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88th General Information

The information on this page has been pulled from The Bluedevils in Italy by John Delany.

The 88th Infantry Division is special because it was the FIRST draftee division into combat, in any theater, in World War II, even though seven other draftee divisions were activated earlier. The 88th got to the fight faster than any other draftee division because it consistently out-performed other divisions during Army Ground Forces tests. This is significant because each division underwent exactly the same Army Ground Forces training program. Further, the 88th's performance was so good at the Louisiana maneuvers of 1943 that it was also selected to precede a National Guard division overseas.

The 88th is also special for what the "Boche" said of the Blue Devils. Major General von Shellwitz, commander of the German 305th Division, said of the Blue Devils, "Once we identified the U.S. 88th Division, we knew where the main effort would be." Further, "German commanders were found to have shifted their own best units to face the 88th, which was referred to as "assault troops."

The combat record of the 88th is as good as any division in World War II. In fact, by at least one study, using a mathematical model to determine combat effectiveness, the 88th Infantry Division had no peers.

Lastly, the performance of the Blue Devils, the first "draftee division" into combat, proved that the United States could "mold masses of American conscripts into proficient, modern fighting organizations."

Some units the 88th Fought were:

1060th Panzergrenaider Regiment

1st and 4th Parachute Regiment

1st Parachute Division (The Green Devils) under Major General Schulz. These hard hitting Germans attacked the 350th on Battle Mountain. But the 350th held its own for seven days and nights.

305 Infantry Divison under command of Major General Von Schellwitz

8th Mt. Division under Major General Schricker

Some units that fought with the 88th in Italy are:

85th, 45th, 91st, 92nd 3rd and 10th Mt. The 103rd met the 88th a few miles south of the Brenner Pass.

British 5th and the 1st Division who helped the 88th attack the Gothic Line

The French Corps under General Alphonse Juin, the 6th South African Infantry Division and the Brazilian Expeditionary Force.

During the Lousinana Maneuvers the 88th regared the 31st US Infantry Division as its own personal enemy (the feeling was mutual)

The 88th Recon Troop was the FIRST in Rome on July 4th, 0715hrs

The 88th Was part of the 5th Army, II Corps in Italy. Also under the II Corps was the 85th, 3rd, and 1st Special Service Force.

The 88th was the first Infantry Division to have a rest center just for its own division members. It was located in Montecantini. It consisted of 3 hotels. The idea was such a great one, other infantry divisions copied the 88th model.

The rest center was home to the Trianon Theater. The theater did 2 performances a night, and could hold 1,000 men. Drinks were 30 cents for rum, whiskey, and cognac, and champagne was sold by the bottle. Fights broke out just about every night between the Red bulls (34th), Pine Trees (91st) and of course, the Bluedevils.

Soliders could by knick-knacks, vino, roasted chestnuts from various civilians while relaxing in Montecantini.

The Fifth Army Red Cross set up “The Tent Club” and soon had one of the best clubs operating. The best attraction of the club was the ‘Jitterbug Queen” Mississippi (Ann Jenkins of Alabama).

The Rome Area Allied Command GI Restaurant is where a solider could get a "real" meal. Meatloaf, string beans, asparagus, salad, bread/butter and coffee were amoung some of the items served.

88th Commanders

Typical Organization (1944/45)

Overseas Wartime Assignments