1st Armored Division – Order of Battle – 1944-1945

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Col Daniel Van Voorhis took a cadre of 175 officers and enlisted men from Fort Eustis to Fort Knox in Feb 1932, and established a Provisional Armored Car Platoon. This was based on an earlier effort, but was predicated on a new Cavalry Regiment TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment) which was published that year. Also published, but never implemented, was a Cavalry Division TO&E which reflected the then unnatural assimilation of machines into the Horse Cavalry. Van Voorhis’s cadre and platoon became the kernel for the 7th Cavalry Brigade, which went active on Mar 1 1932 at Fort Knox. At first, it was nothing more than a headquarters detachment and the Armored Car Platoon. On Jan 3 1933, the 1st Cavalry Regiment was relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division, and was moved from Fort D.A. Russell (today Francis E. Warren AFB) to Fort Knox. The earlier Mechanized Platoon was incorporated into the new regimental TO&E, and the result was the 1st Cavalry Regiment (Mechanized), which went active on Jan 16 1933. Van Voorhis added :

    13th Cavalry Regiment;
    68th Field Artillery Battalion;
    7th Reconnaissance Squadron;
    7th Signal Troop;
    4th Medical Troop;
    47th Engineer Troop;
    17th Quartermaster Battalion

The 7th Cavalry Brigade was fully formed. Van Voorhis remained in command until September 1938, when he was promoted to command the V Corps at Indianapolis, Indiana. Chaffee took over from Van Voorhis.

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On May 7 1940, the 7th Cavalry Brigade took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers at Monroe, Louisiana that were instrumental in developing the armored division concept. The maneuvers concluded on May 27 1940. The brigade returned to Fort Knox four days later and preparations began to expand the brigade into a tank division. After the brutal trench warfare of World War I, the US was looking for new ways to engage in armed conflict. As the German Army invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and finally France, the US military hierarchy realized that an armored division was essential for a modern army. While training outside of Alexandria, Louisiana, the commanders of the 7th Cavalry Brigade met in a high school basement to discuss the creation of an American armored division. Maj Gen Frank M. Andrews, Brig Gen Adna R. Chaffee, Brig Gen Bruce Magruder, and Col George S. Patton Jr agreed to recommend to Washington that the US Army establish its first tank division. On Jun 10 1940, during a conference with the Chief of Staff, it was decided to create an Armored Force in the Army and two weeks later Gen Adna R. Chaffee was given the order to head the creation of America’s first tank division.

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On Jul 15 1940, the 1st Armored Division, largely an expanded and reorganized version of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, was activated at Fort Knox under the command of Maj Gen Bruce Magruder. The 1st Cavalry Regiment was re-designated 1st Armored Regiment and 13th Cavalry Regiment was re-designated 13th Armored Regiment under the 1st Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division. For more than two years after its activation, the 1st Armored Division trained at Fort Knox and the division pioneered and developed tank gunnery and strategic armored offensives while increasing from 66 medium-sized tanks to over 600 medium and light armored vehicles.

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1st Order of battle

    HHC, 1st Armored Division
    HHC, 1st Armored Brigade
    – 1st Armored Regiment (Light)
    – 13th Armored Regiment (Light)
    – 69th Armored Regiment (Medium)
    – 68th Armored Field Artillery Regiment
    – 6th Armored Infantry Regiment
    – 27th Field Artillery Battalion (Armored)
    – 16th Engineer Battalion (Armored)
    – 81st Armored Reconnaissance Squadron
    – 13th Quartermaster Battalion (Armored)
    – 19th Ordnance Battalion (Armored)
    – 47th Medical Battalion (Armored)
    – 141st Signal Company (Armored)

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1st Armored Division – Elaboration – Creation – Perfection
The division was trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was an experiment in a self-supporting, permanent fighting unit with tanks as the nucleus. This experiment in a self-sustaining blitzkrieg force had never been tried before, and the troops necessary for such an organization were drawn from many army posts. When the organization was completed, the division had tanks, artillery and infantry in strength. In direct support were tank destroyer, maintenance, medical, supply and engineer battalions. But bringing the division up to its full quota of tanks, guns and vehicles was difficult. Although new equipment was received almost daily, the division had until Mar 1941, only nine ancient medium tanks and the main armament of the nine was a 37-MM gun. To become expert with their newly acquired tanks, half-tracks and guns, most of the division attended the Armored Force School at Knox. The students stood reveille at 04.00 sat at attention during class and at 16.00 rushed to the nearest post exchange for a bottle of beer, which helped counteract the hot summer weather. Every day, some unit attacked from the steel observation tower called OP Six to capture some part of a 25 square mile patch of Kentucky brush and gullies. The troops made three-day road marches, scraped and polished their vehicles for Saturday morning inspections, sweated out the lines at the bus station and occasionally dropped by Benny’s or Big Nell’s, the most easily accessible civilian nightspots.

Third Army Louisiana Maneuvers, Camp Polk, La., Signal Corps men bury telephone wires of Red Army under road bed. In jeep Pvt. George Williams, Parkersburg, W.Va., with pick

With more than a year’s training behind them, the division left in September 1941, for three month’s maneuvers in Louisiana. The day before Pearl Harbor, the division was back at Fort Knox. The draftees had proved themselves as soldiers in the maneuvers. They looked forward to discharges after their year’s service. The regular army men expected furloughs. Training took on a new intensity. The division was reorganized, and all tanks, both medium and light were put into two armored regiments, the 1st and 13th. A third armored field artillery battalion, the 91st, was formed, and the 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion was organized and attached to the division. A few months later, in March 1942, the division was en route to the Fort Dix, New Jersey, staging area under command of Maj Gen Orlando Ward. Maj Gen Ward relieved Maj Gen Bruce R. Magruder, who had commanded the division since its organization. It was a “secret” move, but no surprise to the towns people of Washington Court House, Ohio, who had waited four days for the division to arrive. There were movies, food, hot water for shaving and a mammoth banner saying “Welcome First Armored Division” across the main street. At Dix there were 36 hour passes to New York and motor parks jammed with division vehicles. Nobody knew when or where the division was going.


At Fort Knox, the division purposely renamed “First Armored Force”, participated in the Technicolor short movie – The Tanks Are Coming. It deployed then to participate in the VII Corps Maneuvers (Aug 18 1941). Once the maneuvers concluded, 1st Armored Division moved on Aug 28 1941, and arrived at Camp Polk for the Second Army Louisiana Maneuvers (Sept 1 1941). The division moved then to Fort Jackson (Oct 30 1941) to participate in the First Army Carolina Maneuvers and returned to Fort Knox on Dec 7 1941, but started to prepare for deployment overseas instead of returning to garrison.

In fact, the 1st Armored Division was ordered to Fort Dix to await their deployment overseas. The division’s port call required them to board the RMS Queen Mary at the NY-POE (New York Port of Embarkation) at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on May 11 1942. They arrived at Northern Ireland on May 16, and trained on the moors until they moved on to England on Oct 29 1942. At the end of the training period Combat Command B, with about one-half of the division’s troops, was alerted to leave Ireland and prepare for an overseas trip where “You’ll get off fighting.”
Alerted for the invasion the following units ready for the next were :

    – 1st Bn, 1st Armored Regiment;
    – 1st and 2nd Bns, 13th Armored Regiment;
    – 6th Armored Infantry Regiment (-);
    – 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion;
    – B Co, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion;
    – C Co, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion;
    – 16th Armored Engineer Battalion (Det);
    – Supply Battalion;
    – Maintenance Battalion;
    – 47th Armored Medical Battalion;
    – 141st Signal Company

1st Armored Division – Combats
The unit’s first contact with an enemy was as part of the Allied invasion of Northwest Africa, Operation Torch, on Nov 8 1942. Elements of the division were part of the Eastern Task Force and became the first American armored division to see combat in World War II. Combat Command B (1-AD) landed east and west of Oran under the command of Brig Gen Lunsford E. Oliver, and entered the city on Now 10 1942. On Nov 24, CCB moved from Tafaroui, Algeria to Bedja, Tunisia, and raided Djedeida airfield the next day. Djedeida was finally conquered on Nov 28. CCB moved southwest of Tebourba, Dec 1, engaged German forces on El Guessa Heights Dec 3, but its lines were pierced on Dec 6. CCB withdrew to Bedja with heavy equipment losses Dec 10/11, and was placed in reserve. CCB next attacked in the Ousseltia Valley on Jan 21 1943, and cleared that area until Jan 29 when sent to Bou Chebka. The 1-AD arrived at Maktar on Feb 14.

1st Armored Division M7 Being Unloaded at Algerian DocksThe lack of specialized tank landing craft during the Operation TORCH

Operation Torch begins. American troops landing on the beach of Surcouf, on November 8, 1942.

Combat Command A (CCA) fought at Faid Pass commencing on 30 January 1943, and advanced to Sidi Bou Zid, where it was pushed back with heavy tank losses on 14 February 1943, and had elements isolated on Djebel Lessouda, Djebel Kasaira, and Garet Hadid. Combat Command C (CCC), which had been constituted on 23 January 1943 to raid Sened Station on 24 January, advanced towards Sbeita, and counterattacked to support CCA in the Sidi Bou Zid area on 15 February 1943, but was repulsed with heavy losses. The division withdrew from Sbeita on 16 February 1943, but – by 21 February 1943 CCB contained the German attack toward Tebessa. The German withdrawal allowed the division to recover Kasserine Pass on 26 February 1943 and assemble in reserve. The division moved northeast of Gafsa on 13 March 1943 and attacked in heavy rains on 17 March 1943 as CCA took Zannouch, but became immobilized by rain the next day. The division drove on Maknassy on 20 March 1943, and fought the Battle of Djebel Naemia on 22–25 March 1943, and then fought to break through positions barring the road to Gabès between 29 March and 1 April 1943. It began to follow up the withdrawing German forces on 6 April 1943, and attacked towards Mateur with CCA on 27 April 1943, which fell after hard fighting on Hill 315 and Hill 299 on 3 May 1943. The division fought the Battle for Djebel Achtel between 5 and 11 May 1943, and entered Ferryville on 7 May 1943. The German forces in Tunisia surrendered between 9 and 13 May 1943. The division was reorganized in French Morocco, and began arriving in Naples, Italy on 28 October 1943.

After the fall of Sicily, the unit, part of the Fifth Army, invaded mainland Italy. It took part in the attack on the Winter Line in November 1943. It then flanked the Axis armies in the landings at Anzio, and then passed through the city of Rome and pursued the retreating enemy northward until mid-July 1944. At that point, Maj Gen Harmon was replaced by Maj Gen Prichard, who led the 1-AD through the rest of the war. Three days after Maj Gen Prichard took command, the division was reorganized, based on experiences in the North Africa Campaign. The change was drastic. It eliminated the armored and infantry regiments in favor of three separate tank and infantry battalions, disbanded the Supply Battalion, and cut the strength of the division from 14,000 to 10,000. The result of the re-organization was a more flexible and balanced division, with roughly equivalent infantry and tank battalions. These forces could be combined or custom-tailored by the command to meet any situation. The additional infantry strength would prove particularly useful in the future campaigns in the largely mountainous combat of the Italian campaign. The division continued in combat to the Po Valley until the German forces in Italy surrendered on 2 May 1945. In June, the division moved to Germany as part of the occupation forces.

1st Armored Division Casualties
Killed in Action : 1194 – Wounded in Action : 5168 – Died of Wounds : 234

1st Armored Division – Commanding Officers
Maj Gen Bruce Magruder : July 1940 – March 1942
Maj Gen Orlando Ward : March 1942 – April 1943
Maj Gen Ernest N. Harmon : April 1943 – July 1944
Maj Gen V. E. Prichard : July 1944 – September 1945
Maj Gen Roderick R. Allen : September 1945 – January 1946
Maj Gen Hobart R. Gay : February 1946 – to inactivation

Order of Battle – 1st Armored Division, Apr 9 1945

    – 1st Tank Battalion
    – 4th Tank Battalion
    – 6th Armored Infantry Battalion
    – 11th Armored Infantry Battalion
    – 13th Tank Battalion
    – 14th Armored Infantry Battalion
    – 81st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized
    – 1st Armored Division Artillery
    – 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    – 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    – 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    – 16th Armored Engineer Battalion

Order of Battle – 1st Armored Division (IV Corps) Apr 23 1945

    – Headquarters and Headquarters Company – CCA
    – CCA
    – Headquarters and Headquarters Company – CCB
    – CCB
    – Headquarters and Headquarters Company – CCR
    – CCR (Reserve Combat Command)
    – 1st Armored Division Trains
    – Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    – 123rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
    – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
    – Military Police Platoon
    – 1st Armored Division Band
    – 81st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized
    – 16th Armored Engineer Battalion
    – 1st Engineer Assault Company (Provisional)
    – 1st Armored Division Artillery
    – Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
    – 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer) SP
    – 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer) SP
    – 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer) SB
    – 1st Tank Battalion
    – 4th Tank Battalion
    – 13th Tank Battalion
    – 6th Armored Infantry Battalion
    – 11th Armored Infantry Battalion
    – 14th Armored Infantry Battalion
    – 141st Armored Signal Company
    – 501st Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment [att]

Thomas W. Fowler, 2nd Lt, 1st Armd Div, Medal of Honor

Rank and organization : 2nd Lt, US Army, 1st Armored Division
Place and date : Near Carano, Italy, May 23, 1944
Entered service at : Wichita Falls, Tex
Birth : Wichita Falls, Tex. G.O. No.: 84, October 28, 1944

Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, on 23 May 1944, in the vicinity of Carano, Italy. In the midst of a full-scale armored-infantry attack, 2d Lt Fowler, while on foot, came upon 2 completely disorganized infantry platoons held up in their advance by an enemy minefield. Although a tank officer, he immediately reorganized the infantry. He then made a personal reconnaissance through the minefield, clearing a path as he went, by lifting the antipersonnel mines out of the ground with his hands. After he had gone through the 75 yard belt of deadly explosives, he returned to the infantry and led them through the minefield, a squad at a time. As they deployed, 2d Lt Fowler, despite small arms fire and the constant danger of antipersonnel mines, made a reconnaissance into enemy territory in search of a route to continue the advance. He then returned through the minefield and, on foot, he led the tanks through the mines into a position from which they could best support the infantry. Acting as scout 300 yards in front of the infantry, he led the 2 platoons forward until he had gained his objective, where he came upon several dug-in enemy infantrymen. Having taken them by surprise, 2d Lt Fowler dragged them out of their foxholes and sent them to the rear; twice, when they resisted, he threw hand grenades into their dugouts. Realizing that a dangerous gap existed between his company and the unit to his right, 2d Lt Fowler decided to continue his advance until the gap was filled. He reconnoitered to his front, brought the infantry into position where they dug in and, under heavy mortar and small arms fire, brought his tanks forward. A few minutes later, the enemy began an armored counterattack. Several Mark IV tanks fired their cannons directly on 2d Lt Fowler’s position. One of his tanks was set afire. With utter disregard for his own life, with shells bursting near him, he ran directly into the enemy tank fire to reach the burning vehicle. For a half-hour, under intense strafing from the advancing tanks, although all other elements had withdrawn, he remained in his forward position, attempting to save the lives of the wounded tank crew. Only when the enemy tanks had almost overrun him, did he withdraw a short distance where he personally rendered first aid to 9 wounded infantrymen in the midst of the relentless incoming fire. 2d Lt. Fowler’s courage, his ability to estimate the situation and to recognize his full responsibility as an officer in the Army of the United States, exemplify the high traditions of the military service for which he later gave his life.


Nicholas Minue, Pvt, 1st Armd Div, Medal of Honor

Rank and organization : Private, US Army
Company A, 6th Armored Infantry, 1st Armored Division
Place and date : Near MedjezelBab, Tunisia, April 28, 1943
Entered service at : Carteret, NJ
Birth : Sedden, Poland. G.O. No.: 24, March 25, 1944.

Citation

For distinguishing himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the loss of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on 28 April 1943, in the vicinity of MedjezelBab, Tunisia. When the advance of the assault elements of Company A was held up by flanking fire from an enemy machine gun nest, Pvt Minue voluntarily, alone, and unhesitatingly, with complete disregard of his own welfare, charged the enemy entrenched position with fixed bayonet.
Pvt Minue assaulted the enemy under a withering machine gun and rifle fire, killing approximately 10 enemy machine gunners and riflemen.
After completely destroying this position, Pvt Minue continued forward, routing enemy riflemen from dugout positions until he was fatally wounded.
The courage, fearlessness and aggressiveness displayed by Pvt Minue in the face of inevitable death was unquestionably the factor that gave his company the offensive spirit that was necessary for advancing and driving the enemy from the entire sector.



1st Armored Division Order of Battle 1944 – Organic

– Hqs Company 1st Armored Division
– Combat Command A
– Combat Command B
– Reserve Command (CCR)
– 1st Armored Division Band
– 1st Engineer Assault Company
– 1st Tank Battalion
– 4th Tank Battalion
– 6th Armored Infantry Battalion
– 11th Armored Infantry Battalion
– 13th Tank Battalion
– 14th Armored Infantry Battalion
– 16th Armored Engineer Battalion
– 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105-SP)
– 47th Armored Medical Battalion
– 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105-SP)
– 81st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized
– 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105-SP)
– 123rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion
– 141st Armored Signal Company
– Military Police Platoon
– 501st Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment

1st Armored Division (Short) Combat Narative
The division’s port call required them to board the Queen Mary at the New York Port of Embarkation (Brooklyn Army Terminal) on May 11 1942 and arrived in Northern Ireland on May 16 1942. Then, they trained on the moors until they moved on to England on Oct 29 1942. The unit’s first contact with an enemy was as part of the Allied Invasion of Northwest Africa (Operation Torch) on Nov 8 1942. Elements of the division were part of the Northern Task Force and became the first American Armored Division to see combat in World War II. CCB of the division landed east and west of Oran, and entered the city on Nov 10 1942. On Nov 24 1942, CCB moved from Tafaroui Algeria to Bedja Tunisia and raided Djedeida airfield the next day. Djedeida was finally conquered on Nov 28 1942. CCB moved southwest of Tebourba on Dec 1 1942, engaged German forces on El Guessa Heights on Dec 3 1942 but its lines were pierced on Dec 6 1942. CCB withdrew to Bedja with heavy equipment loses between Dec 10 and Dec 11 1942. The Division was placed in reserve. CCB next attacked in the Ousseltia Valley on Jan 21 1943, and cleared that area until Jan 29 1943 when sent to Bou Chebka, and arrived at Maktar on Feb 14 1943.

CCA fought at Faid Pass commencing on Jan 30 1943 and advanced to Sidi Bou Zid where it was pushed back with heavy tank loses on Feb 14 1943 and had elements isolated on Djebel Lessouda, Djebel Kasaira, and Garet Hadid. Combat Command R, which had been constituted on Jan 23 1943 to raid Sened Station on Jan 24 advanced towards Sbeita, and counterattacked to support CCA in the Sidi Bou Zid area on Feb 15 1943, but was repulsed with heavy loses.

The division withdrew from Sbeita on Feb 16 1943, but – by Feb 21 1943 CCB contained the German attack toward Tebessa. The German withdrawal allowed the division to recover Kasserine Pass on Feb 26 1943 and assemble in reserve. The Division moved northeast of Gafsa on Mar 13 1943 and attacked in heavy rains on Mar 17 1943 as CCA took Zannouch, but became immobilized by rain the next day.
The 1st AD drove on Maknassy on Mar 20 1943, and fought the Battle of Djebel Naemia on Mar 22 – Mar 25 1943 and then fought to break through positions baring the road to Gabes between Mar 29 and Apr 1 1943. It began to follow up the withdrawing German forces on Apr 6 1943, and attacked towards Mateur with CCA on Apr 27 1943, which fell after hard fighting on Hill 315 and Hill 299 on May 3 1943.

The division fought the Battle for Djebel Achtel between May 5 and May 11 1943, and entered Ferryville on May 7 1943. The German forces in Tunisia surrendered between May 9 and May 13 1943 and the division was reorganized in French Morocco, and began arriving in Naples, Italy on Oct 28 1943. After the fall of Sicily, the unit, under the US Fifth Army, invaded mainland Italy. It took part in the attack on the infamous Winter Line in Nov 1943. It then flanked the Axis armies in the landings at Anzio, and participated in the liberation of Rome on Jun 4, 1944.
The division continued in combat to the Po Valley until the German forces in Italy surrendered on May 2, 1945. In June, the Division moved to Germany as part of the occupation forces.



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