Surnames/tags: World_War_II United_States_Army
The 1st Armored Division's commitment to the civic and military values for which "Old Ironsides" has been renowned for half a century (patriotism, discipline, readiness, self-sacrifice, combined arms cooperation, shock action, decisiveness, and generosity in victory) remains relentlessly strong today. The distinctive insignia of the 1st Armored Division is drawn in bold colors characteristic of the division. The insignia is designed from the triangular coat-of-arms of the American World War II Tank Corps. The yellow, blue, and red colors of the shoulder sleeve insignia represent the combined arms nature of the armored division (Armor, Infantry, and Artillery). Superimposed on the triangle is the insignia of the former Seventh Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized), the predecessors of the Old Ironsides. The tank track represents mobility and armor protection, the gun denotes firepower, and the chain of lightening symbolizes speed and shock action. Mobility, firepower, and shock action are the basic attributes of Armor. The Arabic numeral in the apex of the triangle indicates the First Armor Division. The nickname of the division, officially sanctioned by the Department of the Army is emblazoned under the triangle and is an integral part of the insignia.
OLD IRONSIDES DESIGNATION
The 1st Armored Division was activated at Fort Knox on July 15, 1940. Its first commander was Major General Bruce R. Magruder from July 1940 to March 1942. In 1941 General George S. Patton Jr. had just named his 2nd Armored Division "Hell on Wheels" and everyone thought that the 1st Armored Division needed a name too. Major General Bruce Magruder announced a contest to find a suitable name for his Division. Approximately 200 names were submitted including "Fire and Brimstone" and "Kentucky Wonders." The General took them home to study over the weekend but failed to find any that appealed to him. While mulling the matter over, he happened to glance at a painting of the U.S.S. Constitution that he had bought during a drive for funds for the preservation of that famous fighting ship. From the painting of the U.S.S. Constitution USS Constitution he noted its nickname, "Old Ironsides". Impressed with the parallel between the early development of the tank and the Navy's "Old Ironsides" spirit of daring and durability he decided the 1st Armored Division should also be named "Old Ironsides." Thus a famous warship of the US Navy and the famous 1st Armored Division of the US Army are historically and appropriately welded by name "Old Ironsides." That ended the search for a name. The 1st Armored Division became "Old Ironsides" that same day and forty months of fighting later testified that its name was well chosen. This was a fighting Division.
As part of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French Northwest Africa, November 8, 1942. In doing so, Old Ironsides became the first American Armored Division to see combat. Although encountering unexpectedly heavy Vichy-French opposition, the Allied invasion force suppressed all resistance in the beachhead within three days. The Division then advanced toward Tunisia where it clashed with Axis forces and learned many hard lessons in armored warfare. Harsh conditions and primitive roads spoiled an early opportunity to capture Tunisia and cut off Rommel's supply lines. January 1943 found the Division under control of the II Corps. Old Ironsides received the mission of defending central Tunisia against an Axis counterattack. A month later, the 1st Armored Division collided with a superior German armored force at Kasserine Pass. Sustaining heavy personnel and equipment losses, Old Ironsides withdrew, battered but wiser. Outrunning his supply lines and facing stiffening Allied resistance, Rommel's advance ground to a halt. Regardless, three more months of fierce fighting followed before the Allies could finally claim victory in North Africa.
On 25 March 1944, Private Nicholas Minue, Company A, 6th Armored Infantry, 1st Armored Division, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry and intrepidity at the loss of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on 28 April 1943 in the vicinity of MedjezelBab, Tunisia.
The fall of Sicily in the summer of 1943 cleared the way for an Allied Invasion of the Italian mainland. As part of General Mark Clark's Fifth Army, the 1st Armored Division crushed enemy resistance in an assault landing at Salerno on September 9, and led the drive to Naples. The city fell on October 1, and the Allies pressed onto the Volturno River. In November, the 1st Armored Division attacked the infamous Winter Line. Although breaching the line, the Allied advance came to a halt in the mountainous country near Cassino. To break the stalemate, the Allies made an amphibious assault well behind enemy lines at Anzio on January 23, 1944. Beating back repeated German counterattacks, the 1st Armored Division led the Allied breakout from the beachead on May 23, and spearheaded the drive to Rome, liberating the city on June 4. The 1st Armored Division continued its pursuit of the enemy to the North Apennies where the Germans made their last stand. Rugged mountains and winter weather now stood between the Allies and the open land of the Po Valley. The 1st Armored Division broke into the valley in April 1945 and on May 2, 1945, German forces in Italy surrendered.
In June 1945 the 1st Armored Division was transferred to Germany to serve as part of the Allied occupation forces. Old Ironsides returned to the United States in April 1946 and was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Several of the Division's Units, however, remained in Germany as part of the U.S. Constabulary.
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