Division History, Summary
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History Summary

The 8th Armored Division was activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on 1 Apr 1942. Following is a brief history. (For a detailed history see the book In Tornado's Wake by Cap't Charles R. Leach.)

The Division was initially called the 'Iron Snake', but subsequently adopted the 'Thundering Herd' moniker and another, it's war code name of 'Tornado'. From June 1942 until January 1943 it served as a training division. It trained cadre and replacements for many other armored divisions. While stationed at Fort Knox, the Division was the official military guardian of the United States Gold Vault.

In January, 1943 it moved from Fort Knox, KY to Camp Campbell KY, and in February 1943 it was relieved of its cadre training mission and directed to attain combat-ready status. In March, the division was moved to North Camp Polk, LA, where it took over vehicles and equipment of the departing 7th Armored Division. While in North Camp Polk, it began training for combat service.

In October 1943, it moved from garrison to bivouac and conducted extensive field exercises. From February to April 1944 it participated in Louisiana maneuvers which lasted three months. The Division stayed in the field after maneuvers were completed. Shortly after this most privates and Pfc.'s were shipped out and new replacements were received.

The Division ended almost six months of duty in the field as they moved to barracks at South Camp Polk and continued training for combat. In September 1944 it was placed in top priority for overseas movement. It departed for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in late October 1944. Departure from New York began on 7 November with arrival in England on 18 November 1944.

After a six week stay at Tidworth, England the 8th Armored landed in France on 5 Jan 1945 and assembled in the vicinity of Pont-a-Mousson, France to organize a counterattack against an expected enemy strike in the Metz area.

On 22 Jan, after failure of the German attack to materialize, the Division joined the fighting in support of the drive by the 94th Infantry Division against the Saar-Moselle salient. Six days later, it was relieved and moved north to the Maastricht, Holland area to prepare for participation in 9th Army's attack toward the Rhine.

The Division crossed the Roer 27 February and assisted the 35th and 84th Infantry Divisions in their push eastward, taking Tetelrath, Oberkruchten, Rheinberg, and Ossenberg against stubborn resistance. Crossing the Rhine at Wesel 26 March the Division attacked east to help form the northern arm of the Ruhr encirclement.

Taking Dorsten and Marl on 29 March, it crossed north of the Lippe Canal on 1 April and raced east to reach Neuhaus on the 3rd. At that point, it veered south, then attacked west into the Ruhr Valley in an effort to help eliminate the Ruhr Pocket.

In mid-April, when the XIX Corps drive to the Elbe was threatened from the south, the Division was pulled out and rushed east to provide right flank protection against fanatical remnants of the German 11th Panzer Army grouping in the Harz Mountains. Assembling in the vicinity of Halberstadt, it attacked south against the German force, taking Blankenberg on the 20th of April, and seizing Ottenstedt on the 21st in the division's last coordinated action of the war.

It continued mop-up operations and performed occupation duty in the Harz Mountain area up to and immediately following VE day. Then, in late May, it was ordered south to Czechoslovakia to assist in processing prisoners of war, operating displaced persons camps and guarding vital installations including the Skoda Munitions Works.

The Division closed in the Pilsen area 6 June, 1945 and remained there until departure 19 September for return to the United States and inactivation at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on 13 November, 1945.

Note: The history of the 8th Armored is still available:
"IN TORNADO'S WAKE" BY Capt. Charles R. Leach
(Tornado was the Division's Combat Code Name)

PHONE - 615-298-1401
It costs around $40 and covers a lot of the Division's training, travels, battles, leaders, etc.