Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
This is one of a series of G.I. Stories of the Ground, Air and Service Forces in the European Theater, issued by the Orientation Branch, Information and Education Services, Hq., USFET... Major General Wm. H. H. Morris, Jr., commanding the 10th Armored Division, lent his cooperation and basic material was supplied by his staff.
THE STORY OF THE 10th ARMORED DIVISION
At 0330, Dec. 17, movement orders came over the war room ticker. Less than three hours later, leading tanks and half-tracks clattered down the road — not east toward the bridgeheads, but north toward Luxembourg! So precipitous was the change in orders that few men of the division realized the importance of the new mission.
Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt could have told them. Germany's stony-faced West Front Commander had struck a body blow in the Ardennes.
Men of the 9th Armd., 4th and 28th Inf. Divs. could have told the Tigers. Their lines, stretched thin and taut as a bowstring along a
Von Rundstedt, who had chosen to marshal his remaining strength for a single paralyzing blow, hoped the haymaker might be the knockout punch. He had told his elite SS, Panzer and Volksgrenadier Divisions they would overrun Belgium, Luxembourg and northern France, and even penetrate to the Channel coast. This was no idle boast. Von Rundstedt had to be stopped. The Tigers were the first division called to help stem the raging drive.
That a successful penetration in depth can be only half the width of its base is a basic military axiom. To punch out a wider base, the Prussian Field Marshal sent a mailed fist crashing southward along a
The 10th arrived as the fingers of the fist were choking off isolated pockets of 4th Inf. Div. doughs at Echternach and half a dozen adjacent towns only 12 miles northeast of Luxembourg's capital.
Brig. Gen. Edwin W. Piburn's Combat Command A marched 75 miles in 18 hours Dec. 17, and the Tigers clawed into Rundstedt's south flank early next day. Task forces commanded by Lt. Col. Thomas C. Chamberlain, Lt. Col. Miles L. Standish and Lt. Col. John R. Riley roared forward to meet the Nazis.
For three crucial days tankers, doughs and cannoneers lashed at the Germans, engaging superior forces, keeping them confused and occupied until III Corps could assemble sufficient strength for a counter-thrust to push the salient back across the Sauer River Line. TF Chamberlain blocked the deepest German penetration in Mullerthal's "Bowling Alley," a deep draw which crescendoed the battle's din. TF Riley ran a three-mile gauntlet of fire on three occasions to rescue infantrymen marooned in Echternach; TF Standish slashed north-ward to Berdorf, scene of bitter house-to-house fighting. A combat team under Capt. Steve Lang, Chicago, killed 200 Germans at Berdorf in an engagement fought partially at night in the torchlight of burning houses.
Meanwhile, two Nazi divisions were reported heading for a three-mile gap between the 9th Armd. and 28th Inf. Divs.' lines. Lt. Col. Cornelius A. Lichirie's 90th Cav. Recon Sqdn. plugged the gap, held fast.
CC A had jabbed and parried to keep the Germans off balance. Now it would deliver the solid punch. Jumping off at 1100, Dec. 24, the combat command cleared the area south of the Sauer River within 24 ours. The southern anchor was secured.
As Maj. Gen. William H. H. Morris, commanding the 10th, sent his strong right arm,
"Stone of Bastogne" Blunts Nazi Blitz
CC B's commander, Col. William L. Roberts, split his command to form a crescent-shaped arc facing eastward five miles from the city. A task force commanded by Maj. William R. Desobry went north to Noville, while a similar group under Lt. Col. Henry T. Cherry wheeled east to Longvilly. Lt. Col. James O'Hara's group shifted southeast to Bras.
While the Tiger's steel-treaded tanks ground over Bastogne's cobble-stoned streets, the avalanche of German might rolled westward with increasing momentum.
Capture of Bastogne, hub from which seven main roads spread spoke-like in all directions, was essential to the swift movement of Rundstedt's panzers. Riding the crest of a
For the first time since he launched his onslaught, von Rundstedt was stopped!
Bazooka-armed doughboys and a single platoon of tank destroyers came to grips with a column of German
German Volksgrenadiers flanked TF Cherry's main defenses at Longvilly and surrounded the battalion CP. Carbine-firing clerks, cooks and drivers resisted fiercely; converting the chateau headquarters into a veritable blockhouse. TF O'Hara, lightly hit at first, felt increasing pressure throughout the first day's engagement.
For eight hours,
Drawing from a seemingly endless reservoir of might, Germans still maintained an overwhelming balance of power. The outnumbered Americans shifted their defensive arc nearer Bastogne.
Completely encircled, its CP ablaze, TF Cherry fought back to Mageret as the commander radioed
Attacked from three sides, the Noville defenders knocked out 31 Nazi tanks in two days. Then, led by Maj. Charles L. Hustead, they broke through a ring of steel to set up another defensive line near Foy. TF O'Hara pulled in its left flank slightly, stood fast.
Balked frontally, the German attack swirled around the city, shooting pincers to the north and south. The night of Dec. 21, the pincers met and closed west of the city. Bastogne became the "hole in the doughnut."
In the center of the hole, the 10th assembled a highly mobile reserve force to strike in any direction. Bastogne's "Fire Brigade," as it was called, fought wherever the battle flamed hottest. This force was Bastogne's indispensable backbone of steel.
The remainder of the epic, like the beginning, is a tale of the individual soldier's raw courage.
The Tigers saw the fanatical enemy press in from all sides; rocked beneath terrific artillery barrages and repeated bombing; froze in ice-filled foxholes and along the snow-covered slopes; watched supplies and ammunition dwindle. Threatened with extinction, they echoed Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe's reply of "Nuts" to a German surrender ultimatum. Men of the 10th stood, fought, died.
Fourth Armd. Div. tanks cracked the ring Dec. 26, but
In 30 days of hell, these men of
Von Rundstedt's spearhead first had been blunted when it struck
Patton Said "Terrify and Destroy"
However, behind the jocular cynicism was the work that fashioned raw steel and green men into a blend of armored might. The late Maj. Gen. Paul W. Newgarden was largely responsible. A Patton disciple, he molded a Pattonized armored division. "Terrify and Destroy!" became the 10th's cry in its battle with a ruthless enemy.
The Tiger Cubs rehearsed diligently for their combat debut. Ft. Benning's Chattahoochee River crossings prepared them for France's racing, yellow Moselle. Camp Gordon's Boggy Gut Creek and its fringe of "defensive fortifications" were crossed and stormed just as would be Germany's Saar River and its Siegfried Line pillboxes. Buffalo Valley and the Tennessee Mountains were proving grounds for battle along Bavaria's Alpine highways.
July 14, 1944: The reviewing stand on Camp Gordon's parade ground was decorated, bleachers lined the field and the newly-mown grass glistened in the afternoon sun. All was in readiness for the division's second birthday anniversary next day.
At Fort Knox, Ky., Gen. Newgarden and Col. Renn Lawrence,
Maj. Gen. Morris took command of the division a week later. Just as Gen. Newgarden was an expert trainer of men, Gen. Morris was a master tactician.
Two months later, Sept. 12-13, the 10th sailed for France.
"G'wan back to the States, it's all over! What're you guys, Army of Occupation? Whatcha gonna fight, yer shadow?"
Such were the greetings when the Tigers docked Sept. 23, 1944, in Cherbourg harbor, the second division to sail directly from the States to France in World
Gen. Patton and Gen. Hodges had recently accomplished the St. Lo breakthrough, crushing a German Army in the Falaise-Argentan trap and chasing a retreating Wehrmacht across France. Now Third Army stood poised at the gates of Metz; First Army was astride the "holy soil" of Germany near Aachen.
Few anticipated the bitter fighting which still was ahead. The 10th soon was to find out for itself. Joining Gen. Patton's forces outside France's famed fortress city in late October, the Tigers received their baptism of fire in the shadow of mighty Fort Driant.
"Grab 'em by the nose and kick 'em in the pants!" was the essence of the tactical maneuver of envelopment. The Tigers were to do the pants kicking in an attack calculated to topple the Metz bastion for the first time in 1500 years.
The 5th and 95th Inf. Divs. would pinch the nose with an assault on the city itself. Meanwhile, the 90th Inf. Div. would drive northward, bridge the Moselle River on the vicinity of Thionville. Then the 10th's armor would crack the bridgehead line and play havoc with Metz's rear communications and supply, cut off the garrison's escape routes.
To meet the threat, the Nazi high command fed precious reserves, intended for the defense of Metz itself, into the maw of the 10th's ground-gobbling iron monsters. The guns of France's Maginot Line fortresses were turned against France's ally. Road blocks, mine fields and seemingly impassable quagmires were other obstacles. Still, the advance continued. The blue lines denoting armored spearheads on the division's war room map spread steadily as the Tigers fanned out in the Saar Basin. TF Chamberlain's forces fought forward 14 miles in two days and on Nov. 18 stood on high ground overlooking their objective, Bouzonville.
Lt. William Brown rode the point tank as TF Cherry neared the
Two serpentine waterways — the Moselle and Saar — wriggle northward to a confluence just below Trier, Germany. The Siegfried Switch Line, east-west spur of the main fortifications, spans the distance between the two rivers to form the base of the Saar-Moselle triangle.
The Tigers struck at dawn,
Concrete fortifications made armor impotent, demanded infiltration and demolition by foot troops. Raked by 88s, mortars and small arms fire, doughs and Lt. Col. W. P. Clapp's engineers slowly and painfully yanked the dragon's teeth, blasted the Krauts from one pillbox after another. Five days of steady slugging netted little more than a mile — a costly mile.
Corps postponed the triangle's conquest.
The Tiger's first operation ended Dec. 5. Metz fell soon afterward. No longer green, the Tigers had (1) liberated 100 square miles of France and occupied 50 square miles of Germany; (2) captured 2000 prisoners; (3) repulsed 11 counter-attacks; (4) destroyed vast quantities of enemy personnel and materiel.
Warfare had been a brutal, exacting teacher but Tiger neophytes had learned their lesson well. They were to apply this knowledge with vigor in the Battle of the Bulge which began two weeks later.
Trier — Prey to Tigers' Claws
Gen. Patton's Third Army had already cracked the vaunted West Wall east of the Luxembourg border, but the Saar-Moselle triangle to the south, which had served as a protective screen while von Rundstedt funneled supplies and troops through Trier for his December offensive, remained an unplucked thorn. Still a potential marshalling area for a German attack southward, the triangle hung like the Sword of Damocles over the Allied-held portion of the Saar Basin. It had to be eliminated before further eastward advances could proceed.
For days, 94th Inf. Div. doughs had been fighting what they termed their "private war" with the German 11th Panzer Div. sheltered behind the Siegfried Switch Line. On Feb. 19, these infantrymen unleashed a mighty heave, cracked the center of the line. Next morning, the 10th's tanks rumbled through the breach.
Tigers had a personal grudge to settle; they had taken a nose-bloodying in the triangle weeks before. This time it would be different.
It was different. Attacking with two combat commands abreast and one in reserve, the 10th steamrolled over bewildered opposition.
Meanwhile, nine towns in the western half bowed in rapid succession to the persuasive firepower of Col. Wade C. Gatchell's teams led by TF Cherry and TF Standish. By nightfall, TF Cherry had contacted cavalrymen who spanned the Moselle to seize Wincheringen.
CC B joined the tight the second day. TF Riley's tankers and TF O'Hara's doughs drove three miles through a thickly wooded area to envelope and seize Saarburg, wine capital of the Saar Valley. Nestled on the west bank of the Saar River, the triangle's largest town had been the division's goal three months previous. In the west,
Except for scattered pockets of resistance undergoing speedy elimination by cavalry, the triangle operation was finished. In two days, the 10th had blitzed 85 square miles of German territory and seized 23 towns. The Tigers had their revenge but no time to enjoy it.
Maj. Gen. Walton H. Walker, XX Corps Commander, issued terse orders Feb. 21: "Bridge the Saar and take Trier!"
Retreating Germans had destroyed the Saar's three bridges. Infantrymen would have to cross in assault boats, storm the east bank. Then engineers would bridge the river for the 10th's rolling stock. Hazards of an assault crossing, normally a difficult and complex operation, were multiplied by enfilading fire from the Siegfried's main fortifications.
A 94th regimental combat team moved to the crossing site, eight miles upriver from Trier and prepared to strike the reeling Germans before dawn Feb. 22. The blow never fell as planned.
Assault boats trucked from rear areas were delayed by road blocks; other transports were lost at night along the triangle's tortuous, mud-rutted roadways. The opportune moment for a crossing passed because of the insufficient number of boats. Nazis gained precious hours to reorganize and man their defenses.
Attackers soon learned how precious were those hours. With assault boats brought forward during the day, doughs attempted a crossing at 1630, 12 hours after the first try was scheduled. By then, the Germans were set. Artillery and automatic weapons raked the narrow west bank with devastating fire. Most of the assault craft did not reach the water. The few that did were sunk.
Not until 2300 hours did the infantry, screened by darkness, man-made smoke, and the greatest artillery barrage Col. Bernard F. Luebbermann's cannoneers ever laid, succeed in gaining a foothold on the east bank.
On the second day of the bridgehead, engineers attempted to span the Saar. Steel fragments of German shell and mortar fire ripped their pontons, thwarted this and repeated efforts tor the next three days.
Three miles to the south, however, two 94th Div. regiments had punched out a two-mile area on the Saar's west bank and successfully bridged the river. Gen. Morris then put his breakthrough plan into effect. Three armored infantry battalions, commanded by Gen. Piburn, crossed the river to attack southeast.
TF Riley's tankers and TF Richardson's doughs met in the little town of Irsch, flushed 100 Germans from 10 pillboxes. Infantry then boarded the vehicles and the armored column knifed eastward. The stalemate had been broken. The Tigers were rolling!
CC A and
Joined by TF Riley and TF Haskell, the trio carved a mile-wide swath through stubborn opposition. Maj. Warren B. Haskell's troops first glimpsed the spires of Germany's oldest city early March 1. By 1100 they swooped down the eastern heights into the city and tackled German barracks which were being used as defensive strong points.
Five additional task forces converged on the city during the afternoon. TF Richardson entered from the south. TF Chamberlain and TF Norris blocked the southern gateway, while TF Riley and TF Cherry looped northeast to slam the back door.
"Fester Platz (Fortress Place) Trier-An-Der-Mosel" fell at 1500 March 2. In 28 hours, the 10th had crushed all resistance in the first major German city to fall to Third Army. So speedy had been its conquest that the German commander at Trier and his entire garrison of 3000 men were snared.
Two thousand years before, Rome's Tenth Legion had conquered Trier, and Emperor Augustus Caesar's engineers had built a sturdy bridge across the Mosel. When TF Richardson fought its way to the river, the "Roman's Bridge," whose pillars were of the first ancient structure, stood intact. An inebriated Nazi had failed to blow it.
Thanks to Caesar and the potent Mosel wines, American tanks rolled unhindered across the river, churned northward without a break in stride. Three miles ahead, the Nazis pulled back behind the now bridgeless Kyll River, Mosel tributary.
From concealed artillery positions in the steep, pine-clad hills, Germans laid down impenetrable barriers of shell-fire along the banks near the town of Ehrang. The assault crossing, the battle of the expanding bridgehead, the repeated attempts to bridge the river — all were cut to the Saar's familiar, costly pattern.
So, too, was the first crossing of the armor, made where the 76th Inf. Div. had bridged the Kyll, six miles north of Ehrang. While
Once across, the 10th's battle wagons moved with lightning rapidity. TF Cherry and a unit led by Maj. Curtis L. Hankins rolled eastward eight miles to within six miles of the division objective, the communications center of Wittlich, March 8.
Pressure relieved in the south,
Here the Tigers became better acquainted with a treacherous foe. They hadn't shelled Schweich because of Nazi pleas that it be declared an open city, since it was "undefended and used to hospitalize 3000 German wounded." On entry, 10th found Schweich defended by infantry and 88s, its streets mined, and only two wounded instead of 3000. Minutes after its capture, the "open city" was being shelled — by the Nazis.
TF Hankins flanked Wittlich to the east and TF Cherry entered the town to clear the objective March 10. Four task forces mopped up the
Mission accomplished, the division with the exception of TF Cherry, moved back into Trier. The task force drove 10 miles further northeast attempting to seize a north-south bridge over the Mosel at Bullay, half way between Trier and Coblenz. Finding the bridge blown, tankers destroyed a 50-vehicle convoy.
The operation ended March 12, and four days later the 10th struck the Nazis in a new direction. This was another of the lightning moves that led the 82nd German Corps to label the Tigers, "Ghost Division."
Armoraiders Stitch Palatinate Pocket
Gen. Patton's Third Army now faced south the length of the Mosel and Gen. Patch's Seventh Army looked north into the Siegfried Line, both Armies forming the jaws of a huge nutcracker. The Saar-Palatinate — with its coal, its steel and its 100,000 German soldiers — was the nut. On March 14, the jaws began to close.
The 10th, at the cracker's fulcrum southeast of Trier, would make the difficult frontal assault eastward. The 94th and 80th Inf. Divs. dented the Nazi lines and the Tigers' own spearheads,
The German 2nd Mountain Div. challenged the advance, and the hills rang with the terrifying sound of screaming meemies, the familiar whoosh-bang! of the 88s and the ripping sound of lead-spitting burp guns.
At night, Tigers trained anti-aircraft searchlights on overhanging clouds to illuminate the battlegrounds. Fighting around the clock, the 10th pushed a
Twenty miles to the south, Seventh Army forces were cracking the outflanked Siegfried Line, pouring through for the first junction with Third Army.
Kaiserlautern was the next target for the 10th's rampaging tanks. Twenty-eight miles east of St. Wendel, this city of 100,000 was the key supply point for the two German armies facing the forces under Gen. Patton and Gen. Patch.
Resistance suddenly disintegrated as the Tigers attacked March 19. TF Cherry spurted 22 miles along the south flank while TF Chamberlain rolled 16 miles to the north. The following day, task forces swept through and beyond the vital rail center.
Six armored divisions now ran amuck in the dwindling pocket. Driving north, the Sixth Armd. Div. criss-crossed the 10th's eastward flight near Kaiserlautern. Of this movement, Time Magazine wrote:
...Armored divisions sometimes perform feats that would be textbook nightmares. Two Patton armored divisions once crossed each other at a right angle road junction in the midst of combat, but only the Germans were confused.
For the Krauts, confusion mounted to panic. They had been forced to blow most of the Rhine bridges to prevent seizure by American forces driving down the river's west bank. Trapped, the Nazis fled without knowing where to flee. Air observers reported German columns retreating in opposite directions. Gasolineless Wehrmacht columns, moving in charcoal burning vehicles, horse and oxen-drawn carts, or marching afoot, were overtaken by swift armoraiders.
TF Hankins caught the largest enemy convoy 15 miles short of the Rhine on the moonlit night of March 20. A tank-infantry team, whooping like Indians, traversed the length of the column, destroyed 300 vehicles, five tanks and 15 artillery pieces.
Nazis fought desperately to hold open a narrow escape corridor to the two remaining Rhine bridges at Speyer and Germesheim. To slash this corridor, the Tiger juggernaut wheeled southward.
TF Cherry neutralized the northernmost bridge by seizing Neustadt, astride the main road approaches to Speyer. Col. Gatchell's Reserve Command cut through 15 miles of forest and road blocks to slice the broad highway to Germesheim at Annweiler and Landau.
From Neustadt, Maj. Wheeler M. Thackston's task force battered its way 10 miles southward to join the Reserve Command in Landau, March 22. Five other task forces converged on this point the following day, and on March 24, TF Chamberlain contacted elements of the Seventh Army's 14th Armd. and 36th Inf. Divs. The Palatinate's last big pocket had been firmly stitched.
In less than two weeks, the Tigers had booted the Nazis up one hill and down another through 100 miles of the Hunsruck and Hardt Mountains to the Rhine Valley and had captured 8000 prisoners, from 26 German divisions.
10th Armored — "Always Into the Enemy"
The 10th's southward drive in the Palatinate had overrun Seventh Army boundaries and brought the Tigers under Gen. Patch's command. Seventh Army had bridged the Rhine near the cathedral city of Worms and was fighting in pulverized Mannheim on the river's east bank. To join the 44th Inf. Div. there, the 10th rolled across the historic stream March
From Mannheim, where it empties into the Rhine, the bed of the Neckar River extends eastward for 20 miles, then curves gently southward through the Wehrmacht arsenal of Heilbronn. The Neckar became the hinge for Gen. Morris' tri-pronged blow at Germany's vitals March 30.
Reserve Command and TF Lichirie's swift cavalry reconnaissance troops knifed along the river's north bank.
At the day's end, TF Chamberlain had struck rough going, smacking into Germany's 198th Inf. Div., one of the Western Front's strongest. Elsewhere, the sailing was smoother. Cavalrymen and TF Thackston had dashed 20 miles virtually unopposed. TF Richardson sped along the Mannheim-Stuttgart superhighway, and TF Riley advanced 10 miles, pushing through Heidelberg which had capitulated a few hours earlier to the 63rd Inf. Div.
Beneath Heidelberg's statue of Bismarck, the Tigers found a letter addressed to Gen. Eisenhower, signed by the "Women of Heidelberg," asking for the "resurrection of common sense and decency" and "a peace based on wisdom." Ahead were other Germans, with rifle in hand, who would ask the same — once the rifle could be taken away from them at the cost of an American life.
Screened by TF Chamberlain, elements of the First French Army hopped the Rhine near Speyer March 31. The 10th was the first Allied unit contacted by French troops east of the Rhine.
Tigers cracked the backbone of Nazi defenses in the Rhine-Neckar area April
East of Heilbronn, the crack 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Div. had holed up. While the 100th Inf. Div. assaulted the Heilbronn bastion, the 10th moved in secrecy. When it appeared next, the "Ghost Division" was 40 miles east of Heilbronn, behind the startled 17th SS, and astride the Nurnberg-Stuttgart highway deep in Germany.
In two days,
The Nazis were swift to recover from the initial shock. A fading Wehrmacht and dying Luftwaffe suddenly were rejuvenated in demoniacal fury reminiscent of
Germans rocked Crailsheim with concussion bombs and shells, burned it with incendiaries, assaulted it with whole battalions of infantry. They severed the defenders' supply lifeline, a thin,
But the Tigers stuck, threw back the Nazis' best. Giant
Of 325 enemy planes attacking Crailsheim, 50 were blasted from the skies by
For four days the fighting at the tip of the Crailsheim finger was the most bitter along the Western Front. Revised Corps plans now called for the 10th to shift its entire weight in the direction of Heilbronn, where the 100th Div. still battled.
To attack westward, Brig. Gen. Piburn's troops pulled out of Crailsheim April 10. Two thousand Nazis went with them — as prisoners. Another thousand Germans were left behind — dead.
Task forces led by Lt. Col. Riley and Maj. Richard W. Ulrich hurdled the Kocher River
Fanatical Hitler Jugend and aged Volksturmers resisted entry into the town, firing bulbous panzerfausts — Nazi bazookas — and automatic burp guns. The 10th's artillery delivered a softening-up punch with a "time on target" barrage, cascading shells from 52 cannon timed to burst simultaneously on a pinpointed area.
Oehringen fell April 13 and armoraiders drove through to link with 100th and 63rd Inf. Divs. six miles east of Heilbronn. The circle was complete. Now the Tigers crouched between the two infantry divisions, prepared to spring southward toward the Danube River.
Ahead lay some of the most rugged terrain the 10th had yet encountered. Bavaria's broad, undulating hill country graduated into the high Schwabische Alb plateau guarding the Danube's northern approaches. Two rivers, the Rems and the Fils, streamed across the intended path, posed further obstacles.
The Tigers leaped April 16, struck a stubborn line for two days, then broke into the clear. This was the 10th's specialty — this broken field running. Like fleet-footed halfbacks, six armored columns of three combat commands streaked through the opposition's backfield. The objectives — Schwabische Hall, Wielandsweiler, Gaildorf, Goeppingen, Lorch, Kirchheim — flashed by in rapid succession.
Task Force Hankins grabbed bridges across the Rems and Fils Rivers intact, rolled
Two days later TF Chamberlain and TF Richardson stood on the goal line — the fabled Danube River. Fleeing Nazis had no time to destroy one of the river's spans near Ehingen. The Tigers'
The 10th poised above the vaunted National Redoubt. Here, the Nazis, by their own admission, would resist to a bloody end. Resistance was there — but when struck by the Tigers' mailed fist, it crumpled like a wind-filled paper bag.
Road-weary, battle-worn tankers and doughs hooked left into the Danube city of Ulm
Mile upon mile, through town after town, armor ran rampant. In the 10th's path, swastikas gave way to white flags. The beaten Wehrmacht and die-hard SS troops surrendered in droves. In five days, the Tigers took 9000 prisoners, the equivalent of a Nazi panzer division.
TF Chamberlain captured Memmingen, liberating nearly 4000 Allied prisoners. TF Thackston swung east to flank Landsberg's notorious concentration camp. TF Hankins spearheaded
By April 30, the 10th was deep in Austria's snow-mantled Alps, only 40 miles north of the Italian border. TF Hankins had penetrated within 20 miles of Innsbruck, Austria. A week before, the 10th had been on the Danube. Now it was more than 100 miles to the south.
This was the finish line for the Tiger Division; it was relieved April 30. Eight days later — May 8, 1945 — Victory-in-Europe Day was officially proclaimed.
These triumphant Tigers were tired. The last big push had been 69 days and nights of almost continuous contact with the enemy, of little sleep, of bone-jarring road marches, of battle-strained nerves, of rain, snow and cold. Now it was finished.
The 10th could relax and reflect on a brilliant combat record. Tigers had spearheaded 600 miles through five foreign countries, seized 450 towns and cities, fought in three of America's four active Western Front Armies, taken 35,000 prisoners. Driving "Always into the Enemy," the Tigers had met and beaten Germany's best.
At the end of Victory's trail, they paused, remembering comrades who had fallen in the blazing of that trail. The resolve now was firm:
"... that these honored dead shall not have died in vain."
TEAMWORK is essential to any successful combat organization, but in few instances does it surpass that found in the armored team. In the breakthrough type of fighting — mechanized warfare — tankmen and motorized infantry invariably are surrounded by the enemy. They advance swiftly, placing lives in the trust that engineers can clear mine fields and road blocks, that artillerymen can destroy a strongpoint, that signalmen can maintain communications, that ordnancemen can repair, replace damaged vehicles; that medics will care for the wounded.
The story of the Tenth Armored Division is the story of one such team — a winning team!
Photos: U.S. Signal Corps
Printed by: Desfosses-Neogravure, Paris. Crete, Corbeil.