We endeavor in these pages to remember the heroic service of the men of The Fighting 69th Infantry Division during World War II
The United States entered the 1940s with Nazi Germany striving to engulf Europe. Wisely, peacetime conscription started in September 1940, with the Selective Training and Service Act. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt watched, a blindfolded Secretary of War Henry C. Stimpson selected the first number in the draft lottery, drawing from a huge container filled with numbers assigned to registered young Americans aged 21 to 36. Some 16,500,000 were registered by October 1940, and the first group of conscripts, called selectees, was called in the next month. By the end of WWII, more than 10 million men had been inducted. Because of this Act, the men of The 69th Infantry Division entered the Army, by draft or voluntary enlistment.
The 69th Infantry Division was originally scheduled for activation before the end of World War I, but Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, halted this. By January 1943 or earlier, the widening WWII and its troop demands brought these plans out again. A large group of infantry and some supporting unit officers were called from the 96th Infantry Division training at Camp Adair, Oregon, to supply the cadre (nucleus) for The 69th Infantry Division, which trained at Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Nickname and Motto
Non-Commissioned Officers were also called. The Division was activated May 15, 1943.
The 69th was originally nicknamed "Bolte´s Bitching Bivouacking Bastards" or "The Four B´s" because of the troops´ hatred for the many bivouacs in DeSoto National Forest south of Camp Shelby ordered by its original Division Commander, Charles L. Bolte. General Bolte objected to the "Bitching" and the "Three B´s" became the name.
Just before the 69th departed the USA for Europe, Major General Emil F. Reinhardt took division command. General Reinhardt met Soviet 58th Guards General Rusakov on April 25, 1945.
"The Fighting 69th" became the Division motto after the troops passed their first test of battle with flying colors—going into the front lines on February 11, 1945, and quickly smashing through the vaunted Westwall, dubbed the "Siegfried Line" by American and British troops.
Our Website Goal
This web site strives to tell the wartime story of our great Division—from its formation to its meeting Soviet soldiers at The Elbe River on April 25, 1945 as seasoned veterans—a critical event that hastened the end of the war in Europe two weeks later on May 9, 1945 (Victory in Europe or V-E Day). We will try to record some of the many outstanding feats of our Division and to recognize the thousands who trained in the 69th but were sent out as replacements to other units, including reinforcements to the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
Further, we want these pages to be a gateway for 69ers to locate and contact "buddies" and obtain service information from the military. Plus, it´s a place where wives, children, grandchildren and friends to learn about the wartime service of their loved ones in the Unit histories, Company Photos and the post-war bulletins now being placed online in a Google-searchable format. Many document need the free Adobe Reader to view.
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