7th Armored Division (United States)


7th Armored Division (United States)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=7th Armored Division


caption=7th Armored Division shoulder sleeve insignia
dates=1942 - 1945
country=United States of America
status=Inactive
branch=Regular Army
type=
role=
size=Division
command_structure=
current_commander=
garrison=
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname= "Lucky Seventh"
patron=
motto=
colors=Red, Blue and Yellow
march=
mascot=
battles=World War II
*Normandy
*Battle of the Bulge
notable_commanders=
anniversaries=
US Armor
previous=6th Armored Division ("Inactive")
next=8th Armored Division ("Inactive")
The 7th Armored Division was an armored division of the United States Army in World War II.

History

The division was activated on 1 March 1942, reorganized on 20 September 1943 and arrived in the United Kingdom in June 1944.

The Division landed on Omaha and Utah Beaches, 13-14 August 1944, and was assigned to Third U.S. Army. The Division drove through Nogent-le-Rotrou in an attack on Chartres. The city fell on 18 August. From Chartres, the Division advanced to liberate Dreux and then Melun, where they crossed the Seine River, 24 August. The Division then pushed on to bypass Reims and liberate Chateau-Thierry and then Verdun, 31 August. The 7th halted briefly for refueling and then on 6 September drove on toward the Moselle and made a crossing near Dornot. This crossing had to be withdrawn in the face of the heavy fortifications around Metz. The 7th then made attempts to cross the Moselle northwest of Metz but the deep river valley was not suitable terrain for an armored attack. Elements of the Division assisted the 5th Infantry Division in expanding a bridgehead east of Arnaville, south of Metz, and on 15 September, the main part of the Division crossed the Moselle there. The Division was repulsed in its attacks across the Seille River at and near Sillegny, part of an attack in conjunction with 5th Infantry Division that was also repulsed further north.

On September 25, 1944, the 7th was transferred to Ninth U.S. Army and began the march to the Netherlands where they were needed to protect the right (east) flank of the corridor opened by Operation Market-Garden. They were to operate in the southeast Netherlands, so that British and Canadian forces and the 104th Infantry Division could clear the Germans from the Scheldt Estuary in the southwest Netherlands and open the shippling lanes to the critical port of Antwerp, to allow Allied ships to bring supplies from Britain.

On 30 September, the 7th launched an attack from the north on the town of Overloon, against significant German defenses. The attacks progressed slowly and finally settled into a series of counter-attacks reminiscent of World War I trench warfare. On 8 October, the Division was relieved from the attack on Overloon by the British 11th Armoured Division and moved south of Overloon to the Deurne - Weert area. Here they were attached to the British Second Army and ordered to make demonstration attacks to the east, in order to divert enemy forces from the Overloon and Venlo areas, where British troops pressed the attack. This plan succeeded, and the British were finally able to liberate Overloon.

On 27 October 1944, the main part of the 7th was in essentially defensive positions along the line Nederweert (and south) to Meijel to Liesel, with the demonstration force still in the attack across the Deurne canal to the east. The Germans launched a two-division offensive centered on Meijel, catching the thinly stretched 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron of the 7th Armored Division by surprise. However, the response by the 7th Armored Division and by the British 8th Corps to which the Division was attached, stopped the German attack on the third day and then from 31 October to 8 November gradually drove the enemy out of the terrain that they had taken. During this operation, at midnight on the night of 31 October - 1 November Gen. Robert Hasbrouck replaced Gen. Lindsay Silvester as Commanding General of the Division.

On 8 November 1944, the 7th was again transferred to the Ninth Army and moved south to rest areas at and east of Maastricht. Following an inflow of many replacements, they began extensive training and reorganization, since so many original men had been lost in France and Holland that a significant part of the Division was now men who had never trained together. At the end of November, the Division straddled the Dutch-German border with one combat command in Germany (in the area of Ubach, north of Aachen) and two in the Netherlands.

Elements of the Division were attached to the 84th Infantry Division for operations in early December in the area of Linnich, Germany, on the banks of the Rur(Roer). The 7th was preparing to drive into Germany when the Ardennes offensive began on 16 December 1944.

The Division was transferred to U.S. First Army and ordered to St. Vith, Belgium, a critical road and rail center needed by the Germans to supply their offensive. Over the course of almost a week, the 7th (along with elements of the 106th and 28th Infantry Divisions and 9th Armored Division) absorbed much of the weight of the German drive, throwing the German time table into great disarry, before being forced to withdraw west of the Salm River on 23 December. The Division moved to the area of Manhay, Belgium, and by the end of December had cleared the town of the enemy. They were then relieved by the 75th Infantry Division. After a brief rest in January 1945, the Division returned to positions near St. Vith, attacked, and re-captured the town on 23 January 1945.

In February 1945, now attached to U.S. First Army's V Corps, the division returned to Germany. In the first week of the month, Combat Command R was attached to 78th Infantry Division for attacks on Strauch, Simmerath, Steckenborn, and other towns in the area of the Huertgen Forest. The Division remained in the area of Steckenborn, Germany throughout the month, waiting for the flood waters to recede after the Germans destroyed major dams in the Allies' path. However, large contingents of men were sent back into Belgium and attached to Engineer Combat Battalions (e.g. most of the men of 38 AIB were attached to 1110 Engrs at Stavelot) from February 12 to February 27, for use as laborers in using logs to build a solid base for the torn-up roads through the Ardennes Forest.

In March 1945, the 7th took part in two major breakthroughs with a two-week period in between in which they established and maintained an important defensive position. The first breakthrough came early in March when the Division, as part of the III Corps, pushed east from the Rur river to establish a defensive position along the west bank of the Rhine, south of Bonn to Unkelbach. The second major breakthrough began 26 March when the Division, still under III Corps control, took part in an armored offensive intended to break the thin crust ringing the Remagen bridgehead and overrun the rich German farmland to the east and north and surround the Ruhr Pocket in a double envelopment.

In April, the Division completed their part of the encirclement of the Ruhr Pocket and captured the critical Edersee Dam. They then attacked into the Ruhr Pocket, in order to reduce it. On 16 April the LIII Panzer Corps surrendered to the Division and the eastern sector of the pocket collapsed. The Division, after a brief rest, were then transferred once again to the British Second Army and moved north to the Baltic Sea. From this area, Lt. William A. Knowlton led a force eastward to make contact with the Russians. The Division remained in this area until the war in Europe ended.

The Division was then moved into the future Soviet zone of occupation, at Dessau, Germany. President Truman wanted one of his Armored Divisions parading in front of him on the 4th of July in Berlin, and 2nd and 7th Armored were both prepared for the honor. When 2nd Armored was chosen for the parade, 7th Armored immediately moved southwest to the future American zone of occupation.

The Division then began to be gradually filled with more and more new faces, as the veterans were transferred elsewhere. The first large contingent of veterans left in mid July: these were low-point men who were headed back to the United States to begin training for the invasion of Japan. Other large groups of high-point men were transferred to other units that were going back home before 7th Armored.

The Division returned to New York and was deactivated on 11 October 1945.

The Box Score

*"Enemy"ARMORED VEHICLES DESTROYED---621ARMORED VEHICLES CAPTURED---89MISCELLANEOUS VEHICLES DESTROYED---2,653MISCELLANEOUS VEHICLES CAPTURED---3,517ARMAMENT DESTROYED---583 piecesARMAMENT CAPTURED (only pieces larger than 50mm included)---361PRISONERS TAKEN---113,041

*"Division"MILES TRAVELLED---2,260GASOLINE CONSUMED---3,127,151 GallonsAMMUNITION EXPENDED:105mm---350,027 rounds76mm---19,209 rounds75mm---48,724 rounds.50cal---1,267,128 rounds.45cal---540,523 rounds.30cal---9,367,966

*"Decorations"DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS---9SILVER STAR---351BRONZE STAR MEDAL:HEROIC SERVICE---888MERITORIOUS SERVICE---1,047PURPLE HEARTS---1,2111

External links

* [http://www.7tharmddiv.org 7th Armored Division Association]
* [http://www.7tharmddiv.org/docrep 7th Armored Division Document Repository]
* [http://www.7tharmddiv.org/baraque-7ad.htm 7th Armored Division Troops in the Battle at Baraque de Fraiture, Belgium ("Parker's Crossroads") December 20-23, 1944]
* [http://www.7tharmddiv.org/us-troops-in-holland.htm US Non-Airborne Troops in Holland in World War II]
* [http://home.okstate.edu/homepages.nsf/toc/87th.htm 87th Cavalry Squadron Reconn]
* [http://www.luckyseventh.nl Lucky Seventh - The Netherlands]
* [http://www.battleofthebulge.org/fact/fact_sheet_of_the_7th_armored_di.html Fact Sheet of the 7th Armored Division] WARNING: the information on this link is extremely flawed: the units listed are not at all the units of the 7th Armored Division, and the purported history of the Division has major gaps and errors


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