2nd Armored Division (France)

2nd Armored Division (France)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=2e Division Blindée

caption=Original badge of the 2nd Armored Division. The divisional badge features the Cross of Lorraine
dates=24 August 1943 - 31 March 1946
branch=French Army, ex-Free French
type=Armored Division
battles=Operation Cobra, Liberation of Paris, Liberation of Strasbourg
notable_commanders= Philippe Leclerc

The 2nd Armored Division ( _fr. 2e Division Blindée, 2e DB), commanded by General Leclerc, fought during the final phases of World War II in the Western Front. The division was formed around a core of units that had fought at Koufra in 1941 under Leclerc; later renamed the 2nd Light Division, in August, 1943 it was organized under the US light armored division organization. The Division's 14,454 personnel included men from the 2nd Light Division, escapees from metropolitan France, about 3,600 Moroccans and Algerians, and a few hundred Spanish Republicans. The division embarked in April 1944 and shipped to various ports in Great Britain. On 29 July 1944, bound for France, the division embarked at Southampton.

World War II operations

Order of battle

Ier Régiment de Marche du Tchad
IIeme Régiment de Marche du Tchad
IIIeme Régiment de Marche du Tchad
1er Regiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains
501ème Regiment de Chars de Combat
12ème Regiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique
12ème Regiment de Cuirassiers
Tank destroyers
Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins (R.B.F.M)
1er groupe du 3eme Regiment d'Artillerie Coloniale (1/3° R.A.C)
1er Groupe du 40eme Regiment d'Artillerie Nord Africain (1/40° R.A.N.A)
IIeme Groupe du 64e Regiment d'Artillerie
22eme Groupe Colonial de F.T.A
13eme Bataillon du Genie
97/84° Compagnie Mixte de Transmissions
Motor transport and services
97° Compagnie de Quartier General
197° Compagnie de Transport
297° Compagnie de Transport
397° Compagnie de Circulation Routière
497e Compagnie de Services
15eme Groupe d'Escadrons de Reparations (15e G.E.R)
1ere Compagnie Medicale et Groupe d'Ambulancières "Rochambeau" (Rochambelles)
2eme Compagnie Medicale et Groupe d'Ambulancières de la Marine ("Marinettes")
3eme Compagnie Medicale et groupe d'Ambulancières "Quakers" (Britanniques)

Tactical organisation
Groupement tactique "Dio" (G.T.D)
Colonel Dio
Ier Regiment de Marche du Tchad
4eme R.M.S.M
12eme Cuirassiers
3eme R.B.F.M
1/3eme R.A.C
2/13eme Bataillon du génie

Groupement tactique "Langlade" (G.T.L)
Colonel de Langlade
IIeme Regiment de Marche du Tchad
2eme R.M.S.M
12eme Regiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique
4eme R.B.F.M
1/40eme R.A.N.A
2/13eme Bataillon du génie

Groupement tactique Warabiot (G.T.V)
Colonel Warabiot, puis
Colonel Billotte, puis
Colonel de Guillebon
IIIeme Regiment de Marche du Tchad
3eme R.M.S.M
501eme Regiment de Chars de Combat
2eme R.B.F.M
11/64eme R.A
2/13eme Bataillon du génie

Operation Cobra

The Division landed at Utah Beach in Normandy on 1 August 1944, about two months after the D-Day landings, and served under General Patton's Third Army. The division played a critical role in Operation Cobra, the Allied breakout from Normandy, when it served as a link between American and Canadian armies and made rapid progress against German forces. They all but destroyed the 9th Panzer Division and defeated several other German units. During the Battle for Normandy, the 2nd Division lost 133 men killed, 648 wounded, and 85 missing. Division material losses included 76 armored vehicles, 7 cannons, 27 halftracks, and 133 other vehicles. In the same period, the 2nd Division inflicted losses on the Germans of 4,500 killed and 8,800 taken prisoner, while the Germans' material losses in combat against the 2nd Division during the same period were 117 tanks, 79 cannons, and 750 wheeled vehicles. [GUF, p. 989] [The extraordinary ratio of casualties inflicted vs. casualties suffered that was reported by this unit is at odds with the overall relation between Allied and German casualties during the battle of Normandy that becomes apparent from the data under http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/faq.htm#casualities.]

Liberation of Paris

The most celebrated moment in the unit's history involved the Liberation of Paris. Allied strategy emphasized destroying German forces retreating towards the Rhine, but when the French Resistance under Henri Rol-Tanguy staged an uprising in the city, Charles de Gaulle threatened to send the Division into Paris, single-handedly, to prevent the uprising being crushed as had recently happened in Warsaw. Eisenhower agreed to send help. Delayed by combat and poor road conditions, General LeClerc sent a small advance party to enter Paris, with the message that the Second Armored would be there the following day. This party was commanded by Captain Raymond Dronne, who became the first uniformed Allied liberating officer to enter Paris leading troops who included veterans of the Spanish Civil War. After hard fighting that cost the 2nd Division 35 tanks, 6 self-propelled guns, and 111 vehicles, von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, surrendered the city at the Hotel Meurice. Jubilant crowds greeted French forces, and de Gaulle conducted a famous parade through the city.

Alsace & Lorraine

The 2nd Division later fought in the tank battles in Lorraine, destroying the German 112th Panzer Brigade at the town of Dompaire on 13 September 1944. Subsequently, the 2nd Division operated with U.S. forces during the assault into the Vosges Mountains. Serving as the armored exploitation force for the U.S. XV Corps, the 2nd Division forced the Saverne Gap and thrust forward boldly, unbalancing German defenses in northern Alsace and liberating Strasbourg on 23 November 1944. The Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to the Division for this action.

Fighting in Alsace until the end of February, 1945, the 2nd Division was deployed to reduce the Royan Pocket on the western coast of France in March-April, 1945.


After forcing the Germans in the Royan Pocket to surrender on 18 April 1945, the 2nd Division crossed France again to rejoin the Allied 6th Army Group for final operations in Germany. Operating with the U.S. 12th Armored Division, elements of the 2nd Division pursued the remnants of German Army Group G across Swabia and Bavaria, occupying the town of Bad Reichenhall on 4 May 1945.Eventually, the 2nd Division finished its campaigning at the Nazi resort town of Berchtesgaden in Southeastern Germany.

At the end of the campaign in northwestern Europe, the unit counted 1,687 dead, including 108 officers, and 3,300 wounded. It had killed 12,100 Axis soldiers, captured 41,500 and destroyed 332 heavy and medium tanks, 2,200 other vehicles, and 426 cannons of various types. [GUF, p. 1163]


On 13 May 1945 SHAEF relinquished operational control of the 2nd Division to France. From 23 May-28 May 1945 the 2nd Division moved to its new garrison in the region of Paris, where the division was inactivated on 31 March 1946.

It was reactivated in the 1940s-50s and was active throughout the Cold War and afterwards, until it became the 2nd Armored Brigade in 1999.

ee also

*Battle of Kufra
*Battle for Paris
*Military history of France during World War II
*General Leclerc
*Jean Rémy


Article Sources

* Les Grandes Unités Françaises (GUF), Volume V, Part 2, Service Historique de l'Armée de Terre, Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1975.

External links

* [http://www.memorial-montormel.org/?id=101 History of the 2nd DB on memorial-montormel.org]
* [http://2db.free.fr History of the 2nd DB on http://2db.free.fr]

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