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Italy 1943 - 1945:

US Armoured Division

The terrain and weather did not favour the deployment of armoured formations, and there was only one United States armoured division, the 1 U.S. Armoured Division, that saw service in the Italian Campaign. The Americans had learned quickly from their first experience of warfare in Europe in Tunisia in late 1942 and early 1943. In practice, the resources of the Division were organised into Task Forces or Combat Commands, with Combat Command A and Combat Command B being in effect Brigade level all arms formations.


The origins of this division are found in the creation of a cadre of personnel at Fort Knox in February 1932 as a provisional armoured car platoon. This grew to become the 7 Cavalry Brigade, which became active on 1 March 1932 at Fort Knox. At first, it was nothing more than a headquarters and the armoured car platoon. On 3 January 1933, 1 Cavalry Regiment transferred from 1 Cavalry Division and moved to Fort Knox. On 15 July 1940, the 7 Cavalry Brigade was expanded, reorganized, and redesignated as the 1 Armored Division. After completing its organization and equipping, 1 Armoured Division trained at Fort Knox. It was ordered to Fort Dix on 11 April 1942 to await deployment overseas. The division boarded the Queen Mary at New York on 11 May 1942. It arrived at Northern Ireland on 16 May, and trained on the moors until moving to the mainland on 29 October 1942.

Elements of the division were part of the Northern Task Force and became the first U.S. armored division to see combat in the Second World War.  The Division landed at Oran on 8 November 1942 and liberated the city.  It then participated in several actions in Tunisia, at Maknassy, El Guetter, Gafsa, and Kasserine Pass, until the final offensive when it occupied Mateur on 3 May 1943.  The division was reorganized in French Morocco and began arriving in Naples, Italy, on 28 October 1943, although elements of the Division had landed at Salerno on 9 September.  After resting, it entered its first combat in Italy at Monte Porchia in January 1944.  Task Force Allen attacked and seized the mountain between 4 and 9 January 1944, and it suffered heavy casualties.  The 1st Armored Division was then involved in the landings at Anzio on 24 January 1944, after which there was much bitter fighting in the bridgehead.  After four months, a stalemate had been reached, until the Allies broke out on 23 May 1944.  The Division moved through Rome and covered 200 miles in five days.  It crossed the River Arno on 1 September 1944 and became involve in the slow and bitter advance through the Apennine mountains.  In the final offensive, the 1 Armored Division broke out into the Po valley and liberated Milan on 30 April.  It had reached Cigliano at the time that the German forces agreed to an armistice on 2 May.  The Division remained in Italy as part of the occupying forces until it sailed for the U.S.A. and home on 16 April 1946.

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