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US 2nd Armored Division

The 2nd Armored Division of the United States Army, nicknamed "Hell on Wheels", played an important role in the breakout of the Battle of Normandy in World War II. The division was deactivated in 1991; confusingly, the 5th Infantry Division was redesignated as "2nd Armored Division" in 1992, then became the 4th Infantry Division in December 1995.

The 2nd Armored was formed at Fort Benning, Georgia on July 15, 1940, originally commanded by Major General Charles L. Scott, with Colonel George S. Patton in charge of training. Scott was promoted to command the I Armored Corps in November of that year, which put Patton, now a brigadier general, in command of the division.

Through World War II, the 2nd Armored's core units included the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, the 66th Armored Regiment, the 67th Armored Regiment, the 17th Armored Engineer Battalion, the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 142nd Armored Signal Company. It also had the normal divisional artillery formation, along with an organic divisional train. It served with the 1st and 9th Armies, and was assigned to the 12th Army Group throughout the war.

Elements of the division participated in Operation Torch, landing at Casablanca on November 8, 1942, but the whole division first went into action in the Operation Husky landing at Gela in Sicily, July 10, 1943 and fighting through to Palermo.

The division then landed in Normandy on June 9, 1944, operated in the Cotentin Peninsula and later formed the right flank of the Operation Cobra assault. It blunted the German attack on Avranches, then raced across France with the rest of the 3rd Army, reaching the Albert Canal in Belgium on September 8. The division had harder fighting in Germany, then in the Battle of the Bulge counterattacked and recaptured Celles on December 25.

On March 1, 1945, the division attacked across the Cologne Plain, crossed the Rhine River on March 27, fought the Battle for the Teutoberger Wald Passes from April 2, crossed the Weser River on April 5, and assaulted Magdeburg April 17. After the end of hostilities, the division became the first American unit to enter Berlin.

The division returned to Camp Hood (later Fort Hood) in Texas in 1946. It served NATO in Germany from 1951 to 1957, and several of its battalions participated in Vietnam. The 1st Tiger Brigade participated in Operation Desert Storm by providing heavy armour for USMC forces in their attack into Iraq. Another of its brigades, the 3rd was attached to the 1st Infantry Division. The 2nd brigade could not be deployed as it was in the middle of deactivating.


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