Military Wiki
US 5th Infantry Division.svg
5th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 11 December 1917 – 4 October 1921
2 October 1939 – 20 September 1946
15 July 1947 – 24 November 1992
Allegiance United States of America
Branch Regular Army (inactive)
Type Mechanized infantry division
Nickname(s) Red Diamond[1]
"Red Devils"
Motto(s) We Will

World War I

World War II

  • Normandy
  • Northern France
  • Rhineland
  • Ardennes-Alsace
  • Central Europe

Vietnam War

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase V
  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase VI
  • Tet 69 Counteroffensive
  • Vietnam Summer–Fall 1969
  • Vietnam Winter–Spring 1970
  • DA Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase VII

Operation Just Cause

  • Panama 1989–90
Bernard W. Rogers
Distinctive Unit Insignia 100px

The 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)—nicknamed the Red Diamond,[1] the Red Devils, or die Roten Teufel—was an infantry division of the United States Army that served in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, and with NATO and the U.S. Army III Corps. Its final inactivation occurred on 24 November 1992.[2]

World War I

The 5th Division was activated on 11 December 1917 at Camp Logan, near Houston, Texas. The entire division had arrived in France by 1 May 1918 and components of the units were deployed into the front line.[3]

The first soldiers of the unit to be killed in action died on 14 June of that year.[3]

On 12 September, the unit was part of a major attack that reduced the salient at St. Mihiel.[3]

The division served in the Army of Occupation, being based in Belgium and Luxembourg until it was inactivated in Europe on 4 October 1921.[3]

World War II

The 5th Division was activated as part of United States mobilization in response to the outbreak of European war in the fall of 1939, being formed at Fort McClellan, Alabama under the command of Brigadier General Campbell Hodges. Under the new "triangular" organization, units assigned included:[4]

2nd Infantry Regiment
10th Infantry Regiment
11th Infantry Regiment
19th Field Artillery Regiment
7th Engineer Battalion[5]

The following spring, in 1940, the division was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, and then temporarily to Louisiana for training exercises, before being transferred to Fort Benjamin Harrison at the end of May 1940. That December the division relocated to Fort Custer, Michigan, from where it participated in the Tennessee maneuvers. The formation went next to Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, in August 1941 for staging into both the Arkansas and Louisiana maneuvers before returning to Fort Custer that October. The division was stationed at Fort Custer when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war during December 1941. As the winter passed the division was brought up to strength and fully equipped for forward deployment into a war zone. During April 1942, the 5th Division received its overseas orders and departed the New York Port of Embarkation at the end of the month for Iceland. The division debarked in Iceland in May 1942, where it replaced the British garrison on this island outpost along the Atlantic convoy routes, and a year later was reorganized and re-designated as the 5th Infantry Division on 24 May 1943.[6]

Normandy landings

Infantry from 5th Infantry Division advances toward Fontainebleau en route to Paris, supported by M10 tank destroyers of the 818th TD Battalion.

Now commanded by Major General Stafford L. Irwin the 5th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach, 9 July 1944 and four days later took up defensive positions in the vicinity of Caumont. Launching a successful attack at Vidouville 26 July, the division drove on southeast of Saint-Lô, attacked and captured Angers, 9–10 August, captured Chartres, (assisted by the 7th Armored Division), 18 August,[7] pushed to Fontainebleau, crossed the Seine at Montereau, 24 August, crossed the Marne and seized Reims, 30 August, and positions east of Verdun. The division then prepared for the assault on Metz, 7 September.[8] In mid-September a bridgehead was secured across the Moselle, south of Metz, at Dornot and Arnaville after two attempts. The first attempt at Dornot by the 11th Regiment failed. German-held Fort Driant played a role in repulsing this crossing. A second crossing by the 10th Regiment at Arnaville was successful.[9] The division continued operations against Metz, 16 September to 16 October 1944, withdrew, then returned to the assault on 9 November. Metz finally fell 22 November. The division crossed the German border, 4 December, captured Lauterbach (a suburb of Völklingen) on the 5th, and elements reached the west bank of the Saar River, 6 December, before the division moved to assembly areas. On 16 December the Germans launched their winter offensive, and on the 18th the 5th ID was thrown in against the southern flank of the Bulge, helping to reduce it by the end of January 1945. In February and March, the division drove across and northeast of the Sauer, where it smashed through the Siegfried Line.

First to cross the Rhine

The 5th ID became the first Allied unit to cross the Rhine River on the night of 22 March 1945. (The Rhine was crossed at Remagen on 7,8,9 March 1945, 9th Armoured Division, units of 9th ID and 78th ID) After capturing some 19,000 German soldiers, the division continued to Frankfurt-am-Main, clearing and policing the town and its environs, 27–29 March.[10] In April the division, under Major General Albert E. Brown took part in clearing the Ruhr Pocket and then drove across the Czechoslovak border, 1 May, reaching Volary and Vimperk as the war in Europe ended.[10]

Cold War

Vietnam, 1969. A member of the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), takes down barbed tape (a modified form.

Following World War II, the 5th Infantry Division was inactivated on 20 September 1946. However, the division was reactivated on 15 July 1947 under Brigadier General John C. Church.[citation needed] The 1950s saw the division in West Germany as part of the US contribution to NATO though the division later returned to the United States. When the 1st Infantry Division deployed to Vietnam in 1965 additional manoeuvre battalions were required; thus two infantry battalions from the 2nd Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, were relieved and assigned to "The Big Red One."[11] In September 1965, the 2nd Brigade, 5th Infantry Division was moved, minus personnel, to Fort Carson, Colorado, and refilled there. The remaining personnel at Fort Devens formed the basis of the 196th Infantry Brigade.

By 1968 the division was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, as a mechanized formation.[12] 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division was dispatched to Vietnam after the Tet Offensive to replace a U.S. Marine Corps unit. The brigade, consisting of one battalion each of infantry, mechanized infantry, and armor, served there from July 1968 until 1971. Combat units included 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry (Mechanized); 1st Battalion, 77th Armor; A Troop, 4th Squadron, 12th Cavalry; and 5th Battalion, 4th Artillery.(Society of the Fifth Division) On 22 August 1971, the colors of 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division were cased and the brigade was deactivated at Fort Carson. Its final assignment was to III Corps, with the mission of reinforcement of Europe if a general war was to break out there.[13] In September 1969 the 4th Brigade, 5th Infantry Division was activated at Fort Carson, although, on the later return of 4th Infantry Division home from Vietnam in December 1970, the 4th Division replaced the 5th Division at Fort Carson and the 5th Division appears to have disappeared from the active force.

On 21 October 1974 the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division was reactivated at Fort Polk, LA., as part of the Army's new 24-division force. Due to lack of sufficient housing, the brigade initially only had two manoeuvre battalions. (Manoeuvre and Firepower, Chap XIII) The division base and a second brigade was organised in 1975-77, and the Louisiana Army National Guard's 256th Infantry Brigade was assigned as the 'round-out' third brigade of the division.

In 1989, units of the 5th Division, based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, deployed in support of Operation Nimrod Dancer to "protect American interests" in Panama. First Battalion, 61st Infantry (Mechanized), "Roadrunners" (1st Brigade, 5th ID) was one of the first reinforcing units and remained there until September when there was a hand over to 4th Battalion, Sixth Infantry(Mechanized), "Regulars" (2nd Brigade, 5th ID).[2] 4–6 Infantry was in country and assisted during Operation Just Cause helping to overthrow Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, and also assisted in an emergency extraction of Delta Force operators engaged in Operation Acid Gambit when their helicopter went down.

The division was inactivated for the final time on 24 November 1992, and reflagged as the U.S. 2nd Armored Division as part of the post-Cold War drawdown of US forces. The 2nd Armored Division moved from Fort Polk to Fort Hood, TX in 1993, with the majority of the 5th Division's equipment.[2]

In popular culture

In the Axis & Allies miniatures role-playing game, a US infantry unit was designated "Red Devil Captain".

In the Twilight: 2000 role-playing game, players start out as members of the 5th ID in July 2000, after the Division is overrun by Soviet and Polish units near Kalisz, Poland during a hypothetical World War III .


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)". 23 May 2005. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Barta, Edward J.. "The Fifth Infantry Division: World War I". The Society of the Fifth Division, United States Army. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  4. "The Fifth Infantry Division: World War II". The Society of the Fifth Division, United States Army. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  6. Stanton, Shelby, World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939-1946 (Revised Edition, 2006), Stackpole Books, p. 83.
  7. Stanton, Shelby L. World War II Order of Battle, Gallahad Books, 1991, p. 84, ISBN 0-88365-775-9
  8. Stanton, p. 84.
  9. MacDonald, Charles B., Three Battles: Arnaville, Altuzzo, and Schmidt (United States Army Center of Military History: Washington, D.C.) 1993 reprint of 1952 edition, p. 35, 95.
  10. 10.0 10.1
  11. John B. Wilson, Manoeuvre and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades, Chapter Flexible Response: The Buildup of the Army, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY, United States Army, WASHINGTON, D. C., 1998, accessed November 2011
  12. : Stanton, Shelby, Vietnam Order of Battle: A Complete Illustrated Reference to the U.S. Army and Allied Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1961-1973, Stackpole Books 2006, p. 340-341 where a divisional order of battle in the United States can be found.
  13. David C. Isby & Charles Kamps Jr., Armies of NATO's Central Front, Jane's Publishing Company, 1985.

External links

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