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Historical account of the 1st Infantry Division Battle of Normandy -  
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History of the 1st Infantry Division

Creation of the 1st I.D.

The 1st Infantry division is created in 1917. It is the first american infantry division to be created in order to fight the german forces during the first world war. It is composed of 4 infantry regiments, 3 artillery regiments and some small units. On the whole, this division is composed of 28.000 men. On november 3rd, 1917, it gives its first engagement in Europe.

On the Picardie front, on May 28th 1918, in northern France, the 1st infantry division attacks the german tranches during the Cantigny battle. For days, the battle is very hard and losses are terrifying: about a thousand of american soldiers are out of fight, but the victory belongs to the Americans (the first american victory in Europe).

North Africa

When the 1st infantry division returns to active duty, it is composed of 15.000 soldiers. Its first battle of the World War 2 starts in North Africa during the operation Torch on November 8th, 1942. The allied forces organize for the first time a big scale landing near Oran, Algeria.

The 1st infantry division, nicknamed the "Big Red One" in relation with its insigna, fights in Tunisia and takes part in the July 1943 Sicily invasion.


The "Big Red One" then goes to England to prepare the operation Overlord. Indeed, the 1st Infantry division is ordered to land on Omaha Beach, with the 29th infantry division.

On June 6, 1944 the 16th infantry regiment led by Major General C. Ralph Huebner lands at 06:30 a.m. in Normandy in front of the Colleville-sur-Mer town. The german resistance is very strong and the Americans are almost defeated. Losses are impressive: 95% of the officers are killed and no soldiers have landed where they were supposed to. But these veterans of the North Africa front do not loose controle and attack once again the Atlantik wall, defended by the 352nd german infantry division. General Taylor, commander in chief of the 16th infantry regiment, tells his men : "Two kinds of people will stay on this beach: the dead and those who will die! Now , let's go out of here!"


After the Normandy landings, the 1st Infantry Division participate in the liberation of the city of Liege (Belgium) and the German forces back behind the Rhine. It crosses the Siegfried line then attacks the German city of Aachen which surrender on October 21,1944.


Image : The shoulder patch of the 1st infantry division, nicknamed the "Big Red One"

The shoulder patch of the 1st infantry division, nicknamed the "Big Red One".


But on December 16, 1944, the Germans launche their last forces in the Operation Nordwind and counterattack in the Ardennes forest. Located at Bullingen, the 1st Infantry Division defends its position by inflicting heavy losses to the German forces.

On January 15, 1945, the U.S. situation is improving in the Ardennes and the Allied divisions counterattack themselves. The 1st infantry division crosses for a second time the Siegfried Line reoccupied by the Germans, then it establishes a beachhead in the region of Remagen.

On April 8, 1945, the Big Red One enters in Czechoslovakia after crossing the Weser river. This is its last action of the Second World War. It serves as an occupation division in Germany until 1955 before returning to Fort Riley (USA).

21.023 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division have been killed, wounded or are missing in action during World War 2.

After 1945

In July 1965, the 1st Infantry Division is involved in the conflict in Vietnam, in the landing at Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau. The division is transferred during the Cold War in Germany (where it is still based today) and returns to the battlefield during the operation Desert Storm in 1991.

In 1996, elements of the Big Red One participate in peace operations in Bosnia as well as in Kosovo in 1999 as part of a peacekeeping operation called Joint Guardian. It is also engaged in Iraq and in Afghanistan from 2001 until the end of the engagement in these countries. - Reproduction is submitted to authorization - Contact the webmaster