"Cactus Division" (Special Designation)
The 103rd Infantry Division ("Cactus Division") was a unit of the United States Army which served in the U.S. Seventh Army of the 6th Army Group during World War II.
- World War II
- Combat chronicle
- Division Components
- Assignments in the European Theater of Operations
- Post war
It was variously assigned to the VI Corps, XV Corps, and XXI Corps. By war's end it was part of VI Corps' dash across Bavaria into the Alps, reaching Innsbruck, Austria, taking the Brenner Pass, and earning the honor of linking up with the U.S. Fifth Army coming north from Vipiteno Italy, joining the Italian and Western European fronts on May 4, 1945.
World War II
The 103d Infantry Division was activated on 15 November 1942, and after nearly two years of training, departed the United States for Europe on 11 September 1944. The division arrived at Marseilles, France, 20 October 1944. It relieved the 3d Division at Chevry on 8 November, arrived at Docelles (Vosges) on 9 November, and attacked west of St. Dié, 16 November, in its drive through the Vosges. Meeting heavy resistance all the way, it crossed the Meurthe River, took St. Dié, 23 November and captured Diefenbach on 29 November and Selestat on 4 December.
The division crossed the Zintzel river at Griesbach, 10 December 1944. Pushing through Climbach, the 103d crossed the Lauter river into Germany, 15 December, and assaulted the outer defenses of the Siegfried Line. On 22 December, the division moved west to the Sarreguemines area where an active defense was maintained. The enemy offensive did not develop in its sector and the 103d moved to Reichshofen, 14 January 1945, to take up positions along the Sauer River. On 15 January, General Anthony "Nuts" McAuliffe was redeployed from the Battle of the Bulge and given command, which he retained until July 1945. Defensive patrols were active and a limited attack on Soufflenheim on 19 January was repulsed by the enemy. On 20 January, the division withdrew to the Moder and repulsed German advances near Muehlhausen, 23–25 January. The 103d's offensive began, 15 March 1945. Crossing the Moder and Zintzel rivers and taking Muehlhausen against sharp opposition, the division moved over the Lauter river and penetrated the defences of the Siegfried Line.
As German resistance disintegrated, the 103d reached the Upper Rhine Valley, 23 March, and engaged in mopping up operations in the plain west of the River Rhine. In April 1945, it received occupational duties until 20 April when it resumed the offensive, pursuing a fleeing enemy through Stuttgart and taking Münsingen on 24 April. On 27 April, elements of the division entered Landsberg, where Kaufering concentration camp, a subcamp of Dachau, was liberated. The men of the division crossed the Danube River near Ulm on 26 April. On 3 May 1945, members of its 409th Infantry Regiment captured Innsbruck, Austria with little to no fighting. The 411th Infantry Regiment continued on to take the Brenner Pass and earn the honor of linking up with the 88th Infantry Division of the Fifth Army which had been fighting its way north up the Italian peninsula. Troops met at Vipiteno, Italy, near the Austrian border on May 4, 1945, joining the Italian and Western European fronts.
After Victory in Europe Day the division received occupational duties until it left for home and inactivation.
It returned to the continental U.S on 10 September 1945, and was inactivated on 22 September 1945.
Components of the 103rd Infantry Division included:
Assignments in the European Theater of Operations
The 103rd was activated as a Organized Reserve Corps division on 7 May 1947 in Des Moines, Iowa. Its combat elements were reorganized and redesignated as the 205th Infantry Brigade and the 103rd Operational Headquarters in February 1963. The 103rd Operational Headquarters was redesignated 103rd Command Headquarters (Divisional) in June 1963. In December,1965 the unit was reorganized as the 103rd Support Brigade.
In September 1977 the unit was redesignated and reorganized as the 103rd Corps Support Command (COSCOM), the first Corps Support Command in the United States Army Reserve. On 15 September 1993 the 103rd COSCOM inactivated. The 103d COSCOM inactivation was followed by creation of two new reserve units: 19th Theater Army Area Command (CONUS) and 3d COSCOM (CONUS). On 14 February 2006 the 103rd was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 103rd Sustainment Command. The 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command was activated as a reserve command effective 16 September 2006. The division shoulder patch is worn by the United States Army Reserve 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).