Home Why I Wrote This Book Forgotten War ContactPanthers Under the Rainbow

Who was the 66th Division? Activated on April 15, 1943 their life as a U.S. Army Division was just 2 years, 6 months and 24 days. The Panther Division was an orphan. No Army claimed it. At the time, other divisions never heard of them. They got almost no publicity and when they did, most often the media down played their mission while men were being wounded or killed on a daily basis. Even on Christmas Eve 1944, one of their troopships was torpedoed crossing the English Channel on its way to France killing hundreds of men, which resulted in one of the worst maritime disasters in WWII. It was kept a secret and hidden by the British and U.S. Governments.

Once in France, Panthermen fought in a campaign that is most often referred to as the "Forgotten War", their mission was to contain 53,000 German troops in and around St. Nazaire and Lorient pockets in Northern France. This was done to prevent the enemy from breaking out and harassing allied forces that were sweeping across Europe. There were 14 submarine pens located in St. Nazaire and another 3 in the Lorient. The enemy was dug in with some of the toughest troops Germany had to offer. Artillery duels, limited objective attacks, patrolling, harassing and capturing enemy personnel were carried out. Panthermen's deadly artillery eventually bombed the Lorient pocket back into the Stone Age breaking the fighting spirit of the Germans. General Fahrmbacher commander of German forces surrendered to the 66th's General Herman Kramer on May 8, 1945 and General Junck, commander of the enemy forces in St. Nazaire surrendered on May 11, 1945. The war was over in Europe. After occupation duty in Germany and operating processing camps in Southern France, the 66th Division was deactivated without any ceremony on November 8, 1945. Many Panthermen were transferred to the famous 42nd Rainbow Division for occupation duty in Austria.