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Blue Devils

Here’s a long letter and a clipping from Sgt. Jack Delaney of the 88th Division. The clipping concerns the article on insignia carried last week and the letter sets us straight on a few matters.

“The story on divisional insignia and nicknames listed the 88th as ‘The Cloverleaf’ Division. That was our World War I nickname but never has been used by us since then. For the past three months, we’ve been using ‘Blue Devil’ — a nickname the Krauts gave us back in the early days of the pushoff,” he writes.

“Several days after the 88th kicked off last May, captured Krauts began telling interrogators that Yank troops who swarmed into and through their Gustav Line positions ‘fought like devils.’ The infamous Sally of Berlin devoted a couple of spots to the 88th and aired a plaintive complaint that doughboys of the 88th ‘did not fight like gentlemen’ and were inclined to be a bit ‘bloodthirsty’ about the whole business. In a later spot Sally got bitter and began referring to the 88th doughboys as ‘those Blue Devils.’”

The sergeant said Sally never got around to explaining where the particular color came from, but that Brig. Gen. Paul W. Kendall, commanding general, opined it probably was based on the blue crossed-eight shoulder patch. And as the tag of “Blue Devil” became more and more popular with the men, 88th officials decided to make it legal with General Kendall’s approval.

Concluded Sgt. Delaney: “And it’s okay with the doggies, who claim it fits because ‘Italy is such a hell of a place to fight in.’”


From: Mediterranean Rome Stars And Stripes, Rome, Lazio, IT; December 17, 1944, Page 4.

Note: John P. “Jack” Delaney later published the divisional history in 1947 entitled “The Blue Devils in Italy: A History of the 88th Infantry Division in World War II.”


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