83rd composition

History and Information

The SHOULDER PATCH consists of a black isosceles triangle with its vortex pointed downward. In the center of the patch, within a gold circle, the letters "O" "H" "I" and "O" are formed in a monogram-type pattern.

TYPE OF DIVISION is "Organized Reserve"

The NICKNAME of the 83rd is " Thunderbolt Division". The division was originally called the "Ohio Division" due to the fact that its personnel in both World War I and World War II was to a large extent from Ohio. In March 1945, however, it was felt that through combat losses and turnover in personnel the 83rd had changed from an Ohio outfit to one representing all the states. A contest was held to select a new name and out of more than 1000 entries the name "Thunderbolt" was selected.

The SONG of the division is called "The Thundering Herd" and the 331st Infantry Regiment song "The Three Thirty First," by Pfc. Bud Hanson

The division was organized at Camp Sherman. Ohio in September 1917. Most of its personnel were men from Ohio, but men from Kentucky and Western Pennsylvania were also included in the division. The 83rd went to France in June 1918, was designated as a depot division and ordered to the Le Mans area. The 332nd Infantry Regiment was detached and selected to represent American forces with the Italian Army. It saw action in the Vittorio-Veneto area in Italy. The other Infantry regiments provided replacements for divisions at the front, training and supplying more than 195000 officers and enlisted men as replacements while in France. Field Artillery, Signal Corps and Corps of Engineers units with the division saw action in the Aisne-Maine. Oise-Aisne and Meuse-Argonne offensives and in the Voslo Sector. The division's elements returned to the US between January and October 1919 and were demobilized

The 83rd - A 'National Army' division, was not a typical square AEF Formation. They had initially been formed with the intention of becoming another line division on the western front. But circumstances during the past year had taught General Pershing and the SOS, that there was not only a great shortage of shipping space to bring the troops to France, there was also a dire need for 'Depot' Divisions to support the AEF. The army lacked adequate training facilities, stevedores, and a catchbasin to sift through the arriving units for replacements to be sent to the line divisions suffering casualties in action. Thus, the 'Depot' Divisions were formed.

Pershing had been very dissatisfied with the level of training (or lack of) exhibited by his troops arriving in France. The War Department had intended to continue the training in France via a Training Section, prior to units entering the line. In February 1918, this training division became the Fifth Section of the General Staff structure – G5. Ideally, the AEF schools were to provide three months of training to supplement stateside training. The soldiers were to learn the special skills required in modern warfare—familiarity with new weapons systems, new communications techniques and new staff skills. The Army schools focused on training instructors, expecting graduates to return to units and impart their newly acquired knowledge to the troops through unit training and as instructors in corps schools. Unfortunately, the exigencies of war did not allow for this luxury, and quite often men were being sent to the front with little or no infantry skills.

The Training Division's plan envisioned a six-division corps composed of four combat divisions, a depot division and a replacement division. The depot division, located at the ports, received new soldiers and provided six weeks of basic individual training before forwarding them to the replacement division. The demand for combat divisions quickly reduced the number of depot divisions from six to two. These two depot divisions, the 41st and 83rd, processed all of the AEF replacements. The replacement division trained men of all ranks and forwarded them to combat units as required.

Getting back to the 83rd Division, they began to stage via Camp Merritt in New Jersey, and sailed to France during the late spring of 1918. Most of the division arrived in France by June 28th, 1918. Imagine their surprise, when they learned that the 83rd was re-designated the 2nd Depot division the day before, on June 27th, 1918. As they were no longer expected to join their fellow Doughboys on the line, the division was stripped of some units, which were attached to Corps & Army troops. Specifically, the 158th Artillery Brigade, 308th Ammunition Train, 308th Engineers, 308th Field Signal Battalion, 308th Trench Mortar Battery and 308th Sanitary Train. The entire 332nd Infantry Regiment & 331st Field Hospital were sent to the Italian Front in July of 1918 to bluff the Germans and Austrians into thinking the American Army was larger and more capable than it really was.

The 83rd had three infantry regiments, the 329th, the 330th, and the 331st. They spent 244 days in combat and suffered 23980 casualties, 15248 of which were combat casualties. Overall, the division had 170.2 percent replacements.
Of the 68 divisions deployed by the U.S. Army in the European Theater, the 83rd was ninth in the number of combat deaths. The number of 83rd Division GI’s killed in combat totaled 3620.
The odds were that if you were on the front line, you probably wouldn't make it home in one piece, if at all.

A short WW2 Combat Chronicle
The division was activated on August 15, 1942 and began its training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana where it was the first division to open this camp.
In July and August 1943 it participated in Second Army maneuvers in Tennessee and in spite of being the "youngest" division taking part in the maneuvers proved itself a tough, aggressive outfit In September 1943 it moved to Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky and trained there for the remainder of the year and for the first two months in 1944
Departed the United States for foreign duty on April 6, 1944. The 83rd Infantry Division arrived in England on 16 April 1944. After Intensive training in England and in the northern part of Wales, the Division landed at Omaha Beach, 18 June 1944, and entered the hedgerow struggle south of Carentan, 27 June. Taking the offensive, the 83rd reached the St. Lo-Periers Road, 25 July, and advanced 8 miles against strong opposition as the Normandy campaign ended. After a period of training, elements of the Division took Chateauneuf, 5 August, and Dinard, 7 August, and approached the heavily fortified area protecting St. Malo. Intense fighting reduced enemy strong points and a combined attack against the Citadel Fortress of St. Servan caused its surrender, 17 August. While elements moved south to protect the north bank of the Loire River, the main body of the Division concentrated south of Rennes for patrolling and reconnaissance activities. Elements reduced the garrison at Ile de Cezembre, which surrendered, 2 September. The movement into Luxembourg was completed on 25 September. Taking Remich on the 28th and patrolling defensively along the Moselle, the 83rd resisted counterattacks and advanced to Siegfried Line defenses across the Sauer after capturing Grevenmacher and Echternach, 7 October. As the initial movement in operation "Unicorn," the Division took Le Stromberg Hill in the vicinity of Basse Konz against strong opposition, 5 November, and beat off counterattacks. Moving to the Hurtgen Forest, the 83rd thrust forward from Gressenich to the west bank of the Roer. It entered the Battle of the Bulge, 27 December, striking at Rochefort and reducing the enemy salient in a bitter struggle. The Division moved back to Belgium and Holland for rehabilitation and training, 22 January 1945.
On 1 March, the 83rd advanced toward the Rhine in the operation "Grenade," and captured Neuss. The west bank of the Rhine from North of Oberkassell to the Erft Canal was cleared and defensive positions established by 2 March and the Division renewed its training. The 83rd crossed the Rhine south of Wesel, 29 March, and advanced across the Munster Plain to the Weser, crossing it at Bodenwerder. As opposition disintegrated, Halle fell on 6 April. The Division crossed the Leine, 8 April, and attacked to the east, pushing over the Harz Mountain region and advancing to the Elbe at Barby. That city was taken on the 13th. The 83rd established a bridgehead over the river but evacuated the area to the Russians on 6 May 1945.
The 83rd returned to the US on March 26, 1946 (HQ) and was inactivated on April 5, 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey

Maj. Gen. Frank W Millburn from 22 Aug 1942 to Dec 1943
Maj. Gen. Robert C. Macon from Jan 44 to 31 Jan 1946

Congressional Medal of Honor: Sgt Ralph G. Neppel, Co. M, 329th Infantry for 14 Dec 1944 action near Birgel, Germany.
Distinguished Service Cross - 7
Distinguished Service Medal - 1
Silver Star - 710
Legion of Merit - 11
Soldier's Medal - 25
Bronze Star Medal - 6294
Air Medal - 110.

2nd Battalion of the 330th Infantry Regiment for 7-9 Aug 44 action in France
329th Infantry Regiment for 4-15 Sept action in France
3rd Battalion of the 330th Infantry Regiment for 10-13 Dec 44 action in Grashan, Germany
2nd Battalion of the 329th Infantry for 12-16 Dec 44 action in Germany
1st Battalion of the 330th Infantry for 9-11 Jan 45 action in Belgium
1st Platoon AT Co & Mine Platoon AT Co 330th Infantry Regiment for 9-11 Jan 45 action in Belgium
3rd Battalion of the 331st Infantry Regiment for 2-5 April action in German