5th Infantry Division History
The 5th Infantry Division

As the owner and operator of the 5thID Online Game Clan, I feel I should say this to be clear, and to ensure we as a Clan are not offending those who have served in the real 5th Infantry Division. This Clan was established out of the love for the online game, Day of Defeat. I feel because this is only a game, the emphasis should be thus, the game. Hence, Clan ranks and tags have been created for the only reason, to create a hierarchy. Also hence, the reason the clan tag and rank are following the user's game name. The emphasis is on the Users who play online, and not the Clan. The Clan is merely an organization for those who play, a place to call home, to find kinsman ship, friends, and pride and honor as a team. This Clan has chosen the 5thID name, not only because the name is authentic, but also because the 5thID "Red Devils" sounds "cool". We choose the name in hopes it would convey that this clan is different than other clans because we play the game more real, as opposed to just "goofing off". This Clan is a representation of the 5thID as a online game for "fun", and is in no way dishonoring those whom have fought bravely on the field of battle. The clan members who have chosen the name have no relation, and no intention to draw any relationship between the real 5thID and the online game Clan. The 5thID Online Game Clan would actually like to think we honor those who have served for the real 5th Infantry Division. We honor those who have served by telling their true history. The following is a complete history of the real 5th Infantry Division.

World War I

The 5th Infantry Division was activated on December 11, 1917 to meet the needs of the expanding US Army for service in France during World War I. Over the next several months the various units that made up the 5th Division trained and prepared for embarkation to France.

By may 1, 1918, the entire 5th Infantry Division had arrived and was assembled in France. Immediately after arrival, the men of the 5th headed for advanced training at Bar-sur-Aube. The training was conducted entirely by officers of the French Army. The training was intensive and designed to give the maximum amount of instruction in trench warfare in the least amount of time. By the end of May, the 5th Division was declared ready for combat and placed under the control of the French commanders directing the war effort.

In the beginning of June, 1918 the 5th Division was assigned to the 7th French Army in the Anould section of the Vosges mountains. Over the next month, the 5th Division conducted numerous patrol and raiding missions and successfully repulsed several German attacks along their lines. On July 14 the 5th Division was reassigned to the St. Die sector and relieved the French troops which had been defending the area.

The 5th Division quickly established themselves and ran almost continuous patrols in "No mans land." Prior to the arrival of the 5th Division, German aircraft had flown over the Allied lines at will. That soon changed when a gunner from D Company, 14th Machine Gun Battalion shot down one of the German aircraft. It was the first enemy aircraft ever destroyed by ground fire in that sector. The Germans quickly learned to avoid any area that might contain troops from the 5th Division.

On August 17, the 5th Division went on the offensive for the first time. Early on the morning of the 17th, the 3rd Battalion, 6th Infantry, with machine guns and engineers in support attacked and captured the town of Frapelle, which was the end of a small salient. After a brief but intense struggle against machine guns and artillery, the attacking Americans quickly drove the Germans from Frapelle. After receiving reinforcements, the men of the 5th Division stood ready for a counter attack. Over the next three days, the defenders endured numerous counter-attacks and heavy artillery bombardment. But through it all they held their ground.

The Frapelle offensive was important for several reasons. First, it was the first advance the Allied forces had achieved in almost three years in that sector. Second it was the first time the 5th Division had fought as an in dependant unit.

On August 23, the 5th Division was relieved and sent to Arches for a much needed rest and resupply. There they received new equipment and replacements were integrated into the units. On September 4, the 5th Division again moved to the front for a new offensive. St. Mihiel.

After a series of night marches through mud and rain, the 5th Division moved over 100 kilometers to the staging area at Regnieville. The inclement weather broke before the Germans were prepared. The German high command had anticipated an attack in this area and decided to withdraw. However, because the weather cleared, and the 5th Division had arrived so fast, the attack went ahead 48 hours ahead of schedule. After 4 hours of artillery preparation, the 6th and 11th Regiments commenced the attack. The attacking Americans moved so quickly, they outran their own artillery and attached French tanks. In less than 9 hours, the 5th Division had captured all of its objectives. The men began to dig in and prepare for the expected German attacks.

For three days, German artillery pounded the 5th Division lines and several attacks by the Germans were repulsed. The Division began aggressive patrolling north of the Hindenburg line. On September 17, the 78th Infantry Division arrived and replaced the 5th Division in line. The St. Mihiel operation was an overwhelming success. The 5th Division, who by now had earned the nickname "Die rote teufel" or Red Devils, had killed over 300 enemy soldiers and captured 1,243. Huge quantities of German equipment was captured including many artillery pieces. 21 Red Devils were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The Red Devils pulled back for another rest and resupply.

On October 11, the 5th Division was ordered again into combat. This time to clear a small area called Bois de Rappes. For over a week, the Red Devils attacked some of the strongest German fortifications ever encountered. The Germans also had artillery support from the heights east of the River Meuse. Again and again, the 5th Division attacks the German positions only to be repulsed. Finally on October 21, in a surprise attack, the Red Devils attacked with fixed bayonets under an intense rolling artillery barrage. The Germans fought tenaciously but could not stop the Americans. It took 11 days and almost 4,500 casualties, but the Bois des Rappes was finally in Allied hands. During this action 1 officer, Lt. Samuel Woodfill, was awarded the Medal of Honor and 87 men were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The 5th Division only received 4 days rest when they were ordered into another assault. This time their objective was to force a crossing of the River Meuse, east of Bois des Rappes. By November 3, after meeting little resistance, the 5th Division reached the bank of the River. Early on the morning of the 3rd, the 6th Regiment crossed the river with engineers and established a footbridge. The 6th Regiment came under heavy machine gun fire from the heights and was pinned down most of the day. On the 4th, reinforcements crossed the bridge and the Red Devils stormed the heights. On the 5th, the 60th Regiment forced another crossing to the north, meeting heavy resistance. But by the end of the day, the two assault forces linked up and had secured a strong beachhead across the River Meuse in two places.

During the Meuse operation, another Red Devil, Capt Edward Allworth, Commanding Officer of I Company, 60th Infantry, was awarded the Medal Of Honor. General Pershing, commander of the American Forces said of the 5th Division, "This operation was one of the most brilliant military feats in the history of the American Army in France. . . ." Henceforth, the 5th was the "Meuse Division!"

The 5th Division began expanding the beachhead allowing other divisions to cross unopposed. They then began to attack further East, driving 18 kilometers to the Loison River. Shortly after that, the armistice was signed, ending hostilities.

During the course of the war, 9,981 Red Devils became casualties including 1,098 who were killed in action. 351 Red Devils were decorated for bravery and valor in combat against the German Army. On November 27, the Red Devils moved into Luxembourg for occupation duty. 6 months later in the summer of 1919, the 5th Infantry Division returned home and was deactivated on October 4, 1921 at Camp Jackson, SC.

World War II

On October 16, 1939 the 5th Infantry Division was reactivated with the 2nd, 10th, and 11th Infantry Regiments. Over the next 2 years, the 5th Division engaged in a series of training exercises and maneuvers. In the summer of 1940, the 10th Regiment was shipped to Iceland for garrison duty. From September 1940 to May 1941 the Division arrived a few units at a time in Iceland. Duties in Iceland included building roads, manning observation posts, training, and labor parties loading and unloading ships.

These duties continued until August, 1943 when the 5th Division boarded troop transports for Tidworth Barracks England. In October, 1943, the 5th Division moved to Northern Ireland for advanced training in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Northern France.

The 5th Division landed at Utah beach in the area of St. Mere Eglise on D+3. The Division immediately relieved the 1st Infantry Division at Coumont. On July 26, the 5th Division launched its first attack of the war, liberating the town of Vidouville.

On August 3, the 5th Division was transferred to Patton's Third Army. After the breakthrough at St. Lo, the 5th Division was ordered to the Vivre River and to seize bridgeheads across the Loire and Maines rivers, and finally to capture the city of Angeres. With Angeres in Allied hands, the Germans would lose the primary escape route from the Brest peninsula.

The 5th Division met only light resistance at the Maine and Loire rivers and prepared for the assault an Angeres. The town fell quickly as many of the defenders had withdrawn. The offensive was a success. From Angeres, the 5th Division moved to the Northwest and captured St. Calais and Chartes by August 19. The 5th Division had no time to rest and was immediately ordered to seize 2 new objectives.

Etamps was just south of Paris, 60 miles away on the Seine River was the town of Foutainbleu and 72 miles away was Montereau. The 5th Division moved out to capture all three. 3 days later, the 2nd Regiment captured Etamps. The 11th Regiment captured Foutainbleau. On August 25, the 10th regiment assaulted and captured Montereau. With all 3 objectives now in Allied hands, Paris had been flanked and the 3rd Army had severed North and South France.

The 5th Division continued their drive East, crossing the Marne river and capturing the city of Reims on August 29. Next, with the 11th Regiment in the lead, the 5th Division assaulted and captured Verdun on September 1. In just under 4 weeks, the 5th Infantry Division had fought their way across 700 miles and stood ready to invade Germany.

After an essential rest and resupply, the 3rd Army continued East and encountered a strong defensive line at the Moselle river. The 11th Regiment made the first attempt at breaching the Moselle. They made a short advance and were subjected to 26 enemy counter attacks. Casualties were extreme and the 11th was forced to withdraw. Next, the 10th regiment attempted and assault south of where the 11th had been repelled. With 2 battalions of the 11th in support, the 10th Regiment pierced the German lines and established a beachhead. For the next 5 days, the Red Devils defeated numerous German attacks. During this time, the Red Devils engaged in some of the fiercest fighting of the war for them. Over 1,400 Red Devils were killed or wounded in the assault and the Bridgehead was finally secured on September 15. The 5th Division now stood outside Metz.

On November 9, the 3rd Army began the assault on Metz. Some of the forts at Metz surrendered while others were bypassed. Soon the 3 regiments of the 5th Division converged on the city and forced it to surrender on November 21. After suffering heavy losses, the 5th Division had opened the road to the Saar river, the dreaded Siegfried Line, and Germany itself. The planned attacks were called off when the Germans began their Ardennes Offensive. The 3rd Army received orders to attack the southern flank of the German forces. The 5th Division was ordered to march 100 miles, in the dead of winter to Luxembourg City.

The 5th Division arrived within 24 hours and relieved the 4th Infantry Division. The Red Devils immediately launched a counter-offensive against the southern flank of the Germans. In driving the Germans back across the Sauer river, the Red Devils eliminated 2 German Divisions, recaptured lost American equipment and secured the southern flank. In a surprise move, the 5th Division moved further north and attacked across the Sauer river and continued north to the Our River. Soon after, the Germans were defeated and plans began again for the attack East into Germany.

As the lead Division for the XII Corps, the 5th Division crossed the Sauer river, breached the Siegfried Line, moved North to Bitburg and then east to the Rhine river. The Division regrouped at the Rhine river near Oppenheim. On the night of March 22, 1945 K Company 11th Regiment crossed the Rhine without a sot being fired. By the next day, the entire 5th Division had crossed the Rhine and established a bridgehead 5 miles deep and 7 miles wide. Next the 5th Division moved towards Frankfurt.

Expecting to make another river crossing, the 5th Division found a bridge that was still standing but was under heavy artillery fire from the retreating Germans who were trying to bring it down. Advancing under the heavy bombardment, the 5th Division crossed the bridge and entered Frankfurt. Over the next four days, the Red Devils fought house to house against tanks and snipers. On March 28, Frankfurt had been cleared of enemy forces and the 5th Division enjoyed a short break.

On April 7, the 5th Division was ordered to link up with the III Corps of the 1st Army to clean out the "Ruhr Pocket." Three German Divisions had been on their way back to Germany to join the defense of their homeland only to be trapped at Ruhr. The 5th Division assaulted the center of the pocket. For several days the Germans resisted but could not stop the advancing Red Devils. All three German Divisions were wiped out. On April 23, the 5th Division began a long advance to their next objective; the town of Regan, 300 miles away on the German/Czech/Austrian border. The division arrived on April 30 and attacked east into southern Czechoslovakia and Northern Austria to mop up the remaining German resistance in the area. The division made fast progress and met little resistance. On May 7, the 2nd Regiment prepared to move out to continue an attack in the area of Volary, Czechoslovakia when they were ambushed by elements of the 11th Panzer Division. After 10 minutes of furious fighting both sides received word to cease fire. The German surrender had been signed.

The 5th Division served occupation duty until they were relieved by the 83rd Infantry Division on June 13. Shortly after that, 4,000 Red Devils were "swapped" with the 103rd Infantry Division and prepared for transfer back to the United States. The 5th Division, with a fresh infusion of troops from the 103rd prepared for transfer back to the US to refit and prepare for service in the Pacific theater of operations. The 5th never made it as Japan surrendered before they could participate in the Pacific campaign.

In just under a year, the Red Devils of the 5th Infantry Division had traveled 2,050 miles and had participated in all 5 of the European Theaters 5 major campaigns. Of the 5th Division, General Patton said "Nothing I can say can add to the glory which you have achieved. Throughout the whole advance across France you spearheaded the attack of your Corps. You crossed so many rivers that I am persuaded many of you have web feet and I know that all of you have dauntless spirit. To my mind history does not record incidents of greater valor than your crossing of the Sauer and Rhine." The 5th Division was deactivated on September 20, 1945 at Camp Campbell, KY. During World War II, 2,659 Red Devils were killed, 9,153 wounded, 1, 050 missing, and 101 were captured. The Red Devils captured over 71,000 enemy soldiers and earned 1 Medal of Honor and 34 Distinguished Service Crosses.