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4th Armored Division (United States)

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Active  1941–72
Branch  United States Army
Role  Armored warfare
Country  United States
Type  Armor
Size  Division
4th Armored Division (United States)

The 4th Armored Division of the United States Army was an Armored Division that earned distinction while spearheading General Patton's Third Army in the European theater of World War II.


The 4th Armored Division, unlike most other U.S. armored divisions during World War II, didn't officially adopt a nickname for the division during the war. However, their unofficial nickname "Name Enough" came into use postwar; the division commander having said, "Fourth Armored Division was name enough"; "They shall be known by their deeds alone". The 4th was named the "Breakthrough" division in 1954, but that name was eventually discontinued.

World War II service

The 4th Armored Division was activated during World War II on 15 April 1941 with 3,800 men (10,000 by end of May 1941) from various other units, at Pine Camp (Camp Drum, 1951; Fort Drum, 1974), New York under Henry W. Baird. The division was organized as a full Armored Division in May and June 1942 under the command of Major General John Shirley Wood. It left Pine Camp for Camp Forrest for the Tennessee maneuvers in the Cumberland Mountains held in September and October. In Mid-November, it was transferred to the Desert Training Center (DTC) in the California-Arizona maneuver area and was the first Armored Division to occupy Camp Ibis near Needles, California in the Mojave Desert, which was close to the Arizona and Nevada borders. On 3 June, the 4th AD arrived at Camp Bowie, Texas, an armored training center located at the southern end of the Piute Valley, for more maneuvers until 11–18 July when it departed for Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts for winter training. On 29 December, the 4th AD departed Boston to conduct training in England in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.


After training in England from January to July 1944, the 4th Armored Division landed at Utah Beach, on 11 July, over a month after the initial Normandy landings, and first entered combat on 17 July; on 28 July, battle action as part of the VIII Corps exploitation force for Operation Cobra, the 4th AD secured the Coutances area. The 4th AD then swung south to take Nantes, cutting off the Brittany Peninsula, 12 August 1944. Turning east, it drove swiftly across France north of the Loire, smashed across the Moselle 11–13 September, flanked Nancy and captured Lunéville, 16 September. The 4th AD fought several German panzergrenadier brigades in the Lorraine area including the SS Panzergrenadier Brigade 49 and SS Panzergrenadier Brigade 51 at this time, defeating a larger German force through superior tactics and training.

After maintaining a defensive line, Chambrey to Xanrey to Hénaménil, from 27 September to 11 October, the 4th AD rested briefly before returning to combat 9 November with an attack in the vicinity of Viviers. The 4th AD cleared Bois de Serres, 12 November, advanced through Dieuze and crossed the Saar River, 21–22 November, to establish and expand bridgehead and took Singling and Bining, then Baerendorf 24 November, before being relieved 8 December.

The 4th Armored Division received the following unit awards from France: Croix de Guerre with Palm (27–29 July 1944), Croix de Guerre with Palm (12–29 September 1944), and French Fourragere in the colors of the Croix de guerre.

Battle of the Bulge

Two days after the Germans launched their Ardennes Offensive, the 4th AD entered the fight (18 December 1944), racing northwest into Belgium, covering 150 miles in 19 hours. The 4th AD, spearheading Patton's Third Army, attacked the Germans at Bastogne and, on 26 December, was the first unit (Company C, 37th Armored Battalion) to breakthrough at Bastogne and relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division. Six weeks later the 4th AD jumped off from Luxembourg City in an eastward plunge that carried it across the Moselle River at Trier, south and east to Worms, and across the Rhine, 24–25 March 1945. Advancing all night, the 4th AD crossed the Main River the next day, south of Hanau, and continued to push on. Lauterbach fell 29 March, Creuzburg across the Werra on 1 April, Gotha on 4 April ... where the 4th AD liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp, and by 12 April the 4TH AD was across the Saale River. Pursuit of the enemy continued and by 6 May the division had crossed into Czechoslovakia, established a bridgehead across the Otava River at Strakonice, with forward elements at Pisek. The 4th AD was reassigned to the XII Corps on 30 April 1945.

The 4th AD's first commander Major General John Shirley Wood, (known as "P" Wood to his contemporaries, the "P" standing for "Professor") who took over the division officially on 18 June 1942, trained the 4th Armored Division for two years before he personally led it into combat in France, on 28 July 1944, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. On 1 August, General George Patton's U.S. Third Army became operational and the 4th AD became the spearhead of the Third Army. The British military armor theorist and historian, Captain Basil Henry Liddell Hart, once referred to General Wood as "the Rommel of the American armored forces." Like Rommel, Wood commanded from the front, and preferred staying on the offensive, using speed and envelopment tactics to confuse the enemy. General Wood often utilized a light Piper Cub liaison aircraft flown by his personal pilot, Major Charles "Bazooka Charlie" Carpenter, to keep up with his rapidly moving division, sometimes personally carrying corps orders from headquarters directly to his advancing armored columns.

On 3 December 1944, General Wood was relieved as division commander. The division was then led by Major General Hugh Gaffey through the Battle of the Bulge and until the end of the war. Major General Archibald R. Kennedy commanded the division after the war.

Among the most famous members of the 4th AD during World War II was Creighton Abrams, who commanded the 37th Tank Battalion. Abrams later rose to command all U.S. forces in Vietnam and served as U.S. Army Chief of Staff in the 1970s. The current U.S. M-1 tank is named after him.


  • Total battle casualties: 6,212
  • Killed in action: 1,143
  • Wounded in action: 4,551
  • Missing in action: 65
  • Prisoner of war: 453
  • Awards

    The 4th Armored Division was the first U.S. Armored Division to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, for its actions 22 December 1944 through 27 March 1945 (cited; WD GO 54, 1945).

    Postwar Service

    After a tour of occupation duty, the 4th AD returned to the United States for inactivation. Most of its elements, however, remained as occupation forces in Germany after redesignation as the First Constabulary Brigade. In 1949, it was redesignated the 4th Armored Division and inactivated on 20 May 1949.

    The 4th AD was reactivated on 15 June 1954 at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas with the name 4th Armored "Breakthrough" Division ("Breakthrough" was discontinued some years afterwards) and was deployed to Germany in 1957 with headquarters at Cooke Barracks in Göppingen. The division appears to have been part of VII Corps for most of this period.

    On 30 June 1958 Combat Command "A" was at Wiley Barracks, New Ulm, It comprised 2nd Medium Tank Battalion (MTB), 66th Armored Regiment (Leipheim), 2nd Armored Rifle Battalion (ARB), 41st Infantry (Neu Ulm), and 2nd Armored Rifle Battalion, 51st Infantry Regiment. CC "B" was at Ferris Barracks, Erlangen, comprising the 1st MTB, 35th Armor Regiment (Ferris Barracks), 2nd MTB, 67th Armor Regiment (Fürth), 2nd ARB, 50th Inf (Ferris Barracks), and 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 15th Cavalry. CC "C" was at McKee Barracks, Crailsheim. It comprised 1st MTB, 37th Armor Regiment (McKee Barracks) and 1st ARB, 54th Infantry.

    The 4th AD remained in Germany until final inactivation in May 1971, when it was redesignated the 1st Armored Division.

    World War II Assignments

    1. First United States Army: 18 December 1943
    2. VIII Corps: 22 January 1944
    3. XX Corps: 9 March 1944
    4. XV Corps: 20 April 1944
    5. VIII Corps: 15 July 1944
    6. XII Corps: 13 August 1944
    7. III Corps: 19 December 1944
    8. VIII Corps: 2 January 1945
    9. XII Corps: 12 January 1945
    10. VIII Corps: 4 April 1945
    11. X Corps: 9 April 1945
    12. VIII Corps: 17 April 1945

    Medal of Honor recipients

  • James H. Fields
  • James R. Hendrix
  • Joseph J. Sadowski
  • 4th AD unit awards

  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army), World War II (ARDENNES, 22 December 1944 – 27 March 1945; WD GO 54, 1945)
  • French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II (NORMANDY, 27–30 July 1944; DA GO 43, 1950)
  • French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II (MOSELLE RIVER, 12-29, September 1944; DA GO 43, 1950)
  • French Fourragere (Croix de Guerre colors), World War II (DA GO 43, 1950)
  • In Popular Culture

    In Harold Coyle's 1993 techno-thriller "The Ten Thousand", the 4th Armored Division forms part of the US Army Tenth Corps, much of the novels action is depicted from the point of view of members of the division.


    4th Armored Division (United States) Wikipedia

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