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U.S. 45th Infantry Division
Pre-World War II
- Activated: In 1924 as a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
World War II
- Activated: 16 September 1940.
- Overseas: 8 June 1943.
- Campaigns: Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe.
- Days of combat: 511.
- Distinguished Unit Citations: 7.
- Awards: MH-8 ; DSC-61 ; DSM-3 ; SS-1,848 ; LM-38; SM-59 ; BSM-5,744 ; AM-52.
- Commanders: Maj, Gen. William S. Key (September 1940-October 1942), Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton (October 1942-December 1943), Maj. Gen. William W. Eagles (December 1943-December 1944), Maj. Gen. Robert T. Frederick (December 1944-September 1945), Brig. Gen. Henry J. D. Meyer (September 1945 to inactivation).
- Returned to U.S.: 14 September 1945.
- Inactivated: 7 December 1945. (See National Guard.)
The 45th Division landed in North Africa, 22 June 1943, and trained at Arzew, French Morocco. It landed in Sicily, 10 July, in its first major amphibious operation and moved inland under minor opposition. The enemy resisted fiercely at Motta Hill, 26 July, before losing the fourday battle of "Bloody Ridge." On 1 August, the Division withdrew for rest and patrols. On 10 September 1943, the second landing at Salerno occurred. Against stiff resistance, the 45th pushed to the Calore River, 27 September, crossed the Volturno River, 3 November, and took Venafro. Until 9 January 1944, the Division inched forward into the mountains reaching St. Elia north of Cassino before moving to a rest area.
The 45th landed at Anzio, 22 January 1944, and for 4 months stood its ground against violent assaults. It went over to the attack, 23 May, crossed the Tiber River, 4 June, outflanking Rome and withdrew for rest and training on the 16th.
The 45th participated in its fourth assault landing, 15 August 1944, at St. Maxime in Southern France. Against slight opposition, it spearheaded the drive for the Belfort Gap. It took the strongly defended city of Epinal, 24 September, crossed the Moselle River and entered the western foothills of the Vosges, taking Rambervillers on the 30th, and crossing the Mortagne River, 23 October.
After a brief rest the 45th cracked the forts north of Mutzig, an anchor of the Maginot Line, 25 November, crossed the Zintzel River and pushed through the Maginot defenses. From 2 January 1945, the Division fought defensively along the German border, withdrawing to the Moder River. On 17 February, it went back for rest and training. The 45th moved north to the Sarreguemines area and smashed at the Siegfried Line, 17 March, taking Homburg on the 21st and crossing the Rhine between Worms and Hamm on the 26th. The advance continued, Aschaffenburg falling, 3 April, and Nurnberg on the 20th. The Division crossed the Danube, 27 April, took Munich on the 30th and liberated 32,000 captives in the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. The Division captured Munich during the next two days, and on the eve of V-E Day, began operating Radio Station Thunderbird. During the next month, the Division occupied Munich and set up collection points and camps for the massive numbers of surrendering troops of the Axis armies. The number of POWs taken by the 45th Division during its almost two years of fighting totaled 124,840.
The Division returned to New York in early June, 1945, and from there went to Camp Bowie, Texas. On December 7, 1945, the Division was deactivated and its members reassigned to other Army units.
Assignments in the ETO
- 15 September 1944: VI Corps, Seventh Army, 6th Army Group.
- 1 November 1944: Seventh Army, 6th Army Group.
- 22 November 1944: XV Corps.
- 31 December 1944: VI Corps.
- 15 March 1944: XV Corps.
- 6 May 1945: Seventh Army, 6th Army Group.
- Nickname: Thunderbird Division (named for the huge, eagle-like bird capable of producing thunder, lightning, and rain in Native American mythology). 
- Slogan: Semper Anticus (Always Forward).
- Shoulder patch: A red square containing a golden bird with outstretched wings. Before the 1930s, a red square with a yellow swastika. See , .
- The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at CMH.
- The Fighting Forty-Fifth: the Combat Report of an Infantry Division, compiled and edited by Lt. Col. Leo V. Bishop, Maj. Frank J. Glasgow, and Maj. George A. Fisher. Copyright 1946 by the 45th Infantry Division, printed by Army & Navy Publishing Co., Baton Rouge, LA. LC Control Number: 49051541.
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