The 10th Mountain Division, the first alpine fighting force in the United States Armed Forces, bears more than a passing connection to Lake Tahoe. The 10th Division deployed in late 1944, in the Apennine Mountains in northern Italy, where the German army had held its ground on top of Mount Belvedere against the U.S. for almost half the year. Hays stressed the need for speed and audacity: You must continue to move forward. Moved over ridge in morning and 1st [platoon] cap. Staff Sergeant Marlin Wineberg was a mortar squad leader in D Company—the heavy weapons company—of the 85th. Lieutenant General Lucien K. Truscott, commander of the U.S. Fifth Army in Italy, ordered General Hays to deploy the 10th Mountain Division in the valley and hilltop villages below Mount Belvedere and to begin planning an attack—to be known as Operation Encore—for late February 1945. Some of the best skiers in the world, including refugees from Norway, Austria, and Germany, taught the recruits to ski in all kinds of conditions while carrying weapons and heavy packs. Apr 6, 2020 - In memory of Virgil Burch who served in the 10th Mountain Division WWII. Capturing these three peaks was essential to the success of the Allied offensive in Italy in the fighting to come in the spring. Originally activated as the 10th Light Division (Alpine) in 1943, the division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division in 1944 and fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in the country. What also helped was the specialized training the men of the 10th had undergone back in the States, learning how to fight on mountainous terrain and in cold weather. Time left 9d 5h left. 0 bids. *** Soldier training for mountain warfare in full fatigues. It did not arrive in Europe until winter 1944/45, but then fought hard in the harsh mountainous terrain of Northern Italy. Dan L. Kennerly, a 22-year-old private serving in the 85th’s D Company, recorded Hays’s words in his diary. The 10th turned the tide for the Allies in Italy, revolutionized winter mountain warfare & transformed winter sports. 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION IN WORLD WAR II 6 January 1940 — 30 November 1945 Compiled by John Imbrie Vice President for Data Acquisition and Research, National Association of the 10th Mountain Division, Inc. Maps by Barbara Imbrie Battle diagrams modified from those made by Armand Casini in 1945 June 2004. Everything at first went precisely according to plan, he recalled, with no confusion. I’d always wondered how I’d feel shooting a man & I found out quick enough. Everything about it was unprecedented: It was the sole U.S. Army division trained on snow and rock, the only division ever to grow out of a sport. Corporal Marty Daneman, having just turned 20 in the days before the battle, was no longer the callow youth who only a month earlier had written fiancée Lois that he was “anxious to get in a hot spot” to test his courage. ON A WINTRY DAY in Italy in the final months of the war against Nazi Germany, Major General George Price Hays, commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, spoke to men from the division’s 85th Regiment. As the men made their way up the lower slope, there were at first no sounds to be heard but the creaking of gear and an occasional muttered curse. It became known as Riva Ridge, for one of the peaks along the ridgeline, 4,672-foot Monte Riva. Coincidentally, during this quarantine period, I have been working diligently on editing a documentary about the 10th Mountain Division. Army reports, orders, rosters, memos, charts, operations journals and unit histories constitute the bulk of the material. It was raised early in the Second World War, blooded in Alaska against the Japanese, and made its mark in history in the Italian Campaign. This documentary is a tribute to the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division. "Death from a distance, the Mountain Division, with their sharpshooter focus and sniper rifles, is precise and deadly." That—and a conviction that the war he was fighting was nonetheless necessary: I still say – better to have it happen here than back home. One has the top of his head shot off, his brains have spilled out onto the ground. He was the first person I had seen die.”. “The war was over for me,” he later recalled, “and I had survived.”, The fiercest fighting on the first day of the assault took place just below the summits of Belvedere and Gorgolesco, the former the objective of the 85th’s 3rd Battalion. Some have their arms or legs sticking straight up, nothing is supporting them…. The 10th distinguished itself in Italy during WWII by defeating German positions in the rugged mountains of northern Italy. Total German casualties are unknown, but over 400 were taken prisoner. Once they had secured the summits of those peaks, the 85th’s 2nd Battalion, held in reserve, would push on to della Torraccia. Amazingly, for a few crucial seconds, there was no fire from above. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall listened to the civilians, and by late November 1941 the first ski troops were beginning to gather at Fort Lewis in Washington State, to soon train on the slopes of nearby Mount Rainier. They drove ahead, remembering General Hays’s injunction, “always forward,” while leaving a trail of dead and wounded comrades. Bodies lie on Belvedere’s slopes at sunset on the first day of attack. 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