Unforgettable D-Series Exercises
By Joe Lipsius
Headquarters 272nd Infantry Regiment
Unknowing that he would soon be shipped to an infantry division already
engaged in intensive combat in Italy, Major General Charles L. Bolte ordered
the 69th into exhaustive training in the deep woods of the DeSoto National
Forest in the early spring of 1944. Division
in the attack, defense and long
marching was the order of business during the exercise which was called the
It is the marching portion I am recalling.
I was serving as S-3 (operations officer) of the 272nd Inf Rgt whose
Regimental Commander was Colonel Charles Trueman "Buck" Lanham who
was shipped out shortly after D-Day, June 6, 1944, to the 22nd Inf Rgt
4th Inf Div and became a war hero.
General Bolte and his G-3 called a meeting of the Regimental Commanders and
their S-3s and issued orders for the Division March through the meandering
dirt roads of the Mississippi woods (mostly DeSoto National Forest) with a
certain objective for each Regiment to reach.
A Regiment's normal strength is about 3200 men who would be marching less
support troops. I
don't have an Army Field Manual where precise figures are readily available so
I am guestimating 2400 would march single file on both sides of the road which
places 1200 abreast. Estimating
10 feet between rows of men and space for Units you have 12,000 feet. This comes to about 2.25 miles of men on the road for a
Regiment - slightly less than 1 hour marching time.
At a X type crossroad, whether it was 272 already moving through it, or 272
approached and another Regiment was in the process of crossing, I don't
remember, but what happened was strictly
an army "no no," units crossing or running into each other.
As I remember, it was the tail end of one Regiment being crossed by the
the other and was untangled in a short period of time
but Col. Lanham was furious. He
blamed the happening on poor planning by the Division Command and Staff.
After the problem was finally straightened out, Brigadier General Floyd
Parks, Assistant Division Commander, sought out Colonel Lanham and asked him
not to bring it up at the critique of the exercise.
A fuming Colonel
"Buck" finally calmed down and said he wouldn't. Colonel
Lanham was not an individual to use invectives.
Sitting next to him at the Division critique led by General Bolte and
his staff, I could sense he was silently using the most profane.