A Brief Outline of 4th Infantry Division
WW II History
Origin of the Division:
The 4th Infantry Division came into being 10 December, 1917 at Camp Greene, NC. The Division nickname, the “Ivy” division, was a play on the roman numerals “IV”. The shoulder patch has four ivy leaves which symbolize tenacity and fidelity and the Division motto is “Steadfast and Loyal”. In WWI, the division took part in the St Mihiel Offensive as part of the 1st American Army under Gen. Pershing. Later, the 4th fought in the Meuse-Argonne and served occupation duties in Germany until July, 1919. The Division was inactivated at Camp Lewis, Washington on 21 September, 1921.
The 4th Infantry Division was reactivated on 1 June, 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia and was reorganized as a Motorized Infantry Division and was initially part of the 1st Armored Corps.
Stateside Training and Shipping Overseas:
Training took place at Fort Benning, Georgia from June 1940 to late 1943. The Division was used as an experimental division, testing new equipment and tactics, but was reclassified as an infantry division before moving to England in January of 1944 for the invasion of France.
Invasion of France, 6 June – August, 1944:
The Division’s baptism of fire came on Utah Beach on 6 June, 1944. The 8th Infantry Regiment was the first surface borne Allied unit to come ashore that morning. After landing at the wrong section of the beach, Assistant Division Commander Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who landed with the first waves, and his officers discussed whether to move inland or down the beach to the planned landing area. Roosevelt is quoted as saying “We’ll start the war from right here.” Following this decision, the 4th ID moved quickly (at least compared to the forces at Omaha Beach) inland and began meeting up with the airborne forces which had landed in the very early morning hours of 6 June. Once the leading waves were ashore, the 8th Infantry moved inland while the 12th Infantry moved north along coast, destroying the remaining beach defenses. The 22nd Infantry landed and filled the gap between the two regiments. On June 7th the 8th Infantry arrived at Ste. Mere Eglise.
In the following days the 4th ID, along with the 9th and 79th Infantry Divisions, turned northwestward and took Cherbourg on 25 June. Turning south from Cherbourg, the Division experienced hedgerow fighting before taking positions west of St. Lo for the breakout. Following the heavy bombing of German positions that began the breakout, the 4th pushed through the stunned German defenders. In the next days they took Marigny before heading for Avranches and Mortain. The Germans, attempting to break up the Allied advances, attacked toward Avranches where the 4th and 30th Divisions held them off. Failing to break the Allied advance, the remaining enemy forces retreated toward their only escape route through the Falaise Gap where many men were killed or captured and much equipment was destroyed. The Ivy Division then turned east and eventually assisted the French Forces in the liberation of Paris on 25 August.
Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe, September, 1944 – May, 1945:
In September, 1944, the 4th moved into Belgium through towns whose names would become famous in late 1944: St Hubert, La Roche, Houffalize, Bastogne, and St Vith. The Division first entered Germany on 11 September and on 14 September attacked the Siegfried Line at the Schnee Eifel. By late October, the days of quick advances were over for the time being as the German forces reorganized and began offering increasingly stiff and determined resistance.
On 6 November, the division entered into one of the bloodiest and most costly battles of the war, the Huertgen Forest. This battle chewed up 5 US Infantry Divisions and Combat Command R of the 5th Armored Division before 16 December, when Hitler’s Ardennes Offensive began, effectively ending the battle for the forest. The 4th ID relieved the battered 28th Infantry Division and fought through the nearly impenetrable forest until relieved in early December
The Division moved to Luxembourg to regroup, where it became involved in the Battle of the Bulge on 16 December, 1944. The 4th held the German offensive at Dickweiler and Osweiler before resuming the offensive in January, 1945. After being held for a while at the Prum River, in late February, the division again advanced into Germany and crossed the Rhine at Worms on 29 March, 1945. The Ivy Division moved into Bavaria and reached Meisbach on 2 May where it halted for the end of the war.
The 4th served in occupation duty until returning home in July, 1945, when it was stationed at Camp Butner, NC for preparations for the invasion of Japan. After the surrender of Japan, the Division was inactivated on 5 March, 1946.
The Division was reactivated in 1947 and was designated as a combat division, training at Fort Benning in 1950. In 1951, the Ivy Division was deployed to Germany as the first of four divisions committed to NATO during the cold war.
The 4th ID served in Vietnam between September, 1966 and December, 1970, operating in the Central Highlands/II Corps Zone and in Tay Ninh Province.
In 2003, the Division took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom where it was deployed in the Sunni Triangle. In December 2003, the 1st Brigade of the 4th ID captured Saddam Hussein. The Division redeployed to Iraq in 2005 for its second tour in country and in 2007 began its third deployment.
Blakely, H.W. Famous Fourth: The Story of the 4th Infantry Division. Kessinger Publishing, 2007.
MacDonald, Charles B. The Battle of the Huertgen Forest. J.B. Lippincott Company, 1963.
Sword, John M. Grumpy’s Trials. Sunflower University Press, 1988.
4th Infantry Division (United States) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia