Type of Division: National Guard. Troops from Pennsylvania
Nickname: Keystone Division (The Germans called it the “Bloody Bucket” Division
Song: “28th Roll On.” Words and music by Sgt Emil Roab, November 1944
Shoulder Patch: A red keystone, symbolic of the State of Pennsylvania, known as the Keystone State. Division was composed in 1917 of men from Pennsylvania National Guard units.
History: Division was organized in Sep 1917, at Camp Hancock, GA, from Pennsylvania National Guard troops. It went overseas in May and June 1918. It participated in the Champagne-Marne defensive and the Aisne-Marne offensive. Division’s outstanding action was in the Mouse-Argonne offensive. One of its great achievements was rescue of the famous “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Infantry Division in the Argonne. During operations the Division took 921 prisoners and its casualties totaled 13,980. Division returned to the United States in spring of 1919. The 109th Infantry Regiment, originally from Scranton PA distinguished itself in the Marne battle. The 110th Infantry Regiment bore the full brunt of Ludendorff’s “Peace Storm,” a bid to break through and capture Paris. The 112th Infantry Regiment charged over the top at Hill 204 near Chateau Thierry. Battery “B” of the 107th Field Artillery Battalion has a history going back to service the Civil War. The 108th Field Artillery Battalion dates back to 1840 and was the first unit to use the name “National Guard,” an adaptation of Napoleon’s Garde Nationale. The 109th Field Artillery Battalion had three separate companies supporting George Washington’s Continental Army.
Activation Date: 17 February 1941 at Indiantown Gap PA
Inactivation Date: 13 December 1945, Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Component Units: 109th, 110th and 112th Infantry Regiments; 28th Cav Rcn Tp (Mecz); 103rd Engr (C) Bn’ 103 Med Bn. Div Arty: 107th, 109th and 229th (105 How) and 108th (155 how) FA Bns. Sp Tps: 28th QM Co; 28th Sig Co; 728th Ord Co(LM); HQ Co; MP Platoon and Band.
Training: Division trained at Indiantown Gap, PA and in Aug 1941 went to A P Hill Military Reservation, VA for maneuvers. Participated in Carolina maneuvers from Sep to Dec 1941. In Jan 1942, the outfit was sent to Camp Livingston, LA and in March came under control of Army Ground Forces and was placed under the IV Corps of the Third Army. From Sep to Nov 1942, the 28th took part in Third Army Maneuvers in Louisiana. From Jan to Mar 1943, the 28th received special training in amphibious warfare at Carrabelle, FL and was assigned to the VII Corps of the Second Army. In Aug 1943, the Division began almost two months of maneuvers in mountainous terrain in West Virginia after having changed its permanent station to Camp Pickett, VA. Three combat teams participated in amphibious training conducted by the Amphibious Force, U S Atlantic Fleet, at Camp Bradford, VA.
Departed U.S. for Foreign Duty: 8 October 1943 for ETO.
Overseas Training: Received extensive training in Wales for six months and in England for three months. Highlight of training was at Assault Training Center, Braunton, Devonshire, England.
Date Entered Combat: Division 27 Jul 1944, FIRST ELEMENTS 22 Jul 1944.
Combat Days (DIV): 196
Returned to U.S.: August 1945 (HQ)
Battle Credits: (Division) Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.
Successive Commanding Generals: MG Edward Martin, Feb to Dec 1941; MG J Garesche Ord, Jan to May 1942; MG Omar N Bradley, Jun 1942 to Jan 1943; MG Lloyd Brown from Jan 1943 to Jul 1944; BG James E Wharton was commanding for one day in Aug 1944 — while visiting a regiment a few hours after taking command he was fatally wounded; MG Norman D Cota from Aug 1944 to inactivation.
Congressional Medal of Honor Winners: T/Sgt Francis J Clark, Co K, 109th Infantry Regiment, for 12 Sep 1944 action at the Our River near Kalborn, Luxembourg.
Slogan: Fire and Movement:
Foreign Awards: 109th Infantry regiment awarded the French Croix de Guerre for 28 Jan to 2 Feb 1945 action in Colmar, France per French decree #565, dated 27 March 1945.
Combat Highlights: From Normandy, through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and eventually into Germany itself, the 28th Infantry Division blasted its way to success against the enemy which referred to the Keystone unit as the “Bloody Bucket” division. That phrase described the fury of the assaults which it launched shortly after landing on the Normandy beaches 22 Jul 1944. By 31st Jul, the 28th was in the thick of the hedgerow fighting. Advances were at a crawling pace while towns like Percy, Montbray, Montguoray, Gatheme and St Sever de Calvados and Hill 210 fell. By 20th August, the Division was rolling eastward along the highways of France. An advance north to the Seine to trap the remnants of the German 7th Army saw the capture of Vernauil, Breteuil, Damville, Conchos, Le Neubourg and Elbouf as the bag of prisoners mounted. On 29th August, the Division entered Paris and paraded under battle conditions before a populace delirious with joy. There was no time for rest, however, and the advance continued on through the Forest of Compeigne, La Fere, St Quentin, Laen, Rethel, Sedan, Mezieros, Bouilion and on the 6th of September the crossing of the Mouse was accomplished. The Division swept into Belgium averaging advances of 17 miles a day against the resistance of German roadblocks and “battle groups.” The city of Arlon, Belgium fell to a task force as the Division fanned out into Luxembourg. Combat Team 112, attached to the 5th Armored Division, liberated the southern portion of Luxembourg and smashed its way into Germany at Wallendorf in an attack aimed at Bitburg. Combat Teams 109 and 110 liberated the northern part of Luxembourg and on 11th September entered Germany in strength. After hammering away in assaults which destroyed or captured 153 pill boxes and bunkers the Division moved north and cleared the Monschau Forest of German forces in the area east of Elsenborn, Rocherath, and Krinkelt, Belgium, moving up to the Siegfried Line again. Further attacks were postponed and the Division made another move northward to the Hurtgen Forest. There the attack began 2nd November 1944 and the Keystoners stormed into Vossenack, Kommerscheidt and Schmidt amid savage fighting. Losses were heavy and ground once wrested from the enemy was lost and regained to be lost again to the ever increasing fury of his counter-attacks. By 12th November, the 28th had completes its Hurtgen Forest mission and moved south to the scene of its initial entry into Germany where it held a 25 sector of the front line along the Our River, from the northeastern tip of Luxembourg to the vicinity of Wallendorf. In this sector the Germans unleashed the full force of their winter offensive against the thinly-held and over-extended division line. Five crack (German) divisions were hurled across the Our River the first day to be followed by four more in the next few days. The Keystone rocked under the overwhelming weight of enemy armor and personnel but refused to become panic stricken. The defense by the Division against Von Rundstedt’s assault was termed by one correspondent as “one of the greatest feats in the history of the American Army.” By the time that the 28th was relieved it had thrown the German timetable completely off schedule and had inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. During early January 1945, the Division was charged with defense of the Meuse River from Givet, Belgium to Verdun, France. Later that month a move to the south, to Alsace, was made. There the 28th had the experience of serving in the French First Army in the reduction of the “Colmar Pocket” and to it went the honor of capturing Colmar, the last major French City in German hands. Further advances to the east across the L’Ill River and Rhino-Rhono Canal to the west bank of the Rhine followed. By 23rd February, the Division had returned north to the American First Army and was in the line along the Olef River. March 6th was the jump-off date in an attack which carried the Keystone to the Ahr River. Schleiden, Gomund, Kall, Sotenich, Sistig and Blankonheim all fell in a rapid advance. Many prisoners and large stores of enemy weapons, equipment and ammunition were taken. The Rhine was crossed and an area south of the “Ruhr Pocket” occupied by the 28th awaiting a southward drive by the German forces trapped in the pocket. Early in April the Division moved west of the Rhine and took up occupation duties in the area north of Aachen along the Holland-German border. Two weeks later came a move to the permanent occupation area; the Saarland and Rhonish Palatinate. Early in July the Division started redeployment to the United States, arriving home in August 1945. After V-J Day, the 28th Division reassembled at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and was inactivated on 12 December 1945.
Bob Babcock “Deeds Not Words”
Industry Marketing Executive
Midmarket Business, IBM Americas
Atlanta, GA T/L 445-8392, 770-835-8392