This is the best of several books about the "ski troopers" in World War II, the Tenth Mountain Division, that fought in Italy in 1945. 9 in platoon of 32 men. Our objective was taken.” C Company lost seven men killed and 23 wounded in taking Gorgolesco; Sergeant Evans received a Silver Star for his actions that day. We were ready. The U.S. Army, in contrast, had no alpine troops and had never fought a battle on a snowy mountain. “I think you must have read in the papers about the attack on Mt. What’s more, the 10th’s attack on Belvedere would now be supported by .50 caliber machine guns and two 75mm pack howitzers laboriously hauled up to the top of the ridge after its capture. The National Ski Patrol actively recruited skiers to join the newly formed unit. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall listened to the civilians, and by late November 1941 the first ski troops were beginning to gather at Fort Lewis in Washington State, to soon train on the slopes of nearby Mount Rainier. “We’re doing all right.” At dawn, the counterattacks ceased and the survivors of one German company, 40 men including their captain, surrendered. So how did the military develop the training and curriculum for this alpine division? At 11 p.m. on the 19th, the order was given for the mountain troopers to fix bayonets and move out. During World War II, the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division served in combat for only four months, but it had one of the conflict's highest casualty rates. Close to 1,000 would die. Stealth and surprise had contributed significantly to the capture of Riva Ridge; the attack on Belvedere would enjoy neither. And so my 20th birthday rolled around & I feel 30. Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, commander of German forces for most of the Italian campaign, wrote after the war: “To my surprise—in deep snow—the remarkably good American 10th Mountain Division launched an attack against the left flank of [the German defensive line], which speedily led to the loss of the dominating heights of Monte Belvedere.”. Categories: WWII. “From the frozen spine of the Colorado Rockies to the icy steeps of Riva Ridge in Italy, Maurice Isserman skillfully tracks the birth of the 10th Mountain Division and its harrowing World War II battles. An 85th Regiment company moves out on Mount Belvedere as others wait in reserve. We had been keyed to this high pitch in all our training. If they ran into opposition, they could use grenades or bayonets, but no one was allowed to load and fire before daybreak. A German officer’s diary, acquired by U.S. Army intelligence, revealed a new level of despair spreading through the enemy ranks. The 10th Mountain Division was formed in World War II as a unit of elite troops with special operational skills adapted to mountain terrain. He stressed the importance of the 10th’s mountain training: Our attack was to begin a couple of hours before dawn. Amazingly, for a few crucial seconds, there was no fire from above. In early 1945, the 10th Mountain Division helped crack the so-called Winter Line, the last major German defenses in northern Italy. Pre-Owned. 10 July 2017. 0 bids +$1.75 shipping. General Hays drew up the final plans for Operation Encore. As a young artillery officer in the previous war against Germany, he had been awarded a, Their first weeks on the Italian front had been uneventful. Everything at first went precisely according to plan, he recalled, with no confusion. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. What also helped was the specialized training the men of the 10th had undergone back in the States, learning how to fight on mountainous terrain and in cold weather. He was the first person I had seen die.”. With the organization of a third regiment, they gained divisional status in July 1943. From his headquarters close to the front line, Hays studied the terrain, aerial photographs, and maps. The division was special in a number of ways. Around 7 a.m. At 6:50 a.m. artillery from the valley below began bombarding the German position. Belvedere…. Belvedere had left him with an abiding hatred of war. Corporal Daneman would survive the war to marry Lois in August 1945. From that point, the regiment’s motto would be “Always Forward,” or, The fiercest fighting on the first day of the assault took place just below the summits of Belvedere and Gorgolesco, the former the objective of the 85th’s 3rd Battalion. Over on Gorgolesco, the fighting was more prolonged. The Tenth Mountain Division Foundation carries forward the legacy and memory of America’s WWII winter warfare soldiers The Foundation was established to memorialize the glorious history and exceptional achievements of the World War II 10th Mountain Division and to perpetuate its memory for future generations. But now with Hitler rampaging through Europe they had to evolve. But all the specialized training was not for nothing. The most prominent of these peaks is Belvedere itself, along with Mount Gorgolesco and Mount della Torraccia. But an accidental encounter with… The Tenth Mountain Division Foundation carries forward the legacy and memory of America’s WWII winter warfare soldiers The Foundation was established to memorialize the glorious history and exceptional achievements of the World War II 10th Mountain Division and to perpetuate its memory for future generations. Dubbed the "ski troops" by the press, the 10th Mountain Division remains the only military division recruited by a civilian organization, the National Ski Patrol. While the division attracted top skiers, mountaineering (at Camp Hale in 1943, below) was arguably the more important skill. The remainder of the 86th, along with the men of the 85th and of the 87th—some 12,000 men all said—would depart shortly before midnight the next night, February 19, to seize Mount Belvedere and its adjacent peaks. The 10th Mountain Division: WWII’s High-Altitude Heroes. Experienced in skiing, mountaineering and cold-weather survival as well as military tactics, the soldiers fought enemy forces in the Italian Campaign of 1945. “Whoever has not gone through it as a frontline infantryman cannot possibly picture it.”. 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION IN WORLD WAR II 6 January 1940 — 30 November 1945 Compiled by John Imbrie Vice President for Data Acquisition and Research, National Association of the 10th Mountain Division, Inc. Maps by Barbara Imbrie Battle diagrams modified from those made by Armand Casini in 1945 June 2004. by Flint Whitlock. While skis were never used in combat by the 10th Mountain Division, they were use for patrols before the Riva Ridge operation, and at least one of those patrols participated in a brief gun battle after removing their skis and proceeding on foot. By sunset on February 19, they were cheered by the news that the ridge had been captured. As a young artillery officer in the previous war against Germany, he had been awarded a Medal of Honor. See more ideas about mountains in italy, 10th mountain division, wwii. The 10th Mountain Division’s final battle of World War II took place 75 years ago during the late days of April near Lake Garda in northern Italy. The 10th Mountain Division, the first alpine fighting force in the United States Armed Forces, bears more than a passing connection to Lake Tahoe. He’s a professor of history and the author of The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America’s Elite Alpine Warriors. They drove ahead, remembering General Hays’s injunction, “always forward,” while leaving a trail of dead and wounded comrades. Crossing the saddle connecting Mount Belvedere and Mount Gorgolesco on February 21, Private Kennerly came across the mangled corpses of men from the 85th’s B Company lying where they had fallen in the assault on Gorgolesco the previous day. Time left 9d 5h left. Fred Vinson, Thirteenth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division served in World War II combat for only four months, but it had one of the highest casualty rates. The 10th Mtn. This documentary is a tribute to the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division. The last German who got up and yelled ‘Kamerad!’ I held with an empty gun. Search the website, Search for books and materials in the Library Catalog, Search for photographs, maps, historical documents and more, Search newspapers, local histories, biographical works, newsletters and journals, Search for papers and materials in the Archival Collections. The 10th’s plan of attack was complex and multipronged, with elements from the 85th, 86th, and 87th regiments involved in the initial assault from several sides of Belvedere and Gorgolesco. As he wrote in his diary: They are lying everywhere, “frozen” in many different positions, instant rigor mortis. General Hays, then 52, had taken command of the 10th the previous autumn. The 10th Mountain Division trained at Camp Hale on Tennessee Pass in the Colorado Rocky Mountains prior to going to Italy to fight in WWII. Prayed in my foxhole and read my Bible. *** Soldier training for mountain warfare in full fatigues. 10th Mountain Division and WWII. But World War II brought a need for men who could handle extreme mountainous conditions -- and the elite 10th Mountain Division was born. The 10th was the first division of any kind formed by the Army since 1975 and the first based in the Northeast US since World War II. Unlike their commander, though, they were not seasoned soldiers; their division was the next-to-last the U.S. Army would send to fight in Europe. From the ridgeline, the Germans had a clear view of the approaches to and summit of Mount Belvedere, which would allow them to call in accurate artillery fire on any attackers. It is the most detailed of books about the 10th, making much use of correspondence between 10th soldiers, typically to family and depicting the reality of combat. Next, it covers the development of the installation thru present era. Killed my first Jerry on the ridge (Division objective). On the 10th Mountain Division's right flank the 85th Division moved uncontested through the Adige Line north of Verona and went into Fifth Army reserve on 27 April. I felt no remorse doing it, almost pleasure. I’d always wondered how I’d feel shooting a man & I found out quick enough. Never stop. In four months, the division had one of the highest casualty rates of any in the war. Operation Uphold Democracy. After darkness fell on Sunday night, February 18, the men from units of the 86th would set off up four of the five trails to the summit of Riva Ridge. The 10th Division deployed in late 1944, in the Apennine Mountains in northern Italy, where the German army had held its ground on top of Mount Belvedere against the U.S. for almost half the year. The timeline of my edit and the reality of what took place 75 years ago have been in sync with one another. The division was special in a number of ways. As the men made their way up the lower slope, there were at first no sounds to be heard but the creaking of gear and an occasional muttered curse. By the evening of February 22, the 2nd Battalion was reduced to some 400 men—roughly half its normal strength. from me. CHRONOLOGY OF THE 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION NOTE: Entries in italics describe … THE CAPTURE OF MOUNT BELVEDERE cost the 10th Mountain Division a total of 923 casualties: 192 killed in action, 730 wounded, and one prisoner of war. It reminds me of a watermelon with all the meat gone. Killed my first Jerry on the ridge (Division objective). B. Feuer. Only one, the 10th Mountain Division, saw combat in World War II. "Death from a distance, the Mountain Division, with their sharpshooter focus and sniper rifles, is precise and deadly." I still say that the tragic price we pay is worth it and I would live thru it again & again to insure the fact that you & our kids won’t have to endure another war. In 1987, Denver Public Library partnered with History Colorado and the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division to create the 10th Mountain Division Resource Center. Although Mount Belvedere remained the main objective, the general knew he had to do something about the enemy soldiers who held Riva Ridge. Their related identity as “ski troops” (as they were commonly called) or “mountain troopers” bred and reflected a strong sense of unit cohesion. Originally activated as the 10th Light Division (Alpine) in 1943, the division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division in 1944 and fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in the country. The original plans for the offensive had envisioned it taking as long as two weeks to drive the Germans off Belvedere and adjoining peaks; instead it took the 10th five days. It’s appropriate that he should have the last word. Sergeant Evans and his squad, mixed with men from other platoons, found themselves just downhill of the final German stronghold on Gorgolesco’s summit. In the early morning light, Evans spotted his platoon sergeant and close friend, Technical Sergeant Robert Fischer, lying on the ground, next to another soldier who was holding his hand, trying to comfort him. If your buddy is wounded, don’t stop to help him. Hays stressed the need for speed and audacity: You must continue to move forward. The Allies would not be able to advance into northern Italy without clearing the Germans from the adjoining high ground. Coincidentally, during this quarantine period, I have been working diligently on editing a documentary about the 10th Mountain Division. HUGH W. EVANS, a sergeant in C Company of the 85th, published one of the first accounts of the battle for Mount Belvedere by a participant. Some of the best skiers in the world, including refugees from Norway, Austria, and Germany, taught the recruits to ski in all kinds of conditions while carrying weapons and heavy packs. A vengeful Evans jumped to his feet and, heedless of danger, raced uphill toward the German machine guns, calling for men to follow him. Robert Black fought with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy. Get the best deals for 10th mountain division wwii at eBay.com. Then the explosion of a German grenade abruptly dispelled the silence. The 10th Mountain Division—a full division of the United States Army specializing in mountain and winter warfare—trained at Camp Hale, Colorado during World War II. Please, not now.”, A vengeful Evans jumped to his feet and, heedless of danger, raced uphill toward the German machine guns, calling for men to follow him. Everything about it was unprecedented: It was the sole U.S. Army division trained on snow and rock, the only division ever to grow out of a sport. Soon after the two men arrived, the Germans launched a counterattack: I managed to get in a dugout during part of the shelling, but when the Krauts started to assault us, I got in a shallow slit trench & started firing. (The Denver Public Library, TMD-374). It was February 16, 1945. The 10th Division was originally organized in 1918 as a Regular Army and National Army division for World War I. In four months of combat, the division never failed to take its objectives, nor were the mountain troopers ever driven from any objective they had taken. The men of the 85th Regiment—who had been inspired by General Hays’s “always forward” talk—suffered more than half the total American casualties in the battle, with 470 killed and wounded. He lay unconscious for some time on the battlefield. “The air corps finally arrives late,” Private Dan Kennerly, the Georgia football player, recorded with a touch of acerbic interservice rivalry in a diary entry for February 20: “probably had a second cup of coffee with their ham and eggs. World War II's Ski Troops: Fight for Mt. They reached Italy fit and proud. The 10th Mountain Division was formed in World War II as a unit of elite troops with special operational skills adapted to mountain terrain. We have a great online selection at the lowest prices with Fast & Free shipping on many items! “For the next ten minutes, I just kept moving,” Evans recalled, “throwing grenades and firing my machine pistol. The fighting in February broke their spirit. In January and early February, rock climbers from the 86th Regiment explored Riva Ridge’s eastern side and found five routes to the top; the overconfident Germans never noticed the activity. It did not arrive in Europe until winter 1944/45, but then fought hard in the harsh mountainous terrain of Northern Italy. German counterattacks that began later in the day and continued for five days proved more costly but ultimately futile. Division was one of many units that served this country in WWII, for images of all the Shoulder Insignia used by the United States Military in the conflict, click here. Here, engineers build a pontoon bridge across the Po River in late April 1945. The 10th distinguished itself in Italy during WWII by defeating German positions in the rugged mountains of northern Italy. They made their way through minefields, where a misstep could mean death or mutilation. They had been on the defensive for over a year but still held onto faith in ultimate victory. Scared to death. We begin our conversation discussing why the U.S. Army didn’t have an alpine division before World War II, and how a group of civilian skiers, led by a man named Minnie Dole, spearheaded the movement to create one. By the end of 1942, the ski troops, now expanded to two regiments, had their own newly constructed training camp, Camp Hale, high in the Colorado Rockies. Coincidentally, during this quarantine period, I have been working diligently on editing a documentary about the 10th Mountain Division. The 10th turned the tide for the Allies in Italy, revolutionized winter mountain warfare & transformed winter sports. And, as engineers cleared paths for them through the heavily mined hillsides, Sherman tanks rolled into position to support the mountain infantry. While the Allied armies in western Europe drove the Germans from France and Belgium, beat back the Nazi offensive in the Battle of the Bulge, and pushed into Germany itself, the Italian front had settled into winter stalemate yet again. Also included are individual memoirs. For at least one young soldier (and probably many more), Belvedere represented a coming of age. The Resource Center is the official repository for all records and artifacts related to the World War II-era 10th Mountain Division. Apennines, connecting the region around Florence to the south—which had been held by the Allies since the previous fall—to Bologna in the north, in the northern third of Italy still controlled by the Germans. 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