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97th Infantry Division

Six months before V-E Day, it looked very much to the men of the “Trident” Division as if their first war action would be against the Japanese. At that time the Division, which had been activated in February 1943, was stationed in California, with its training all completed and its men ready for battle. But in the Army plans can change quickly, even plans involving the 14,000 men and hundreds of vehicles of a division. Just two years after its activation, in February 1945, the 97th sailed for the European Theater of Operations.

In the complicated design of the 97th’s shoulder patch, the three prongs of the trident represent the states from which the personnel of the outfit were originally drawn—Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Neptune’s trident was selected as an ap-propriate symbol since Maine and New Hampshire touch the Atlantic Ocean. The blue of the shield stands for the freshwater lakes of New England, the white of the border for the snow-covered mountains of the region.

The 97th landed in France at Le Havre, and was first as-signed to the Fifteenth Army. Held in reserve for several weeks, the Division then marched from France to Belgium and on into Germany, where it was assigned to the First Army and thrown into action near Düsseldorf during operations to liquidate the Germans trapped in the Ruhr pocket. After only a few days in that area, the Division was moved down along the Rhine to Bonn, at the southern end of the pocket. On April 3, the 97th crossed the Rhine, and then went back into action along the Sieg River, capturing Siegburg and several other German towns. Patrols of the 97th frequently sneaked across the Sieg during this fighting in canvas boats. Then the Division began to move back toward Düsseldorf again, to close the pocket from the south.

During the final mopping-up operations in the pocket, the 97th took thousands of prisoners. Then it was transferred to the Third Army, was shifted to General Patton s front, and was committed to action again near the town of Hof. The 97th re-mained in battle for five weeks, moving up with the Third Army into Czechoslovakia.

At a point near the Czechoslovakian city of Luditz, patrols from the Division met up with elements of the Russian Army. After V-E Day, the Division was moved back into Germany, and then prepared to sail back to the United States for redeployment to the Pacific. And in the fall, finally, the Division that had expected to begin its travels in Jap-held territory found itself in Japan, as one of the two Divisions—the 86th was the other—that actually got redeployed from Europe.

From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.

The division insignia consists of a white trident on a blue shield within a white border. Neptune's trident was originally adopted to represent the coastal states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, from which personnel for the division was draw in 1918. The three prongs of the trident represent the three states; the blue symbolizes the states numerous fresh water lakes; and, the white of the border and trident represents the snow that covers these states' picturesque mountains.

COMMAND AND STAFF

Commanding General

1 Mar 45 Brig. Gen. Milton B. Halsey

Assistant Division Commander

1 Mar 45 Brig. Gen. Frank H. Partridge

Artillery Commander

1 Mar 45 Brig. Gen. Sherman V. Hasbrouck

Chief of Staff

1 Mar 45 Col. Edward O. Wolf

Assistant Chief of Staff G-1

10 Mar 45 Maj. Wilbert Allen

Assistant Chief of Staff G-2

10 Mar 45 Lt. Col. Henry H. Kilpatrick

Assistant Chief of Staff G-3

10 Mar 45 Lt. Col. Gustave E. Kidde

Assistant Chief of Staff G-4

10 Mar 45 Lt. Col. Joseph O. Gerot

Assistant Chief of Staff G-5

10 Mar 45 Maj. James S. Kelley
2 Apr 45 Maj. Joseph R. Reed (Acting)

Adjutant General

1 Mar 45 Lt. Col. Julian R. Alford

Commanding Officer, 303d Infantry

1 Mar 45 Col. William B. Forse

Commanding Officer, 386th Infantry

1 Mar 45 Col. Samuel M. Lansing

Commanding Officer, 387th Infantry

1 Mar 45 Col. William D. Long

STATISTICS

Chronology

Activated 25 February 1943
Arrived ETO 3 March 1945
Arrived Continent (D+272) 5 March 1945
Entered Combat--First Elements 31 March 1945
Entered Combat--Entire Division 1 April 1945
Days in Combat 31

Casualties (Tentative)

Killed 178
Wounded 669
Missing 87
Captured  
Battle Casualties 934
Non-Battle Casualties 384
Total Casualties 1,318
Percent of T/O Strength 9.4

Campaigns

Central Europe

Individual Awards

Legion of Merit 1
Silver Star 33
Bronze Star 87

Prisoners of War Taken

COMPOSITION

  • 303d Infantry
  • 386th Infantry
  • 387th Infantry
  • 97th Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • 322d Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 322d Medical Battalion
  • 97th Division Artillery
  • 303d Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)
  • 386th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)
  • 922d Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)
  • 389th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)
  • Special Troops
  • 797th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
  • 97th Quartermaster Company
  • 97th Signal Company
  • Military Police Platoon
  • Headquarters Company
  • Band

ATTACHMENTS

Antiaircraft Artillery

542d AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 2 Apr 45-4 Apr 45
Btry D, 839th AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 6 Apr 45-9 Apr 45
444th AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 20 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 45

Armored

782d Tk Bn 20 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 45

Chemical

95th Cml Mort Bn 18 Apr 45-20 Apr 45

Engineer

1 plat, Co A, 311thEngr C Bn (86th Div) 5 Apr 45-9 Apr 45
1262d Engr C Bn 8 Apr 45-14 Apr 45

Field Artillery

331st FA Bn (86th Div) (105mm How) 5 Apr 45-8 Apr 45
762d FA Bn (155mm How) 6 Apr 45-18 Apr 45
660th FA Bn (8" How) 18 Apr 45-20 Apr 45
768th FA Bn (155mm How) 18 Apr 45-20 Apr 45
Hq & Hq Btry, 188th FA Gp 18 Apr 45-20 Apr 45
Btry A, 17th FA Obsn Bn 30 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 45
190th FA Gp 30 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 45
187th FA Bn (155mm How) 30 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 45
987th FA Bn (155mm How) 30 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 45
656th FA Bn (8" How) 3 May 45-4 May 45

Infantry

341st Inf (86th Div) 5 Apr 45-9 Apr 45

Tank Destroyer

630th TD Bn (T) 18 Apr 45-20 Apr 45
820th TD Bn (SP) 20 Apr 45-still attached 9 May 1945

 

97th Infantry Division World War II Missing in Action

There are 3 soldiers of the 97th Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.

Private First Class LeVert W. Bell 387th Infantry Regiment 04/02/1945
Staff Sergeant Charles C. Miller 387th Infantry Regiment 04/03/1946
Private First Class David Schiff 387th Infantry Regiment 04/02/1945

 97th Infantry Division

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Patches

97th Infantry Division World War II patch, front view

97TH INFANTRY DIVISION

AMERICAN MADE

97TH INFANTRY DIVISION WWII patch, front view







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