"World War II 1941-1945" -- Banner

104th Infantry Division
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Activated 15 September 1942,

Camp Adair, Oregon

"Led by Terry Allen, who blooded the famous 1st in North Africa, the 104th Division nightfought its way through Germany and became one of the greatest outfits in our Army." Kenneth T. Downs

Three years after the end of World War I, in July 1921, the 104th was organized under the provisions of the National Defense Act as a reserve Infantry Division with personnel to be drawn from the Western states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. Twenty-two years after the close of World War I, men from all parts of the United States came West to join the ranks of the 104th Division, now no longer a reserve division but a combat outfit, ready for training to play a vital role in World War II.

Table of contents:
ASTP Factor  Battle Credits   Battle Stats   Combat Chronicle      Commanding Generals    The Chaplain

Distinguished Unit Citations   The Eighty-Eight    Medics in Battle  Operation Coronet   POWs  Supporting Units

Combat Chronicle:

From the canals of Holland to the banks of the Mulde - -

"Ah, Yes, I Remember It Well."

The 104th Infantry Division landed in France on 7 September '44 and moved into a defensive position in the vicinity of Wuustwezel, Belgium, 23 October '44. There it relieved the British 49th Division & joined the First British Corps, First Canadian Army. This relief made the 413th Infantry the first Regiment of the Division to take its place in line, the first regiment of the American Army to relieve an allied unit on the Western Front, as well as the first American Regiment to fight under the command of an Allied Army on this front. The 104th went over to the offensive on the 25th, soon liberating Zundert, Holland, gaining control of the Breda-Roosendall Road, and overrunning the Vaart Canal defenses.

Leur and Etten fell as the Division advanced in a coordinated drive to the Mark River at Standdarbuiten on 2 November '44 and established a bridgehead. Zevenbergen was captured and the Maas River reached 5 November. The bulk of the Division moved near Aachen, Germany (to relieve the First Division & join the U.S. Seventh Corps, First U.S. Army), with some elements remaining to secure Moerdijk, Holland until 7 November. Our job in Holland was over. We recovered our wounded, buried our dead and moved on to our enemy's homeland.

On 16 November the 104th attacked, (for details, see Operation Queen) taking Stolberg and pushing on against heavy resistance. Eschweiler fell on the 21st and the enemy was cleared from the area west of the Inde River, including Inden, by 2 December. Lucherberg was held against enemy counterattacks on 3 December, and all strongholds west of the Roer (Ruhr) River were captured by the 23rd. The 104th actively defended its sector near Duren and Merken from 15 December '44 to 23 February '45, and moved across the Roer taking Huchem-Stammeln, Birkesdorf and North Duren (for details, see Operation Grenade). On 5 March, after heavy fighting, it entered Cologne (Koln). After defending the west bank of the Rhine, the Division crossed the river at Honnef, 22 March '45, and attacked to the east of the Remagen Bridgehead.

The 413th Infantry overran the airfield east of Eudenbach on 23 March. After a period of mopping-up and consolidation, the division began the offensive against the Ruhr Pocket on 25 March and joined the 3rd Armored Division to eliminate scattered resistance and  participated in the trap of enemy troops in the Ruhr pocket. The 104th repulsed heavy attacks near Medebach and captured Paderborn 1 April, '45. Regrouping, it advanced to the east and crossed the Weser River on the 8th, blocking enemy exits from the Harz Mountains. The Division then crossed the Saale river and took Halle (for details, see Saale)  in a bitter five-day struggle 15 to 19 April. The sector to the Mulde River was cleared by the 21st, and after vigorous patrolling, the Division contacted the Red Army at Pretzsch 26 April. Contact with enemy was lost on 5 May, completing 195 consecutive days of combat.

The 104th left Europe for home 27 June, 1945 and was stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo, California, with anticipated deployment for further combat in the Pacific. On 30 August official word was received from higher headquarters that the Division would not be needed in the Pacific. In recent years, the government has released classified details of the proposed invasion of Japan. The 104th Division's role in all of this was to complete training on the West Coast, stage through the Philippines, and eventually become part of the eleven-division floating reserve that would back up Operation Coronet (see details below), the code for the invasion to take place about March 1946, against the main island of Japan, Honshu.

The War Department ordered the inactivation of the 104th Infantry Division effective 20 December 1945. . . .

Its mission in World War II had been accomplished.

Supporting Units - a debt of gratitude

The infantryman's cry of "Medic!" or his plea, "Fire for effect" are the more dramatic examples, but by no means only, expression of dependency that the combat soldier had for his supporting units. The object of an infantry division is to have its rifle companies seize and occupy the objectives. And while these are often the units singled out by reporters and historians, the experienced infantryman knew of and fully appreciated the necessity of full support from all other units of his division. While "Aid-Men" of the medical units, the Forward Observer teams of the artillery units, special teams of Engineers, and weapons units from the "Heavy Weapons" companies were with the rifle companies so often that they were considered a basic component, the unseen efforts of the many others that supplied and supported the "Front Line" soldiers were also much appreciated and indispensable in victory.  Supporting units of the 104th, on both the regimental and divisional level, performed in the best Timberwolf tradition, providing constant support of its infantry's advance across central Europe.

Operation Coronet - The War That Wasn't:

Mention the words Olympic or Coronet to Timberwolves and the chances are you will not get much response. For most of us, these terms conjure up no memories: they have no meaning, at least in the context of our military experience. They are the designations for the intended landing operations against the Japanese home islands. Olympic referred to the November 1st invasion of Kyushu, the southern island. Coronet was the code for a second and more important invasion to take place about March, 1946, against the main island of Honshu. They were to be monumental undertakings, for no one thought the task would be easy; Japanese fanaticism was considered a certainty. To assure the outcome, we and our allies were assembling close to 1.5 million men, a naval armada of hundreds of vessels, and air fleets comprised of thousands of planes. As for the 104th Division's role in all this, we were to complete our training on the West Coast, stage through the Philippines, for more training no doubt, and eventually become part of the eleven division floating reserve that would back up Operation Coronet.

When the atomic bomb made all this preparation superfluous - - Olympic and Coronet and all they entailed were forgotten and our war stories, embellished over time, included little in the way of speculation about a Pacific Theater experience that never came to pass.

In recent years, the government has released classified details of the proposed invasion, and more particularly of Japan's defensive preparations. . . the latter aspect of this report provides a sobering picture that should give every Timberwolf pause for thought.

Many estimates have been advanced as to the casualties in the battle of Japan. The early stages of the landings would have been particularly bloody with both sides suffering a combined KIA rate of perhaps 1000 men an hour according to one estimate. More recent American estimates have set our losses at more than one million with a death toll in excess of the number we suffered in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.

There will always be Americans who are troubled over the morality of President Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb. Those who count themselves in that camp couldn't possibly include many of the generation of ground troops scheduled to take part in Operations Olympic and Coronet and the fighting beyond. It was the atomic bomb which finally forced the hand of the hesitant Emperor who alone had the necessary prestige to rein in that arrogant officer corps to whom the idea of surrender was otherwise unthinkable.

Excerpts from an article by Timberwolf Norman H. Cooke, M/413

Battle Credits:

Northern France 1944, Rhineland 1945, and Central Europe 1945

Commanding Generals:

Maj. Gen. Gilbert R. Cook, June '42 to October '43.

Maj. Gen. Terry de la Mesa Allen, October '43 to October '45.

Brig. Gen. Charles K. Gailey, Jr., November '45 to inactivation.

Distinguished Unit (Presidential) Citations:

1st Battalion, 413th Infantry Regiment - 23-26 February, 1945

2nd Battalion, 413th Infantry Regiment - 24 February, 1945 (plus attached units)

3rd Battalion, 413th Infantry - 23-26 February, 1945 (plus attached units)

415th Infantry Regiment - 31 March-4 April, 1945 (plus attached units)

1st Battalion, 415th Infantry Regiment - 22-25 February, 1945 (plus attached units)

2nd Battalion 415th Infantry - 2-4 December, 1944

3rd Battalion 415th Infantry - 2-6 December, 1944

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This page last updated: 06 October, 2010
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