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Sgt Al Brown Memoir ::

Third Signal Company Photography WWII  ::  ANZIO to AUSTRIA  ::  U.S. Third Infantry Division

dogface soldiers
t h i r d  d i v i s i o n

Anzio | Rome | Dragoon | Breakout | Montelimar | Vosges | Strasbourg | Colmar Pocket | Rhineland | Germany | Austria

The U.S. 3rd Division earned its motto "Rock of the Marne" during the German offensive of 1918 in the great battle that turned the tide on the Germans in WWI. Formed in 1917 at Camp Greene, North Carolina, the 3rd Division suffered 16,856 casualties in six campaigns in six months of combat during WWI.

The "Marne Men" served in Africa, Italy, France, Germany and Austria during WWII. To the Germans they became known as the Blue and White Devils as well as the "Sturm" Division for their aggressive action in Italy.

During WWII, the 3rd Division (one of the first five U.S. divisions to enter the European war) was in theater for 30 months — logging 553 days in combat. The division assaulted four beachheads, suffered 24,878 battle casualties and honored 37 of its own with the Medal of Honor. Its soldiers earned over 4, 800 Silver Stars and 14 Distinguished Unit Citations.

The 3rd Division suffered the most casualties of the 89 major American units serving in WWII. It is the only American division to battle Axis forces on all European fronts. Of its men, Audie Murphy is known as the most decorated combat soldier in American history and Maurice Britt was the first U.S. Soldier to earn the three highest military decorations in a single war. During the breakout from Anzio on May 23, 1944 the 3rd Division suffered 995 men killed or wounded, the most casualties suffered by a single division in a single day. During the final months of 1944, the 3rd Division was a part of the first army to cross the Vosges Mountains against an enemy.

The Third fought over a trail of 3,200 miles in seven countries and ten campaigns. The division served under General Patton for the North Africa landing in November 1942 near Fedala in Morocco and when Patton led the Seventh Army in Sicily in 1943.

An augmented 3rd Division (Joss Force) landed near Licata in Sicily on July 10, 1943 and fought to Palermo where Patton ordered a halt so that he and his tanks could enter as the victors, although elements of the Seventh Regiment were already in the city. Next, the division — at great cost — fueled Patton's race to Messina to best British Field Marshal Montgomery and his Eighth Army that had fought bitterly up Sicily's eastern coast. The Seventh Regiment secured Messina and 3rd Division Commander, General Truscott accompanied General Patton into the city on Aug. 17, 1943, marking 38 days for the Allies to clear Sicily.

In southern Italy, the division passed through the Salerno beachhead to assault Ascerno and then north beyond Naples to spearhead the October 1943 crossing of the Volturno River allowing Fifth Army troops to drive to Cassino. At the end of 1943, the 3rd Division was pulled from the front line to train for Operation Shingle, the behind-the-lines landing at Nettuno and Anzio meant to break the stalemate at Cassino that turned into a vicious four-month battle. As part of the main beachhead force landing at Anzio in January 1944, the 3rd Division went on to battle three German divisions during the February counterattack and spearhead the final breakout four months later. From the Anzio beachhead the division saw action at Cisterna, Cori, Guiglianello, Artena and Valmontone before reaching Rome on June 4, 1944.

The 3rd Division history describes the fighting in Italy as " ... the bitterest, most heartbreaking, most cursed battlefield of the longest-fought campaign in Europe."

After its fourth amphibious assault of the war on southern France, the 3rd Division battled through the Vosges Mountains to the Rhine River and was instrumental in reducing the Colmar Pocket in early 1945. After its assault on the Siegfried line near Zweibrucken, the division crossed the Rhine River near Worms and battled through Nuremberg and Munich, ending its march against the German 19th Army in Austria in May 1945 as the first Allied troops to reach Hitler's Berghof.

The 3rd Division's regiments date to the War of 1812 with the 15th Regiment (the "Can Do" regiment) notable for six Civil War battles and a 26-year assignment in China ending in 1938. The 7th Regiment is known as the "Cottonbalers" for their engagement in the battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Both the 7th and the 30th (stationed at San Francisco's Presidio from 1923-1941) were part of the 3rd Division in WWI.

"Dogface Soldier", written in 1942, is the theme song of the 3rd Division.

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Anzio | Rome | Dragoon | Breakout | Montelimar | Vosges | Strasbourg | Colmar Pocket | Rhineland | Germany | Austria