Camp Shelby, Miss.*

Where It All Began

When the War Department decided in late 1942 to form the 69th Infantry Division, a call went to the 96th Infantry Division (nicknamed "Deadeye"), in training at Camp Adair, Oregon, to furnish the cadre (key personnel) of infantry officers, as well as other support unit officers and non-commissioned officers for the new Division.

The officers selected were for certain Division staff, Regimental staff, Battalion commanders and staff, and Company commanders and support unit leaders. The Division and Regimental commanders were called from elsewhere. The Division Commander was Brigadier Charles L. Bolte, soon to be Major General; Brigadier Floyd L. Parks, Assistant Division Commander; colonels John W. Harmony, Charles Trueman "Buck" Lanham and Philip C. Bettenburg commanding the 271st, 272nd, and 273rd Infantry Regiments respectively. Later, Brigadier General Robert V. Maraist was to join this high command at Camp Shelby as The Division Artillery Commander.

The infantry officers assembled at The Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, in early February, 1943, for a 30-day intensive Division Officer's Class in the tactics of an Infantry Division in combat. Supporting unit cadre officers, for Artillery, Engineers, Signal, Medical and others, were going through similar training in their field at special service schools throughout the U. S.

The cadre personnel began to arrive at Camp Shelby, located 11 miles south of Hattiesburg, around mid-March 1943, where key non-commissioned officers had already gathered. With no troops on hand, these early arrivals began their training which was soon cut short when troops arrived. Activation took place May 15, 1943, under the hot Mississippi sun. It wasn't too long after the initial 13 weeks of Basic Training that the men of the 69th Infantry Division began calling themselves "The Four B's"--"Bolte's Bitching Bivouacking Bastards" for their hatred of the many training sessions that General Bolte led them into the rainy, humid DeSoto National Forest, full of chigger bugs, south of Camp Shelby.

 Major General Charles L. Bolte, Commanding General Colonel John W. Harmony
Commanding Officer, 271st Inf.

Colonel Gustav J. Braun
Chief of Staff
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Brigadier General Floyd L. Parks
Assistant Division Commander
  Colonel Charles F. Lanham
Commanding Officer, 272nd Inf.
Click on the picture of Colonel Lanham for more information. 
Brigadier Gen. Robert V. Maraist
Division Artillery Officer
Colonel Philip C. Bettenburg
Commanding Officer, 273rd Inf.

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