World War I
Activated: 25 August 1917.
Overseas: August 1918.
Major Operations: Became a depot division; saw no combat.
Maj. Gen. J. T. Dickman (25 August 1917)
Brig. Gen. S. W. Miller (25 November 1917)
Maj. Gen. James Parker (18 December 1917)
Maj. Gen. Chase W. Kennedy (27 February 1918)
Brig. Gen. G. D. Morse (23 December 1918).
Inactivated: April 1919.
World War II
Activated: 15 May 1942.
Overseas: 24 December 1943.
Campaigns: Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley.
Distinguished Unit Citations: 5.
Awards: MH-4 ; DSM-3 ; SS-545; LM-29; SM-37 ; BSM-4,988.
Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip (May 1942-February 1943)
Maj. Gen. John B. Coulter (February 1943 to inactivation).
Returned to U. S.: 25 August 1945, on which date it was inactivated.
The 85th Infantry Division arrived in Casablanca, French Morocco, 2 January 1944. It received amphibious training at Port aux Poules near Arzew and Oran, Algeria, 1 February to 23 March, then embarked for Naples, Italy, arriving on 27 March. A selected advance detachment appeared on the Minturno-Castelforte front north of Naples, 28 March. The Division was committed to action as a unit, 10 April 1944, north of the Garigliano River, facing the Gustav Line, and held defensive positions for a month. On 11 May, it launched its attack, taking Solacciano, Castellonorato, and Formia. Itri fell, 19 May, and the 85th continued to mop up the Gaeta Peninsula. Terracina was taken and the road to the Anzio beachhead was opened. The Division pursued the enemy to the hills near Sezze until pinched out by friendly forces from Anzio. The Gustav Line had been smashed and the 85th started for a rest area, 29 May, but was ordered to the Lariano sector which the Division cleared by the 31st. Driving on Rome, the 85th pushed through Monte Compatri and Frascati, entered Rome, 5 June 1944, and advanced to Viterbo before being relieved, 10 June. After rehabilitation and training, the 85th took over the defense of the Arno River line, 15 to 26 August. The Division attacked the mountain defenses of the Gothic Line, 13 September, and broke through, taking Firenzuola on the 21st. The 85th advanced slowly through mud and rain against heavy resistance taking La Martina and gaining the Idice River Valley road, 2 October, and reaching Mount Mezzano on the 24th overlooking the Po River Valley. From 27 October to 22 November, 1944, defense areas near Pizzano were held. On the 23d, the Division was relieved for rest and rehabilitation. The 85th relieved the 1st British Division, 6 January 1945, and limited its activities to cautious patrols' until 13 March. After a brief training period, the 85th thrust southwest of Bologna, 14 April, pushing through Lucca and Pistoia into the Po Valley as enemy resistance collapsed. The Panaro River was crossed on tile 2.3d and the Po the next day. The
Division mopped up fleeing Germans until their mass surrender, 2 May 1945, in the BellunoAgordo area.
Nickname: Custer Division. Shoulder patch: A khaki circular patch containing the initials "C" and "D" in red. Publication: History of the 85th Infantry Division; by unit members; The Infantry Journal, Washington 6, D. C.
[Nota Bene: These combat chronicles, current as of October 1948, are reproduced from The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, pp. 510-592.]