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US Infantry Divisions in Normandy

Turning Tide

US Infantry Divisions in Normandy

By Steve Bernich

Though most histories of US Units cover the 1st, 29th infantry, 82nd, and 101st airborne there where many other US divisions participating in the Normandy Campaign. All these divisions played their own key roles in moving the Allies towards victory in France. Most of these divisions are organized as standard US Infantry divisions and as such can be represented using the US Rifle Company rules on page 106 of Fortress Europe.
 

2nd Infantry Division – “Second to None”, “Indianhead”, “Warrior”

The 2nd Infantry division took Hill 192, a key point on the road to St. Lo. They experienced difficulty in the first week of the campaign as all of their heavy weapons, from heavy machine guns to large calibre artillery, were still tied up in supply depots on Omaha Beach. In spite of these difficulties, the 2nd liberated Trevieres on 10 June and advanced on the Cerisy Forest (see The Advance to Cerisy Forest web article by Jason Moffat). Securing Hill 192 took another month and several attempts.  However, they would see success on 11 July. At that point, the 2nd defended this position against a strong German counterattack holding on to control of the St. Lo road.

2nd Infantry Division
US Infantry take a French town After the Cobra offensive was launched, the 2nd advanced across the Vire River and participated in delaying actions finally stopping at Tinchebray on 15 August in order to rest.

Order of Battle-2nd Infantry Division
    9th Infantry Regiment
    23rd Infantry Regiment
    38th Infantry Regiment

    Support
    12th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    15th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    37th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    38th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    2nd Engineer Combat Battalion
    2nd Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized) 
4th Infantry Division – “Ivy”

The 4th Infantry division is most famous for storming, securing and advancing beyond Utah Beach on D-Day. After D-Day it became part of the task force responsible for taking Cherbourg and securing a vital deepwater port for the Allied offensive. The 4th attacked Mountebourge a week after their initial invasion, and then continued to Valognes before pushing forward on the Cotentin peninsula. By the end of June the 4th linked up with the 9th and 79th divisions to clear city of Cherbourg.

4th Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division on Utah beach

After Cherbourg, the 4th was switched to the southern front slowly advancing through the Norman hedgerows. It played a key part in the southward advance out of the bocage country. Starting in early July, they advanced down the eastern coast of Carentan to cross the Periers road attacking the German 7th army. They moved into Avranches on 30 July, effectively becoming the right hook of Operation Cobra.

Order of Battle – 4th Infantry Division
    8th Infantry Regiment
    12th Infantry Regiment
    22nd Infantry Regiment

    Support
    29th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    42nd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    44th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    20th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    4th Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized)
    4th Engineer Combat Battalion
   
Fielding the 4th ID would allow a player to use the Assault Company rules for the 29th ID on pages 42-50 in Bloody Omaha or the US Rifle Company rules on page 96 of Festung Europa.

5th Infantry Division – “Red Diamond”, “Red Devils”

The “Red Devils” of the 5th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach on 9 July, immediately digging in defensively around the town of Caumont. When Cobra launched, the 5th attacked Vidouville continuing south and east of St. Lo. They captured Angers on 9 August. Angers was a key location in the St. Lo area as it had six bridges spanning the Maine River.

5th Infantry Division
Order of Battle – 5th Infantry Division
    2nd Infantry Regiment
    10th Infantry Regiment
    11th Infantry Regiment
   
    Support
    19th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    46th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    50th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    21st Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    5th Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized)
    7th Engineer Combat Battalion

8th Infantry Division 8th Infantry Division – “Pathfinder”

The Pathfinders of the 8th landed on Utah Beach on the 4th of July 1944. Taking a few days to organize and outfit for combat, they entered the hedgerows and crossed the Ay River on 26 July as part of the American breakout. They continued towards Rennes in early August and attacked Brest in September as part of the effort to conquer Brittany.
Order of Battle – 8th Infantry Division
    13th Infantry Regiment
    28th Infantry Regiment
    34th Infantry Regiment
    121st Infantry Regiment
   
    Support
    43rd Field Artillery Battalion
    45th Field Artillery Battalion
    56th Field Artillery Battalion
    28th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    8th Reconnaissance Troop
    12th Engineer Combat Battalion
Victory in Brest
9th Infantry Division 9th Infantry Division – “Old Reliable”

A veteran division of North Africa and Sicily, the 9th Infantry Division was withdrawn to England for further training prior to D-Day. They landed in Normandy on 10 June. They’re first orders had them moving towards Cherbourg.

A key element in the battle for the Cotentin Peninsula, they cut across the base of the peninsula at St. Mere Eglise and arrived at Barneville-sur-Mer on 18 June. They continued up the western peninsula joining the other assaulting divisions for the attack on Cherbourg. The 9th was tasked with taking the farthest point overlooking Cherbourg, Cap de la Hague.
During the St. Lo breakthrough, they found themselves one of the few American divisions used in closing the Falaise Gap. While in Normandy, the 9th Infantry Division is recognized as one of the first divisions to successfully integrate combined arms tactics, relying on supplementary firepower to help their infantry regiments.

Order of Battle – 9th Infantry Division
    39th Infantry Regiment
    47th Infantry Regiment
    60th Infantry Regiment

    Support
    26th Field Artillery Battalion
    60th Field Artillery Battalion
    84th Field Artillery Battalion
    34th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    9th Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized)
    15th Engineer Combat Battalion
   
The 9th Infantry Division was one of the few in the Normandy campaign that already had combat experience from Africa and Sicily. They would be rated Confident Veteran. Playing a rifle company from the 9th Infantry division requires the standard rules from page 96 in Festung Europa with the Italy Veterans rules on page 107.

28th Infantry Division – “Keystone”, “Bloody Bucket”

The Keystone division, named for its origins as a Pennsylvania National Guard unit, did not land in Normandy until 22 July. It was committed to the St. Lo battles and the breakthrough of Operation Cobra. Fighting through the hedgerows they saw only modest advances against dug in and determined enemies. They took Percy on 1 August closing a key staging point for German troops attempting to breakout.

28th Infantry Division
US Infantry advance along a canal Order of Battle – 28th Infantry Division
    109th Infantry Regiment
    110th Infantry Regiment
    112th Infantry Regiment

    Support
    107th Field Artillery Battalion
    109th Field Artillery Battalion
    229th Field Artillery Battalion
    108th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    728th Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized)
    103rd Engineer Combat Battalion

30th Infantry Division 30th Infantry Division – “Old Hickory”

The 30th infantry division is named in honour of President Andrew Jackson who commanded the Tennessee unit in the War of 1812. The 30th division, along with the 2nd Armoured, was one of two divisions chosen by the Corps of Engineers to test camouflage uniforms during the Normandy Campaign. These uniforms were removed by the end of the campaign due to similarity with German uniforms and to keep friendly fire to a minimum.
Old Hickory secured the Vire-et-Taute canal across the Vire River on 7 July. The 30th relieved the tired 1st Division on 5 August. The very next day the Germans launched Operation Luttich or “liege.” This advance through Mortain towards Avranches was an attempt to cut the American supply lines of Operation Cobra and halt the breakthrough. The following week, from 7 August to 12 August, the 30th ID stopped every German attempt at breaking through to Avranches. This included holding the vital Hill 314, the “key to the whole area,” while being cut off from the rest of their force.

The 120th Infantry Regiment held the town of Mortain while its 2nd battalion dug in on the hill. These soldiers held for a week, calling in artillery bombardments on the advancing German panzers and infantry. This lone division halted the daring German attack forcing their retreat into the Falaise Gap.

Order of Battle – 30th Infantry Division
    117th Infantry Regiment
    119th Infantry Regiment
    120th Infantry Regiment
   
    Support
    113th Field Artillery Battalion
    119th Field Artillery Battalion
    197th Field Artillery Battalion
    230th Field Artillery Battalion
    105th Engineer Combat Battalion
    30th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized)

35th Infantry Division – “Santa Fe”

The 35th Infantry Division entered combat on 11 July and suffered 2,400 casualties in the hedgerows. They held Emelie, just north of St. Lo, against twelve separate counterattacks by various German forces. The Santa Fe division assisted the 117th and 119th Infantry Regiments of the 30th ID in their actions at Mortain, holding off the German push towards Avranches.  The 35th then supported Patton’s advance across France. 

35th Infantry Division
35th Infantry Division Order of Battle – 35th Infantry Division
    134th Infantry Regiment
    137th Infantry Regiment
    320th Infantry Regiment

    Support
    127th Field Artillery Battalion
    216th Field Artillery Battalion
    219th Field Artillery Battalion
    161st Field Artillery Battalion
    60th Engineer Combat Battalion
    35th Reconnaissance Troop 
79th Infantry Division – “Cross of Lorraine”

The 79th Infantry Division entered combat with its attack at Valognes on 19 June in an attempt to take the high ground south of Cherbourg. The 79th was the third infantry division to take part in the assault on Cherbourg, marching north between the Merderet and Douve Rivers. After taking Cherbourg, the division headed south towards Coutances making slow progress due to the combination of poor weather and heavy resistance. They assaulted La Haye du Puits in heavy house-to-house fighting on 8 July. They supported the American breakout south of St. Lo crossing the Ay River towards Le Mans.

79th Infantry Division
80th Infantry Division 80th Infantry Division – “Blue Ridge”

The 80th Infantry division was declared operational on 8 August 1944. Initially ordered to Mortain to assist in halting the German advance, they arrived too late to assist the 30th Infantry Division.

Subsequently, they were ordered to Argentan but General Bradley ordered a halt in the attack on 14 August. This only served to give the 116. Panzerdivision time to organize their defences against the coming assault.
The “Blue Ridge Boys” failed in their assault on Argentan against the savage fighting put up by the 116. Panzerdivison “Windhunds”. A heavy artillery bombardment on the 18th and 19th softened the German defences resulting in the 80th entering the town as the “Windhunds” withdrew during the bombardment and abandoned the city. The 80th advanced passed Argentan and cut the road to Trun helping to close the gap at Falaise on the retreating German forces.

Order of Battle – 80th Infantry Division
    317th Infantry Regiment
    318th Infantry Regiment
    319th Infantry Regiment

    Support
    80th Reconnaissance Troop
    313th Field Artillery Battalion
    314th Field Artillery Battalion
    315th Field Artillery Battalion
    905th Field Artillery Battalion
    305th Engineer Combat Battalion

83rd Infantry Division – “Thunderbolt”, “Ohio”

The 83rd Infantry Division landed at Omaha on 18 June. The division was immediately thrown into the hedgerows south of Carentan. The 83rd joined in an offensive against the 6th and 13th Parachute Regiments, the 17th Panzergrenadier division and the 2nd SS “Das Reich” Panzer division.

By 25 July, they reached the St. Lo – Periers road and subsequently advanced eight miles into enemy lines as Operation Cobra commenced.

83th Infantry Division
After Cobra, the 83rd was redirected to Brittany, western France. They conducted an assault on St. Malo and two weeks later accepted the surrender of the fortress at St. Servant.

Order of Battle – 83rd Infantry Division
    329th Infantry Regiment
    330th Infantry Regiment
    331st Infantry Regiment

    Support
    83rd Reconnaissance Troop (mechanized)
    308th Engineer Combat Battalion
    322nd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    323rd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    908th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    324th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)

90th Infantry Division

90th Infantry Division – “Tough Hombres”

A much-maligned division in the early weeks of the Normandy campaign for its inability in the field and apparent poor training, the 90th Infantry Division faced the possibility of being dismantled and used for replacements considered. This was never done.

The 359th Regimental Combat Team of the 90th Division saw action on 6 June at Utah Beach in support of the 4th ID. The rest of the division saw action on 10 June as part of the effort to cut the Cotentin Peninsula.

During this action that lead elements of the 90th, passing through the 82nd airborne lines, fired on portions of the 325th Glider Infantry, due to their inability to determine friend from foe.

After several weeks of defensive action along the Douve River along with the removal of two commanders, Brigadier General Raymond S. McLain took charge. This new leadership gave the “Hombres” a reason to live up to their name and they’re fortunes improved. By mid August, the 90th took part in the closing of the Falaise Gap as thousands of German troops poured eastwards in an effort to regroup. The 90th made an impressive stand at Sees and Bourg-Saint-Leonard on 15 August. They met up with the 10th Polish Dragoons in Chambois, effectively closing the Falaise Gap. This historic meeting was the first time U.S. and Polish troops ever met on the same field of battle.

Order of Battle – 90th Infantry Division
    357th Infantry Regiment
    358th Infantry Regiment
    359th Infantry Regiment

    Support
    90th Reconnaissance Troop   
    343rd Field Artillery Battalion
    344th Field Artillery Battalion
    345th Field Artillery Battalion
    915th Field Artillery Battalion
    315th Engineer Combat Battalion

SOURCES:

www.lonesentry.com
www.wikipedia.org
http://www.ordersofbattle.com/OOBDefault.aspx
http://www.army.mil/cmh/brochures/normandy/nor-pam.htm
http://www.unithistories.com/units/units_american.asp
http://montormel.evl.pl/?id=50
http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/
The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945 by Peter Mansoor
Normandy: The Real Story How ordinary Allied Soldiers defeated Hitler by Brig. Gen. Denis Whitaker and Shelagh Whitaker with Terry Copp


Last Updated On Thursday, November 22, 2012 by Wayne at Battlefront