T-Patchers and the Red Bulls, Monte Cassino

36th Infantry Division known as the "Texas" Division

The 36th Infantry Division was organized at Camp Bowie (Fort Worth), Texas, 18 July 1917, from units of the Texas and Oklahoma National Guard during World War I. The Division left Newport News, Virginia, in July and August of 1918, for France. The 71st Brigade of the Division saw combat at St. Etiennes-Arnes and on 10 October 1918, the entire division relieved the 2nd Infantry Division and pushed the Germans to the Aisne River.

World War I and World War II T Patches

When the war was over, the Division saw occupation duty, then returned to Camp Bowie and were released from active duty on 20 June 1919. By that time, the Division had adopted a shoulder patch consisting of an Infantry Blue Arrowhead with a green "T" superimposed over it. The arrowhead stood for Oklahoma and the "T," for Texas. After the war, the 36th was reorganized and became an "all Texas" division, and the Oklahoma units became part of the 45th Infantry Division.

Between World Wars I and II, the Division conducted drills at home stations and annual training periods at Camp Hulen at Palacios, Texas.

On 25 November 1940, the Division was mobilized for World War II, with active duty station at Camp Bowie, in Brownwood. It took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers in 1941, trained at Camp Blanding, Florida, and Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, and in April 1943 began its move overseas. It landed in North Africa, conducted amphibious training and on 9 September 1943, landed in Italy at Paestum in the Gulf of Salerno. The 36th was the first American combat division to land on the continent of Europe.

The Division fought in the Italian Campaign as part of the 5th United States Army in such notable actions as Mt. Lungo, San Pietro and the Rapido River. In the Rapido River action, the Division lost the better part of two of its three regiments - 141st and 143d - in unsuccessful attempts to cross the river. The attempted crossing was made to divert German troops from the landing of allied troops at Anzio. On 25 May 1944, the Division landed at Anzio and led the breakout toward Rome. The Division captured Velletri on 1 June 1944, and opened the gates of Rome for the 5th Army. The Division was then pulled out of Italy and landed on the beaches of Southern France on 15 August. Driving up through Southern France, the 36th was attacking and breaking the Siegfried Line when the war in Europe ended. The 36th had spent 400 days in combat, accepted the surrender of Field Marshal Hermann Goering, won seven campaign streamers for its colors, taken part in two assault landings and 14 of its members had won the Medal of Honor. The Division had the ninth highest casualty rate of any Army Division in World War II.


34IDA Logo

The 34 Division(Red Bull) in ITALY

The campaign for North Africa had taken six months and many lives, but it was essential in order to invade Italy. Sicily was the stepping-stone. The 34th was assigned to set up staging camps for the assaulting Allies, who pushed the Italian and German troops out of Sicily in July and August 1943. The success of the Sicilian invasion prompted the Italian government to drop out of the war, and Italy signed an armistice on the same day that the invasion of Italy was launched from Sicily September 3, 1943.

The 34th was designated as a reserve force for the invasion, but its 151st Field Artillery Battalion was temporarily detached to help the 36th Division establish a beachhead at Salerno. The Germans had launched a bewildering nighttime counter-attack on the beachhead just as the 151st was landing, but with sheer grit and courage, the artillerymen stopped it cold. The Chief-of-Staff for the 36th later commented: "The beachhead would have been destroyed had it not been for the early arrival of the 151st."

The 34th, now part of General Mark Clark's 5th Army, arrived at Salerno a few weeks later. From there it advanced slowly northward through mountainous terrain, freezing wet weather, and the turbulent Volturno River, capturing Montemilleto and Benevento in the process. The objective was to capture the "Gustav Line," a formidable chain of German defensive positions, which spanned the entire Italian peninsula above Naples.

Fighting along the route was as hard and unforgiving as ever to face an army, but the Germans were gradually pushed back as, one by one, the strategic objectives were taken: Monte Pantano, San Vittore, Monte Chiaia, Monte Trocchio, the Rapido River. Bitter hand-to-hand combat was often needed to root the enemy out of his holes in the mountains, and the men frequently fought in regions, which could only be supplied by animal pack trains. Then came the long, grim assault on Monte Cassino, the most heavily fortified keystone of the Gustav Line. The division attacked the network of hills near Cassino and attempted to storm the ancient abbey itself, but the Germans defied all attempts to wrest control of it.

In the brutal winter fighting of 1943-44, the Red Bull lost thousands of its men. Finally relieved in mid-February and given a month's rest, the 34th was sent into action again in March—this time to Anzio. Allied commanders had decided to by-pass the Gustav Line and establish a narrow beachhead at Anzio, but powerful German attacks were preventing Allied forces from moving inland. The division's breakout finally came May 23, followed by the drive on Rome. Men of the l35th Regiment were among the first to enter the city on June 4, 1944, and mopped up snipers that evening in the vicinity of the Coliseum. The 133rd Regiment, in the meantime, was taking the vital port of Civitavecchia northwest of Rome. Elsewhere, off the coast of Normandy, Allies were about to invade France. Germany was now defending itself on three fronts.

After Rome, the division continued its drive up the boot of Italy through heavily entrenched German positions. Resistance was dogged but declining in strength as the 34th rooted Germans out of Belvedere, San Vincenzo, Cecina, Rosignano, Leghorn, and Pisa, among others. Then came the Arno River, the Gothic Line along the Apennines, and finally a bold campaign for the Po River Valley, which contained 80 percent of Italy's war industries.

The final offensive came in April 1945. The German retreat become a rout as their supplies ran out, and on May 2, 1945, the remnants of the LXXV German Corps, totaling over 40,000 men, surrendered to the Red Bulls near Milan (ironically, the surrendered troops included the 34th German Division). The war in Europe came to an end a few days later, with some elements of the division on the borders of France and Switzerland.