General Information on the 8th Infantry Division
This is an archives of material that tells the story of the United States Army's 8th Infantry Division from its activation in 1917 to its inactivation in 1992. The primary focus is on making original source documents, as well as expensive and difficult to find printed material, available as an online archive. It also includes a gallery of divisional insignia, and a list of books and published information on the unit,

The Division is the 8th Regular Army Division formed by the U.S. Army, and was organized in 1917 during WW1. At that time there were only one type of divisions (all were considered standard infantry) so the unit was known only as the "8th Division."  When all divisions were ordered to come up with a unit nickname and a shoulder sleeve insignia, the 8th became known as the "Pathfinder Division" and wore a blue shield bearing a white number 8 and a golden arrow. The war ended while the division was halfway en route to France, and did not see action in Europe. The commander, General William Graves, was put in command of the American expedition sent to Siberia: a unit that was composed of many former 8th Division men to include the division's 319th Engineer regiment.

The 8th Division was reactivated again for WW2 as the 8th Infantry Division. Originally a square division, it was trimmed down to a triangular one by losing the 34th Infantry Regiment. For a while it was equipped with organic trucks and known as the 8th Motorized Division.  Reverting to a standard Infantry Division, it sailed for Northern Ireland where it trained for the invasion of France. Landing on the 4th of July 1944, the division soon saw action in the Normandy Campaign. The  Assistant Division Commander, General Nelson W. Walker, was lost to enemy fire, and the Division Commander, Major General William C. McMahon was relieved when the unit failed to make headway in the first few days.

With a new commander, Major General Donald Stroh,  the division fought down the Cotentin Peninsula as part of Operation Cobra. Its role in the Northern France Campaign was to turn west to help capture the Port of Brest. Here the division battered against German paratroops led by the German General Bernhard H. Ramcke who had no where to retreat to.  It was at the fall of Brest and capture of the German Commander that the new Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier Charles Canham, uttered the words that would become the division motto, "These are my credentials." 

At the end of September 1944 the division was sent to Luxembourg to build up its strength and prepare for the Rhineland Campaign.
It was then put into the bitter fighting for the Hurtgen Forest. There the enemy was not only the Germans, but the harsh weather as well. The division spent an unhappy Christmas in cold weather and General Stroh was sent back to the states for a rest after the emotional stress of losing his son at Brest. The unit had been devastated in the fierce cold and fighting, and was given a new commander Major General William G. Weaver to continue the fight.

In February the division's command passed to Maj. Gen. Bryant E. Moore and in the Spring the 8th broke out onto the fields of Germany taking part in the Central Europe Campaign. It advanced to the Elbe River (the border with Soviet forces)  and in May 1945 liberated a concentration camp at Wobbelin. At war's end it assumed occupation duties in the area around Schwerin, Germany.

Returning to the states when the war over, the division was inactivated until 1950 when it was brought back to become a basic training unit at Fort Jackson S.C. Originally training new recruits as replacements for other units, the Cold War developed a need for more active divisions in the Army, and the 8th moved from a training unit to a standard infantry division. Taking part in Operation Gyroscope (in which military units were rotated between American and Europe) the 8th returned to Germany where it would stay until the end of the cold war.

During its stay in Germany the division went from a standard triangular division to a PENTOMIC division with 5 battle groups, including an airborne element. In 1963 it again was reorganized as a ROAD division which resembled more of a fluid WW2 era Armored Division. In 1973 the division was again reorganized  and lost its airborne component: forming a standard mechanized division of the time.

Waiting for the Soviet attack that never came, the 8th became a victim of the military draw down at the end of the cold war. With no more superpowers to fight the American Army was ready to inactivated the 8th when it was given one final hurrah. With the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Army scrambled to organize the resources needed to fight Saddam Hussein. Certain elements of the 8th, , but not the entire division, were called upon to fight in the Gulf.  After victory in the Gulf war the remaining elements of the 8th were deactivated or reflagged waiting the day when the Pathfinder Division would once again be called to serve.

8th Infantry Division Faq: Who were the commanding officer's of the division?
Why is it called the Pathfinder Division? Why was the Division deactivated in 1992?
What happened to the 34th Infantry Regiment in WW2? What was the 8th Motorized Division?
Why is there an 8th Infantry Division patch with an airborne tab? What are the Green and/or blue books?
Who were the commanding officer's of the division? Is there a division association?

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