4th Armored Division (United States)

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4th Armored Division
4th US Armored Division SSI.svg
4th Armored Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1941–72
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Armor
Role Armored warfare
Size Division
Nickname(s) "Breakthrough" (1954)[1]
"Name Enough" (Unofficial)
Motto "They shall be known by their deed alone" (WWII)
Colors Red, Blue and Yellow
Engagements World War II
MG Henry W. Baird (4/41-5/42)
MG John S. Wood (5/42-12/44)
MG Hugh J. Gaffey (12/44-3/45)
MG William M. Hoge (3-6/45)
BG Bruce C. Clarke (6-7/45)
BG William. L. Roberts (7-9/45)
MG Fay B. Prickett (9/45-5/46)
MG Thomas Trapnell (54-55)
MG Leonard H. Kieley
Distinctive Unit Insignia 4 Arm Div DUI.jpg
U.S. Armored Divisions
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The 4th Armored Division of the United States Army was an Armored Division that earned distinction while spearheading for General Patton's Third Army in the European theater of World War II.

The 4th Armored, unlike most other U.S. armored divisions during World War II, didn't officially adopt a nickname for the division during the war. However, their unofficial nickname "Name Enough" came to be years after the war due to the 4th Armored Division commander who trained them during the war having stated back then, that, "Fourth Armored Division was name enough"; "They shall be known by their deeds alone". The 4th Armored was named the "Breakthrough" division in 1954, but that name was eventually discontinued.[2]


The 4th Armored Division was activated on 15 April 1941 with 3,800 men (10,000 by end of May 1941) from various other units, at Pine Camp (Camp Drum, 1951; Fort Drum, 1974), New York under Major General Henry W. Baird. The division was fitted out as a full Armored Division in May and June 1942 under the command of Major General John S. Wood. It left Pine Camp for Camp Forrest for the Tennessee maneuvers in the Cumberland Mountains held in September and October. In Mid-November, it was transferred to the Desert Training Center (DTC) in the California-Arizona maneuvers area and was the first Armored Division to occupy Camp Ibis near Needles, California in the Mojave Desert, which was close to the Arizona and Nevada borders. On 3 June, the 4th AD arrived at Camp Bowie, Texas, an armored training center located at the southern end of the Piute Valley, for more maneuvers until 11–18 July when it departed for Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts for winter training. On 29 December, The 4th AD departed Boston to conduct training in England in preparation for the invasion of France.


After training in England from January to July 1944, the 4th Armored Division landed at Utah Beach on 11 July after the invasion of Normandy on 6 June, and first entered combat 17 July; 28 July, battle action as part of the VIII Corps exploitation force for Operation Cobra, the 4th AD secured the Coutances area. The 4th AD then swung south to take Nantes, cutting off the Brittany Peninsula, 12 August 1944. Turning east, it drove swiftly across France north of the Loire, smashed across the Moselle 11–13 September, flanked Nancy and captured Lunéville, 16 September. The 4th AD fought several German panzergrenadier brigades in the Lorraine area including the SS Panzergrenadier Brigade 49 and SS Panzergrenadier Brigade 51 at this time, defeating a larger German force through superior tactics and training.[3]

After maintaining a defensive line, Chambrey to Xanrey to Hénaménil, from 27 September to 11 October, the 4th AD rested briefly before returning to combat 9 November with an attack in the vicinity of Viviers. The 4th AD cleared Bois de Serres, 12 November, advanced through Dieuze and crossed the Saar River, 21–22 November, to establish and expand bridgehead and took Singling and Bining, then Baerendorf[4] 24 November, before being relieved 8 December.

The 4th Armored Division received the following unit awards from France: Croix de Guerre with Palm (27–29 July 1944), Croix de Guerre with Palm (12–29 September 1944), and French Fourragere in the colors of the Croix de guerre.

Battle of the Bulge

Two days after the Germans launched their Ardennes Offensive, the 4th AD entered the fight (18 December 1944), racing northwest into Belgium, covering 150 miles in 19 hours.[3] The 4th AD, spearheading for General Patton's Third Army, attacked the Germans at Bastogne and on 26 December, the 4th AD was the first unit (Company C, 37th Armored Battalion[5]) to breakthrough at Bastogne and relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division. Six weeks later the 4th AD jumped off from Luxembourg City in an eastward plunge that carried it across the Moselle River at Trier, south and east to Worms, and across the Rhine, 24–25 March 1945. Advancing all night, the 4th AD crossed the Main River the next day, south of Hanau, and continued to push on. Lauterbach fell 29 March, Creuzburg across the Werra on 1 April, Gotha on 4 April ... where the 4th AD liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp, and by 12 April the 4TH AD was across the Saale River. Pursuit of the enemy continued and by 6 May the division had crossed into Czechoslovakia, established a bridgehead across the Otava River at Strakonice, with forward elements at Pisek. The 4th AD was reassigned to the XII Corps on 30 April 1945.[6]

The 4th AD's first commander Major General John Shirley Wood, (known as "P" Wood to his contemporaries, the "P" standing for "Professor") who took over the division officially on 18 June 1942, trained the armored division for two years before he personally led it into combat in France, on 28 July 1944, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. On 1 August, General Patton's Third Army became operational and the 4th AD became the spearhead of the Third Army. The British military armor theorist and historian, Capt. Basil H. Liddell Hart, once referred to General Wood as "the Rommel of the American armored forces." Like Rommel, Wood commanded from the front, and preferred staying on the offensive, using speed and envelopment tactics to confuse the enemy. General Wood often utilized a light Piper Cub liaison aircraft flown by his personal pilot, Major Charles "Bazooka Charlie" Carpenter, to keep up with his rapidly moving division, sometimes personally carrying corps orders from headquarters directly to his advancing armored columns.[7]

The 4th AD was commanded by Major General Hugh Gaffey during the Battle of the Bulge and after General Wood was ordered back to the United States on 3 December by General Patton. Major General Archibald R. Kennedy commanded the division after the war. One of its most famous members and leaders of the 4th AD during World War II was Creighton Abrams, who commanded the 37th Armor Regiment (United States)|37th Tank Battalion. Abrams later rose to command all U.S. forces in Vietnam and served as U.S. Army Chief of Staff in the 1970s. The current U.S. M-1 tank is named after him.[8]

Presidential Unit Citation

The 4th Armored Division was the first U.S. Armored Division to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, for its actions 22 December 1944 through 27 March 1945 (cited; WD GO 54, 1945).

Postwar Service

After a tour of occupation duty, the 4th AD returned to the United States for inactivation. Most of its elements, however, remained as occupation forces in Germany after redesignation as the First Constabulary Brigade.[9] In 1949, it was redesignated the 4th Armored Division and inactivated on 20 May 1949.[10]

The 4th AD was reactivated on 15 June 1954 at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas with the name 4th Armored "Breakthrough" Division[11] ("Breakthrough" was discontinued some years afterwards) and was deployed to Germany in 1957 with headquarters at Cooke Barracks in Göppingen. The division appears to have been part of VII Corps for most of this period.

On 30 June 1958 Combat Command "A" was at Wiley Barracks, New Ulm, It comprised 2nd Medium Tank Battalion (MTB), 66th Armored Regiment (Leipheim), 2nd Armored Rifle Battalion (ARB), 41st Infantry (Neu Ulm), and 2nd Armored Rifle Battalion, 51st Infantry Regiment. CCB was at Ferris Barracks, Erlangen, comprising the 1st MTB, 35th Armor Regiment (Ferris Barracks), 2nd MTB, 67th Armor Regiment (Fürth), 2nd ARB, 50th Inf (Ferris Barracks), and 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 15th Cavalry.[12] CCC was at McKee Barracks, Crailsheim.[13] It comprised 1st MTB, 37th Armor Regiment (McKee Barracks) and 1st ARB, 54th Infantry.[14]

The 4th AD remained in Germany until final inactivation in May 1971, when it was redesignated the 1st Armored Division.

World War II Assignments

  1. First United States Army: 18 December 1943
  2. VIII Corps: 22 January 1944
  3. XX Corps: 9 March 1944
  4. XV Corps: 20 April 1944
  5. VIII Corps: 15 July 1944
  6. XII Corps: 13 August 1944
  7. III Corps: 19 December 1944
  8. VIII Corps: 2 January 1945
  9. XII Corps: 12 January 1945
  10. VIII Corps: 4 April 1945
  11. X Corps: 9 April 1945
  12. VIII Corps: 17 April 1945

Medal of Honor recipients

4th AD unit awards

In Popular Culture

In Harold Coyle's 1993 techno-thriller "The Ten Thousand", the 4th Armored Division forms part of the US Army Tenth Corps, much of the novels action is depicted from the point of view of members of the division.[15]

See also


  1. The Armored Sentinel, Foot Hood, Texas, 15 April 1954 [1] Retrieved 30 September 2014
  2. The Armored Sentinel, Fort Hood, Texas, 15 April 1954 [2] Retrieved 30 September 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fox, Don M. (2003). Patton's Vanguard: The United States Army Fourth Armored Division. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-1582-7. OCLC 52766067.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. (French) www.dday-overlord.com La 4e Division Blindée le 24 novembre 1944.
  5. 'Cobra King' led 4th Armored Division column that relieved Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, 25 February 2009. [3] Retrieved 10 October 2014
  6. Office of the Theater Historian (December 1945). "4th Armored Division". Order of Battle of the United States Army World War II European Theater of Operations: Divisions. Paris: Office of the Theater Historian. pp. 448–459. Retrieved 31 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kerns, Raymond C., Above the Thunder: Reminiscences of a Field Artillery Pilot in World War II, Kent State University Press, ISBN 978-0-87338-980-8, ISBN 0-87338-980-8 (2009), pp. 23-24, 293-294
  8. "m-1 abrahms". The Gulf War, Frontline. Retrieved 31 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. The Armored Sentinel, Fort Hood, Texas, 15 April 1954
  10. Cooke Barracks: A Chronology, 1945-2005
  11. The Armored Sentinel, Fort Hood Texas, 15 April 1954 [4] Retrieved 27 Sept. 2014
  12. 4th Armored Division Yearbook 1958 via usarmygermany.com
  13. "4th Armored Division".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 4th Armored Division Yearbook 1958
  15. Coyle, Harold (1993). The Ten Thousand. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-85292-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links