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1944-28th INF DIV MARCHES IN PARIS

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"Roll On" has long been the slogan of Pennsylvania's "Keystone Division," but for a time in December, 1944, it looked as if "Hold On" would be more appropriate. At that time, the 28th, with five months of fighting in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany already behind it, was deployed along a 25-mile stretch of the Our River, from northeastern Luxembourg to Wallenstein, Germany. And at that time, Von Rundstedt launched the full fury of his counter-offensive against the 28th Division lines. On the first day, five crack German divisions flung themselves over the Our River, and within a few days, the 28th was single-handedly fighting no less than nine enemy divisions. It held on, and one correspondent in the area called its stand. "one of the greatest feats in the history of the American Army."

Indeed, it was! No other division in U.S. history has ever been attacked by so many enemy divisions at one time. And its defence completely upset the German timetable in the famous "Battle of the Bulge".

30 years later - this epic stand of the Keystone Division was immortalized in the new "Battle of the Bulge" Museum in Bastogne, Belgium which was dedicated on May 22nd,1974. This is a magnificent structure which will stand perpetually as a testimonial to American Forces which fought in this largest of all battles in U.S. history. The 28th is among the Divisions feted. This was a rare moment in history for seldom do people who helped create a legend have the chance to see themselves honored in a manner which will assure recognition of their deeds for generations to come.


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("Soldiers of the West Front, your great hour has struck. Everything is at stake!" - Von Rundstedt-15 December 1944)

In 1940 the Ardennes had been the weak link in the French chain. Now the Monschau-Echternach sector was the weakest part of Eisenhower's front. Lt. General Courtney H. Hodges (First Army) was holding 85 miles with only five divisions and three of them (2nd, 4th, and 28th) had suffered heavily in the recent fighting round Aachen. Only about 100 miles to the NW. was Antwerp, the great Allied supply base, which had recently been opened to seaborne traffic. The German commanders knew the narrow roads of the Ardennes with their hairpin bends and steep hillsides very well. They had come that way in 1940. Bad weather could be expected to nullify the Allied air superiority.

Otto Skorzeny's Panzer Brigade 150, disguised in American uniforms, would cause confusion behind the lines.

When the attack came the S.S. General Sepp Dietrich with the Sixth S.S. Panzer Army fell upon the U.S. V Corps (Major-General Leonard T. Gerow) and thrust toward Liege. The Americans were driven back to the Elsenborn Ridge, but in three days desperate fighting they denied the enemy the direct road to Liege, the main communication centre of Bradley's Twelfth Army Group. A German armoured column did suceed in thrusting forward through Malmedy, Stavelot, and Stonmont, but as luck would have It narrowly missed not only the Allies main fuel dump but Bodges H.Q. at Spa. By 19 December it had been brought to a halt.

Fifth Panzer Army, though weaker than Sixth made much more progress. Von Manteuffel achieved tactical surprise by attacking without a preliminary bombardment, relying on close cooperation between his armour and his infantry. His onslaught shatered the U.S. VIII Corps (Major-General Troy H. Middleton), which was strung out upon a long front. On Manteuffel's right a corps cut off two regiments of the inexperienced U.S. 106th Division in the Schnee Eifel. On his left two panzer corps broke through the U.S.28th Division, and reached the outskirts of Houffalize and Bastogne.

(The 112th plugged the line for two days before pulling north to join the one regiment left of the 106th Inf. Div. as a combat team. The 112th C.T. was from the 28th Inf. Div.)

Seventh Army (General Erich BrandenberFer) was supposed to cover Manteuffel's left flank by thrusting forward towards the Meuse. It made some progress at first, especially on the right, but after a few days was held up by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division and elements of the 9th Armoured Division.

The 7th Armoured Division denied St. Vith to the enemy until 21 December. Part of the 10th Armoured Division delayed von Manteuffel just long enough to allow 101st Airborne Division to establish itself in Bastogne.

Bastogne stood like a rock. Fifth Panzer Army unable to drive through had to go round, shedding considerable force to contain the improvised fortress. Summoned to surrender (22 December) Brigadier-Ceneral Anthony Mc Auliffe, a modern Cambronne, curtly answered "Nuts".(101st enter Bastogne 19 Dec.)

The Germans had not quite shot their bolt. Sixth Panzer Army got going again and Manteuffel's two Panzer Corps drove on westward. And on Christmas eve his 2nd Panzer was in sight of the Meuse, near Celles.


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109th INF REGT-BATTLE OF THE BULGE
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On Dec.16,1944 all Hell broke loose in the Ardennes. Enemy artillery and mortars ripped into the division's 25 mile line. Fanatic Wehrmacht elements threw themselves at the 28th immediately after barrages. Nazis attempted to throw back the Allies in a tremendous counter-thrust. In the path of the German fury was the 28th Inf. Div. 28th Division Held Ardennes.

Five crack enemy divisions - Panzer, Infantry, Volksgrenadier - hurled across the Our River the first day of the assault. Second Bn.,109th; 1st and 3rd Bns.,11Oth; 1st Bn.,112th, rocked most severely under the first blows, lashed back to ward off attacks, caused many enemy casualties. But Germans struck again and again. Enemy reserves from the east threw their weight behind the steamrolling push. Germans pounded American lines continuously. Enemy tanks rolled up in support of Nazi infantry.

The day wore on. Division lines snapped under excessive pressure. Units were isolated, surrounded. Co. B, 110th, was encircled, lost contact with battalion. Men fought and died in their places. Co.I, 110th, pinned down at Weiler, hacked its way out of encirclement at night, joined its battalion in Clervaux.

Clervaux had been the division rest area for a month. Now it was a roaring battlefield as resting men scrambled to form hasty defenses.

Nine enemy divisions were identified in the striking force that kept hammering 28th troopers. Keystone men were outnumbered, overrun, cut off. But they refused to panic. The 28th fought, delayed, and fought.

The 112th plugged the line for two days before pulling north to join the 106th Inf. Div. as a combat team. Route of the regiment from the time it lost contact with the 28th was a path from Luxembourg to Belgium: Weiswampach, Huldange, Beiler, Rogery, Veilsam, Mormont.

For three days the 109th held fast, then set up positions on a hill northeast of Diekirch. Next day, it moved to screen the left flank of the 9th Armored Div. to which it later was attached. Christmas Eve brought not good cheer to Nazis but another attack. The regiment shifted its lines to the high ground between Ettelbruck and Mostroff. Two days later, it rejoined the 28th at Naufchateau.

The 229th F.A. part of the 112th combat team, during the Ardennes breakthrough often had to leave their big guns, pick up rifles, and work alongside the infantrymen in close-in fighting. When the batteries were forced to withdraw, it was noted the crews would pull them a little farther. They did not want the Nazis to know that they were displacing the howitizers, They moved at night by the truck drivers following a white handkerchief and the roar of the enemy tanks drowning out the sound of the trucks.

Meantiine, the 110th was weathering staggering blows. Wiltz was the division CP location since mid-November. The town was a vital transportation hub. It was also one of the first objectives of the German breakthrough.

The 110th, near Wiltz, suffered severe attacks all along its front. But the battered regiment was not alone in its defense. Division troops pitched in; MPs, postal and finance clerks, QM and Division Hq. personnel, band men formed a provisional defense battalion to block the German blow.

The 28th held Ardennes From Dec. 16 to Christmas Day. It was everybody's fight. Outstanding acts of bravery became routine. Morley Cassidy, war correspondent in a nation-wide broadcast to America, said: "The 28th Division has performed one of the greatest fetes in the history of the American Army. Against nine divisions it has held so firmly that the German timetable has been thrown off completely."

According to Nazi plan, Bastogne was to have been gained on the second day, not reached until the third, and not by-passed until the sixth day.

The German breakthrough had struck at the 28th in all its violence. The division had reeled under its impact, suffered the crush but warded off disastrous defeat. Keystone men pulled back to an area where they could recover from the shock, where they could prepare to avenge and slash back at the enemy.

Early 1945 was spent near Charleville where the 28th - less the 112th Combat Team - defended the Meuse River from Givet to Verdun. Troops manned outposts at road junctions and bridges in key cities: Sedan, Verdun, Rocroi, Charleville, Stenay, and Buzancy.

The 112th Combat Team returned to the division Jan. 13 after almost four weeks of continuous contact with the enemy in the Ardennes area "somewhere in Belgium." Four days later, the division moved southeast to Sixth Army Group's sector.

The same Keystone Division that the German radio had declared "wiped out" now was ready again. In September, 1944, a Division slogan contest netted the following motto-. "28th Roll On." Hard hit in the Hurtgen Forest, harder hit In the Ardennes breakthrough, Keystone men still personified their division slogan. The 28th was to smash through the enemy once more, was to continue to live up to its slogan and Roll On!

Success of the division is the result of every man in every unit, organic or attached.

The 107th F.A.,108th F.A.,109th F.A.,and the 229th F.A.all contributed to the terror of the Germans. The 103rd Combat Engineers, kept the division rollin . Engineers built bridges and roads, handled mines, destroyed pillboxes and fought as infantry. Their missions: all accomplished.

Forward or rear, the 103rd Medics - medical aid men on the line, technicians at aid stations - conquered in another kind of battle. Keystone men never suffered from lack of proper medical attention.

The 28th Recon Troop, cannon companies, anti-tankers, Headquarters Special Troops, clerical personnel, 28th Signal Go., 28th QM Co., 28th MP Platoon, 728th Ord. Co., the band - they are all Keystone men, every man a soldier.

The 630th TD Bn. fought continuously with front line Joes. The 447th AAA Bn., one of the first ack-ack units to hit France, D plus 1, the 707th Tank Bn., contributed many pages to the 28th division story.

In World War 1, General Pershing referred to the 28th as the "Iron Division;' in World War 2, the Germans called the 28th.the "Bloody Bucket Division."



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