During the Sicily campaign of July 1943, one United States armoured division, four United States infantry divisions and one airborne division were deployed in the country.
The 2 U.S. Armoured Division was activated in June 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia. It had the nickname ‘Hell on Wheels’. The division received special training on the Carolina coast in August 1942 before it sailed for North Africa where it landed in Morocco. It fought in the Tunisian campaign prior to landing in Sicily at Licata and Gela on the 10 July 1943. Following the capture of Sicily, the division left the Mediterranean for the United Kingdom for training prior to taking part in the invasion of Normandy.
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The 1 U.S. Infantry Division was a regular army formation derived from the 1 Expeditionary Division, which went to the Western Front in W.W.1. Its insignia, a red figure 1, adopted in October 1918, led to the Division’s nickname of ‘The Big Red One’. The division completed its training at Camp Blanding, Florida and in Pennsylvania in August 1942, before embarking for the U.K. The division then prepared for the invasion of North Africa and landed on 8 November 1942 near Oran. It then fought through the rest of the Tunisian campaign. Following the end of the Tunisian campaign, the division commenced training for Operation ‘Husky’. It landed in Sicily on D-Day, the 9 July 1943, under the command of the II U.S. Corps and fought throughout the campaign.
The 3 U.S. Infantry Division was one of the four formations maintained as operational divisions in the United States during the inter war years. Its nickname of ‘Marne’ originates from the First World War when the division fought in three operations on the Marne River in France. It was based at Camp Lewis, Washington and left the United States in September 1943 to sail directly to North Africa to land near Casablanca in Morocco. The division then fought throughout the Tunisian campaign. It landed in Sicily on the 10 July 1943, and then fought through Palermo to capture Messina. It later fought in Italy and southern France.
The 9 U.S. Infantry Division was one of the nine regular formations organised in 1920, but it lost all the units allocated to it over the next few years. The division was re-organised in August 1940 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and then sailed from the United States, part going to the U.K. and part direct to North Africa. The division came together in North Africa and fought throughout the Tunisian campaign. It was then sent to Sicily.
The 45 U.S. Infantry Division was created by the National Defence Act of 1920 as a National Guard Division that drew its recruits from four states, namely Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. It was known as The ‘Thunderbird’ Division. In August 1940, the division was ordered into Federal service for a one year training programme at Fort Still, Oklahoma, however, the U.S.A. entered the war before the training programme was complete. The division was transferred to Texas, Louisiana, and Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, where it trained for amphibious operations. In June 1943, the division was sent to North Africa in readiness for the invasion of Sicily. It took part in the Sicilian campaign, from which it was used as the reserve division for the landings at Salerno. It later transferred to southern France.
The 82 U.S. Airborne Division was originally raised in 1917 during the First World War with men from the states of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. During training, the Division sent drafts to other Divisions and received replacements from across the U.S.A., hence its nickname of the ‘All American’ Division. The division was disbanded in 1919. It was reactivated as a standard infantry division on the 25 March 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. It was then converted into an airborne division whilst still based at Camp Claiborne, and later at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Early in 1943, the division moved to New England prior to embarking for North Africa. On arrival, it trained in the area of Oujda and Marhnia and was then deployed to Sicily. The 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment and one battalion from the 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment were dropped inland of the invasion beaches on D-Day (9 July 1943). The troops were scattered over a wide area. The divisional commander was landed by boat on the 10 July, and then ordered the rest of the 504 Regiment to be dropped. The Allied aircraft were mistaken for German ones, with twenty three Allied planes being shot down. Once regrouped, the division advanced commencing on the 17 July, and covered 150 miles in six days, capturing Trapani, Castellemare and Capo San Vito. It was then rested to prepare for the landings at Salerno.