PASSED FOR PUBLICATION CAPTA INE E.C. LAVELLE CHIEF PRESS CENSOR
For some time I have been hoping that I could tell you folks back home about this outfit of ours and the swell record it has made in World War II from the time it hit the Normandy Beach and began fighting on June 15th. Censorship has kept our Old Hickory Division's engagements pretty much "under wraps" but we have made a record that we will stack up against any other division's and the Public Relations staff has made it easier for us to get the information back to you by summarizing the highlights of the 30th's great campaigns and getting this material cleared through the press censorship. This is some of the information we can tell. When the 30th division troops charged through the greatest concentration of artillery and mortar fire they had met in the western campaign to storm the bunkers of the German Siegfried line and establish a bridgehead in the Fatherland, they reached an objective for which, in three months of bitter fighting, they had been paving the way since the battles near the beaches. Smashing the Siegfried line in the sector north of Aachen where it was heavilly manned and then aiding in closing the gap that forced Aachen's fall constituted one of the toughest jobs assigned any division in the battle of Europe. But the 30th division received its baptism of fire on a tough assignment June 15th and its progress to the German frontier was marked by battles that had been vital in the master strategy of World War II. The all important breakthrough south of pulverized St. Lo on July 25th, a date already historically significant, was spearheaded by the Old Hickorymen. A real fighting team, the troops of the 30th had qualified for that assignment--which battered open a passage through the hedgerow country allowing American armor to fan out over France--by a series of successful offensives against the Germans. At the outset the 30th drove the Germans back across the Vire river. Then in a spectacular dawn attack the Old Hickorymen forced a crossing of the Vire river and opened the drive on St. Lo. These battles in the hedgerow sector were real slugging matches, Every foot of advance being skillfully and stubbornly contested and they were complicated by rough and frequent counter-attacks. However, some of the heaviest fighting remained to be accomplished by the 30th after it had given the "green light" to the armored drive. That occured in the Mortain-St. Barthelmy sector when the 30th took over the area from the 1st division at a time when four German Panzer divisions struck in the most powerful blitz effort of the campaign, to drive through to Avranches and separate the American First and Third Armies. It was there that infantry riflemen with bazookas, artillery and tank destroyers, tanks, engineers, AAA Units, cooks and messengers, with the help of U.S. planes and RAF rocket firing Typhoons threw back to the German tanks in a battle that see-sawed for three days before the Germans concluded that they were no match for one American division. In this same battle, the great defensive at Mortain-St. Barthelmy, a battalion was isolated on a hill near Mortain, cut off without food, ammo and medical supplies for five and one half days and despite the fact that the harassed infantrymen were under constant enemy observation, artillery and mortar fire, they refused repeated demands to surrender. The 30th division was commended for its heroic stand; for the courage and skill of its men who refused to let overwhelming odds discourage them in battle against tanks at St. Barthelmy, and for the loyalty and stamina of the members of the "lost battalion" who defied surrender demands, their spokesman telling the German officer; "Go to hell. We wouldn't surrender if our last round of ammunition was fired and our last bayonet broken off in a Jerry belly." This battle of the 30th against the best of the German armor started on the night of Aug. 7-8 and a week later the Old Hickorymen were again forcing the retreat of the Germans. The 30th troops drove rapidly against the Germans to free Evreux and Louviers, then crossed the Seine at Mantes Gassicourt to enlarge the bridgehead there and prepare for the next breakthrough, this time into Belgium.