Audie L. Murphy

15th Regiment
3rd Infantry Division




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© WWII Reserach & Preservation Society 2013

Chapter 2 Sicily Chapter 3 Anzio Chapter 5 Europe Chapter 5 15th Regimrnt History



When the late President Roosevelt and former Prime Minister Churchill decided on the invasion of North Africa they told their army chiefs to select crack divisions for the amphibious operation, the toughest operation in the books. The 3rd was picked to hit the west coast of French Morocco and capture the highly important port of Casablanca.

Both the 3rd's history in World War I and its state of readiness in this war governed its selection. Along the banks of the Marne in 1918, the 3rd stood fast while two German divisions pounded it from three sides. But the 3rd held, the enemy was forced to retreat and the peril to Paris was eliminated. Thereafter, the 3rd became known as the "Rock of the Marne" Division.

The 3rd took part in the fighting at the Somme, Chateau-Thierry, Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Aisne-Marne. In August, 1919, after a stretch as occupation troops, the division left France for the States and was demobilized.

Reactivated in September, 1921, at Fort Lewis, Wash., the 3rd remained in Washington and California until it went to Camp Pickett, Va., in September, 1942, to prepare for the invasion of North Africa.

The division's background was rooted in the history of its regiments. Their battle honors include the campaigns of 1812, Spanish-American War, Indian Wars, Mexican and Civil Wars. The 7th Regt. was first organized in 1798, mustered out in 1800, reorganized in 1808 and has had continuous service since. Its long list of battle honors begins with the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.

The 15th Regt. was organized as a regiment of volunteers to fight the British in 1812. It also saw action in the Mexican War and took part in six major battles during the Civil War. The regiment served twice in China, first during the Boxer Rebellion and later for a 26-year period ending in 1938, when it returned to the States and was assigned to the 3rd.

The 30th Regt. participated in the War of 1812 and in the Civil War, but the history of the present regiment began with its formation in 1901 at Fort Logan, Colo. It and the 7th were part of the division in World War I.

"Blue and White Devils" is only one of the nicknames belonging to the 3rd. That name is a grudging tribute from the Germans who were defeated at the Anzio beachhead. Nazis also called the 3rd the "Sturm" Division, a name often applied to their own units.

The 3rd's invasion off Fedala, French Morocco, in the inky blackness of Nov. 8, 1942, was far from being a perfect landing. Amphibious landings were new and when the ships' deployment in the transport area became mixed, H-hour was set back 45 minutes. A dangerous shore line, rocks and a heavy sea, capsized many boats. Once inland, friendly naval gun fire occasionally hit advancing troops.

But it was a start and it was successful. While the division prepared its assault on Casablanca, Nov. 11, the French asked for an armistice. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., commanding Western Task Force, told Maj. Gen. J. W. Anderson, then CG of the 3rd: "Thanks for the birthday present, Andy."

Next followed a long period free from combat. The 30th sent troops northward to patrol the borders of Spanish Morocco. One battalion commanded by Col. (then Maj.) Charles E. Johnson, acted as honor and security guard at the Casablanca conference.

Gen. Anderson left the division Feb. 22 and was replaced by Lt. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, later Fifth Army Commander. A vigorous training program followed General Truscott made it his business to see that the division could march five miles an hour for the first hour, and four miles an hour thereafter. The pace was called the Truscott Trot; it made the 3rd famous.

Other American divisions, the 1st, 9th, 34th and 1st Armored, were fighting for Tunisia. When the Afrika Korps was about to collapse, the 3rd's 15th Regt. was committed to action. It hadn't fired a shot when the Germans surrendered.

"Hell," said 1st Lt. Don G. Taggart, current division historian. "We got that battle star for maneuvering into position."

That star was the only gift the 3rd ever received without working for it.