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20th Armored Division liberation of Dachau

Discussion in 'What Granddad did in the War' started by lizwag, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. lizwag

    lizwag recruit

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    I understand other divisions may have actually been the liberating force, but my father recalled being ordered to lead his half track into Dachau. Does anyone have any information on EG Cherry, Co. C 8th Armored Infantry Battalion of Combat Co A of the 20th Armored Division, or the 20th Armored Division's participation in the liberation? Did this battalion fight in the Battle of the Bulge? Where do I find details of a half track commander, he was discharged as a staff sgt. He had happy stories of time in a castle, of chocolate or cheese factories, that he shared with me. He died over 10 years ago, wishing we had more information. Thank you for your time, memories and thoughts!!
     
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  2. Natman

    Natman Member

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    Here's a link to info on the 20th AD at Dachau: 20th Armored Division Dachau

    The above was found on the home page of the 20th here: 20th Armored Division

    There is a roster of the 8th AIB on the home page. The 20th landed at Le Havre, France on 18 Feb, 1945, so they were not in the ETO during the BoB. It's highly unlikely you'll find any information specific to your father unless he was involved in some type of action for which there was was a detailed "small unit" report generated. If he was awarded a medal for heroism there would be a description of the action involved contained in a General Order or possibly a citation.

    Welcome to the forum and good luck with your researching.
     
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  3. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    A lot information on the 20th AD here:

    20th Armored Division

    I had to use an old version of MS Internet Explorer (IE) to view these pages. My old Firefox browser would not work.


    You actually have a lot of information on your father (compared to most others searching). To get a sense of what he did, the only thing I could suggest is to search the Internet to find stories from other veterans in the Armored Infantry Battalions.

    Feel free to share what you find, and, ask us questions to help put it together. We are glad to help anyone with a sustained interest to learn more.

    Good Luck, Best Wishes.
     
  4. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    I noticed Charles M. Schulz on this page for the 8th AIB. He is the creator of Peanuts, Charlie Brown, Snoopy et. al.

    Page Title
     
  5. lizwag

    lizwag recruit

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    Will try to open on older work computer, the page will not open for me on this Mac; yes, he was most certain he was one of first to his knowledge at Dachau, don't have any idea for how long or what purpose, thank you all for prompt reply, sorry for my ignorance, having trouble searching threads, any suggestions to search for thread of others with info on his battalion? He had some wonderful stories, their combat time was fortunately so brief, but still had amazing memories, I know you all must have.
     
  6. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    The quote below is from the 20th AD site, Page Title
    There are similar stories but all are from "A" Company of the 8th AIB.

     
  7. Cas

    Cas Member

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    Late in the afternoon of 29 April 1945, KZ Dachau was surrendered to the American Army by SS-Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker.[SUP][citation needed][/SUP] A vivid description of the surrender appears in Brig. Gen. Henning Linden's official "Report on Surrender of Dachau Concentration Camp":
    As we moved down along the west side of the concentration camp and approached the southwest corner, three people approached down the road under a flag of truce. We met these people about 75 yards north of the southwest entrance to the camp. These three people were a Swiss Red Cross representative and two SS troopers who said they were the camp commander and assistant camp commander and that they had come into the camp on the night of the 28th to take over from the regular camp personnel for the purpose of turning the camp over to the advancing Americans. The Swiss Red Cross representative acted as interpreter and stated that there were about 100 SS guards in the camp who had their arms stacked except for the people in the tower. He said he had given instructions that there would be no shots fired and it would take about 50 men to relieve the guards, as there were 42,000 half-crazed prisoners of war in the camp, many of them typhus infected. He asked if I were an officer of the American army, to which I replied, "Yes, I am Assistant Division Commander of the 42nd Division and will accept the surrender of the camp in the name of the Rainbow Division for the American army.[SUP][non-primary source needed][/SUP][SUP][undue weight?discuss][/SUP]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Tablet dedicated to the 42nd Division


    General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a communique over the capture of Dachau concentration camp: "Our forces liberated and mopped up the infamous concentration camp at Dachau. Approximately 32,000 prisoners were liberated; 300 SS camp guards were quickly neutralized."[SUP][20][/SUP]
    A tablet at the camp commemorates the liberation of Dachau by the 42nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Seventh Army on 29 April 1945. Others claim that the first forces to enter the main camp were a battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division commanded by Colonel Felix L. Sparks. Both the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions are recognized by the U.S. Army as liberators of Dachau.[SUP][21][/SUP]
    The Americans found approximately 32,000 prisoners, crammed 1,600 to each of 20 barracks, which had been designed to house 250 people each.[SUP][citation needed][/SUP]
    American Private First Class Harold Porter, a medic with the 116th Evacuation Hospital, described his experiences and sensations in and around them camp in vivid detail, in a letter to his parents dated 7 May 1945. He also summarized the results of autopsies performed on 10 randomly chosen prisoners. PFC Porter wrote the paper on stationery he found in the office of the camp commandant.[SUP][22][/SUP]


    Above is what is said by Wikipedia about the liberation of Dachau
     
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  8. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    The main camp at Dachau KZ was liberated by the 45th and 42nd Infantry Divisions.


    There is no documented evidence I have seen in the 20th AD records I have from the NARA
    that its tanks reached the camp on the morning or afternoon of 29 April 1945.

    As Hugh Foster notes,

    "Despite official 'credit' awarded to the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions and the 20th Armored Division for having liberated the concentration camp at Dachau, the facts of the matter are that only small elements of the 42nd and 45th were involved in the actual events of liberation. Regardless of claims to the contrary the 761st Tank Battalion did not liberate the concentration camp at Dachau. Nor did members of the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion, engineers with bulldozers or tanks of the 20th Armored Division. "

    Dachau


    Dave
     
  9. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I did a quick search and found a page at TankDestroyer.net which has PDFs of the Seventh Army Official Report on Dachau. I did not read the report, so I don't know if it addresses the question at hand. However, the TD website indicates that the 20th AD was in support of the 45th & 42nd Divisions. I will try checking further when I have more time than I do right now.
     
  10. Cas

    Cas Member

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    Maybe Natman does something knows more about this ? He does research for this site
     
  11. Natman

    Natman Member

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    Section Three of the report Tom referenced has a short, visual, description of the liberation but no info regarding units involved. See pages 28-30. There are GI's in various photos but nothing identifiable on their clothing, etc. or way to date them if there was.

    It's a sobering read.
     
  12. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I finally got a chance to download the PDFs and Steve is correct. The report does not offer any help. I did find the history of the 42nd Division on CARL. It does mention the 20th AD in Part 2, pages 98-99 (PDF pages 17-18). Again, the lack of mention of the 20th being there at the liberation tends to support Dave's point.
     
  13. DSWOFFORD

    DSWOFFORD New Member

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    My Father is 1st Lt Harry Swofford, Commander of First Platoon, Company A, 9th Tank...he says they were in the town of Dachau supporting the 42nd and the 45th Infantry that day but were prevented from going across to the SS barracks or the Camp because the bridges had been blown up. They were supporting the two infantry groups and those groups went ahead. He said that the Recon units were the first to arrive at Dachau and they called for dozers to tear down the gates....After Dad's company could get across the river, they moved passed the camp on the road moving to Munich. I recall him mentioning the bodies and the stench. The 10th Armored book is loaded with pictures that will drive the holocaust to your heart...I remember seeing those pictures when I was 4, that was 63 years ago, and being traumatized by the insanity that prevailed. I will verify this with him by phone this week and I am planning to visit him after Thanksgiving...though I have eight hours of oral history on Dad's work in Europe, he has revised a number of the original things he said as he begins to feel good about the truth...like the special detachment to take Jeeps to the 101st in Bastone after they arrived in Roune for "additinoal training".

    I will also have some things to say about the surrender of the German Home tront troops east of Salzburg which was classified until the 50th anniversary when he called to tell me that he was promoted to Captain, and ordered to drive CCs A&B to guard the road intersection east of Salzburg where the brigade strength german group surrendered. He was a company commander and had to call back to Divisoin command to get a Col out to take the surrender...there were no officers in the group unless they were hiding, but a non com Sergant Major had taken command. Division sent out a General...I also have another strange twist to that story that I am writing about once I do a bit more research...

    Swoff
     
  14. LemonChronicle

    LemonChronicle New Member

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    My dad was in the 20th ARMORED DIVISION 138th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion - Does anyone have photos of the camp? And battallion.
     
  15. mrgbrady

    mrgbrady New Member

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    LemonChronicle,
    My grandfather also served in the 138th ordnance maintenance battalion in the 20th armored. What is your father's name? My grandfather is Marvin F. Morgan. He was a welder and allegedly fixed up the tanks after battle. I have a picture of the battalion with all of their pictures on it. If you give me your father's name I can see if he's on the picture. I can also scan the photo and send it to you if you'd like. My email is mrgbrady@gmail.com if you'd like to email me off of this list. I'd be interested to find out what you've found on this. Thanks
     
  16. 69thpa

    69thpa New Member

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    Greetings. I am looking for info on the 138th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company. Soldiers name. Sgt Alvin S. Moore. I have a captured German Luger with a document stating this info. Any info would be great. Thanks
     
  17. Hoosier

    Hoosier New Member

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    I have a couple of resources that have not been mentioned in this discussion. The first appears to be an official yearbook of the 20th [1] and second is a later compilation of its stories [2]. I found the yearbook among my father's belongings after his death in 1983. I bought Liberators a few years ago from the 20th Armored Division Association through their web site, www.20tharmoreddivision.com, which seems no longer to be operational.

    Liberators [2] claims that the Center for Military History has certified the 20th as a liberator of Dachau. This is confirmed in the Army History article [3]. According to this article that there has been controversy and confusion about how to attribute liberator status to these units which was resolved by the Center by defining "liberator" to include units which entered the camp within 48 hours of the initial contact.

    The original "yearbook", [1], is rather modest in its claims considering the ensuing controversy. Only two one-line paragraphs deal with liberator status, the rest of the material on Dachau being pictorial and descriptive.

    "20th Armored Division led the way to its capture by Infantry troops.

    "20th Armored Division troops were there and saw its nauseating horror."

    This modest claim is consistent with the official report, [4], referenced by Man of Constant Sorrow.

    That is all that I have. Liberators [2] is copyrighted so I cannot copy its stories verbatim. The names mentioned are Pring, Norton, Brennan, Skuller, Maggard, Schmidt, Kingsley, Rodgers, Kaiser, Donelan, and Bechtle.


    [1] 20th Armored Division in World War II, no author, no publisher, no publication date
    [2] Liberators, The Story of the 20th Armored Division in World War II, compiled and edited by Jeff Nichols, 2006.
    [3] Recognizing the Liberators of U.S. ARmy Divisions Enter the Concentration Camps by Edward J. Drea, ARMY HISTORY, The Professional Bulletin of Army History , PB-20-93-1 (N0. 24) http://www.history.army.mil/armyhistory/AH24newOCR.pdf
    [4] Dachau - 7th Army Official Report, May 1945 -- http://www.tankdestroyer.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=180%3Adachau-7th-army-official-report-may-1945&Itemid=2
     
  18. Whiskeyhound

    Whiskeyhound New Member

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    My grandfather was in the 20th division . I really never got to talk with him because a heart attack left him unable to speak . If anyones parents or grandparents recall knowing Alfred Joseph Delonardo please contact me
     
  19. hepcat1963

    hepcat1963 New Member

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    Hi,

    My late father was also in the 20th Armored Division, and accordingly I founded a Facebook Group dedicated to the unit. There's lots of good historical info there, and we gain more all the time. We love to welcome new members, and for them to share their stories and photos related to this wonderful unit. I encourage & hope all of you will look us up and join.

    www.facebook.com/groups/20thArmoredDivisionInWorldWarII

    BTW, to the Dachau question... it's been documented that Division members were either first or among the first to enter the camp on 29 April, '45, in support of and along with troops of the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions. Numerous eye-witness accounts, plus official recognition by the US Holocaust Memorial and the US Army. Accordingly, the Division flag is displayed in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, and there's a commemorative plaque in the Division's honor at Dachau.

    Viva la 20th!! Hope to see ya on Facebook soon! :D
     

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