The 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, a unit in the 2nd Armored Division, was created on July 15, 1940. The 2nd Armored was formed at Fort Benning, Georgia and was originally commanded by Major General Charles L. Scott, with Colonel George S. Patton in charge of training. When Scott was promoted in November of that year, Patton, now a brigadier general, was placed in command of the division.
Image of George S. Patton at Fort Benning
From 1940 to 1942, the Regiment trained hard in preparation for combat as part of the 2nd Armored Division. Both the division and the regiment distinguished themselves in a series of large-scale, force-on-force maneuvers in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Carolina. Battle drills, marksmanship, and tough physical training were the hallmarks of the 41st Infantry. Third Army Lt. General Walter Krueger said that he was “constantly impressed by the high morale, technical proficiency and devotion to duty by personnel of [the] 2d Armored Division.” The division moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for final training before going overseas.
Image of Louisiana maneuvers
The regiment sailed from New York in December and arrived in Morocco on Christmas Day. Part of the division participated in America's first amphibious landing of the war, hitting the beaches of Morocco, near Casablanca, in November 1942. Elements of the 2nd Armored Division quickly overpowered the sizable Vichy French Forces before they could organize an effective resistance. The key was rapid movement and massing of forces to such an extent that the Vichy French became convinced that they were completely outmatched. Here, the 2nd Armored Division had taken part in perhaps the most difficult of all military operations, an amphibious landing on hostile soil, and had proven itself in combat.
Following a period of occupation duty in North Africa, the 41st Infantry participated as a part of the 2nd Armored Division in the invasion of Sicily (10 July 1943). Under command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton and his Seventh Army, U.S. forces bypassed the enemy strong points and seized the whole western end of the island with lightning speed. Hoping to earn the Americans more credit General Patton decided to attack Palermo. The 41st Infantry was in the forefront of the advance, playing an instrumental role in the capture of Palermo. On Sicily, the 2nd Armored Division suffered 343 casualties. They captured 16,199 Italian and German troops during the battle.
Mapping the Sicily Campaign
After this successful campaign, the 41st Infantry arrived at Tidworth Barracks, England in November 1943 to prepare for the D-Day Invasion. Although the barracks were a welcome change for the unit after nearly a year of combat, the Regimental Commander knew what was ahead and immediately instituted a demanding training program. The cold, wet English weather did not make training pleasant, but both the soldiers and their leaders knew that rugged, demanding training saved lives in combat.
Training began at the individual and squad level. Soldiers received instruction on rifle marksmanship, knowing that shooting straight and rapidly would be essential in future battles. COL Hinds also emphasized first aid in his training plan. He had learned from the tough fighting in North Africa and Sicily that soldiers must have the ability to assist one another in an effort to maintain the infantry's most important weapon, the rifleman.
Image of Pfc. Michael Macera
In mid April all leaves were cancelled. Final preparation for combat began. Ammunition, weapons, and individual equipment were inspected several times.The 41st Infantry conducted practice landing operations. Numerous terrain board exercises and map problems trained the leaders for the difficult missions that lay ahead for the first week of June 1944.
The 41st Infantry would cross Omaha Beach in Normandy as a part of the greatest armada in history, Operation Overload. Following the initial D-Day beach landings, the 2nd Armored Division was brought ashore June 9 1944 to provide the punch for a breakout from the beachhead. Initially, they worked with the 101st Airborne. In the first week in Normandy, they captured Isigny and helped to capture Carentan. By capturing Isigny, they linked up Omaha and Utah Beach. They then helped the 101st Airborne defend Carentan from a German counterattack designed to push the 101st out of Carentan. After defeating the German attack, the division attacked towards Periers, southwest of Carentan.
On July 26, after a period of rest, the division participated in Operation Cobra, General Bradley’s plan to finally break through the German lines and win the battle in Normandy. The Allies staged a very heavy air bombardment of the German positions, which decimated the German units opposing the American attack. The Americans attacked from St. Lo, south towards Vire.
German resistance was weak because the bombardment had been so devastating and because the American ground troops attacked swiftly. The 2nd Armored Division now fought alongside the 29th Infantry Division and the 28th Infantry Division. The 2nd Armored made quick progress, capturing Tessy-sur-Vire on July 27. By July 28th, most of the German troops south of St. Lo had been encircled by the American army and were surrounded. The Germans frantically attacked the 2nd Armored Division, trying to break out of the American trap. They were unsuccessful.
Hoping to split the American army in half, Hitler ordered the German army units not trapped by the Americans to attack down the Mortain road towards Avranches. If successful, the German troops trapped by Operation Cobra would be freed and would attempt to to push the Allies into the sea. As a result of messages intercepted and decrypted by Ultra, Americans were aware of the plan. When the Germans attacked, the Americans were waiting.
On August 7th, the town of Barenton was captured. The German attack route was blocked. On August 11, the Combat Commands ‘A’ and ‘B’ of the 2nd Armored Division split up and attacked the Germans trying to rescue their trapped comrades. The 2nd Armored Division attacked from both the north and the south. Within a few days, they had succeeded in trapping the troops which Hitler had ordered to attack at Mortain! With this victory, the battle of Normandy was won.
Mapping the Normandy Campaign
(click to enlarge image)
After advancing through France and Belgium, the 41st finally reached the German Border. Here the Germans planned to offer a more determined resistance. Along its border, the Germans had constructed the "Westwall" popularly known as the "Siegfried line." The 2nd Armored Division was ordered to push through the line between the Wurm and Roer Rivers. On October 1,1944 the 2nd Armored Division attacked on a very narrow front. German resistance was strong, as they were fighting on their own soil and Allied progress was steady but slow. The Germans counterattacked continuously. Near the village of Puffendorf, the Germans launched the largest tank counterattack to date on the western front. It was stopped in its tracks, but losses were high. From November 17th to 28th, the 41st Infantry breached a 15' wide, 10 mile long antitank ditch and led the way for the final, dramatic 10 day attack to the Roer River. Infantry maneuver and close combat were decisive factors during this attack.
Image 2nd Armored Division Battle of the Bulge
When the German army made its last desperate attack to try and win the war during the Battle of the Bulge in December, the 2nd Armored Division counterattacked and helped to throw the Germans back. In January, the division attacked into Germany. When the fighting in Europe ended on May 7, the division had almost reached Berlin. On 4 July 1945, the 41st Infantry moved to occupy the American zone in Berlin. On 27 January 1946, the 41st sailed for the U.S. from Calais, France.
Liberation of France Forges On