D company, 341st, 86th Black Hawk Infantry Division
MY name is Lawrence E. Bennett.I was a Sgt. in
company D- 341st Infantry Regiment of the 86th Black Hawk Infantry
Division. I served as as a machine gun squad leader. The division
served in Europe and later in the Phillipines on the Island of Luzon.
We did not see any combat in the Phillipines as the War had ended
when we arrived there.
The 86th Divison was activated in December 1942
at Camp Howze,near Dallas and Fort worth, Texas. Following ten months
of training, the Divison left for manuevers in Louisiana. After
four months in the field, the 86th Division was sent to Camp Livingston,
Louisiana for furthe training. While there the Division was ordered
to send many of it's men to The Pacific and to Europe as replacements
for other units.
In September of 1944, the Division was ordered
to proceed to California to undergo amphibious training for combat
in the Pacific Theater of operations. When the trainling was completed
the 86th was ordered to proceed to the East coast Camp Myles Standish
near Boston, Massachusetts for shipment to France as Infantry troops
were needed, because of the heavy casualties in the German Ardennes
The Division arrrived at LeHavre, in Normandy
near the town of Yvetot. We were at Camp Old Gold a tent camp. We
Spent some time there and underwent more training, such as long
marches and practiced village fighting and classes were held to
make us familiar wtih conditions on the front lines. The division
was ordered to proceed to the Rhineland sector releaving the US
8th Infantry Division. The Division front was from Worringen in
the North to Bonn on the South and included the city of KOLN (Cologne)
on the Rhine.
We faced German units on the East Bank of the
Rhine and the action consisted of Mortar and artillelry duels and
patrol activity. Our casualities were light. After several days
there we were relieved by the 82nd Airborne Division and crossed
the Rhine River at Bonn and proceeded to the Remagen Bridgehead.
On April first German Army Group B commanded b
Field Marshall Walther Model was caught in a pincer movement by
the US 9th and First Armies. In this the "Ruhr Pocket"
were some of the German Armies best units on the western front a
total of 300,000 troops. The Germans made numerous Counter attacks
in an attempt to break out of the trap and heavy fighting continued
for eighteen days until the pocket was reduced and eliminated.
The surrrender of Army Group B was not carried
out by General Model but others in his command. He thought surrender
was not worthy of a Field Marshall and he commited sucide on April
18th 1945 near Dusseldorf.
Following the Ruhr campaign the 86th was ordered
to Join General Patton's Third Army at Wurzburg in Bavaria. From
April 21st to May 8th the 86th Division made assault crossings of
four rivers the Altmuhl, Danube, Isar and the Inn. My Infantry Company
suffered casualties at the Altmuhl and Danube bridgeheads. My friend
Ian "Roy" Williams was shot by a sniper. To read his story
The 86th Division liberated the Hungarian Crown
Jewels near the end of the War. They were returned to Hungary during
the Presidency of Jimmy Carter. Following the end of the war in
Europe the Division was returned to the US to prepare fo the invasion
of Japan. The decision by President Harry Truman to drop the Atomic
bomb on Japan ended the War in September 1945.
If we were to invade Japan I would be one of the
thousands of Infantryman killed and would not be writing this e-mail
now. As stated earlier the 86th Division was ordered to the Philipines
and was on the Island of Luzon from August 1945 until December 1946
when it was deactivated.
Lawrence E. Bennett
Bronze Star Medal (For Valor)
Theatre Ribbon European Theatre of operations.
Ribbon for Pacific Theatre of Operations,
Combat Infantry Badge
Medal Occupation of Germany,
American Service Medal,
Good Conduct Medal,
Various medals for rifle, pistol rifle, carbine and machine gun
P.f.c. Larry Bennett in
June 1944 at Camp Livingston, Louisiana.
86th Infantry medic approaches a wounded German soldier to see if
he can help, riflemen in the background provide cover. This was
near Rothenstein, Germany.
A Black Hawk bivouac area in the Ruhr Pocket.
Black Hawk Infantrymen move through the streets of Ingolstadt as
re-enforcements for the Danube beachhead.
On leave following his return from Eurpoe, here with his sister
Kathleen Bennett, June 1945.