The Unforgettable D-Series Exercises
By Joe Lipsius
Headquarters 272nd Infantry Regiment 

     Unknowing that he would soon be shipped to an infantry division already engaged in intensive combat in Italy, Major General Charles L. Bolte ordered the 69th into exhaustive training in the deep woods of the DeSoto National Forest in the early spring of 1944.  Division in  the attack, defense and long marching was the order of business during the exercise which was called the D-Series. 

     It is the marching portion I am recalling.  I was serving as S-3 (operations officer) of the 272nd Inf Rgt whose Regimental Commander was Colonel Charles Trueman "Buck" Lanham who  was shipped out shortly after D-Day, June 6, 1944, to the 22nd Inf Rgt 4th Inf Div and became a war hero. 

     General Bolte and his G-3 called a meeting of the Regimental Commanders and their S-3s and issued orders for the Division March through the meandering dirt roads of the Mississippi woods (mostly DeSoto National Forest) with a certain objective for each Regiment to reach.

     A Regiment's normal strength is about 3200 men who would be marching less support troops.    I don't have an Army Field Manual where precise figures are readily available so I am guestimating 2400 would march single file on both sides of the road which places 1200 abreast.  Estimating 10 feet between rows of men and space for Units you have 12,000 feet.  This comes to about 2.25 miles of men on the road for a Regiment - slightly less than 1 hour marching time. 

     At a X type crossroad, whether it was 272 already moving through it, or 272 approached and another Regiment was in the process of crossing, I don't remember, but what happened was  strictly an army "no no," units crossing or running into each other.  As I remember, it was the tail end of one Regiment being crossed by the the other and was untangled in a short period of time  but Col. Lanham was furious.  He blamed the happening on poor planning by the Division Command and Staff.  After the problem was finally straightened out, Brigadier General Floyd Parks, Assistant Division Commander, sought out Colonel Lanham and asked him not to bring it up at the critique of the exercise.  A fuming  Colonel "Buck" finally calmed down and said he wouldn't. Colonel  Lanham was not an individual to use invectives.  Sitting next to him at the Division critique led by General Bolte and his staff, I could sense he was silently using the most profane.