|The 63rd Infantry Division
The proud legend of the 63rd Infantry Division had its beginning at
Casablanca in January 1943, when Prime Minister Churchill of Great
Britain coined the phrase that the Axis powers would "Bleed and Burn in
expiation of their crimes against humanity". From that statement, Brigadier
General Louis E. Hibbs, soon to become the division's
commander,designed the shoulder insignia and the slogan "Blood and Fire".
On 15 June 1943, the Division was activated at Camp Blanding, Florida.
The cadre manning the new division came from Camp Breckinridge,
Kentucky's 98th Infantry Division. Following initial cadre training the
division relocated some 650 miles to Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi,
arriving there during the latter part of August 1943.
During the month of September 1943, men from reception centers all over
the country rapidly brought the division up to strength, and intensive basic
training commenced. In November 1943 the men of the division had
completed basic and small unit training and were anticipating advance and
larger unit maneuvers. This, however was not to be.
In December 1943, all privates, privates first class, along with some
noncommissioned and junior officers were reassigned to other divisions
alerted for overseas movement. The process of receiving replacements
and training them only to have them reassigned as fillers for other divisions
alerted for overseas movement was repeated twice again before the
division was at long last alerted as a unit for overseas assignment.
During March and April 1944 the division was brought to full strength with
replacements coming from training centers as well as men from the Army
Specialist Training Program and the Army Air Corps Cadet Training
Program. The latter two programs had been cut-back and their
participants released for assignment to the Infantry.
As the division reached full strength again, training started anew. By
November 1944 the division was ready for movement to an overseas
area. On 6 November 1944, the 63rd Infantry Division advance party left
Camp van Dorn by train for Camp Shanks, New York and ultimate
shipment to France. The advance party or forward element of the division
was known as Task Force Harris and consisted of the three Infantry
Regiments,; the 253rd, 254th and 255th plus a small supporting staff. The
Task Force was commanded by Brigadier General Frederick M. Harris.
Task Force Harris arrived in Marseille, France on 8 December 1944 and
after a few days in a staging area moved by road and rail to Camp
d'Oberhoffen, France located about midway betwen Colmar and
Sarreguemines. By the end of December 1944, Task Force Harris was
disbanded and all three regiments were reassigned to various divisions of
the 6th Army Group. The 253rd was attached to the 44th Infantry
Division in the Sarreguemines-Riming area; the 254th was attached to the
3rd Infantry Division in the Colmar Area, and the 255th was attached to
the 100th Infantry Division near Bitche.
Thus the three regiments, separated from 63rd Infantry Division control
were destined to make their own history until reunited with the Division in
From mid-February 1945 until the end of the war, the 63rd Infantry
Division made a path of Blood and Fire from Sarreguemines through the
Siegfried Line to Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Gunzburg and ending in
Landsberg Germany at the end of April 1945 when the division was pulled
from the line for a much needed rest.
By war's end Division units had participated in three (3) battle campaigns
and its Infantry Regiments had been awarded seven (7) Distinguished Unit
Awards (Now known as Presidential Unit Citations) and a French Croix
de Guerre with palm.
During he period of December 1944 to May 1945 the division suffered
over 1000 killed, more than 5000 wounded, over 1000 missing in action,
63 captured by the enemy and over 4000 non-battle casualties. Division
forces captured ovcr 21,000 enemy soldiers.
In September 1945 the "Blood and Fire" division was restaffed with "high
point men" from other divisions, returned to the United States and on 29th
of September 1945 was inactivated.
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