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Welcome to the official site of the 35th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II

VE Day to December 7, 1945

On May 7, 1945, at the Red School House in Rheims, France, the German High Command’s representatives, Gen. Jodl and Admiral Von Friedeburg, having been there since arriving at 5:30 p.m. the day before to argue the German position that they were surrendering only on the Western front and not on the Eastern front, finally had conceded and signed the surrender documents which called for a complete cessation of all hostilities on May 8, at 11:01 p.m.

The news of the unconditional surrender, by agreement of Churchill, Truman and Stalin, was not to be released to the public until 3:00 p.m., London time on May 8th (9. a.m., Washington time). A frustrating delay to the attending reporters and indeed to Churchill himself who wanted to break the news immediately as crowds gathered in London anticipating the announcement. Pent up emotions exploded in Europe. Riotous celebrations broke out. Londoners and Parisians realized the war was finally over. Bonfires, ship whistles, rockets streaking, frenzied masses of dancing, cheering people snaking through the street as VE Day was announced for the following day, May 9th – but the celebration was already in full swing.

Our war is over

In New York, there was also celebration but more tempered as Americans, while excited, knew that there was still a war to be won in the Pacific. Among American troops there was joy and relief, both jubilation and soberness. Perhaps most felt a vast relief over still being alive, the prospects of being able to think about going home, and the emerging realization that there would finally be a future out there somewhere after all.

Some of the 35th Division soldiers paraded through the ruins of Hanover and perceived a welcome relief even in the faces of the German observers. The Division Headquarters was at Dohren, just outside of Hanover, and all were now enjoying the freshness and beauty of Spring as the troops continued their assigned duties of occupation in the surrounding neighborhoods. Some officers were sent to I and E (Information and Education) schools to help in the adjustment of troops to the post hostilities era. Some discussion centered around the war in the Pacific and the need for troops to be sent to the Pacific theatre to participate in the coming invasion of the Japanese Islands. There was speculation that the 35th Division might go.

Ten days later, on May 17th, the British Army and the 84th U.S. Infantry Division began the relief of the 35th Division in the Hanover area and we moved by truck to Recklinghausen, Germany, in the Munster sector for eleven days, moving once again after turning this sector over to the British on Memorial Day, May 30th, as this part of Germany was to become a part of the permanent British occupation zone. During June 1st to the 4th, we moved by motor and by rail to the 15th Army zone, to Koblenz and along the Rhine River, relieving the 66th U.S. Infantry Division, taking over their governmental and occupational duties. We were to remain there until July 10th.

This, it would develop, would be the last tour of duty for the entire division as a unit. We learned that, as anticipated, the division had been selected for the Pacific War area and we began the process of making the choice, either to remain in the Army and go with the division, or to join with the high point men, those with the longest service who would elect to go home and resume their civilian lives. Gradually the division would begin to bid goodbye to many of the old timers who were transferred to the 75th Division and other units. New low point men and volunteers for the Pacific were welcomed into the division to fill the gaps in the ranks. It was not a happy time, and buddies parted company reluctantly.

One of the highlights of our stay on the Rhine was the re-dedication of the Sante Fe Stadium in Koblenz, originally built in 1919 by the 35th Division during the First World War. Two battalions, one of them the 1st battalion of the 320th Infantry Regiment, were presented the Presidential Unit Citation Award for heroism at Mortain in July, 1944, in breaking through the German lines and rescuing the “lost” battalion of the 30th Division which had been cut off by the German Panzer counter offensive. Another thrill was to see our outstanding baseball team beat the team of the 106th Division later in the day in the same stadium.

On July 10, 1945, the 35th Division was relieved all along the Rhine River by the 10th French Infantry Division, as this was to be a part of the permanent occupation by the French. This was the first movement by the division to go to the Pacific.

Our 137th Infantry Regiment was selected for a signal honor, that of furnishing the Honor Guard for President Harry Truman in Brussels en route to the Potsdam Conference. The President had been a captain with the 129th Field Artillery, part of the 35th Division in France in 1918 and he had looked forward to meeting and talking with members of his old division. It was a mutually gratifying experience for both Truman and the men of the 137th! The regiment was stationed at Griberges, just outside of Brussels at a camp called “White Tie”, and remained there until August 23rd.

The remainder of the division moved on July 10th to Camp Norfolk, a tent camp near Sommesous, France, not far from Rheims. The shifting of men in and out of the division continued.

August 14, 1945 was a fateful day. It brought the news of the Japanese surrender and VJ Day which ended the war in the Pacific. But it did not stop the pending return of the division to the States and on the next day the division, minus the 137th Regiment moved to Le Havre and boarded the SS Marine Wolfe, sailing to South Hampton, England, where it disembarked and moved to Tidworth Barracks to await HMT Queen Mary. The Queen Mary was the third largest passenger liner afloat and the holder of the trans Atlantic crossing record. On September 5th the ship was ready to be loaded and departed from South Hampton on the same day, arriving in New York Harbor on September 10th to a suitable reception complete with welcoming band music. Taken immediately to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, all personnel were given 30-45 day recuperation furloughs, after which they were ordered to assemble at Camp Breckinridge, KY.

The 137th Regiment in the meantime also was ordered to leave Camp White Tie on August 23, and report to Le Havre where they boarded the MS Cristobal and set sail on a direct route to Boston Harbor, arriving there on August 31st. The regiment was immediately sent to Camp Myles Standish, just outside of Boston where the men and officers were given the same furloughs and orders to report to Camp Breckinridge as the rest of the division.

At the termination of the furloughs the division assembled as ordered and immediately began the processing and discharging of high point men to their homes, as directed by Army policy at that time, men with low point scores were sent to existing units for further service. Many of the high point men formerly in the division and left behind in Europe did not arrive in the United States until later in December and through the winter months!

The S.S. Queen Mary with 35th Division banner.

On December 7th, 1945, four years after Pearl Harbor Day, the remnant left of the division, watched the flag lowered as the 35th Division was formally mustered out of service as a unit in the United States Army.

Thus closed the epic of one of America’s finest infantry forces, the Sante Fe division, maintaining and enhancing the highest traditions of the citizen soldier, and fostering pride in the memories of our great crusade among all who have served!

More about The Final Days


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By Maj. Norman C. Carey, Company A-320th Inf. Regt.

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