Once known as the “Show Horse” Division, the 8th Armored Division proved it was a work-horse outfit in the brief time it was in combat against the Nazi military machine.
It would have been in the fight against the Wehrmacht much sooner had it not been so valuable as a training division. Before it sailed for overseas on Election Day, 1944, the “Iron Snake,” as it is now known, trained more than 50,000 officers and men, who were shipped abroad to fill gaps in eight other armored divisions.
When our tank forces took the severe mauling at Kasserine Pass, 4,000 trained replacements of the 8th Armored were shipped directly to Tunisia to help save the day, and launched the drive which pushed Rommel out of North Africa.
The 8th Armored reached France on January 4, 1945, and assembled in the Bacqueville area of upper Normandy. The German drive for Strasbourg brought a rush call for armor, and the division moved across France in the midst of a blizzard, skidding into Pont-à-Mousson three days and 350 miles later, only to find that the enemy thrust had been halted.
First taste of battle for the 8th Armored came in the Third Army’s preliminary attack against the Moselle-Saar salient, Supporting the 94th Infantry Division, Combat Command A drove the crack 11th Panzer Division out of the fortress towns of Nennig, Berg and Sinz. The end of February found the 8th Armored Division at Roermond, Holland, where it had been rushed secretly to relieve the British 7th Armored Division—part of the famed “Desert Rats” of Africa—and join the Ninth Army.
The Roer crossing was in progress, and Major General John M. Devine pushed the 8th Armored across to take Merbeck and Tetelrath. Combat Command B captured Lintfort and Rhein- berg to clean up the west bank of the river, overcoming cross-fire from panzerfausts, mortars, burp guns, mines and antitank weapons. The men of the “Iron Snake,” meeting opposition all the way, rolled through Ossenberg, Broth, Grunthal and Mill- ingen, as the Germans fought to get all possible troops and equipment across the Rhine.
The Rhine crossing was made by the Division on March 27, all men and equipment crossing within 24 hours. The 8th Armored then took on the 116th Panzer Division in its drive toward Dorsten, keypoint of the northern flank of the then forming Ruhr River pocket. Plunging past Dorsten, the 8th Armored fought through Polsum, Kirchellen, Zweckel, Buer Massel and Kol Berlich, grinding down compressed German opposition.
Came a shift in Allied plans, and the 8th Armored drove toward Soest, taking Collinghausen, Nordert and Ebbinghausen. The Division fought on into Unna, near Dortmund, and then was pulled out of combat and sent rolling 100 miles to Wolfenbuttel. From there the 8th Armored moved farther south, and soon was massed around Blankenburg, at the foot of the Harz Mountains. Following heavy air and artillery attacks in the morning, the tank-infantry assault was made, and the city was captured before dark. This was the last major battle waged by the 8th Armored Division. After V-E Day, the division moved to Chotieschau, Czechoslovakia.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
Activated 1 April 1942
Arrived ETO 21 November 1944
Arrived Continent (D+213) 6 January 1945
Entered Combat--First Elements 19 January 1945
Entered Combat--Entire Division 23 February 45
Days in Combat 63
Combat Command A
Combat Command B
18th Tank Battalion
36th Tank Battalion
80th Tank Battalion
7th Armored Infantry Battalion
49th Armored Infantry Battalion
58th Armored Infantry Battalion
88th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized)
53d Armored Engineer Battalion
148th Armored Signal Company
8th Armored Division Artillery
398th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
399th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
405th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
8th Armored Division Trains
130th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
78th Armored Medical Battalion
Military Police Platoon
21 Nov 44 Brig. Gen. John M. Devine
3 May 45 Maj. Gen. John M. Devine
21 Nov 44 Col. Henry W. Holt
21 Nov 44 Col. Charles G. Dodge
21 Nov 44 Lt. Col. Lawrence L. Boyd
21 Nov 44 Lt. Col. Emmet R. White
3 May 45 Maj. Henry C. Schraeder
21 Nov 44 Lt. Col. William S. Crittendon
4 Mar 45 Lt. Col. Edwin H. Burba
11 Apr 45 Lt. Col. Edward Y. Podufaly
21 Nov 44 Lt. Col. Harold N. Lang
16 Jan 45 Maj. Robert C. Polsgrove
21 Nov 44 Lt. Col. David L. Hairston
21 Nov 44 Brig. Gen. Charles P. Colson
21 Nov 44 Col. Edward Kimball
11 Apr 45 Lt. Col. Edwin H. Burba
21 Nov 44 Col. Robert J. Wallace
6 Apr 45 Col. Yarrow D. Vesely
467th AAA AW Bn (SP) 15 Jan 45-1 Feb 45
473d AAA AW Bn (SP) 6 Feb 45-6 May 45
10th Armd Gp 6 Feb 45-7 Feb 45
691st Tk Bn 21 Feb 45-28 Feb 45
10th Armd Gp 28 Feb 45-5 Mar 45
Co C, 92d Cml Mort Bn 2 Apr 45-8 Apr 45
999th Engr Treadway Br Co 27 Feb 45-29 Mar 45
989th Engr Treadway Br Co 10 Mar 45-15 Mar 45
691st FA Bn (105mm How) 21 Feb 45-27 Feb 45
407th FA Bn 28 Feb 45-5 Mar 45
275th Armd FA Bn 27 Mar 45-31 Mar 45
695th FA Bn 27 Mar 45-31 Mar 45
215th FA Bn (155mm How) 27 Mar 45-31 Mar 45
681st FA Bn 4 Apr 45-10 Apr 45
959th FA Bn (4.5" Gun) 5 Apr 45-10 Apr 45
290th CT (- 1st Bn) (75th Div) 27 Mar 45-30 Mar 45
1st Bn, 290th Inf (75th Div) 27 Mar 45-31 Mar 45
809th TD Bn (SP) 9 Feb 45-14 Mar 45
There are 12 soldiers of the 8th Armored Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Technician Fourth Grade Carson M. Barbour 36th Tank Battalion 03/05/1945|
|Corporal Willie G. Beckner 80th Tank Battalion 03/29/1945|
|Private First Class Neil Cole 36th Tank Battalion 03/05/1945|
|Private Eli A. Fein 53rd Engineer Battalion 04/06/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Arthur S. Goldstein 36th Tank Battalion 04/03/1946|
|Corporal William C. Koscak 36th Tank Battalion 03/05/1945|
|Private First Class Clarence H. Leach 36th Tank Battalion 03/05/1945|
|Corporal John P. Mannino 36th Tank Battalion 04/09/1945|
|Private Earl N. Ringheim 36th Tank Battalion 03/05/1945|
|Sergeant Donald G. Severine 36th Tank Battalion 03/05/1945|
|Private First Class John J. Siciliano 36th Tank Battalion 03/06/1946|
|Private Gene Wilson 80th Tank Battalion 03/28/1945|
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