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World War II . It remains on the permanent roll of the Regular Army as an inactive division, and is eligible for reactivation. The division is officially nicknamed the "Liberators". It was organized initially as a heavy division with two armored regiments the 47th and 48th and one armored infantry regiment, the 62nd Infantry Regiment.
It was reorganized from a heavy division to a light division on 20 September The reorganization saw the loss of two tank battalions from the Armored regiments, one battalion each. The 1st Battalion of the 47th Armor was redesignated as the th Tank Battalion and the 3rd Battalion of the 48th Armor was redesignated as the th Tank Battalion.
The division departed Camp Chaffee in November to participate in the 2nd Army maneuvers in Tennessee from 17 November until 10 January At the conclusion of the exercise, the division was assigned to Camp Campbell , Kentucky.
Units departed Camp Campbell on 1 October and completed their arrival at Camp Shanks on the 6th of that month. After completing their processing, the division boarded four transport ships for deployment on 13 October Within two weeks some of its elements were in combat, maintaining defensive positions along the Franco-Italian frontier.
On 17 December the division attacked across the Lauter River into Germany itself, along with the other units of VI Corps, it fought its way into a heavily defended portion of the German Westwall.
Due to the growing crisis in the Ardennes , General Eisenhower , the supreme commander, ordered the Seventh Army to stop its attack and withdraw from the Westwall, where its units assumed positions south of the Lauter River. The order was poorly timed as elements of the 14th Armored Division had penetrated deep into the German defenses, and were poised to break out into the enemy's rear. The balance of the division was placed in Corps Reserve to protect against a Saar Valley penetration by the Germans.
Additionally, it was ordered to be prepared to move to the vicinity of Phalsbourg as a counter-attacking force to stop and prevent a break-through in the XV Corps area. TF Hudleson held only a thin line of strong points and screens. During the night and day of 1 January , TF Hudelson found itself engaged by elements of five enemy divisions, the th, th, st and th Volksgrenadier. Just after midnight on the 1st, the 62nd Armored Infantry reported "enemy attack across the entire front of our battalion zone.
The main effort by enemy being made on battalion left flank in the sector of C Co, by estimated Infantry supported by five 5 Mark IV tanks". The Task Force was soon overrun or bypassed by the German divisions but it managed to delay and slow the German advance until substantial reinforcements could arrive and stem the German advance. By the fourth day of the German counter-offensive it had advanced 10 miles. With pressure building during the first day of the attack, aerial observation reported a strong regimental size element moving towards Bannstein.
Reinforcements were sent to Baerenthal to reinforce the VI Corps left flank and the 14th Armored Division was ordered to establish blocking positions. On 2 January, the 45th Division along with the attached Task Force, occupied positions to block any further penetration by the Germans.
This allowed for the relief of Task Force Hudelson and its return to division control. The major fighting between 1 and 8 January occurred in the Vosges Mountains and two combat commands of the division were in almost continuous action against the German thrusts.
With the failure of his attack in the Vosges, the enemy attempted to break through to Hagenau and threaten Strasbourg and the Saverne Gap by attacks at Hatten and Rittershoffen , two small villages located side by side on the Alsatian Plain.
However, this, the strongest attack of Operation Nordwind, was halted by the 14th Armored in the fierce defensive Battle of Hatten-Rittershoffen which ranged from 9 to 21 January As the fighting in the VI Corps sector intensified, the Germans committed the 21st Panzer and the 25th Panzer Grenadier Divisions to the attack with a breakthrough to Hagenau.
Ordered to take up positions in the vicinity of Hatten and Rittershoffen, the 14th assumed command and control of units from the nd Infantry Regiment and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division.
With heavy fighting in and around the towns, success was measured in how many buildings were controlled by each side as the Americans controlled the western half of the villages and the Germans the eastern half. On 15 January, the Germans strengthened the forces in both villages with elements of the 20th Parachute Regiment from the 7th Parachute Division , and the th Infantry Regiment from the 47th Volksgrenadier Division.
As the fighting raged, the 14th Armored found itself increasingly on the defensive with Combat Command A holding Rittershoffen and Combat Command Reserve defending positions in and around Hatten. Combat Command B took up defensive positions behind the Rittershoffen to Leiterswiller road.
The resupply of the division was becoming very difficult due to the constant reorganizing of forces, the evacuation of the wounded and the shrinking perimeter. Gasoline, of which almost , gallons was consumed in seven days, had to come from near Saverne 35 miles away along icy roads in blackout conditions.
Mortar ammunition had run out by 15 January and the Division's G-4 notified the advanced command post that no more might be available for two weeks.
Artillery ammunition was strictly rationed after 15 January when 6, rounds of ammunition were expended out of a total of nearly 40, rounds for the entire seven days. Artillery was further handicapped by the shortage of telephone wire. Poor visibility hampered air operations on both sides for most days. On 15 January the first German jet propelled aircraft was seen in the area bombing a battery of the th Armored Field Artillery Battalion.
Approximately 39 American and 51 German tanks were destroyed, damaged or abandoned. Recovery of disabled vehicles was very difficult due to the complete lack of cover.
Following the battle, the division's G-4 staff officer reported to the commanding officer that the division was still short of 62 medium tanks despite having received over 60 replacements during the month of January.
The th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion's report for the month listed approximately tanks that had been knocked out in combat, repaired and returned to the division's tank battalions. An example of this is seen in the operational reports of the 47th and 48th Tank Battalions.
At the height of the fighting the 47th reported that it had a total of 17 operational tanks out of an authorized strength of 50, all were committed to holding its portion of the line. The 48th Tank Battalion report for the same period included the comment that its tank companies were now of approximately squad strength. The Division sustained battle casualties amounting to killed, wounded and missing. German losses were estimated at in excess of 3, in total.
The problem of obtaining infantry and armored replacement personnel, especially combat junior officers, was critical. On 21 January, after the rest of Seventh Army had withdrawn to the south bank of the Moder River , the 14th and its supporting units withdrew from Hatten and Rittershoffen and moved south to join the rest of the army.
Devers, commanding general, 6th Army Group later commented that the Battle of Hatten-Rittershoffen "was one of the greatest defensive battles of the war.
Of these, two were awarded. Hans von Luck, who commanded the 21st Panzer Division at Hatten-Rittershoffen wrote in his memoirs "Panzer Commander" that the battle " A veteran officer who served on the staff of Army Group G during the battle wrote after the war that the American defense of the town against overwhelming odds was "heroic.
After rest, rehabilitation and defensive missions during February and early March, the division returned to the offensive on 15 March ; it drove across the Moder River, cracked through the Siegfried Line and by the end of the month, had captured Germersheim on the Rhine River. After erecting a pontoon bridge near Worms across the Rhine on 1 April, the 14th attacked to the northeast with CCB in the lead.
The command advanced 75 miles on the first day with the lead elements reaching the town of Lohr. Approaching the town, the leading elements came under heavy small arms fire. As the infantry dismounted to clear the resistance, they and the tanks of the 47th Tank battalion experienced heavy antitank fire. The 47th lost three tanks due to the Panzerfaust. As the columns continued along this route, they continued to receive heavy machine gun and mortar fire.
The operational plan called for the 47th Tank battalion to advance from the north and the 19th Armored Infantry battalion to block and secure the roads to the south and east of the camps. As the units approached the camps, they came under sporadic fire from German machine guns.
Entering the German lager, the infantrymen of the 19th found the prison gates and forced an opening into Oflag XIII-B where they found a large contingent of Serbian and American officer prisoners.
Following the Battle of Nuremberg , the division raced to the Danube , crossing the river at Ingolstadt and passed through the 86th Infantry Division. Its mission was to secure crossings sites on the Isar River and to push on to Moosburg and Landshut. Initial reports had listed the number of prisoners liberated as 27, The division fired its last rounds on 2 May It was processing prisoners of war and patrolling its area when the war in Europe ended on 8 May.
During the divisions' advance into southern Germany, on 2 and 3 May, the 14th liberated several sub-camps of the Dachau concentration camp.
Units also liberated two additional camps nearby holding Jewish prisoners. As a result of the shortage of infantry replacements which the European Theater was facing in late , a call for volunteers was distributed throughout the communication zone for those willing to retrain as infantry replacements. This call was accepted by over 4, African American soldiers serving in support units.
By 1 February , 2, of these volunteers received orders to report to a retraining center where they received basic instruction in infantry skills and tactics.
In March , the first contingent of soldiers, organized into 12 platoons, were assigned to the 7th Army which organized them into three companies of four platoons each.
They were organized as 7th Army Provisional Rifle Companies 1, 2 and 3 and then assigned to the 12th Armored Division. In late March, the last contingent of four additional platoons were assigned to 7th Army which organized them as the 7th Army Provisional Rifle Company 4 and then assigned them to the 14th Armored Division.
This man company was assigned to the division without a command and control element, the division was also required to staff, arm and equip it. The division, with the assistance of Corps and Army support, was able to provide the company with its basic needs for future operations. This outfit was mainly employed as an attachment to the 25th Tank Battalion.
The company's first combat engagement took place near Lichtenfels , but it was near Bayreuth that the company received the accolade of approval from those that fought within the 14th Armored Division. The company, when employed in less than company size, performed well. When employed as a company, the results were less satisfactory.
This was a result of the way in which the companies were formed and trained, as platoons and not as a company. The unit remained with the division when it was reassigned to 3rd Army and ended the war with the 14th Armored.
It was disbanded on 4 June The division became known by its nickname during the last days of World War II when it liberated some , Allied prisoners of war from German prison camps. Among those liberated were approximately 20, American soldiers, sailors and airmen, as well as an estimated 40, troops from Great Britain and the Commonwealth. The division was organized and activated as a heavy division in Early in , the Army Ground Force began a series of studies to reorganize the various divisions within the Army.
After reviewing the tables of organization and after allowing the various commands to review and comment on the proposed restructure, the divisional strength of the 14 organized armored divisions was reduced from 14, men to 10, The restructuring removed the armored regiment and infantry regiment from the table of organization and replaced them with three tank battalions and three armored infantry battalions.
This was a small headquarters element of 10 personnel tasked with the command and control of the division rear area. The th Engineer Battalion lost its bridge company, and the engineer line companies were reduced to three.
The 94th Cavalry Recon Squadron was increased in size to include an HQ troop, four line troops, an assault gun troop with four platoons and a light tank company.
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