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10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION PERSONAL PAPERS

 Collection
Identifier: TMD309

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

This collection contains personal papers related primarily to individual soldiers who served with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. Also included are papers related to other persons who had a significant impact on the history of the 10th Mountain Division.

Donated by veterans, descendants and friends over the course of more than twenty-five years, the contents of each individual file may be limited to a single document or a single photograph, which is generally not enough material to warrant the creation of an individual collection. However, taken as a whole, the collection compliments the hundreds of individual collections maintained within the 10th Mountain Division Resource Center and provides unique documentation of many aspects of soldiers' lives and activities during World War II.

Materials include induction notices, discharge papers, citations, orders, passes, bus schedules, souvenirs, obituaries, photographs, newspaper clippings and numerous veteran recollections. Correspondence includes examples of V-mail letters, by which soldiers’ letters were copied to film and printed back to paper upon arrival in the United States in order to reduce logistics problems involved in transporting thousands of individual letters.

Arranged alphabetically by last name, most papers consist of a single folder. Where more than one folder is required, a veteran's name repeats within the finding aid, once for each folder present. Each name is followed by a listing of units with which the individual served. Unit abbreviations are consistent with usage in the 10th Mountain Division database.

Dates

  • TBD

ACCESS:

The collection is open for research.

OWNERSHIP:

Literary and copyrights as appropriate have been assigned to the Denver Public Library.

PUBLICATION RIGHTS:

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

HISTORICAL NOTE

Reports of combat operations involving Finnish, Italian and German mountain troops prior to America’s entry into World War II convinced the National Ski Association, the National Ski Patrol and later the American Alpine Club and the National Ski Patrol that the American army needed a mountain and winter warfare capability. Throughout 1940, Charles Minot Dole, Chairman of the National Ski Patrol, acting as spokesman , lobbied President Franklin Roosevelt, Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall and many others, to organize a cadre of trained mountain troops. Dole also assisted in the initial recruitment of experienced skiers for the Army.

Beginning in November 1940, the War Department authorized the formation of small ski patrol units within several Army divisions. However, it was not until November 15, 1941 that the First Battalion of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment began training at Fort Lewis, Washington, just 22 days prior to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. By March 1942, the Army had formulated a plan to activate a full mountain division by 1943. To reach this goal, construction of a large training facility began at Pando, Colorado in April 1942. This facility, named Camp Hale in honor of General Irving Hale, Colorado National Guard, was completed by November 1942. The Second and Third Battalions of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment were authorized in May and June 1942, and by December 1942, all three battalions of the 87th Regiment had moved to Camp Hale.

In June 1943, the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment transferred rom Camp Hale to Fort Ord, California to engage in amphibious training prior to participating in the invasion and recapture of Kiska Island in the Aleutians. Amphibious landings occurred on August 15, 1943. Japanese forces, however, had evacuated the Island just before the landings. The 87th Regiment remained on Kiska until November 1943.

Meanwhile, the 10th Light Division (Alpine) was activated at Camp Hale on July 15, 1943. It consisted of the previously activated 86th Infantry Regiment and the 85th and 90th Regiments, which were also activated on July 15, 1943. Upon completion of operations at Kiska, the 87th Regiment returned to Camp Carson, Colorado and joined the 10th Light Division at Camp Hale on February 23, 1944, replacing the 90th Regiment. Three infantry regiments, the 85th, 86th and 87th, along with engineering, artillery and other support units, were now assigned to the 10th Light Division. The division’s intense training program at Camp Hale included winter survival, rock climbing, skiing, mule packing and the extraordinarily demanding "D-Series" winter exercises, which occurred during the Spring of 1944.

In late June 1944, the 10th Light Division departed Camp Hale for Camp Swift, Texas to participate in maneuvers and regular infantry training under extremely harsh, hot conditions. The 10th Light Division officially became the 10th Mountain Division on November 6, 1944. Brigadier General George P. Hays arrived at Camp Swift on November 23 to take command of the reorganized Division. Hays ordered the addition of heavy weapons companies to each battalion, and additional artillery support units were authorized.

Deployment to Italy began on December 11, 1944 when the 86th Regiment embarked for Naples aboard the USS Argentina, arriving December 22. The 85th and 87th Regiments sailed aboard the USS West Point on January 4, 1945. Support units, including the 604th, 605th and 616th Field Artillery Battalions and the 126th Mountain Engineer Battalion followed on board the transport USAT General Meigs.

The 10th Mountain Division began combat patrols in mid-January 1945, and launched its first offensive on the evening of February 18, 1945 with a surprise night assault on Riva Ridge. The next night the assault continued with an attack and capture of Mount Belvedere, the key German observation point. The first offensive lasted through February 25 when Mount Della Torraccia was secured. During a second offensive, from March 3 to March 6 1945, the 10th Mountain Division attacked and cleared German forces from Mount della Torraccia to Mount della Spe, where the offensive was temporarily halted by the Allied command.

The Division’s final offensive began on April 14, 1945 and lasted until the German surrender in Italy on May 2, 1945. During this final operation, the 10th Mountain division broke though the German mountain defenses and into the Po River Valley. On April 23, 1945, the 87th Infantry regiment crossed the Po River under fire, and the entire division then advanced to Lake Garda in northern Italy by war's end.

Following the German surrender, the 10th Mountain Division deployed near the Italian border with Yugoslavia, to participate in what some historians have called the first engagement of the Cold War. Anticipating a deployment to the Pacific Theater, the Division returned to the United States in August 1945. Reports of the dropping of the Atomic Bombs and the announcement that the Japanese forces would surrender came while much of the Division was still crossing the Atlantic. Many men returned to Camp Carson, Colorado, where the division was inactivated on November 30, 1945. The 10th Mountain Division was succeeded by the reactivated 10th Infantry Division during the Cold War from 1948 to 1958, when it was again inactivated. On February 13, 1985 the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was officially reactivated at Fort Drum, New York and as of 2015 has been one of the most deployed units in the United States Army.

Over 32,000 men served with the 10th Mountain Division between 1942 and 1945. Of these, approximately 20,000 men engaged in combat operations in Italy. The 10th Mountain Division sustained nearly 5,000 casualties during World War II, with 999 men being killed in action. Among the combat deaths were twenty men who died during the Kiska operation, eleven of whom died as a result of friendly fire during intense fog.

Extent

8 Boxes (8 linear feet)

PROVENANCE:

The documents that comprise this collection were donated by numerous 10th Mountain Division veterans, descendants and friends over a period of many years

SELECTION OF RELATED MATERIAL

The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional collections containing material related to this collection including:

10th Mountain Division Records TMD1

10th Mountain Division Database Records TMD2

National Association of the 10th Mountain Division Records TMD40

SIZE:

Number of Boxes: 8 (8 linear feet)

LOCATION:

TMD309

PROCESSED AND ENCODED BY:

Dennis Hagen

December 2014

PROJECT MANAGER:

Abby Hoverstock
Title
10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION PERSONAL PAPERS
Date
December 2014
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

Contact:
10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States