Someone must have tied a can to the tails of the "Ilcllcats” of the 12th Armored Division when they rolled into Bavaria to tangle with crack troops and armor of the Nazi Army. For 37 days the men and machines of this slugging outfit lashed at the Wehrmacht without let-up, and at the finish had compilai an astounding combat record.
In this drive the Hellcats knocked most of Bavaria off the German-held map, conquering 22,000 square miles. They lilier- ated 8,418 Allied prisoners of war (mostly Americans), and freed 20.000 slave laborers. But they captured prisoners even faster than they released them. When the 12th Armored had completed its drive through Bavaria, 63,000 Cermans were enclosed in its barbed-wire stockades.
The outfit first hit combat in December 1944, near the Maginot Line in France. It helped in the closing of the Colmar pocket, and then swing north to the Siegfried Line. In hard fighting, it spearheaded the Third Armvs drive for the encirclement of the Germans in the Saar, and then went back to the Seventh Army for the push across the Rhine.
Probably the Hellcats’ biggest achievement—and it ranks with the top feats of the war—was the capture intact of a bridge across the Danube at Dillingen. This job was of tremendous help to the advance of the Seventh Army into Austria, allowing the Americans to pour men and supplies across the Danube in a ceaseless flow. Because of a garbled radio message to headquar-ters, this vital bridge came close to not being used. An officer radioed, “Have bridge of Danube, and it’s blue.” Somehow, the “blue” was changed to “blown" and headquarters was searching for another bridge when the correction came through.
A poll conducted by the Hellcat News revealed that the Doughs of the 12th Armored considered the capture of the Alsatian town of Herlisheim their toughest job.
It was in defense of this small village, situated on what 12th Armored Doughs and Tankers call “Purple Heart Plain” that the Division wrote the bloodiest chapter in its history. For 12 days the Hellcats fought two crack divisions, the 10th SS Panzer and the 553d Volksgrenadier. Wave after wave of German infantry and tank combinations smashed at the Hellcat front. The 12tli Armored, barely a month in combat, repulsed them all.
For its part in sealing off the Colmar pocket, the 12th Armored was authorized by the French to wear the Colmar coat of arms, and many individual awards were made by the French to members of the division.
On March 17, the Ilellcats jumped off near Trier to spearhead the Third Armys assault on the Rhineland. The Germans threw everything they could muster in defense, but the Hellcats reached the Rhine in three days, and in three more they occupied Ludwigshafen, Speyer and Germersheim.
Eight days later the 70th found itself as the point unit in the Seventh Army’s drive across southern Germany. Tt was in this lightning strike that the Dillingen bridge was captured, providing an artery through which Allied troops flooded into southern Germany for die climactic campaign of the European war. The enemy tried everything to knock out the precious span, but the 12th Armored held it against aircraft and artillery attack until troops of the 3d Infantry Division arrived to take over the job.
The Hellcats them took to the trail, once again as the tip of the Seventh Army's flying wedge. With the Germans on the run, the 12th Armored captured airfields, planes, war factories, and thousands of prisoners. It liberated 2,800 prisoners from Landsberg Prison, where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
It took the 12th Armored but 37 days to clear a path from the Rhine to Austria.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
Activated 15 September 1942
Arrived ETO 2 October 1944
Arrived Continent (D+156) 9 November 1944
First Elements 5 December 1944
Entire Division 7 December 1944
Days in Combat 102
Combat Command A
Combat Command B
23d Tank Battalion
43d Tank Battalion
714th Tank Battalion
17th Armored Infantry Battalion
56th Armored Infantry Battalion
66th Armored Infantry Battalion
92d Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized)
119th Armored Engineer Battalion
152d Armored Signal Company
12th Armored Division Artillery
493d Armored Field Artillery Battalion
494th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
495th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
11th Armored Division Trains
134th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
82d Armored Medical Battalion
Military Police Platoon
1 Oct 44 Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Allen
1 Oct 44 Col. Charles R. Gildart
1 Oct 44 Col. Richard H. Gordon
14 Dec 44 Col. Wallace H. Barnes
1 Oct 44 Lt. Col. Hugh Mair
1 Oct 44 Lt. Col. Charles Smyroski
1 Oct 44 Lt. Col. H. Paul Holz
1 Oct 44 Lt. Col. J. M. Bradley
1 Oct 44 Lt. Col. Edwin M. Connell
1 Oct 44 Brig. Gen. Riley F. Ennis
1 Oct 44 Col. Charles V. Bromley
14 Dec 44 Col. Richard A. Gordon
572d AAA AW Bn (SP) 4 Dec 44-18 May 45
CC V (French 2d Armd Div) 30 Apr 45-4 May 45
101st Cav Gp 8 Apr 45-4 May 45
42d Rcn Tr (42d Div) 13 Apr 45-14 Apr 45
Co A, 99th Cml Mort Bn 7 Mar 45-8 Mar 45
206th Engr C Bn 18 Mar 45-20 Mar 45
256th Engr C Bn 14 Apr 45-21 Apr 45
290th Engr C Bn 21 Apr 45-4 May 45
204th FA Gp 18 Mar 45-22 Mar 45
342d FA Bn 28 Mar 45-4 May 45
933d FA Bn (155mm How) 31 Mar 45-19 Apr 45
Hq, 36th FA Gp 1 Apr 45-19 Apr 45
937th FA Bn (155mm How) 1 Apr 45-4 May 45
935th FA Bn (4.5" Gun) 11 Apr 45-19 Apr 45
Btry A, 977th FA Bn (155mm Gun) 24 Apr 45-25 Apr 45
1st & 2d Bns, 22d Inf (4th Div) 2 Apr 45-3 Apr 45
3d Bn, 222d Inf (42d Div) 2 Apr 45-8 Apr 45
2d Bn, 242d Inf (42d Div) 5 Apr 45-7 Apr 45
Co G, 242d Inf (42d Div) 10 Apr 45-12 Apr 45
3d Bn, 242d Inf (42d Div) 12 Apr 45-14 Apr 45
15th CT (3d Div) 24 Apr 45-25 Apr 45
827th TD Bn (SP) 19 Dec 44-13 Feb 45
There are 37 soldiers of the 12th Armored Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Staff Sergeant Hubert E. Barnes 712nd Tank Battalion 03/22/1945|
|Private First Class Jay Bassett 56th Infantry Battalion 01/09/1945|
|Private First Class Bjarne Braaten 23rd Tank Battalion 01/18/1946|
|Technician Fifth Grade Willie W. Brown 17th Infantry Battalion 01/18/1945|
|Corporal Elvis W. Bryant 17th Infantry Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private First Class Albert I.. Chayt 66th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1945|
|Private First Class George D. Colton 43rd Tank Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private Earle E. Corcoran 43rd Tank Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private First Class Henry V. Dirks 17th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1946|
|Technician Fifth Grade Albin J. Dolence 23rd Tank Battalion 01/17/1945|
|Private First Class Amos Dusina 17th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1946|
|Sergeant Robert E. Entwisle 23rd Tank Battalion 01/18/1946|
|Technician Fifth Grade Gerald Grant 43rd Tank Battalion 01/17/1945|
|Private Floyd A. Griffith 23rd Tank Battalion 01/17/1945|
|Sergeant Howard F. Gumm 66th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1945|
|Sergeant Lloyd I.. Heydt 119th Engineer Battalion 01/17/1945|
|Private William J. Kieffer 43rd Tank Battalion 01/17/1945|
|Private Benjamin G. Kirkham 56th Infantry Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private First Class Paul A. Kling 17th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1946|
|Sergeant Clinton M. Lane 56th Infantry Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private First Class Edward J. Lannon 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron 12/22/1944|
|Corporal Jess E. Lopez 43rd Tank Battalion 01/17/1945|
|Private First Class Adrian W. Mariluch 17th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1946|
|Private First Class Willie E. McConnell 43rd Tank Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private First Class Elwood W. Mondelblatt 66th Infantry Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Corporal E. F. Ogburn 23rd Tank Battalion 03/19/1945|
|Sergeant Frank Perrino 23rd Tank Battalion 03/19/1945|
|Corporal Reuben W. Polson 43rd Tank Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Private Irwin C. Radney 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron 01/13/1945|
|Sergeant Santos Ramirez 17th Infantry Battalion 03/23/1945|
|Private First Class Ralph L. Reider 56th Infantry Battalion 01/09/1945|
|Technician Fourth Grade Earl M. Snyder 43rd Tank Battalion|
|Private First Class John Starziski 17th Infantry Battalion 01/16/1945|
|Corporal Peter A. Sulli 66th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1945|
|Private First Class William A. Swackhamer 17th Infantry Battalion 01/19/1946|
|Staff Sergeant Le Roy J. Taylor 56th Infantry Battalion 01/09/1945|
|Technician Fourth Grade John T. Wasson 43rd Tank Battalion 01/17/1945|
Do you have items such as papers, photos, uniforms, gear, guns, weapons and other artifacts? Read more and Support Us.
If you have any data on units and those who served we would be interested in adding it to our digital project-library; please Contact Us
One way we promote public education of military history is through our exhibits. View some pictures of recent Exhibits.
Copyright, 2021, Sons Of Liberty Museum, Inc.,
All Rights Reserved