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103rd Infantry Division, "Cactus"


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#1 weebiscuit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:20 AM

I'm so hoping someone here can help me. My dad, still living at age 85, but suffering from dementia, has always told me he was in Company B., 47th Infantry Regiment, the 103rd Infantry Division during WWII. He was sent overseas in Feb. 1945, and said he joined the 103rd south of the Sigfried Line in France. He said he was with the "Cactus" brigade, or division.

I have been doing web searches with that info above for a year and haven't found anything. Seems I can't find a 47th Inf. Regiment attached to the 103rd, and the only "Cactus"
information I find pertains to the Pacific T.O.

I even have a WWII map that my dad gave me, called "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles." This map shows a route from south of the Sigfried Line, then crossing it and going in a northeasterly direction into Germany, crossing briefly back into France and then back to Germany and south to Austria.

When germany surrendered, my dad was posted at Dachau, watching over German POWs. I have photos of him there.

So why can't I find a single bit of information about this online? I am so hoping someone here can help me out!
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#2 A-58

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:19 AM

I'm so hoping someone here can help me. My dad, still living at age 85, but suffering from dementia, has always told me he was in Company B., 47th Infantry Regiment, the 103rd Infantry Division during WWII. He was sent overseas in Feb. 1945, and said he joined the 103rd south of the Sigfried Line in France. He said he was with the "Cactus" brigade, or division.

I have been doing web searches with that info above for a year and haven't found anything. Seems I can't find a 47th Inf. Regiment attached to the 103rd, and the only "Cactus"
information I find pertains to the Pacific T.O.

I even have a WWII map that my dad gave me, called "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles." This map shows a route from south of the Sigfried Line, then crossing it and going in a northeasterly direction into Germany, crossing briefly back into France and then back to Germany and south to Austria.

When germany surrendered, my dad was posted at Dachau, watching over German POWs. I have photos of him there.

So why can't I find a single bit of information about this online? I am so hoping someone here can help me out!


From what I have found out weebiscuit, the US 103rd Infantry Division was nicknamed "The Cactus Division", and the shoulder patch is described as a yellow disk with a green saguaro cactus superimposed upon a patch of blue. It served in the ETO. Go to wiki, type in US 103rd Infantry Division for a looksie at the unit patch and the combat narrative.

According to Stanton's World War II Order of Battle, the 47th US Infantry Regiment was assigned to the US 9th Infantry Division from the time is was activated on 1 Aug 40 through the end of the war. Also Stanton shows that the 103 ID was composed of the 409th, 410th and 411th Infantry Regiments.

The combat narrative has the 103 ID being engaged in combat operations at the Siegfried Line as your grandfather recalls, but no correlation between the 47th US Infantry Regiment and the 103rd US Infantry Division. If you could, through the assistance of relatives, locate some documentation indicating any units he was assigned to during the war to assist with the search. Old letters, discharge papers, payroll records, anything like that. Until then, this is all I can determine.
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#3 Slipdigit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:23 AM

The 103rd Infantry Division (ID) consisted of the 409th, 410th & 411th Infantry Regiments (IR). The 46th IR was a part of the 9th ID.

Cactus was the code name for the island of Guadalcanal. In the early stages of the campaign, the aircraft there were known as the Cactus Air Force.

The 103rd was known as the Cactus Division and it's patch had a cactus on it.

Posted Image

The description "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles" sounds like the route the 103rd took during the war.
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#4 Slipdigit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:25 AM

Cross-posted with Bobby.

Do you think he is saying the "four-eleventh" and it sounds like the the "forty-seventh?"
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#5 A-58

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:30 AM

I was thinking the same thing. I looked at every unit assigned and attached the the 103 ID, and that's the closest thing I could figure. I'm willing to bet that if any documents are found, it will have him assigned to the 411th Infantry. Four-eleven is very close to forty-seven when spoken, especially when people who are listening don't know any better I might add.

Edited by A-58, 06 March 2011 - 08:07 AM.
clarification

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#6 Pieter F

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 06:56 AM

I guess this is the map you were talking about?

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#7 weebiscuit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:49 PM

If you could, through the assistance of relatives, locate some documentation indicating any units he was assigned to during the war to assist with the search. Old letters, discharge papers, payroll records, anything like that. Until then, this is all I can determine.



This is the problem I have... (and it's dad, not grandpa I'm searching for). The only WWII papers of his I've been able to find are his Purple Heart Award, the Cactus 500 Fighting Miles Map, a booklet when he went to Camp Wheeler, and a letter from Truman, thanking him for service.

I can't find any other documentation, so I thought perhaps I could order copies, but without the proper unit that would not have been possible.
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#8 weebiscuit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:53 PM

Cross-posted with Bobby.

Do you think he is saying the "four-eleventh" and it sounds like the the "forty-seventh?"


Well, I think you are on to something! I got the information from dad while on the phone with him, and his voice is often wispy due to a disease, Lewey Body Syndrome, and you may very well be correct!

I will call him today and ask it it was the 411th. You know this might really be the answer to all my confusion and inability to find anything! Thank you so much!
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#9 weebiscuit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:56 PM

I'm willing to bet that if any documents are found, it will have him assigned to the 411th Infantry. Four-eleven is very close to forty-seven when spoken, especially when people who are listening don't know any better I might add.


You are very correct about people listening who don't know any better. That was certainly my problem.... ingnorance of how units or regiments or divisions were set up.

I'm so glad I found this site, with so many knowledgeable and helpful people.

Another question... if I have his unit information correct, assuming that it was the 411th and not the 47th, is there a place on line that would list the men attached to it?
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#10 weebiscuit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:57 PM

Yes, that's the exact map I have, but mine looks a bit older. I don't know if dad came home from the war with it or acquired it later, but that's the one!

Thanks again, to all of you.
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#11 sol

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:17 PM

103rd Infantry Division website

103rd Cactus Division

Books about 103rd Infantry Division

103rd Cactus Division Books
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#12 Slipdigit

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 06:32 PM

That was certainly my problem.... ingnorance of how units or regiments or divisions were set up.


Here is a good page on the 100th ID, showing the makeup of a generic infantry division in the US Army. 100th Division The 103rd ID would have been the same, but with differently number organic units and different attached units. You can click on each unit symbol and bring up pages showing the makeup of those units.
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Jeff


#13 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:11 PM

Weebiscuit,

Hello and welcome to the forum.

Great that you have overcome the unit problem and i wish you well with your research.

Great work by our American members.

Regards
Tom
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#14 A-58

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 12:21 AM

You are very correct about people listening who don't know any better. That was certainly my problem.... ingnorance of how units or regiments or divisions were set up.

I'm so glad I found this site, with so many knowledgeable and helpful people.

Another question... if I have his unit information correct, assuming that it was the 411th and not the 47th, is there a place on line that would list the men attached to it?

I have no idea of a website that listed all the men assigned to the 103 ID or any other division. Collecting that much information and maintaining it would be a cumbersome assignment for several good men. The average strength of a standard US infantry division in WW2 was about 13,600+ men or so. Men transfer in and out and get discharged for assorted reasons over time in addition to combat attrition. For example, the 103 ID was activated 15 Nov 42 and didn't leave the states until Oct of '44, and went into the line 8 Nov 44. Lots of time there for personnel to come and go. By the time hostilities ended in their sector on 5 May 45 they sustained 821 KIA and another 3,329 WIA. Some of the wounded came back, and others didn't. Fresh replacements came in as needed to fill their places. As you can see, it would be a job to keep up with who's on first here if you understand what I'm talking about. Maybe there is a 103 ID site that might have what you are looking for, or maybe a veteran's organization for the 411 Inf Regiment for you to contact.

And I have to ask, what's the story with your username?

Edited by A-58, 07 March 2011 - 12:29 AM.
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#15 weebiscuit

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 03:18 AM

As you can see, it would be a job to keep up with who's on first here if you understand what I'm talking about. Maybe there is a 103 ID site that might have what you are looking for, or maybe a veteran's organization for the 411 Inf Regiment for you to contact.

And I have to ask, what's the story with your username?


Yes, I understand now that I was looking at trying to find names when it was insurmountable.

However, I came across some new information today. My sister is currently in Florida, and I called her this morning and asked her to see if she could find a file cabinet at dad's house with important papers, and she called me this afternoon.

She'd found a letter that my dad wrote to the Dept. of Defense, or Dept. of the Army... not sure, but he was requesting a correction on the certificate that came with his Purple Heart medal, as the date was wrong. (It stated he was wounded on Mar. 5th, 1945 when is was actually May 5, 1945).

Anyhow, he'd made a copy of the letter he'd sent them, and in it dad gave his induction date, and then said he was in the 1st Platoon of B Co, 1st Battalion, 409th Reg, 103rd Division.

Still some confusion which I'll have to try and eliminate through further research, but after he was inducted at Ft. Sheridan he went to Camp Wheeler, GA, for about 6 months and then shipped overseas. So, I don't know if that unit information I listed above referred to when he was at Camp Wheeler or when he was overseas, because his letter went on to state that he was "later transferred to Co B, 1st Platoon 47th Infantry, 9th Division."

So THAT'S where the 47th Infantry came in! When he was trying to tell me over the phone what his unit was, I think he just got foggy and was mixing up two different units.

I even have his Army Service number, so finally, with enough information, I think I can send off for his records.

You asked why I had that username.....
INDEX

That should explain it!
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#16 A-58

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 03:40 AM

It's good that you found out what was needed after all that searching. It all makes sense now, doesn't it? Don't forget to keep us informed of what you find out when you get copies of his service records.
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#17 Slipdigit

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 03:45 AM

That was good news. Let us know what you find out, please.
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#18 weebiscuit

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 06:06 AM

That was good news. Let us know what you find out, please.


If you are interested, then I certainly will let you know. Might I ask something of all of you?

Surely you're not all WWII vets! So what brings you all to a forum on the Allied units in WWII?

I am finding that when I had a tidbit of information from my father, I needed to find more. I had the Cactus 500 Fighting Miles Map and it intrigued me. I have photos of my father in Paris, Rome, Austria, and at Dachau and later at Ulm, where he was watching over the German POWs who would later go on to Neuremburg to be tried.

I was a young girl when those trials were going on, but I remembered them all my life. I am a retired teacher, and my major was US History, but in America's classrooms we just don't teach much about WWI or WWII, as the emphasis is on the Revolution and the Civil War. Even in college I never received a lot of history on WWII, so now I find myself trying to learn more. I want to preserve this history as it concerns my father for my kids and grandkids and future generations.

My two sons were in the army during Bush Sr.'s Gulf war. One boy had been ROTC, and was an engineer. He was also a Ranger and a Jump Master. The other son enlisted, and although he received a 99 on the ASVAB, he joined the infantry! (We were flabbergasted that's what he chose, LOL). My brother in law is a retired Lt. Colonel, who did three tours in Viet Nam. On my dad's side, I have a direct ancestor who has fought in every war the US has ever been in, including the Revolution. I simply want the generations that come after me to realize that our freedom was won with the blood of many of their ancestors.

I have been going through other posts on this website, and other forums, and find it all very edifying.

What an incredible group of very knowledgeable people there are here.
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#19 Slipdigit

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:58 AM

If you are interested, then I certainly will let you know. Might I ask something of all of you?

Surely you're not all WWII vets! So what brings you all to a forum on the Allied units in WWII?

.

Tell me and we'll both know. I have always had an interest in the war and its time frame in history.
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Warmest Regards,
Jeff


#20 A-58

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:49 PM

World War 2 shaped the world that we live in today. I got hooked on WW2 when I was a kid, watching war movies and reading Sgt. Rock comic books. Later during high school, I decided to add on my own to what little was taught in class about it. After I got out of the Army, I got a history degree at LSU, with a concentration on US Military (WW2 & the ACW). To that I added massive quantities of independent study (reading). But nothing compares to what I've learn on the forum here! This place is a brain trust of WW2 knowledge and trivia. All that is why I like to read about WW2 stuff, and I think it's pretty neat too.
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#21 LRusso216

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 02:42 AM

While this does not have a list of men, it does give a history of the 411th along with some remembrances. World War II Combat in France
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All the best,
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#22 weebiscuit

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 04:45 AM

After I got out of the Army, I got a history degree at LSU, with a concentration on US Military (WW2 & the ACW). To that I added massive quantities of independent study (reading). But nothing compares to what I've learn on the forum here! This place is a brain trust of WW2 knowledge and trivia. All that is why I like to read about WW2 stuff, and I think it's pretty neat too.


When I was in college I earned a major in Broadfield Social Studies and a BS in Education. The Broadfield SS degree allowed me to teach history, social studies, economics, civics, etc. But sadly, most of my courses had nothing to do with WWII. I had a lot of constitutional law classes, though. That seemed to be my major area of interest all those years ago.

I have been reading other forums on this site, but have declined to post because I don't have the time to get into discussions all over the place. I have also been going through a lot of posts on this forum and have been fascinated. Yes... the knowledge here is amazing.
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#23 LRusso216

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:10 PM

...Surely you're not all WWII vets! So what brings you all to a forum on the Allied units in WWII?
...
I was a young girl when those trials were going on, but I remembered them all my life. I am a retired teacher, and my major was US History, but in America's classrooms we just don't teach much about WWI or WWII, as the emphasis is on the Revolution and the Civil War. Even in college I never received a lot of history on WWII, so now I find myself trying to learn more. I want to preserve this history as it concerns my father for my kids and grandkids and future generations.

...
What an incredible group of very knowledgeable people there are here.

I'm also a retired teacher with an MA in History, although it was in 18th, 19th Century England. Like A-58, growing up in the 50s, the war was still very much in the memories of most people I knew. A steady diet of films and comic books (including the Blackhawk Brigade) nurtured an interest. I read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich while I was in High School. My interest waned until about 15 years ago when I began to research my father's experience in Italy. That brought me to WW2F and later here to WW2 Talk. It has been an eye-opening two years. I have learned a tremendous amount, not only about my father's involvement, but the total experience. Much of my reading over the last two years has been devoted to re-discovering the dynamics of WW2.
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All the best,
Lou :patriot[1]:

#24 weebiscuit

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 02:42 PM

I'm also a retired teacher with an MA in History, although it was in 18th, 19th Century England. Like A-58, growing up in the 50s, the war was still very much in the memories of most people I knew. A steady diet of films and comic books (including the Blackhawk Brigade) nurtured an interest. I read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich while I was in High School. My interest waned until about 15 years ago when I began to research my father's experience in Italy. That brought me to WW2F and later here to WW2 Talk. It has been an eye-opening two years. I have learned a tremendous amount, not only about my father's involvement, but the total experience. Much of my reading over the last two years has been devoted to re-discovering the dynamics of WW2.


I had to respond to your comment about you MA in history in 18th and 19th Century England. I got hooked on the early history of England while still in high school back in the '60s. (King Richard and King John started it for me). That led to reading everything I could find on the Tudors, and from there I read ecerything I could on the Elizabethan age and afterwards. But I'm weak on the Victorian age.

Yes, this forum is amazing. I just keep reading and reading, often ignoring housework and other chores!

It often makes me realize why this was called "The Greatest Generation." These vets, and all who went before them, and also the Viet Nam vets... all faced horrible conditions and saw and did things that changed their lives forever, and yet all came back and just sucked it up and went on with their lives. Nothing to help with post traumatic stress disorder. Nothing much at all to help them, but they slogged along and did the best they could.

It makes me think about our soldiers in Afghanistan, and those who were in the Gulf War. Not really any hand-to-hand combat these days, is there? The wars are more surgical, more technical. Except for those killed and wounded by buried roadside bombs and other IEDs, war seems cleaner, less personal, yet I'm sure these returning soldiers face the same emotional trauma.
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#25 Duke 41

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 06:15 PM

weebiscuit

I direct you to the Official 103d Infantry Division World War II Association Website where there is a wealth of information about the Division. Go to 103D INFANTRY DIVISION there you will find that the 409th, 410th, and 411th Infantry Regiments have links to Operation Narratives and Unit Journals covering the period of combat from November 11 through May 1945. Also, under Units > Morning Reports you will find about 25% of the Division morning reports listed as Excel, and PDF by Name and by Date. The Association has acquired 100% of all unit Morning Reports and is in the process of transcribing these into the format you will find on our website. The project is projected for completion in about 3 years, but as time passes we will be posting more and more units to the web. Additionally, there are stories, photos, and biographical summaries of Division veterans. Should you wish to add your father's bio summary to the 409th Infantry Regiment Bio page, you can send me the information at info@103didww2assn.org and I will be more than happy to assist you. Further, if you need further information about your father, please feel free to write me at this email address and I will assist in any way possible. Another interesting note, we are currently putting all of the Division General Orders, which awarded Silver and Bronze Stars, Air Medals, and Purple Hearts in a searchable database format for posting on our website. I look forward to hearing from you.
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#26 jondaysr

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 07:11 PM

My father-in-law, Capt Carl Biebers, has told my he was on Gen. McAuliffe staff. He has enjoyed telling us about locating places for the general to stay while in Europe (a Strauss family dwelling and more) but not much more than that. We are trying to piece together some of "his" history as best we can. Questons we have are:

What was his relationship to Cpt. Frederick Starrett and did he come on after Cpt Starett left or was it a shared responsibility?

Was Cpt Biebers at the Battle of the Bulge"?

In the staff position he had, is it likely he was in the field of fire?

Capt Biebers has not even mentioned he was armed or not, so we are kind of at a loss as to how "administrative" his position was?

We have the small book given to him after the war and we know he was involved in the "de-naxification" program but not much more.

Thanks in advance.
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#27 Wills

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 07:54 PM

American soldiers fight along the Austrian border near Scharnitz Pass in Austria during World War II.





Soldiers of 410th Regiment, 103th Division of Allied forces with German prisoners in Gudershoffer, France during World War II.

Edited by Wills, 20 August 2011 - 08:41 PM.

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#28 Earthican

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 05:51 PM

Welcome Duke 41 and jondaysr.

Duke 41, my compliments on the 103d Infantry Division World War II Association Website. It's one of the best in a strong field.


jonsaysr:

Using the Cactus Division website I found this which indicates Capt Biebers was the ADC-CG to Gen. McAuliffe at some time.

103rd Division Headquarters

From the wording "Cpt Frederick D. Starrett (McAuliffe's from 101st airborne)" seems to indicate that Capt Starrett came with the General from the 101st Airborne Division. The book "Cranking Up a Fine War" is by a General's aide in the 90th and 83d Division. It seems a General could choose his aide and even have the aide transferred with him.

It seems possible Capt Starrett, for one reason or another, transferred out and Capt Biebers took over. Further down the page there is listed PFC Martin Benn as McAuliffe's driver and there is an e-mail for his daughter. You might try contacting her to see if she has any information.

Unless you have information that Capt Biebers was with the 101st Airborne it does not seem likely that he was in the Battle of the Bulge.

From my limited knowledge, the ADC-CG would travel with the General on many but not all occasions. The Division CG frequently visited the HQ's of the infantry regiments which were within range of enemy artillery. Also in the fast moving late stages of the war in Europe, it was common for HQ's to come under rifle fire from stragglers or hold-outs. I recall a book by a veteran of the 103d where the author was a jeep driver at the HQ's of an infantry regiment and, for one reason or another, General McAuliffe needed a ride to somewhere that the author knew was dangerous. IIRC the author opted out of the mission and the General ended up getting shot at. It seems it was in the General's character to go into dangerous situations.

To my knowledge it seems likely that the General's ADC was at least armed with a 45cal automatic pistol (for all officers) and a 30cal M1 carbine. He may have opted for a Thompson sub-machingun or if he had unusual tastes an M1 Garand. Except for the 45 these weapons were "just in case" armaments. They should not have expected to use them with any regularity.

Hope this helps, enjoy ww2Talk.
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#29 Duke 41

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 06:55 PM

Thanks for the kudos, Earthican. We hope to obtain the remaining unit operations and journals for the Division HQ, the FA Battalions, the Engineer Battalion, and Division Band. The General Orders were just completed and these will be up on the website by the end of this week (8/26/11).
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#30 Albino Storm

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 07:31 PM

I'm so hoping someone here can help me. My dad, still living at age 85, but suffering from dementia, has always told me he was in Company B., 47th Infantry Regiment, the 103rd Infantry Division during WWII. He was sent overseas in Feb. 1945, and said he joined the 103rd south of the Sigfried Line in France. He said he was with the "Cactus" brigade, or division.

I have been doing web searches with that info above for a year and haven't found anything. Seems I can't find a 47th Inf. Regiment attached to the 103rd, and the only "Cactus"
information I find pertains to the Pacific T.O.

I even have a WWII map that my dad gave me, called "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles." This map shows a route from south of the Sigfried Line, then crossing it and going in a northeasterly direction into Germany, crossing briefly back into France and then back to Germany and south to Austria.

When germany surrendered, my dad was posted at Dachau, watching over German POWs. I have photos of him there.

So why can't I find a single bit of information about this online? I am so hoping someone here can help me out!


I found this today while going through an old photo album that once belonged to my wife’s great uncle Hugo Lilleberg. He passed away in the early 1980s. I found this artwork inside a large envelope.

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