The Fighting 30th Division: They Called Them Roosevelt's SSIn World War I the 30th Infantry Division earned more Medals of Honor than any other American division. In World War II it spent more consecutive days in combat than almost any other outfit. Recruited mainly from the Carolinas and Georgia and Tennessee, they were one of the hardest-fighting units the U.S. ever fielded in Europe. What was it about these men that made them so indomitable? They were tough and resilient for a start, but this division had something else. They possessed intrinsic zeal to engage the enemy that often left their adversaries in awe. Their U.S. Army nickname was the “Old Hickory” Division. But after encountering them on the battlefield, the Germans themselves came to call them “Roosevelt’s SS.”

This book is a combat chronicle of this illustrious division that takes the reader right to the heart of the fighting through the eyes of those who were actually there. It goes from the hedgerows of Normandy to the 30th’s gallant stand against panzers at Mortain, to the brutal slugs around Aachen and the Westwall, and then to the Battle of the Bulge. Each chapter is meticulously researched and assembled with accurate timelines and after-action reports. The last remaining veterans of the 30th Division and attached units who saw the action firsthand relate their remarkable experiences here for the first, and probably the last time. This is precisely what military historians mean when they write about “fighting spirit.” There have been only a few books written about the 30th Division and none contained direct interviews with the veterans. This work follows their story from Normandy to the final victory in Germany, packed with previously untold accounts from the survivors. These are the men whose incredible stories epitomize what it was to be a GI in one of the toughest divisions in WWII.

The 30th infantry started out as a National Guard unit made up of mostly farmers and men from small towns from North & South Carolina, and Tennessee. They had a lot of knowledge of trucks, tractors and other equipment when it came to repair. They were also mostly hunters so they were excellent marksmen, and good around weapons. There nickname was “Old Hickory”, the Germans called them “Roosevelt’s SS”. They were also in combat in Europe more days than any other unit but got no recognition for this. Some thinking is that because they started out as National Guard Unit. Originally the 30th was created July 18, 1917, for WWI. When WWI ended they had been awarded ½ the medals given out by the U.S. and British forces, also 12 Medals of Honor were awarded to the unit. The 30th arrived in France 4 days after D-Day to replace the 29th that was decimated on Omaha beach. They would spend 282 days involved in intense combat. They were made up of 743rd Tank Battalion, 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion,230th field artillery Battalion, 197th field artillery Battalion,105th Engineer Battalion, 105th Medical Battalion, 113 Field Artillery Battalion, 117th, 119th, 120th , Infantry Regiments, and I am sure I am missing a few. The author takes you through from their first day and all of their battles. With interviews, and or letters from veterans from the respected units. Some of the information comes from actual records from the 30th action reports. There is a story of a unit coming under attack by friendly fire because no one expected them to be that far ahead. In this one of these attacks over 100 men were killed along with General Leslie McNair. They suppressed this information at the time because they did not want the information to get back to the B-24, and B- 17 crews that made troughs runs. This was not told until years later. This is just one story like that there are a few more. They also were the Unit that installed or had phones installed on the backs of tanks so they could communicate better with the crew inside. They also had a field observer with them from the artillery unit from day one so they could direct fire more act curtly. What really made this book for me was the personnel stories that went along with the different chapters, and how these young men were able to adapt in the face of some hellish fire and still overcome. An excellent book. I got this book from netgalley.  I give this 5 stars.

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