History of the 30th Infantry Division

A few things every Old Hickory Association member should know

by Brett Bondurant

 

HISTORY: The 30th Infantry Division war created in September 1917 at Camp Sevier, SC, when National Guard units from Tennessee, North and South Carolina were placed together to form a division. The Division served with distinction during the Great War most notably by breaking through the Hindenberg Line and fighting in the battles of Le Selle, Ypres, St. Mihiel, and in the Meuse-Argonne. Members of the Division earned twelve of the seventy-eight Medals of Honor awarded during the war.

 

Following the end of hostilities, the Division was disbanded. In 1925, however, the Division was reactivated as the 30th National Guard Division with units from Georgia being added. During the period between wars, the Division's life consisted of annual summer camps and various peacetime maneuvers.

 

On September 16, 1940, the Division became one of the first National Guard Divisions to be called into Federal Service and was ordered to Fort Jackson, SC for training . The unit became the 30th Division. The Division trained in the States for almost four years, and began to loose it's sectional character with approximately 6,000 Guardsmen leaving to be replaced with Reserve Officers, Regular Army men and draftees. Most of the officer corps, including General Henry Russell, the Division commander, was replaced as well. The Division served as a cadre for other units being formed and went from 12,400 men in June 1942 to barely 3,000 men two months later. The Division also went through several reorganizations, with the 121st Infantry Regiment transferred in November, 1941 to the 8th Infantry Division and the 118th Infantry Regiment being transferred from the Division in August 1942.

 

In September 1942, the 119th Infantry Regiment was reactivated and assigned to the Division. The Division now became a triangular division consisting of the 117th, 119th, and 120 Infantry Regiments, and was designated the 30th Infantry Division. On February 12, 1944, the Division departed Boston, MA and arrived in England on February 22. After approximately 3 months of training, the Division was ready for the assault on Europe!

 

The Division's 230th Field Artillery Battalion was the first to land in France arriving on Omaha Beach on June 7th to support the 29th Infantry Division. The rest of the Division arrived on Omaha on D-plus 4, June 10. The Division was heavily engaged during the war in Europe and was involved in key engagements that included operations on the Vire River, the St. Lo break through, the famous stand at Mortain, the assault on the Siegfried Line, the Battle of the Bulge, and the reduction and occupation of Magdeburg, on the Elbe River. It was on this river on May 5, 1945, that the Division made contact with the advancing Russians.

 

After spending two months on occupation duty near the Czechoslovakian border, the Division moved from camp to camp before finally loading onto ships for the journey back to the States . The majority of the Division arrived in New York on August 21, 1945. The 30th Infantry Division was deactivated on November 25, 1945.

 

Following the war, the 30th Division was once again reactivated as a National Guard unit in 1947. In 1954, the Division became an entirely North Carolina manned unit and in 1968 the Division was designated as the 30th Infantry Division (Mechanized). On January 4, 1974 the Division was again deactivated , and it's units becoming the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade. This Brigade remains active today as part of the 24th Infantry Division, Army National Guard and continues the traditions of Old Hickory.

 

NICKNAME: "Old Hickory". The 30th Infantry Division  received it's nickname during WWI because of General and President Andrew Jackson, who was born near the North-South Carolina border and rose to political power in Tennessee. The original regiments of the Division came from Tennessee (117th Infantry Regiment), South Carolina (118th Infantry Regiment), and North Carolina (119th & 120th Infantry Regiments). Other nicknames included "Workhorse of the Western Front" for the Divisions long service in the ETO, and "Roosevelt' s SS Troops", named by the German High Command for the Divisions tough fighting against the elite 1st SS Division. .

 

DIVISION COMMANDERS: Major General Henry Russell - National Guard until May 1, 1942, Major General William H. Simpson - until September 12, 1942 ( later Ninth Army Commander) Major Leland S. Hobbs - until September 1945, Major General Albert Cowper - until deactivation.

 

INSIGNIA:

PATCH:

  • Blue "0" surrounding blue "H "on red background, denoting Old Hickory, (Andrew Jackson) with the Roman numerals XXX inside the crossbar of H signifying the Roman numeral "30". At the end of WWI the patch was sometimes mistakenly worn sideways.

REGIMENTAL CRESTS:

117TH 118TH 119TH 120TH 121ST
  • 117th Infantry Regiment - Shield with three stars with the motto "BREAK THROUGH" at the bottom in the shape of a broken chevron. The stars represent the three grand divisions of the State of Tennessee and the three main engagements that the Regiment fought in during WWI; Canal Sector, Ypres-Lys, and Some Offensive. The motto and the broken chevron shape denote the breaking of the Hindenburg Line.

  • 118th Infantry Regiment - White and blue are the old and the present Infantry colors. The castle wall symbolizes the walls of Mexico where the Palmetto Regiment saw active service during the Mexican War. The palmetto tree alludes to the regiment of that name and the fort at Sullivan's Island, the station of the regiment.

  • 119th Infantry Regiment - silver metal and enamel device consisting of a shield blazoned azure. Attached below the shield is a blue scroll inscribed "UNDAUNTED" in blue. The shield is blue for infantry. The lion symbolizes the Hindenburg Line at Bellicourt, France, captured by the 119th Infantry on 29 September 1918.

  • 120th Infantry Regiment - Blue shield with a cactus over a stone tunnel entrance, with the words "VIRTUES INCENDIT VIREOS" below. The blue shield is blue for infantry, the cactus represents service on the Mexican Border. The tunnel entrance symbolizes the mouth of the tunnel in the Hindenburg Line at Bellecourt, France, which was captured by the 120th Infantry, September, 29, 1918.

  • 121st Infantry Regiment - An "Old Gray Bonnet" Proper. The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 121st Regiment Infantry, Georgia National Guard on 27 June 1928. It was amended to permit manufacturing in pairs on 16 August 1928.

 

UNITS THAT MADE UP THE DIVISION:

  • 117th Infantry Regiment (Tennessee National Guard)

  • 118th Infantry Regiment (South Carolina National Guard) - Relieved from Division August 24, 1942.

  • 119th Infantry Regiment (North Carolina National Guard) - Assigned to Division September 1. 1942.

  • 120th Infantry Regiment (North Carolina National Guard)

  • 121st Infantry Regiment (Georgia National Guard) - Transferred to 8th Infantry Division November 22, 1941.

  • 113th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm How. Trac-D)

  • 115th Field Artillery Battalion (75MM Gun) - Transferred from Division August 24, 1942.

  • 118th Field Artillery Battalion (105MM How. Trk-D)

  • 197th Field Artillery Battalion (105MM How. Trk-D)

  • 230th Field Artillery Battalion (105MM How. Trk-D)

  • 30th Reconnaissance Troop, Mecz

  • 105th Engineer Combat Battalion

  • 105th Medical Battalion

  • 30th Counter Intelligence Corp Det

  • Headquarters Special Troops

  • Headquarters Company, 30th Infantry Division

  • 30th Military Police Platoon

  • 730th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company

  • 30th Quartermaster Company

  • 30th Signal Company

 

REGIMENTAL SONGS: 117th - She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain, 118th - Put on Your Old Blue Bonnet, 120th - Roll Out the Barrel, 121st - Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet.

 

CAMPS THE DIVISION TRAINED AT IN THE US: Fort Jackson, South Carolina (1940 - 1941, 1942) , Camp Forrest, Tennessee (1941, 1943) , Camp Blanding, Florida (1942) , Camp Atterbury, Indiana (1943) , Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts (1944).

 

SHIPS : The Division sailed to England on the JOHN ERICSSON, BRAZIL, and ARGENTINA.

They returned to the US on the USS GENERAL BLACK (119th Inf. Regt.) and QUEEN MARY.

 

DAYS IN COMBAT: 282, 5th most of all ETO divisions.

 

CAUSALITIES: Killed in Action: 3,003, Wounded in Action: 13,376, Died of Wounds: 513.

 

MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS:

  • lst Lt. Raymond Beaudoin, 119th Inf. Regt., Hamelin, Germany, April 6, 1945

  • Staff Sgt. Paul Bolden, 120th Inf. Regt., Petit-Coo, Belgium, December 23, 1944

  • Sgt. Francis Curry, 120th Inf. Regt., Malmedy, Beligum, December 21, 1944 (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

  • Staff Sgt. Freeman Horner, 119th Inf. Regt., Wurselen, Germany, November 16, 1944

  • Pvt. Harold Klner, 117th Inf. Regt., near Palenburg, Germany, October, 2, 1944, (awarded posthumously)

  • Staff Sgt. Jack Pendleton, 123th Inf. Regt., Bardenburg, Germany, October 12, 1914, (awarded posthumously)

 

 

DIVISION AWARD: The 30th Infantry Division was awarded the Fourragere of Belgium in Belgian 1393, dated November 20, 1945 for its part in Belgian liberation between September 4 and 19, 1944, and for its actions in the Ardennes fighting between December 17, 1944 and January 25, 1945.

 

OLD HICKORY DAY: October 30. This day was proclaimed 9ld Hickory Day by the governors of Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. in 1945.

 

ETO Army Historian S.L.A. Marshall called the 30th the Finest Infantry Division in the European Theater of Operations. "It is the combined judgments of the approximately 35 historical officers who had worked on the records and in the field that the 30th merited this distinction. It was our finding that the 30th had been outstanding in three operations and we could consistently recommend it for citation on any of these occasions. It was further found that it had in no single instance performed discreditably or weakly . . . and in no single operation had it carried less than its share of the burden or looked bad when compared to the forces on its flanks. We were especially impressed with the fact that consistently achieved results without -2ndue wastage of its men."

 

 
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