Introduction – Men at War: 87th Infantry Division
November 20, 2015 joedemadio 3 Comments
Welcome to the first article of Men at War! My aim is to cover all the divisions in that fought in the Second World War from their very first days on the frontline till their last days. In every article I will try use as many sources as possible to give a complete overview of the divisions activities. I will be mainly focusing highlights of the infantry regiments, but I will also use stories and actions of other units, for example: medical and engineer battalions. If you think I missed out on something, feel free to contact me. By doing this research I hope to shed light on different histories of the soldiers that fought in World War2, but also to make the frontlines and locations of battles available to the public. In my work I’m mostly focusing on highlights of the units. There’s a lot of relatives trying to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors, and with this research I hope to contribute to their experiences. Research will take a lot of time and I hope you’re looking forward to new updates.
For my first article I’d like to start with the 87th Infantry Division. Ever since I received a letter from Dan Webster and after the research on Willard Meek, Dan and his brother Michael kept me motivated to do more research. Willard Meek was in the 312th Engineer Bn of the 87th Division and he died on January 11th 1945 in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. By researching the 87th Division I hope to share his relatives and relatives from other 87th Division soldiers more information about the divisions movements during the war. I hereby hope to inspire more people to follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Generation.
Movement of the 87th Division. Click on the map for an enlarged image.
Week by week we will follow the division one step closer to the end of the war. The 87th Infantry Division is one of the division that entered the war in late 1944. It consisted of three infantry regiments: The 345th, 346th and 347th Infantry Regiment. There also were the 87th Reconnaissance Troops, the 312th Engineer Battalion and the 312th Medical Battalion. We’re not really focusing on the other units, simply because we’re only looking at highlights. Nevertheless, if an interesting story comes up during research, I’d definitely share it with you in the chapters.
In the first chapter we will look at the divisions activities before the Battle of the Bulge. After arriving in Europe on November 12th 1944, the division was assigned to General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army on November 25th 1944. Almost exactly 2 years after the divisions activation on December 15th 1944, it went into combat for the first time on December 13th 1944. It had only 154 days in combat, which is a 180 days less than divisions who went into combat since D-Day on June 6th 1944. In the second chapter we will cover the divisions activities during the Battle of the Bulge. The division’s first objective was Fort Driant near Metz in Northern France where it fired its first artillery shell on December 6th. Soon it crossed into Germany near the area Saarlautern where it had bloody fights for the first time. Ten days after firing its first shell the division was much needed against the German Counter attack called the Battle of the Bulge in the area north of them in Belgium and Luxembourg. The 87th headed for Belgium and went into action on December 29th 1944. Here we will look at the actions of Curtis F. Shoup and how he won the Medal of Honor on January 7th 1945. On January 11th the 312th Engineer Battalion lost over 20 men in a single explosion. Was it enemy fire or was it a mistake? The division then replaced the 101st Airborne at Bastogne and had to hold the line here. We then follow the division crossing the border and entering the Rhineland where it attacked the famous Goldbrick Hill. The Golden Acorns crossed the Moselle river on March 16th and the Rhein river on March 25th. The final attack of the 87th Division was on May 6th near the East-German village of Plauen. Two days later it contacted Soviet forces across the border in Czecho-Slovakia. 
Next Chapter; Winter is Coming!