Roof Inspectors, 1945 Belgium Edition

7 January 1945. Original Caption: “S/Sgt. Urban Minicozzi, from Jessup, Pennsylvania (Headquarters Company), and Pfc. Andy Masiero, from Newburg, New York (A Company), stop to reload while sniping snipers from the roof of a building in Beffe, Belgium. 1st Battalion, 290th Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division.”

Original Field Number: ETO-HQ-45-6556. Photographer: Corrado. Signal Corps No. 111-SC-198884 via NARA. National Archives Identifier: 148727200

Note that the Soldier in the foreground looks to have a rarer “gas trap” M1 Garand and has his bayonet tied, fighting knife style, to his right leg just above his boot.

Constituted on Christmas Eve 1942 and assigned from the start to the brand-new 75th Infantry Division, the 290th Infantry Combat Team trained at Fort Leonard Wood the next year and shipped overseas in late 1944, landing in Wales in November. Disembarking at Rouen on 13 December, they were rushed to Belgium “by motor convoy and boxcar, utilizing the same 40-and-8 cars that had been the scourge of doughboys in World War I.”

On Christmas Eve 1944, “2nd and 3rd Battalions, 898th Field Artillery, Company B 629th TD Battalion, Company B 750th Tank Battalion, and Company B 275th Engineer Battalion, units comprising the 290th Regimental Combat Team, moved forward to establish a defensive area in the vicinity of Biron, Belgium. This order had scarcely been accomplished when it was followed by a second one directing units of the 3rd Battalion to occupy the town of Hotton, and hold it at all costs.”

Some units had their first contact on Christmas Eve, with the entire division engaged by Christmas. 

U.S. Army infantrymen of the 290th Regiment, 75th Infantry Division, fight in fresh snowfall near Amonines, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, Jan. 4, 1945. Note the M3 Grease Gun to the right and M1 Carbine to the left. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The unit was thrown headlong into the Battle of the Bulge, earning combat honors for the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe in the course of fewer than six months.

Appropriately, the motto of the 75th ID is “Make Ready.” Arguably, the 290th should have a Christmas tree on its badge.

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