"The 88th Infantry Division in World War II"
by John Sloan Brown,
published by Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1985.
The author was the Chief of Military History at the US Army Center for Military History. His grandfather, John Sloan, was General Commanding of the 88th Division and his father served in it also(maybe during World War II). The content of this book is more accurately described by the title than by the subtitle. This book focuses on the concept of using Draftee Divisions in WWII. It is noted that no draftee divisions served in combat in World War I. So this was a new concept that had not been tried in battle. The author looks at studies and statistics on logistics, training, drop out or transfer rates, combat fatigue, etc., but not much detail on the combat history of the famous 88th "Blue Devils".- by Steve Cole, 1997
The book is 163 pages; or 220 pages with Appendices. It contains an index and 16 pages of photos. Some of these pictures are personal pictures taken by GI's of mundane daily activities. There is even one picture taken while in the States of some people dancing. They are not very informative.
One picture, however, was of a group photo of officers of the 337th Field Artillery, probably taken in April 1945. They were identified as:
Lt Col. Wilson Hargreaves
Capt. Horace M. Brown Capt. Ovid U. Bay
Capt. Hutchison I. Cone Capt. Taggart Whipple
Capt. E. R. Kennedy Capt. James E. DeVaughan
Capt. Roland E. Palmer Capt. W. S. Brooks
Capt. George H. Lester
This book has a lot of tables and statistics on the training of the 88th. It covers training given the (regular) Officer Cadre and to the draftees. There are tables of Automotive Maintenance showing ratio of draftees to cadre, and changes in personnel. There is a table of the weapons specified for each unit; i.e., Engineer, Signal, Recon, H.Q., etc. from 155mm howitzer down to the pistol.
In one of the four chapters covering the frontline action, he related about the "muleteers" that worked for the logistical supply. Records showed that unit had the highest consumption of combat boots from climbing up and down those rocky mountains. The Italian muleteers weren't allowed to draw from Gov't supplies so most wore German boots. He noted also that boots were regularly supplied to the front lines had some slight wear.
The chapters that cover the division in combat are full of important little details and a lot of interesting facts but not enough information about the scope of the fighting. Below are some quotes from the book, which should give an idea of information contained in this book. The general information of this book relates to the 85th "Custer Division", which was also a draftee division and it contains some references to 85th as they both fought in the same campaign.A few examples of quotes from Brown's book.-Steve Cole
(Book review written about 1995)Of the 37 draftee infantry divisions, 11 spent a month or more in England, then shipped to France; 1 stopped briefly in England, then had a month in a quiet sector in France; 12 went directly to France and spent a month in quiet sector in France; 12 went several weeks in North Africa, then spent several weeks in quiet sectors in Italy; 1 went directly to Italy and spent six weeks in quiet sectors; 3 went to the Pacific and trained several months, although the training of one of three was badly broken up; and 1 went to Hawaii and trained for the rest of the war without fighting at all. Of the 37 divisions, only 5 did not receive some kind of major training experience overseas. These included the ill-starred 106th, went into a "quiet sector" that ended up in the path of the German Ardennes offensive of late 1944; the 75th and 76th, whose retraining experiences were cut short when they were hastily thrown against the shoulders of the Bulge; and the 92nd and 93nd black units committed piecemeal rather than as divisions, with predictable consequences.
The importance to the 88th of the Magenta training and of the tour of March 1944 in the line at Minturno has already been stressed. The division refreshed itself on the Army Training Program and then gained considerable combat experience at the small-unit level while diagnosing and working out a number of training deficiencies. Tours in quiet sectors seem to have been equal value to other divisions. (The 88th remained in the "quiet sector" at Minturno until the Spring Offensive on May 11, 1944.)
A comparison can be made, for example between the 99th and the 106th infantry divisions during the first days of the Ardennes offensive. By December 1944, the 99th had trained briefly in England, had had a month of combat experience in low-casualty environments, and was considered prime for a major offensive undertaking. Deployed alongside the 99th, the 106th had come almost directly from the Unite States, without significant retraining in England, and was just beginning to sort itself out in the quiet Ardennes. Both divisions found themselves in the path of the German offensive. The 99th fell back on its haunches, then very creditably held the northern shoulder of the Bulge until help arrived; the 106th folded in a little more than a day. The 106th was more exposed, to be sure. Among other differences between the two divisions, however, one must number the previous combat experience of the 99th.
Dedicated to Palmer Hall of the 99th Infantry Division (my wife's uncle). He served time as a medic, was wounded once and crossed the Bridge at Remagen.
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