The bottom short history was pulled from another site. I thought it best describes a short history of the 88th.
They were activated July 15, 1942 at Camp Gruber Okla. The original Cadre of Officers numbered 2,000. From the originally 2,000 John Sloan had to train approx. 13,200 untrained draftees. Sloan trained by the book.. Sloan held discipline and morale in high regard. After, their training they stepped onto African soil on Dec 15, 1943.
The division arrived at Casablanca, North Africa on 15 Dec 43 and moved to Magenta, Algeria for training on 28 Dec 43. It arrived in Naples, Italy on 6 Feb 44 and staged in the Piedmont d'Alife area and relieved the 36th Infantry Division on Monte Castellone 28 Feb 44. A detachment went into the line before Cassino 27 Feb 44 and the division relieved the British along the Garigliano River near Minturno 5 Mar 44, which it then defended. On 11 May 44 the 350th and 351st Infantry attacked toward Rome against strong opposition, the 351st Infantry losing a company approaching S. Maria Infante 12 May 44. The Germans then offered only rearguard resistance and on 15 May 44 the division pushed through an undefended Spigno. The 351st Infantry came under heavy fire 18 May 44 in attempts to take Monte Grande, and the 349th and 350th Infantry advanced from Rocca Secca across the Amaseno Valley 26 May 44. The division was relieved 29 May 44 and the 349th Infantry detached to the Anzio beachhead, where it linked up. On 2 Jun 44 the 351st Infantry overran S. Cesareo and cut Highway 6, and, after a battle on the outskirts of the city, the division pushed through Rome 4 Jun 44 along the Via Prenestina. After continuing across the Tiber River to Bassanelio, the division was withdrawn for rehabilitation on 11 Jun 44.
The division went into defensive positions near Pomerance 5 Jul 44 and took over the 1st Armored Division zone 8 Jul 44, attacking with the 349th and 350th Infantry, which took Volterra the next day. The advance came to a temporary halt on the last heights overlooking the Arno River above Palaia, which had fallen the previous day, on 18 Jul 44. The division then cleared the region below the Arno in heavy combat 20-25 Jul 44. It then rested and sent the 350th Infantry to assist in Livorno operations 21 Aug 44, and was reinforced by the attachment of the 442d Infantry to the division 20 Aug-2 Sep 44. The division crossed the Arno River 1 Sep 44 and continued advancing until relieved 6 Sep 44 for regroupment. The division was committed back to the front 21 Sep 44 and the 349th and 350th Infantry advanced rapidly along the Santerno River Valley toward Imola. The division battled on Monte Acuto and repulsed counterattacks 24 Sep 44, seized Monte Pratolungo and Monte del Puntale 26 Sep 44, and ran into strong German opposition. The 350th Infantry fought the Battle for Monte Battaglia 27 Sep-13 Oct 44, which it then abandoned, as the 351st Infantry fought the Battle of Gesso Ridge 10-12 Oct 44, and the 350th Infantry, later joined by the 349th Infantry, fought the Battle of Monte delle Tombe 11-16 Oct 44. The division regrouped on 15 Oct 44 and pushed toward the Monte Cuccoli-Monte Grande Range. Monte Grande was taken by the 350th Infantry with heavy air and artillery support and interdiction to prevent counterattack, 20 Oct 44. Vedriano was taken but lost to counterattack 23-24 Oct 44, and as further efforts to deepen the Monte Grande salient failed, the offensive was halted 26 Oct 44.
The division then maintained defensive positions and later relived the 85th Infantry Division on 22 Nov 44. It was relieved in line 13 Jan 45 for rehabilitation, and then relieved the 91st Infantry Division and reentered the line 24 Jan 45 in the Loiano-Livergnano sector. on 6 Mar 45 the division was relieved astride Highway 6, but the division resumed attacking 15 Apr 45 for the Bologna Offensive. It fought the Battle for Monte Monterumici 16-17 Apr 45. The 350th Infantry took Monte Mario 18 Apr 45 and the division-established positions west of the Reno River the next day. It attacked again 20 Apr 45 and the 351st Infantry crossed the Panaro River between Camposanto and Finale 22 Apr 45. The division reached the Po River near Carbonarai 23 Apr 45 and captured large numbers of German troops before they could cross over. The division itself crossed the Po the following day and captured Verona against scattered resistance 25-26 Apr 45. It cleared Vicenza 28 Apr 45 and crossed the Brent River on 30 Apr 45. The division was advancing through the Dolomite Alps toward Innsbruck Austria when the German forces in Italy surrendered 2 May 45, ending hostilities the division's area.” The 88th was in combat for 344 days. Eventually, poor health would cause Sloan to retire. The 88th, received 3 combat awards, 2 came in the fall of 1944, after Sloan departed. The enemy also rated this US Division as outstanding and the best division in Italy. After Sloan left Major General Paul W. Kendall was in charge from Sept 1944 to July 1944. In July 1944 Brigadier General James C. Fry took over and in Nov 1945 Major General Bryant E. Moore was in charge.
From "Fighting Divisions, by CWO EJ Kahn Jr, and T/Sgt Henry McLemore. Published by the Infantry Journal, copywrite 1945
In WWII towns have been liberated by men in tanks, by paratroopers dropping from the sky, by scout car patrols and by Jeeps, but it remained for the Doughboys of the 88th Infantry Division to do the job by bicycle.
Shortly before the cessation of hostilities in Italy the 2nd Battalion of the 350th Infantry requisitioned bikes from friendly Italians and in a "mad" dash from Nogara to San Martino drove the Nazi troops from the last named city and liberated its citizens.
The 88th, whose Doughs wear a blue cloverleaf formed from two interlocking eights, was the first all selective service infantry division commited to combat on any front in this war. The Cloverleaf boys got their first taste of action-and it was a minor one-when the division took up positions along the Garigliano River in Italy in March 1944.
This was puerly a defensive action, but a week later the division was given the go ahead signal and launched its assault on the Gustav Line. Two days later, despite the most savage opposition, the vaunted line was breeched, and the Cloverleafs were on the road to Rome, behind the fleeing Nazis.
The 88th marched into the Eternal City 24 hours after it had become the first liberated capital of Europe in WWII. A few weeks rest in Rome and the 88th was on the move again, taking over the missions of the 1st Armored Division which it had relieved. This time its goal was the celebrated Gothic Line, and the 88th drove towards it with a relentlessness that brooked no opposition.
Now began the divisions most savage battle. It entered the action in September, and during the ensuing months suffered its heaviest casualties. It battled unfavorable terrain, miserable weather, and a fanatical enemy. But it kept punching, punching to capture Mt La Fine, Belvedere, Gesso, Acuto, Capello, Castel del Rio, Mt. Battaglia, and Mt Grande. Mt. Grande was the nearest point to the Po Valley reached by any 5th Army unit until the Spring of the following year. During this drive the 88th was exposed to one of the most intense artillery poundings of the entire Italian campaign.
The 88th was ordered to hold up after the Mt. Grande drive, and spent the winter in alternate rest periods and tours in the line. Observing its first combat anniversary on March 5th, 1945, the Division had chalked up an offensive advance of 325 miles, captured more than 5,500 prisoners, and destroyed six German divisions and badly mauled half a dozen others.
In April 1945 the 88th went to work again, this time in the North Apennines Po Valley. It took Monterumici, and by the end of the month one of its units had entered Verona, key communication center of the valley. Noyt many weeks later it swept into Vicenza, and then on to Nogara, from which it made its famous bicycle assault on San Martino.
When the war ended in Italy, units of the division were ordered to make contact with the Seventh Army. This was accomplished a few miles from the Brenner Pass in May 1945.
During the Po Valley Drive the 88th bagged more than 30,000 prisoners in 16 action packed days.