In World War II towns have been liberated by men in tanks, by paratroopers dropping from the sky, by scout car patrols, and by jeep, but it remained for the Doughboys of the 88th Infantry Division to do the job by bicycle.
Shortly before the cessation of hostilities in Italy, the 2nd Battalion of the 350th Infantry requisitioned bikes from the friendly Italians and, in a “mad” dash from Nogara to San Martino, drove the Nazi troops from the last named city and liberated its citizens.
The 88th, whose Doughs wear a blue cloverleaf formed by two interlocking 8s on their shoulders, was the first all-Selective-Service infantry division committed to combat on any front in this war. The Cloverleaf boys got their first taste of action— and it was a minor one compared to the battles that were to come—when the Division took up positions along the Garigliano River in Italy in March 1944.
This was purely a defensive action, but a week later the Division was given the go-ahead signal and launched its assault on the Gustav Line. Two days later, despite the most savage opposition, the vaunted line was breached, and the Cloverleafs were on the road to Rome, close behind the fleeing Nazis.
The 88th marched into the Eternal City 24 hours after it had become the first liberated capital of World War II. A few weeks rest in Rome and the 88th was on the move again, taking over the missions of the 1st Armored Division, which it had relieved.
This time its goal was the celebrated Gothic Line, and the 88th drove toward it with a relentlessness that brooked no opposition.
Now, began the Division s most savage battle. It entered the Gothic Line action in September, and during the ensuing months suffered its heaviest casualties. It battled unfavorable terrain, miserable weather, and a fanatical enemy. But it kept punching, punching, to capture Mt. La Fine, Belvedere, Gesso, Mt. Acuto, Mt. Capello, Castel del Rio, Mt. Battaglia, and Mt. Grande. Mt. Grande was the nearest point to the Po Valley reached by any Fifth Army outfit until the spring of the following year. During this drive the 88th was exposed to one of the most intense artillery poundings of the entire Italian campaign.
The 88th was ordered to hold up after the Mt. Grande drive, and spent the winter in alternate rest periods and tours in the line. Observing its first combat anniversary on March 5, 1945, the Division had chalked up an offensive advance of 325 miles, captured more than 5,500 prisoners, and destroyed six German divisions and badly mauled half a dozen others.
In April 1945, the 88th went to work again, this time in the North Apennines Po Valley. It took Monterumici, and by the end of the month one of its units had entered Verona, key communication center of the Valley. Not many weeks later it swept into Vicenza, and then on to Nogara, from which it made its bicycle assault on San Martino.
When the war ended in Italy, units of the Division were or-dered to make contact with the Seventh Army. This was accomplished a few miles south of the Brenner Pass in May. 1945.
During the Po Valley drive the 88th bagged more than 30,000 prisoners in 16 action-packed days.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 80 soldiers of the 88th Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private Robert B. Allen 351st Infantry Regiment 10/16/1945|
|Sergeant Percy G. Anderson 350th Infantry Regiment 03/16/1944|
|Private John T. Belue 350th Infantry Regiment 11/24/1944|
|Private First Class Lupe G. Betancourt 351st Infantry Regiment 10/26/1945|
|Private First Class Joseph P. Bobowski 351st Infantry Regiment 10/26/1945|
|Private First Class Ralph D. Bourassa 351st Infantry Regiment 10/15/1945|
|Sergeant Max W. Camp 350th Infantry Regiment 05/13/1944|
|Private Harry Castilloux 350th Infantry Regiment 10/04/1944|
|Private Nicholas R. Centola 349th Infantry Regiment 11/07/1945|
|Private Robert S. Chanin 351st Infantry Regiment 10/03/1945|
|Private Eugene V. Chernoff 349th Infantry Regiment 05/21/1944|
|Private First Class Ralph L. Coles 349th Infantry Regiment 05/21/1944|
|Private John E. Colgrove 313th Engineer Combat Battalion 11/01/1944|
|Technician Fifth Grade Albert L. Collier 313th Medical Battalion 05/18/1944|
|Technical Sergeant Richard W. Courtney 351st Infantry Regiment 10/13/1945|
|Private Robert Cox 351st Infantry Regiment 10/25/1945|
|Private First Class Clifton Craighead 350th Infantry Regiment 02/02/1945|
|Private First Class Frank A. De Dionisio 351st Infantry Regiment 10/14/1945|
|Staff Sergeant Charles De Salvo 349th Infantry Regiment 03/28/1944|
|Private Felix E. Diaz 349th Infantry Regiment 10/21/1945|
|Private First Class Albert E. Dittman 350th Infantry Regiment 10/01/1944|
|Private Carl O. Faesel 350th Infantry Regiment 05/12/1944|
|Sergeant Harold E. Fechter 350th Infantry Regiment 10/03/1944|
|Sergeant Russell P. Fifer 349th Infantry Regiment 10/25/1944|
|Private First Class Henry E. Ford 351st Infantry Regiment 02/04/1946|
|Private First Class Pete Giraud 351st Infantry Regiment 06/01/1945|
|Technical Sergeant Thomas P. Graham 351st Infantry Regiment 06/04/1944|
|Staff Sergeant Dallas R. Gray 350th Infantry Regiment 11/24/1944|
|Private First Class Ray W. Hagglund 349th Infantry Regiment 04/17/1945|
|Corporal Guy E. Hall 351st Infantry Regiment 10/28/1945|
|Private First Class John V. Hamilton 351st Infantry Regiment 06/04/1944|
|Private Lloyd R. Harmon 351st Infantry Regiment 06/04/1944|
|Private Stanley E. Hubbard 351st Infantry Regiment 11/03/1945|
|Private First Class Howard G. Jacques 351st Infantry Regiment 10/11/1945|
|Private Ernest P. Jeske 350th Infantry Regiment 10/02/1944|
|Private Rome A. Jolly 351st Infantry Regiment 10/27/1944|
|Private First Class Walter W. Knippenberg 351st Infantry Regiment 10/11/1945|
|Private First Class John Kohut 351st Infantry Regiment 10/24/1944|
|Staff Sergeant Frank J. Kollar 350th Infantry Regiment 10/20/1945|
|Private First Class Ernest G. Krause 351st Infantry Regiment 11/02/1945|
|First Lieutenant John D. Leister 350th Infantry Regiment 03/21/1944|
|Private First Class Jerald E. Lilly 351st Infantry Regiment 07/23/1945|
|Private John T. Lohman 351st Infantry Regiment 10/11/1945|
|Private First Class Chester Lukaszewski 351st Infantry Regiment 10/11/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Oliver G. McCollom 349th Infantry Regiment 09/24/1944|
|Private First Class William H. McCracken 350th Infantry Regiment 04/18/1946|
|Sergeant Truman E. McElyea 351st Infantry Regiment 11/16/1944|
|Private First Class Harlan W. Melinsky 351st Infantry Regiment 05/21/1945|
|Private First Class Doyle H. Miller 351st Infantry Regiment 11/03/1945|
|Private First Class Joseph R. Nagy 349th Infantry Regiment 10/26/1945|
|Private Clarence R. Nicholas 351st Infantry Regiment 10/28/1945|
|Private First Class Mike G. Ortiz 350th Infantry Regiment 05/12/1945|
|Private First Class Robert F. Osborne 351st Infantry Regiment 03/30/1944|
|Private First Class Joseph D. Parenti 351st Infantry Regiment 10/15/1945|
|Private Roy H. Parkinson 350th Infantry Regiment 10/26/1944|
|Sergeant George L. Parr 351st Infantry Regiment 03/30/1944|
|Private Henry V. Pazuchowski 351st Infantry Regiment 10/25/1945|
|Private First Class Frank M. Peichkowski 351st Infantry Regiment 10/27/1945|
|Private First Class Edward J. Pieniazek 350th Infantry Regiment 09/28/1945|
|Private John G. Putnam 351st Infantry Regiment 10/24/1944|
|Private Earl Ramsted 349th Infantry Regiment 10/26/1945|
|Private Walter J. Reber 350th Infantry Regiment 12/18/1944|
|Private First Class John D. Resendez 350th Infantry Regiment 12/12/1944|
|Private First Class John J. Runk 351st Infantry Regiment 10/14/1945|
|Private Benjamin J. Sargis 351st Infantry Regiment 10/26/1945|
|Private First Class Anthony F. Schobitz 350th Infantry Regiment 04/16/1945|
|Corporal John R. Shilling 351st Infantry Regiment 10/10/1944|
|Private Dale D. Stanton 351st Infantry Regiment 10/31/1945|
|Private First Class Aulton Steele 351st Infantry Regiment 10/26/1944|
|Private First Class Eugene T. Sullivan 351st Infantry Regiment 05/15/1944|
|Private First Class Mack Tays 350th Infantry Regiment 09/25/1944|
|Technician Fourth Grade Philip Teachey 350th Infantry Regiment 04/18/1945|
|Private First Class Harry E. Thomas 351st Infantry Regiment 06/04/1944|
|Private First Class Landy C. Thomas 349th Infantry Regiment 10/07/1945|
|Private First Class Garland Totherow 350th Infantry Regiment 09/29/1944|
|Private Thomas J. Tyler 351st Infantry Regiment 10/26/1945|
|Sergeant Glenn F. Wilburn 351st Infantry Regiment 10/11/1945|
|Private Howard J. Windle 349th Infantry Regiment 10/27/1944|
|Private Rufus Woodham 351st Infantry Regiment 10/13/1945|
|Private First Class Elbridge M. Yates 350th Infantry Regiment 10/02/1945|
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