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Grindstone’s Hellcats

The 12th Armored Division was activated on 15 September 1942.[5] Organization and initial training was at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and continued at Camp Barkeley in Abilene, Texas. The division consisted of approximately 11,000 soldiers, and was composed of tank, field artillery, motorized infantry battalions and other support units. In early 1943 the division adopted the nickname "The Hellcats", symbolizing its toughness and readiness for combat. Wikipedia

I know of only two veteran’s that served with the 12th Armored Division during World War II that summered on Grindstone Island. They were my father, Richard “Dick” Ennis and Bolling Haxall. Bolling served in the headquarters, while Dad was in Company A, of the 134th Maintenance Battalion. I don’t think that either knew of their military connection. If there were others, with Grindstone connections, who served in the 12th I would be happy to hear from them.Campagne_captured

The story becomes interesting when my sister, Lauren, sent me a picture of a medal Dad had gotten several years after the War. I remembered that he had gotten a French medal years ago; Renato, my brother-in-law, had gone looking for it among Dad’s papers. Renato found it, but what was it?

The 12th has a Museum in Kansas and one phone call revealed all! Mr. Bill Lenches, Executive Director/Curator, 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum sent the following:

“Following up on our phone conversation, here are the specifics regarding the French Medal awarded to your father Richard Ennis of A Company, 134th Armored Ordnance Battalion.

The medal in question is the Croix de Guerre (War Cross), France's highest military honor. It was awarded personally to Major General Roderick Allen, Commander of the 12th Armored Division, and also issued as a unit award to every member of the Division who participated in the Colmar Pocket operation.

The Colmar Pocket campaign was fought from 2 through 7 February of 1945, and its goal was to cut off the estimated 35,000 German combatants still on French soil from retreat across the Rhine River into Germany. Their escape would have resulted in the equivalent of three full Divisions of German troops for use in the defense of the Allies' upcoming crossing of the Rhine River.

The 12th Armored separated into its three component Combat Commands and advanced swiftly to the south, creating a stable 12-mile front to block the German retreat. Advancing west to the Vosges Mountains, the Division captured an estimated 16,000+ enemy troops in five days- half of the total combined German strength within the Colmar Pocket.

In addition to the medal itself, members of the 12th Armored Division were also presented with a patch bearing the coat of arms of the city of Colmar, which they were authorized to wear on their dress uniform, and also the 'fourragère' cord denoting unit-level award of the Croix de Guerre.”

The 12th was attached to the French First Army for the Colmar Operation. The entire Division was involved in the Colmar Pocket. In addition to the Croix de Guerre, from the French Army, each member of the Division was awarded the Bronze Star by the US Army.


Activated at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. The division's designation is shown by the Arabic number twelve. Credited with 102 days in combat, the Twelfth suffered over three thousand casualties.

The performance of this outfit in places like Ludwigshafen,, the Bulge Wuerzberg, and Schweinfurt seal their place in history.

Courtesy 12th Museum



My Dad’s Croix de Guerre Medal.

France's highest military honor. It was awarded personally to Major General Roderick Allen, Commander of the 12th Armored Division, and also issued as a unit award to every member of the Division who participated in the Colmar Pocket operation.


Gold star

The Bronze Star Medal, unofficially the Bronze Star, is a United States decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone. Google


By Rexford M Ennis, Grindstone Island

Rex Ennis has written over 30 articles for TI Life.  His bio is recorded in Contributors, in December, 2008. Rex has published two important books on the Thousand Islands.  The first, published in 2010, Toujours Jeune Always Young, the biography of Charles G. Emery was reviewed in the June 2010 issue.  The second, Saints, Sinners and Sailors of the Gilded Age: A compendium of biographical sketches, centered on the Gilded Age, in the Thousand Islands, describes the biographies of every name appearing on an 1889 map, published by Frank H. Taylor, called: “Map of the Thousand Islands; Hotels, Parks and Cottages.”  See the book review in our July 2011 issue; you will find the map described in the July 2010 issue, and in the August 2011 issue

We paid tribute to Rex in September, 2017 in Rex Ennis, the Manton Family and a Small World.

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Skip Tolette
Comment by: Skip Tolette
Left at: 7:48 AM Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Neat article--thanks Rex----Merry Christmas.