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Artifact Friday: 104th Infantry Division patch

Good morning! It is once again that time of the week.

Today, we are depicting a patch in our collection.

It is the 104th Infantry Division patch.

The 104th was a reserve division activated in 1921 in Fort Lewis, Washington.

In 1924, the 104th insignia was approved as can be observed in this blog. It was a timber wolf howling in front of a mountain background. The timber wolf is a native animal to Washington state and the mountains are representative of the area around Fort Lewis. Their motto that went with this unique insignia is “Nothing in Hell can stop the Timberwolves.” This would soon be proven in the looming World War.

The 104th saw action first in World War Two when it was activated in September 1942. It was sent over to the European Theater of Operations and spent two hundred days in combat. They went from France to Belgium and ended the war in Germany.

This division also was a part of liberating the concentration camp “Dora-Mittelbau.”

This concentration camp was located in central Germany north of Nordhausen. It opened in 1943 as a subcamp of Buchenwald, but it became an independent camp in 1944.

Jews and other “deplorables” were sent to Dora-Mittelbau to dig tunnels to V-2 bomb factories. These tunnels would allow the prisoners to travel to and from the camp to the factory without the danger of Allied bombing raids.

The operation of this camp was like those of Dachau and Buchenwald. Starvation, forced labor, torture, and genocide. For over two years, prisoners lived in hell. In the Spring of 1945, the SS, sensing that the Allies were getting closer, emptied the camp marching thousands to Bergen-Belson. Over 750 were left in the camp when members of the 104th Infantry Division arrived. When they got there, they discovered not only what the Nazi party had been doing, but also an added reason as to why they were in the war.

It was not only for the protection of the freedom of America but for the liberation of captive souls across Europe.

Upon arrival, the 104th began aiding the prisoners that were alive and then conscripting the local townspeople to bury deceased prisoners.

The 104th had 4,961 casualties which included 971 killed in action; 237 prisoners of war; and 3,657 wounded. They were a highly decorated division. Their medals include two Medal of Honor awards, forty Air Medals, six Legion of Merit medals, and over six hundred Silver Star medals.

The “Timberwolves” were regrouped and sent home in July 1945 where they were once again returned to an Army Reserve status.

Today it is a training division still based at Fort Lewis, Washington, although it also operates as a joint base Lewis-McChord with the Air Force.

However, their insignia is still the same!


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