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D-Day: American

The Red Devils
5th Infantry Division

The 5th Infantry Division was activated in the autumn of 1939 in response to the outbreak of war in Europe. It became the first US division to deploy overseas when it took over garrison duties in Iceland in May 1942, freeing up a British unit there to return to Great Britain.

After its garrison duty, the division was moved to England, and then to Northern Ireland to prepare for the invasion of France.

The ‘Red Diamonds’ of the 5th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach on 9 July, immediately relieving the 1st Infantry Division and digging in defensively at Caumont. After a few days of combat, the British 15th (Scottish) Division took over most of the division’s front to launch Operation Bluecoat. The 2nd Regimental Combat Team remained in place and supported the 2nd Infantry Division’s attacks east of St. Lô.

When Operation Cobra was launched, the 5th attacked Vidouville continuing south and east of St. Lô. They captured Angers on 9 August. Angers was a key location in the St. Lô area as it had six bridges spanning the Maine River.

The 700-Mile Saga

After the breakout at St. Lo, the 5th was transferred to General Gerorge Patton’s new Third Army. During the pursuit across France the Red Diamonds broke all of the records in the US Army for march speeds. The division marched 700 miles in 27 days, maintaining a cracking pace of about 50-90 miles (80-145km) per day. To do this, the men lived on K Rations alone, leaving all of their kitchen gear behind and used the kitchen trucks, and literally every other vehicle in the division as transports, including tanks, tank destroyers, artillery tractors, jeeps, and trailers.

They rode through all weather from sun to rain and in night as well as day, learning to sleep on the back of tanks and jeep trailers. In its advance, the Red Diamond liberated Angers, Chartres, Fontainebleau, Montereau, and Reims before heading to the German-French border. Only once were the Red Diamonds outpaced by an armoured division, when three tanks of the 7th Armored Division entered Verdun on 31 August, only two hours before the arrival of the 5th Infantry’s doughboys.

The 5th Infantry’s breakneck advance across France came to a screeching halt along with the rest of Patton’s Third Army in early September. There was no more gasoline for the spearheads and for the moment, the 5th had to pause its march.

Ahead of them were some of the most difficult battles they would have to face. Getting to Lorraine was one thing, overcoming the German fortress city of Metz was quite another.

5th Infantry Division 
5th Infantry Division 'The Red Devils'

Fielding the 5th Infantry Division

To field a Rifle Company from the 5th Infantry Division, use the Rifle Company on page 42 of D-Day: American. You can also use the 5th Infantry Division Red Devils Command Card which gives you improved 3+ Follow Me and your Rally is 4+ in exchange for the Blood ‘n Guts rating for 1 point.

Last Updated On Thursday, May 28, 2020 by Wayne at Battlefront