A Salute to the lesser known U.S. Army Divisions
Certain U.S. Divisions get most of the attention in the popular World War II press:
The 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One! Fought in North Africa and Sicily. Landed on D-Day, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge all the way to Czechoslovakia. Probably the best known U.S. standard infantry division of the war.
101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagle patch, one of the most recognized divisional patches and ďNutsĒ to the German surrender demand at Bastogne. And then there was the Band of Brothers book//miniseries. (A fantastic book and the best World War II movie ever made by the way!)
Americal, cool name, and the only U.S. division in World War II with out a numerical designator.
1st Cavalry Division. Another cool patch. Most famous to many for the Cavalry unit they were not. But they did some 1st class toe to toe fighting with the Japanese in the Admiralty Islands and Philippine Islands campaigns.
3rd Armored Division, the 1st Armyís Spearhead division.
The six U.S. Marine divisions of World War II donít seem to have the same strong individual identity that the U.S. Army divisions had. I know that the 1st Marine Division was the first into Guadalcanal, reinforced latter by Army divisions and the 2nd Marine Division. But I am hard pressed to name which Marine divisions fought at Iwo Jima, or Okinawa and the rest of the great campaigns of the Marine in the Pacific.
A look at some of the lesser known U.S. Army Divisions:
The three U.S. Army Divisions with the highest number of casualties:
3rd Infantry Division just shy of 26,000 casualties
9th Infantry Division over 23,000 casualties
4th Infantry Division over 22,000 casualties
The 3rd Infantry fought in North Africa, Sicily on into Italy. They were pulled out of Italy landed in Southern France and battled on into Germany. They had a little enlisted man who would be given a battle field promotion. After the war this little soldier would make it big in Hollywood, his name Audie Murphy.
The 9th Infantry Division also started its combat career in North Africa. It also went onto fight in Sicily. It landed in Normandy a few days after D-Day and fought across France into Germany.
The 4th Division landed on D Day at Normandy France. It went through France into Germany. On D Day the Division was landed at the wrong location. But fortunately the area was lightly defended. So as Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. the Asst Division Commander weíll start the war from here.
The ten (10) U.S. Divisions with the highest number of casualties were all standard Infantry divisions, and all fought in Europe. Five (5) of these also fought in the Mediterranean campaign prior to their participation in the European campaign.
The three divisions with the most days in combat all fought in the Pacific theater:
The 32nd (654 days) Americal (600 days) and 37th (592 days) Infantry Divisions. Interestingly, none of these three divisions in spite of their long combat records were in the top ten highest casualty list.
The 76th Infantry Division is one I have a connection with. My motherís brother served with them in the 304th Infantry Regiment. He was killed in action late in the war fighting in Germany.
The 76th got into the war fairly late, January 1945. In a little over 100 days in combat this division suffered almost 2,400 casualties, with 670 of them KIA.
Perhaps the 76th Infantry Divisionís greatest contribution was the men it trained who were sent on to other divisions. The 76th didnít fight in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, or Normandy, but men it trained did.
Iíve looked at unofficial history book of the division dozens of times. But this is the first time Iíve noticed on the cover page a machine gunner with a M1919A6 (not the standard M1919 A4). http://76thdivision.com/WRF/w-r-f_001start.html
The 100th Infantry Division has a very useful website. http://www.100thww2.org/100org/100org.html
Under it you can go and look at the structure of a standard Infantry Division.
This website from the 100th Infantry Division shows the structure of some of the separate battalions which supported them.
The 100th got into combat in November 1944 in France. They suffered over 5,000 casualties.
Letís talk about some of the less famous divisions, and keep their memories alive. Pass on the stories from your dad, uncle or grandfather.