104TH INFANTRY DIVISION- THE TIMBERWOLVES IN WWII

Posted on September 13th, 2016 by:

Posted in:

104TH INFANTRY DIVISION- THE TIMBERWOLVES IN WWII

The 104th Infantry Division arrived in France on September 7, 1944 after nearly two years of stateside training. The division, nicknamed “Timberwolf” was under the command of Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen who had previously led the 1st Infantry Division in combat in North Africa and Sicily.



General Allen had instilled the men with his core principals of combat success : “find ’em, fix ’em, fight ’em”…”take the high ground”…”inflict maximum damage to the enemy with minimum casualties to ourselves, night attack, night attack, night attack.” General Allen’s ideas would prove to be highly beneficial for the new division.

104th infantry division

Shoulder insignia of the 104th Infantry Division

On October 15, 1944 the 104th Infantry Division was attached to the First Canadian Army. On October 23, the division received its baptism of fire when it moved into defensive positions near Wuustwezel, Belgium. Two days later, the Timberwolves went on the attack, pushing back German defenses and liberating the Dutch city of Zundert.

On November 5, the Timberwolves were released from British control and were reassigned to the U.S. VII Corps near Aachen, Germany. On November 16, the 104th Division attacked the key German cities of Stolberg, Eschweiler and Weisweiler. They met stubborn resistance from well entrenched German forces in pillboxes and heavily fortified industrial areas and factories, but achieved their objectives quickly and with lower casualties than anticipated. After taking these objectives, the division was ordered to clear through to the Roer River and capture the cities of Inden, Schophoven, Lucherberg and Merken. The fighting for these towns was some of the bitterest encountered by the 104th Infantry Division in WWII.

104th infantry division

A 104th Infantry Division soldier in Germany

From December 15, 1944 to February 3, 1945 the Timberwolf Division defended its hard won territory, and carried out aggressive patrols across the Roer River.

On February 3, the division again went on the offensive and battled its way into Cologne (Koln), Germany on March 7.  On March 22, 1945 the 104th Infantry Division crossed the Rhine River and two days later took part in eliminating German resistance in the Ruhr Pocket. On April 11, the 104th Division arrived at Nordhausen, home to the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp. The 104th Infantry Division history, Timberwolf Tracks, recalls the horrifying scene:

104th infantry division

M1943 field jacket from a 104th Infantry Division Staff Sergeant.

“In Nordhausen the Division found a large German concentration camp for political prisoners, discovering 5,000 corpses among the 6,000 inmates in various stages of decay. The corpses were scattered throughout the buildings and grounds of the large camp and all of them appeared to have been starved to such an extent that they were mere skeletons wrapped in skin. Most of the bodies apparently lay untouched since death had overtaken them, but some were stacked like cordwood under stairways. In almost all bunkers and buildings the living were found lying among the dead. In one corner was a pile of arms and legs. All medical personnel that could be spared in the Division were rushed to the scene to give medical aid. Hundreds of the male citizens of the town were ordered to the camp, where under guard, they worked several days carrying litter cases and collecting corpses by hand. They dug mass graves on a prominent hill near the camp and carried the corpses through the town to the graves.”

From April 15 to 19, the division was engaged in a bitter struggle for the town of Halle. On April 26, the Timberwolves met the Soviet Red Army at Pretzsch and continued pursuing the German Army until May 5, 1945, three days before the end of the war in Europe.

After taking part in the Occupation of Germany, the division left for the United States on June 27, 1945. It was slated to take part in the upcoming invasion of Japan, until word came of Japan’s unconditional surrender.



104th infantry division

General Terry Allen and other officers from the division review soldiers of the 104th as they parade in San Luis Obispo

104th infantry division

M1 helmet of the 104th Infantry Division’s 414th Infantry Regiment

104th infantry division

Insignia of the 414th Regiment stenciled on the opposite side of the helmet

104th infantry division

Liner with the Timberwolf stencil



Liner with showing the 414th Infantry Regiment insignia

Liner with showing the 414th Infantry Regiment insignia

104th infantry division

Pillow case from the 104th Infantry Division during its stay at Camp Adair, Oregon.

104th infantry division

104th infantry division

General Terry Allen

104th infantry division

104th infantry division

104th infantry division



104th infantry division

104th infantry division

104th infantry division

104th infantry division



104th infantry division

104th infantry division

104th infantry division



104th infantry division

104th infantry division

104th infantry division

104th infantry division



For Related Articles See:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Past and Present WWII History Posts