Chronicle

After training in Ireland the 8th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, 4 July 1944, and entered combat on the 7th. Fighting through the hedgerows, it crossed the Ay River, 26 July, pushed through Rennes, 8 August, and attacked Brest in September. The Crozon Peninsula was cleared, 19 September, and the Division drove across France to Luxembourg, moved to the Hurtgen Forest, 20 November, cleared Hurtgen on the 28th and Brandenburg, 3 December, and pushed on to the Roer. That river was crossed on 23 February 1945, Duren taken on the 25th and the Erft Canal crossed on the 28th. The 8th reached the Rhine near Rodenkirchen, 7 March, and maintained positions along the river near Koln. On 6 April the Division attacked northwest to aid in the destruction of enemy forces in the Ruhr Pocket, and by the 17th had completed its mission. After security duty, the Division, under operational control of the British Second Army, drove across the Elbe, 1 May, and penetrated to Schwerin when the war in Europe ended.

 

Assignments in the European Theater of Operations

30 November 1943: Attached to First Army.

24 December 1943: XV Corps.

1 July 1944: VIII Corps, attached to First Army.

1 August 1944: VIII Corps, Third Army, 12th Army Group.

5 September 1944: VIII Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group.

22 October 1944: VIII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group.

19 November 1944: V Corps.

18 December 1944: VII Corps.

20 December 1944: Attached, with the entire First Army, to the British 21st Army Group.

22 December 1944: XIX Corps, Ninth Army (attached to British 21st Army Group), 12th Army Group.

3 February 1945: VII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group.

2 April 1945: XVIII (Abn) Corps.

26 April 1945: XVIII (Abn) Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group, but attached for operations to the British Second Army in the British 21st Army Group.

 

 

Medals of Honor

Three soldiers of the 8th Division were awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II.

 

Private First Class Ernest Prussman, 13th Infantry Regiment. Prussman took over his squad on 8 September 1944 during the advance on Les Coates in Brittany, and disarmed several Germans, including a machine gun crew. Shot by a German rifleman, his dying act was to unleash a hand grenade that killed the man who shot him. His Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously.

 

Private First Class Walter C. Wetzel, 13th Infantry Regiment. As acting squad leader in the regimental Anti-Tank Company, PFC Wetzel defended his platoon's command post from an enemy attack on 3 April 1945. Wetzel threw himself on either 1 or 2 enemy grenades (sources vary) thrown into the C.P. His Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously.

 

Staff Sergeant John W. Minick, Company I, 121st Infantry Regiment. After his battalion was halted by enemy minefields during an advance on 21 November 1944 during the Hurgen fighting, he led four men through the obstacle, then successfully destroyed an enemy machine gun post that had opened fire on the small party. Moving forward again, he single-handedly engaged an entire company of soldiers, killing 20 men and capturing 20 more. Resuming the advance, he attempted to scout through another minefield, but detonated one in the attempt. His Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously.

 

After World War II

 

The 8th Infantry Division was stationed in West Germany, including the time frame from December 14, 1957, when it was assigned headquarters at Bad Kreuznach, until it was deactivated again 17 January 1992.

 

Activated:

Commanders:

Maj. Gen. Frank McConnel Aug 50 Jan 51

Maj. Gen. Harry J. Collins Jan 51 Feb 52

Maj. Gen. W.P. Sheppard Feb 52 Jan 53

BG John A. Dabney Jan 53 Jan 54

Maj. Gen. Riley E. Ennis Jan 54 Jun 54

Maj. Gen. Harry J. Collins Jun 54 Aug 54

Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Harold Aug 54 Nov 54

Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Sherburne Sept 54 Nov 54

Maj. Gen. John G. Vanhouten Nov 54 Jan 56

Maj. Gen. Thomas M Watlington Jun 56 Aug 57

Maj. Gen. Philip F. Lindman Aug 57 Mar 59

Maj. Gen. Loyd R. Moses Mar 59 Oct 60

Maj. Gen. Edgar C. Doleman Oct 60 Oct 61

Maj. Gen. Andrew Goodpaster Oct 61 Oct 62

Maj. Gen. Stanley R. Larsen Nov 62 Apr 64

Maj. Gen. Joseph R. Russ Apr 64 Apr 66

Maj. Gen. Patrick F. Cassidy Apr 66 Jun 68

Maj. Gen. Geporge L. Mabry, Jr. Jun 68 Feb 69

Maj. Gen. Elmer H. Almquist Feb 69 Aug 70

Maj. Gen. Donald V. Rattan Aug 70 May 72

Maj. Gen. Frederic E. Davison May 72 Oct 73

Maj. Gen. Joseph C. McDonough Oct 73 Jul 75

Maj. Gen. John R.D. Cleland Jul 75 Jun 77

Maj. Gen. Paul F. Gorman Jun 77 May 79

Maj. Gen. WIlliam J. Livsey May 79 Jun 81

Maj. Gen. Carl E. Vuono Jun 81 Jun 83

Maj. Gen. Charles W. Dyke Jun 83 Jun 85

Maj. Gen. Orren R. Whidon Jun 85 Jun 87

Maj. Gen. Calvin A. H. Waller Jun 87 Jun 89

Maj. Gen. David M. Maddox Jul 89 Nov 90

Maj. Gen. John P. Otjen Nov 90 Jan 92

 

 

Divisional history from:

 

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=...duleId=10006150

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._8th_Infa..._Division"

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8th Inf Div

 

green version (german made blackback)

 

one piece 8th Airborne, No.8 and border are in tinsel

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Interests: German made patches (fruit loop, bevo etc.), Berlin Briagde, VII Corps, German made Aviation patches, USMLM Potsdam, Mission to Moscow, EUCOM, 7th Army & 70th Inf Div

 

 

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Were there any units of the 8th ID stationed in Vietnam during the war there? I have a nice 1967 dated 2nd model (late version) jungle jacket with an 8th ID patch.

 

Greetz ;)

 

David

Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than in a Yugo.

 

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Were there any units of the 8th ID stationed in Vietnam during the war there? I have a nice 1967 dated 2nd model (late version) jungle jacket with an 8th ID patch.

 

Greetz ;)

 

David

No 8th ID units in Vietnam as far as I know. Your jacket is likely from the mid-1980's when "jungle fatigues" were authorized for purchase and wear during the warm months while lightweight BDU's were being developed and fielded. I bought mine at the Ft. Myer, VA Military Clothing Sales Store in 1985 and wore the HQ Company US Army SSI on it.

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no 8th units in viet nam- it was one of the main Germany units at the time keeping the communists on their side of the border.

 

but a handful of 8th units did deploy in Gulf War One- thus is it worn by a few folks as a battle patch.

 

So far I have not seen one made int he new funky greenish subdued color though (and as an 8th patch collector if anyone sees one let me know).

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No 8th ID units in Vietnam as far as I know. Your jacket is likely from the mid-1980's when "jungle fatigues" were authorized for purchase and wear during the warm months while lightweight BDU's were being developed and fielded. I bought mine at the Ft. Myer, VA Military Clothing Sales Store in 1985 and wore the HQ Company US Army SSI on it.

 

 

 

My unit 1/13th Infantry (Baumholder) wore woodland camo jungle fatigues when I was there in 73 & 74. We were the only unit that I know of wearing them at that time in Germany. Oh and they were cold too.

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My unit 1/13th Infantry (Baumholder) wore woodland camo jungle fatigues when I was there in 73 & 74. We were the only unit that I know of wearing them at that time in Germany. Oh and they were cold too.

 

 

There is a topic/topics that shows them being worn, they are in 1970s Army Recruting pamplets, possiably other Army Signal Corps PR photos, can't seem to find said topics though. :(

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Small variation, which I assume was used for a scarf (patch on the left is used for comparison)

 

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Jerry Wise,SGT.,TXARNG,RET.

 

 

The highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one's country-G.S. Patton

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