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85th Infantry Division, United States Army, World War II

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Surnames/tags: World_War_II Miltary_and_War
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For profiles and regiment categories, see the category for the 85th during WWII
Custer Division

The 85th Infantry "Custer" Division in WW2 consisted of the 337, 338, & 339 Infantry Regiments, the 328, 329, 403 & 910 Field Artillery Battalions, and 85 Recon Troop and the support units of 310 Engineer Btn, 310 Medical Btn, 85 Signal, 85 QM and 785 Ordnance Companies. The division was activated in 1917 at Camp Custer, Michigan, and was sent to France but did not see combat as a unit. The 339 Infantry Regiment was sent to fight the Bolsehviks in Russia in 1919.

The division was reactivated in May 1942 at Camp Shelby, MS. After completing basic training, they participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers and trained at the Desert Training Center in Yuma, AZ, during the summer of 1943. The division was transported across the US to Fort Dix, NJ. The day before Christmas, the first group departed from Newport News for North Africa. After further training and filling all open slots, they were shipped to Naples, Italy. They entered the line in April 1944 near the town of Minturno, under the observation of Monte Cassino. The 85th Infantry Division served under the command of General Mark Clark and the US 5th Army. They served in the II Corps and IV Corps at various times until the German surrender in Italy on May 2, 1945

The 85th Division launched their attack on May 11, 1944, as part of the 5th Army's attack of the GUSTAV Line. The division advanced from Minturno along the Mediterranean coast to the Anzio front. The 85th Infantry Division and the 88th Infantry Division lead the rush to liberate Rome and both claimed to be the first to enter the city. For the next week they advanced rapidly to the large Lake Braccianio. After a rest they entered the line along the ARNO Line at the town of Pisa on the south side of the Arno River.

The Germans eventually fell back to their GOTHIC Line that ran along the peaks and ridges of the Appenine Mountains. The 85th Division lead the attack on the GOTHIC Line on September 13 to 17, 1944. With the US 91st Division on their left and the 88th Division on their right, the three regiments, the 338th, 339th and 337th, captured Monte Altuzzo, Monte Verruca, and Monte Pratone, respectively. As the Germans slowly pulled back, the mountain fighting got tough. The 5th Army was within sight of the flat Po Valley when the advance was called off because of rain and mud and depletion of ammo and supplies. In March, the 5th Army began to move out of the mountains and a race began to catch the Germans before they could retreat over the Alps. The 85th Infantry Division and 10th Mountain Division reached the Po River and crossed it at the town of San Benedetto Po. The 5th Army advanced rapidly and simply by-passed the pockets of German defenders in the large towns. Forming into mobile combat groups, they progressed through Verona and Vicenzia and into the foothills of the Alps. Most history books say they stopped near Vicenzia, but veterans will tell you they moved through Belluno and within a few miles of Brenner Pass before a truce was declared in preparation for the German surrender.

Th 85th Division was credited with 3 campaigns: Rome-Arno, Appennine Mountains, & Po Valley.

The 85th Infantry Division was assigned to:

Primary subordinate units were:

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 85th Infantry Division Artillery
    • Division Artillery 328th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    • Division Artillery 329th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
    • Division Artillery 403rd Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
    • Division Artillery 910th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
  • 310th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 310th Medical Battalion
  • 85th Reconnaissance Troop
  • 85th Quartermaster Company
  • 785th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
  • 85th Signal Company
  • 85th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment


The typical infantry division contained three(3) infantry regiments with each regiment containing 12 rifle companies and support companies; cannon company, anti-tank company and service company. Four companies were under the command of a Battalion HQ, so the 1st Battalion consisted of Companies, A, B, C & D(Heavy Weapons). The 3rd Battalion consisted of Companies I, K, L, and M(Heavy Weapons). A division can also have separate battalions/companies that fall directly under the division and not under a regiment, for instance the HQ element for the general and his staff, a anti-tank, artillery, engineer, etc unit. If the profile user's unit has not been created yet, or is unknown, add the profile to this division category and as we review/monitor, we will create the unit category if appropriate and reassign the profile to it. In addition, an infantry division may have other independent units temporarily attached to it, such as tank battalion, tank destroyer battalion and even infantry regiments loaned from other divisions.

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