Yves J. Bellanger



 5th ID Patch


In World War I, the 5th Infantry Division made history and established is battle prestige by making a forced, bloody crossing of the Meuse river 25 miles north of Verdun, on a two kilometer front and advancing 18 kilometers to the objective in the second Meuse-Argonnes offensive.

In World War II, the 5th Infantry Division, still basically organized and equipped to move at the infantryman's foot-marching rate of 2 1/2 miles per hour, made history by liberating 700 miles of France in the miraculously short time of 27 days. In spearheading the Third Army's eastward drive during August, the 5th Infantry outsped the armored divisions.Its advance was a triumph of improvisation of organic division transportation, of quick and aggressive battle action in wiping out organized German resistance, and of bold daring in striking through the German army regardless of the danger to exposed flanks, and rear. In its drive, the 5th was always the farthest east in combat strength, fighting its way quickly past organized German groups in river crossings of the Maine, Eure, Seine, Marne, Meuse and in September, the bloody muddy Moselle.

The story of the 5th Infantry Division through France is a story of versatility and practical application of the motto "WE WILL". It is a story of a division that earned a reputation with the Third Army commander, Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr. of being a unit that when told to "get up and go" "it got up and got"; a story of military art and science of how to kill Germans, capture high ground and force river-crossings, a story of the infinite courage and sacrifice and fighting ability of the infantry, tank and tank-destroyer teams, of a calculating skill and courage of the artillery, engineers and signal corps, of bravery and skill of the medics, and of the foresight, improvisation and work of the command and staff and the service and supply echelons of the division. It's a narrative of an outfit that was the first division to go overseas to outpost the North Atlantic island of Iceland, later to train intensively in England and North Ireland and then to establish the battle prestige of the Red Diamond in the fighting in Normandy hedgerows, wooded Brittany, important cities, the plains before Paris, famous rivers and the moated forts around Metz.

The actual story is the story of the officers and men of the division, particularly of those who are no longer with the division except in memory. But the deeds of most of the latter were done without benefit of witnesses to tell of them and perhaps that makes their heroism the greater. But the deeds of the men now in the division have been so many that it is impossible to chronicle them all. What the following story of the division accomplished, where it fought and indicate by example how it fought.


Pages 3 and 4 of the History booklet of the 5th Infantry Division, published at Metz, France, in December 1944.

Thanks to Lester Cormicle for his help in the transcription of the booklet.

The story continues in Normandy page.



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Created in July 2001

Updated July 16, 2001 by Yves J. Bellanger