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 of Operations, to be issued by the Stars and Stripes, a publication of the Information and Education Division, Special and Information Services, ETOUSA... Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig, commanding the 9th Inf. Div., lent his cooperation to the preparation of the pamphlet and basic material was supplied to the editors by his personnel.
patch which you are wearing on your left shoulder (and which you probably sewed on with many a muttered curse and thereafter thought of but seldom) is a gallant bit of color that you ought to know more about, regardless of whether you've been with the 9th Division since it was activated, or just joined it this afternoon. It is not merely another gadget — it's your division insignia, and has been ever since the War Department approved it back in 1923. Technically it is known as a red-and-blue octofoil — a design of eight petals — with a white center. Now, don't let it discourage you to find that a design of eight petals is being used for the
Division, because here's the reason: based upon the heraldic rules of the 15th century each son of a family had his own individual distinguishing mark, and the mark of the ninth son was this "octofoil." And, so, this being the ninth regular Army division, the heraldic symbolism is correct. Now, red and blue are the colors of division flags, and the white in the center is the color of the numerals you'll find on division flags. And the background disc is your old friend, olive drab. Wear it with pride, as fighting men of the 9th
Division have worn it on three continents. At home, it symbolized one of the Army's proudest show divisions. Abroad it has been hailed by North Africans, both Arab and others, by Sicilians and French and Belgians, as the insignia of liberating forces. The Germans, too, have come to know it well, and fear the power that it represents. For ever in their memory, clarion-clear, rings a prophetic roster of grim and ominous names: Safi... Algiers... Port Lyautey... Sened... Maknassy... El Guettar... Sedjenane... Bizerte... Randazzo... Quinneville... Barneville... Cherbourg... Chateau Thierry... Dinant... Monchau... Germeter... Zweifall... the 9th Division was there. And the 9th Division is your
Passed by Censor For Mailing Home
To you into whose hands this little book will go, I express the earnest hope that you will see between the lines the whole magnificent untold tale of courage, patience, enduring toil and unending sacrifice, which is the true and solid foundation for the story you will read, and which more than any man or any group of men, is responsible for the imposing history and brilliant future of our 9th Infantry Division.
The 9th Infantry Division Story
THIS IS HOW IT BEGAN
If any unit has earned the right to be called Hitler's Nemesis it is the U.S. 9th Div. Here is an outfit that really thrives on tough opposition. America has reason to be proud of this superb fighting unit.
BOSTON GLOBE (Editorial)
In Aug. 1940 the British had experienced Dunkirk and were preparing for invasion. The United States, too, faced with imminent war, began to expand its army, and the last of the regular army divisions, the 9th Inf. Div., was activated at Ft. Bragg, N.C., on Aug. 1, 1940.
Sent to organize the 9th was a skeleton force of regular army soldiers, to which were added in the next few months thousands of the civilians who were pouring into the Army through Selective Service. After a period of training came the flaming morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 — Pearl Harbor and the real thing. It became obvious that Allied armies would have to land on enemy-held beaches, and so the 9th immediately was launched on an amphibious training program.
Since that time, the 9th has met and defeated the enemy many times. The 9th landed in the invasion of North Africa on Nov. 8, 1942, fought through the barren country of El Guettar, across the mountains of Sedjenane and Sicily, across and up the Cherbourg Peninsula in France, through France, Belgium and the Siegfried Line into Germany proper.
During training and combat the 9th continuously cadred new divisions in the ever-expanding Army and graduated such outstanding soldiers as Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, Commander of VI Army Group; Maj. Gen. M.S. Eddy, Commander of XII Corps; Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, Commander of Seventh Army; seven major generals and four brigadier generals. The division now is commanded by Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig.
Now marching triumphantly toward its fifth anniversary the 9th Div. is composed of men from all the 48 states and the District of Columbia, welded by courage, fortitude and glory into a great fighting unit.
Born of the necessity of preserving freedom, the 9th Inf. Div. stands as a striking symbol of the military might of a democracy. It is America at war.
The 9th Div. is well known back home, for the 9th has long been a "show division" and staged many reviews for Allied leaders.
JACK FOISIE, THE STARS AND STRIPES
For more than 20 years the 9th had remained inactive, but at 0600 on Aug. 1, 1940, Sgt. John J. Waldrop, the first enlisted man of the reactivated division, arrived at Ft. Bragg, N.C. The division area was an uninhabited plot of muddy ground, but as the cadre trickled in a "Tent City" rose in record time.
On Jan. 16, 1941, the first 500 selectees arrived from Camp Upton, N.Y. On the following day 500 more arrived and they continued to pour in. Under the stimulus of this new blood the "regulars" forgot the rigors of Tent City to help the raw and bewildered "rookies."
With the approach of summer the 9th began an extensive field training program. Most highly publicized maneuver of all was the war games near Bowling Green, Va., in June, during which Col. Frank C. Mahin's 60th Inf., supported by the 60th and 34th F.A. Bns., tangled with units of the 44th Div., and came away covered with glory and mosquito bites. Just prior to its first anniversary the division was full strength and was rated as one of the crack outfits of our rapidly expanding Army.
On its first anniversary the 9th Div. lost Maj. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, who had been C.G. from Nov. 4, 1940 to Aug. 1, 1941. He left for Ft. Knox, Ky., to take command of the Army's Armored Force, where he was soon promoted to Lt. Gen. At a farewell division review held for him, the 15th Engr. Bn. displayed a fleet of brand new dump trucks. But the solemnity of the occasion was rudely shattered when an inexperienced driver kicked the wrong lever, and dumped a load of very surprised personnel smack in front of the reviewing stand.
In mid-September the 9th moved out to begin the memorable Carolina maneuvers and operated for 10 weeks near Rock Hill, Chester, and Lancaster, S.C., and around Rockingham, Cheraw, Hamlet and Monroe, N.C. These were the days of simulated artillery fire, flour-sack bombs, broomstick guns and beer-can mortar shells. The first recreation center was just getting under way, and on week-ends civilian hostesses pleaded with soldiers to come in for a fast game of checkers or to write a letter home.
Maneuvers ended Nov. 28, 1941; and some outfits hadn't yet reached their barracks when Dec. 7 and real war rolled around. Shortly after the first of the year the first hint of the division's future came when it was attached to the Amphibious Corps, Atlantic Fleet, for training.
During the spring and summer, 1942, the 9th changed greatly. It learned a new type of warfaresending unit after unit aboard transports in Chesapeake Bay to stage amphibious attacks on Solomons Island. It gave freely of its experienced personnel to form nuclei of new divisions.
On July 24, 1942 Brig. Gen. Manton S. Eddy became C.G. and on Aug. 9 he was promoted to Maj. Gen. He was to lead the 9th to Africa, Sicily, England and France.
During the summer, soldiers raced up and down nets on mock landing-craft, across — and often into — MacFayden's Pond on footbridges, and slashed at one another with bayonets as they had been taught by Marine Col. A. J. Drexel Biddle. Famed military observers visited the division weekly, some of them well known — Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Gen. George C. Marshall. Others were little known to Americans then, but since have become world-famous — Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, and Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark.
Then it came. In early September the 39th Inf. Regt. was alerted. The 39th Combat Team, commanded by Col. Benjamin F. Caffey, moved out on Sept. 17, 1942 to a POE. Later the 47th and 60th Combat Teams exchanged barracks for tents on Chicken Road, Ft. Bragg's Reservation. On Oct. 14, 1942 the 60th Combat Team, commanded by Col. Frederick J. deRohan, shipped to a POE and was followed Oct. 17 by Col. Edwin H. Randle's 47th Combat Team. On Dec. 12 the remainder of the division sailed from New York Harbor.
After Training Comes the McCoy
THE LONG AFRICAN CAMPAIGNS
Observers who saw the 9th Div. in action in the Mediterranean considered it probably the crack U.S. Army unit in the North African theater.
TOM WOLF (NEA)
Following the cessation of hostilities, plans were made to regroup the division at Port Lyautey. The 39th Combat Team remained near Algiers, and during the next three months was strung out more than 500 miles, guarding communication lines. The 47th made a foot march of over 250 miles from Safi to Port Lyautey, while the remainder of the division landed at Casablanca and moved to the division area. By the first of 1943, the 9th, less the 39th Combat Team, was concentrated near Port Lyautey.
For the next month, soldiers of the 9th in turn guarded the Spanish Moroccan border, drank red wine, staged a review for President Roosevelt, saw Martha Raye, slept in cork forests, and found out that the guidebooks don't tell the whole story. On Jan. 31, 1943, the first elements began moving by train and truck from Port Lyautey.
The route was through Elmo Grain, Sidi Slimane, Petit Jean, Fez, Taza, Guercif, Taorit, Oujda, across the Algerian frontier, through Marnia and Turene to Tlemcen.
The stay in Tlemcen was short. At 1100 Feb. 17 orders were received to move the division artillery to the Tunisian front where Rommel had broken through. Four and a half hours later the 34th F.A. Bn. crossed the IP as leading unit. Snow was on the ground and rain fell as the artillery and the cannon companies pulled out. By day and night they drove via Sidi bel Abbes, L'Arba, Setif, Ain M'Lila, Ain Beida, to Tebessa. Brig. Gen. S. LeRoy Irwin, artillery commander, then received orders from II Corps to proceed to Thala, which was seriously threatened. The road out of Tebessa was jammed with traffic, and heavy guns repeatedly slid off roads made slippery by mud and continuous rain.
By 0400 Feb. 21 the artillery battalions were in position to fire. In three days and twelve hours this column of 411 vehicles, 138 officers, and 2032 enlisted men had covered 777 miles of winding, congested and slippery roads, through rain and snow. Rommel's thrust was stopped.
Meantime, the remainder of the division left Tlemcen on Feb. 19. Heavy wet snow fell as the convoy moved out at 0830 on a route that led — remember the names? — through Lamtar, Detrie, Sidi bel Abbes, Boulet, Mercier Lacomba, Ain Frass, Ain Fakin, Tizzi, St. Andre, Mascara, Ain Fares, El Bofdj, Tliouanet, Relizane, Hamedena, St. Aime, Inkerman, Charon, Malikoff, Orleansville, Oued Fodda, Rouina, Duperre, Lavandere, Affreville, Miliana, Marguerite, Bourkika, Ameur el Ain, Mouiniville, Calmatie, L'Arba, Rivte Alma, Menerville, Souk el Haad, Dalestad, Thiers, Bouiara, El Esnam, El Adjiba, Mzita, Coligny, Setif, Ain M'Lila (where barracks bags were stored) — to arrive near Bou Chebka Feb. 27 1943.
During the move the 39th Combat Team joined the division, reuniting the 9th once again. The division immediately went into position and began patrolling around Sbeitla and Kasserine. In late March, the 60th Combat Team was detached to fight the battle of Maknassy, while the remainder of the division moved to El Guettar.
Here the 1st Inf. Div. on the left and the 9th Inf. Div. on the right, as parts of Gen. Patton's II Corps, were to attack on the Gafsa-Gabes axis to relieve the pressure on Gen. Montgomery's British force to the south.
Detachments reduced the 9th for this operation to six — and for several days to five — infantry battalions. Principal handicap, however, was the almost complete lack of adequate maps. Nevertheless, the attack was launched on the morning of March 28, and for the next 11 days a bitter battle was waged for hills 290, 369, and 772. By April 7 the enemy had pulled back and the 9th, after occupying forward positions, made immediate plans to begin the long, secret trek to northern Tunisia.
This meant moving an entire division from southern Tunisia to the extreme northern flank bordering the Mediterranean. By April 13 the relief of the British division in the sector had begun. Also, the 60th Combat Team had rejoined the division at Bou Chebka and had begun to move northward.
Attached to the division during the next operation were four Tabours of Goums: grim-visaged, swarthy, turbanned, "bathrobe-wearing," silent Berber tribesmen who, as part of the Corps Franc d'Afrique, fought and died for seven months beside their American, French and British comrades. "Goum" — a word these tribesmen never used in referring to themselves — is an Arabic term meaning "irregular soldier."
With the relief of the British swiftly completed, the 9th was now ready as a unit, and on April 23 the attack was launched in the Sedjenane sector.
The division commander soon decided that a frontal attack on the Green Hill-Bald Hill position would be too costly. He therefore decided to employ the bulk of the division in a wide flanking movement through extremely difficult terrain north of the main road, to outflank enemy positions and cut lines of communications north and northeast.
Such a maneuver would be hampered by an almost total lack of communications throughout the area to be traversed. However, the Germans would never expect such a difficult maneuver if our troops could be moved into position without detection. Secrecy was essential to preserve the element of surprise.
In preparation for the attack a careful study was made of the terrain and dominant observation was selected for each of the intermediate objectives to be captured by the regiments each day. While these objectives were not always captured on the planned dates, most of them eventually were occupied, and in every case such occupation proved decisive in outflanking the Germans.
The extreme width of the front — 28 miles — posed a very difficult problem for the artillery commander who had to scatter his units. As a solution light battalions were kept in their usual role, supporting the infantry regiments, but medium and heavy artillery were divided into two groups, one for the south and one for the north.
Supply was a great problem. The French had virtually no transportation. Three hundred mules were obtained, and for several days the regiments were forced to rely solely on them for supply transportation and evacuation.
In the campaign which followed, the soldiers of the 9th proved that they could take advantage of the lessons they had learned the hard way. The first proof was a brilliant envelopment of the Green-Bald Hill positions which the British had assaulted unsuccessfully for months. At Djebel Dardys and Djebel Mrata the 60th Inf. massacred a German counter-attacking force. Djebel Cheniti was a brilliant demonstration of infantry "leaning up against" artillery preparation.
The 9th continued to drive steadily toward Bizerte, one of the principal Allied objectives. Finally at 1515 hours May 7, the following conversation took place:
CO, 894th TD Bn.: "Have covered the entire valley of the Oued Garba. No sign of enemy in the valley. Believe way to Bizerte wide open. Request permission to proceed into Bizerte and occupy city."
G-3, 9th Div.: "CG instructs you proceed Bizerte and occupy it. Report your position every half hour."
CO, 894th TD Bn.: "Will comply with pleasure."
And then, as Maj. Dean T. Vanderhoef, Ass't. G-2, played the "William Tell Overture" on his ocarina over the radio telephone, troops rolled into Bizerte.
Mopping up continued for several days, and when all resistance ended, a brilliantly successful operation was complete. The 9th had come of age.
Days of combat in North Africa were over. Tunisia had been a disillusioning land, devoid of cinematic glamor; a land of overloaded burros and few houses for shelter. The battle had featured over-extended fronts and equally extended lines of supply. Communications were across a country once described by a doughboy as "miles and miles of miles and miles" — a country strewn with French, German, and American mines whose exact location no one knew. These had been the days when cold-numbed fingers were sliced on C ration cans, when air superiority didn't always seem a certainty, when Yank and The Stars and Stripes were things that didn't arrive, when the only news came by way of BBC (and nobody had a radio), when the theory became a fact that "Africa is a very cold continent where the sun is hot."
Other divisions after the end of the African campaign went back to bivouacs near Oran or Algiers, but they sent the 9th to Magenta, 80 kilometers south of Sidi bel Abbes in the direction of the Sahara Desert.
HAL BOYLE (AP)
Though dust, heat and flies seemed to increase almost daily, the coolness and beauty of mornings and evenings were worth the trouble and heat of mid-day. There was always the certainty of a night's sleep free of heat, but the mid-day sun was so intense that a division order (never rescinded) specified a siesta for all troops from 1300 to 1500 hours each afternoon.
Sidi bel Abbes, French Foreign Legion Hq. and the nearest town of any size, was 50 miles away, and some passes were issued to division personnel each day. Truck convoys brought the troops in and returned them to their areas each night.
Shortly after the arrival of the division in this area, changes began to take place. The 9th passed from control of II Corps to I Armored Corps. On June 1 orders were issued transferring Brig. Gen. S. LeRoy Irwin, Div. Arty. commander, and Col. Edwin H. Randle, 47th Inf. commander, from the 9th to the United States. Both received promotions and new commands. Irwin took command of the 5th Div. and Randle became Ass't. CO of the 77th Div. which later landed on Guam. On May 30, Col. Reese M. Howell was relieved from the 17th F.A. Brig. to command the 9th Div. Arty. Appointed Brig. Gen. June 9, he took command of the Div. Arty. on June 17, 1943.
Between May 26 and June 27, 1943 the 9th participated in a program of training and rest. Emphasis was placed on rest — not forgetting reveille, formal retreat, calisthenics, Saturday morning inspections and all the thousand-and-one formalities which plague a GI who otherwise might have ten minutes to himself — with movies, band-concerts and as much entertainment as could be lured to the forsaken spot that was the division area. Units were sent to the beach at Ain el Turck near Oran in rotation for periods of four days each. Dysentery was prevalent. The training program featured schools, demonstrations and conditioning exercises.
Throughout the stay in the area the 9th received much cooperation from the French Foreign Legion. In return the division trained personnel of the 2nd Spahis (French) in reconnaissance work, and personnel of the French 9th Colonial Div. in tactics and technics of cannon-company and heavy weapon material. Details were also trained by the 9th Sig. Co. and the 15th Engr. Bn.
But movement was in the air again. On June 29 and 30, the 39th Combat Team (with attachments) and the 9th Div. Arty. moved out for Bizerte, via Orleansville, L'Arba, Setif and Souk-Ahras. Col. George Smythe took command of the 47th Inf. Another restless week followed as the remainder of the division stayed at Magenta pursuing its training program. And on July 8 orders were issued directing the remaining units to Ain el Turck. The infantry regiments, with attachments, were to march.
Thus, seven weeks after having moved into the Magenta area, the division left. The new area was near Bou Sfer, with all units within walking distance of the beach. In this "staging area" preparations were immediately begun to move to Sicily. For two weeks training was conducted in the morning but each afternoon units were formed and moved to the beach at a walk-and-run, where the remainder of the afternoon was spent.
Across the Mediterranean to Sicily
BATTLES, RECOGNITION, REST
The stamina and endurance of these men (of the 9th) as well as their march and firing line discipline is remarkable.
HAROLD DENNY, N.Y. TIMES
At approximately 0415 on Sunday Aug. 1, 1943 — the 3rd anniversary of the 9th — the celebration began. Enemy planes raided the harbor for an hour and 45 minutes.
During the raid the 9th lost neither personnel nor equipment, but an undetermined number of enemy planes was shot down. That morning unloading of ships began and division units went into bivouac east of Palermo. During the next few days concentration of the division east of Nicosia was completed.
Units that had preceded the main body of the division for the invasion of Sicily rejoined the 9th west of Troina. By Aug. 5 all units were in a position for the attack that was launched on the morning of Aug. 6.
The 60th lnf. was sent on a wide flanking movement north through almost impassable terrain. Their mission was similar to what they had accomplished so brilliantly in the Bizerte campaign. Again there were major problems of supply and evacuation competently solved by the supply services, medics, and engineers.
While the 60th went north through Capizzi and then east, the 47th and 39th advanced east from Troina. The enemy once again was maneuvered out of one position after another. By Aug. 12 the 60th Inf. reached Floresta, and the 39th occupied Randazzo, keypoint of the enemy's last line of defense before Messina. Here the 9th Div. was "pinched out" by the 3rd Div. on the north and the British on the south.
The 9th Div. remained in position until Aug. 20, when it was officially announced that the island of Sicily was free of enemy. On Aug. 23, movement began toward Cefalu on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Here, for the first time the division received some of the credit it had so richly earned the hard way. Because of confused censorship regulations, the 9th had been neglected in press releases concerning the North African and Sicilian campaigns. Recognition came in early Oct. 1943 in The Stars and Stripes, which stated:
The 9th has the kind of leadership and spirit that make a fighting outfit. The men showed it at Randazzo, the southern hinge of the last German defense line in Sicily. They showed it by their brilliant envelopment of Green and Bald Hills in the Sedjenane Valley campaign which led to the fall of Bizerte. They showed it in one of the bitterest battles of North Africa — the fight at El Guettar; and again when they force-marched some 900 miles to help stem the Rommel thrust at Kasserine Pass. And they showed it when their three combat teams landed at Safi, at Port Lyautey, and at Algiers last Nov. 8.
In this area the bubble of rotation swelled to enormous size and burst abruptly. Here the division had a chance to see entertainers like Jack Benny, Al Jolson, and Adolphe Menjou. Here the Donut Girls appeared, and from Sept. 5 through Oct. 30 served more than 170,000 freshly-baked doughnuts to the 9th Div. Here on Oct. 25, 1943, 34 newly naturalized members of the division formally became citizens of the country for which they'd been fighting for months.
These were the days of vino, marsala, and vermouth; of grapes and melons and almonds; of gaily-painted donkey carts and swims in the blue Tyrrhenian Sea; of visits to Palermo and Monreale and the dark catacombs; of the frequent times when the soldiers found out that the guidebooks don't tell the whole story.
Then came Halloween and an order for the 9th to move to Mondello, near Palermo, "the muddiest patch of ground in the world." And on the night of Monday, Nov. 8, 1943, the 9th was boat-and-train bound for England.
England and D-Day Build-Up
WINCHESTER WAS THE PLACE
But for all its quiet, ancient beauty, Winchester was nothing more than a springboard from which the 9th could leap into the final European phases of the world conflict. As the mild English winter melted into spring, the luxury of passes, furloughs and week-ends wore away to reveal more and more clearly the grim, steel framework of ominous military preparation.
Gen. Bernard Montgomery addressed the troops on a rainy afternoon Jan. 19, 1944, at the 60th Inf. area in Winchester Barracks. On March 24 Gen. Eisenhower, Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspected the division.
By April 2, with all leaves and furloughs cleared up, the training pace was accelerated by a field problem on Easter Sunday. On May 27 at 0630 the division was put on a six-hour alert status. The men knew the time was at hand.
There had been GI movies, USO shows, PX supplies, the Red Cross tea wagon, signs in English, mild-and-bitter, pubs and dances, and the not-so surprising rediscovery that the guidebooks don't tell the whole story.
The division began moving to marshalling areas on Saturday afternoon, June 3. Men found sleep difficult the night of June 5, under the ceaseless drone of unseen planes. By two-thirty, when the first units were alerted, everybody knew...
Invasion of the continent began in the early morning of June 6, 1944. The 9th Inf. hit the Normandy beach on D plus 4, as one of the two U.S. infantry divisions on the beachhead with previous combat experience, a fact fully appreciated by higher commanders and military observers.
Again the 9th Unleashed its Might
A CAPTURED HUN WAS CAMERA-SHY
The Ninth is good. It performed like a beautiful ma-chine in the Cherbourg campaign.
The attack was swift, perfectly executed. Each time the enemy dropped back, the 9th Div. hit him again. Having driven across the Douve River, and although north and south flanks were exposed, the 47th and the 60th Inf. reached the east coast near St. Lo, D'Ourville and Barneville early on June 17.
The Cotentin Peninsula was cut, but the enemy made a desperate attempt to break out near St. Jacques de Nehou. Artillery and a terrific mortar concentration massacred this force.
The 9th then turned north toward Cherbourg. The 39th went through Octeville while the 47th seized the western half of the town and the arsenal. Meanwhile the 60th was protecting the left flank and preparing for an attack up the cape.
During this campaign the 9th captured Lt. Gen. Karl Wilhelm von Schlieben and Rear Admiral Hennecke, senior enemy Army and Navy commanders of the Cherbourg area. They were immediately brought to the division CP where ensued a bit of repartee which shortly became famous.
Bob Capa, Life magazine photographer, appeared at the division commander's tent to take pictures of the captured officers. But the Germans definitely had other notions. Von Schlieben was particularly difficult. "I am tired of this picture taking," he snapped. Capa, who speaks German, sighed and lowered his camera momentarily. "I, too, am tired, General," he pointed out, "I have to take pictures of so many captured German generals!"
While other forces occupied Cherbourg, the 9th cleaned up the Cap de la Hague by July 1. The 9th had accomplished the opening chapter of the invasion drama.
This had been Africa with hedgerows, calvados, snipers, totally destroyed villages, an occasional pretty girl, and the familiar realization that the guidebooks don't tell the whole story.
The story of how completely the 9th had done its job is told best by some of the war correspondents who reported the facts to the world:
The Infantry of the 9th Div. rates a mass Congressional Medal.
WILLIAM H. STONEMAN
The hedgerow-to-hedgerow fighting of the 9th Div. across the Cherbourg peninsula from sea to sea must rate as one of the most brilliant successes of United States military history. For four days I accompanied these veterans who not only had turned the tide in Tunisia with the capture of Bizerte, but also helped wind up the Sicilian campaign with the seizure of Randazzo. They were brought to France to chop off the tip of the strategic peninsula and isolate the Germans in Cherbourg... The renowned heroes of Port Lyautey and Bizerte pushed along the flank to Barneville, encountered severe resistance at the little town of St. Jacques de Nehou.
To the north the 9th had taken Nehou. Veterans of Bizerte and Sicily, the men of the 9th were now fresh from England, itching for more fight. They got their chance: the 82nd was too spent to exploit its breakthrough. So while one regiment of the 9th pushed west from Nehou through St. Jacques, another regiment passed through the tired 82nd, pushed through St. Saveur in a parallel thrust... the 9th had gained 12 1/2 miles in two days — the fastest advance of the campaign... The 9th had done the job: Cherbourg was sealed off.
Omar Bradley has done it again. Slipping stronger units past the lines of their tiring comrades, he once more smashed unexpectedly through the Germans to cut off Cherbourg, just as be broke through to doom Bizerte a little over a year ago. And he used the same outfit — the battle-tested 9th Div. — to strike the decisive blow... The blow that broke the Nazi's back below Cherbourg was a clever one and aroused real enthusiasm here (Washington, D.C.) Brig. Gen. Horace S. Sewell of the British branded "the 9th American Division's exploit" as "a magnificent achievement."
CAPT. LOWELL M. LIMPUS
It was June 25, the nineteenth day of the Battle of Liberation. And the veterans of the American 9th Inf. Div., who a year before had helped to corner the Germans in Tunisia's Cap Bon Peninsula, now were conducting the first smashing Allied victory of the invasion. For by nightfall the great port of Cherbourg was for all practical purposes in American hands.
The 9th Inf. Div. has been in action continuously since July 9, driving from France through Belgium, into Germany.
THE STARS AND STRIPES (Oct. 9, '44)
The 9th beat off a series of counter-attacks in the Mortain-Cherence le Roussel sector and later joined in the chase which closed the Falaise Gap.
On Aug. 20, 1944 Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig took command of the 9th and began an offensive which carried the unit over much of the same ground that he himself had covered in the last war.
The 9th swung toward the east, across the Seine at Melun, then pushed northeast to the historic Marne on Aug. 28 without opposition, and swept through equally historic Chateau-Thierry the following day.
Through Belgium, into Germany
OVER MEUSE, THROUGH SIEGFRIED
The 9th continued the push through Chimay, through Couvin, toward Dinant and the Meuse River. The crossing of the Meuse has historically been one of the most difficult of military operations. It was not less difficult now.
Crossings were attempted at several points — some were instantly successful, others required several thrusts. By Sept. 5, however, the 9th had pressed across the Meuse River.
The push continued and on Sept. 13 the 9th moved into Germany south of Roetgen. The following day the 47th Inf. staked its claim of being the first Allied unit to completely breach the Siegfried Line, advancing through the first zone and on through the second. The 39th and 60th meantime drove into the Hurtgen Forest.
A letter from Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, C.G. of VII Corps, to Maj. Gen. Craig gives an apt description of the division's participation in the battles of Europe:
"After the fall of Cherbourg the 9th participated in the bitter fighting in the swamps and hedgerows of Normandy, and contributed materially to the breakthrough of the German defenses that ended the 'hedgerow' fighting and opened the war of maneuver. Joining in the pursuit, the division secured the left flank of the VII Corps in its drive on Mortain, then bore a large share of the vicious attacks of the German Seventh Army in the Mortain-Cherence le Roussel area aimed at separating the American First and Third Armies. With these German attacks beaten off, the 9th again participated in the pursuit that assisted in closing the Falaise Gap from the south.
"After crossing the Seine, the Marne, and the Aisne rivers in rapid succession, the 9th again came to grips with the retreating enemy in the edge of the Ardennes Forest east of Hirson and drove him across the Meuse. The division's successful crossing of the Meuse in the vicinity of Dinant, in the face of strong opposition, was one of the most difficult tasks of this war. Using assault boats and rafts, the initial crossing was at night. Despite heavy losses the division established a secure bridgehead, which it held against spirited German counter-attacks, then completed its crossing and routed the enemy which fled to the east. The pursuit continued without pause until the division had joined in the breakthrough of the West Wall.
"During these extensive operations the 9th Division advanced almost 600 miles against enemy opposition, captured over 28,000 prisoners and participated in three major campaigns with not more than five days out of action in a period of over four months. This outstanding record is one of the finest in the European Theater."
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