The Story of the Famous 34th Infantry Division:
"The Old Red Bull Goes Home"
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We were going home. On 27 September 1945 the Division commenced the long but happy trek away back to Naples and Bagnoli, a road distance of 800 miles. The 88th Division was now to take over the border assignment, many of our latest recruits remaining with the "Blue Devils". The assembly area near Naples was familiar: Collegio Ciano, the same college grounds where so many of our troops had quartered in early October 1943. Then, the unknown and uncertain lay ahead; now, eager men knew their destiny was home. For them, no more long marches; no more mud, mules, and mountains; no more night patrols; no more worries of Stukas and 88s, mines and booby-traps; no more weary nights on damp cold ground, in snow, in caves, or pup tents; and no more hunting men with M-1s, tommy- and machine-guns - nor being hunted in return.
It was a proud Division that embarked for home, proud in the knowledge that its men had performed in the best American traditions; proud too, that more days of combat were accredited to the 34th than to any other Division of the Army. But there was an air of sad reflection in the minds and faces of the veterans as, in retrospect, they contemplated the many scenes that had unfolded during the past four years and nine months of their lives: comrades had fallen in the snows, on the deserts and poppy fields of Tunisia; wearers of the Red Bull patch lay under the rows of gleaming, white crosses and Stars of David among the many purple paths of Italy; and in hospitals and homes were unnumbered comrades whose dreams, hopes, and aspirations remained shattered forever.
The price of victory had come high to the 34th. 3,737 killed in action, 14,165 wounded and 3,460 missing in action: a total of 21,362 battle casualties. These figures were furnished by the Department of the Army, which advises that the compilation of the 34th Division casualty list is not yet final.
Embarking from Naples on 22 October 1945, the diminished Division, still under command of Major General Bolte, landed at Newport News, Virginia, proceeding immmediately to Camp Patrick Henry, where the troops were mustered out on 3 November 1945.
And so, the 34th Infantry Division, covered with glory, had returned to the United States, as it had left, totally without pomp and ceremony; no bands, no popular greeting, no public review nor speech-making. Public acclaim had been expended on troops which had returned earlier. We had left the shores of America in January 1942 under the greatest of secrecy; we became at times a forgotten division on a "forgotten front"; and now, we had returned home in almost total obscurity. But in the heart of every man who wore the Red Bull patch will forever glow a pride founded on the firm knowledge that the services of his Division in World War II, ranked second to none and that the name of the 34th Infantry Division will stand high on the scroll of honor among the greatest fighting units that ever carried the Stars and Stripes into combat. Yes, a pride too in the knowledge that the gallant Old Red Bull fought its battles and made its sacrifices to insure that Democracy shall ever remain a beacon for all freedom loving peoples of the World.
THE END.The Story of the Famous 34th Infantry Division. By LTC John H Hougen. Copyright © 1949 LTC John H Hougen. ISBN 0-89839-024-9 Publ: Battery Press, Nashville TN 37219, 1979.
This bit of history is included at the suggestion of Darlene Smith and Roque Riojas (34/135/Hq). It was read as a part of the program at the 2002 Reunion of the Association in Des Moines IA.
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