|83rd Infantry Division|
83rd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
September 1917 – October 1919|
15 August 1942 – 5 April 1946
|Country||United States of America|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||National Army (World War I), Army of the United States (World War II)|
Thunderbolt (Special Designation)|
World War I
The division was activated in September 1917, and went overseas in June 1918. It was designated a depot division. Thus it supplied over 195,000 officers and enlisted men as replacements in France without seeing action as a complete formation. Certain division units saw action, such as the 332nd Infantry Regiment, in Italy. Its commanders were Maj. Gen. Edwin F. Glenn (25 August 1917), Brig. Gen. Frederick Perkins (13 January 1918), Brig. Gen. Willard A. Holbrook (23 March 1918), and finally Maj. Gen. Edwin F. Glenn (3 April 1918). It was inactivated in October 1919.
World War II
- Activated: 15 August 1942
- Overseas: 6 April 1944
- Campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
- Days of combat: 244
- Distinguished Unit Citations: 7
- Awards: Medal of Honor-1 ; Distinguished Service Cross (United States)-7 ; Distinguished Service Medal (Army)-1 ; Silver Star-710; Legion of Merit-11; Soldier's Medal-25 ; Bronze Star −6,294 ; Air Medal-110
- Commanders: Maj. Gen. Frank W. Milburn (August 1942 – December 1943), Maj. Gen. Robert C. Macon (January 1944-31 January 1946)
- Returned to U.S.: 26 March 1946
- Inactivated: 5 April 1946
The 83d Infantry Division arrived in England on 16 April 1944. After training in Wales, the division landed at Omaha Beach, 18 June 1944, and entered the hedgerow struggle south of Carentan, 27 June. Taking the offensive, the 83d reached the St. Lo-Periers Road, 25 July, and advanced 8 miles (13 km) against strong opposition as the Normandy campaign ended.
After a period of training, elements of the division took Châteauneuf-d'Ille-et-Vilaine, 5 August, and Dinard, 15 August, and approached the heavily fortified area protecting St. Malo. Intense fighting reduced enemy strong points and a combined attack against the Citadel Fortress of St. Servan caused its surrender, 17 August. While elements moved south to protect the north bank of the Loire River, the main body of the division concentrated south of Rennes for patrolling and reconnaissance activities. Elements reduced the garrison at Ile de Cézembre, which surrendered, 2 September. On 16 September 1944: the only surrender of a German Major General B. H. Elster to US-troops with 18,850 men and 754 officers at the Loire bridge of Beaugency. The movement into Luxembourg was completed on 25 September. Taking Remich on the 28th and patrolling defensively along the Moselle, the 83d resisted counterattacks and advanced to the Siegfried Line defenses across the Sauer after capturing Grevenmacher and Echternach, 7 October. As the initial movement in operation "Unicorn," the division took Le Stromberg Hill in the vicinity of Basse Konz against strong opposition, 5 November, and beat off counterattacks.
Moving to the Hurtgen Forest, the 83d thrust forward from Gressenich to the west bank of the Roer. It entered the Battle of the Bulge, 27 December, striking at Rochefort and reducing the enemy salient in a bitter struggle. The division moved back to Belgium and the Netherlands for rehabilitation and training, 22 January 1945. On 1 March, the 83d advanced toward the Rhine in Operation Grenade, and captured Neuss. The west bank of the Rhine from north of Oberkassel to the Erft Canal was cleared and defensive positions established by 2 March and the division renewed its training. The 83d crossed the Rhine south of Wesel, 29 March, and advanced across the Munster Plain to the Weser, crossing it at Bodenwerder. As opposition disintegrated, Halle fell on 6 April. The division crossed the Leine, 8 April, and attacked to the east, pushing over the Harz Mountain region and advancing to the Elbe at Barby. That city was taken on the 13 April. The 83rd established a bridgehead over the river.
On 11 April 1945 the 83rd encountered Langenstein, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. At the camp, the troops found approximately 1,100 inmates. The inmates were malnourished and in extremely poor physical condition. The 83rd reported the death rate at the camp to be 500 per month. Also, that the prisoners had been forced to work 16 hour days in nearby mines, and were shot if they became too weak to work. After liberation, the death rate continued at approximately 25–50 people per day, due to the severe physical debilitation of the prisoners.
To slow the spread of sickness and death, the 83rd ordered the local German mayor to supply the camp with food and water. Also, medical supplies were requisitioned from the U.S. Army's 20th Field Hospital. In addition, the 83rd recovered documents for use by war crimes investigators.
Assignments in the ETO
- 8 April 1944: VIII Corps, Third Army
- 25 June 1944: Third Army, but attached to the VIII Corps of First Army
- 1 July 1944: VII Corps
- 15 July 1944: VIII Corps
- 1 August 1944: XV Corps, Third Army, 12th Army Group
- 3 August 1944: VIII Corps
- 5 September 1944: VIII Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
- 10 September 1944: Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
- 21 September 1944: Third Army, 12th Army Group
- 11 October 1944: VIII Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
- 22 October 1944: VIII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group
- 8 November 1944: Third Army, 12th Army Group
- 11 November 1944: VIII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group
- 7 December 1944: VII Corps
- 20 December 1944: Attached, with the entire First Army, to the 21st Army Group
- 22 December 1944: XIX Corps, Ninth Army (attached to the British 21st Army Group)
- 26 December 1944: VII Corps, First Army (attached to British 21st Army Group), 12th Army Group
- 16 February 1945: XIX Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group
- 8 May 1945: XIII Corps
- Nicknames: Thunderbolt Division, and Ohio.
- Shoulder patch: A black isosceles triangle with its vertex pointed downward in the center of which, within a gold circle, appear the letters "O," "H," "I," and "O," in a monogram pattern.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military History document "The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States" by U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950.
- 1944: Botho Henning Elster (German Wikipedia) – a surrender at Beaugency
- "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. http://web.archive.org/web/20100709200756/http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/spdes-123-ra_ar.html. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
- Lt. Houcek. Elbe Operation with 2d Armored Division and 83d Infantry Division. European Theater of Operations. United States Army Center of Military History Historical Manuscripts Collection 8-3.1 am. http://www.history.army.mil/documents/elbe-fm.htm.
- The Thunderbolt Across Europe
- Fact Sheet of the 83rd Infantry Division from http://www.battleofthebulge.org
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recognition of the 83rd as a "liberator" of the camps
- 83rd Infantry Division documents
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