Historian’s Corner


Historian’s Corner

By Bob Babcock, Past President/Historian

After serving as your president, I am honored to continue to serve as the 4IDA historian. My role now will be to focus on history of the entire 100 years of service by the 4ID.

First, I have reprinted the 1920 book, History of the 4th Division in the World War, written by COL Christian Bach, the Chief of Staff during WWI. That book, in hard cover, can be purchased from the https://www.deedspublishing.com/ website. All profits from book sales will be reinvested into research and making more out of print books and other historic information and stories from all eras available to our members.

            My next project is to re-energize my focus on publishing a book – War Stories 2 – which will include your stories that you will send me from your service in World War II, Cold War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and today’s mission in Eastern Europe. Please send your stories to me at babcock224@aol.com in a Microsoft Word document.

This Day in 4ID History - November / December

1 November 1967 – The Battle of Dak To began, which included units from 4ID and 173rd ABN BDE. The battle would last until 1 December, 1967 – along with Tet 1968, one of the bloodiest battles for the 4ID in the Vietnam War. 

6 November 1944 – The 12th Infantry Regiment moved into the Hurtgen Forest to take over positions being vacated by the 109th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Infantry Regiment.

6 November to 7 December 1944 – The 12th Infantry was the first 4ID unit to fight in a month long battle which still stands as the bloodiest battle in 4ID history – the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest. On 16 November 1944, the remainder of the 4ID moved into the forest and fighting raged until the 4ID was withdrawn on 7 December 1944 and sent south to Luxembourg to recover from the rigors of combat and receive replacements from those Ivymen lost in the Hurtgen. Combat and non-combat casualties for the Division amounted to over 7,500 personnel – but the 4ID did fight their way through the forest, a feat which previous units had been unable to do. 

11 November 1918– The armistice ending WWI was signed, ending the fighting for the 4th Division. This day is still commemorated each year as Veterans Day.

16 November 1944– The 8th and 22nd Infantry Regiments of the 4ID joined the 12th Infantry Regiment in the Battleof the HurtgenForest.

17 November 1944– 1LT Bernard Ray, F/2-8 IN, earned the Medal of Honor (posthumously) while fighting in the Hurtgen Forest of Germany.

20 November 1944– LTC George L. Mabry, Jr., CO of 2-8 IN, earned the Medal of Honor while fighting in the Hurtgen Forest of Germany.

27 November 1944– SSG (then PFC) Marcario Garcia, B/1-22 IN, earned the Medal of Honor while fighting in the Hurtgen Forest of Germany.

Notes about logistics – November 1944:

Extreme difficulties were encountered in the delivery of rations, water and ammunition and in the recovery of vehicles, weapons and other equipment (considerable combat losses) because of the mass of trees and branches brought down by mortar and artillery fire, plus all the mines and traps.

With the troops continuously exposed to rain and mud, trench foot broke out and evacuation of these cases was heavy.  Issue of overshoes and additional socks was expedited and reduced appreciably the trench foot cases.

November 1944 Casualties:

KIA       Officers = 42, Enlisted Men = 390
MIA      Officers = 10, Enlisted Men = 245  (Many of these were later listed as KIA)
SWA    Officers = 20, Enlisted Men = 318 (Seriously Wounded in Action)
LWA     Officers = 133, Enlisted Men = 2,895 (Lightly Wounded in Action)

Total     Officers =205, Enlisted Men = 3,848

Prisoners Captured:  1,757

8 December 1968– SGT Ray McKibben, B/7-17 CAV, earned the Medal of Honor (posthumously) while fighting with the 4ID in Vietnam.

13 December 2003– Soldiers of 1BCT of 4ID, along with Special Operations forces, captured Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, hiding in a hole on a farm outside the town of Ad Dwar, Iraq.

16 December 1944– The Germans launched their last great counter-offensive of WWII, the Battleof the Bulge. The 4ID was spread along a “quiet” area in the front along a 35 mile long stretch of Luxembourg City, in the Echternach, Grevenmacher, and Remich cantons. Fighting raged through the remainder of December and into January, 1945, but the 4ID held their ground. General George S. Patton wrote the following to the 4ID CG:

“Your fight in the Hurtgen Forest was an epic of stark infantry combat; but, in my opinion, your latest fight – from the 16th to the 26th of December – when, with a depleted and tired division, you halted the left shoulder of the German thrust into the American lines and saved the City of Luxembourg and the tremendous supply establishments and road nets in that vicinity, is the most outstanding accomplishment of yourself and your division.”

Notes about logistics – December 1944:

The supply of Class I (rations) and III (gasoline) was normal.

Class II: the most serious shortage continued to be overshoes. It was created when large numbers of reinforcements arrived without overshoes. The Division was short 1835 pairs.  Other critical shortage were cups, canteen and tent, shelter-half.  A requisition was placed for 7640 snow camouflage suits but at the end of the period, only 450 suits had been procured.

Sufficient quantities of Class V (ammunition) supplies were available except mines and all types of firing devices.

December 1944 casualties:

                Officers   Enlisted
KIA             10           344
MIA            10           418
SWA            9             90  (Seriously Wounded in Action)
LWA           51           926  (Lightly Wounded in Action)

Total           80         1778

Prisoners:  684

Since landing on Utah Beach on 6 June 1944 through 31 December 1944, the 4ID lost 229 officers and 2,939 enlisted men (total of 3,168) KIA with over 17,000 additional who had been wounded in the 209 consecutive days of combat.  Another 90 days of combat are ahead of the 4ID before they get their first relief since D-Day.