You can’t say too much for them.”
That was the tribute “brass” paid to the 80th Infantry Division Doughboys after they had broken through a ring of German lead and steel to help rescue the 101st Airborne Division, never-say-die defenders of Bastogne.
Christmas Day, side by side with tanks of the 4th Armored, Infantrymen of the “Blue Ridge” Division began to batter forward toward the besieged 101st. Through murderous opposition, over frozen, snow-crusted terrain, they bent their heads to bullet and blizzard, and advanced 9 miles. Next day the gap between rescuers and trapped was reduced to 4,000 yards. A Blue Ridge patrol, working at night, slipped through the Nazi lues to meet up with an outpost of the 101st, and gather information concerning German strength and displacement.
With this information, the Doughs of the 80th and the 4th tankers, drove forward, scorning withering artillery, Nebelwerfer, and small-arms fire. They chased the Germans from ridge to ridge, from pillbox to pillbox and, on December 28, knifed through to the lines of the 101st. Relief of Bastogne was completed, Rundstedt’s hope for a major breakthrough was finished, and the men of the 80th could proudly reassert their motto: “Ever Forward.”
It was no untried division that achieved the drive to Bastogne. The 80th had been in action since it landed on Utah Beach, in France, early in August. A few days after it hit France the 80th began fighting at Le Mans, and aided in stemming the powerful armored counterattack by five panzer divisions which sought to cut the Third Army’s supply line at Avranches.
Under new orders, the Blue Ridgers were thrown into the battle of the Argentan-Falaise Gap.
They were told to take Argentan and the high ground north of the city. This strongpoint was held by a panzer division, a Luftwaife battalion, and Storm Troopers supported by artillery and numerous self-propelled guns. Just before midnight of August 19, the city was blasted by artillery. The Blue Ridgers stormed into the burning objective. Surging north from this point, the Doughs of the Blue Ridge had a field day mopping up the wreckage of the once proud German Seventh Army.
After this hard blow to the Wehrmacht, the Division once again became a part of the Third Army, swung south of Paris and spearheaded the Allied drive across France.
The Blue Ridgers crossed the Meuse and, with history repeating itself, rolled into St.Mihiel where, 26 years ago, during the same month, the World War I 80th had fought. Ahead was the heavily fortified Moselle River. Loading on a small stream that runs into the Moselle, the 80th crossed without a shot being fired, and the Third Army’s spearhead was ready to run wild. In the later stages of this battle the 80th’s artillery commander, Brigadier General Edmund W. Searby, was killed while fighting in the front line with the Doughboys.
In November of 1944, the 80th attacked the Maginot Line. Before its men were relieved by the 6th Armored Division forward elements of the 80th had penetrated the German frontier less than five miles from Saarbriicken.
After 102 days of contact with the enemy, the Blue Ridgers were withdrawn on December 7 for a rest.
Then came Bastogne.
True to their motto, the men of the 80th moved “Ever Forward.”
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 26 soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Staff Sergeant Russell L. Abel 318th Infantry Regiment 09/20/1944|
|Private First Class Garland E. Ackelson 319th Infantry Regiment 05/21/1945|
|Staff Sergeant Roy C. Boston 319th Infantry Regiment 02/12/1945|
|Sergeant Donald D. Claar 318th Infantry Regiment 02/09/1945|
|Staff Sergeant Tomas Cruz 318th Infantry Regiment 10/24/1944|
|Private Harry R. De Haan 318th Infantry Regiment 11/10/1945|
|Sergeant Pershing F. Dennis 317th Infantry Regiment 04/12/1946|
|Staff Sergeant William L. Dewart 318th Infantry Regiment 02/12/1945|
|Private Daniel J. Fernandez 318th Infantry Regiment 09/16/1944|
|Private Harry Fredman 317th Infantry Regiment 03/16/1945|
|Private Oren C. Harris 317th Infantry Regiment 09/27/1945|
|Corporal Ernest W. Hogan 318th Infantry Regiment 09/16/1944|
|Private Robert B. Horner 317th Infantry Regiment 09/18/1944|
|Private Bernard W. Myers 318th Infantry Regiment 02/08/1945|
|Private William L. O'Neal 317th Infantry Regiment 09/26/1945|
|Private Joe C. Pemberton 318th Infantry Regiment 04/25/1946|
|Technician Fifth Grade Harold D. Pittis 318th Infantry Regiment 02/08/1945|
|Private Harold O. Poulter 318th Infantry Regiment 02/08/1945|
|Private Lyle T. Roberts 319th Infantry Regiment 02/22/1946|
|Second Lieutenant Robert G. Schmidt 319th Infantry Regiment 10/29/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Richard R. Schmon 313th Field Artillery Battalion 11/05/1944|
|Sergeant Carl C. Sparks 317th Infantry Regiment 02/22/1946|
|Sergeant Freeman A. Trudeau 318th Infantry Regiment 08/20/1944|
|Corporal Clarence Walters 319th Infantry Regiment 10/29/1945|
|Private Walter N. Wenger 317th Infantry Regiment 01/08/1945|
|Private Kwack K. Woo 318th Infantry Regiment 02/09/1945|
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