Joedemadio's WW2 History Travel Blog

Lest We Forget – Relive The Past

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.

CampaignLargeMovement 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.[1] 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. [2]

[1] http://www.87thinfantrydivision.com/History/87th/Composition.html

[2] http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/87thinfantry/index.html

Next Chapter; Winter is Coming!

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Comments

  1. Ken Andersen
    December 28, 2015 - 2:30 am

    It’s great to see you working on the 87th Infantry Division. General Patton said in regard to the Battle of the Bulge that the 101st Airborne received too much credit and the 87th too little.

    The 87th Infantry website has some buried gems. Check out the links at http://www.87thinfantrydivision.com/History/HistoryBook/index.html

    My father-in-law was a member of the 345th regiment from the beginning. He was seriously wounded in February 1945 near Olzheim, Germany.

    Looking forward to more. Take care.
    Ken

  2. Paul J. Cassavechia, M.A.
    January 1, 2016 - 10:30 pm

    subject: Indianhead Division: U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Div.

    Guten Tag Joe: I look forward to your coverage of the various combat divisions in WWII ETO. This is a huge project that will bring you much satisfaction as I am aware of many descendants of WWII vets who wish to walk ancestorial foot steps as you previously mentioned. One of my Uncles served with subject unit in the 38th Field Artillery Bn as a Scout. The Indianheads came from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Moved to Ireland for ten months advanced training and hit Omaha Beach on D-Day +1. Attacking and liberating Trevieres, the 2nd captured Hill 192 to open up roads to St Lo. Capturing Tinchebray at the end of July, his unit proceeded to attack Nazi U-Boat center at Port of Brest. For these actions my Uncle was awarded the Bronze Star for gallantry in combat. At the end of September the 2nd took positions at St. Vith and by mid December halted Nazi incursions in their “tracks” at Elsenborn to protect Antwerp. Historians have stated that the actions of the 2nd Division in unison with the 99th on the northern shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge are considered the most decisive of the Ardennes campaign.
    The Indianheads took Gemund, Breisig and guarded the famous Remagen Bridge. Then they took Hadamar and Limburg and Veckerhagen , Gottingen, Merseburg, Leipzig and in this process liberated several concentration camps. As the war ended in ETO, the 2nd overran Pilsen, Czech and met the Russian Army head on to cause them to stand down. This allowed sufficient time for U.S.A. forces to scan the countryside for enemy scientists, rocketry technology, jet technology, nuclear technology and industrial trade secrets and factory innovations. joyeaux nouveau l’ans

  3. Christine Nace
    April 24, 2018 - 10:02 am

    Thank you. My father was in the 87th Infantry division and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He met my mother on May 28,1945 at gunpoint when they took over Meura in East Germany, my mother’s hometown. It was she whoconvinced the Nazi mayor to surrender to the Allies.
    His name was Howard Bradbury Nace. Mine is Christine Nace.
    cnace51@gmail.com

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