103rd Infantry Division, "Cactus"

Discussion in 'US Units' started by weebiscuit, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    I'm so hoping someone here can help me. My dad, still living at age 85, but suffering from dementia, has always told me he was in Company B., 47th Infantry Regiment, the 103rd Infantry Division during WWII. He was sent overseas in Feb. 1945, and said he joined the 103rd south of the Sigfried Line in France. He said he was with the "Cactus" brigade, or division.

    I have been doing web searches with that info above for a year and haven't found anything. Seems I can't find a 47th Inf. Regiment attached to the 103rd, and the only "Cactus"
    information I find pertains to the Pacific T.O.

    I even have a WWII map that my dad gave me, called "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles." This map shows a route from south of the Sigfried Line, then crossing it and going in a northeasterly direction into Germany, crossing briefly back into France and then back to Germany and south to Austria.

    When germany surrendered, my dad was posted at Dachau, watching over German POWs. I have photos of him there.

    So why can't I find a single bit of information about this online? I am so hoping someone here can help me out!
     
  2. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    I'm so hoping someone here can help me. My dad, still living at age 85, but suffering from dementia, has always told me he was in Company B., 47th Infantry Regiment, the 103rd Infantry Division during WWII. He was sent overseas in Feb. 1945, and said he joined the 103rd south of the Sigfried Line in France. He said he was with the "Cactus" brigade, or division.

    I have been doing web searches with that info above for a year and haven't found anything. Seems I can't find a 47th Inf. Regiment attached to the 103rd, and the only "Cactus"
    information I find pertains to the Pacific T.O.

    I even have a WWII map that my dad gave me, called "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles." This map shows a route from south of the Sigfried Line, then crossing it and going in a northeasterly direction into Germany, crossing briefly back into France and then back to Germany and south to Austria.

    When germany surrendered, my dad was posted at Dachau, watching over German POWs. I have photos of him there.

    So why can't I find a single bit of information about this online? I am so hoping someone here can help me out!

    From what I have found out weebiscuit, the US 103rd Infantry Division was nicknamed "The Cactus Division", and the shoulder patch is described as a yellow disk with a green saguaro cactus superimposed upon a patch of blue. It served in the ETO. Go to wiki, type in US 103rd Infantry Division for a looksie at the unit patch and the combat narrative.

    According to Stanton's World War II Order of Battle, the 47th US Infantry Regiment was assigned to the US 9th Infantry Division from the time is was activated on 1 Aug 40 through the end of the war. Also Stanton shows that the 103 ID was composed of the 409th, 410th and 411th Infantry Regiments.

    The combat narrative has the 103 ID being engaged in combat operations at the Siegfried Line as your grandfather recalls, but no correlation between the 47th US Infantry Regiment and the 103rd US Infantry Division. If you could, through the assistance of relatives, locate some documentation indicating any units he was assigned to during the war to assist with the search. Old letters, discharge papers, payroll records, anything like that. Until then, this is all I can determine.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    The 103rd Infantry Division (ID) consisted of the 409th, 410th & 411th Infantry Regiments (IR). The 46th IR was a part of the 9th ID.

    Cactus was the code name for the island of Guadalcanal. In the early stages of the campaign, the aircraft there were known as the Cactus Air Force.

    The 103rd was known as the Cactus Division and it's patch had a cactus on it.

    [​IMG]

    The description "The Cactus Route, 500 Fighting Miles" sounds like the route the 103rd took during the war.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Cross-posted with Bobby.

    Do you think he is saying the "four-eleventh" and it sounds like the the "forty-seventh?"
     
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  5. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    I was thinking the same thing. I looked at every unit assigned and attached the the 103 ID, and that's the closest thing I could figure. I'm willing to bet that if any documents are found, it will have him assigned to the 411th Infantry. Four-eleven is very close to forty-seven when spoken, especially when people who are listening don't know any better I might add.
     
  6. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    I guess this is the map you were talking about?

    [​IMG]
     
  7. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    If you could, through the assistance of relatives, locate some documentation indicating any units he was assigned to during the war to assist with the search. Old letters, discharge papers, payroll records, anything like that. Until then, this is all I can determine.


    This is the problem I have... (and it's dad, not grandpa I'm searching for). The only WWII papers of his I've been able to find are his Purple Heart Award, the Cactus 500 Fighting Miles Map, a booklet when he went to Camp Wheeler, and a letter from Truman, thanking him for service.

    I can't find any other documentation, so I thought perhaps I could order copies, but without the proper unit that would not have been possible.
     
  8. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    Cross-posted with Bobby.

    Do you think he is saying the "four-eleventh" and it sounds like the the "forty-seventh?"

    Well, I think you are on to something! I got the information from dad while on the phone with him, and his voice is often wispy due to a disease, Lewey Body Syndrome, and you may very well be correct!

    I will call him today and ask it it was the 411th. You know this might really be the answer to all my confusion and inability to find anything! Thank you so much!
     
  9. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    I'm willing to bet that if any documents are found, it will have him assigned to the 411th Infantry. Four-eleven is very close to forty-seven when spoken, especially when people who are listening don't know any better I might add.

    You are very correct about people listening who don't know any better. That was certainly my problem.... ingnorance of how units or regiments or divisions were set up.

    I'm so glad I found this site, with so many knowledgeable and helpful people.

    Another question... if I have his unit information correct, assuming that it was the 411th and not the 47th, is there a place on line that would list the men attached to it?
     
  10. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    Yes, that's the exact map I have, but mine looks a bit older. I don't know if dad came home from the war with it or acquired it later, but that's the one!

    Thanks again, to all of you.
     
  11. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    That was certainly my problem.... ingnorance of how units or regiments or divisions were set up.


    Here is a good page on the 100th ID, showing the makeup of a generic infantry division in the US Army. 100th Division The 103rd ID would have been the same, but with differently number organic units and different attached units. You can click on each unit symbol and bring up pages showing the makeup of those units.
     
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Weebiscuit,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Great that you have overcome the unit problem and i wish you well with your research.

    Great work by our American members.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  14. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    You are very correct about people listening who don't know any better. That was certainly my problem.... ingnorance of how units or regiments or divisions were set up.

    I'm so glad I found this site, with so many knowledgeable and helpful people.

    Another question... if I have his unit information correct, assuming that it was the 411th and not the 47th, is there a place on line that would list the men attached to it?
    I have no idea of a website that listed all the men assigned to the 103 ID or any other division. Collecting that much information and maintaining it would be a cumbersome assignment for several good men. The average strength of a standard US infantry division in WW2 was about 13,600+ men or so. Men transfer in and out and get discharged for assorted reasons over time in addition to combat attrition. For example, the 103 ID was activated 15 Nov 42 and didn't leave the states until Oct of '44, and went into the line 8 Nov 44. Lots of time there for personnel to come and go. By the time hostilities ended in their sector on 5 May 45 they sustained 821 KIA and another 3,329 WIA. Some of the wounded came back, and others didn't. Fresh replacements came in as needed to fill their places. As you can see, it would be a job to keep up with who's on first here if you understand what I'm talking about. Maybe there is a 103 ID site that might have what you are looking for, or maybe a veteran's organization for the 411 Inf Regiment for you to contact.

    And I have to ask, what's the story with your username?
     
  15. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    As you can see, it would be a job to keep up with who's on first here if you understand what I'm talking about. Maybe there is a 103 ID site that might have what you are looking for, or maybe a veteran's organization for the 411 Inf Regiment for you to contact.

    And I have to ask, what's the story with your username?

    Yes, I understand now that I was looking at trying to find names when it was insurmountable.

    However, I came across some new information today. My sister is currently in Florida, and I called her this morning and asked her to see if she could find a file cabinet at dad's house with important papers, and she called me this afternoon.

    She'd found a letter that my dad wrote to the Dept. of Defense, or Dept. of the Army... not sure, but he was requesting a correction on the certificate that came with his Purple Heart medal, as the date was wrong. (It stated he was wounded on Mar. 5th, 1945 when is was actually May 5, 1945).

    Anyhow, he'd made a copy of the letter he'd sent them, and in it dad gave his induction date, and then said he was in the 1st Platoon of B Co, 1st Battalion, 409th Reg, 103rd Division.

    Still some confusion which I'll have to try and eliminate through further research, but after he was inducted at Ft. Sheridan he went to Camp Wheeler, GA, for about 6 months and then shipped overseas. So, I don't know if that unit information I listed above referred to when he was at Camp Wheeler or when he was overseas, because his letter went on to state that he was "later transferred to Co B, 1st Platoon 47th Infantry, 9th Division."

    So THAT'S where the 47th Infantry came in! When he was trying to tell me over the phone what his unit was, I think he just got foggy and was mixing up two different units.

    I even have his Army Service number, so finally, with enough information, I think I can send off for his records.

    You asked why I had that username.....
    INDEX

    That should explain it!
     
  16. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    It's good that you found out what was needed after all that searching. It all makes sense now, doesn't it? Don't forget to keep us informed of what you find out when you get copies of his service records.
     
  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    That was good news. Let us know what you find out, please.
     
  18. weebiscuit

    weebiscuit Junior Member

    That was good news. Let us know what you find out, please.

    If you are interested, then I certainly will let you know. Might I ask something of all of you?

    Surely you're not all WWII vets! So what brings you all to a forum on the Allied units in WWII?

    I am finding that when I had a tidbit of information from my father, I needed to find more. I had the Cactus 500 Fighting Miles Map and it intrigued me. I have photos of my father in Paris, Rome, Austria, and at Dachau and later at Ulm, where he was watching over the German POWs who would later go on to Neuremburg to be tried.

    I was a young girl when those trials were going on, but I remembered them all my life. I am a retired teacher, and my major was US History, but in America's classrooms we just don't teach much about WWI or WWII, as the emphasis is on the Revolution and the Civil War. Even in college I never received a lot of history on WWII, so now I find myself trying to learn more. I want to preserve this history as it concerns my father for my kids and grandkids and future generations.

    My two sons were in the army during Bush Sr.'s Gulf war. One boy had been ROTC, and was an engineer. He was also a Ranger and a Jump Master. The other son enlisted, and although he received a 99 on the ASVAB, he joined the infantry! (We were flabbergasted that's what he chose, LOL). My brother in law is a retired Lt. Colonel, who did three tours in Viet Nam. On my dad's side, I have a direct ancestor who has fought in every war the US has ever been in, including the Revolution. I simply want the generations that come after me to realize that our freedom was won with the blood of many of their ancestors.

    I have been going through other posts on this website, and other forums, and find it all very edifying.

    What an incredible group of very knowledgeable people there are here.
     
  19. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    If you are interested, then I certainly will let you know. Might I ask something of all of you?

    Surely you're not all WWII vets! So what brings you all to a forum on the Allied units in WWII?

    .
    Tell me and we'll both know. I have always had an interest in the war and its time frame in history.
     
  20. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    World War 2 shaped the world that we live in today. I got hooked on WW2 when I was a kid, watching war movies and reading Sgt. Rock comic books. Later during high school, I decided to add on my own to what little was taught in class about it. After I got out of the Army, I got a history degree at LSU, with a concentration on US Military (WW2 & the ACW). To that I added massive quantities of independent study (reading). But nothing compares to what I've learn on the forum here! This place is a brain trust of WW2 knowledge and trivia. All that is why I like to read about WW2 stuff, and I think it's pretty neat too.
     
    canuck likes this.

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