Spearhead in the West, 1941-45: The Third Armored Division

Spearhead in the West, 1941-45: The Third Armored Division

Spearhead in the West, 1941-45: The Third Armored Division

Spearhead in the West, 1941-45: The Third Armored Division


The story of SPEARHEAD IN THE WEST recounts the early history of the 3rd Armored Division, its training in various locations, both in the United States and in England, and its combat record from Normandy to the banks of the River Elbe, in Germany. It is a narrative of hard training and bitter combat, of local reverses and the stunning victory that befits a great armored division.

Realizing that it would take volumes to relate the day by day stories of each individual unit, this book intends to cover, in three distinct sections, the combined history and battle lore of the entire division. The first section is given over to an introduction of "Spearhead" units and organization, the second to a popular narrative account, together with sketches and photographs of important scenes, persons and events. The third section retells the accurate battle history of the division as compiled from the mass of official documents, journals and records.

The 3rd Armored Division was activated and trained in Louisiana; maneuvered widely over California's Mojave Desert, the hills of Virginia, and the mountainous terrain of Pennsylvania, before sailing for England in the autumn of 1943. The men of the command were a cross section of America: no picked troops. They entered the maelstrom of combat as green but determined soldiers. They emerged from the conflict as the supreme commander's conquerors.

The 3rd came of age in the bloody hedgerow fighting of Normandy, in June, 1944. Through northern France, leading the whirlwind summer offensive of the American First Army's crack VII Corps, the division was first into Belgium, first into and subsequently through the Siegfried line, first to take a German town.

The men of the 3rd Armored Division ought in five western European campaigns, in Normandy, northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes, and in central Germany. They made a sensational 18-day dash from the Seine to the Siegfried. They led the might of America to Cologne. They spearheaded the magnificent Ruhr encirclement and they lost a great general in that clash of desperate steel which precipitated Germany's unconditional surrender. From the last battle, the last dusty, hell-clamorous storm of mortal conflict, these men emerged as hardened veterans and champions of armored force. They had gained renown as the battering ram of the first team, the cutting edge, the spearhead of the first Americans in the west.

The men of the 3rd were good, and they knew it. They also knew the cost of the laurels. Back along the old, torn roads of conquest nearly 3,000 comrades lay beneath the white crosses of military cemeteries. Battle is never one-sided. By that token the most famous of fighting divisions are store-houses of sorrow. The "Spearhead" was no exception.

Colonel John A. Smith, Jr., Chief of Staff.

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