Governor Cooper and the N.C. National Guard Commemorate 75th Anniversary of Historic WWII National Guard Battle – The Battle of Mortain
RALEIGH, NC (August 7, 2019) — On Tuesday, August 6 Governor Roy Cooper presented to the North Carolina National Guard a proclamation commemorating the WWII Battle of Mortain which occurred August 7-13, 1944.
On August 7, four Nazi Panzer Divisions attacked the 30th Infantry Division at Mortain and the “Heroes of Old Hickory” fought them back and the Normandy Campaign was saved.
Many believe that the Mortain victory was one of the most outstanding military achievements during the war in Europe and think it is long overdue for the 30th to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
As each day passes, more members of “Old Hickory” pass away; Citizen-Soldiers who served proudly and with distinction during World War II.
Today, the 30th Infantry Division Association, the North Carolina National Guard Association, former 30th veterans from WWII and others are urging President Trump to award the 30th Infantry Division the Presidential Unit Citation for its exemplary performance and extraordinary heroism and gallantry in action during the Battle of Mortain.
Army Lt. Gen. Lawton J. Collins commanded VII Corps and led the breakout from the Normandy beachhead. In 1947 he wrote a recommendation for the 30th Infantry Division to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Mortain. A portion of his recommendation reads, “With full knowledge that no reserves were immediately available the troops fought tenaciously, determined to contain the enemy at all costs. Artilleryman fought as infantry while firing direct fire with their artillery pieces at enemy personnel and armor less than 200 yards from their positions. Engineers, clerks, messengers, drivers, cooks, and every available man became a fighting soldier.”
The Army Awards Board after the war cited that if the 30th Infantry Division had failed in its defense of Morta in, it would have caused a revision of Allied plans second only to a failure at Normandy on D-Day; captured German General Kurt Dittmar called the Mortain victory the decisive battle of the west in World War II.
The citation was never awarded.
General Eisenhower’s European Theater Historian, S.L.A Marshall, determined that the 30th Infantry Division was the best infantry division in the European Theater during World War II, and still, the citation was never awarded.
The 30th landed at Omaha Beach on June 10, 1944 and entered combat five days later. The division took part in every major campaign in the European Theater of Operations: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes – Alsace and Central Europe.
The 30th Infantry Division spent 282 days in almost constant combat. The division suffered 3,435 killed in action and 12,960 wounded. Six Medals of Honor were awarded to Old Hickory soldiers, 65 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1,718 Silver Stars, 6,319 Bronze Stars and 20,000 Purple Hearts.
MORTAIN, FRANCE 12.25.1944
The 823rd Tank Destroyer Bn, 30th Infantry Division near Mortain, France. The 832rd and 30th ID units held off the elite 1st and 2nd Panser Divisions ensuring success of the Normandy Breakout and victories at St. Lo. In a letter to the 30th Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Leland S. Hobbs, Marshall said, “The 30th Division was among five best divisions in the infantry division category. We picked the 30th Division No. 1…… the most outstanding infantry division of the ETO.” (Photo courtesy of 30th Infantry Division Association)
OMAHA BEACH, FRANCE 12.25.1944
Soldiers with 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division enjoy Christmas care packages sent from home, December 1944.
The 30th Infantry Division (nicknamed Old Hickory in WWI) landed at Omaha Beach on Jun. 10, 1944, and entered combat five days later. The division took part in every major campaign in the Europe’s western front: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes – Alsace and Central Europe. (Photo courtesy of 30th Infantry Division Association)
PALENBERG, GERMANY 10.01.1944
Some 117th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division and 2nd Armored Division Soldiers with captured German troops near the Siegfried Line – Palenburg, Germany, October 1944. (Photo courtesy of 30th Infantry Division Association)
AT SEA 08.01.1945
The 30th Infantry Division sets sail for home on the Queen Mary and other ships, August 1945. Col. S.L.A. Marshall, Gen. Eisenhower’s chief historian in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) ranked the 30th as the No. 1 division in its category in the ETO. (Photo courtesy of 30th Infantry Division Association)
National Guard information on Battle of Mortain
Information on the 30th Infantry Division
Press Release, Photographs, Links and Information Courtesy of:
Lt. Col. Matt DeVivo
North Carolina National Guard