85th Infantry Division (United States)

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85th Division
85th Infantry Division
85th Division SSI.svg
85th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917–1919
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname(s) Custer (special designation)[1]
Engagements World War I

Russian Civil War
World War II

The 85th Infantry Division also known as "Custer Division"[1] (named after the cavalry commander George Armstrong Custer) was an infantry division of the United States Army. The division was composed of the 337th, 338th, and 339th Infantry regiments serving in both World Wars, and the 340th Infantry Regiment in World War I. During World War II, the support units included the 328th, 329th, 403rd, and 910th Field Artillery battalions and the 310th Engineer Battalion, 310th Medical Battalion and the 85th Reconnaissance Troop.

World War I

The division was first activated 25 August 1917 at Camp Custer, Michigan, and comprised the 169th and 170th Infantry brigades. After a year of training the division left the United States for England, organized with four Infantry Regiments: 335th Regiment, 337th Regiment, 338th Regiment 340th Regiment. From England the 339th Infantry Regiment sailed to Archangel, Russia to fight along the White Army in the Russian Civil War against Bolshevik forces as part of the Polar Bear Expedition.

The remainder of the division was broken up to support other units and was stationed in Lorraine, St. Mihiel, Marbache and in the Meuse-Argonne on the Western Front in France as a depot division and therefore did not participate in any combat operations.

After the war the division remained on occupation duty in Germany and by August 1919, the last elements of the division returned to the United States.

World War II

On 15 May 1942, mere months after the United States entered World War II, the 85th Infantry Division was reactivated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Divisions in the U.S. Army at that time were organized with three combat brigades. The 85th Division was organized so with the 337th Infantry Regiment the 338th Infantry Regiment, and the 339th Infantry Regiment. The 340th Infantry Regiment was redesignated at the 410th Quartermaster Battalion. Basic infantry training was begun in June 1942 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, under the command of Major General Wade H. Haislip. In April 1943, it participated in large-scale army training in the Louisiana Maneuvers near Leesville, Louisiana. In August, the division was moved to Camp Coxcomb, California for desert warfare training. In October, the division was transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for final preparations before shipment overseas. Major-General John B. Coulter was transferred as commander and retained this position throughout the war. The Assistant Division Commander throughout the war was Brigadier General Lee S. Gerow.

The 85th Division left the United States on 24 December 1943 and arrived in Casablanca, French Morocco, 2 January 1944. It received amphibious training at Port aux Poules near Arzew and Oran, Algeria, 1 February to 23 March, then embarked for Naples, Italy, arriving on 27 March. The 339th Infantry Regimental Combat Team was the first division element to depart Port-Aux-Poules for movement to the Italian Campaign. Arriving in Italy on March 14, the 339th was attached to the 88th Infantry Division and became the first regiment of the 85th to see combat during World War II on the Minturno-Castelforte front north of Naples, 28 March. The 85th Division, under II Corps of the U.S. Fifth Army under Mark W. Clark, was committed to action as a unit, 10 April 1944, north of the Garigliano River, facing the Gustav Line, and held defensive positions for a month.

On 11 May, it launched its attack, taking Solacciano, Castellonorato, and Formia. Itri fell, 19 May, and the 85th continued to mop up the Gaeta Peninsula. Terracina was taken and the road to the Anzio beachhead was opened. The division pursued the enemy to the hills near Sezze until pinched out by friendly forces from Anzio. The Gustav Line had been smashed and the 85th started for a rest area, 29 May, but was ordered to the Lariano sector which the division cleared by the 31st. Driving on Rome, the 85th pushed through Monte Compatri and Frascati, entered Rome, 5 June 1944, and advanced to Viterbo before being relieved, 10 June.

After rehabilitation and training, the 85th took over the defense of the Arno River line, 15 to 26 August. The division attacked the mountain defenses of the Gothic Line, 13 September, and broke through, taking Firenzuola on the 21st. The 85th advanced slowly through mud and rain against heavy resistance taking La Martina and gaining the Idice River Valley road, 2 October, and reaching Mount Mezzano on the 24th overlooking the Po River Valley. From 27 October to 22 November 1944, defense areas near Pizzano were held. On the 23d, the division was relieved for rest and rehabilitation.

The 85th Division relieved the British 1st Infantry Division, 6 January 1945, and limited its activities to cautious patrols until 13 March. After a brief training period, the 85th, now under command of U.S. IV Corps, during the final offensive in Italy, thrust southwest of Bologna, 14 April, pushing through Lucca and Pistoia into the Po Valley as enemy resistance collapsed. The Panaro River was crossed on the 23rd and the Po the next day. The division mopped up fleeing Germans until their mass surrender, 2 May 1945, in the Belluno-Agordo area.

Through the campaign, the division suffered some 7,268 casualties, with 1,717 killed In action. Three soldiers from this division earned the Medal of Honor.

Cold War to present

The division returned to the United States and was inactivated at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on 26 August 1945. It was then reactivated at Chicago, Illinois on 19 February 1947 in the U.S. Army Reserve. On 1 June 1959, the division's mission was changed to training and it was named the 85th Infantry Division (Training).


Upon reactivation in the Army Reserve, the division was organized with a division headquarters, three training brigades and a training group, with division headquarters located in Oak Park, Illinois. In 197-, the Division Headquarters was moved to Arlington Heights, Illinois, with subordinate brigade headquarters located in Waukegan, Illinois (1st Brigade); St. Louis, Missouri (2nd Brigade); Rockford, Illinois (3rd Brigade); Fort Sheridan, Illinois (4th Brigade); and Aurora, Illinois (Training Group). In 1999 the division was further reorganized as the 85th Division (Training Support). Its four brigades were headquartered as follows: 1st BDE(TS)(1st SIMEX Group, 2nd SIMEX Group, 3-335Bn(TS)) at Fort Sheridan, Illinois; 2nd BDE(TS)(1-338th BN(TS),2-411 Bn(LS)) at Fort McCoy, WI; 3rd BDE(TS)(1-335th BN(TS), 2-335th BN(TS), 2-338th BN(TS), 3-411 BN(LS)) at Indianapolis, IN; 4th BDE(TS) (1-337th BN(TS), 3-337th BN(TS), 1-409th BN(TS), 1-410th BN(TS), 2-410th BN(TS), 3-410th BN(TS), 1-411th BN(LS)) at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Unit inactivation

In September 2007, the 85th Division (Training Support) was formally inactivated and its remaining assets folded into the 75th Division (Training Support) and the 88th Regional Readiness Command. In December 2008, the 85th Division was reactivated as the 85th USAR Support Command.


  • Nickname: Custer Division
  • Patch: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for the 85th Division on 24 December 1918. It was cancelled and a new design approved for the 85th Division (Training) on 29 June 1970 (Pentagon inside octagon). On 24 February 1986, the original shoulder sleeve insignia, (large red "CD" initials) was reinstated for the 85th Division (Training). The insignia was redesignated for the 85th Division (Training Support) effective 17 October 1999. It was redesignated for the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command on 4 November 2008. (TIOH Drawing Number A-1-540)
  • Unit History: Schultz, Paul; "History of the 85th Infantry Division in World War II", by Battery Press.
  • Army Publication: "Minturno to the Apennines", booklet published by MTOUSA and issued to troops in 1945.
  • After reactivation in the USAR, division commanders included:
    • MG Angelo M. Juarez
    • MG Wilbur J. Bunting
    • MG George M. Woywod
    • MG William Cockerham
    • MG George Hillard
    • MG William Allen
    • MG Michael Corrigan

Other commanders within the division who became U.S. Army general officers include MG Emile Bataille who commanded the 2nd Simulation Group, 1st Brigade, and then as an Army National Guard Brigadier General was the Assistant Adjutant General of Illinois and then served as the J6, United States Strategic Command; MG Steve Best, who commanded the 1st Simulation Group, 1st Brigade and then commanded the 1st Brigade, and later commanded the 75th Division in Houston, TX; MG William D. Razz Waff, who commanded the 2nd Simulation Group, 1st Brigade, and then served as the Chief of Staff, 88th Regional Readiness Command, Ft Snelling, MN, the Deputy Commanding General, 99th Regional Readiness Command, Pittsburgh, PA, was the Deputy Commanding General, US Army Human Resources Command, Alexandria, VA, the Commanding General, 99th Regional Support Command, Ft Dix, NJ and then as the Deputy G-1, Headquarters, US Army, The Pengagon; BG Ward Arnston, Commander, 1st Simulation Group, then as the CG, 1st Brigade, 85th Division, then as the Deputy Commanding General, 75th Division, Houston, TX; BG John Hanley, Commander, 1st Simulation Group, 1st Brigade, then as the Deputy Commanding General, 88th Regional Support Command, Ft McCoy, WI; BG Ronald S. Mangum, who commanded the 1st and 4th Brigades, the Battle Projection Group, and the 1st Battalion, 340th Infantry (INST).


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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