Irwin entered the Army with a trip from Fennville to Fort Benning, GA and Fort Knox, KY for training. His unit was APO-252 in the 2nd Division - 78th Field Artillery Regiment. He traveled to Norfolk, boarded a troop ship and was bound for Africa. Some of the division boarded ship in New York city. In time the troops grouped up with other ships and when the time was right, landed at Morocco.
Read History - World War II: The War Against Germany and Italy
|Elements of the 2nd
Division first saw action in North Africa, landing at Casablanca, 8
November 1942, and later taking part in the fighting at Beja,
On leaving the states, Irwin was advanced to Private First Class. His Specialty was "TRUCK DRIVER LIGHT" where he drove 1/4 to 2 1/2 ton trucks hauling personnel, supplies and equipment. On crossing Africa, there is an event Irwin related to LaVerne. The units convoy was traveling at night with blackout lights and they stopped for some reason. In the morning he started to step out but stopped short, they were at the edge of a steep cliff.
Continuing, the division prepared for an attack on Sicily. Irwin's unit boarded ship again at Tunis, Tunisia. The Division as a whole did not enter combat until the invasion of Sicily, when it made an assault landing at Gela, 10 July 1943. After a short voyage they landed at Licata, Sicily and captured the Island back from the Germans. The whole division left the Island from Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and sailed West in the Mediterranean, through the Straits of Gibraltar far out into the Atlantic, looping back towards England, avoiding the German subs.
They sailed North of Ireland and entering port at Liverpool, England. Irwin's unit had some time to relax. One time he traveled to the East coast to the city of Whitby and toured the old Abbeys that were constructed 100's of years ago.
The 2nd Division trained in England for the cross-Channel invasion, landed in Normandy D-day plus 3, 9 June 1944, sailing from Fareham, Hampshire. Irwin's unit beached in France and went into action in the vicinity of Carentan; the Division raced across France in July and August. Irwin told of a nights stay in a French Abbey where the nuns were locked back in separate area. For a full history view "XIX Corps History; Normandy to Elbe".
They drove through Belgium and attacked across the Albert Canal near Hasselt, 13 September 1944, crossing the German border near Sittard, 18 September to take up defensive positions near Geilenkirchen. On 3 October, the Division launched an attack on the Siegfried Line from Marienberg, broke through, crossed the Wurm River and seized Puffendorf 16 November and Barmen 28 November.
The 2nd Division was holding positions on the Roer when it was ordered to help contain the German Ardennes offensive. The Division fought in eastern Belgium, blunting the German Fifth Panzer Army's penetration of American lines. The Division helped reduce the Bulge in January, fighting in the Ardennes forest in deep snow, and cleared the area from Houffalize to the Ourthe River of the enemy.
A rest period was called in February. This is when Irwin made his trip to Paris, perhaps along the white dotted line.
After a rest in February, the 2nd Division drove on across the Rhine 27 March, and was the first American Division to reach the Elbe at Schonebeck on 11 April. It was halted on the Elbe, 20 April, on orders. In July the 2nd Division entered Berlin-the first American unit to enter the German capital city.
From information obtained by Irwin's nephew Jim, and that found on the web in July of 2007, one more map was created beyound these that Irwin brought home. View SILVER STAR Awards report.
Irwin separaed from the army under 5th Division
"Battery A, 47th Armored Field Artillery Battalion"
Click Details; I, II, III, IV or Second Div.; to follow Irwin's experience.