– The History of the 9th Infantry Division –
Organized on July 18th, 1918 at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, the 9th Infantry Division was in training in the United States when World War I came to an end. The Division was then demobilized on February 15th, 1919, but was re-designated to a Regular Army Unit in 1923.It remained on the inactive list though.
Reactivation of the Division came on August 1st, 1940 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with units assigned to it that had seen combat action during World War I. Among them were three Infantry Regiments: The 39th Infantry Regiment, the 47th Infantry Regiment and the 60th Infantry Regiment. These regiments had already distinguished themselves in combat and would receive honors in the years to come. After reactivation the Division entered a period of intensive training, followed by the Carolina maneuvers, conducted by the First Army in September 1941. The Division later was attached to the Amphibious Corps of the Atlantic Fleet and underwent amphibious training. Subsequently released from its attachment, the Division again came under control of the Army Ground Forces.
The first elements of the 9th Division departed in November 1942 for the North – African Theater of Operations. Elements of the Division took part in “Operation Torch”. When the 39th Regimental Combat Team landed at Algiers, the 47th Infantry Regiment hit the beaches of Safi, French Morocco while the 60th Infantry Regiment fought on the beaches of Port Lyautey, Morocco and secured the “Citadel”, known as the “Kasba”.
In the weeks that followed, the 9th Infantry Division completed combat missions in Tunisia (where the German “Afrika Korps” was smashed) and in Sicily before leaving for England where it went into training for the invasion of Fortress Europe. The 9th Infantry Division did not take part in D-Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6ht, 1944 because it was considered a veteran Division that already fought in several heavy battles.
The Division landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day+4, June 10th, 1944. It helped to cut of the French Peninsula and in capturing the city of Cherbourg and its vital port. It battled further across France and on September 2nd laid claim to being the first Allied unit to begin the liberation of Belgium when a unit of the 9th Division entered the town of Momignies. The Meuse river was crossed early in September and then the Division were amongst the first to cross into Germany, just south of Roetgen, on September 13th, 1944. From here the 9th Division helped to penetrate the German Siegfried Line and fought several heavy battles in the Hurtgen Forest area. After being pulled of the line due to heavy casualties, it “rested” in the Monschau Forest area, where on December 16th 1944, the German winter offensive, the “Battle of the Bulge” started. Here the Division beat back the enemy’s best efforts.
Highpoint of its World War II record was the crossing of the Rhine early in 1945. By the morning of March 7th, all bridges across the Rhine had been blown, except for one. This was the “Ludendorff Bridge” below the small town of Remagen. After a forced march, the 47th Infantry Regiment’s 2nd Battalion deployed over the bridge. Crossing against heavy artillery it became the first Infantry Regiment to battle across the Rhine barrier since the Napoleonic Wars. Soon the 60th Regiment made a daring dash across the battered bridge, followed by Division support units. Meanwhile the 9th Military Police Platoon, despite artillery and air attacks, kept traffic moving and doubled as medics and evacuation men. By March 11th, all combat teams of the 9th Division were across the Rhine. On March 17th the bridge collapsed and all further crossings by Allied troops in the central sector had to be made on pontoon bridges erected by engineers. By March 20th the 9th Division had conquered the entire central bridgehead area between the Rhine and Wied Rivers, securing a front from which the final blow was struck at the heart of Germany. The Old Reliables (a nickname given to them for actions around the Schwammenauel Dam in February) worked constantly on the shrinking Ruhr Pocket in the closing days of war, freeing approximately 900 slave laborers from five different countries with the capture of Sinu on the Dill River. On April 21st, 1945, the Division relieved the 3rd Armored Division along the Mulde River near Dessau and held that line until V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day), May 8th 1945.
Following the war the Division was assigned to Ingolstadt, Germany. Here it performed occupational duties until January 15th, 1947, the day the Division was inactivated. The 9th Infantry Division was reactivated again later in 1947 and served as a part of the Nato Forces in Goepingen, Germany from 1954 to 1956. It was then reorganized and the three Infantry Regiments became five Infantry Battle Groups. The 9th Infantry Division participated in many battles during the Vietnam War.