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Chapter XIV

Contents

CHAPTER XIV

The Cold Injury Record of the 84th  Infantry Division 

    Many divisions in the European Theater of Operations had worse cold injury records than the 84th Infantry Division. Some had better records. Some were in heavier combat for longer periods of time. The history of the 84th Division, however, has been selected as a unit case study in cold injury for the following three reasons:
       
    1. The experience of this division clearly demonstrates the influence of several modifying factors in cold injury without, at the same time, making it necessary to pursue an extremely complicated combat narrative.
       
    2. Its combat engagements were sharply divided into a difficult initial combat period, when trenchfoot was predominant; an intensive combat situation in which terrain and weather combined ideally to give rise to frostbite; and a return to exactly the same weather conditions as those previously experienced, which favored the development of trenchfoot but in which trenchfoot did not occur at all and the incidence of frostbite was negligible, chiefly because the combat situation, while active, could be regarded as mild to moderate for a division that had become battlewise and self-sufficient.
       
    3. This division had received good training, in which the prevention and control of trenchfoot were included.
       
    The 84th Infantry Division, which was made up of the 333d, 334th, and 335th Infantry Regiments, artillery and supporting troops, was re-formed in August 1942 from a World War I outfit. It was fully trained in the United States, where it was activated on 15 October 1944. It assembled in England, and the first elements arrived on the Continent on 1 November. The division went at once to the front. It was attached to the XIII Corps but was initially placed under the operational control of the British 30 Corps, Second Army, for commitment with British troops.
       
    During November and December, the XIII Corps had the following missions: (1) To maintain liaison with the British on the left; (2) to maintain liaison with the U. S. XIX Corps on the right; (3) to protect the left flank of the Ninth U. S. Army; (4) to capture Geilenkirchen and the high ground northeast of it; (5) to seize the line of the Roer River from Flossdorf to Linnich,
____________
1 The tactical material in this chapter is based on two books by Theodore Draper: (1) The 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of the Ardennes. Liige: Societf d'Impression et d'Edition Societe Cooperative, April 1945; and (2) The 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of Germany, November 1944-May 1945. New York: The Viking Press, 1946. The clinical material is derived from the medical histories of the 84th Infantry Division for 1944 and 1945.


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inclusive; (6) to seize the Beeck-Wilrm-Lindern area; and (7) to prepare for crossing the Roer River.
       
    The assignment of the 84th Infantry Division in these missions was (1) to reduce Geilenkirchen, (2) to carry out the Beeck-Wiirm-Lindern operation, and (3) to make plans for crossing the Roer River in December. For a unit which was entering combat totally inexperienced, these were indeed formidable tasks.

8-28 NOVEMBER 1944  

    Since the missions and the cold injury experiences of one regiment of this division differed considerably from those of the other two regiments, it is convenient to discuss them separately.  

335th Infantry Regiment  

    Tactical situation.- The 335th Infantry Regiment was detached from the parent 84th Infantry Division on 9 November and was attached to the 30th Infantry Division, under the XIX Corps. Until 16 November, the entire XIX Corps was engaged in defense and regrouping activities. Combat activity was light. The 335th Infantry was placed in the line in the Geilenkirchen area in a holding action characterized by occasional active defense. On 17 November, the corps moved in an attack that met moderate to heavy resistance, but the 335th, as an inexperienced unit, was not heavily engaged in these operations.
       
    The weather during this period was cold, but the temperatures remained above freezing. Heavy rains had fallen, however, and the mud was deep in the generally flat terrain. Large expanses of open field were broken by small towns from 1 to 3 miles apart, and coal mines in the area also provided some shelter.
       
    Cold injury.- During this period, the 335th Infantry Regiment sustained only a few cases of trenchfoot, not quite as many, in fact, as the 334th Infantry, which had not yet been committed.
 
333d and 334th Infantry Regiments  

    Tactical situation.- The first action for the 334th Infantry Regiment came on 18 November, when it launched an attack designed to capture high ground to the northeast, of Geilenkirchen. The following day, the 333(1 Infantry went into its initial combat, with the British 43d Division. Geilenkirchen fell at the end of that day, and the attack was continued, against, heavy resistance, to the north and northeast. The high ground northeast of Beeck was captured on 23 November, and Beeck itself fell on 30 November. On 24 November, both regiments reverted to XIII Corps control and resumed defensive action to hold the ground which bad been gained.


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    During the period 18 November through 25 November, as will be pointed out shortly, rain fell much of the time, and the troops were forced to remain for long stretches in water-filled foxholes, in which water was sometimes within a foot of the top.        

    Cold injury.- In the 8 days of combat just described, 349 casualties with trenchfoot were evacuated from the division, 340 of whom came from the 333d and 334th Infantry Regiments. Assuming that the strength of a regiment is 4,000 men, this is a rate, for the 8 days, of 37.2 evacuated trenchfoot casualties per 1,000 strength.

Division Conference on Trenchfoot  

    By 24 November, the division staff had become greatly concerned over the increasing incidence of trenchfoot, and certain preventive measures had already been instituted. At a conference called on this date to discuss the situation, attended by the division G-4 (logistics), quartermaster and surgeon and the regimental surgeons of the two regiments most seriously affected, a report was prepared, approved by the division commander, and forwarded to the commanding general of the XIII Corps. The seriousness of the situation was pointed out in this report, and the factors underlying the outbreak of cold injury were outlined.
       
    The incidence of trenchfoot in the 84tli Infantry Division, this memorandum noted, had risen precipitously from 2 cases on 10 November to 133 cases on 23 November.2 Of the 133 casualties recorded for 23 November, 108 were from the 334th Infantry Regiment, the great majority being from the 2d and 3d Battalions. Both of these battalions had been pinned down in foxholes for periods of 12 hours each by heavy artillery and mortar fire. During the week iii which the 333d and 334th Infantry Regiments were heavily engaged in combat, rain fell much of the time and water collected, sometimes up to a depth of 2 feet, in the foxholes in which the soldiers were compelled, for tactical reasons, to spend all day and part of the night. Enemy artillery fire repeatedly forced the men in these units to dig in, with the result that they had no opportunity to care for their feet before they were again committed to combat.
       
    Soldiers from the 334th Infantry who were interviewed in the medical collecting station all stated that they had received instruction in the prevention of trenchfoot before they went into the line. They had not, however, been able to carry out the measures recommended. Some of them had not had their shoes off for 6 days. While some of them had changed their socks daily, all of them pointed out that, under the existing climatic conditions, it was impossible to change into dry socks. Most of the men had not removed their shoes as instructed because they were afraid that if they did they would be unable to get them back on. Not all of the troops had had overshoes, but many who

2 It will be noted that these figures are slightly higher than those presented in table 41. The explanation is that these figures cover all casualties, including those not evacuated from the division, while figures in table 41 cover only the casualties evacuated.


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possessed them had discarded them, partly because they were useless in already rain-filled foxholes.
       
    These facts were corroborated in an afteraction report for the month of November by the surgeon of the XIII Corps, who summed up the reasons for the high incidence of trenchfoot in the 84th Division, as follows:
       
    An inexperienced division was engaged in combat for 8 days under the most adverse conditions of weather and terrain. Combat was intense, and some elements were pinned down by enemy fire for as long as 12 hours at a time. Overshoes were not available in large sizes for several days after the battle began, and all troops had not been equipped with their full allowance of socks. The principal causes for these trenchfoot casualties, in addition to extremely unfavorable weather and terrain and lack of equipment for winter operations, were listed as (1) failure to relieve troops at frequent intervals, (2) failure to provide areas for changing and drying wet clothes and footgear, and (3) failure of some troops to carry out the foot hygiene which they had been taught.
 
Preventive Measures
 
    Even before the conference on trenchfoot was held, the commanding general of the 84th Infantry Division had reacted to the dangerous situation and had been fully supported in his plans by the commander of the XIII Corps. After 22 November, it became division policy to rotate a battalion at a time out of the line, for 2 or 3 days of rest in billets in which hot showers were avail able. On 23 November, each regiment established a center with facilities for rest and rehabilitation from combat exhaustion. These centers also served as rotation points for combat soldiers to dry themselves out and to obtain changes of socks and of other clothing. By 24 November, enough heavy socks and overshoes were available to equip the entire division. On the same day, a daily sock exchange was instituted. Dry socks were to be brought forward with the rations, and the sodden socks worn by combat soldiers were to be exchanged for them. In practice, this arrangement worked out somewhat less satisfactorily than it sounds, partly because of frequent failures to turn in worn socks and partly because proper sizes were often not available in the socks brought up for replacement.
      
    On 29 November, the commanding general of the 84th Division issued a memorandum to all unit commanders in which he specifically put the responsibility for the control of trenchfoot upon commanders of all echelons. It was made clear that a high incidence of trenchfoot in any unit would be regarded as an indication of command failure in that unit. All officers were instructed to institute daily foot inspections immediately. Command responsibility was interpreted to mean that the inspections would be held not only by commissioned officers but also by noncommissioned officers of platoons and squads; it was desired that these men should realize that the prevention of trenchfoot was quite as much their responsibility as it was the responsibility of commissioned officers.


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    The memorandum of 29 November also included extracts from pertinent War Department, theater, and army-group directives dealing with the prevention of trenchfoot. It was directed that all commanders familiarize themselves with the details of these extracts thoroughly and at once. 

Analysis of Experience
 
    It is improbable that an outbreak of trenchfoot could have been entirely avoided in the circumstances in which these inexperienced troops were thrown, almost abruptly, into intense combat, in flat, waterlogged, muddy terrain, when the mean temperature ranged between 42.5° and 56.5° F. (5.83° and 13.6°C.) and it rained 60 percent of the time. The result was that over an 8-day period a severe point epidemic of cold injury occurred (chart 32, table 41.)

    The immediate command response to this experience evidenced good leadership. This is further shown by a statement of the division surgeon in his sanitary report for December 1944. The marked decrease in the incidence of trenchfoot, frostbite, and immersion foot which occurred during this period, the surgeon noted, could be attributed chiefly to (1) frequent inspections by unit commanders and medical officers and (2) the splendid cooperation of the men themselves in following the directives with preventive measures.
 
29 NOVEMBER-20 DECEMBER 1944
 
    Tactical situation.- On 29 November, the 84th Infantry Division participated in the offensive in which the town of Lindern was captured. Thereafter, the division continued a slow-moving offensive toward the low-lying approaches to the Roer River, and, by 15 December, it had assumed a holding defense facing the river. Terrain and weather conditions were similar to those just described.
       
    Cold injury.- On 29 November, the day the attack began, 6 cases of trench-foot were reported by the division, and 24 cases were reported the following day. After this (late, while trenchfoot continued to occur, the rate was greatly reduced. There were a number of reasons for this improvement, as follows:

    1. The combat situation was less intense.
       
    2. Individual and unit preventive measures had been put into operation.
       
    3. Supplies of overshoes and socks were now adequate.
       
    4. Rotation was being practiced throughout the division.

  The practices just listed had been effective in spite of the continuation of adverse environmental conditions including continued rain, unfavorable terrain, and the waterlogged and very muddy ground.
     
    Only a few cases of trenchfoot were reported between this date and 20 December 1944, when the course of events abruptly ended the holding action.


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CHART 32.- Mean temperature, precipitation, and cold injury cases evacuated from the 84th Infantry Division, European theater, 1 November 1944 through 31 January 1945


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TABLE 41.- Mean temperature, precipitation, and cold injury cases evacuated from the 84th Infantry Division, European theater, November 1944 through January 1945

21 DECEMBER 1944-2 JANUARY 1945
 
Tactical situation.- On 20 and 21 December, the entire 84th Infantry Division was withdrawn from its position facing the Roer River and moved southeastward to Marche, Belgium, where it was to enter into an extremely active defensive operation against the German midwinter counteroffensive and was also to participate in the American offensive that followed. The suddenness


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of the German attack required the immediate marshaling of all defensive resources, as well as the assignment to individual units of missions that under less urgent circumstances would have been considered ill-advised military policy. The perilous situation in the vicinity of Marche, as well as the confidence of the Germans in the success of their offensive, is illustrated by the following excerpt from the surrender note which they dropped on Bastogne on 22 December : "The fortune of war is changing. This time the USA forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armoured units. More German armoured units have crossed the River Our near Ourtheville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Homores-Sibret-Tillet."
       
    The Germans proved to be somewhat overconfident. Late in the day on 21 December, the 334th Infantry Regiment of the 84th Division arrived in Marche, which was never taken. By nightfall of the following day, the entire division was settled in and around the town, under the control of the VII Corps, First U. S. Army. For the first 3 days, the division operated in a military void, without friendly forces on either flank. In effect, it constituted an island of defensive resistance against the 2d SS Panzer Division and the 116th Panzer Division. By 22 December, the 12-mile-long line between Hampteau and Hogne required the spacing of foxholes 150 yards apart.
 
    The lack of intelligence and the confusion of the situation led the 84th Division commander to undertake, probing reconnaissance operations to the west and southwest of Marche. The 3d Battalion of the 335th Infantry was given the former mission, and the 1st Battalion of the 333d Infantry the latter. Each battalion, in advances in excess of 10 miles each from Marche, ran into heavy enemy resistance. At this time, the 3d Battalion was all that was in front of the 2d Panzer Division. The good leadership and aggressive concept that inspired these probing tactics can be considered responsible for deflecting the German drive to the south of Marche, at a time when armor had not yet been brought up to the support of the 84th Division, but the German advance, nonetheless reached to within 4 miles of Dinant on the Meuse River and acutely threatened the encirclement of Marche.
       
    By 24 December, the 84th Division had dug in on the front at both ends of the Marche-Hotton road. Its flanks, meantime, had been filled in, on the right by the 2d Armored Division and on the left by the 3d Armored Division. Great tank battles raged around Celles, and the 116th Panzer Division tried, without success, to crack the center of the divisional line. The German attack on the town of Verdenne and a counterattack by the 84th Division to wipe out an enemy pocket collided head on. The Germans took the town temporarily, but it was soon retaken by the 84th Division, after a seesaw battle.
       
    A second attempt, supported by tanks, to reduce the pocketed enemy forces proved a difficult operation, but, by the night of 26 December, the divisional line had been straightened out. A strenuous attempt by the Germans to break through the lines at Menil did not succeed and ended by dark on 27 December. This battle is regarded as the operation that finally broke the German drive toward the Meuse River.


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    German forces engaged in the Battle of the Bulge were contained by both British and American forces. The Third U. S. Army struck from the Bastogne area in the south, the First U. S. Army counterattacked from the north on both sides of Manhay, and the British Corps operated to the west from Marche. Logically therefore, British forces took over the position of the 84th Division at the end of the defensive operation. The division then moved northward on 1 January 1945, to join the 83d Infantry Division and the 2d and 3d Armored Divisions under the First U. S. Army and to take part in a difficult counteroffensive in the Ardennes. The changeover was effected by a complex, sideslipping movement, over narrow, icy roads, but in spite of these difficulties the 84th Division managed, within approximately 36 hours, to complete its relief and concentration in a new area.
       
    Cold injury.- Up to 25 December, although the combat was more intense than the division had ever before experienced, the incidence of trenchfoot remained low (table 41, chart 32). For this, there were a number of reasons:
       
    1. Although the temperature range was favorable for the development of trenchfoot, very little rain fell.
       
    2. The terrain was rolling and hilly, in contrast to the flat ground over which the division had fought on the approaches to the Roer River.
       
    3. The many villages in the sector provided more protective shelter than had been available during the early experience.
       
    4. The division had profited by its cold injury experience in November.
       
    After 24 December, the mean daily temperature was below freezing (table 41, chart, 32), and cold injuries, made up of both trenchfoot and frostbite, increased sharply. Up to this time, the division had not experienced frostbite, with which it was destined to become intimately acquainted during January.
 
3-16 JANUARY 1945
 
    Tactical situation.- As a part of the First U. S. Army counteroffensive made from the north in the Battle of the Bulge, the 84th Infantry Division, teamed with the 2d Armored Division, spearheaded the principal advance. The attack, which was launched between the Ourthe and the Salm Rivers, had as its primary objective to take the ground between the rivers and reach the city of Houffalize, which was a key strategic point. The 84th Division was assigned the zone between the Ourthe River and the Houffalize road, which split the sector between the two rivers; this zone was cut by a small river, the Aisne. On the right of the division was the 2d Armored Division and on the left were the 83d Infantry Division and the 3d Armored Division. The secondary objective was to cut the vital crossroads at La Roche, which furnished the key to egress and ingress for German supply transportation. The first attack was largely an infantry effort, with armor in support. The type of terrain and the condition of the roads made the full use of tanks impractical. German opposing forces consisted of the 2d SS Panzer Division on the right, the 560th


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Volksgrenadier Division in the center, and the 12th Volksgrenadier Division on the left.
       
    The 84th Infantry Division jumped off at 8:30 on the morning of 3 January 1945. For a few days, the 335th Infantry was on the right flank, bearing the brunt of the attack. The 333d Infantry on the left had easier going. The 334th Infantry was in reserve. Four days of fighting, the most difficult the men of the 84th Division had ever experienced, saw the capture of the villages of Beffe and Devantave and the ultimate occupation, on 7 January, of the commanding Consy Ridge and its village. The severe weather and the type of terrain continued to make the tanks largely ineffective, and the fighting was chiefly by the infantry.

     On 11 January, the La Roche road was cut. On 13 January, the 333d Infantry captured Les Tailles and jumped off toward Dinez. On the same day, the 335th Infantry, which by this time had been fighting steadily for 8 days, captured Samree, on the top of an 1,800-foot hill. By the end of the day, the same regiment had also captured Berismenil and Nadrin. These operations had denied the enemy access to the critical crossroads at La Roche. The morning of 15 January, Houffalize was made untenable by the 1st Battalion of the 335th, which had taken Hill 430, overlooking the city, and the 2d Armored Division moved in to occupy it.
  
    From 11 January onward, elements of the 84th Infantry Division had been in the area in which they might expect to meet patrols from the Third U. S. Army. On 15 January, a 33-man patrol was sent out from the village of Filly, with the expectation of making a rendezvous with a similar patrol from that army. The original rendezvous point had been changed, however, and it was not until the next day, 16 January, that the patrol from the 84th Division sighted a United States soldier in the yard of a Belgian farmhouse and, upon challenging him, learned that lie was with a patrol from the Third U. S. Army. As one of the histories of the 84th Division recorded, "The second rendezvous point was the home of a farmer with a pretty 22 year old daughter."
       
    After 13 days of difficult and intensive combat, in extreme cold, over an unfavorable terrain, the 84th Division was given a 5-day rest, until 21 January, in the vicinity of Barvaux, Belgium. This period was also used for reorganization and for the servicing of equipment.
       
    The terrain over which the fighting just described had occurred was rolling and heavily forested; some of the hills reached a height of 1,800 feet. above sea level. There was a maze of tiny villages astride the roads and trails, each of which was a potential enemy strong point.
     
    On the first day of the attack, snow, sleet, and rain fell. The temperature dropped, and snow in the hills in some areas was knee deep. Snow continued to fall during the first week, sometimes lightly but on two occasions with blizzard intensity. The temperature sometimes fell to 13° F. (-10.6° C.). The roads were icy. The woods were dense, and the trails became invisible. At times, the mist was so thick that visibility was limited to 30 or 40 yards.


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    The resistance of the enemy was heavy, and both weather and terrain favored their activities. They could fall back from one village to another, and from one prepared hilltop to another, which made attack doubly difficult.
       
    The problem of cover was critical during this time. It took 2 hours to dig through the frozen crust of the ground and 5 hours to dig a foxhole 3 feet deep. Sleeping was an equally serious problem, because of the danger that exposed parts of the body would freeze. Water froze in the canteens and rations, and other supplies could be brought up to the front only in halftrack vehicles and by hand carry.
     
    Under these unfavorable circumstances, the infantrymen of the 84th Division fought long and hard. Those who engaged in the reduction of Beffe and Devantave were in combat 96 hours without a break. The aggressiveness of United States forces in pushing attacks under such conditions eventually made German reliance on the weather a serious mistake. On several occasions, the enemy was taken completely by surprise, and once they were even found asleep when a village was taken by the Americans.
       
    Cold injury.- During these 13 days of hard fighting, the 84th Division suffered no trenchfoot, but frostbite was in evidence in all combat units (chart 32). In the narrative history of the divisional operations for this period, it was noted that "frostbite was as dangerous as all Krauts and their guns put together." Five cases occurred on the first day of the attack (3 January), and between 1 and 16 cases were reported daily until 9 January. A precipitous rise to 57 cases occurred on this date, and a fluctuating point epidemic, with a high incidence of 62 cases on 11 January, was maintained through 12 January. Nine cases were reported on 13 January, but no more than six on any day thereafter until 16 January, when this period of fighting ended.
       
    The absence of trenchfoot and the prevalence of frostbite during this period are readily explained. While the average precipitation reported for the First U. S. Army area is at variance with the divisional records for this time, precipitation as such, since it was in the form of snow, did not directly influence the incidence of frostbite. On the other hand, the deep snow which covered the already difficult terrain undoubtedly did interfere mechanically with operations, and, by increasing fatigue and prolonging exposure, it contributed, at least indirectly, to the occurrence of cold injury.
       
    The point epidemic of frostbite which occurred between 8 and 14 January is chiefly attributable to below-freezing temperatures, the severe type of combat action, insufficient protective clothing (p.144), lack of shelter, and the tactical impossibility of practicing rotation of troops. All divisions on the Western Front experienced cold injury when they were first exposed to extreme cold. The 84th Infantry Division was no exception. However, in view of its difficult mission and the moderate nature of the epidemic of frostbite which it sustained, it must be concluded that by this time this unit had become a seasoned and battlewise fighting force.


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16-31 JANUARY 1945
 
    Tactical situation.- After a rest period of 6 days, beginning 16 January, the 84th Division took the offensive on 22 January, with the specific mission of reducing the villages of Gouvy and Beho, midway between Houffalize and Saint-Vith. Two days of bitter fighting ensued, characterized by heavy resistance and hard enemy counterattacks, before the mission was completed on the night of 23 January. Mopping-up and defense operations occupied the troops until 27 January, when the division was moved to the vicinity of Harzé, Belgium. The rest of the month was spent here, in rest, reorganization, and maintenance of equipment.
       
    At the conclusion of this phase of divisional operation, and upon the occasion of the detachment of the 84th Infantry Division from the VII Corps, the commanding general of the division received from Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, Commanding General, VII Corps, a letter of commendation. In this letter, the general expressed his appreciation of the splendid combat record of the division and of the vital part which it had played "in closing out the ill fated attempt of the German Fifth Army to break through the Ardennes."
       
    Cold injury.- Although the division entered combat after a rest period and although the tactical situation was not as intense as it was earlier in the month, cold weather and difficult terrain again caused an upsurge in the incidence of frostbite during this period (table 41, chart 32) . Thirteen cases were reported on 24 January and ten on 27 January. For the remainder of the period of combat the daily number of cases was five or less.
 
2 FEBRUARY-5 MARCH 1945
 
    Tactical situation.- On 2 and 3 February 1945, the 84th Infantry Division moved to a new assembly area in Holland, in the vicinity of Waubach. The period 4 to 6 February was spent in resting and in reorganization and maintenance of equipment. This was familiar territory, in which the division had seen its first combat. Its new mission was to prepare for crossing, and then to cross, the Roer River and to exploit the bridgehead toward the Rhine. The original plan was to cross the Roer on 9 or 10 February. With this in mind, rigorous training, with practice crossings of the Wurm River, was carried out on 6-8 February. On 9 February, the crossing was postponed for 24 hours, and, on 10 February, it had to be postponed indefinitely because the enemy released the water behind the dams guarding the great reservoirs fed by the Roer. The result was the artificial flooding of the river in the area occupied by the 84th Infantry Division. The river rose to an excess of 11 feet on 10 February and remained at nearly 10 feet for the rest of the month.


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    During this time, training was intensified, and maneuvers identical to those involved in the actual Roer crossing were carried out several times by each unit, both in the forward area on small streams and in the rear on the Meuse, which in width, depth, and current is similar to the Roer River. Each battalion designated to make the crossing rehearsed for it completely six times. On 19 and 20 February, the final training was received on the Meuse River.
       
    The 1st Battalion of the 334th Infantry crossed the Roer early in the morning of 25 February. By the end of the day, a two-regiment front, driving toward the north, had been established on the far shore, and armor had crossed and had been brought to bear against the enemy.  Resistance was irregular and was only moderately heavy. Evidently, the Germans had been thrown off balance by the division's turning to the north when they had expected a straight eastward drive to the Rhine out of the Roer bridgehead. Soon afterward, as the enemy defense deteriorated and became disorganized, the division, in an aggressive attack, drove steadily northward and then turned east, reaching the Rhine by 5 March. The bridges in this sector had been blown up while the division was approaching the river, and therefore, after mopping-up operations, it, entered a holding phase on the west bank of the river.
       
    At the conclusion of Operation GRENADE (the crossing of the Roer River and the advance to the Rhine), Lt. Gen. W. H. Simpson, Commanding General, Ninth U. S. Army, sent a letter of commendation to the commanding general of the 84th Infantry Division. In this letter, note was taken of the three phases of combat operation in which the division had participated, beginning with the reduction of Geilenkirchen, going on through the Battle of the Bulge, and ending with the crossing of the Roer River and the advance to the Rhine. It was also noted that the 84th was one of the few divisions engaged in the operation which had fought all the way from the Roer River to the Rhine without ever losing momentum.
   
    While training was in progress near Wauback, temperatures were above freezing, and the February thaw gave rise to much mud and wet. Though there was no great exposure after 4 February, cover was not adequate. Many of the men lived in tents, the dirt floors of which were always wet and muddy.
       
    Cold injury.-Trenchfoot did not occur in the 84th Division during the training period of Operation GRENADE, although temperatures and environmental conditions were ideal for its development. There were no cold injuries of any kind during the advance to the Rhine, and only nine cases, all of which were frostbite cases, during the crossing of the Roer. It may be significant, as the divisional history notes, that "orientation, sanitation and trenchfoot prevention rounded out the training phase" of the Roer-Rhine action. It is probably also significant that, during this time, although there was some resistance which at times was moderately heavy, the stress of combat action was lacking.


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ANALYSIS OF THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE
 
    From the standpoint of cold injury, the experience of the 84th Infantry Division falls into three distinct periods.
   
   First period.- During this period, in which the division experienced its first combat, the high incidence of trenchfoot demonstrates the great susceptibility of inexperienced troops to this type of cold injury, even when they have had training before combat in its prevention. This phase of the experience also shows that the incidence and severity of cold injury are considerably influenced by the type of combat, the availability or lack of shelter, and terrain. Finally, it demonstrates conclusively that, even among new troops, trenchfoot can be brought under control by good leadership, the vigorous application, collectively and individually, of appropriate preventive methods and procedures, and adequate supply of the proper clothing, and regular rotation of individuals and units.
       
    The concern felt in both division and corps over the initial high incidence of trenclifoot led to prompt investigations to determine the causes of the outbreak. The surgeon of the X111 Corps listed the causes (stated them) , as follows, in his annual report of medical department activities for 1944:
       
    1. The terrain was extremely unfavorable because it was naturally soft and boggy. Rain fell nearly every day of the operation, and mud was deep and constantly present.
       
    2. The tactical situation did not permit relief of troops from frontline duties, even for short periods.
       
    3. The supply of overshoes was inadequate, and those which were available were often used incorrectly. Many men threw them away. In one regiment, they were taken away by order.
       
    4. The supply of socks was inadequate. Many units had only one pair of socks per man.
     
    5. Shoes had not been properly fitted. Many men were wearing sizes too small for military purposes, in that they would not comfortably accommodate a second pair of socks. Also, after the shoes became wet, shrinkage was sufficient to cause constriction of the circulation.
       
    6. Tactical circumstances made it difficult or impossible for the men to remove their shoes and socks. Even when this was possible, many were afraid to take them off, for fear, that in case of an attack, they might not be able to get them on again quickly enough, if at all. Removal of the footgear, for that matter, seemed useless, since there were no facilities for drying shoes and socks.
       
    7. Although the great majority of the troops were aware of the signs and symptoms of trenchfoot, appreciated its dangers, and had been taught how to prevent it, many of them failed to practice what they had been taught.
       
    Once the responsible factors were fully understood, a vigorous campaign was initiated to reduce the incidence of trenchfoot. It was extremely effective. Components of the regimen were as follows: (1) Frequent rotation of frontline troops; (2) provision of drying rooms; (3) provision of overshoes; (4) provision


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of dry socks daily, or as frequently as possible, by bringing them forward with the rations; (5) instruction of unit commanders by medical officers; (6) thorough indoctrination of the troops; (7) daily foot inspections or inspections as often as the tactical situation permitted; (8) diagnosis of trenchfoot only after a careful history has been taken and an equally careful examination has been made at the clearing station; (9) use of questionnaires in determining the causes in each individual case of trenchfoot; and (10) requirement that explanation of high incidence of trenchfoot in any unit be made by the commander of the unit.
     
    Second period.- The second period of combat activity in the 84th Infantry Division provided additional evidence of the universal susceptibility of both experienced and inexperienced troops to frostbite (which was then the prevalent type of cold injury) when combat is intense. The rates, however, were never as high as those in the epidemic of trenchfoot in the first period. This phase of the experience therefore clearly demonstrates that, even under the most trying conditions of combat, terrain, and weather, a well-led unit, with high morale and good individual training, can function without unduly high losses from cold injury.

   Third period.- In the third period of the 84th Division's combat experience, there were no cases at all of trenchfoot and only nine cases of frostbite. The circumstances and terrain were ideal for the production of trenchfoot. This was the period of the February thaw. Precipitation was moderately heavy. The terrain was low and muddy. The temperature ranged between 40° and 50° F. (4.44° and 10.0° C.). Most elements of the division were living without adequate shelter. Training was intensive. Many river crossings were necessary. Actual operations required the crossing of the Roer River, the establishment and exploitation of a bridgehead on the far shore, and a drive to the Rhine. The complete absence of trenchfoot under circumstances so highly propitious to the development of the condition seems to demonstrate conclusively the importance of the type of combat action and the psychological response of competent troops in aggressive and victorious tactics.