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A unit history cannot possibly be written by one individual. It must of necessity be the work of many men, men of the unit which made the history possible. Such were the former members of the Eighth Armored Division who have banded together in the Division Association to preserve the comradeships which were forged in the furnace of combat. It is to these members of the Division Association to which first thanks must go for they made the history which is herein recorded.
Major General John M. Devine, whose leadership inspired us all while we were members of the division and later of the Association, was an early backer of the attempts to produce a written record of the exploits of the Division.
It would be impossible to single out every person who aided in the writing of the history or to cast blame on anyone but the author for the shortcomings of this book. However, if one person must be singled out as having contributed a major share in the producing of this work, it must of necessity, be Col. Henry B. Rothenberg, who not only sparked the formation of the Association, but persistently pushed the project of the writing of the History. It is to Colonel Rothenberg that the deepest measure of gratitude is due.
Special mention must be made of the assistance rendered by Brigadier General Charles G. Dodge who spent much time and effort to see that the History was on a sound basis and who edited the major portions of the manuscript. Colonel William M. Lynn who took over the task of coordinating when General Dodge departed for an overseas assignment continued the arduous task of editing and sending out portions of the manuscript to various members of the division for their comments. Colonel L. L. Boyd was particularly helpful in securing permission for the author to visit the archives of the Adjutant General's Records Branch. Colonel Edwin H. Burba supplied many of the details concerning the battle of Blankenburg and also assisted in the editing of the manuscript.
Other former members of the division who helped in recalling experiences, editing and providing the needed impetus in times of despair were Colonel Henry H. Holt, Colonel A. D. Poinier, Colonel Tracy B. Harrington, Dan Garside, Horace V. Thompson, C. P. Plomin, Daniel Hahn, Alexander J. Woehrle, Colonel Guinn B. Goodrich and many others. Mr. Richard Betts who began work on this History and was unable to continue is due a special vote of thanks.
All assistance received from the staff of the Records Branch, Signal Corps Still Picture Library and the Office of Military History is hereby gratefully acknowledged. Mr. John K. Mahon of Military History and Sberrod East of Records Branch were especially helpful in tracking down records and providing access to material not otherwise available.
To my wife who endured the 18 months of preparation and who did all the typing on the final draft my deepest thanks is reserved. During the course of the writing she provided the spiritual assistance which brought the History from a shapeless mass of material to the finished product. She endured all and without her the History could never have been written.
All shortcomings and errors in this History are mine. Not all individual exploits could be mentioned. Those mentioned were selected to point up the spirit of the division under the most rigorous and trying conditions.
Charles R. Leach
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This is the story of a young division, a division that did more than its share of training men for combat, and of sweating out Louisiana maneuvers, before at last taking up the burden of war itself.
It was not only a young division, it was a division well prepared to meet the test of battle. How well I recall the day when I arrived at Camp Polk to take command. The youth, the eagerness of its members were very apparent. It was a division ready to overcome any obstacle in its path, to accomplish any mission that might be assigned to it. Benny Grimes had done well. It was a proud moment for me when I arrived at Camp Polk, although replacing my old friend, General William M. Grimes, caused me a sharp pang of regret.
Leading the 8th Armored Division in battle was the peak of my career, and no one could ask for a more gratifying experience. My memories of that period are very satisfying ones and bring to me a sense of achievement which only success in an important mission can give.
This story is not a complete one. It can never be complete. In war too many things happen too quickly to be recorded. All we can hope for is to recapture the highlights to help us recall those exciting days, places, incidents and people, and to live again in memory that period which, for most of us, was a high point in our lives.
This story is not written to boast. We do not need to boast. Our record speaks for itself. It is a fitting and lasting tribute to the men who made it, the gallant soldiers of a gallant division.
JOHN M. DEVINE