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45th Infantry Division


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45thInfDiv.jpg

 

NAME:

Forty-Fifth Infantry Division / 45th Division

 

NICKNAME:

"Thunderbirds"

 

BATTLE HONORS:

 

World War II

Sicily

Naples-Foggia

Anzio

Rome-Arno

Southern France

Ardennes-Alsace

Rhineland

Central Europe

 

ACTIVATED:

Sept 16, 1940

 

DEACTIVATED:

Dec 7, 1945

 

 

HISTORY:

 

Pre-World War II

 

Activated: In 1924 as a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

 

During this time, the 45th Division used a red square with a yellow swastika, which was an an American Indian symbol.

 

 

World War II

 

Activated: 16 September 1940.

 

Overseas: 8 June 1943.

 

Campaigns: Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe.

 

Days of combat: 511.

 

Distinguished Unit Citations: 7.

 

Awards: MH-8 ; DSC-61 ; DSM-3 ; SS-1,848 ; LM-38; SM-59 ; BSM-5,744 ; AM-52.

 

Commanders: Maj, Gen. William S. Key (September 1940-October 1942), Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton (October 1942-December 1943), Maj. Gen. William W. Eagles (December 1943-December 1944), Maj. Gen. Robert T. Frederick (December 1944-September 1945), Brig. Gen. Henry J. D. Meyer (September 1945 to inactivation).

 

Returned to U.S.: 14 September 1945.

 

Inactivated: 7 December 1945. (See National Guard.)

 

Combat Chronicle

----Mediterranean Theatre

The 45th Division landed in North Africa, 22 June 1943, and trained at Arzew, French Morocco. It landed in Sicily, 10 July, in its first major amphibious operation and moved inland under minor opposition. The enemy resisted fiercely at Motta Hill, 26 July, before losing the fourday battle of "Bloody Ridge." On 1 August, the Division withdrew for rest and patrols. On 10 September 1943, the second landing at Salerno occurred. Against stiff resistance, the 45th pushed to the Calore River, 27 September, crossed the Volturno River, 3 November, and took Venafro. Until 9 January 1944, the Division inched forward into the mountains reaching St. Elia north of Cassino before moving to a rest area.

 

The 45th landed at Anzio, 22 January 1944, and for 4 months stood its ground against violent assaults. It went over to the attack, 23 May, crossed the Tiber River, 4 June, outflanking Rome and withdrew for rest and training on the 16th.

 

-----France and Germany

The 45th participated in its fourth assault landing during Operation Dragoon, 15 August 1944, at St. Maxime in Southern France. Against slight opposition, it spearheaded the drive for the Belfort Gap. It took the strongly defended city of Epinal, 24 September, crossed the Moselle River and entered the western foothills of the Vosges, taking Rambervillers on the 30th, and crossing the Mortagne River, 23 October.

 

After a brief rest, on 25 November the 45th cracked the forts north of Mutzig (Fort Kaiser Wilhelm II designed in 1893 to block access to the plain of Alsace [1]), crossed the Zintzel River and pushed through the Maginot defenses. From 2 January 1945, the Division fought defensively along the German border, withdrawing to the Moder River. On 17 February, it went back for rest and training. The 45th moved north to the Sarreguemines area and smashed at the Siegfried Line, 17 March, taking Homburg on the 21st and crossing the Rhine between Worms and Hamm on the 26th. The advance continued, Aschaffenburg falling, 3 April, and Nuremberg on the 20th. The Division crossed the Danube, 27 April, took Munich on the 30th and liberated 32,000 captives in the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. The Division captured Munich during the next two days, and on the eve of V-E Day, began operating Radio Station Thunderbird. During the next month, the Division occupied Munich and set up collection points and camps for the massive numbers of surrendering troops of the Axis armies. The number of POWs taken by the 45th Division during its almost two years of fighting totaled 124,840.

 

The Division returned to New York in early June, 1945, and from there went to Camp Bowie, Texas. On December 7, 1945, the Division was deactivated and its members reassigned to other Army units.

 

During World War II, the 45th Division fought in 511 days of combat. Over 20,000 soldiers in the Division were killed, wounded or missing in action.

 

Division Involvement in War Crimes

During the invasion of Sicily in 1943, the U.S. 45th (Thunderbird) members of the division executed 76 German and Italian Prisoners of War in the Biscari Massacre. One officer and one NCO were court-martialled.

 

Members of the Division executed a number of guards after the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp in the so-called Dachau Massacre.

 

 

Divisional history from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_45th_Infantry_Division

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WWII VARIATIONS:

 

STANDARD SMALL WWII (FLAT EMBROIDERY WITH GOLD EYE)

STANDARD SMALL WWII (ROW EMBROIDERY WITH GOLD EYE)

 

WWII ITALIAN "DRAPERY" WOVEN (WITHOUT COTTON BACKING)

WWII ITALIAN "DRAPERY" WOVEN (WITH COTTON BACKING MATERIAL)

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**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/15996-please-read-gary-mohrlang-glm/

 

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Hello

 

I have a question related to early symbology of this division. Was it political decision to change swastika into other symbol in view of bad swastika image in nazi hands?

 

Best regards

 

Greg

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At the request of fellow member Wailuna, I am posting this 45th variation. The SSgt wearing this patch is a member of the 120th Observation Squadron, Colorado National Guard, 1938. You can see the entire photo in the Military Aviation section of our forum.

 

Will

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Another 45th variation.

 

-Ski

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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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An interesting OD bordered 45th.

 

-Ski

post-3043-1221171362.jpg

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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

donation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

donation2017.gif


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Hello

 

I have a question related to early symbology of this division. Was it political decision to change swastika into other symbol in view of bad swastika image in nazi hands?

 

Best regards

 

Greg

I cannot imagine any other possible reason to have changed it.

 

The Nazi party altered and tainted forever the ancient traditional meaning of that symbol... whether it is represented oriented clockwise or not.

 

Link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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A round variant of the first type of 45th Division SSI. Attributed to a member of Co. I, 157th Infantry (Burlington, Colorado), whose unit wore the round variant in 1920s.

 

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(From the Patch Johnson collection; used with permission)

Note: See post #14 above for another example of the round variant and link here for more information on the original photograph.

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Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:


"To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,


For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods."

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Pre-WWII felt-on-felt:

 

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Hi,

Just a question: I also see these embroidered on twill. Which ones are older in your opinion? My guess is, the twill patches were made 1930-1933 and the felt patches before 1930? I mean: the division dropped the swastika-design in 1933, of course... So after that no 'first design' patches were produced I guess. Would be very interested in some photos of the pre-thunderbird patch and some reference/estimation as to the time frame they were worn. Many thanks! Bocage

 

Two current intems on eBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-WW-2-United-S...=item3cca1cb9e5

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SUPER-RARE-WW-2-Un...=item3cca1c2e85

In my patch collection I mainly focus on World War Two to early post-WW2 Divisional Shoulder Sleeve Insignia | Always buying 94th Infantry Division WW2 items, books, photos, patches and post-WW2 veteran's reunion items. | Selling and/or trading my german militaria collection | All pictures are taken by me and objects shown are part of my collection, unless stated otherwise | It's okay to use the pictures for non-commercial purposes (eg. study, reference, etc.) | 94th Infantry Division Historical Society Lifetime Member | 29th Infantry Division Historical Society Member | ASMIC Member | Join ASMIC today via: https://www.asmic.org/join.aspx Make sure to like 94th Infantry Division Books on Facebook

 

All the best!

Bocage

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...Would be very interested in some photos of the pre-thunderbird patch and some reference/estimation as to the time frame they were worn....

Did you miss this one (link here)? It was worn ca. 1938 and the image was posted on the Forum more than four years hence.

 

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donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

post-24355-0-52548100-1420800713.png

 

 

Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:


"To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,


For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods."

 

 

 

 

 

 


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