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36th Infantry Division

The 36th Infantry Division landed in North Africa, April 13, 1943, and trained at Arzew and Rabat. It first saw action, September 9, 1943, when it landed at Paestum on the Gulf of Salerno. The waiting enemy launched counterattacks, but the 36th advanced slowly, securing the area from Agropoli to Altavilla. After a brief rest the 36th returned to combat, November 15. It captured Mount Maggiore, Mount Lungo, and the village of San Pietro despite strong enemy positions and severe winter weather. This grueling campaign was marked by futile attempts to establish a secure bridgehead across the Rapido River, January 1 to February 8, 1944.

143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, approach Paestum, south of Salerno, during Operation Avalanche. September 9, 1943. (National Archives)
Infantrymen of the 36th Division sighting with binoculars from Fort Schuster in the Chiunzi Pass. September 1943. (Robert Capa/International Center for Photography)

After assisting the 34th Division in the attack on Cassino and fighting defensively along the Rapido River, the 36th withdrew, March 12, 1944, for rest and rehabilitation. On May 25, the Division landed at Anzio, drove north to capture Velletri, June 1, and entered Rome on the 5th. Pushing up from Rome, the 36th encountered sharp resistance at Magliano, but reached Piombino, June 26, before moving back to Paestum for rest and rehabilitation. On August 15, the Division made another assault landing against light opposition in the RaphaelFrejus area of Southern France.

36th Infantry Division medics enter San Pietro. December 1943. (National Archives)
Pfc. Edward J. Foley of the 143rd Infantry, 36th Infantry Division, cleans his M1903A4 sniper rifle before moving out to the front lines near Velletri, Italy. May 29, 1944. (National Archives)

A lightning dash opened the Rhone River Valley. Montelimar fell, August 28, and large Nazi units were trapped. The 36th advanced to the Moselle River at Remiremont and the foothills of the Vosges. In a grinding offensive, the Division crossed the Meurthe River, breached the Ste. Marie Pass and burst into the Alsatian Plains. The enemy counterattacked, December 13, and the 36th held in the Colmar Pocket. On the 20th the Division resumed the attack, advancing northward along the Rhine River to Mannheim meeting heavy resistance at Haguenau, Oberhofen, and Wissembourg. The 36th moved to the Danube, 22 April 1945, and attacked the "National Redoubt" at Kunzelsau on the 30th in its final action.

Activated: November 25, 1940 (National Guard Division from Texas).

Overseas: April 2, 1943

Campaigns: Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, Central Europe.

Days of combat: 400

Distinguished Unit Citations: 12

Awards: Medal of Honor-14; Distinguished Service Cross-80; Distinguished Service Medal-2; Silver Star-2,354; Legion of Merit-49; Soldier's Medal-77 ; Bronze Star Medal-5,407; Achievement Medal-88.

Returned to U. S.: December 15, 1945

Inactivated: December 15, 1945

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