79th INFANTRY DIVISION - Cross of Lorraine

Activated 15 Jun 1942•  Entered Combat 19 Jun 1944 Normandy  •  Days of Combat 248  •  Casualties 15,203

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Commanding Generals

Maj. Gen. Ira T. Wyche   (Jun 42 - May 45) 
Brig. Gen. LeRoy H. Watson   (May 45 - Jul 45) 
Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe   (Jul 45 - Aug 45) 
Brig. Gen. LeRoy H. Watson   (Aug 45 - inactivation)

 

Campaigns

Normandy (6 Jun 44 - 24 Jul 44)
Northern France (25 Jul 44 - 14 Sep 44)
Rhineland (15 Sep 44 - 21 Mar 45)
Central Europe (22 Mar 45 - 11 May 45)

Campaign Route Map

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DIVISION CHRONICLE

After training in the United Kingdom from 17 April 1944, the 79th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, 12-14 June and entered combat 19 June 1944, with an attack on the high ground west and northwest of Valognes and high ground south of Cherbourg. The Division took Fort du Roule after a heavy engagement and entered Cherbourg, 25 June. It held a defensive line at the Ollonde River until 2 July 1944 and then returned to the offensive, taking La Haye du Puits in house-to-house fighting, 8 July. On 26 July, the 79th attacked across the Ay River, took Lessay, crossed the Sarthe River and entered Le Mans, 8 August, meeting only light resistance. The advance continued across the Seine, 19 August. Heavy German counterattacks were repulsed, 22-27 August, and the Division reached the Therain River, 31 August. Moving swiftly to the Franco-Belgian frontier near St. Amand, the Division encountered heavy resistance in taking Charmes in street fighting, 12 September. The 79th cut across the Moselle and Meurthe Rivers, 13-23 September, cleared the Foret de Parroy in a severe engagement, 28 September-9 October, and attacked to gain high ground east of Embermenil, 14-23 October, when it was relieved, 24 October. After rest and training at Luneville, the Division returned to combat with an attack from the MignevineMontiguy area, 13 November 1944, which carried it across the Vezouse and Moder Rivers, 18 November-10 December, through Haguenau in spite of determined enemy resistance, and into the Siegfried Line, 17-20 December. The Division held a defensive line along the Lauter River, at Wissembourg from 20 December 1944 until 2 January 1945, when it withdrew to Maginot Line defenses. The German attempt to establish a bridgehead west of the Rhine at Gambsheim resulted in furious fighting. The 79th beat off German attacks at Hatten and Rittershoffen in an 11-day battle before withdrawing to new defensive positions south of Haguenau on the Moder River, 19 January 1945. The Division remained on the defensive along the Moder until 6 February 1945. After resting in February and March 1945, the Division returned to combat, 24 March 1945, crossed the Rhine, drove across the Rhine-Herne Canal, 7 April, secured the north bank of the Ruhr and took part in clearing the Ruhr Pocket until 13 April. The Division then went on occupation duty, in the Dortmund, Sudetenland, and Bavarian areas successively, until its return to the United States and inactivation.

 

Notes and sources:
Date Activated is the date the division was activated or inducted into federal service (national guard units).
Casualties are number of killed, wounded in action, captured, and missing.
The dates after the campaign name are the dates of the campaign not of the division.
The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States; , U.S. Government Printing Office. Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths in World War II, Final Report, 1 December 1941 - 31 December 1946. US Army Center of Military History at http://www.history.army.mil/ Various divisional histories