The Liberators of Pilsen

The U.S. 16th Armored Division in World War II Czechoslovakia


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About the Book

Formed in July 1943 at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, the 16th Armored Division was the last U.S. armored division to be activated in World War II, the last deployed to the European Theater and the last to see combat. As the war in Europe was coming to an end, General George S. Patton chose the division to spearhead a daring advance into Czechoslovakia. In its first and only combat operation, the 16th liberated the city of Pilsen, forever endearing itself to the Czech people. Poised to continue to the capital city of Prague, the division was halted not by German resistance but by political rivalries between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. Official U.S. Army records and veteran accounts tell the story of the unit’s brief two-year existence and its successful mission.

About the Author(s)

Bryan J. Dickerson is a military and naval historian and a twice deployed Navy veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He lives in Blackwood, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Bryan J. Dickerson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 233
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, 4 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7114-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2989-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Map Symbols vi

A Word About Names and Spelling vii

Prologue 1

Introduction 3

1. Forming the 16th Armored Division 7

2. Training for War 32

3. Czechoslovakia’s Long Years of Nazi Occupation 37

4. Summer and Fall of 1944 44

5. Deployed to Europe 53

6. First Battle for the 23rd Cavalry Squadron 64

7. The First Days of May 1945 79

8. Day of Decision 85

9. Pilsen and Prague on the Eve of Liberation 95

10. The Liberation of Pilsen 100

11. The Liberation of Pilsen Part 2 119

12. Ike Ordered Halt! 128

13. The End of the War in Europe 135

14. The Pratt Mission 139

15. V-E Day and Occupation Duties 147

16. The 16th Armored Division Shuffle 161

17. Returning Home and Deactivation 167

18. The Postwar Lives of the 16th Veterans 169

19. The Legacy of the 16th Armored Division 180

Epilogue 190

Chapter Notes 191

Works Cited 208

Index 217

Book Reviews & Awards

“Recommend[ed]…well researched and Dickerson’s endnotes will enable years of further research.”—Army History