28th Infantry Division – Huertgen Forest & Battle of the Bulge

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Operational Performance of the US 28th Infantry Division (Keystone) September to December 1944 is a thesis presented to the Faculty of the US Army Command and General Staff College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Military Art and Science by Jeffrey P. Holt, Major, USA. BS, University of South Alabama, 1982.

This study analyzes the operational performance of the 28th Infantry Division during a period of high intensity combat in the European Theater of Operations. The focus is on the difficulties the division experienced within its subordinate infantry units. Infantrymen, though comprising less than 40 percent of the division’s total strength, absorbed almost 90 percent of all casualties. The high casualty rate within infantry units severely curtailed the operational performance of the division. The difficulties the 28th experienced were commonplace in the European theater. Compounding the problem was the inadequate number of divisions in the US Army force structure. This inadequacy forced divisions to remain in combat for excessive duration, greatly increasing battle and non battle casualties. The army’s personnel system further contributed to the problems infantry divisions experienced within their infantry units. It failed to provide sufficient numbers of infantry replacements in a timely manner and there was widespread dissatisfaction with the quality of infantry replacements. This study shows that the US Army failed to realize both the importance of infantry units to the war effort and the severity of combat on the modem battlefield. The result was an infantry force structure poorly designed to accomplish its wartime mission.

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Chapter #01 – Introduction

If you take a flat map and move wooden blocks upon it strategically, the thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should. The science of war is moving live men like blocks. And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment. But it takes time to mold your men into blocks and flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies hamper your wooden squares. They stick to the brush, they are tired and rest, they straggle after rip blackberries, and you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them. A string of blocks curling smoothly around the left of another string of blocks and crunching it up. It is all so clear in the mind, but the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow to move, when they start they take too long on the way. The general loses his starts and the block-men die in non-strategic defiance of martial law, because still used to just being men, not block parts. This thesis will examine the performance of infantry units assigned to the US 28th Infantry Division from September to December 1944. During this four-month period of combat, the 28th Infantry Division endured some of the toughest fighting of the Second World War. It fought three major offensive and defensive battles against a skilled and determined enemy, at a cost of almost 20,000 casualties. The division’s soldiers also suffered heavily from the debilitating effects of the extremely harsh winter of 1944-1945. The focus of this thesis will concentrate on the rise and fall of infantry unit performance during this period and will consider two major influences. Those influences include manning the force and sustaining the health and morale of combat infantrymen. This thesis will also attempt to analyze how much control the 28th Division exercised over these factors. It will also analyze possible steps the division might have taken to maintain a consistent level of infantry performance.

2 – why was the 28th Infantry Division selected for study ?
3 – out of all the factors that contribute to one combat unit performance, why were only the factors of manning and sustaining the health and morale of the force selected for study ?

The answer to the first question is based on the organization and employment of the infantry division during World War I. This division had an assigned strength of less than 15,000 men. Out of this strength, the division had two primary sources of combat power, its infantry and artillery units. The division normally had other combat elements attached to it, such as tank and tank destroyer units, but these units changed frequently based on the mission of the division. They were also outside the division’s day today responsibility for manning. Of the two primary sources of combat power, the infantry element experienced the most significant variations in performance. The division’s 112th Infantry Regiment provides an excellent example of how greatly unit performance could vary. During the arduous Huertgen Forest Campaign in November 1944, German defenses, battle fatigue and trench-foot wreaked havoc on the regiment. Two of its three battalions fled from the battlefield in a complete state of panic. One month later, the 112th won the Presidential Unit Citation for its heroic defensive stand during the Battle of the Bulge.

In contrast, the division’s artillery element maintained a consistently high level of performance. As the war went on, artillery in the 28-ID got stronger and stronger. American artillery was a tremendous success story during the war. The performance of this combat arm drew praise from both Allied and German participants. Surveys of American soldiers also rated the performance of artillery units as very high level. Thus, if an infantry division was to fail in combat because of unit performance, it was most likely due to the failure of its infantry units. Coming to grips with the possible reasons for failure in these units is a complicated and uncertain business. Certainly any discussion of unit performance must normally address such factors as leadership, tactics, and training. When analyzing operations in the European Theater of Operations however, there was one factor that was consistently present. That factor was the almost routine destruction of the infantry companies and battalions of infantry divisions. The personnel of these units comprised less than 40 percent of the division strength, yet they suffered 80 percent of all casualties. Replacements flowed in to fill these shattered units and the destruction continued once more. This environment produced incredible leadership and organizational challenge to maintain even the most basic level of unit proficiency. In contrast, artillery and other divisional units comprised a very low percentage of the total casualties. These units were much less likely to suffer the dramatic losses in unit cohesion and effectiveness that result from heavy casualties. Their position on the battlefield also provided them with a measure of security and access to shelter denied the front line infantryman. Personnel in these units were therefore less prone to suffer from the effects of combat that produced such illnesses as battle fatigue combat exhaustion and trench-foot. Taken as a whole, it is easy to understand why the performance of infantrymen was so inconsistent and why it is important to study the conditions that might contribute to his failure.

(The official US Army term during WW-II was neuropsychiatric disorders. Medical personnel believed that use of that diagnosis should occur only in the COMMZ hospitals. It was found that soldiers labeled as neuropsychiatric casualties had a much lower recovery rate than soldiers labeled as suffering from battle fatigue. Battle Fatigue implied to the soldier that all he needed as a little rest to recover and in many cases that was entirely correct. Shell shock was a term common in World War One and was seldom used during World War Two terms. Battle fatigue is the term common in World War Two. Battle fatigue is the term used in current US Army field manuals, though neuropsychiatric disorder is still the official medical term. Battle fatigue is used throughout this thesis to allow the reader to better relate to current doctrine.)

The second question asks why the 28-ID was selected for study. There were after all, 47 infantry divisions to chose from in the ETO alone. The 28th is the focus of this thesis because it serves as an excellent representative for the majority of the American infantry force that fought in the ETO. This is not to say that the 28th shared a common level of unit performance with all other infantry divisions. Some divisions enjoyed a much greater reputation for success in combat, while others experienced much greater difficulties. The 28th was a solid and reliable unit, a reputation that the division shared with many other units in the theater. The experiences of the 28th with regards to manning and sustaining the infantry force were common to almost all infantry divisions in the ETO.

Men of 2nd Plat, D Company, 39th Infantry Regiment in action during the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest

The 28th was somewhat unique in that it was a national guard division and that it started training for combat almost a year prior to the start of the war. On the surface, the reader could assume that the 28tb was very different from the regular army and draftee divisions assigned to the ETO. It was different in the composition of its personnel and because of the advantages gained through a training period that lasted more than three years. The second chapter of this thesis will show that these two assumptions were far from correct. The personnel policies of the US Army were such that, by 1944 the 28th bore only a passing resemblance to the accepted model of a national guard division. The personnel turbulence from these same policies also meant that the 28th did not receive a measurable advantage in training from its early activation. The final question concerns the decision to narrow the analysis of infantry unit performance to two factors, manning the force and sustaining the health and morale of soldiers. There are obviously other factors that might have a tremendous influence on unit performance; leadership, doctrine, and technology are only a few examples. It is also understood that these factors are interrelated, and no single factor should be analyzed in a vacuum. However, it is beyond the scope of this thesis to examine all of the factors that influenced unit performance. Many elements, such as leadership, already fill volumes of historical works. Instead, this thesis will examine the influence of two of the most consistent problem areas that confronted American infantry divisions during World War II. The experiences of the 28th will demonstrate the actual influence of these factors on a unit in combat.

During the World War Two, the broad mission of the army’s personnel system was to provide personnel to form and organize new units and then to provide individual replacements to maintain combat units at their authorized strength. Given that the strength of the army eventually grew to more than 8,000,000 soldiers and airmen, this was a herculean task. The personnel system also confronted a new form of war. This war required specialized soldier skills that were unimaginable at the end of World War One. In keeping with the demands of these specialized skills, requirements developed for the identification and distribution of high quality personnel to critical skill areas. Competition among the army, navy, and marine corps for quality personnel greatly exacerbated the difficulties for the personnel system. There were bound to be losers in such a competitive system. In the army, those losers were the ground combat units. From both a qualitative and a quantitative standpoint, the ground forces suffered from the army’s personnel assignment policies. It was not until the army began serious fighting in Italy in 1943-1944 that problems began to appear. Senior leaders recognized that the assignment of poor quality soldiers diluted the fighting power infantry units. They also determined that there were serious flaws in the army’s ability to meet the huge and unexpected requirement for infantry replacements.

After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Co., 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest.  January 14, 1945.  Gilbert. (Army) NARA FILE #:  111-SC-324556 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #:  1078

The army made an enormous effort to reform the personnel system and to improve the quality of personnel assigned as infantrymen. Unfortunately most of the changes came too late in the war to help units like the 28-ID. Personnel policies also influenced the training and cohesion of units. Near constant personnel turbulence prior to overseas deployment, made it very difficult for units to achieve a high level of proficiency. In combat, training problems centered on the poor skill level of individual replacements. Leaders criticized not only the quality that resulted from the hasty conversion of non-infantry personnel to combat riflemen, but also that of trained infantry replacements as well as a result, most units had to concentrate precious training time on individual soldier skills. More complex unit skills were hard to develop and almost impossible to sustain in this environment. This created a vicious cycle that led to excessive casualties and poor unit performance. The health and morale of soldiers were also bound to suffer in such a turbulent system. From the day a soldier entered the replacement pipeline his health and morale tended to deteriorate. The system often separated him from his peer group established in training and expected him to go to war as a individual component in a huge machine. From the time he completed training to the time he arrived at his unit might be as long as three to five months. During that period there was little in the form of training or physical conditioning to maintain his skills and confidence. His journey through the replacement system also exposed him to overcrowded facilities that often lacked such necessities as safe drinking water.

When he finally joined his unit, the threats to heal and morale were not over. In the front lines he had to confront exposure to harsh weather and almost continuous combat. If enemy fire did not kill or wound him, then he still had to survive a host of other possible injuries, disease, and the specter of battle fatigue. The personnel losses to such non battle causes were enormous. The 28-ID suffered many thousands of such injuries during its European service. During the division’s two weeks of fighting in the Huertgen Forest, there were more than 750 reported cases of trench foot alone.

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There are the factors that the thesis will attempt to examine. The 28th Infantry Division’s experiences still provide valuable lessons for todays military leaders. The army continues to demand that infantry units close with and destroy the enemy, under all conditions of weather and terrain. This requires personnel with unique skills and a high level of motivation. Lessons from the 28-ID show the perils of assigning ill-suited personnel to infantry units. The division’s experiences also reveal the difficulties that units might fact integrating individual replacements, particularly those units engaged in prolonged combat. The importance of individual and unit training programs in the combat theater, as well as the considerations of health and morale of soldiers, are also shown. In conclusion, this thesis will highlight the additional areas of research related to this study.

Chapter 2 – The Bloody Bucket Division

The 28th Infantry Division was one of 18 national guard infantry divisions that fought as part of the US Army during the World War Two. The 28-ID entered the war with a long and distinguished history. It was and still is, the oldest national guard division in the United States. Pennsylvania, in 1878, organized the division along the lines of a regular army unit. Many of its units traced their lineage to the early 1700’s and a large number carried battle streamers for every one of America’s major conflicts. During World War One, the 28th fought from July through November 1918 and earned a reputation as a solid and dependable unit. General of the Armies John J. Pershing named it the Iron Division, in recognition of its battlefield performance. The distinctive red keystone patch, emblematic of Pennsylvania soon led German soldiers to develop a more appropriate nickname, the Blutiger Eimer, the Bloody Bucket. The 28th’s service during the Second World War began on February 17 1941, when the division was federalized for active service at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. The activation preceded Pearl Harbor by almost a year and was part of America’s unprecedented peacetime mobilization. The 28-ID, its national guard sister divisions, and nine regular army divisions comprised the total ground response of the US Army to the events unfolding in Europe and the Pacific. The regular army divisions could stake a weak claim on being combat ready units. The national guard divisions were far from combat ready; most lacked men and modern equipment and had seldom trained above battalion level since the end of the World War One. Preparing a division for war would prove to be a difficult and lengthy process. It would take the 28th more than two and one half years to become ready for overseas deployment. The hurdles that confronted the division were significant. The 28th underwent a major reorganization, endured a revolving door of commanders and senior leaders, and weathered a series of army personnel policies that stripped the 28th of many of its best soldiers. In many ways the stateside experiences of the 28th mirrored the problems the division would face in combat.

Mobilizing in the winter cold of February, the 28th began a training program that concentrated on basic soldier skills. The first three months were spent on such skills as marksmanship, close order drill, map reading, and aircraft identification. Shortages of equipment remained commonplace and the division was more than 9,000 soldiers below its authorized strength of 22,000. The shortage of men was corrected in June 1941 when the 28th received more than 9,000 draftees into its ranks. The draftees came from a large portion of the eastern and southern United States. This large influx of personnel served to dilute the unique, home town quality that characterized national guard divisions. For the 28th, there would be other major personnel gains and losses during the succeeding years. Each personnel change would contribute to the gradual dissolution of its distinctive national guard identity. Draftees arrived at the division straight from their induction centers. Responsibility for individual basic training rested on the subordinate units of the division. After three months of individual skills training, the 28th had to abandon unit training and concentrate on training the incoming draftees. During stateside training the division would repeat this cycle on numerous occasions. Only when the division moved overseas in 1943 would replacements begin to arrive having completed a basic training course.

The exercises also raised concerns among senior army leaders about the fitness for duty of many senior and junior leaders within the national guard divisions. A 1941 study found that almost 25 percent of national guard lieutenants were over the age of forty. The age problem ran from the officer and NCO leadership at the platoon level all the way up the chain to the division commander and his staff. The requirements of the new maneuver warfare doctrine were simply too demanding for many of these leaders. Prior to Pearl Harbor, it was not politically feasible for the army to change this situation. After the declaration of war, however, there was a tremendous purge of these overage leaders. Although this action was desirable for the divisions, it nevertheless created turmoil within units and resulted in a shortage of junior leaders for many months. America’s entry into the war opened the door for sweeping changes within the national guard divisions. The rapid turnover in leaders was only one element of these changes. The army also resolved to strip the existing divisions of men to fill higher priority units. In effect, the 28th and many other national guard divisions became manpower reservoirs and training elements for America’s massive war mobilization. For the 28th, this translated into a turnover of almost 36,000 soldiers in a two year period.

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As an example, from January through June of 1942, the 28th experienced the following losses in personnel :

2,000 volunteers for flight training
2,500 soldiers departed for Officer Candidate School
1,000 left to serve as cadre for a new infantry division
1,500 became replacements for the 45-ID
400 volunteered for airborne training

This constant drain of manpower, followed by the arrival of untrained draftees, prevented the division from moving beyond basic soldier skills training to the more complex unit tasks. Unfortunately for American infantry divisions, personnel losses, such as those the 28th experienced, were all too commonplace. More than one division moving overseas received thousands of filler replacements virtually on the docks of their port of debarkation. The training level of these replacements was inconsistent at best. Some units used the opportunity to rid themselves of their discipline problems and least capable soldiers. For the divisions deploying directly to combat in the Pacific or Mediterranean this was a very undesirable situation and resulted in needless casualties during the first days of combat. Another change the army was eager to pursue was the reorganization of the national guard divisions. Since the late 1930’s many senior leaders in the army had argued for the reorganization of all infantry divisions to the new triangular structure. Regular army divisions had already converted to this smaller, more mobile configuration. National Guard divisions still retained the massive square division organization of the First World War. Orders went out to the national guard divisions to begin the reorganization in early 1942.

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For the 28th, this process began at Camp Livingston, Louisiana, in January 1942. At that time, the 28th was a huge division of more than 22,000 men. In contrast, the triangular regular army infantry division had a strength of slightly more than 15,000 men, but did include over 1,400 vehicles. The square division was built around two infantry brigades, each containing two infantry regiments (hence the square structure). An artillery brigade with three regiments and a small engineer regiment were the major combat support elements. The new triangular organization was based on :

three infantry regiments each with
three infantry battalions (hence triangular structure)
an artillery regiment
an engineer battalion
a mechanized reconnaissance troop
service battalion
medical battalion
a signal company

For the 28th this meant the loss of the two infantry brigade headquarters, one infantry regiment, two artillery regiments, and one engineer battalion. The division lost more than 6,700 soldiers in the conversion but gained many vehicles. The more than 1,400 vehicles in the division made the 28th and other American infantry divisions among the most mobile infantry divisions in the world. Organizational changes were not limited to the divisional structure. The smaller fighting elements of the division also underwent significant change. Under the square division organization, the infantry rifle squad, the division’s smallest fighting unit, consisted of eight men. This grew to twelve under the triangular structure and included a single Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). This change came about from the First World War experience, where it was felt that the eight man squad was too small to withstand sustained combat. Three such rifle squads and a small headquarters formed a rifle platoon. Three rifle platoons, a weapons platoon, and a headquarters element composed a rifle company.

The addition of the weapons platoon was the major change in the rifle company structure during the triangular conversion. The addition of the two light machine guns and three 60-MM mortars of the weapons platoon provided the company with the direct and indirect fire assets to provide a base of fire for the maneuver of its rifle platoons. The authorized strength of the rifle company was fixed at 198 men, almost all of whom were fighters. By the 1940’s, the rifle company was firmly established as the fundamental fighting element of the division. A total of 27 rifle companies were organic to each infantry division. The immediate higher headquarters of the company was the infantry battalion. The battalion, which had reorganized under a triangular structure in the early 1920s, did not change significantly during the conversion process. Each battalion was composed of a headquarters company, three rifle companies, and one heavy weapons company. Three infantry battalions, an antitank company, a cannon company, a headquarters company, and a service company made up the infantry regiment. The three infantry regiments of the 28th, the 109th, the 110th, and the 112th each had a strength of slightly more than 3,000 men and were the principal maneuver elements of the division. Each regiment, with the addition of artillery, engineers, tanks, tank destroyers, and other supporting elements became the regimental combat team (RCT). These attachments made the RCT a very capable combined arms organization. The RCT could operate away from the division and it was not uncommon for the 28th to lose an RCT for extended duration’s during combat.

With its reorganization complete, the 28th turned its attention towards becoming combat ready. Unfortunately, the tremendous personnel losses discussed earlier, hit the division right on the heels of reorganization. By June of 1942, personnel turbulence had crippled the division’s efforts to prepare for combat. The division was now almost a year behind schedule for overseas movement. This situation quickly drew the attention of both the Army Ground Forces (AGF) commander, Lt Gen Lesley J. McNair, and the Army Chief of Staff, Gen George C. Marshall. General McNair relieved the division commander, Maj Gen Garesch Ord, after only five months in command. Maj Gen Omar N. Bradley, then serving as the commander of the 82d Infantry Division, arrived in June 1942 to replace Ord. This change had an immediate and positive influence on the division.

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Bradley’s first efforts were to fix the personnel problem. He used his significant influence and contacts within the AGF headquarters to reduce the losses in personnel to a manageable level. To fill the numerous leader shortages in small units he requested and received a new cadre of second lieutenants, fresh from the fledgling Infantry and Artillery Officer Candidate Schools (OCS). Bradley also tackled the last vestiges of Pennsylvania national guard politics remaining in the division. He took the drastic step of transferring every officer and non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the infantry companies and artillery batteries to new companies within the division. This last action was a direct assault on one of the most highly regarded beliefs in the national guard, namely, that national guard units fight better because they are able to remain together for long periods of time. Bradley found instead, that the practice led to home-town-ism, political deal making, and tended to make new replacements feel excluded from the organization. Bradley tackled unit training with the same aggressiveness. After the 1941 maneuvers, Gen McNair and the AGF developed a standardized training program for all armor and infantry divisions. Bradley saw to it that the division adhered to this standardized program. The AGF plan stressed fundamentals and training certification. Units progressed from individual training, through small unit training, then larger unit training, and finally concluded with division level exercises. At each level there were proficiency tests that individuals and units had to successfully execute to move to the next level of tasks. Observers and evaluators from the IV Corps, the 28th’s immediate higher headquarters, and the AGF were on hand to conduct many of the evaluations. Bradley’s leadership and the reduced losses of personnel produced results within the 28th. By the end of 1942, after a solid performance in divisional and corps exercises, AGF inspectors deemed the 28th ready for its final training exercises. In January 1943, the 28th moved from Camp Livingston to Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, for amphibious assault training. The division spent a miserable winter practicing beach assaults and becoming familiar with the variety of amphibious assault craft then entering service. The 28th, also faced the challenge of receiving yet another division commander. Maj Gen Bradley departed for North Africa in February and Maj Gen Lloyd Brown became the 28th’s fourth commander in two years.

In June 1943, the 28th moved to Camp Pickett, Virginia, where it conducted amphibious training with the US Navy. Mountain training in the hills of West Virginia followed in July. Finally, in early August, the division received orders to prepare for overseas movement. Gear was packed, inspections made, and in early October the division sailed from Boston POE, bound for Great Britain. After more than two and one half years, the division was finally on its way to war. The 28th arrived in Great Britain in mid-October and began the process of once more becoming a combat ready division. Travel time, combined with the time consumed preparing for departure, resulted in an almost total halt of training for more than three months. Upon arrival, still more time was lost drawing new equipment and moving through a series of temporary billeting areas. It was not until December that the 28th was able to conduct scheduled unit training. From December until the middle of July 1944, the 28th trained in England and prepared for its entry into combat. These eight months were a mixture of good and bad conditions for the training of the division. From the personnel standpoint there was definite improvement. The rapid turnover in personnel that haunted the 28th in the United States virtually disappeared in England. On the downside, housing for personnel was so limited that the division had to scatter its units over a large area. The division also had to relocate units frequently based on the complex staging plans for newly arriving units. This dispersion and movement made it very difficult to administer an effective training program.

The limited size of most training areas made them less than ideal for any training of larger than regimental size. Generally, training areas suitable for a division were scarce and competition for them was high. Given the limitations of facilities, the regiments devoted a great deal of the available training time to small unit, marksmanship and physical training. During one exercise the division required each regiment to complete a 100 mile foot march with all combat gear through the hills of Wales. By far the best training facility was the US Army (ETOUSA) Assault Training Center at Woolacombe, England. This center provided individual and small unit instruction in a variety of combat skills, as well as the most realistic training possible for regiments in amphibious landings and assault of fortified positions. Each regimental combat team rotated through a three week course, that included two weeks of instruction and one week of company, battalion, and regimental exercises. Exercises included extensive use of live ammunition, to include artillery and naval gunfire. An experienced cadre, most of whom were veterans of the North Africa and Sicily landings, operated the facilities and provided instructors. Another ETOUSA facility operated in Slapton Sands, England and allowed units as large as a division to conduct amphibious exercises. Unfortunately the 28th was not able to participate in training at this facility.

Integration of all the combined arms the 28th would employ in combat was not entirely successful. Integration of armor was the biggest weakness. For a large part of it time in England the division had attached to it tank and tank destroyer battalions. Unfortunately, this was primarily for administrative support while the battalions waited on their vehicles and equipment. This slow process could take months. Normally when the battalions received all their equipment they moved on to other locations. Most training with tanks consisted of basic demonstrations of the capabilities and limitations of the vehicles. It was not until May that each regiment was able to rotate its battalions through a three day tactical exercise with tanks. Training with the organic division artillery was generally excellent throughout the period, although there was little opportunity to integrate non-divisional artillery units. The division also trained extensively with a variety of anti-aircraft artillery units.

Despite the numerous constraints and limitations, the divisional training conducted in England contributed much to the proficiency of individuals and units. The absence of widespread personnel turnover was probably the single greatest advantage the division enjoyed during its eight month train-up. One battalion commander, commenting on the poor performance of infantry replacements during the Siegfried Line fighting, bemoaned the fact that his replacements missed the valuable training in England, particularly the operations at the Assault Training Center in Woolacombe. Unfortunately for that battalion commander, by the time his unit hit the Siegfried Line there were precious few of the Woolacombe veterans left in the battalion’s ranks.

Training for the 28th ended in late June and the unit began preparation for its movement to France. It was late July, some six weeks after the D-Day landings, when the division landed in France and moved quickly to the front. Going ashore on Omaha Beach, the division marched inland to join the US XIX Corps and on July 31 launched its first major attack into the hedgerow country of Normandy. The attack was not an auspicious start for the division. Losses were heavy and the division took three days to seize its initial objectives. The performance of the division during the next two weeks of heavy fighting did not appear to improve significantly. Losses mounted rapidly, particularly in junior leaders. Lt Gen Bradley, the US First Army commander displayed little patience for such performance. On August 12, he relieved the commander and assistant division commander of the 28th. Brig Gen James E. Wharton replaced Maj Gen Brown, only to die the next day from a sniper’s bullet during a visit to front line units. Wharton’s replacement, Brig Gen Norman D. Cota, was an experienced leader with a reputation for personal bravery. He had been a key figure in the formation of the Assault Training Center and had earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism and leadership during the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach. He would serve as the commander of the division throughout the remainder of the war.

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