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Infantry Soldiers of WWII: Foot Soldiers

Infantry Soldiers in the Second World War - Forgotten warriors.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: WWII Re-enactment and Re-enactors, Military Uniforms, D-Day, Nazi Helmets.

A Soldier`s Vivid, Candid Diary of What It Was Like to Fight in WWII
Keeping the telephone lines intact and the radios working is not the hardest part of Communications. The greatest difficulty is saying the right thing. Two or three days after the landing the Division Commander ordered that there would be no reports of disasters or extraordinary successes. An example accompanied the edict; in case the enemy should throw some of its weight against us, the news would be transmitted not as a `counter-attack,` but as `enemy enthusiasm.` By the same token, if one of our regiments should succeed in breaking through the German defenses and advance 4-5 miles, the achievement would be termed something like `good progress.` Nothing extreme, no matter what.
(newrepublic.com)

Why WWII infantry wasn`t equiped with body armour - thread on Axis History Forum
"Why World War II infantry wasn`t equiped with body armour?" asks a thread on Axis History Forum. Explanations, it seems, vary.
(axishistory.com)

Second World War Infantry Tactics (The European Theatre) by Stephen Bull (book review)
"Battles and wars are not won unless the infantry is standing on the land that once belonged to the enemy. They live under the hardest conditions and suffer the most danger." The combat-hardened words of US foot soldier Radford Carrol will ring true with warriors of every nation. Since time immemorial, the "poor bloody infantry" has done the dirty front-line work of war. They bear the brunt of fighting suffering disproportionately in comparison with the other arms of service. Curator of military history and archaeology for Lancashire Museums, Stephen Bull sets the record straight in this in-depth account of the fighting methods of the WWII infantry.
(lep.co.uk)

Silver Star winner Bob Ludwig`s WWII trek up Italian `boot` filled with death and destruction
The Italian peninsula offers no shortage of awe-inspiring natural beauty, and Bob Ludwig spent the better part of a year covering a huge swath of it on foot. Alas, his trip was made during 1944 and 1945, when he served with the Army`s 362nd Infantry Regiment and was more concerned about dodging German bullets than taking in the sights. On one occasion, though, his platoon was loading up a truck with POWs when one of the Germans in the group refused to get in the vehicle. Ludwig pulled out a knife his father had made for him. "I said: `Get in the goddamn truck.` And then he said to me: `Who the hell are you?` I said: `How did you learn to speak such good English?` He said: `I graduated from the University of Chicago.`"
(thetimes-tribune.com)

U.S. Army infantryman Bill Lipton recalls how 41 German soldiers surrendered to a wounded GI
Bill Lipton joined the fighting in Europe in 1944, serving with the U.S. 407th Infantry Regiment. Lipton explained that after experiencing the reality of combat - the 80% casualty rate of some front-line infantry units - "I came to the conclusion that if I lived through it, it`d be a miracle." He slowly learned the skills that get you through combat: Fire, fall and load - Keep moving, don`t bunch up.

"They`d send us replacements and reinforcements who had no training. Some of them, believe it or not, had never fired a rifle, never threw a grenade."

In February, 1945, Lipton joined U.S. troops in a night assault across the Roer River. Shortly afterward he got hit, limping into a small town to escape a German artillery barrage, discovering 41 German soldiers waiting to surrender to someone - even a wounded GI.
(cleveland.com)

WW2 Marine Sid Phillips recalls Battle of Guadalcanal in "You`ll be Sorree" memoir
Though Sid Phillips fought in some of the bloodiest WWII battles, tales of guts and gore with bullets flying are not the core of his memoir. He reveals the challenges of bare survival during the months his Marine unit spent on the islands wrested from the Japanese. He tells of hunger and name-calling exchanges with Japanese snipers. He recounts how his unit, starving after the ships carrying their supplies were sunk, was saved by rice left behind by the Japanese troops. At one point, things were so dire that Marines ate WW1 vintage crackers from a box labeled "Field Ration Biscuits 1918" found on the beach.
(blog.al.com)

National Infantry Museum in Georgia honors the battleground warriors
The American infantrymen finally have their due in Infantry Museum in Georgia, a 200,000 square feet facility that opened in 2009. Filled with items and militaria that trace the history of the US Infantry since its beginning 235 years ago. There is an Army paratrooper at the recapture of Corregidor in 1945, war film playing within his parachute - across from that soldiers climbing a rock wall at Omaha Beach on D-Day, with vintage film played upon it. The WWII exhibit portion of "A World Power" includes WWII memorabilia like Hermann Goering`s jewel-encrusted baton and a burned copy of Hitler`s "Mein Kampf," with the Nazi leader`s speeches played on a loudspeaker.
(boston.com)

Intelligent soldiers most likely to die in battle - Scottish WWII stats reveal
Scottish soldiers who survived World War II were less intelligent than men who gave their lives defeating Nazi Germany, a study of British government records reveals. The 491 Scots who died and had taken IQ tests had an average IQ score of 100.8. Several thousand survivors averaged 97.4. The unprecedented demands of WW2 might account for the result, says psychologist Ian Deary. "We wonder whether more skilled men were required at the front line, as warfare became more technical." The study also reveals that those who didn`t serve were more intelligent than surviving veterans, and of equal intelligence to those who died.
(newscientist.com)

Monument to honor infantrymen with Combat Infantryman Badge
Norwood: The New England Regional Combat Infantrymen`s Association is funding a small stone monument dedicated to those who have got the Army`s Combat Infantryman Badge - set up by the War Department in 1943 to honor infantry personnel engaged in combat. Ted Mulvehill explained the badge is very prestigious and as such is worn above almost all other badges and medals on Army uniforms. The only badge located above it is the Medal of Honor. "This literally honors those guys who were in the trenches. I know a lot of guys who are much prouder of the Combat Infantryman Badge than any Purple Hearts."
(dailynewstranscript)

World War II infantryman Walter Holden: Tiger Tanks, flooded rivers
Our Charlie Company was the first into Inden. We got in a factory building, and the Germans came in the front and the back. We were swamped, no chance at all. The men closest to the Germans were captured. Our squad, 10 men, went out the side window. We were the only ones who got out, at least 60 were captured. ... There was a B.A.R. man (Browning Automatic Rifle) firing down the street. A Tiger tank was attempting to come up. When it started up, he`d shoot at the infantrymen who were with it. Tanks are helpless at night, and wouldn`t move up without infantry. That guy held off the tank all night.
(concordmonitor)

Normandy 1944: A Young Rifleman’s War by Dick Stodghill
This is the Battle of Normandy as seen from ground level during the bloody summer of 1944 - the personal experiences of an 18-year-old 4th Infantry Division rifleman who joined his company shortly after D-Day. He came to admire and respect the men of G Company, then was close by as one by one many of them died during the horrific fighting in the fields and streets. Here are the realities of that war: opening the casualty blanket rolls, seeing the dead being buried in mattress covers, the sounds, the smells and the fears of men in infantry combat.
(pr)

The hidden truth of Liberation of Paris - and poor allied infantry
Months before D-Day, American and British commanders decided that only French troops who were white could take part in the operation to liberate Paris. General Philippe Leclerc`s armoured division was chosen because it was the "only French division which could be made 100% white". All other units in the French army were two thirds or more African. A book by historian Olivier Wieviorka reveals the depths of the crisis which threatened to disable the Allied armies in Normandy after the landings on 6 June 1944. At one point 1/3 "wounded" American soldiers suffered from psychological, not physical, injuries. British infantry fighting spirit was equally poor.
(independent)

US infantryman: When Plantoon was forced to surrender
As a replacement, infantryman Leonard Todd had little knowledge of Company L`s orders. They crossed the Rhine River in small boats and proceeded to the town of Trebur, where they took a defensive outpost position. About midnight the Germans started shelling the U.S. troops and moving their vehicles into town. The Germans launched a ferocious attack, employing a large force of troops, artillery and tanks that isolated Company L from the rest of the battalion and separated his platoon from the company. "During the German counterattack platoon leader was killed by machine-gun fire. Being surrounded by the enemy, we were forced to surrender."
(lompocrecord)

"You don`t hear the one that hits you" - Decorated WW2 vet   (Article no longer available from the original source)
It was Sept. 10, 1944. The captain of an 11th Infantry rifle platoon attached to Gen. George Patton`s Third Army, Franklin Smith had ordered his men to put down cover fire so a group of wounded soldiers could be evacuated. Afterwards he was talking on a field radio, when the Wehrmacht unleashed a heavy barrage of artillery shells. "You don`t hear the one that hits you... but down I went. I got hit at 12:15. The reason I know is that I said to an aide... `I need a tourniquet.`" The Germans were solid across Normandy. There wasn`t any place they weren`t there. We were shelling them, and they were shelling us.
(southbendtribune)

Museum opens exhibit on the 10th Mountain Division   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Hitler had his eyes on conquering all of Europe long before Japan invaded Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile, high in the Rocky Mountains, men trained on skis to meet Hitler`s army and drive them back across the Italian Alps. The Estes Park Museum will open an temporary exhibit on the 10th Mountain Division. The exhibit explores the history of the special WWII force that trained for mountain combat. The 10th Mountain Division went on to distinguish itself in combat in Alaska and Italy. In 1940, Charles Minot Dole petitioned President Roosevelt to create an American light-infantry alpine ski force to combat Hitler`s advancing mountain troops.
(eptrail)

Infantry regiment`s casualties were high in Italy
Dante Salamone fought in the U.S. Army on the front lines in Italy for more than 300 days during WW2. He watched men fall all around him in the 350th Infantry Regiment of the 88th Division. More than 15,000 soldiers in the division were killed or injured. "It was hard to make friends with new replacements because I saw so many come and go." The first body he saw changed his life. "I realized that this is not a John Wayne movie. People were trying to kill me. Living in a foxhole was kind of unique: I mean that was home. Italy was low priority... guys were suffering because of a lack of support."
(staugustine)

When orders for the battalion to withdraw were not received
In 1944 Major Tasker Watkins won the Victoria Cross - only the second Welshman in the WWII to do so. While commanding a company of the Welch Regiment, the battalion was ordered to attack objectives near Balfour. Company had to cross open cornfields in which booby traps had been set. The company came under fire, and the only officer left, Major Watkins, charged two posts in succession. When he found an anti-tank gun his Sten gun jammed, so he threw it in the German`s face and shot him with his pistol. The company had only some 30 men left and was counter-attacked by 50 enemy infantry, and orders for the battalion to withdraw were not received by company...
(icwales)

With the U.S. Army’s 10th Infantry Regiment
Cliff Wilford`s military training included a 1941 march from Ft. Custer to Nashville, 500 miles carrying 60-pound field packs. He traveled To Iceland in a 150-ship convoy in Sept 1941 shadowed by a "wolf pack" of Nazi submarines. "I observed 2 of the torpedoes running side by side near the surface, missing by 10 feet." In June 1944, General George Patton came to North Ireland to give the troops a pep talk: it was either kill or be killed. Wading ashore in Normandy, German artillery fired 24 hours a day. After being relieved by the Royal Scots Light Infantry Brigade, Wilford`s unit relieved the 2nd Infantry Division, which was in danger of being overrun.
(enewscourier)

What Russia`s soldiers suffered
Fresh research shapes a fascinating yet also devastating portrait of Russian infantrymen in World War II. Josef Stalin and his successors made sure the story of Soviet history in the war was crafted and protected in a way that served their political purposes. Great monuments were built, but documents were sealed. Pensioned soldiers and their families were honored as "heroes," but they were kept from telling of experiences that might have deviated from the official line - especially anything traumatic. Historians, Russian and foreign, were prevented from working independently.
(csmonitor)


See also:
WWII Re-enactment and Re-enactors
Military Uniforms
D-Day
Nazi Helmets.