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Dated: Mar 1, 2005
WW2 History of the

       34th 'Red Bull' Infantry Division
 A 3-Part History Based on booklet printed at end of WW2.

      The booklets for the 34th Division are quite different from the booklets of the other divisions.  Mainly, the 34th Division had such a long history that it required 2 booklets to cover their record of service.  The first booklet was prepared in the Fall of 1944 and the second after the war was over.  Also, most books for other divisions have short sentences and 1-sentence paragraphs.  Not the Red Bull books.  It is very descriptive and detailed in the history and have very long paragraphs.
   These books were marked for distribution to all troops of the Division, and were marked "... passed by the United States censor and may be mailed home".   Chapters that cover the time they were in North Africa were edited out and I've only included the chapters for the period they were in Italy.
                                                                                                                             Steve Cole

General History and Info 
34th 'Red Bull' Infantry Division
   During WW1, the War Department designated National Guard troops of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota to form the 34th Division.  The Division was formed at Camp Cody, New Mexico.   The Division was sent to France but it not see combat as a unit.  Instead, trained personnel had been pulled form this unit to meet the requirements of the Allied Expeditionary Forces automatic replacement system.

The current 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division is headquartered in Rosemount, Minnesota.  The Division's nearly 11,000 soldiers are mainly located across three states -- Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota.

Operations Since WW2
         Korean War - earned 10 battle stars and 11 MOH
         Operation Iraqi Freedom - 2003   Lead forces on attack into Baghdad. 


IRELAND • Beginning  
ALGIERS • Pretending 
< HILL 609  >
VOLTURNO • Spanning 

CASSINO • Storming 
ANZIO • Waiting 
CECINA • Scattering 
LEGHORN • Slugging 

Book II •          

GOTHIC LINE • Considering
BELMONTE • Dragging
YEAR'S END • Defending 
NEW YEAR • Patrolling
BOLOGNA • Smashing 
HIGHWAY 9 • Slashing

Organization of Division - Units + Summary of Awards & CasualtiesCLICK TO GO
Glossary  - CLICK TO GO

Color Legend:
         Allied Units  (Only highlight units other than the 34th Division)
         German Units
         Bold (black)   Important dates, towns or leaders.
         {My comments}  in Blue Brackets.

          M.  - Monte or Mount.  M. Adone for Monte Adone.
          S.  - San or Saint.     S. Pietro for San Pietro.

Command and Organization:
  The 34th Infantry Divisoin was part of the 5th Army while it was in Italy.  The divisions within the 5th Army were orgnaized into Corps.  During various times, the 5th Army consisted of the II Corps, IV Corps and/or VI Corps. 
Each Regiment consisted of three battalions that commanded four companies.  The 1st Battalion consisted of Companies A, B, C, & D; the 2nd Battalion of Companies E, F, G, & H; and the 3rd Battalion of Companies I, K, L, & M(heavy weapons).  The Cannon Company was a light artillery unit that reported to the regiment.   At the end is infomation about the organization of the division, followed by a glossary of military terms--- Organization of 34th.


~~~~~ Part 1 ~~~~~

IRELAND • Beginning                                                                                                     [1941]

   The entry of the United States into the war found the 34th Infantry Division  already organized. Formed from the National Guard of Iowa, Minnesota, and  North and South Dakota, the Division was inducted into Federal service on 10 February 1941 and,  after basic training at Camp Claiborne, took part in the Louisiana  maneuvers. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, certain units were dispatched  to key places in the southern states for security purposes, but hardly had they  settled down to their first war job when they were ordered to Fort Dix, New  Jersey, for the War Department had selected the 34th to be the first American  Division to go to the European Theater of War in World War II. The destination  was Northern Ireland.  {The Louisiana Maneuvers were large scale war games on the size of an Army.}

    The Commanding General,with a small  staff group and some elements of the Division, left for overseas almost at once to  prepare for the main body. During their absence, and on practically no notice, the  Division rapidly streamlined itself from a square to a triangular Division, which  meant, unfortunately, that several units had to leave the Division. There was little  time for regrets, though, for in three waves between 15 January 1942 and 13 May  1942 the Division shipped out, so that by the end of May the whole formation had  concentrated in Ulster. The Division at once began a training program for small  units which, especially as it was being executed overseas, had rather more  urgency than the Louisiana maneuvers. 

   The country of Northern Ireland is wild and wet. Jagged hills and bare moors  are dotted with peat bogs and cut by brown mountain torrents. The Division soon  became accustomed to the difficulties of the cross-country movements which  later were to form part of their daily existence in combat. Almost as soon as the  Division had arrived in Ireland a call was made for volunteers to create the 1st  Ranger Battalion, which may be said to have had its origins in the 34th Infantry  Division. In order to create team spirit and cooperation with our British Allies, a  number of exercises involving the services of both nations were held. Training for  combat was intensified after Major General Charles W. Ryder assumed  command of the Division on 12 June 1942, for the General was certain that more  active duties than garrisoning a base lay ahead.

ALGIERS • Pretending                                                                                            [1942]

    In the early part of August confidential orders were received to move the 168th Regimental Combat Team from Ireland to Scotland in preparation for an undisclosed combat mission. While in Scotland the 168th RCT underwent rugged training for amphibious and mountain warfare. A small inkling of the type of operation which lay in the offing was obtained when volunteers were requested for No. 1 and No. 6 Commando, British units which specialize in amphibious raids and whose toughness is a byword in the Allied services As training progressed, further orders were received from the High Command to constitute a planning group which was to move to London on an extremely secret mission. It was in London that it first became known that elements of the 34th Infantry Division had been selected to take a large part in the first big Allied offensive of the war - the landing in North Africa. The mission was to seize the port of Algiers and to insure that it was kept open for the supply of an Allied army which, moving rapidly eastward, was to occupy Tunisia, taking Rommel's Afrika Corps in the rear. 

   The Allied force which General Ryder was to command was given the name "Eastern Assault Force" and was to land near Algiers at precisely the same hour when two other Allied task forces hit the beaches near Oran and Casablanca. It is not of great importance here to study the details of this gigantic operation; it is enough to say that the Eastern Assault Force arrived off Algiers at the appointed time, 0100 hours on 8 November 1942. Due to certain errors, not all of the assault infantry waves were put ashore at the right places. In the case of the 168th Infantry a delay of several hours was caused by the landing of a battalion 17 miles away from its designated beach. Nevertheless, so thorough had been the briefing of all ranks on the situation and mission that the heights overlooking Algiers were under our control less than 12 hours after the first landing craft scraped upon the beach. The 3rd Battalion, 135th Infantry, had joined the expedition at almost the last minute, being given the task of landing from two destroyers after they had smashed the boom guarding the entrance to the harbor. Although a gallant attempt was made to put this plan into execution the boom proved a more difficult proposition than was first thought and before the leading destroyer could bring up alongside the mole, French searchlights and guns had been alerted and severe damage was inflicted upon the two small ships. The infantry who managed to get ashore were opposed by Senegalese troops and French tanks - more than a match for the Americans who had only small arms. When our troops had fired all their ammunition their commander surrendered to prevent further bloodshed. 

    Meanwhile, a second American Combat Team and a British Brigade seized important airfields south of Algiers while the 168th Infantry had patrols in the southwestern outskirts of the city. Throughout the whole of this skirmishing, negotiations were going on between General Ryder, as the Allied representative, and General Juin, French commander. 

   On the morning of 9 November, a little more than 24 hours after the assault waves touched down, a conference was held in the main fort of Algiers and an armistice arranged which came into final effect on 11 November.

    The campaign in North Africa began with several days of combat against the Vichy French army and navy.  Then came a period of organizing under the Britis high command.  By January 1943, German troops had landed re-inforcements in Tunisia and the Americans first entered combat against the German Wehrmacht troops.
   After the German Army in North Africa surrendered, the 34th Division stopped to rest and re-organize.  General Patton lead the 7th Army in the invasion of Sicily, while the 34th prepared for fighting on the mainland of Italy..

   Also of interest is that on 19 November 1942, the 175th Field Artillery Battalion was assigned to support the British 78th Division and entered combat at Medjez-el-Bab, Tunisia.  This was the first American unit to enter combat against the German army.


TRAINING FOR EUROPE – Preparing      

     The fighting in Tunisia came to an end on 13 May 1943. The Germans had suffered a major defeat. Many of the finest Allied troops had been required to beat them yet the war was so exacting that there was little time for self-congratulation. Almost at once, preparations were begun for the conquest of Sicily, and the 34th Division received the vital, if not very exciting, job of helping the invading troops to make a smooth departure from Africa. 

    The 34th were the "housekeepers" for Sicily. Several provisional truck companies were organized using vehicles, drivers and mechanics from the Field Artillery Battalions of the Division who, day in and day out, hauled gasoline to the airfields in an effort to slake the thirst of the bombers paving the way for the landings. The Infantry Regiments set up staging camps for the assaulting troops, furnished the cooks and KPs - yes, and dug the latrines. The task was not pleasant, but it was done. 

    Not all was work though. Our French Allies, whose small, poorly equipped Army had fought so magnificently at our side during the campaign, had decided upon a Victory March through the streets of Tunis. The U.S. troops who had taken part in the African fighting were represented on this occasion by the 135th Infantry Regiment who marched past in a solid mass under the palms of the Boulevard de Gallieni, to the vigorous applause of the crowd. There was no complacency in the Division however. Wise soldiers learn from their experience 

   The Commanding General called for a school to be held in which the lessons learned in Tunisia could be studied and broadcast throughout the 34th. All of the staff and demonstration troops came from the Division itself, and they placed great emphasis on the training of small unit leaders and on the practical way to do things. After some delays and difficulties the school opened near Tebourba in what must have been the hottest olive grove in Africa. It was a very serious school - all concerned went there to get all they could out of it, for, as the General said in his opening address, "We shall fight in Europe, and we shall find there that, in comparison, the Tunisian Campaign was just a maneuver conducted with ball ammunition." In the meantime the troops assembled into dumps much of the vast booty of war, which the Germans, by their surrender, had let fall into the hands of the Allies. The 135th Infantry manned a huge prisoner of war camp near Bizerte, capable of handling 10,000 prisoners, which rapidly filled up as Allied victories in Sicily mounted. The 168th Infantry, not letting their pride stand in their way, did yeoman service in the Bizerte docks discharging ships. 

   After Sicily - the European mainland.  A stiff job, in which only good troops with good training would survive. At the end of July 1943, the 34th Division handed its housekeeper's apron to other units and boarded its trucks and the decrepit French "40 & 8's" for the long and dusty ride to Oran. Assigned to Fifth Army, the 34th went with a will through the tough, efficient program of the Invasion Training Center, with its realistic street fighting, its obstacle courses, its live artillery barrages, its "ball ammunition". You get out of training only as much as you put into it - and General Alexander said that he had never seen troops "go at it" with such spirit. As so often happens, not all the troops were able to complete the course, for time was passing - D-Day loomed ever closer.  {Whenever you talk to a Veteran, they always mention their experiences riding in the "40 & 8" train cars.  I don't know if they crammed 40 soldiers in them but I'm sure the ride was not pleasant.}

     It was during this training program, too, that an important addition was made to the infantry strength of the Division. The 34th had been selected by the War Department to demonstrate to the world that U.S. citizens of Japanese descent could fight alongside other Americans in full confidence and efficiency. The 100th Infantry Battalion, composed almost exclusively of these American "Nisei" mainly from Hawaii, was assigned to fill the place of the 2nd Bn 133rd Infantry Regiment. As our story is told, we shall see how nobly this experiment succeeded, for the Hawaiians' reputation is now a legend, not only in the 133rd Infantry, but throughout the World.


    The 34th Infantry Division was in Army reserve for the Salerno operation. No one knew, when the operation was started, exactly how it would go - everyone was tensed, alert for anything, plans were as flexible as possible. To begin with, the 151st Field Artillery Battalion was detached from the Division, and landed under command of the 36th Infantry Division on the Salerno beaches on D-Day - 9 September 1943. At once the Battalion was in the thick of it. German tanks and infantry slashed savagely at the beachhead, trying to drive it back into the sea. The 105mm howitzers were dragged off their landing craft and rushed up the sandy slope to the very perimeter of the beach. Firing at maximum rate over open sights the 151st Field Artillery decisively smashed the enemy Panzers who drew off but to come again and again. One battery was overrun by tanks. The gunners coolly withdrew, deployed as infantry with their '03 rifles, counter-attacked and recaptured their guns. At a time when the entire Salerno enterprise was threatened with costly failure, the men of the 151st Field Artillery Battalion stuck it out and won. The Chief of Staff of the 36th Infantry Division said, "The beachhead would have been destroyed if it had not been for the early arrival of the 151st Battalion thirty minutes before the first counter-attack." For eight days the Battalion shot it out with the Germans and fired more rounds than during the entire Tunisian campaign.  {’03 Rifle refers to the Model 1903 bolt-action, single shot Springfield rifle that date back to WW1.  These were replaced by the M-1 Garand, an 8-shot semi-automatic rifle.}

     The news of this performance filtered back to the Division poised at the port of embarkation. So this was Europe! 

      The 135th and 168th Regimental Combat Teams set sail from Oran for Naples, but at once it became clear that the great port would not be taken in time to be used for their convoy. It was still not even certain that the beachhead would be held. Word was flashed to the 133rd Regimental Combat Team, still at Oran, to load their ships - for combat. In less that forty-eight hours, working day and night, the 133rd RCT waterproofed all its vehicles, stored its equipment not needed for fighting, stripped for action - ready, if necessary, to make an assault landing to restore the beachhead. 

     Traveling fast, the 133rd's ships arrived off Salerno a few hours after the 135th and 168th Combat Teams. These latter troops, since they had been ordered to load for landing in a port, found it a slow business to transfer themselves, their baggage, their weapons, vehicles and stores to landing craft and "ducks" for the choppy passage to the beach. On the other hand, the 133rd, loaded and equipped for the task, smoothly disembarked everything in twelve hours and formed upon land - ready to go. They did not have long to wait. 

     The situation on shore was roughly this: the German Command, realizing that its attempts to contain and then to smash the bridgehead had failed, had decided to relinquish its hold on the southern portion of the perimeter and to swing back to the north, while retaining the high ground north of Salerno as a hinge. It would then be possible to form a single front from one side of Italy to the other. It was necessary to prevent the Germans from organizing their defense at their leisure. Higher headquarters therefore directed the 34th Division to form a task force consisting of the 133rd Infantry, 151st Field Artillery Battalion, and attached anti-aircraft, engineer, medical and reconnaissance troops, together with the necessary staff, and to push on as swiftly as possible to block off the enemy route of reinforcement between Benevento, sixty miles to the north, and the battle area. Once the highway leading south from this town was cut we could take the initiative and push on rapidly across the Calore River and take the fight to the enemy. 

     Accordingly this task force passed through the 45th Infantry Division on 28 September 1943 at S. Angelo di Lombardi and, pressing up Highway 7, made their first contact with the enemy along the Calore River near the town of Montemarrano. The German troops consisted of armored infantry, self-propelled guns, and engineers in half-tracks from the 26th Panzer Division - a very efficient organization whose armored counter-attacks against the beachhead had proved so nearly fatal. 

    It was not the Germans' intention at this time to fritter away resources by fighting pitched battles at frequent intervals. Instead, their engineers, covered by the infantry, demolished every bridge and prepared road blocks at awkward points so that our advance could not possibly be as rapid as would have been desired. Furthermore, in order to discourage any undue boldness on our part, each U-curve and ledge in this serpentine highway was covered by fire from high-velocity weapons and small arms, necessitating wide out-flanking movements into the hills alongside the road. Great endurance was required of our troops since speed was absolutely essential. 

    By 29 September our troops had occupied the heights west of Chiusano and it was in taking this objective that the 100th Infantry Battalion first met the enemy. As the advance pressed on to the northwest, Montemiletto was captured and by the evening of 1 October advance elements of the 133rd Infantry reached the outskirts of Benevento. The next day the town itself was occupied and a bridgehead was secured across the Calore River without too much difficulty since, due to the speed of our advance, the German engineers had not had time to demolish the bridge very thoroughly. While there was a great gash in the masonry, the structure was still firm enough for our foot troops to cross, and when a truck-load of German engineers with a truck-load of explosives came back that night they were surprised by our infantry and were forced to beat a hasty retreat before they could even start work. 

     It would be difficult to overestimate the endurance and the aggressiveness of troops who, in spite of continuous rain and in the face of delays caused by stout enemy resistance, continued to press on and finally forced the enemy out of a vital road junction and river crossing, making an advance of 40 miles in rugged country in five days. 

   While the 133rd Infantry Task Force was scoring the first of the Division's great successes in Europe, the 135th and 168th RCTs devoted themselves to training in the use of close-combat anti-tank weapons and in preparing themselves for the fierce fighting to come. At each successive assembly area which was occupied in the wake of the rapid drive to Benevento, not a moment was lost, for in spite of the vigorous training in Africa, the ferocity of the combat in Italy had made a deep and startling impression on those who had tasted it. Those for whom the experience had yet to come wisely devoted all their energies to learning the lessons of other soldiers' experience. 

    With Benevento in our hands, the barrier of the Calore River crossed, this sector was handed over to the 45th Infantry Division, while the 34th assembled 30 kilometers to the west, preparatory to relieving elements of the 3rd Infantry Division along the Volturno River.

VOLTURNO – Spanning

      The {Volturno River} formed the first large obstacle which the Germans had decided to defend since the breakout from the beachhead. In the 34th Division sector, which was nearly 15 kilometers wide, the stream was swift and in some places deep enough to cover a man's head, with steep banks overgrown with shrubbery. Immediately upon taking over the sector very active patrolling was begun in order to discover the best places to cross, the easiest bridge sites, and the location of enemy defenses. Patrols of a few men crossed the stream repeatedly to feel out the German positions; careful study was made of aerial photographs, and intelligence officers, by noting the direction of German tracer fire, were able to draw a quite complete and accurate picture of the German fire plan. While this was going on supplies of bridging equipment, artillery ammunition, and fuel were brought up in convoy after convoy. Surprise, if we could achieve it, would be decisive. Therefore all traffic near the river had to be squeezed into the hours of darkness, and so large were the movements that only superb traffic control prevented jams that might well have given away our whole plan. The direction and density of the traffic was so well worked-out and so faultlessly coordinated by the Division MPs that the operation is, even today, constantly cited as a model of good practice. By evening 12 October , like a tightly coiled spring, the Division was ready to snap into action. As a result of the careful preparations the crossing was made rapidly and achieved great surprise. Preceded by an accurate artillery preparation the initial objective consisting of the high ground on the northern bank was reached, and the work of getting across supporting heavy weapons and supplies began. The Germans used their artillery and mortars vigorously to try to prevent our engineers from constructing the bridges and ferries necessary to support the combat troops. Yet, in spite of intense shelling which repeatedly punctured the inflated rubber pontoons, a treadway bridge was in operation on the day following the initial crossing. The infantry had advanced and had captured, in the face of heavy machine-gun fire, the series of hills less than 2000 yards north of the stream, and as soon as the supply line across the river was in service the advance began resolutely to take the town of Caiazzo, thus cutting the lateral highway which the Germans had been using to bring reserves to the threatened sector. Pushing rapidly north, across country in which there were very few and difficult roads, where cover was hard to obtain, and in the face of very strong opposition from infantry and armor, our troops reached Alvignano, eight miles north of the river, by 17 October. 

    The enemy during this phase consisted of the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division, a unit which included in its ranks many seasoned veterans from the Russian front. In those days the Germans had ample equipment of excellent quality including a number of Mark IV tanks; however, such had been the pressure which our troops had put upon them that prisoners confessed that their ranks were seriously depleted and their troops short of food and sleep due to the remorseless hammering of our artillery which continued by day and night. Alvignano was occupied without resistance and pushing on, the village of Dragoni was taken by assault on 19 October by the 168th Infantry. 

   By this time, our troops were again on the Volturno River, for the stream here was flowing almost at right angles to the direction it had at the point where our first crossing was made. At the hamlet of Marguerita, northeast of Dragoni, the river was spanned by a bridge which the Germans had not yet blown. A spirited effort by the 133rd Infantry, which had relieved the 168th Infantry, to capture this bridge intact had almost succeeded, but in spite of this failure our advance continued without pause, capturing the crossroads of Alife. Here the Division was ordered to turn northwest and advance along the ridges north of the river valley to Capriati. 

   Still the Volturno lay ahead of our advance. Changing direction abruptly, it now challenged us for the third time. 

    The problem promised to be difficult. The river at this point ran in a wide shallow bed, with many small islands of shingle and sand. The valley in which the stream flowed was from four to six miles wide and perfectly flat, with straight mountains springing up from the edge of the valley floor both on our side and on the Germans'. The lowlands were planted with olive trees and vineyards, whose long rows of wire, used for training the vines, canalized movement considerably. On the farther side, the slopes of the mountains were terraced, each step being about six feet high and buttressed with a stone wall. Very few trails existed and it was easy to see how difficult it would be to transport heavy weapons and supplies by mule or, more likely, by men, up the steep face of the mountain. The only cover for such operations was from the scrubby olive trees which grew on the terraces or from one or two draws which carried off the rainwater from the hills. All these difficulties could be seen - from maps, photographs or from OPs on the ground itself. But even greater dangers were unseen and would come from the Germans.  Ever since the failure of their attempt to smash the Salerno landings, the enemy High Command had decided upon the defense of a WINTER Line - so strong, so well-stocked, so cunningly fitted out, that the Allies would remain stalled throughout the foul weather of a winter in the mountains. In various ways, the Allies had discovered not only that the Winter Line ran through Cassino, but that a very strong series of delaying lines began in the heights overlooking the west side of the upper Volturno valley and the town of Venafro. The knowledge that the third crossing of the Volturno would see the start of the attack on the main enemy position stimulated the Division to exert its best efforts and to neglect no precautions to make the coming operation a success. 

    During the last three days of October the enemy had virtually broken contact, leaving us in undisputed control of the eastern bank of the river. For the next three days the 34th Division carried out intensive reconnaissance for river crossings and to seek out the enemy defenses. Certain captured documents removed from prisoners of war helped us to plot enemy minefields, but due to the width of the river and the expanse of flat terrain dominated by enemy observation it was very difficult for patrols to go far out or to obtain detailed locations. Consequently, when the assault across the river was launched at midnight on 3 November the troops who carried it out did so well realizing that a large number of unknown dangers lay ahead of them. The enemy did not contest very strongly the crossing of the river itself. However, on the western bank, extending through the vineyards and olive groves for a depth of as much as 1500 yards, the Germans had laid one of the biggest minefields that had been encountered in Italy up to this time. If our troops did not want to get caught in the flat land during daylight it was vital to reach the foothills before dawn. There was, therefore, no time for reconnaissance or for mine clearing operations. The assault battalions formed up in single file and walked clean through the minefields, the lead man clearing the path for the column which followed him. As soon as one man was hit, the man behind him would take his place. At fearful cost the lead company cleared the field and reached the western foothills. It was one of the most outstanding examples of discipline under fire that American troops had ever given. Throughout the entire march, the night was punctuated by the flash of S-mines exploding and, alerted by the noise, the Germans sent up many flares and fired blindly into the flat ground, making even worse the difficulties of the passage. By dawn, however, our troops had established themselves in the vicinity of Pozzilli and had begun the steep climb into the mountains. Many enemy groups had been by-passed during this drive, but these were rounded up without great difficulty in the morning. 

    It was now possible to get more detailed information on the defenses, which the Germans had built as the outpost line for their winter positions. For six weeks, the engineers of their reserve units and the Organization Todt, using conscripted Italian labor, had blasted out of solid rock shelter positions which the Germans called bunkers. Each of these positions was connected to a machine gun or mortar location so that the enemy obtained relative immunity from our artillery barrage and could nearly always man his weapons in time to take our advancing infantry under murderous fire. One hill in particular proved difficult to take. This was a craggy promontory at the top of which the Italians, with a sure instinct for a safe place, had built the town of Roccaravindola. The sides of the hill contained beautifully camouflaged machine-gun nests and individual firing positions cut into the side of the rock with overhead cover provided by railroad ties covered with earth and foliage. These positions halted the entire advance until a platoon skillfully worked its way unobserved through the town itself and came upon the German positions from the rear. Completely surprised, the Germans surrendered after a brief struggle. The way north up the highway was now open and a task force, consisting mainly of the 135th Infantry supported by tanks and tank destroyers, moved rapidly up the road to capture the town of Montaquilla, also sited on the top of a steep hill commanding the entire valley beneath. 

     The Germans were fully aware that this assault on their winter positions was a serious one. They did everything they could to stop it, not only by resisting our forward troops, but by desperate attempts to cut our supply line and starve out the assault. In addition, the enemy was helped by extremely bad weather. The autumn rains had begun and for days on end it poured constantly and the wind blew at gale force. Roads almost ceased to exist. The river which, when it was crossed, had been shallow, was now a raging torrent. The 109th Engineer Battalion, fully experienced in assault bridging, worked fiercely to keep roads open and the river spanned. Time and again the floods forced them to remove their pontoons lest the entire structure be swept downstream. Yet nearly always within a matter of hours the bridge was built again and supplies and ammunition rolled across the valley and up the steep trails to the infantry. 

    During this time of critical road conditions, traffic discipline became more than a matter of convenience and safety - it was a military necessity. The Division MPs, who had learned their job at the first Volturno crossing, brilliantly maintained their high standard. Even at the critical time when for three days the Division was virtually cut off from the rest of the Army by the direct route, essential traffic was kept moving over round-about roads. 

     The German Air Force, which in Africa had been so formidable as to require constant protection against it, but which since Salerno had remained very quiet, reasserted itself and reinforced the enemy harassing attacks against our artillery positions, bridges, and critical points along the roads. The German planes had very little success, however, except on one occasion when they were able to put out of action almost a complete battery of the 185th Field Artillery Battalion's medium howitzers.


     With the capture of Montaquilla and the clearing of the hill mass between that town and Filignano, a temporary halt was called to the advance. The immense exertions of the attack together with the weather made it necessary for a certain amount of refitting to be done. During this phase the 133rd Infantry, while in Corps reserve, went through a training program while the other two Regiments carried out day and night patrolling so that a continuous flow of information about the enemy was obtained. The German forces who opposed us at this time had been freshly committed for the defense of the outpost line. They consisted of the 305th Infantry Division who had relieved the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division when the pressure was being put upon them. The 305th was commanded by a general with great experience in mountain warfare, and his troops included a number of seasoned soldiers deriving all the advantages which defense in this terrain provides - yet our troops were able not merely to drive the enemy back, but also to inflict upon him very appreciable losses in men and material. Large quantities of ammunition and supplies had been captured in the bunker positions defending the hills, and our artillery, not content with supporting the infantry, had carried out a harassing program on the enemy supply lines, which, according to the German prisoners themselves, had often meant that they enjoyed no food or sleep for as many as four days at a time. 

     To underline the achievement scored by the 34th Division at this time, it must be remembered that throughout the period of assault, in constant rain, mud, wind and cold, our troops had absolutely no specialized winter equipment. Every man in the Division lived in sodden clothing with no waterproof boots, his feet so cold and wet, that trench foot was a disease almost impossible to avoid. A great effort was made to insure the supply of dry socks to the forward troops but this was not always possible. 

     It was not until 29 November that the offensive was resumed. The 133rd Infantry, relieved from Corps reserve, had entered the right Division sector relieving parachute infantry in the region of Colli. Our line at this time ran roughly north and south, and on the right flank of the 133rd Infantry came the 168th Infantry, while still further to the south stood the 135th Infantry. The plan was to attack to the west with the 168th Infantry making the main effort to secure the dominating mountain of M. Pantano. This hill, over 3300 feet high, consisted of a large mass of bare rock surmounted by four small "pimples" in the shape of a square. Covered routes of approach were virtually absent, and since it was impossible to dig foxholes in the solid rock, the only feasible way in which the infantry could obtain any protection was to pile boulders in front of them or to take advantage of the very few rock walls which laced the slope. The weather continued to be appalling. Low clouds and fog reduced visibility to such a point that frequently enemy positions were by-passed without either side being aware of it. 

    The assault was launched on a two-regiment front in the face of extremely heavy artillery and mortar fire. The enemy, in command of excellent observation, had taken advantage of the previous few days' respite to register his weapons accurately on all critical approaches. Heavy casualties to our troops were unavoidable, and the progress was slow and bitter. During the fighting the 100th Infantry Battalion, demonstrated that the small physique of its men, was more than compensated for by their courage and tenacity. The attack on M. Pantano made progress and on the morning of 30 November the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, had secured the "pimple" at the southwest corner of the square. Throughout the day the enemy launched savage counter-attacks upon this Battalion, but our troops refused to budge. On the following morning dense fog delayed the resumption of the attack since the units could not see each other and control was very difficult. Shortly after noon the fog lifted and as the battalions moved forward the men were hit by severe German fire from well-camouflaged dug-in positions. Our casualties were heavy - within an hour two battalion commanders were lost. The enemy hit back again and again throughout the night and still the position was held. On 1 December a concerted attack by the 133rd and 168th Infantry Regiments was arranged. After a thirty-minute artillery preparation the infantry jumped off, but the advance was extremely slow. The Germans, alert to the vital importance of M. Pantano, were determined not to let it go. Again and again our troops closed with the enemy, and the supply of hand grenades frequently gave out. On one occasion, the Germans, having launched a series of counter-attacks against the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, almost succeeded in overrunning one company. Their grenades exhausted, our soldiers tore down the wall, behind which they were sheltering, rock by rock, and threw them at the Germans. The enemy failed to drive us back.

     Such fighting could not continue indefinitely. After the long and gruelling advance from the first Volturno crossing, culminated now by the fiercest fighting they had known, our troops were nearly exhausted. Furthermore, snow had begun to fall and our troops, still without winter clothing, suffered agonies from the cold. A man who became wounded often had to lie for hours without attention until darkness enabled medical aidmen to evacuate him, a process which took hours of difficult and dangerous climbing down the steep rock face of the hill. 

     The assault was broken off and the Division contented itself with active patrolling. We had succeeded in maintaining our foothold on the top of M. Pantano and held one out of the four peaks. On the night of 8-9 December, the 2nd Moroccan Division began the relief of our worn-out troops and on 12 December this was complete. After 76 successive days of contact with the enemy, the 34th Division withdrew for rest, training, and replacements to the area of S. Angelo d'Alife, which it had captured on 23 October. 

     The entire Division had performed outstandingly well during the period. The War Department awarded a unit citation to the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, for its performance on M. Pantano.

SAN VITTORE - CERVARO - Clearing                                                                          [1944]

     By a stroke of luck the Division had been relieved in time to spend Christmas in an area where hot food, baths and clean clothes helped to restore the fighting efficiency of the troops. A considerable number of replacements were absorbed, and training was conducted to bring back teamwork and cooperation to units in which casualties had been severe. On Christmas Eve the Division staff was notified that the 34th was to relieve the 36th Infantry Division in the S. Pietro sector within a few days. It seemed that Christmas dinner had scarcely been eaten before the first units of the Division moved to the line once more. 

     The situation was that the Germans were defending a chain of hills running approximately north and south across Highway 6, which led to Cassino and the Gustav Line, the main position which the Germans had decided to defend throughout the winter. The hills facing the 34th Division's positions were to be used for delaying action to gain time for the finishing touches to be placed on the Gustav Line. The ground immediately to the front of our front-line was noteworthy for two hill features: M. Porchia on the left and M. Chiaia. At the foot of the latter huddled the village of S. Vittore, to the north of which, in a series of wild and jagged peaks, rose the bulk of Mt. Sammucro. To the rear of the Germans opened the wide plain through which the highway and the railway ran westward, the two diverging to pass on either side of M. Trocchio, which commanded a view for miles around. To the north of the highway, rocky terraced hills studded with olive groves gave every indication of being tough country to fight over.  {Monte Porchia was taken by the 1st Armored Division after a 6-day battle.  See unit history of 1st Armored Division & map.}

    In the midst of a snow storm and blinding gales the 34th Division completed the relief of the 36th Division and began patrolling along the Division front to obtain all possible information about the enemy. The 133rd Infantry formed, with the 1st Special Service Force, a group under separate command eight kilometers north of S. Pietro. Immediately to the south came the 168th Infantry and on their left the 135th Infantry. On the night of 4 January the 34th Division launched an attack designed to storm and occupy the village of S. Vittore and to capture M. Chiaia. A very heavy artillery preparation preceded the assault and by the morning of 5 January the 135th Infantry had obtained a good footing in S. Vittore, and an intense fight at close quarters was joined from house to house. The troops defending the enemy line were from the 44th Infantry Division, a predominantly Austrian formation of indifferent quality. Many prisoners of war were taken in the rush of our attack. On the right of the 135th Infantry, the 168th Infantry, in a concerted drive was helping its left neighbor to storm M. Chiaia. The Germans had defended this feature with many machine-gun positions on the forward slope while counter-attacking groups assembled on the rear slope in shelters dug out of the side of the mountain. Heavy mortar and artillery fire from positions behind the hill were laid down on our assaulting elements, who made slow progress. 

     On 6 January {1944}, although S. Vittore was now completely occupied, the German troops on M. Chiaia continued stubbornly to resist, for the hill feature was not finally taken until the following day. During this intense battle, the 168th Infantry occupied two other hills to the north of M. Chiaia and opened the way for an attack upon the village of Cervaro, a typical collection of stone-built houses set upon the slope of steep hills. Before an attack could be launched to clear this village, a day was spent in cleaning up isolated pockets of resistance and adjusting our own dispositions preparatory to launching a coordinated assault. In the meantime, the 135th Infantry had moved out across the floor of the valley parallel with Highway 6 and were engaged in cleaning up the low rolling hills east of M. Trocchio. On 10 January the 168th Infantry resumed the attack and cleared a number of hills just west of Cervaro after vicious close-quarter fighting using grenade and bayonet. The enemy was fighting desperately for time. During the night he withdrew his forces into the town itself and moved up many machine guns, mortars, and several self-propelled guns into the ruins of buildings where the fallen masonry gave admirable cover. For two days and nights hand-to-hand fighting of the fiercest kind raged from street to street and from house to house. The enemy launched repeated counter-attacks and, for fear that his ragged units would be pierced by our thrust and the defenses of the GUSTAV Line assaulted before he was ready, he committed the 15th Panzer Grenadier Regiment so that his weary Austrian soldiers could disengage and retire in some order. It was immediately noted that the quality of the enemy fighting improved with the arrival of these tough troops, yet, even they could not withstand the terrific punishment which the 2nd Battalion, 168th Infantry gave them in the ruined shell of Cervaro. The town was in our hands and the high ground to the north cleared of the enemy by noon 12 January. For their action, the 2nd Battalion, 168th Infantry, received a unit citation from the War Department.  

    During these few days the 135th Infantry continued its steady advance and assaulted a hill guarding M. Trocchio, which the enemy tried unsuccessfully to hold with a battalion from the crack Herman Goering Division. After three days of fighting the hill was finally clear and nothing stood between us and the towering observatory of M. Trocchio. The 133rd Infantry, who on 13 January had once more come under the Division's control, had during the previous few days advanced against the most determined enemy resistance across peak after peak paralleling the advance of the other two Regiments. At dawn on 15 January an attack was launched to take M. Trocchio, an operation which proved simple since the enemy, not wishing to be caught on an isolated height at a great distance from his main line, had withdrawn and our troops promptly set up their own OPs in positions where the Germans had been directing their fire against us only a few hours before. 

    The Division had been conducting a steady grinding attack for fifteen days against stubborn German resistance and had finally driven the enemy back to the very ramparts of his main winter positions. Whether the Germans were ready or not they now had to defend their GUSTAV Line. Little contact with enemy troops was had during the next few days since he had withdrawn behind the river barrier that formed a modern counter-part to the moat, which medieval soldiers used to defend their citadels.

~~~~~ Continued on Next Page ~~~~~


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Organization of the 34th  Infantry Division in WW2:


      133rd Infantry Regiment
      135th Infantry Regiment
      168th Infantry Regiment
      125th Field Artillery Battalion
      151st Field Artillery Battalion
      175th Field Artillery Battalion   <1>
      185th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
   Support Units:
           34th Recon Troop
         109th Engineering Battalion
         109th Medical Battalion
           34th Signal Company
           34th Quartermaster Company
           34th Military Police Company
         734th Ordnance Company
    Attached Units:
         752nd Tank Bn
         Tank Destroyer Bn
        100th Infantry Battalion (9 Sep 43 - 31 Mar 44)
        442nd Regimental Combat Team (12 Jun 44 - 10 Aug 44)

NOTES:  The 1st Ranger Battalion was activated in Ireland with volunteers from the 34th Division.
<1>  On 19 November 1942, the 175th Field Artillery Battalion entered combat with the
           British 78th Division at Medjez-el-Bab, Tunisia.  This was the first American unit to
enter combat against the German army (except for special commando raids).

    See Organization Charts of typical Infantry Division

Distinguishing Unit Insignias of the 34th Division
133rd Infantry Regiment
135 Infantry Regiment
168 Infantry Regiment
135 Field Artillery
133 Infatnry Regiment
135 Infatnry Regiment
"To The Last Man"
168 Infatnry Regiment
"On Guard"
125 Field Artillery
175 Field Artillery
151 Field Artillery
109 Engineer Battalion
752 Tank Destroyer
175 Field Artillery
151 Field Artillery Btn
"En Avant"
109 Engineer Btn
752 Tank
Destroyer Btn
   HeadQuarter units       

HeadQuarters Company     -     Signal Company     -    Ordnance Company


               Air OP - Airborne observer for artillery, see OP
               Art. or Arty. - Artillery
               Bn, Btn - Battalion, 3 Battalions in an Infantry Regiment, consisting of 4 companies each.
                           - Support units assigned to a division were usually battalion size.
               Barrage - a concentration of artillery fire power
               biv. area - Bivouac area or a rest camp
               CP - Command Post, a building or tent where command staff ran the battle
               Co - Company.  An infantry rifle company consisted of 187 men. 12 companies in a Regiment.
               Cubs- light observation aircraft used as airborne artillery observers.
               GRS - Grave Registration Servce.   Private Brown was in this unit that retrieved and buried the dead.
               flak - An anti-aircraft weapon that fired a shell that exploded in air.
               KP - Kitchen Patrol
               K - Rations - Pre-packaged meals
               KIA - Killed In Action
               Krauts - American slang for German soldier
               M. or Mt. -  Monte or mountain, such as Monte Porchia
               Non-Coms - Non-commissioned officers or sergeants
               PX - Post Exchange, a store on an army base
               OP - Observation Post - position from where forward observer identified targets
               SP - Self-propelled artillery.
               Ser. Co. - Service Company, a support unit of a Regiment

Reference Books:
    "WW2 History of the 34th 'Red Bull' Division" - Contents of this 3-part page.
     "Attack!  Attack! Attack! : History of the Famous 34th Infantry Division"- by Lt. Col. John H. Hougen.

Other Reference Material:
                  TO BE ADDED LATER

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Other unit histories located on my website:

   85th "Custer" Division  and associated 310th Combat Engineer Battalion

   88th "Blue Devil" Division91st "Powder River" Division  &  1st Armored Division

   36th "Texas" Division &    45th "Thunderbird Division  &  442nd Regimental Combat Team

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For more on US 5th Army and the German X & XIV Armies, go to  Allied Units & Organizations.