Several weeks after V-E Day, it was announced from Europe that the 106th Infantry Division had been assigned the job of guarding thousands of German prisoners of war. No outfit had a better right to claim that job than the “Golden Lion” Division, for the 106th, in the war’s major setback for the Allies in Europe, had more of its men captured than any other American division.
The story began in mid-December, when the 106th, which had left the United States only two months before, was moved up toward the front and—because it was without any previous combat experience—assigned to a supposedly relatively quiet sector in the Ardennes.
Then it happened. Rundstedt, who had secretly been plan-ning an all-out counteroffensive, gave the word, and the massed might of the German armies smashed into the American lines. There is always one point at which the attack is heaviest—and that was the point at which the 106th was stationed.
The 106th was deployed along a rocky, wooded ridge called Schnee Eifel, near the city of St.Vith, with its men scattered along a 27-mile front. In the foggy dawn of December 16 the Germans began their attack, with a tremendous artillery barrage. The pro-Nazi residents of St.Vith, tipped off in advance, had scurried into their cellars, and the fury of the German barrage crashed into the positions of the 106th. Then came the enemy tanks and the enemy infantry, and, along with them, English-speaking German soldiers disguised in captured American MP uniforms, to add confusion to the scene.
For two ghastly days, the 106th fought back, though vastly outnumbered by die oncoming enemy. The 422nd and 423rd Infantry regiments held out as long as they could, without food, water, or ammunition, and finally sent through a last radio message that they were destroying their equipment. Then there was silence. The remaining regiment of the division, the 424th, hung on grimly near St.Vith, and helped to keep the Germans from overrunning that vital communications center.
When the 106th’s casualties were added up, it had lost 8,663 men, some 7,000 of whom were prisoners.
But the Golden Lion wasn’t licked yet. Moved to the rear to re-organize, and with its ranks filled with replacements, it stormed back into the Battle of the Bulge in January and stayed in action till the counteroffensive had been crushed. Later it took up the fight on the south flank of the First Army’s sector in the Siegfried Line, and in March it was pulled back again, this time to Rennes, and held in reserve.
As German resistance began to crumble from north to south, the 106th was brought back toward the lines to help cope with the terrific problem caused by the thousands of prisoners falling into Allied hands. By the middle of June, the Golden Lions had control over 16 prisoner-of-war enclosures with 910,000 inhabitants—more than 15 times the total number of Germans taken by the AEF during World War I. Ardennes had been avenged.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 61 soldiers of the 106th Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private First Class Thomas J. Alagna 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private Lee E. Anderson 423rd Infantry Regiment 03/08/1946|
|Private First Class John Ane 423rd Infantry Regiment 02/19/1945|
|Corporal Glen E. Barnes 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/22/1945|
|Private First Class Clifford J. Beers 424th Infantry Regiment 12/18/1945|
|Private Eugene B. Clifton 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Sergeant William G. Colby 423rd Infantry Regiment 03/16/1945|
|Private First Class Robert T. Collins 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1945|
|Private First Class Harold D. Curl 424th Infantry Regiment 02/19/1945|
|Technician Fifth Grade Eugene R. Dolan 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/17/1945|
|Private First Class Dalton E. Foust 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private First Class Rudolph Frisch 423rd Infantry Regiment 03/31/1945|
|Private Thaddeus J. Galantowicz 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Sergeant Gigli P. Galletta 422nd Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Private First Class Clarence G. Garant 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private First Class Alexander Garon 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/08/1946|
|Private Daniel C. Gaskell 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private Joe E. Geyer 424th Infantry Regiment 12/23/1944|
|Private First Class Charles W. Hebert 423rd Infantry Regiment 12/22/1945|
|Private First Class Elesio H. Hernandez 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private First Class Charles P. Hill 423rd Infantry Regiment 05/08/1945|
|Private Harvey Hoard 423rd Infantry Regiment 12/22/1945|
|Private First Class David G. Hollar 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/31/1945|
|Private First Class Joseph R. Jeka 106th Reconnaissance Troup 12/17/1945|
|Private First Class Kenneth R. Johnson 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Captain Paul L. Kistner 423rd Infantry Regiment 12/23/1944|
|Private First Class Paul S. Kocher 424th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private First Class Bernard J. Kulesik 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/31/1945|
|Private Johnson Lawson 424th Infantry Regiment 02/20/1946|
|Sergeant Robert G. Liggett 424th Infantry Regiment 02/19/1945|
|Private Juan O. Madril 422nd Infantry Regiment 02/09/1946|
|Private First Class William J. Maxwell 422nd Infantry Regiment 04/08/1945|
|Private William E. McCombs 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/30/1945|
|Sergeant Gerald D. McIntyre 424th Infantry Regiment 02/28/1946|
|Corporal Horace G. Meisner 81st Engineer Combat Battalion 02/23/1945|
|Private Harold A. Method 424th Infantry Regiment 12/18/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Dave R. Millice 423rd Infantry Regiment 02/20/1945|
|Private Berton F. Mitchell 589th Field Artillery Battalion 12/17/1944|
|Private First Class Francis P. Muldoon 422nd Infantry Regiment 05/01/1945|
|First Lieutenant James C. Newman 423rd Infantry Regiment 12/23/1944|
|Technician Fifth Grade Jack Noble Divison Artillery 02/19/1945|
|Private Worrell F. Oberg 423rd Infantry Regiment 12/22/1945|
|Private First Class Michael D. Palaia 423rd Infantry Regiment 03/31/1945|
|Private Joseph E. Patterson 422nd Infantry Regiment 01/23/1945|
|Private First Class Kenneth S. Peterson 422nd Infantry Regiment 04/11/1945|
|First Lieutenant Charles W. Pfeiffer 331st Medical Battalion 12/23/1944|
|Private Edward L. Phillips 422nd Infantry Regiment 04/07/1945|
|Private Robert G. Porter 422nd Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Private First Class Edward W. Schreier 424th Infantry Regiment 04/13/1945|
|Corporal Kenneth C. Shelhamer 331st Medical Battalion 02/21/1945|
|Technician Fifth Grade John M. Siegel 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/14/1945|
|Private Mike Skupaka 589th Field Artillery Battalion 12/20/1945|
|Private First Class Louis M. Smith 422nd Infantry Regiment 04/12/1945|
|Private Carl R. Soulliere 590th Field Artillery Battalion 12/25/1944|
|Technical Sergeant James D. Stephens 422nd Infantry Regiment 03/08/1945|
|Staff Sergeant George E. Thomas 422nd Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Private Hom Y. Tong 423rd Infantry Regiment 05/08/1945|
|Private Robert W. Tucker 424th Infantry Regiment 12/18/1945|
|First Lieutenant George H. Vaream 106th Reconnaissance Troup 01/22/1945|
|Private John B. Wharton 422nd Infantry Regiment 02/19/1945|
|Private Robert A. Wheeler 589th Field Artillery Battalion 12/23/1944|
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