La 3e Division Infanterie.

By the end of July 1944, the Allied armies in Italy had captured Rome and driven north as far as Florence and Pisa. The Italian Campaign, from the landings of 1943, pitted 11 American and British divisions against 20 German divisions, their armor and their fortified defense lines.  
The armies of the Italian Campaign locked in bitter struggles at Salerno, Mt. Lungo, the Rapido and Volturno rivers, Cassino, The Gustav Line and San Pietro. Before the fall of Rome, soldiers of the British First Division; American Third and 45th divisions; and the 509th and 504th parachute regiments had special memories as the first waves of the four-month fight for the beachhead behind German lines at Anzio.  
After the Anzio breakout, the American Third Division was pleased to accept garrison duty in Rome with the benefit of a pass or two to see the sites like this one outside of Rome where American GIs lined up for a peek at Leopold, one of the two 280mm German railroad guns known to the Allies as Anzio Annie. The scuttled guns were captured in Civitavecchia, Italy by the 168th Regiment of the 34th Division.
  » (click for alternate image) «
The German Eisenbahnbatterie 712 fired alternately on the Anzio defenses from two K5 Eisenbahngeschutz 280mm rail guns named Robert and Leopold. To the GIs the guns were Anzio Annie and the Anzio Express, these guns, hidden in rail tunnels, were estimated to have killed 1,000 soldiers at Anzio. Leopold was built by Krupp in 1941. Records show that 523 rounds were fired at Anzio from these guns beginning in late March 1944. Leopold was rebuilt and is on display at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.
Garrison duty in Rome for the Third Division lasted two weeks and by July 1944, soldiers of the American Third Infantry Division were assembled and drilled near Naples for what would become its fourth amphibious assault of the war on the beaches of southern France.  
Seventh Army commander Gen. Alexander M. Patch reviews Third Division troops with its commander, Gen. John W. O'Daniel; VI Corps commander, Gen. Lucian K. Truscott; and Admiral Henry Hewitt. Patch was distinguished for his action of leading the relief of embattled marines on Guadalcanal securing America's first Pacific Theater land victory in February 1943.  
Gen. Patch shakes hands with Gen. O'Daniel after his review of Third Division troops in Naples. O'Daniel assumed command of the Third on the Anzio beachhead on Feb. 17, 1944. Patch was assigned to the Seventh Army in the Mediterranean after action in the Pacific. He relieved Gen. Patton who commanded the Seventh in Sicily.  
Ordered to Naples and Pozzuoli in mid-July, 1944, Third Division troops and equipment queue for loading Western Naval Task Force transports under Vice Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt. The task force carried three American divisions along with French troops to the Operation Dragoon landing beaches in the French Riviera.  
LST's line Naples' docks loading elements of VI Corps' main infantry divisions, the 3rd, 36th and 45th, for Operation Dragoon. All three divisions had previously embarked from Naples for Anzio.  
The American Bridge Company of Ambridge, Pennsylvania manufactured the 328-foot LST 140, one of over 1,000 built for the war. The massive doors of an LST open on the assault beach dispersing a well-packed human cargo of 140 officers and men.  
As the invasion force departs Naples in mid-August under the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, the memories of Anzio's bloody four-month stalemate for the 3rd and 45th divisions, the catastrophic crossing of the Rapido River by the 36th Division and the 45th's assault on the Gustav Line below Monte Cassino are still fresh and vivid memories. 10
A shipside photo captures the mood of a Third Division G.I. as the invasion force leaves Naples on August 12. The Third Division consisted of three infantry regiments: the 7th, 15th and 30th. Operation Dragoon was originally known as Anvil to compliment Normandy's code name of Hammer for a simultaneous assault. Anvil was delayed, scrapped and later revised due in part to the dedication of Lt. Gen. Jacob Devers and the fact that the Normandy breakout was having its problems.  
At 0800 on August 15th landing ships make formation as they begin the journey to the beachhead. More than 90,000 amphibious and 9,000 airborne troops participated in the initial two-day southern France landings at three main beachheads. The slow move of the Italian thrust set the southern France landings back by two months. (National Archives)  
Three beaches formed the Dragoon plan: Alpha Beaches, near St. Tropez, for the Third Division; Delta Beaches in Bogon Bay near Cape Sardineaux for the 45th; and Camel Beaches near St. Raphael for the 36th. First French Army troops (Garbo Force) followed the American units and moved on Toulon and Marseille.
(National Archives)
The southern France landings were called a perfect landing. Opposition was scattered, allowing for a rapid advance from the beachheads. By August 17, 130,000 men and 18,000 vehicles had crossed the three assault beaches. Initial encounters with the enemy often led to eager surrender. (National Archives)  
Naval weapons of the Western Naval Task Force under Vice Admiral Henry K. Hewitt lay down a barrage of fire prior to the 7th Regiment's assault on Red Beach. The armada consisted of 885 ships with 1,375 landing craft that ultimately landed 151,000 troops and 21,400 vehicles. 15
LCTs on the way to Red Beach in the Bay of Cavalaire look through a naval bombardment of the beachhead. Also part of the Dragoon plan was a 322-glider air assault called Dove with Canadian, British and American troops assisting the landings around Le Muy. The call for a daylight landing was due to the defensive mining of the water and the beaches in the area.  
A British-operated LCT turns for its run to the beach. For the Third Division, it was the fourth amphibious assault; for the 36th Div, the second; and for the 45th Div., the third. The three divisions made up the American VI Corps under Gen. Lucian K. Truscott. The entire invasion force faced 11 German Divisions in the south of France.  
Beach fortifications were quickly overrun at Red Beach by the 7th Regiment's Battle Patrols. Artillery, mortar, machine-gun and rocket fire met the landing. The primary goal of the regiment was to secure Cavailare to the west. The Third Division faced the German 242nd Infantry Division under the XIX Army (General Friedrich Wiese) of Army Group G (Gen. Johannes Blaskowitz).  
The Grand Hotel at Cavalaire overlooks the Red Beach assault landings. The stiffest resistance for the 7th Regiment was the fire from Cape Cavailaire where Third Division Sgt. James Connor's bravery earned him the Medal of Honor. After Connor's platooon leader was killed, he led the remainder of the squad, despite several wounds, to the high ground controlling the beach where they destroyed seven of the enemy and captured 40 more.  
The resistance for the 7th Regiment's Battle Patrol was the fiercest for the Third Division in clearing guns at Le Cap and La Vigie. This enemy pillbox on a shore road at Cavalaire was one of the obstacles. Seven waves went ashore at 0850, amphibious tanks stopped a German counterattack and Gen. O'Daniel came ashore at 1040. 20
With the Cavalaire beachhead secured by two battalions of the 7th Regiment, equipment and supplies were methodically offloaded. Due to a lightly fortified coast, more men splashed ashore at H-hour in southern France than in Normandy two months previous. The worst of the fighting was dealt to the 36th Infantry Division  
An LCI sends its troops ashore at Red Beach. In the distance, an LST uses a dock to unload its cargo. The 0800 assault force landing of the 7th Regiment at Red Beach was followed by the 30th Regiment.  
A Mark III LCT bobs just short of shore at Red Beach as its human cargo disembarks.  
The surf defeats the landing of a jeep at Red Beach.  
A stranded jeep just off its ramp, disrupts the unloading of LCT 321. LCTs had a twelve-man crew and could carry twelve 40-ton tanks or ten 3-ton trucks. LCT 321 is a Mark V version. 25
Properly beached, an LCT sends its cargo ashore. Almost all Third Division units were reported ashore by noon on August 15. Gen. Johannes Blaskowitz commanded the 250,000-man Army Group G, the German defenders of southern and eastern France.  
Third Division officers led by Brig. Gen. Whitfield P. Shepard, assistant division commander, observe progress on Red Beach. Hitler's command to evacuate all but the coastal elements of Army Group G from southern France was given August 16.  
One of four DD (Duplex Drive) tanks from the 756th Tank Battalion attached to the Third Division exits the water at Red Beach. A canvas flotation apron was attached to a welded boat-shaped platform on a Sherman tank to make the DD buoyant with a 4-knot water speed from two aft propellors.  
Elements of the 36th Combat Engineers came ashore at Red Beach near Cavalaire Sur-Mer. The bar on this tractor, called to pull a stalled truck from the surf, reads "Nevada, Montana, Pussy Cat".  
Major General John W. O'Daniel takes command of the beachhead near St. Tropez. O'Daniel, appointed division commander at Anzio, led the Third Division through France, into Germany and craftily directed the division's capture of Berchtesgaden at the end of the European conflict. 30
nfantry troops prepare to move off the beach to back up forces securing inland objectives. The assembled invasion force faced 250,000 German troops in the Rhone River valley stretching 400 miles to Lyon.  
German prisoners, including wounded soldiers wait for final processing on Red Beach. In the first 24 hours, Third Division units captured more than 1,500 soldiers mostly from the 242nd Infantry Division which was later destroyed in its defense of Toulon. At the hands of the Third Division, the Germans suffered 330 killed, 1,005 wounded and 9,000 captured in the days surrounding the landings.  
The units of the German 19th Army left in defense of the coastline consisted of untried troops — many conscripted from eastern Europe. The Germans anticipated a landing near Marseille and Toulon which left the assault beaches to the east lightly defended.  
Third Division Commander Gen. John "Iron Mike" O'Daniel discusses beach activity with the C.O. of the 36th Engineer Regiment's shore party on Red Beach, part of the "Alpha" beach landings near Cavalaire Sur-Mer. The 36th Engineers had received extensive training in deployment of shore party installations in the U.S. before landing in North Africa.  
The water portion of the duplex drive on a DD amphibious tank is inspected by the shore patrol. The DD was a modified Sherman tank weighing 71,000 pounds that was rigged to operate in light surf during amhibious operations. 35
A shallow water mine is detonated by engineers near shore on Red Beach.  
The Third Medical Battalion is carried to shore on LCI 188. Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock in Kearny, New Jersey built this LCI(L).  
The Third Medical Battalion tests the waters of the Mediterranean off the ramps of an LCI at Red Beach. The early LCIs had side ramps, a 25-man crew and a weight of 246 tons.  
A taut line is held to aid the transfer of the medical troops from LCI 188.  
This model of the LCI was designed to carry six officers and 182 enlisted men. It carried an armament of five 20-mm cannons. 40
Welcome to France! The Tenth Medical Battalion wades ashore at Red Beach.  
Throughout the afternoon of August 15, troops continued to pour on shore. By 1945, the 30th Regiment was prepared to advance on Cogolin and finish securing the St. Tropez peninsula.  
From sea to land, soldiers prepare to move off the beachhead. The VI Corps advance is rapid due to light and untested defenders. The German army in southern France had been drained to reinforce the Normandy divisions.  
At Yellow Beach, where the 15th Regiment hit the shore just south of St. Tropez, a field hospital tent marks an aid station in the beach grass.  
he shore party puts part of the German defenses to work as an aid station on Red Beach. 45
Shore party aid-men tend to wounded on Red Beach at the base of a captured German position.  
The bodies of fallen Third Division soldiers await evacuation from Red Beach. The Third Division alone listed 218 killed, 401 missing and 1,072 wounded in battle during its operations in southern France.  
The shore party carries wounded soldiers to empty LSTs for medical evacuation.  
LSTs unload at a floating wharf at Red Beach. The hollow-blocked sections were transported on the side of LSTs and assembled on the beach. VI Corps rapid advance during the 30 days following the landings pressed the efforts of its supply troops in moving gasoline, food, equipment and supplies to the "fluid" frontline.  
LCI 675 at Yellow Beach. Commissioned in April 1944, LCI 675 received one battle star for its action in southern France and was later leased to the Russian government in June 1945 intended for use in Japan. 50
LCT 872 eases onto Yellow Beach with a full load of 15th Regiment men and equipment. The initial 15th Regiment Battle Patrol assault in the Bay of Pampelonne took 40 minutes to secure the well-mined beach. By noon, the high ground objectives northeast of Ramatuelle were secure.  
LCT 872 eases onto Yellow Beach with a full load of 15th Regiment men and equipment. The initial 15th Regiment Battle Patrol assault in the Bay of Pampelonne took 40 minutes to secure the well-mined beach. By noon, the high ground objectives northeast of Ramatuelle were secure.  
Traction sheets are assembled to carry vehicles across Yellow Beach near St. Tropez. Resistance forces with some stray paratroopers cleared the village of St. Tropez prior to the Thid Division's arrival.  
A half-track is perched on the ramp of LCT 104 as it inches to shore at Yellow Beach.  
A 15th Regiment half-track makes the best of LCT 104's offload position at Yellow Beach. 55
An M4 welded-hull Sherman from the 756th Tank Battalion B-Company with extended intake and exhaust exits LCT 871 at Yellow Beach.  
An M4A1 Sherman tank of the 756th Tank Battalion B-Company with a Caterpillar "tank-mounting bulldozer M1" at Yellow Beach. The mounted device was meant to clear a beach path against mines and other obstacles. The tanks extended exhaust and intake ports facilitated operation in heavy surf.  
A 756th Tank Battalion B-Company M4A1 cast-hull Sherman rolls off LCT 871 at Yellow Beach. The Sherman tank carried a 75-mm gun.  
An M8 armored car sporting its 37-mm cannon and .50 caliber machine gun rolls onto the beach at the Bay of Pampelonne. Ford and Chrysler developed the M8. More than 11,000 were used in Europe in support of infantry assaults.  
A DUKW named "Eppie" tows a 15th Regiment vehicle from the perils of the surf at Yellow Beach. The piled-on GIs serve as ballast. More than 21,000 of the six-wheeled, 7.5-ton, 31-foot long DUKWs were manufactured. 60
Navy engineers dropped the Piper L4 ditched by Wilfred M. Boucher of the 41st Field Artillery on Yellow Beach. An air bubble in the fuel line caused a stall and the crash. The military Piper Cubs were used to spot for artillery.  
Most of the 1,627 prisoners taken by the Third Division on D-day were from the German's 242nd Infantry Division. The prisoners were described as " ... a conglomeration of eastern nationalities and a few German soldiers". The 242nd did have two Armenian and one Azerbaidjan battalions. These soldiers were captured and tagged at Yellow Beach in the Bay of Pampelonne.  
Engineers clear and mark a path off Yellow Beach. By noon, August 16, Third Division assault troops were 20 miles inland. As the breakout continued, 200,000 Seventh Army soldiers from three American divisions, the First French Army and air assault troops passed through the beachead, and the parachute and glider zones.  
The Germans built up their defenses in southern France from 1942-43 but by the time of the invasion, many units had been stripped to bolster forces in the north. These soldiers are being processed at a Third Signal Co. bivouac area by Lt. Daub while, to the far right, without shirt, a cook sizes up more mouths to feed.
A total of 24 German soldiers walked into the camp to surrender.
A tank crew watches over a fallen comrade when there is nothing left to do. 65
Traffic markers direct advancing units through an open road block to La Croix. The 2nd Battalion of the 7th Regiment passed through La Croix at 1045 on D-day. With the fighting moved on, a French child gets curious about the American army.  
On the Flassan-Brignoles Road, a GI inspects the remains of what appears to be a German 8.8cm Flak18 anti aircraft gun. The 2d Battalion of the 30th Regiment captured Flassan at 1200 hours on August 17.  
Joyous pandemonium in Cogolin as the American army passes through. The town was part of the Third's landing objective reached at 1415 hours on D-day by Company K of the 30th's 3rd Battalion. By noon of August 16, lead elements of the Third Division were 20 miles inland.  
The port of Marseille with its sister port Toulon was a secondary objective of the VI Corps battle plan. French troops landing on August 16, relieved the American units at Red and Yellow beaches. The 7th Regiment's 1st Battalion led the Third Division move along with the 45th Infantry Division to flank the cities from the north.  
arseille, the largest French port and its neighbor Toulon, were assaulted by Gen. Jean de Lattre de Tassigny's First French Army (Free French). The operation was assisted by VI Corps maneuvers that cut off the roads to the north. 70
A Marseille street sign is captured by camera for the Third Division's history books. Marseille, the largest French port, held German warship and submarine facilities. Captured a month ahead of schedule, the port served as an important supply depot for the fighting in France.  
The main avenue of Marseille still under sniper fire. Elements of the French First Army were ordered to clean up Marseille and Toulon as Third Division units cut off the roads to the north. Prior to the war, Marseilles was the busiest port in the Mediterranean.  
This Marseille bridge was destroyed in the fighting for the city. With the capture of Marseille on August 23, well ahead of a pre-invasion September 24 target, a supply route for over one-third of the needs of the northern France operations (prior to the opening of Antwerp in December) was in Allied hands.  
La Cathedrale de la Nouvelle Major, built in the 19th century. With its ornate sculptures and mosaics composed of precious stones and marbles from France, Italy and Algeria, the cathedral dodged destruction in the battle for Marseille.  
On Marseille's highest hill, Notre-Dame de la Garde, overlooks the port city from a height of 154 meters. The current basilica was built between 1853 to 1870; at the top of a 60 meter tower and a 12.5 meter belfry is the virgin and child. 75
The airfield at Marseille gave up a prize of aging aircraft.  
F.F.I. (French Resistance) soldiers guard German prisoners on the streets of Marseille. The average age of German soldiers serving in France was 36, ten years more than the Allied average.  
A machinegunner watches prisoners captured in Marseille. Even though they did very little to defend the city, the Germans believed the southern invasion would center on Marseille and Toulon. Equipped with lend-lease American hardware, the First French Army secured both ports.  
Free French soldiers with an American-supplied M8 sit beneath a Nazi effigy strung above a Marseille street. With the invasion objectives firmly in hand and well-ahead of schedule, VI Corps turns attention north to the Rhone River Valley where the retreating German 19th Army is scrambling to the Rhineland. 79
The images on this site form part of a collection archived by William J. Toomey of Everett, Massachusetts while serving with the Third Signal Company of the U.S. Third Division during WWII.
Bill was a member of a five-man crew of photographers along with William Heller, John Cole, Robert Seesock and Howard Nickelson.
The photographs from this unit form a major part of the visual history
of the Third Division in WWII. • comments and inquiry to
• for more info on the Third Division and this photographic unit,
visit Sgt. William Heller's WWII Memoirs at
• some photos have been cropped from original size
• some dates in captions are approximated and meant as a referenceContent by Denis W. Toomey.
Dedicated to William and Rose Toomey
of Everett and Danvers, Massachusetts, the men of the Third Signal Company and all Dogface Soldiers throughout the past, present and to come.
vallé du rhone  
With the St. Tropez beaches under control, elements of the Third Division advanced on Brignoles. As in other towns and cities during the advance, French resistance proved invaluable in securing territory. The landings in southern France inspired major uprisings in Lyon and Paris which was liberated on August 24, 1944.  
Schoolboys witness the grim side of war in Brignoles where these fallen soldiers attest to the cost of the Aug. 18-19 battle for the city as the Third Division swept wetward from the D-day beaches. The Germans defended Brignoles with two battalions of the 338th Infantry Division.  
With the hasty departure of the German command, local police struggle with the transition and the authority of the Free French fighters. The Battle for Brignoles, with the Second Battalion of the 30th Regiment and a patrol of the Third Recon Troop, was the toughest fight during the breakout from the beachhead.  
Nazi weapons are collected on the street in Brignoles. The city was cleared by 1030 hours on Aug. 19 after a two-day battle. German troops in the action represented the 338th, 242nd and 244th infantry divisions along with the 189th Reserve Division. During the next 24 hours, Third Division troops would advance another 30 miles.  
The move on Aix en Provence began in the afternoon of August 20 with the 2nd Battalion of the 30th Regiment. The action moved along Highway 7 to the north where the "hub" roads entered the city from Avignon, Grenoble and the coast. To the south, French First Army troops attacked Toulon and Marseilles. 5
After a long fire fight in the south; challenges from enemy mortars and artillery; and determined Germans arriving on bicycle from the north, Aix en Provence, the most important town in the vicinity, was cleared by 1000 hours on August 21.  
A hardened member of the F.F.I. (Forces Francaise d'Interieure) in the Place de la Rotunde shows his captured and recycled German hardware. The F.F.I. was in play from the beachheads where some of their pre-invasion tactics were organized covertly by the O.S.S.  
Doctors and medics walk a blurred line in wartime. Here a Third Division aid man attends to a German soldier wounded during the action in Aix en Provence.  
Jubilation set the tone as the invading army passed through Aix en Provence. Four years of Nazi rule was obliterated in a day of fighting by 7th Army units moving towards the Rhone River Valley.  
British and American flags appear from the shadows as the citizens of Aix en Provence celebrate their liberation. Fearing a fuel and supply problem, Gen. Patch ordered VI Corps to halt its advance 20 miles north of Marseille at Aix en Provence. 10
A French, an American and a British flag lead a procession along the tree-lined Cours Mirabeau in Aix en Provence from the Fountaine du Roi Rene. Soldiers of all three countries participated in the invasion begun only six days earlier.  
American GIs parade an M8 assault car through the Place de la Rotunde in Aix en Provence. The scene is overlooked by the 1860 monument pointing the way to Marseille, Avignon and Grenoble with its three statues representing justice, agriculture and fine arts.  
Citizens of Aix en Provence greet an M10 tank destroyer of the 601st TD Battalion as the city celebrates its liberation. The M-10, with a 3-inch (76.2mm) gun, was powered by twin GM six-cylinder, 375hp diesel engines. Based on the Sherman, a total of nearly 5,000 M10s were built in 1942.  
The Place de la Rotunde, marking the location of the old city gates of Aix en Provence, is the setting for an American parade of victorious troops in August 1944. All three VI Corps divisions quickly covered their landing objectives while rapidly advancing into the French countryside.  
The flow of spirits in Aix en Provence fuels the celebration over the departure of the German 19th Army after four years of unwelcome and cruel governance. The steeple in the background is the Eglise St. Jean de Malte. By noon Aug. 23, the Third Division had tagged 4,165 prisoners as it turned attention to crossing the Durance River. 15
A French woman accused of collaboration with the Nazis is tormented in a doorway of Aix en Provence. This behavior was eagerly condemned for its cruelty as this emotionaly evocative image displays. Some blame was directed at seize-the-moment "patriots" whose bravery appeared when the Germans departed.  
Shaving the heads of the "Nazi collaborators" was a way to ridicule them but it left them vulnerable to terrible acts of violent harassment as they were paraded through the streets.  
Forced to walk the streets to jeers and torments, two French women, marked as collaborators, struggle to find dignity at the hands of a mob.  
Many have condemned the mob tactics that tormented the women collaborators in France. Following an end to four years of cruel German occupation, this misdirected emotion is not difficult to imagine.  
Third Division field artillery protects the north of Aix en Provence as VI Corps, under cautious orders from Gen. Patch, halts for supplies and fuel to catch its rapid advance. Anxious to sieze the moment, Gen. Truscott pursuades Patch to allow a forward action by the 36th Infantry Division 150 miles up the Rhone River Valley north of Montelimar. 20
An M-101 155mm howitzer is part of the line of defense to the north of Aix en Provence. Over 10,000 M-101 howitzers were produced through 1953. As the action around Marseille wrapped up on August 22, VI Corps assessed its move to the Rhone River. A forward unit called Task Force Butler with supporting artillery had already engaged the Germans north of Montelimar on Highway 7.  
A Class 40 pontoon bridge over the Durance River near Mirabeau south of Avignon courtesy of the 10th Engineer Battalion. Forward elements reached the Durance on August 23; crossings continued through the 25th by the 15th and 30th Regiments and the First French Armored Division as they moved ahead to assembly points for the attack north. Pre-invasion plans targeted this crossing for October 15.  
The 2d Battalion of the 30th Regiment entered Cavaillon at 1000 on August 25. Before noon, recon troops passed through on the road to Avignon. Also operating in the area is the French First Army.  
An officer from the F.F.I. greets division photographers in Cavaillon. F.F.I. action was crucial in the capture of Avignon.  
Pont du Cavaillon was destroyed by bombing during the German retreat. Between the columns is an army jeep used by the photographers standing to the left. 25
Pont du Cavaillon, a gravity-anchored suspension bridge built in 1930, spanned the Durance River until its destruction by bombing during the German retreat. The bridge was not replaced until 1957.  
To the northeast of Avignon, Apt served as an assembly area for the Third Division.  
A cast-body Sherman took a direct hit between the driver positions near Apt.  
A French staff car and a Sherman from the 756th Tank Battalion pass in the traffic near the Apt assembly area.  
Looking northeast beyond Apt, the terrain gave a hint to the granite mountains that lay to the north: the Vosges leading to the Rhine River. 30
Avignon was the command post for German 19th Army commander Gen. Freidich Wiese at the onset of the invasion. The Third Reconnaissance Troop established Allied control in Avignon after the 19th Army deserted the town and escaped northward up the Rhone River Valley.  
An alley of ill repute in Avignon with its dangerous opportunities demonstrates the world's oldest profession suffered little during the war. Avignon was left undefended by the retreating Germans in 1944.  
Carpentras was entered unopposed by the Second Platoon of the Third Reconnaissance Troop at 1715 on August 25. The 15th Regiment, moving from Apt assembled near Carpentras at 0500 on August 26 prior to its advance north to Montelimar.  
After watching the German army evacuate Carpentras, its citizens found themselves in chaos as jubilation for victory and revenge on the collaborators mixed in the streets.  
Outside the city jail in Carpentras, F.F.I. troops and police attempt to keep order after the arrival of American troops in August 1944. 35
Spared destruction, Carpentras looked to a future without Hitler. The town was abandonded by the Nazis who were scrambling through Montelimar to the north under protection of the 11th Panzer Division and its assembled infantry support.  
American troops never fail to show up for a morale-boosting parade of liberation. Carpentras, France was liberated on August 25, 1944 after it was abandoned by the fleeing German 19th Army as it assembled transportation of all kinds — mechanical and animal — to aid its escape from southern France.  
Free of Nazi say-so, local police begin releasing prisoners from the city jail in Carpentras, France.  
Assuming hero status as a killer of 17 German soldiers, a 13-year-old boy lends himself to the celebration of the liberation of Carpentras. VI Corps now focused on Montelimar up Highway 7. As the hours and days slipped by, the German 19th Army continued to scramble, by any means possible, to Lyon. 39
As Marseille fell to French and American control on the southern coast, scattered assault units of the Seventh Army converged on a narrow section of the Rhone River Valley at Montelimar. The town served as a communications hub to the south and was dead center in the path of the retreating German 19th Army on Highway 7. 1
As the action progressed from Aug. 20, General Truscott ordered a special combat team from the 36th Infantry Division called Task Force Butler to begin blocking actions against the German retreat in the vicinity of Montelimar. Infantry units of the 36th began it's skirmishes there two days later.  
After assembly at Carpentras, the Third Division's 15th Regiment moved northwest at 0500 on August 26 to join the fight. Forward units approached Montelimar along Highway 7 meeting resistance on August 27.  
All three of the Third Division's regiments were active in the attack on Montelimar as they joined the 36th Division in seizing the town. German strength approached three divisions strong with the veteran 11th Panzer Division as the pivot.  
All three VI Corps' divisions were in position around Montelimar. The Third Reconnaissance Troop contacted the 36th Division near Nyons on the 25th and the 30th Regiment's Second Battalion cleared an enemy strongpoint at Grignan on the 27th. 5
In full retreat and under constant harassment, the German 19th Army streamed through Montelimar by road and rail using machine and animal as transportation. As the Allies' pincher closed, convoys were stopped and decimated by artillery and air attack.  
The rear guard action at Montelimar allowed the Germans to move tens of thousands of troops and civilians with all the baggage of four year's of occupation securely through Lyon to the Belfort Gap through the Vosges Mountains. Most of the fighting at Montelimar was directed by Gen. Truscott through Maj. Gen. John E. Dahlquist, commander of the 36th Infantry Division.  
This German convoy was stopped south of Montelimar and was targeted by artillery and air attacks. A chaos of destroyed vehicles, dead infantry and horses littered the roadway in the aftermath. The Germans pressed to the cause all vehicles available including touring sedans, public transports and horse-drawn carts.  
As the Third took position, 15th Regiment troops advanced into violent combat and incessant counterattacks. The 7th Regiment entered Montelimar from the southeast on the 29th where three battalions of the 7th and 30th regiments crossed a small river to the east of the town during the morning as they continued to attack.  
On August 29, units of the 36th and 3rd divisions were in mortar range of the chaotic retreat of the rear guard north of Montelimar. Artillery spotters targeted a long column of 2,000 vehicles stretching 14 kilometers along Highway 7 and a parallel train pulling a large artillery piece. 10
It is difficult to imagine the horror of the German soldiers who lost their lives at Montelimar attempting to transport, military equipment along with luxury items of clothes, cameras, liquor, gold and money out of southern France. The halted convoys carried so much of value, civilians and GIs together, pillaged the spoils in the assault's horrid detritus.  
The nine-day battle at Montelimar cost the German army dearly in the midst of unimaginable horror. The final convoy leaving Montelimar on August 29, with 2,000 vehicles of all type including horse-drawn transportation, was trapped on a 14 kilometer stretch of Highway 7 to the north. Deadly artillery fire and a few fighter bomber attacks claimed a grim reward.  
The road north of Montelimar was littered with destroyed vehicles, dead infantry and horses. Horses in critical condition were put down while others wandered and grazed peacefully among the carnage. The 36th Division artillery and armor units tallied over 75,000 rounds fired into the German retreat over eight days.  
The German casualties were set at 11,000 soldiers, two divisions, 2,100 vehicles and 1,500 horses in the battle for Montelimar. A group of American soldiers liberated $23,000 dollars of worthless Francs from destroyed trucks. The entire region was a littered mess of burned vehicles, trains, equipment, dead men and dead animals all wrapped in a horrid stench.  
Deadly fire from the 69th Field Artillery Battalion stopped this train hauling a German 380mm "Siegfried" rail cannon north from Montelimar. Two 380mm and four 280mm guns operated by Eisenbahnbatteries 749 were captured at Montelimar. 15
A 10th Combat engineer works his bulldozer clearing a road at Montelimar. The cleanup effort was left to the 15th Regiment and the 10th Engineers.  
As the Third Division's part in the cleanup at Montelimar wrapped up at the end of August, VI Corps was moving past Lyon. The 45th Infantry Division had been moving along the right flank through Grenoble; the 36th continued north and the Third Division sidled to the 45th's zone to relieve elements at St. Etienne. On the eastern side of the Rhone River, the French Army targeted a mostly abandoned Lyon.  
The carnage around Montelimar's roads was called the "avenue of stenches." The odor of burnt vehicles, decaying bodies, burnt flesh and debris hauntingly assailed the soldiers involved in the action and those passing through in the aftermath.  
In the early part of the battle for Montelimar, Task Force Butler held the hills to the north overlooking La Couccurde. Fortified with two corps of artillery, the unit's cat and mouse harassment catastrophicaly slowed the movement of the retreating Germans who staged their final counterattack here.  
The remains of horse-drawn carts pushed to the side of the road in Derbiere. The retreat from southern France in 1944 for the Germans included naval and Luftwaffe support troops and administrative personnel along with civilians hauling the baggage of four years of occupation and the usual mix of valuables. 20
These horses escaped death at Montelimar — not so lucky, were over a thousand that did not. The Germans gathered many horses from the countryside for their frantic retreat.  
Horses lie dead by the cart they tried to haul out of Montelimar for the German Army. The frantic retreat employed all forms of transportation.  
A German 8.8cm Raketenwerfer 43 anti-tank gun and a Russian howitzer block the road where they were overrun by advancing Third Division troops north of Montelimar. The Rakentenwerfer 43 fired a hollow-charge anti-tank rocket.  
Curious onlookers mingle with American soldiers where a German Raketenwerfer 43 anti-tank gun and a Russian 12.2cm sFH 396r heavy field howitzer were captured north of Montelimar. As VI Corps moved north from the Montelimar area, F.F.I. units reported that Lyon was all but abandoned and the Germans had pulled back to defend the Rhone and Doubs rivers to the northeast.  
Two women marked as Nazi collaborators seeking refuge in the country pause for a Third Division camera north of Montelimar, France. 25
These German soldiers were lucky enough to escape death at Montelimar. The Seventh Army action there in late August 1944 was horrific but decisive as it dealt a deadly blow to the German 19th Army that it would not recover from. German units operating in the area included the 338th, 198th, 716th and 244th infantry divisions; the 189th and 148th Reserve Divisions; and the 11th Panzer Division. 26
The German holding action at Montelimar and Lyon allowed a large part of the German Army Group G time to retreat through Besancon towards the Belfort Gap. As September began, the American army continued its pursuit through the countryside liberating town after town in what was called the "Champagne Campaign". 1
In La Tour du Pin, American and French flags fly over the village center. From Sept. 2-3, 1944, the Third Division moved 75 miles by truck to Lons Le Saunier. The first days of September saw elements of VI Corps advancing at a rapid pace with F.F.I. intelligence revealing the abandonment of the territory by the Nazis. Pre-invasion plans did not expect troops to be in this area until late November.  
At Bolozon, despite Hitler's scorched earth order, the damn on the Rhone River was captured with minor damage. The Germans had passed through Lyon and Dijon and were headed towards the Belfort Gap.  
Tank Destroyers of the 601st TD Battalion enter Lons Le Saunier. The town fell unopposed on September 4, 1944 and served as an assembly area for Third Division troops marching 75 miles from assembly areas near Laginieu.  
The practice of branding and banishing women collaborators is repeated in Lons Le Saunier. Vindictive behavior towards those named as colloborators continued even after the war with some laws enacted to prohibit some civil rights. 5
As if untouched by the war raging around them, two women pose in traditional Alscace costume — complete with silk bow headdress — in Lons Le Saunier, September 1945. The 700-seat theatre in the background was built in 1900. The city dates itself as a Roman spa town known for its salt baths. (photo by J. Cole)  
At Pessans, French sentiment is displayed on a roadside sign. In its drive north, the Third Division was supported by the 45th Infantry Division moving through Grenoble along the Swiss border with the 36th Infantry Division on the left flank. Elements of the French Algerian Infantry were in support of the 45th. To the east of the Rhone, the newly arrived First French Armored Division was moving north.  
By September 5, Third Division troops were in position south and east of Besancon near Avanne and Larnod Douves. VI Corps advanced the Third, 45th and the Third Algerian divisions abreast to Besancon on a one-day fuel supply. 8
The Doubs River presented a natural line of defense for the retreating elements of Gen. Blaskowitz's Army Group G including the remnants of the German 19th Army under Gen. Weisse. Mostly the flimsy units left to slow the American's advance were easily dislodged.  
Third Division soldiers pass through Larnod Douves for positions near Besancon. 10
A Third Division 81-mm mortar team deploys through Larnod Douves, south of Besancon. Besancon served as a key communication and road center defended by five 17th-century Vauban forts.  
The Doubs River bridges at Besancon were destroyed by the Germans. The VI Corps assault on the five Vauban forts at Besancon raged Sept. 5-8, 1944.  
La Citadelle, atop a 383-foot hill covered all areas of approach to Besancon. The Citadelle was completed after six years in 1673. The thick walls and moats did not deter the 30th Regiment's First Battalion soldiers, along with help from the 9th F.A. and Co. C of the 756th Tank Battalion, who captured the fort on Sept. 8, 1944.  
Besancon, an important communications, road, and industrial center, straddles the Doubs River and had a population of 80,000 at the start of the war. Dating to the days of the Roman Legions, the city is the birthplace of Victor Hugo. 14
Gen. Blaskowitz ordered the 159th Infantry Division, diverted from its route of withdrawel, to hold Besancon until Sept 15. The key Vauban fort, La Citadelle, overlooked the Doubs River bridges where American forces hoped to capture one intact. For its successful assault on La Citadelle, the 30th Regiment's First Battalion was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. 15
Sebastine Le Preste de Vauban designed the fort system at Besancon. Vauban modernized defensive fort building from 1667-1707, working in more than 300 cities in northeast France. Besancon dated to the days of Caesar and Gaul.  
Infantry troops advanced up and down ladders to cross to the 17th-century "centre ville" of Besancon. Engineers repaired the destroyed span of Pont Blattant into Quai Vauban along with a major water line with electric and communication links.  
F.F.I. soldiers ceremoniously display their captured foe in Besancon. The French fighters lost 40 of their own while clearing a significant part of the city. The Germans lost as many as 250 with 2,500 captured in the area and Brig. Gen. Schmidt, lost enroute to the defense of the city, was killed at a Company A, 7th Regiment roadblock on Sept. 6.  
The fall of Besancon on September 8, 1944, to the Third Division after a four-day assault, put the first fortress city in the hands of the Allies, and was ahead of the German's intention to hold the city until Sept. 15. The Third Division lost 80 soldiers with 90 wounded in the fight. The division's brief stay in Besancon was replaced by French First Army troops. 19
Replacing ousted Nazi governance, an official addresses the people of Besancon at the city hall in an area now known as Place du September 8. The four-day battle for Besancon began Sept. 5, 1944. The American Third Division captured the city on Sept. 8, before moving its attack to Vesoul. 20
Days of retribution and destruction followed the end of the four-year Nazi rule over Besancon. The Nazis operation of a known room of torture in the city helped fuel a regrettable period which included a "purification board" ruling in favor of the usual retributions.  
To the southeast of Besancon, the beauty of the French countryside at Ornan on the Loue River is captured in this shot of the birth town of Gustave Courbet. Courbet was part of the Realist movement in art in the 1800s.  
A small stone bridge spans a stream feeding the Loue River in Ornan. The rapid northern advance stretched supply lines for the Seventh Army — fuel from captured German dumps often fueled the American advance.  
On the east flank of the advancing Seventh Army, units probed the Jura Mountains near Ornan. 24
The Jura Mountains are more rugged than the Vosges to the north, but both are formed from ancient granite and limestone. To the north, The Vosges rise steeply from the Plain of Alsace blocking access to the Rhine Valley. 25
The Jura Mountains form a natural border between France and Switzerland.  
In Calmontier, engineers inspect a damaged bridge with undetonated charges. Moving from Besancon against increasingly bitter rear guard action from Sept. 10-11, VI Corps next objective was Vesoul nearly 400 miles from Cavaillon. Vesoul fell to elements of the 15th Regiment and two 36th Infantry battalions on Sept. 12.  
At Villamfroy, the division photographers camp at a church with their lab truck and their trailer named "Fuzzy's Folly". As September moved to its finish, the weather was turning unseasonably cold and rainy. 28
Out of battle and harms way for a while, Third Division soldiers attempt a normal evening like the ones back home with music and a dance in Villamfroy, France. Villamfroy fell to Companies F and G of the 7th Regiment's Second Battalion on Sept. 14 where they passed into regimental reserve.  
At Pomoy, Third Division Commander Gen. O'Daniel's mobile command post operates from a concealed position. Company C of the 15th Regiment enterd Pomoy Sept. 14 at noon on its way to Genevreuille. 30
An M.P. with a monkey poses north of Vesoul at Pomoy. With the fall of Vesoul on Sept. 12, VI Corps logged 400 miles in less than 28 days; capturing 100,000 Germans since the beachhead landings while positioning a great army at the foothills to the Lower Vosges Mountains.  
The Third Division entered Lure, a key communication center after advancing along Highway 19 on Sept. 16. The enemy's withdrawals in the face of the Allied advance were shortening as they fell back to increasingly prepared defensive positions.  
Lure's capture by the 15th Regiment's First Battalion followed by the 7th Regiment's First Battalion, was unopposed, but the city was under perilous artillery and mortar attack throughout the day. The days leading to the capture of Lure held tough fights over a wide front for the Third Division, further evidence of the stiffening resistance from the Germans.  
Fighting passed through Raddon as Third Division troops captured Faucogney on Sept. 19. The fight overlooking Raddon was complete with a 200-man fanatical SS force shouting, in English, their wish to die for Hitler. It was during that action Sgt. Harold O. Messerschmidt sacrificed his life and was awarded the Medal of Honor.  
Third Division soldiers rest in Faucogney from their advance north to the Moselle River and Remiremont. VI Corps was now in position to advance the Seventh Army across the Moselle River. 35
The drive north from Lure to Faucogney was fiercely contested — the fighting at times hand to hand. The retreat of the German army was slowed as it fell back into prepared positions and advancing Americans faced booby-traps in ordinary things. The advance also encountered massive wooden roadblocks manned more and more by fanatical defenders.  
The 7th Regiment's First Battalion marches through Faucogney on Sept. 22. The Third Division was about to encounter its fiercest fighting since the landings as it moved north through wooded-terrain during Sept. 20-26. A fanatical, and sometimes bizarre, resistance from the German defenders was reaching a fevered pitch.  
Photographer's John Cole and Bill Heller pose with the tools of their trade on a warm September day in Faucogney, France. Faucogney was abandodned by the Germans in its retreat from its failed counterattack at Raddon.  
Photographer Bill Toomey takes comfort in a "real bed" in Faucogney, France.  
After a four day battle by the 36th Infantry Division to capture Remiremont, the Third Division established its command post there and stayed on until October 20. The 15th Regiment moved from Remiremont through St. Ame on Sept. 25. 40
Medics of the 15th Regiment set up an aid station at St. Ame. St. Ame was just south of the German defenses protecting the road through Cleurie where the Cleurie Quarry afforded the Germans a strategic and fortified defensive position.  
A fallen Third Division soldier at the 15th Regiment aid station at St. Ame. The attack north from St. Ame began on a rain-soaked Sept. 27 after a 15-minute artillery barrage.  
The German's fortified positions at the Cleurie Quarry controlled the entire region and blocked the Third Division's advance across the Vosges. The approaches to the quarry were over steep cliffs against stiff resistance.  
By October 5, the Cleurie Quarry was in American hands. These German soldiers lived to tell the tale of their part in the defense ordered by Hitler to "fight to the death". The 15th Regiment's six-day fight for the quarry is chronicled as one of its greatest battles.  
Tenth Engineers repair a bridge into Vagney over the Mossellette River. The 7th Regiment captured Vagney in the face of stubborn resistance on October 7 and established a command post. The town was under observation and subject to artillery fire but it's strategic importance in holding the surrounding hill mass linking Cleurie and St. Ame made it necessary to hold and secure. 45
On the Third Division's right flank, the 7th Regiment secured Vagney on October 7 during the action north of St. Ame. The Regiment held and defended the town aginst a strong tank-supported counterattack.  
Third Division traffic control in Remiremont under La Statue du Voluntaire an 1899 monument commemorating 1,300 Remiremont volunteers in defense of France in 1792.  
Anti-aircraft guns atop a camouflaged half-track of the 441st AA Battalion defend Remiremont, France. Remiremont served as the Third Division's command post from Sept. 27-Oct. 20, as it took part in the Seventh Army advance to St. Die and Strasbourg.  
Engineer's construct a ponton bridge across the Mosellette River in Remiremont. The Third Division directed its actions against Cleurie, Le Tholott, Le Tholy and Vagney from its Remiremont headquarters.  
The chain of command is assembled at Remiremont.
On the right is Sixth Army Group Commander Gen. Jacob Devers,
Seventh Army Commander Gen. Alexander Patch (center)
and VI Corps Commander Gen. Lucian Truscott on the left.
General Alexander Patch of the Seventh Army looks over the maps at the Third Division command post in Remiremont. As October passed, VI Corps and the Seventh Army, assembled under the Sixth Army Group, looked towards the Rhine River near Strasbourg and the bulge in its line developing to the south around Colmar.  
Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, George C. Marshall visits VI Corps troops assembled in Remiremont. Marshall later authored the Marshall Plan — the basis for rebuilding Europe — and is the only professional soldier to recieve the Nobel Peace Prize.  
Third Division Commander General John O'Daniel, VI Corps commander Gen. Lucian Truscott, and VI Army Group commander Gen. Jacob L. Devers step from the assembled group during Gen. George C. Marshall' s visit to the Third Division in Remiremont.  
Photographers from several units wait for a chance to capture Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, George C. Marshall on film as he exits Third Division headquarters in Remiremont. The location of the photos in this series is the 1913 College de Filles (Girl's College), now the College le Tertre.  
At a medal ceremony in Remiremont, VI Corps commanders are commended for their action in southern France. From the left: Maj. Gen. John E. Dahlquist of the 36th Infantry Division "The Texas Division", Maj. Gen. William W. Eagles of the 45th Infantry Division "Thunderbirds" and Maj. Gen. John H. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel of the Third Infantry Division. The two generals closest to the camera are unidentified. 55
Seventh Army Commander General Patch addresses troops in Epinal. Facing the camera to Patch's right is Col. Hallet D. Edson, commaner of the 15th Regiment. The 45th Infantry Division crossed the Moselle at Epinal in September.  
General Patch honors an unidentified soldier in Epinal, France. Epinal is the sight of a 48-acre memorial cemetery with 5,250 American dead including four Medal of Honor recipients.  
The attack through Brouvelieures and Vervezelle began October 20 by the 15th and 7th Regiments. As the action passed, the 9th Field Artillery entrenched their 105-mm howitzers near Brouvelieures.  
Artillery units in Brouvelieures attached to the Third Division supported the infantry advance through the Mortagne Forest and Rouges Aux. VI Corps three divisions had been continually engaged since the Riviera landings and were now facing winter conditions and increasingly rugged terrain.  
A GI describes the scene from a Brouvelieures' rooftop. The Third Division's 7th Regiment was ordered to Brouvelieures as relief for the 45th Infantry Division which had taken a beating from a strong German counterattack. 60
The action at Brouvelieures was fought to a stalemate with the 45th Infantry Division suffering badly from a German counterattack from the west.  
Brouvelieures was under deadly artillery assault from high ground positions to the west. While the 7th Regiment fought for Brouvellieres, the 30th Regiment had broken through from Le Tholy almost as far as St. Die.  
A Sherman tank in support of the 15th Regiment at pause beside a church in Brouvelieures, France. As The Third pushed into Brouvelieures, the 36th Division overran Bruyeres and the 45th Division pressed along its line as it stretched towards Rambervillers.  
German artillery took a toll on Brouvelieures, France. The initial attacks there were opposed by the German 16th Infantry Division. It was near here in Bruyeres that the 442nd Japanese-American Regiment, newly attached to the 36th Division, fought for and liberated Bruyeres.  
Near the Mortagne River in Brouvelieures, anti-aircraft gunners watch the sky. A bridge crossing the river to the north was captured intact by the Third Battalion, 15th Regiment. The Third Division was battling the German 16th Infantry in this area. 65
An American M5 "Stuart" — powered by twin 110hp Cadillac V8 engines — in Brouvelieures, France. The breakthrough at Brouvelieures on October 20 combined the three VI Corps infantry divisions: the Third, the 36th and the 45th. By this time the Germans were able to shore a line, place artillery and reinforce.  
A Sherman tank driven by T/5 Nick Motto of B-Company, 756th Tank Battalion emerges from the Mortagne Forest at Brouvelieures, France. Adding to VI Corps strength were the newly arrived 100 and 103rd divisions.  
Engineers retrieve equipment on a forest road near Brouvelieures using an M31 Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) named "Sad Sack". Third Division units advanced next on Les Rouge Eaux and Etival where the newly arrived, 600-man 201st Mountain Battalion was decisively hit by the 7th Regiment.  
VI Corps action from Oct. 20 - Nov. 11 had St. Die on the Meurthe River as its objective. In Bourgonce, an aid team takes care of a wounded Third Division soldier. At this time VI Corps was being augmented by the newly arrived 100th and 103rd Infantry Divisions from the United States.  
A self-propelled M7 artillery vehicle with a 105-mm howitzer operates near Bourgonce as the Third Division advances on Nompatelize north of St. Die. As October entered its final week, the fierce fighting in the area claimed many casualties on both sides. 70
Several 105-mm M7 units set-up in support of the Third Division near Bourgonce. The M7 was powered with a 375hp, nine-cylinder radial piston engine. The tall trees attest to the terrain in the Mortagne Forest.  
Artillery units built these shelters at their positions in Bourgonce. By the end of October, the chilly nights in the Vosges turned cold and the hill tops revealed dustings of snow. New winter gear included fur-lined jackets, wool sweaters, knit caps, wool socks, gloves and bedrolls.  
Although, their stay is temporary, Third Division artillery units fortify their positions in the Motagne Forest near Bourgonce. Only 2,000 of the M7 Priest self-propelled 105-mm howitzers were built.  
On Oct. 29, Gen. Truscott makes a farewell address to Third Division troops with Gen. O'Daniel in Grandvillers, France in anticipation of his new assignment. Truscott would later take command of General Mark Clark's 5th Army in Italy on Dec. 16, and later succeeded Gen. Patton as Third Army commander and military Governor of Bavaria in Sept. 1945.  
All three regiments of the Third Division took part in the action around St. Die. At Nompatelize, an aid station is set up in a small farm building. The aid vehicle is one of 14,000 four-wheel drive trucks built by Dodge Motor Co. It is near this area where S/Sgt. Lucian Adams' bravery earned him the Medal of Honor. 75
An American tank is stranded in the Meurthe River as engineers maintain a Bailey Bridge in the background near Nompatelize. Moving into November, the Third Division was in action around Les Jumeaux and Le Haut Jacques where troops called it the "Crossroads of Hell" as it took five days to advance a few hundred yards.  
A Bailey bridge across the Meurthe River at Nompatelize. The 15th Regiment passed through Nompatelize with medium and light tanks and tank destroyers. It was near this area that Private Wilburn K. Ross fought barvely through eight counterattacks over a five-hour battle to earn the Medal of Honor.  
Soldiers from the 10th Engineers keep a Bailey Bridge at Nompatelize over the Meurthe River in operation. An M3 half-track with trailer is crossing the bridge. Over 40,000 M3s were built beginning in 1941.  
Medics attend to a wounded soldier in Biarville, France north of St. Die. The Third Division attacked Biarville on November 5.  
A small convoy passes across two Meurthe River Bailey bridges near Clairfontaine which was taken Nov. 20 by First Battalion, 30th Regiment. The 103rd Division relieved Third Division units for the Meurth River crossings except for the 15th Regiment centered on the west bank of the Meurthe River near Nompatelize. 80
To the north of Nompatelize, rubble from the 12th-century Abbey Church fills the street at Etival. The 15th Regiment captured Etival on November 8 along the northern edge of the Third Division's sector as it cleared the area north of St. Die along the Meurthe River.  
St. Die on the Meurthe River held the seat of congress that named America for Amerigo Vespucci. General Brooks, now head of VI Corps outlined three plans on November 10 in Grandvillers — all included a Meurthe River crossing by the Third Division — to move east past St. Die to capture Strasbourg on the Rhine River.  
St. Die suffered at the hands of the Germans when they methodically destroyed the city as they retreated. (photo by J. Cole)  
The action around St. Die by the 30th and 7th regiments centered on the Hill mass to the northeast of the city. The advance in the area started October 31.  
In taking St. Die, the action was marked by fierce fighting at Les Rouges Eaux and Le Haut Jacques where the 7th Regiment took five days to advance a few hundred yards. 85
American troops ringing St. Die heard many explosions November 10-12 as the Germans set fire to the city.  
The German high command had no justification when it ordered St. Die destroyed.  
Little warning was given to the occupants of the homes and businesses in St. Die before retreating German troops set it aflame.  
In the course of battle, St. Die had been shelled, but it was the German fires that destroyed most of town.  
St. Die's railroad yard in ruins. 90
Carrying out the order to destroy St. Die was General Haeckel, commander of the German 16th Infantry Division.  
In St. Die, artillery moves across a Bailey bridge. The Meurthe River was first crossed on November 20 north of St. Die with the help of the 10th Engineers and the 36th Combat Engineer Regiment.  
Artillery moving through St. Die heads for the German's Winter Line defending Strasbourg to the east.  
As the war passes through, citizens of St. Die face a future of reconstruction. 94
After the Meurthe River crossings of November 19-20, Task Force Whirlwind with elements of the 15th Regiment, 756th TB, 601st TD Battalion, Third Recon Troop, 10th Engineers and the 93rd FA Battalion led the attack on the German's Winter Line. By November 23, artillery was passing through a St. Blaise crossroad 85 KM from Strasbourg. 1
The mayor of Saales, France extends gratitude to Third Division Civil Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Donald E. Long for the liberation of his town. Long is a veteran of the Third Division from WWI. Saales was central to the German's Winter Line.  
American soldiers turned back a German counterattack against Saales, where much of the German's Winter Line was still under construction. German troops captured near Saales had expected to spend the winter there. Saales' capture introduced the Third Division to the Alsatian territory and ensured the drive to the Rhine River.  
The Third Battalion of the 15th Regiment advanced through Schirmeck on November 25. The fallen soldiers are some of the German defenders. The objective was Strasbourg just south of the Saverne Gap above the Lower Vosges Mountains. The 45th Division pressed from the northwest as the Third Division moved with the 100th and 103rd divisions from the Meurthe River.  
As they advance through Schirmeck towards Mutzig, France, Third Division troops riding an M10 tank destroyer pass a fallen enemy soldier. Action in this area was also attended by the 100th and 103rd Infantry divisions as bewildered and isolated German defenders capitulated in the face of the Allied advance. 5
The Third Division liberated Natzwiller concentration camp northeast of Schirmeck. French resistance and French officers were held at Natzwiller as POWs. The camp was built in 1941 and held 46,000 prisoners with estimates of 22,000 executed.  
On a road entering Mutzig, an M8 scout car of the Third Recon Group fell victim to a German anti-tank gun. Mutzig was ringed by ancient forts that had been part of the Maginot Line. PFC. Simon Quiroz, the only Third Division soldier to die in the liberation of Mutzig, was later honored in Strasbourg.  
It took only seven days to reach the Rhine after the Third Division's Meurthe River crossings on November 20. In Mutzig, a bulldozer sizes up a log roadblock meant to slow the American advance.  
Engineers remove a roadblock in Mutzig. Roadblocks like these were common throughout VI Corps advance in the Vosges. The main route to Strasbourg through Mutzig was cleared on Nov. 26. Two columns of the 14th Armored Division passed through Mutzig on Nov. 27.  
Third Division soldiers sort through a captured German defensive position in Mutzig, France. 10
Captured ordnance with mortars and shells is cleaned up by Third Division soldiers near Mutzig, France.  
Third Division soldiers of Company E of the 30th Regiment face the Germans dug in at Ostfort, one of the triangular ring of forts protecting Strasbourg, near Mutzig. The fort, upgraded with armor and electricity, was originally built in 1898. As part of the Maginot Line it was overrun by the Germans in 1940.  
Ostfort was defended by 200 Germans with machineguns and bazookas and had been bypassed as advancing elements of VI Corps pressed to Strasbourg and the Rhine River. A thirty-foot wide, thirty-foot deep moat and steel-turreted 150-mm guns kept the 30th Regiment at bay.  
It took a captured half-track with four tons of explosives and the work of a tankdozer to clear a path to the moat where the half-track tumbled against the wall of the Ostfort. Failing to detonate, mortars set off the deadly load and breached a 15-foot hole in the wall and the fort fell Dec. 5 with 84 prisoners.  
At the beginning of the war, Strasbourg, France was the third largest French port with a capacity of ten million tons per year and a population of 200,000. 15
Strasbourg stretched between the Rhine and Kleiner Rhine rivers on the German border. To the north the Rhone-Rhine Canal joins the downstream flow of the Rhine. Two branches of the Ill River cross Strasbourg linking to the Breusch River and the Rhone-Rhine Canal.  
The main attack on Strasbourg came from the west and north as the 45th, 44th and 79th divisions with the French 2d Armored Division approached and entered the city on Nov. 23. Moving in from the south on Nov. 26, Third Division troops contacted French armor and assisted in the final surrender by clearing opposition in the southwest as the First Battalion of the 30th Regiment took positions along the Rhine.  
Lead tanks from the 756th Tank Battalion enter Strasbourg from the northeast. In support of the Third Division's move into Strasbourg is the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron.  
Assault vehicles of the 601st TD Battalion secure part of Strasbourg after the battle for the city in November 1944. The final push for the city by nearly exhausted troops was made along a 50 mile stretch of road on the night of November 26.  
A pair of French-operated M5 light Stuart tanks were on hand for the battle of Strasbourg in November 1944. 20
The recently liberated French press heralds the liberation of Strasbourg with an image of the French flag flying over the city's famed cathedral.  
In Paris, the credits General LeClerc's French troops with the liberation of Strasbourg.