102D INFANTRY DIVISION
THE OZARK PATCH
A large, golden "O" on a field of blue. Within the
"O" is the letter "Z," from which is suspended an arc, both
the letter and the arc being in gold. The patch thus represents the word
"Ozark," original plans having been intended for personnel to be
drawn from the Ozark Mountain area of the United States.
THE OZARK DIVISION: ITS PROUD HISTORY
The 102d Infantry Division was created shortly after the close of
World War I, but did not achieve real stature until World War II when it carved
on the battlefields of Hitler's Germany a brilliant record as a fighting force.
When Japanese bombers delivered their surprise blow against Pearl
Harbor on 7 December 1941, the men who would man the 102d Division's machine
guns, rifles, tanks and artillery were for the most part merely names and
numbers on selective service rolls throughout the country.
The division itself existed only on sheets of paper which had been
gathering dust for about 20 years. On 21 June 1921 the division -- which had
been authorized in the waning months of the First World War -- was constituted
as an organized reserve division on paper, and then all but forgotten.
Not until a national crisis arose was the division activated,
molded around a small, experienced cadre of men from the Second Infantry
Division and swelled to combat strength with carpenters, clerks, lumberjacks
and lawyers from the four points of the compass.
The division's name and patch have a history dating back to the
days when French explorers came upon skillful Indian bowmen in what is now Missouri
and Arkansas and called the region "Terre aux Arcs" or "Land of
Early American settlers later modified the name to
"Ozarks," the region from which the men of the 102d were originally
slated to come.
On 15 September 1942 the 102d was ordered to active duty to begin
forming and training at Camp Maxey, a new post in northeast Texas.
The progress of the war had not yet showed signs of turning. Nazi
troopers were moving forward through Stalingrad in door-to-door fighting.
Rommel's African corps was hammering at El Alamein. Our mighty aircraft carrier
Wasp was sinking in the waters of the Solomon Islands. America's first major
offensive operation was encountering bitter resistance from newly reinforced
Japanese on Guadalcanal.
With this as a somber backdrop and a spur, training was begun in
earnest. Fifteen thousand raw recruits streamed into Camp Maxey during October,
November and December.
Their arms were sore from shots; soon their feet were sore from
the tough soldiering that was immediately demanded of them.
Maj. Gen. John B. Anderson assumed command. Under his direction
the draftees and enlistees were welded into a modern military force.
The men were taught to drill, to hike, to shoot, to dig in, to
obey orders and to think in terms of an objective as having overall,
The men responded. A new division with great potential came to
life. Its test would be a severe one. But it would score well.
102D ENTERS SPECIALIZED TRAINING
Early in the life of the division it was decided to point the
training toward breaching the dreaded Siegfried Line.
The Ozarks, as they were commonly called, took part in Third Army
maneuvers in Louisiana in the fall of 1943 and then shifted to Camp Swift,
Texas, for more specialized training.
In December of 1943 General Anderson left the division to assume
command of the XVIth Corps. He was succeeded the following month by Brig. Gen.
(later Maj. Gen.) Frank A. Keating.
In June of 1944 the 102d was moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey, on its
first leg of the journey overseas.
But before the big move, two regiments were ordered to
Philadelphia briefly to cope with a transportation strike which had crippled
DESTINATION: THE SIEGFRIED LINE
In August the division went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for final
processing and then traveled by troop transports to Cherbourg. Thence by train,
truck and foot they moved through France, Belgium and Holland -- destination:
the Siegfried Line.
By November of 1944 the Allied armies had driven the Nazis from
France, had penetrated Germany at several points and were developing a full
scale attack against the Siegfried Line. This vaunted defense position had already
been pierced by the First Army at Aachen but the front had subsequently
DIVISION FACES FORMIDABLE DEFENSE
Plans called for attack through the line at Geilenkirchen. Ninth
Army was selected for the job and the Ozark Division was assigned to this
This portion of the line consisted of pillboxes with walls 8 to 10
feet thick, some even disguised as out-houses, barns and haystacks. These
strong points were protected by belts of mines and barbed wire, trenches,
foxholes and anti-tank ditches. Tanks, self-propelled guns and assault guns
were dug in on the reverse sides of slopes and behind pillboxes.
The division's initial mission was one of defense -- sending out
patrols to keep pressure on the enemy, shelling the enemy's rear areas, acting
as a screen behind which preparations for the attack could be made.
On 18 November the attack jumped off with the 84th Division moving
through front line positions under support fire from a 102d regiment.
In the operation one of the great tank battles of the war ensued,
during which one company of a tank destroyer battalion (attached to 102d
Division Artillery) destroyed 16 German tanks.
The unit was cited for the "audacity and brilliant tactical
skill" of its operation.
Meanwhile an infantry regiment was attached to the 2d Armored
Division for the attack and seized Apweiler and Gereonsweiler after storming
through curtains of fire from pillboxes, machine guns, tanks and German 88's
manned by crack Panzer and SS troops.
DIVISION UNIT CITED
Praising the regiment for its action Maj. Gen. E. N. Harmon said:
"The fighting quality displayed . . . is in the best traditions of the
service and has won the respect and commendation of the 2d Armored
For troops whose previous offensive experience had been gained in
mock battles in the swamps of Louisiana, who only a few short weeks before had
enjoyed cold beer in New York, it was a proud accomplishment.
Over 1,000 prisoners had been taken. Another 204 had been killed.
The push to the Roer was well under way.
The division was consolidated and its headquarters moved from Robroek,
Holland, to Ubach, Germany.
The Ozarks smashed through several towns in a drive toward Linnich
on the west bank of the Roer River. In Roerdorf, a regiment turned the fight
into a rout. The enemy suffered high casualties and a severe blow to its
prestige as troops of crack German outfits jumped into the river and tried to
swim to safety.
ENEMY LAUNCHES COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
During this operation the division encountered the worst enemy
artillery fire it was to face. Roads and towns throughout the area were
continuously pounded by guns of all calibers. The enemy didn't hesitate to
place murderous artillery and mortar fire on towns which their own infantry was
But before the attack could be pushed across the river, von Rundstedt
unleashed an all-out counter-offensive through the Ardennes in Belgium starting
on 16 December.
The 84th, 2d and 7th divisions were shifted south to help halt the
German drive in this, the Battle of the Bulge. This left the 102d defending the
entire XIIIth Corps sector with a front of almost 8 miles. Service and supply
units, even company cooks, were to get the feel of front-line defense before
the winter snows disappeared.
STRATEGIC DECEPTION DEPLOYED
Operations during this period included efforts to convince the
Germans that a sizeable force was building across from their positions. Tanks
moved back and forth to give an impression of great armored strength. Dummy
tanks and artillery pieces were erected. Mines were laid, barbed wire strung,
foxholes chopped in the ice-hard earth.
By the end of December the Germans were convinced that something
was brewing. At dawn on the 30th of the month they sent a raiding party of 150
men toward Ozark positions.
The Jerries ran into wire defenses thrown up only a few hours
earlier. Division artillery, guided by accurate fire commands from our forward
observers, plastered the raiders. Sixty-seven were killed, 34 captured; the
enemy spent the rest of the day evacuating the wounded.
The big job in January was to eliminate a German strongpoint in
the Roer-Wurm confluence, defended by a portion of the old Siegfried Line. Extensive
plans included the issuance of white snow suits to camouflage the men against
the snow. But the Germans melted away in front of the Ozarks.
This description was reported in the New York Times in an Associated
"BRACHELEN, Germany, Jan. 26 -- This badly battered old city,
ten miles inside Germany, and six surrounding villages, were in American hands
tonight without an artillery shell being fired.
"The last plug was knocked from the Siegfried Line in this
sector at a cost up to noon, of nine casualties. A hundred Germans are
prisoners and the rest have fled into the blue, tree-topped hills to the east
along with the civilians.
"Most of the casualties were wounded by the mine fields, as
Brig. Gen. Frank A. Keating's 102d Infantry Division, white-cloaked against the
snow, surged forward early this morning and overran 97 pillboxes.
"The division struck three regiments abreast against such
light opposition that plans for an elaborate artillery barrage were cancelled..."
DIVISION CROSSES THE ROER
Toward the end of February, it was decided to send the Ninth Army
in a plunge across the Roer toward the Rhine. The 102d Division was chosen to
spearhead the attack.
The Ozarks poised their strength on a narrow front between Linnich
and Roerdorf. Every weapon, organic and attached, had been emplaced and
sighted. Everything was closed up against the Roer, like a tightly coiled
spring about to snap loose in fury.
Artillery batteries were practically against the banks of the
river. Service elements and dumps were within striking distance of enemy
artillery. The division command post was barely 300 yards from the water's
The 23d of February was a crucial day. It opened for the Ozarks on
a thunderous note: a 45-minute Div/Arty barrage.
The 102d was the first division to get all of its units across the
swollen, churning river. The bridgehead was established and the road to the
Rhine had been opened.
PUSH TO THE RHINE PACED BY OZARKS
In less than a week the Ozarks cleaned up the major western
defensive belt protecting Munchen - Bladbach and proceeded north, continuing to
spearhead Ninth Army's deep thrust.
In three days of bitter fighting, the division captured Krefeld, a
city of 170,000, key railroad and communications center and site of a large
rocket factory built in caves. The date was 3 March.
The Stars and Stripes paid tribute to the division with a story
headlined: "Ozark Doughs Capture 4,000, 86 Localities." There
followed an account of how the 102d "paced Ninth Army's whirlwind push to
the Rhine." In the 33 hard miles from Linnich to Krefeld the division
overran 86 towns and cities and earned a reputation as one of the best combat
divisions in the European theater of operations.
The sagging Germans expended considerable effort to prepare strong
defenses on the east bank of the Rhine.
As late as 15 March, however, before these defensive positions
were complete, a patrol from the 102d reconnoitered a point 4 miles east of the
river -- the deepest penetration yet made into Germany.
The Nazis shifted their crack 2d Paratroop Division to a position
across from the Ozarks. The fact that this division was committed to defend the
southwest approach to the Ruhr industrial district, and the Uerdingen - Duisberg
sector in particular, was interpreted as indicating the great consternation
with which the menacing position and the reputation of the Ozark Division was
viewed by the German high command.
On 30 March the 102d extended north and south, thus occupying an
18-mile front from Romberg nearly to Dusseldorf.
In the fight for the Ruhr the 102d was initially slated for a role
of deception, holding the 2d Paratroop Division south near Uerdingen while
Ninth Army made an end-run further north.
DECEPTION AIDS SUCCESS
Patrols were intensified. Artillery thundered around the clock. A
great store of captured German rockets was turned against the enemy. In rear
areas our troops rushed to and fro in confusing movements.
The deception worked. By the time the Germans realized the Ozarks'
tactics were merely a ruse, Ninth Army had secured the Wesel crossing and the
Ruhr was well on the way toward capture.
The 102d crossed the Rhine early in April and hurried across the
rolling fields of Munster Bay. During the move they combed 3,000 enemy soldiers
from wooded ridges in the Teutogebirge area.
In three days of bloody fighting for the Wesergebirge area, about
1,600 prisoners were taken; another 600 were killed.
On 13 April in fighting near Breitenfeld, an I & R Platoon
fought its way out of an ambush to win a presidential citation. It read in
"...the platoon was given the mission of screening the
advance of the infantry. As it proceeded two miles ahead of the regiment it was
ambushed and cut off from the main body ... Although taken under intense fire
from a stubborn enemy firing from the distance of 75 yards, the officers and
men, with sheer valor and aggressiveness, fought off numerically superior
forces... Because of the persistence and rapidity of the assault the enemy
forces were compelled to give ground, but nevertheless continued to resist
stubbornly until members of the I & R Platoon rushed their positions and
eliminated them individually in their foxholes. During this action they killed
and wounded a large number of enemy and captured the remainder, thereby
annihilating a strong enemy force which would have constituted a serious threat
to the advancing regiment. The fearless determination, daring and intrepidity
of all members of the (platoon) reflect great credit upon themselves and is in
keeping with the highest tradition of the military service."
An example of the kind of individual courage shown that day was
when Sgt. Paul J. Padgett of Detroit, although having had one arm pierced by a
bullet, rushed a foxhole, wrestled a rifle away from the German occupant, then
killed him with his own weapon.
OPPORTUNITY AND HORROR
The capture of Gardelegen, an ancient town surrounded by a moat,
and containing a large air field and air force replacement center, is an event
that will never be forgotten by those involved, for two reasons: the German
commander was tricked into complete surrender; inside the town were found the
remains of a grisly crime.
Lt. Emerson Hunt, liaison officer between Ozark Headquarters and
his tank battalion, was not aware that the town was still in enemy hands when
he was captured by its outguards.
During questioning he demanded to be taken to the highest ranking
German officer. He then succeeded in convincing this man, a colonel in the Luftwaffe,
that American tanks were ready to blast Gardelegen from the face of the
He said that since he wasn't certain where his own battalion headquarters
were located at the moment, it might be wise for the Germans to surrender to
the nearest American commander who, judging by the noise, was only then
approaching from Estedt.
No sooner said than done. Lt. Hunt was sent back to notify his
tanks that complete surrender would be arranged. A Nazi major accompanied him
through the German outposts to American lines.
It might be noted here that except for two platoons of tanks at
Estedt, our armor was far, far away.
Terms were quickly agreed to and the German colonel accompanied Colonel
Williams, CO of an infantry regiment, into town where the entire garrison, its
arms already stacked, stood neatly drawn up for surrender. On this note the
"Battle for Gardelegen" ended.
In a barn on the outskirts of town were found the charred and
smoking bodies of over 300 slave laborers, deliberately burned to death by
Investigation disclosed that 1,016 political and military
prisoners had perished here. Part of a larger group, they were being driven
west to escape the Russians when their guards suddenly learned that the fall of
Gardelegen was imminent. The prisoners were slaughtered to prevent the possibility
of their turning on their captors in the event of sudden liberation.
Freshly dug common graves mutely testified to the haste with which
all evidence of the atrocity was being concealed. Another day and no trace
would have remained.
Toward the end of April all organized resistance had just about
vanished. For the German soldiers the war with the Americans was over, and they
surrendered in droves.
VICTORY IN EUROPE APPARENT
Two news accounts quickly outline the picture.
Lowell Thomas said in his nightly NBC broadcast on May 4:
"General Eisenhower's announcement here at Supreme Allied
Headquarters tonight seems to have put the quietus on any hope that anyone may
have had for a VE-day proclamation this week. But (his) is a thrilling statement,
VE-day or no VE-day. 'German forces on the Western Front have
disintegrated' -- those are his first words. 'Today what is left of two German armies surrendered
to a single American division -- the 102d, commanded by Maj. Gen. Frank A.
And on the same day Wes Gallagher of the Associated Press put it
"Germany's once proud Wehrmacht is dying a shameful death on
the banks of the Elbe.
"SS Panzer troops -- once Germany's elite -- paddle across
the river on makeshift rafts. Sometimes they swim, leaving their medal-bedecked
"The swarm of soldiers clogging the east banks by the tens of
thousands is more than a beaten Army. It is a fear-stricken horde -- afraid of
the Russians with a fear that only a guilty conscience can inspire.
"Anyone standing on the Elbe could not help but feel the war
is over, VE declaration or no.
"That generals are standing in line is no figure of speech.
"At one regimental command post of the 102d Division there
were two generals, one a Panzer Army commander, and half a dozen colonels, all
trying to surrender their units..."
The two enemy armies which surrendered to the 102d were the German
9th and 12th Panzer Armies.
On 7 May 1945 Russian troops made contact with American forces at
the Elbe and for the men of the Ozark Division the shooting war was over, after
181 days of combat.
During its valorous campaigns the 102d captured 147,000 and killed
more than 4,000 enemy troops. In addition, the Ozarks captured or destroyed 345
enemy planes, 24 tanks, 14 railroad guns, 67 hated 88's, and carloads of
ammunition and military equipment.
Occupation duty followed until March of 1946 when the division
sailed for home.
With the end of hostilities the 102d was deactivated. But not for
On 15 September 1947 the division was activated as part of the
Organized Reserve, under the command of Maj. Gen. Leif J. Sverdrup.
During World War II General Sverdrup had served as General Douglas
MacArthur's chief engineer, and was in large part responsible for the building
of a vast system of air bases throughout the southwest Pacific.
Under his command the 102d was developed from small beginnings
into one of the largest and best reserve divisions in the country. The division
area encompasses all of Missouri and southern Illinois.
On 31 January 1958 General Sverdrup retired and was succeeded by
Brig. Gen. (now Maj. Gen.) William H. Harrison, who had previously served as
division artillery executive officer, chief of staff, and division artillery
commander with the 102d.
During the war General Harrison was a top staff officer of General
George S. Patton.
To General Harrison fell the task of guiding the transition of the
102d into a pentomic division capable of effectively operating -- if
necessary -- on the atomic battlefields of modern warfare.