#Story - Italy

1st Division from Sicily to Normandy

The contribution of the US 1st Infantry Division was crucial in many of the campaigns undertaken by the Allied Army during World War II

The US 1st Infantry Division was formed in May 1917 as an expeditionary force to be sent to France to take part in the First World War. It was reorganised several times during the post-war period to resume its current name in August 1942. Three months later it took part in Operation Torch, the victorious invasion of the French North African colonies.

The Division - led by Major General Terry Allen - also played an essential role in Operation Husky, first coming to the fore in the very early stages of the invasion of Sicily, when its soldiers landed at Gela. It also later distinguished itself in the bloody Battle of Troina. The Division took part in the whole of Operation Husky, only to be transferred to the UK. From there, the Division’s soldiers were to be protagonists in one of the most important phases of the WW2 conflict: the landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, the amphibious part of Operation Overlord.

Just as bad weather had favoured the success of the operation in Sicily, so it did on the Normandy coast, and just as the soldiers of the 1st Division had been protagonists on the beaches of Gela, so they were in the assault on Omaha Beach. It was here, in this sector, that they had to face great difficulties: the amphibious tanks, lowered too early into the water, ended up sinking together with the entire crew, whilst the contour of the terrain - easily defensible - risked compromising the success of the operation. For this very reason, the Division suffered heavy losses during this assault.

However, the Division continued to be engaged in the Normandy campaign: in December 1944 it fought in the Ardennes (Belgium) and therefore also participated in the final stages of the conflict, with the conquest and occupation of Germany.