Historical Markers
28th Division Shrine Historical Marker
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28th Division Shrine

Valleys of the Susquehanna


Marker Location:
Business US 322 at Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg

Dedication Date:
May 6, 1947

Behind the Marker

Troops at attention as the Major General walks by for inspection.
Governor Edward Martin inspecting the guard of honor at the Third Annual Encampment,...
Unlike other British North American colonies, Pennsylvania, founded by pacifist Quakers, did not have a state militia until the American Revolution, during which Pennsylvania conscripts and volunteers often fought alongside soldiers of the Continental Army. In the 1790s, Pennsylvania militiamen would fight on the state's western frontier, then again in the War of 1812, and in the American Civil War. In 1870, the state legislature reorganized its scattered state militias into the National Guard of Pennsylvania. The National Guard fought during the Spanish American War in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and on the Mexican border in 1917.

Redesignated the 28th Infantry Division upon America's entrance into the First World War, the Pennsylvania Guard suffered 14,000 battle casualties during combat in France and Belgium, and fought so valiantly in the last months of the war that General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, called it the "Iron Division" for its tenacious fighting.

 he 28th Infantry Division marching in front of the Champs Elysee in Paris, France. August 29, 1944.
The 28th Infantry Division marching in front of the Champs Elysee in Paris,...
In the late 1930s, the guard became headquartered at the markerIndiantown Gap Military Reservation east of Harrisburg, where on February 17, 1941, it was ordered into federal service. Operating under the command of Major General marker Edward Martin, who had served with the division continuously since World War I, the 28th was, in January 1942, re-organized along U.S. Army lines, with three infantry regiments (109th, 110th, 112th), four artillery regiments (107th, 108th, 109th, 229th), and supporting units that included a signal company, military police, engineers, medics, a quartermaster unit, and an ordnance company. All told, the 28th Division fielded roughly 17,000 soldiers when fully operational.

Once organized, the 28th Division joined army maneuvers in Virginia and North Carolina, and then moved to Louisiana in February 1942 for more extensive training. There, the Army reorganized the division, detaching the 111th Regiment, which it eventually sent to the central Pacific to engage Japanese troops on Kwajalein Atoll in 1944. The 28th remained in the United States until October 1943, when it finally left the United States from Boston for England.

In July 1944, some six weeks after D-Day, the Division landed in Normandy and entered combat in French hedgerow country, pushing the German defenders back inch by inch. Noting the fierceness of the 28th's attack, the Germans nicknamed the division the "Bloody Bucket," after its red keystone shoulder patch. On August 13, division commander Brigadier General James E. Wharton was mortally wounded while visiting the front lines. He was succeeded by Major General Norman D. Cota, who had just returned to active duty after being wounded earlier in the campaign.
Map of route
Route of 110th Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division across Europe, 1944-45.

The 28th Division continued its drive across France to the suburbs of Paris, and on August 29 proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées, then swung back into action the next day. Fighting its way across France and into Belgium, the division slammed against the West Wall, Germany's major defensive line against the surging Allied armies.
Photo of 28th Division Shrine
World War II 28th Division Memorial at the Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg,...

In November, the division entered the fighting in Huertgen Forest, needlessly suffering more than 6,000 casualties in a battle that General markerJames M. Gavin believed "should marker never have been fought." When the Germans launched their famous Ardennes Offensive on December 16 in what became the Battle of the Bulge, as many as nine German divisions attacked the stubborn 28th. The Germans drove the 28th back, but the Pennsylvanians had delayed their advance long enough to permit Allied reinforcements to reach the area.   

During the Battle of the Bulge, German propaganda boasted that Nazi forces had wiped out the 28th. Living up to its "28th Roll On" motto, which it had adopted that September, the division in early 1945 participated in the fighting to reduce the Colmar Pocket–a three-week battle in bitterly cold weather during January 1945–and then crossed the Rhine into Germany and remained on the attack until the war in Europe ended.

During the course of the war, the 28th Division's casualties included 2,316 men killed in action, 9,609 wounded, and 367 who died from their wounds. Men of the division received 3,130 medals, ranging from the Air Medal to a Congressional Medal of Honor. After its return to the United States, the Division was deactivated from federal service in December 1945 and returned to the jurisdiction of the governor.
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