WE WERE THERE
FROM GRUBER TO THE BRENNER PASS
WITH THE 88TH DIVISION,
Information and Education Section, MTOUSA
Headquarters, 88th Infantry Division
Photos courtesy Army Pictorial Service, The Stars and Stripes,
YANK, The Army Weekly, 313th Engineer Battalion
The material in this story has been passed by the
United States censor and may be mailed home
WE WERE THERE
This is a story of thousands of men -- of clerks and salesmen and
bakers and students and gas station attendants -- of men from every
walk of life who suddenly were called upon to drop their peaceful
pursuits and go off to war.
This is the story those men wrote with their hearts and minds and
courage -- and many, with their lives -- as they walked and ached and
fought across more mountains than they ever thought existed.
This is the collective story of those men, told as the story of the
division they made -- the collective story of the soldiers whom the
Germans came to fear as the 88th moved irresistibly forward despite
all the entrenched enemy could do to stop them.
This is a story, which, unfortunately, can not go into as much detail as
those brave men deserve -- it is a story which has yet to be finished --
a story which does not yet have a happy ending.
This, then, is the story of the battle record, in Italy, of the 88th
Infantry Division -- of the soldiers the Germans called "The Blue
They wrote it -- this is just the record.
A plea and a pledge were made one dusty afternoon on a sunny
Oklahoma plain high in the Cookson Hills.
In a brief address to several hundred soldiers gathered about the main
flagpole at Camp Gruber, Capt. John S. Quigley of Des Moines, Iowa,
President of the 88th Division Veterans Association, challenged the new
soldiers to "take up the job we didn't get done" in World War I.
That was the plea.
And this was the pledge, from Maj. Gen. John E. Sloan of Greenville, S.
C.: "The glory of the colors never will be sullied, as long as one man of
the 88th still lives."
It was 15 July 1942, Activation Day for the new or World War II edition
of the 88th Infantry Division. The site was Camp Gruber, 18 miles up
the mountain road from Muskogee, Okla., a huge, new cantonment
built to house the citizen recruits who would pour in from all sections of
the United States they would train to defend.
In the minds of a few of those men present that day were memories of
another day 25 years in the past -- a day in early 1917 at Camp
Dodge, Iowa, when the first 88th Division was born.
Spanning the years, they recalled that first activation, those training
days when recruits struggled to become soldiers, when more than
45,000 replacements were funneled out to France and when officers
and cadre-men despaired of seeing the Division sail overseas as a unit.
They remembered those sudden marching orders, the convoys
breasting the broad Atlantic, the landings in France and the day in
October, 1918, when the first units of the 88th went into the line in the
relatively quiet sector of Haute-Alsace.
There were memories of mud and pain and death -- of trench raids and
artillery barrages and clashes in the fog and the nightmare that was No
Man's Land -- of the Armistice and the long months following it in
France before the happy trip home to America in late 1919.
There were some who remembered the beginnings of the veterans
organization known as the American Legion and of the role Maj. Eric
Fisher, Asst. G-2 of the 88th Division, played in its founding. And
others who recalled the "peace years" when the 88th existed only as a
"paper outfit" with headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn., until the guns of
Europe for the second time in a generation awoke America to the need
for arming against an aggressor who threatened the world.
The winds of Mars had fanned the dim 88th embers to fitful flame some
months before. The War Department had decided to reactivate the
Division and had appointed Maj. Gen. Sloan, a veteran of 31 years in
the Coast and Field Artillery, to command the new outfit. Assigned to
assist him were Brig. Gen. Stonewall Jackson of Plattsburg, N.Y., as
Assistant Division Commander, and Brig. Gen. Guy O. Kurtz of
Alhambra, Calif., as Division Artillery Commander.
While the General and special staffs were training at staff and
command schools, Brig. Gen. Jackson journeyed to Fort Bragg, N.C.,
personally selected and interviewed an enlisted cadre from the crack
9th Infantry Division. Other cadre-men came from the Infantry
Replacement Training Centers at Camp Wheeler, Ga., and Camp
Wolters, Tex., laced with a sprinkling of National Guard and Reserve
Converging on Camp Gruber, the officer and enlisted cadre underwent
special training there, set up regimental and battalion headquarters
and made preparations to receive the thousands of draftees then still
enjoying their last few days and weeks as civilians.
There were but a few hundred men in the formation called for official
flag raising ceremonies at Division Headquarters on 4 July, 1942, when
Maj. Gen. Sloan hoisted the national colors. The ranks were swelled
somewhat on 15 July at formal activation ceremonies when new
members and a handful of civilian and soldier veterans of the old 88th
watched their regimental standards catch the faint breeze.
Lt. Col. Martin H. Burckes of Waltham, Mass., Adjutant General, read
the official orders of activation, and Chaplain Alpha E. Kenna of Fort
Leavenworth, Kan., 88th Division chaplain during World War I, asked
God in his invocation to "enable these men to do a better job than we
were able to do."
Graying Captain Quigley reviewed the war and Armistice years as he
hurled his challenge, to "finish the job." Maj. Gen. Sloan accepted "the
torch passed on to us by the men of the old 88th" and promised that
their faith would be sustained, their record maintained and the glory of
unsullied "as long as one man of the 88th still lives."
There were dry throats and high hopes that day of activation as the
173rd Field Artillery Band from Camp Livingston, La., struck up the
The new 88th was born. Its growing pains were yet to come.
"SWEATING IT OUT"
Tired, dirty, confused but still able to muster a laugh or a wisecrack,
the draftees began pouring off the troop trains from the East in the
days immediately following activation. Of the first thousands, the
majority came from the New England-Middle Atlantic States -- later
increments included men from all sections of the States.
Processed and speedily assigned to units of the Division, the men
"sweated through" the weeks of basic training and then began the real
work of becoming soldiers. From the new battlefields of North Africa
came combat officers to pass on battle experience and life-saving tips.
The training was long, and hard, but there was time for rest and
relaxation in nearby Muskogee and Tulsa, which soon became the
"happy hunting grounds" of this new generation of adopted braves.
Names like Bishop's, Huber, Mayo, Cain's became as old landmarks to
88th men who played, at times, as hard as they worked and who won
editorial praise from the Muskogee "Daily Phoenix" for their conduct
while on pass or leave in town.
Shift of the first general officer came in late February of 1943 when
Brig. Gen. Jackson was transferred to command the 84th Infantry
Division at Camp Howze, Tex., and promoted to Major General. Col.
Paul W. Kendall, DSC, Chief of Staff of the XV Corps, succeeded him
and received his appointment to Brigadier General on 21 March.
The weeks rolled on -- the first cadre from the 88th departed for Camp
Mackall, N.C., where it activated the 11th Airborne Division -- on 18
April, President Roosevelt visited Camp Gruber for retreat ceremonies,
then watched the 88th pass in review, the first time, he told Maj. Gen.
Sloan, that he ever had seen a full infantry division in review -- in May,
two record-smashing floods called out 313th Engineer and 313th
Medical Battalion units for rescue and evacuation work with the soldiers
snatching more than 1,200 civilians from flood waters along the
Arkansas and Grand River bottoms.
"Muskogee and Eastern Oklahoma Day" on 29 May, featuring a division
review and day-long displays and demonstrations of military
equipment, was the 88th's formal farewell to Oklahoma with Maj. Gen.
Sloan telling the crowded stands that "the show is mainly for you
people out here who have been entertaining us for such a long time
and who have made us feel more than welcome in our new but
Ordered to Louisiana for maneuvers with the Third Army, the 88th
stacked up against such major units as the 31st Infantry Division, 95th
Infantry Division and the 11th Armored Division as it mock-battled its
way through central and
western Louisiana and the east central part of Texas from 28 June to
"-- That Trip Overseas"
For its standout performance, the 88th drew Fort Sam Houston in San
Antonio, Tex., as its new station. And suddenly, the Division was "hot,
with rumors becoming fact on 25 October when an advance party
departed for Camp Patrick Henry, Va., and overseas.
From the staging area on 2 November, 1943, an advance party of 10
officers, led by Brig. Gen. Kendall, left by plane for North Africa. The
group landed at Dakar on 8 November, General Kendall being the first
member of the new 88th to set foot on foreign soil. Three days later,
Division Headquarters overseas was established at 18 Boulevard
With General Kendall in the advance party were
Maj. Frank J. Wallis, Division Artillery; Major James E. Henderson,
349th Infantry Regiment; Maj. James A. Stach, Asst. AC of S, G-4;
Major James H. Green, 313th Engineer Battalion: Major Elmore D.
Beggs, Asst. AC of S, G-3; Capt. Frederick V. Harris, G-3 Office; Capt.
Louis A. Collier, 350th Infantry Regiment; Capt. John A. Mavrakos,
351st Infantry Regiment, and 1st Lt. Carlos M. Teran, 313th Medical
Meanwhile, as preparations were being made in North Africa to receive
the Division, members of the five increments were funneling through
the East Coast staging area, fresh from the "up and down" physical and
packed into the ships for the slow voyage across the Atlantic. It was
nothing like the movies, that trip overseas, and many a soldier,
hanging weakly over a rail, cursed the day he ever saw the army.
Stacked five high in the holds of the lumbering ships, scrambling for
two meals a day and then fighting to keep them down, without
recreation facilities and restricted to below decks from sunset to
sunrise, the men did anything but enjoy the trip KP, instead of a task,
became a prized assignment since on many boats it was the only way a
man could be certain of getting enough to eat. Six-stripers pulled their
rank on lesser grades to make the KP list.
Sickness which broke out at the staging area hospitalized
approximately 500 officer and enlisted personnel. This group was the
last to come over, under Warrant Officer Henry J. Foner. All crossings
were made without incident and not a man of the Division was lost to
due to enemy action.
First enlisted men staggered ashore at Casablanca, French Morocco, on
21 November, bivouaced for a few days at Camp Don B. Passage and
then headed by "40 and 8" boxcars -- but without the horses -- for
Oran. Plans to close in the Division at the Oran staging area were
changed with the arrival of Maj. Gen. Sloan and the units were routed
to a larger training area near Magenta, Algeria, where the 88th put the
finishing touches to the long months of preparation.
"We're going," said Maj. Gen. Sloan, "not only to Rome and Berlin, but
all the way around to Tokyo. We'll fight our way around the world and
prove that the 88th is the best division in the entire Army. This coming
year of 1944 will see new history made -- we are lucky to be in on the
For some of the Division, training days ended with the old year.
An advance party of officers and men left the Magenta-Bedeau area on
26 December for Italy, under command of Brig. Gen. Kendall, to serve
as observers with the 3rd, 34th and 36th U.S. Infantry Divisions and
the 5th, 46th and 56th British Divisions, Fifth Army. On the night of
3-4 January, 1944, the first representatives of the new 88th went into
the line with the Fifth Army, and on that basis, the 88th was in action
The first Division battle casualty came even before the observer groups
had completed final moves to the front. On the afternoon of 3 January,
on his first day in a combat zone, Sgt. William A. Streuli of Paterson,
N.J., was killed by enemy air bombardment two miles west of Venafro.
A member of the Division since its activation and chief of a gun section
in Battery "B,'" 339th Field Artillery, Streuli was reporting for observer
duty with the 185th Field Artillery, 34th Division, when German planes
bombed the area.
Brig. Gen. Kendall, holder of several "firsts," made another "first" the
hard way when he won the Silver Star for "gallantry in action" despite
a wound while accompanying assault elements of the 143rd Infantry,
36th Division, during the Rapido River crossing on the night of 20-21
January. Presented by Maj. Gen. Fred L. Walker, the "Texas" Division
Commander, the award was the first won by a member of the 88th in
World War II.
On 1 February, the Division once again was on the move and this time
on the last water lap of its journey from training camp to combat zone
and action. In three increments, the 88th came to Italy, bivouacked
one night at Naples and then moved by units to an area generally
southeast of the village of Piedmonte d'Alife.
In transit since 25 October, 1943, the 88th was once more assembled
and complete as a division when the last units pitched puptents in their
respective areas on 21 February, 1944, and members of the various
observer groups reported back to their outfits. After four months, the
Division had arrived
in its first combat zone -- 14,261 officers and men had been ferried
more than 8,000 miles across half of two continents and two oceans
without the loss of a single man, in transit, through enemy action.
And more, had scored a notable "first" by becoming the first of the
new or all-Selective Service infantry divisions to come overseas in
World War II.
THIS IS IT
Within sound of the guns at the front, bivouac areas and puptents
buzzed with speculation as to when the Division was scheduled to
But if the enlisted men speculated and wondered, high officers did also,
for plans and orders for employment of the 88th were, in those first
days, contradictory and confusing. Attached to II Corps on 23
February, the 88th went on with its training but grew impatient for
some definite word.
No one exactly relished the idea of going into the lines for the first
time. But all of them wondered, and some of the men spoke like Pvt.
Frank Cacciatore who admitted "I'm nervous -- sure I am -- we've
waited an awful long time for this."
Or like Cpl. George R. Benson who said "this waiting is killing -- and
that's no baloney."
Or Sgt. Joe Judd, who was "very happy to go to the front and take a
chance on the things I have in mind. I am happy to have an
opportunity to do something. The Germans are as rotten as
they come -- I hate them."
But most of the waiting, and wondering, doughboys felt like Sgt.
Delphia E. Garris and agreed with him that "It's just something that
has got to be done. We have got to lick those bastards in order to get
out of the Army."
No heroics -- no movie talk -- just plain words from average guys who
were going up for the first time.
First indication of possible action came with orders to send the 351st
Combat Team to the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead, then under attack by
some 10 Nazi divisions. The 351st got as far as Naples, was outfitted,
equipped and set to go when orders were changed and the regiment
moved back to its old area.
Col. R. J. McBride, Chief of Staff, (center) hears reports
from Lt. Col. G. L. Walker,
G-2 (left) and Lt. Col. J. R. Davidson, G-3,
Lt. Col. Peter L. Topie, G-4, and Lt. Col.
F. W. La Moite, G-1. Staff
changes later assigned Lt. Col. E. D. Beggs as G-3 and
Dougherty as G-4.
Since employment seemed a distant thing, plans were made to
indoctrinate the men by attaching infantry battalions to the 34th and
in the Cassino sector. Before these plans could be completed, however,
the 34th and 36th began pulling back for rest and reorganization, and
II Corps followed to the rear within a few days.
Their sectors were taken over by a New Zealand Corps on the left and
a French Corps on the right. The French were spread too thin, and,
seizing the opportunity for battle training, Maj. Gen. Sloan arranged for the 2nd
Battalion of the 351st to go into the lines in the Cassino sector.
The battalion, under command of Lt. Col. Raymond E. Kendall of
Manchester, N.H., plus 1st Platoon, Company "C", 313th Engineers,
Company "C" and one platoon of Company "D," 313th Medics, took up
positions on Hill 706 on 27 February. Relief of the 141st Infantry, 36th
Division, was begun at 0300 hours with Company "F" the first unit to
move in, followed by Company "G" and Company "E."
The relief was completed by 0830 hours that same day and the 2nd
Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment, became the first organization of
the 88th to be committed to combat in World War II, exactly one year,
seven months and 12 days after activation.
To the 913th Field Artillery Battalion, Lt. Col. Franklin P. Miller of
Carmel, Calif., commanding, went the honor of firing the shot which
boomed the entrance of the 88th Division Artillery into this war.
Ordered to support the French Corps in defense of Castellone and the
New Zealand Corps in operations against Cassino, the 913th relieved
the 131st Field Artillery, 36th Division, at 2213 hours, 27 February.
Through luck of the draw, Battery "C" was
the first to adjust and the selected check point for registration was the
southeast corner of the Abbey at Montecassino, blasted for the first
time a few days previously by the Air Corps. Data was computed, and
with Lt. Col. Miller yanking the lanyard of No. 2 howitzer, the first shell
was on its way for a direct hit at 0727 hours, 28 February.
"I'd been waiting 15 years to fire that shot," said Lt. Col. Miller.
During its first two days in the sector, the 913th pumped more than
2,000 rounds after that first shot. Propaganda shells were interspersed
with high explosives and the Krauts got script and shrapnel. The 2nd
Battalion, 351st, confined its activity to heavy patrolling and holding
Though barely begun, further unit indoctrination plans came to an
abrupt end on 27 February when orders came for the Division to move
to the western flank of the main Fifth Army line to relieve the 5th
British Division in the Minturno sector.
By combat teams, the Division began its movement as outlined in Field
Order No. 4 on 29 February -- the forward command group
establishing Division Headquarters and forward CP in the village of
Carano and the Rear Echelon occupying the Village of Casanova.
At 1500 hours, 5 March, command of the sector passed from the 5th
British to the 88th Division, the only American division in line along the
entire southern Fifth Army front at the time, and the first all-
Selective Service infantry division to enter combat on any front in
World War II.
With its left flank anchored on the Gulf of Gaeta
below Scauri, the 88th held a 10,000 yard bridgehead front over the
Garigliano River rising from the seacoast to the heights of Damiano,
near German-held Castelforte. The 350th took over the left flank, the
351st the center zone and the 349th the right flank.
So efficiently was the relief effected that all who witnessed it were
"amazed at the business-like manner in which the units took over their
respective sectors." And so many were the comments that Brig. Gen. L.
L. Lemnitzer, Deputy Chief of Staff, Allied Central Mediterranean Force,
wrote a letter of commendation to Maj. Gen. Sloan.
Main action along the Fifth Army front at that time was the drive for
Cassino, but despite fierce ground attacks by New Zealanders and
steady plastering by MAAF bombers, that Nazi bastion held. Primary
mission of the 88th in its bridgehead was a holding and harassing
action, and though artillery fire was heavy and constant, ground troops
engaged in patrolling and feeling out the enemy. It was not done
without cost. By the end of March, the first month, the casualties
totaled 99 dead, 252 wounded and 36 missing.
In an effort to obtain information about the new American outfit, the
Nazis slipped spies in among the refugees who left Gaeta. 2nd Lt.
Harry W. Riback and his section captured 13 German spies attempting
to make their way behind our lines during the first two months.
Artillery batteries, in position across the front, after a direct hit on one
gun of the 338th the first day in action, proceeded to build deluxe
dugouts -- some of them a cross between a pirate's den and
a museum, with castles at Minturno and Tufo furnishing the equipment.
Units in the line set up rest camps in buildings close to the front --
company barbers cut hair in OP's -- and the Recon Troop and
Engineers played football near their villas across the Garigliano with
"Sally of Berlin" warning almost nightly that someday she'd break up
the game with a couple of rounds of "heavy stuff."
Pvt. Leo Witwer of Columbus, Ohio, achieved passing fame when he
got lost delivering a message to the 349th CP and wandered up the
main street of Castelforte. Rescued by an English officer who had crept
in on recon mission, Witwer's only comment after return to his outfit
was that "Ma will be pretty sore if she hears about this."
It was a quiet sector, but men died there. And other men became
There was Pvt. John Flores of Los Angeles, Calif., and the 349th, who
heard a "funny noise" in a house during a daylight patrol.
Investigating, Flores rounded up a German officer and 14 enlisted men
-- nearly fainted when he later discovered his rifle had been locked all
during the performance.
There were Lt. Jasper D. Parks of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Sgt. W.A.
Trapp of Wagoner, Okla., both of the 350th, who rescued two soldiers
after the men, wounded, had spent six torturous days and nights in a
wrecked building in No Man's Land.
There was the three-man patrol from 1st Battalion, 349th, which went
out at 0300 hours one day on a 24-hour mission to spot Kraut gun
emplacements. Shortly after taking shelter in a house the radioman
reported: "The Germans have occupied two floors below us." That was
the last message received.
Two DSC's were won during this "quiet war."
The first went to 2nd Lt. John T. Lamb of Erwin, Tenn., and the 351st,
for his performance as a patrol leader on 30 March near Tufo when,
despite a wound, he silenced a Jerry outpost, flushed 15 Germans from
a house, killed seven, carried a wounded patrol member to safety and
then provided covering fire while the rest of his men made it back to
The second DSC went to 2nd Lt. John A. Liebenstein of Monona, Iowa,
and Company "K," 349th. Ordered to take German prisoners for
information purposes, Lieutenant Liebenstein and his men -- Cpl. Allen
L. Marsh of Covina, Calif.; Pfc. Ralph C. Wells of Sevierville, Tenn., and
Sidney L. Collins of Maquoketa, Iowa -- crept to within a short distance
of German lines on Mt. Ceracoli.
Assaulting a machine gun position, Liebenstein's gun jammed but he
nevertheless reached into the emplacement and dragged out a Kraut.
On his way back, the officer hit the trip wire of a German "booby trap."
Wounded, he ordered his men to leave him as the Germans sent
mortar and artillery fire crashing into the draw. When medics returned
to the spot later with a litter, Lieutenant Liebenstein was missing.
In mid-March, the 339th Infantry Regiment of the 85th Infantry
Division came across from North Africa, landed at Naples during a
sneak Nazi harbor and dock raid and was attached to the 88th. Moving
immediately to the front, this regiment went into the line on 17 March
and relieved the 349th which moved back to a rest area in the vicinity
During the rest period, a switch in regimental commanders was made.
Assigned to take over the 349th was Col. Joseph B. Crawford of
Humboldt, Kan., thrice-wounded veteran of North Africa, Sicily, Salerno
and Anzio, and winner of the DSC and Silver Star for bravery in action.
Tagged with the nickname of "Krautkiller" by the Germans for his
exploits while serving on the beachhead with the 3rd Division, Colonel
Crawford was like a shot in the arm to the 349th.
While holding its own on the main front, the 88th also took part in the
Anzio-Nettuno beachhead battle, with 88th Quartermaster Company
personnel trucking supplies and equipment to troops on the "pool
table" via boat from Naples.
Days dragged into weeks -- it was still a "quiet war." But the white
crosses in the division cemetery at Carano increased every day.
That first Easter Day in the lines was a novel one - artillery chaplains
held services in gun pits, and infantry units took time out to kneel and
pray in forward positions. In the 349th sector, the most unusual
service ever held was staged within a few hundred yards of enemy
lines on Hill 411, near Castelforte.
Following an address in German and an explanation of what was to
take place, Chaplains Oscar L. Reinboth of Seward, Neb., (Lutheran),
Earl Hays of Clyde, Texas, (Protestant) and Leo Crowley of Syracuse,
N.Y., (Catholic), held services in their respective faiths within sight of
enemy lines. The big guns along the Garigliano fell silent as the
doughboys worshipped and the services were broadcast via
loudspeakers to the Germans.
Still and motion picture cameras in the hands of a battery of
photographers clicked and ground to record the ceremony as the
doughboys came out of their foxholes to gather about the small altar.
In less than an hour, it was over -- the hillside on which the altar
rested became military objective No. 411 -- the big guns roared and
the war was on again.
April stretched into May, and the 88th sector narrowed to a two-
regiment front with arrival of the rest of the 85th Division which went
into the line on the left flank coastal area. And the German 71st
Division newspaper came out with an edition which featured a blue
cloverleaf insignia on its front page with outlines identifying the 88th as
being in the line opposite them and having been partly relieved,
at various times by "another division in the 80 series."
The forward CP moved out into tents, cleared for battle operations.
Heavy artillery units arrived to reinforce the units already in place.
Front-bound traffic stepped up as huge stock piles of ammo and
supplies grew. Regular MP's, and bandsmen who had swapped
instruments for nightsticks, continued to duck the shells at the
Minturno bridge and kept traffic moving.
But outwardly the "quiet war" went on, with a touch of humor now and
then which served to spice the routine.
One touch was supplied by division artillery Cubs, doubling as heavy
bombers. Loaded with five-gallon tins of gasoline, the Cubs hovered
over Mt. Ceracoli until an artillery preparation of white phosphorous
had blanketed German positions, then dove and dumped the gasoline.
The results were not too good.
The Krauts however, got sore at the gasoline bath: took pot shots at
the Cubs. Lt. Arley Wilson of Marshalltown, Iowa, got sore also; dove
his plane and strafed the startled ground troops with his .45 pistol.
Shift in regimental commanders gave the 350th a new CO -- Col.
James C. Fry of Washington, D.C. and Sand Point, Idaho. A West
Pointer, Colonel Fry had been military attache in Turkey when war
broke out with Japan. Later stationed in Egypt with the same status, he
served after that as commander of the 69th Armored Regiment in the
States prior to his request for overseas assignment.
Col. Fry replaced Col. Charles P. Lynch, whose
return to the States ended one of the Army's most unique father-son
relationships. Colonel Lynch's son, 1st Lt. Charles P. Lynch, Jr.,
remained with the 350th, commanding the same company his father
had served with during World War I.
A frequent visitor to the Division, Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, Fifth Army
Commander, spoke to more than 5,500 troops in a rear area on 3 May
when he made formal presentation to the 88th's first DSC winner,
Lieutenant Lamb. Welcoming the 88th to the Fifth Army and praising
Maj. Gen. Sloan, who once had been his instructor in tactics, Lt. Gen.
Clark told the men they were ready to go places and "I promise you it
will be soon."
Little more than a week later, Field Order No. 6, complete except for
date and time of D-Day and H-Hour, went out to the units.
Commanders learned that II Corps was to attack with divisions abreast
-- 88th on the right, 85th on the coast -- with the ultimate objective of
cutting the Itri-Pico road west of Itri. Abandoning its circus layout near
Carano, the Division CP moved up into a quarry south of
Minturno -- farthest forward CP of any division in the line.
Up in the lines, the doughboy, with nothing ahead of him but the
enemy, simply sat tight and sweated it out -- surveyed the seemingly
impassable mountains over which he'd soon have to fight and climb,
gave his rifle an extra check and got ready to start climbing.
The war correspondents checked in with G-2 for a last briefing, then
fanned out to positions along the line. Frederick Faust, sometimes
known as "Max Brand," correspondent for Harpers who had been living
with the 351st for weeks gathering background for a book, requested
and obtained permission to accompany assault units in the attack. He
gave as his reason: "The only way I can get the feelings and reactions
of men in battle is to go into battle myself." Refusing a rifle, Faust
accepted a club made by members of the 2nd Platoon of Company "L."
Finally, everything was set -- there was nothing more to do but wait.
The 88th was ready.