The Society of the Sons of Bitche was conceived during the occupation period of the 100th Infantry Division in southwestern Germany in 1945 “to commemorate the campaign for the City of Bitche and provide a social organization and program for the men who took part in the fight.”
The Society’s name was chosen to commemorate the Division’s fighting for the ancient fortress town of Bitche, a key location in the then-modern Maginot Line which had withstood all attacks for over 200 years . . . until it was captured after a three-month winter siege by the 100th Infantry Division on 16 March 1945.
There was to be no membership fee. This Society, at its inception, was believed to be the first organization of its kind in the United States Army that was named for a World War II battle. It was to have annual social gatherings and was intended to have “no ambitions, political or otherwise.”
The formal inauguration of the Society took place in July 1945, before a “wildly enthusiastic crowd of 1,300, in the Stuttgart Opera House during a gala evening program.”
The original 18,000 membership cards were printed in black and white with green, blue and gold highlights. While the organization was originally intended for those who participated in the battle of Bitche, it was subsequently opened to all who served in the 100th Division.
Not long after the first meeting, the internationally-renowned comedian Jack Benny was inducted as the First Honorary Civilian Member of the Society after entertaining the Division’s troops near Stuttgart.
The organization was intended to be a permanent group for the division in the USA, but that never materialized. Immediately following the formal organization of The Century Association (now the 100th Infantry Division Association) at the Division’s first reunion in Raleigh in 1947, the Sons of Bitche was revived in its original spirit as an informal idea.