23 May 2010

Order of Battle: US 4th Armor Division (WWII)

They led Patton's charge across Europe... Here are the units.

8th Tank Battalion

35th Tank Battalion

37th Tank Battalion

10th Armored Infantry Battalion

51st Armored Infantry Battalion

53rd Armored Infantry Battalion

22nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion

66th Armored Field Artillery Battalion

94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion

24th Armored Engineer Battalion

25th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (MEC)

126th Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion

46th Armored Medical Battalion

144th Armored Signal Company

704th Tank Destroyer Battalion

489th Anti-Aircraft (AW) Artillery Battalion (SP)

Fact Sheet of the 4th Armored Division

NICKNAME: “Breakthrough” Division. However, no nickname has ever been officially adopted; troopers have preferred to be known simply as members of the 4th Armored.
SHOULDER PATCH: Triangular design divided into three area: red (representing Field Artillery), blue (representing Infantry), and yellow (representing Cavalry). Superimposed on three area, in black, are the track of a tank and a cannon. A bolt of lightning, in red, is superimposed on these. The Division’s number appears in the upper portion of the triangle.
ACTIVATION DATE: 15 April 1941..
INACTIVATION DATE: 26 April 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
COMPONENT UNITS: Hq Co; Res. Com.; CCA; CCB; 8, 35 and 37 Tank Bns; 10, 51 and 53 Armd Inf Bns; 24th Armd Engr Bn; 25th Cav Rcn Sq (Mecz); 144 Armd Sig Co. Division Artillery: 22, 66 and 94 Armd FA Bns. Division Trains: 4th Armd Med Bn; 126 Ord Maint Bn; MP Platoon; Band.
TRAINING: Upon activation the unit was assigned to the Armored Force and stationed at Pine Camp NY. From 14 Sep through 26 Oct 1942, it maneuvered under the Second Army in Tennessee. In Nov 1942, it was transferred to Camp Young CA and participated in Desert Training Center maneuvers from 1 Dec 1942 through 22 Feb 1943. From 19 Apr to 10 Jul, it took part in further Desert Training Center maneuvers and then moved to Camp Bowie, TX, under the VIII Corps, Third Army.
DEPARTED U.S. FOR FOREIGN DUTY: 29 December 1943 from Boston..
OVERSEAS TRAINING: The Division conducted training in England prior to seeing combat on the continent.
DATE ENTERED COMBAT: Division 28 July 1944, First Elements 17 July 1944.
RETURNED TO U.S.: 25 April 1946.
BATTLE CREDITS: (Division) Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.
SUCCESSIVE COMMANDING GENERALS: Major General H W Baird from April 1941 to May 1942; Major General J S Wood from May 1942 to December 1944; Major General H Gaffey from Dec 944 to March 1945; Major General W M Hoge from March to July 1945; Major General F B Prickett from September 1945 to inactivation in April 1946.
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS: 1st Lt James H Fields, Houston TX. He led his platoon in the seizure and defense of a vital hill position near Rechicourt, France, 27 Sep 1944, though greatly weakened and speechless from a serious head wound. He so inspired his depleted platoon that it faced an overwhelming rush of Germans in a stand that grabbed victory from the grasp of the Nazis.
Sgt Joseph J Sadowski, Perth Amboy NJ, for heroism near Valhey, France 14 Sep 1944. AS his unit, 37th Tank Bn, pressed towards the town under heavy fire, Sgt Sadowski’ tank was disabled, and burst into flame. He ordered his crew to take cover, but one member was unable to dismount. In the face of almost certain death, the sergeant returned to the tank and tried to pry open the turret, being killed during his efforts.
S/Sgt James R Hendrix of Lepanto AR, Company C of the 53rd Armored Infantry Bn, for wiping out two enemy artillery positions and saving the lives of three of his wounded comrades on 26 Dec 1944.
DISTINGUISHED UNIT CITATION: The division became the first Armored Division to receive the Distinguished Unit Citation, given the entire personnel for “extraordinary tactical accomplishment” from 22 Dec 44 to 27 Mar 45 in spearheading the Third Army across France into Germany.
FOREIGN AWARDS: Awarded the French Fourragere for 27 July to 11 August 1944 action at Avranches and 12 to 29 September 1944 action at Nantes and the Moselle area, France by French Decision #272, dated 22 July 1946.
COMBAT HIGHLIGHTS: From the time the 4th ArmdD entered combat on the Normandy peninsula, 17 Jul 1944, its action was nearly continuous during long trek through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia. First real test of the Division was the battle for the city Coutances, France, on 28 Jul. Coutances was taken the day it was attacked, and from there the Division started a marathon sprint that carried it across France to the German border in an unending chase. From Coutances, the unit swung south and lopped off the Brittany peninsula in a lightning thrust. The outfit then swung due east and Combat Command “B” drove 264 miles in 34 hours to reach Prunay, south of Vendeme, France. In mid-September the 4th smashed across the cold, swift Moselle River and drove into the heart of the Germans’ winter defense line. Two columns of steel flanks the French City of Nancy and the famous old city fell as the Germans fled to the east. Three weeks after the 4th’s crossing of the Moselle River it saw some of the toughest fighting the Division ever encountered. The Germans counterattacked with two Panzer brigades and a Panzer Div, supported by Grenadiers. All attacks were repulsed w/o loss of ground, and at the end of three weeks men of the 4th ArmdD counted 281 German Panther and Tiger Tanks littering the hills. On 18 Dec 1944, tankers of the organization had heard vague reports of a 2 day German offensive in Belgium & Luxembourg. Suddenly that night orders were issued for the outfit to march north against the breakthrough. Elements raced northwest thru Morhange, crossed the Moselle at Pont-a-Mousson, turned north to Briey and Longwy, then into Belgium to Arlon, before arriving at an assembly area at Vaux-les-Rosieres. The 151-mile march had been made in 19 hours. For 4 days, 22-26 Dec, the 4th pounded away at von Rundstedt’s offensive from the flank and finally on 26 Dec, the first Sherman tank lumbered the last few hundred yards over the mine strewn Arlon – Bastogne highway to signal the relief of the 101st AbnD which occupied besieged Bastogne. After six weeks of waiting for another German attack that never materialized, the 4th plunged into action again.. This time it went thru the Siegfried Line in the wake of the 90th InfD, drove to the Kyll River, paused briefly and then took off on a historical drive that carried to the Rhine River – - 66 miles in 58 hours. Enroute the outfit had surged across the Moselle River at Trois and made a non-stop trip to the ancient city of Worms on the Rhine, after capturing Simmern, Bad Kreuznach and a huge total of Nazi prisoners. This time the outfit passed thru the 5th InfD’s bridgehead and crossed the Rhine 24-25 Mar. The Division advanced all night and by morning straddled the Main River south of Hanau, w/4 bridges intact. From here it was a lightning advance all the way to Chemnitz and into Czechoslovakia. After V-E Day the Div was given an occupational mission at Landshut, Ger until departure for the US and inactivation. Some elements of the Div were redesignated as Constabulary units to remain in Ger as occupation forces.

These fact sheets are from The Information Section, Analysis Branch, Hq Army Ground Forces, Washington 25 DC, 1 Mar 1947, as found in the records of the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 407, Archives II, College Park MD. Not all of the Division’s Fact sheets have survived and they are being presented here in random order as new ones are found.

By: Brant


Donna said...

My uncle, Glenn Mason West, serviced in the 53rd Armed Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division. The family story has always been that he died when Patton did not follow Eisenhower's directives to wait for reinforcements/supplies. The tanks ran out of fuel, and our soldiers were left sitting there while the Germans came and shot them. My uncle was wounded Sept. 25 and died Sept. 26, 1944. Can you tell me where I can get details on this part of the war? Thank you.

Brant said...

We'll be seeing a guy this week who's been affiliated with the US Army's Center For Military History. He can probably give us some ideas. Watch this space for more info if/when we can get it.

Thanks for stopping by

Frank Walski said...

Donna, do you know what company of the 53rd your Uncle served in? My father was the XO but was wounded in Coutances, losing an eye.