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42nd Infantry Division

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Forty-Second Infantry Division / 42nd Division



"Rainbow Division"




World War I


St. Mihiel



World War II


Central Europe



Aug 1917

July 14, 1943




June 29, 1946





World War I


Activated: August 1917 (National Guard Division, the components of which were drawn from 26 States and the District of Columbia).


Overseas: November 1917.


Major operations: Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne.


Days of combat: 264.


Casualties: Total 14,683 (KIA-2,058; WIA-12,625).


Commanders: Maj. Gen. W. A. Mann (5 September 1917), Maj. Gen. Charles T. Menoher (19 December 1917), Brig. Gen. Douglas MacArthur (10 November 1918), Maj. Gen. C. A. F. Flagler (22 November 1918).


The 42d Division was not organized as a National Guard division after World War I.



World War II


Activated: 14 July 1943


Overseas: November 1944.


Campaigns: Rhineland, Central Europe.


Days of combat: 106.


Distinguished Unit Citations: 1.


Awards: MH-1 ; DSC-4 ; DSM-1 ; SS-622; LM-9; SM-32; ; BSM-5,325 ; AM-104.


Commanders: Maj. Gen. Henry J. Collins commanded the Division during its entire period of Federal service in World War II.


Inactivated: 29 June 1946 in Europe.


Combat Chronicle

When formed for World War II, the 42nd was a unique unit, for it was a reconstitution of the World War I Rainbow Division. Except for the division headquarters, none of its earlier elements had reformed in the interwar period, so the Army Ground Forces filled its new units with personnel from every state. To emphasize the division's tie to its World War I predecessor, Maj. Gen. Harry J. Collins activated the unit on 14 July, the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Champagne-Marne campaign in France.


Following training and the journey to Europe, the three regiments and a detachment of the Division Headquarters arrived in France at Marseilles, 8-9 December 1944, and were formed into Task Force Linden, under the Assistant Division Commander. Assigned to VI Corps, Seventh Army, the Task Force entered combat in the vicinity of Strasbourg, relieving elements of the 36th Infantry Division, 24 December 1944. Defending a 31-mile sector along the Rhine, north and south of Strasbourg, the Task Force repulsed a number of enemy counterattacks, at Hatten and elsewhere. After throwing back an enemy attack, 24-26 January 1945, Task Force Linden returned to Seventh Army Reserve and trained with the remainder of the Division which had arrived meanwhile.


On 14 February 1945, the Division entered combat as a whole, taking up defensive positions near Haguenau in the Hardt Mountains. After a month of extensive patrolling and active defense, the 42d went on the offensive, attacking through the Hardt Mountains, broke through the Siegfried Line, 15-21 March, cleared Dahn and Busenberg, and mopped up in that general area, while the Third Army created and expanded bridgeheads across the Rhine. Moving across the Rhine, 31 March, the 42d captured Wertheim am Main, 1 April, and Würzburg, 2-6 April, after a fierce battle. Schweinfurt fell next after hand-to-hand engagements, 9-12 April. Fürth, near Nürnberg, put up fanatical resistance, but was taken, 18-19 April, by the Division. In 1976, the remains of about 200 men from the I Battalion, 38th SS Regiment were found and positively identified, apparently shot by troops from the U.S. 42nd Infantry Division and buried in a mass grave by Nuremberg. Most had been shot at very close range, suggesting that a massacre had taken place.


On the 25th, the 42nd captured Donauwörth on the Danube, and on the 29th liberated some 30,000 inmates at Dachau; one of the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps. Passing through Munich, 30 April, it cut across the Austrian border north of Salzburg, 5 May, as the war in Europe ended.


Assignments in the ETO

10 December 1944: Seventh Army, 6th Army Group.

15 December 1944: Third Army, 12th Army Group.

24 December 1944: VI Corps, Seventh Army, 6th Army Group.

25 March 1945: XXI Corps.

19 April 1945: XV Corps.



Post War and War in Iraq


The Division absorbed the units of the 26th Infantry Division and the 50th Armored Division in post Cold War restructuring. The New Jersey brigade that transferred from the disbanding 50th Division in 1988-9 was initially an armored brigade, but transitioned to an infantry brigade in the very first years of the 21st Century


The division has been the first National Guard division to be sent to the frontline under its own command since the Korean War. Serving as the headquarters of Task Force Liberty and responsible for security operations in four provinces of north central Iraq (Diyala, Salah ad Din, Kirkuk, As Sulaymaniyah), the 42nd Infantry Division directed the operations of 1st Brigade,US 3rd Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade,US 3rd Infantry Division, the 278th Regimental Combat Team, and the 116th Brigade Combat Team.


Divisional history from:





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Here's a printed variant of a WWI era 42nd patch. It's printed on a fine, silk-like material with burlap backing. One of the members have suggested German manufacture.



WWI Aero Squadron items such as insignia, uniforms & my favorite- PHOTOS! Will purchase or work out a possible trade

HIGHLY SOUGHT- Anything related to the AEF Photo Sections or 85th,258th & 278th Aero Squadrons.

To be alone, to have your life in your own hands, to use your own skill, single-handed, against the enemy. It was like the lists of the Middle Ages, the only sphere in modern warfare where a man saw his adversary and faced him in mortal combat, the only sphere where there was still chivalry and honour. If you won, it was your own bravery and skill; if you lost, it was because you had met a better man
-Cecil Lewis


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A early run of the 42nd Division in U.S. made fully embroidered Subdued Flat Edge form, sorry about the incorrect positioning of the patch, I tried to right it online, but it won't flip to it correct postion.




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Post-WWII German made 42nd Infantry Division patch.





In Memory Of......
Pte Harold Griffiths, 1805, 1/6th Manchester Regt, KIA June 4th, 1915 in Gallipoli
Cpl Isaac Judges, 40494, 6th East Yorkshire Regt, KIA October 3rd, 1917 in Ypres
May they rest in peace.....

MSgt - USAF Retired




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Found this on the WWI patch, I was unaware that it was first designed while the Division was still training in the states, strange though that no photos I seen so far show it being worn in France prior to Armistice. Perhaps it was only worn while the Division was a Camp Mills?

The Rainbow Patch


The 42nd Division, MacArthur explained, had soldiers from all over the country and would “stretch across America like a Rainbow.” The nickname stuck and troops at Camp Mills, near Garden City, Long Island, soon began to make their own versions of the Rainbow as a unit insignia. Local seamstresses created all sorts of unofficial versions of Rainbow insignia for the division as it trained for deployment to France through the
fall of 1917. Variations were wide, with many different color selections, sizes and arches of the Rainbow appearing in the ranks.

The Army, loving conformity and uniformity, provided authorization for the unit shoulder insignia by telegram on Oct. 29, 1918 for the 42nd Division. It was officially authorized for wear on May 27, 1922. After its reactivation and service in WWII from 1943-1946, the division reverted to its National Guard roots and the final authorization for wear of the shoulder insignia, the one that continues to this day here in New York, was granted on Sept. 8, 1947.







Father Duffy, the famous chaplain of the New York infantry regiment, the “Fighting 69th,” renamed the 165th Infantry for WWI service. Duffy wears a variation of the shoulder insignia.



Description of the insignia: The 4th quadrant of a rainbow of three bands red, yellow and blue, each 3/8 inch (.95cm) in width, outer radius 2 inches (5.08cm); all within a 1/8 inch (.32cm) Army green border.

The lore of the color schemes drawn from the prayer of the Rainbow Division say that the colors represent the blue of its valor, the gold of its love,
and the red of its sacrifice.


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Many of the original patches were a full arc. The men supposedly adpted the 1/4 arc to comemorate the loss of almost half the division during the war in casualties. I'll have to get a picture of the one I have.



That wasn't friendly fire.. If I was being 'friendly', I wouldn't have fired at them!!!


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