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103rd Infantry Division

For many months, the Allied forces in Italy struggled slowly toward a junction with the Seventh Army, fighting on the southern flank of General Eisenhower’s forces on the Western Front. Finally, just before V-E Day, two American units met in Italy, south of the Brenner Pass—the Fifth Army’s 88th Division, and the Seventh’s 103rd.

The soldiers who wear a giant cactus on their shoulders had driven down through the pass where Hitler and Mussolini had connived. The “Cactus” Division had come from a triumphant entry into Innsbruck, capital of the Austrian Tyrol, which had been taken by the 409th Infantry Regiment to the accompani-ment of a wild ovation from the Tyrolese.

But it wasn’t all glory and cheers for the 103rd.

They had some hard battles starting on November 9, when theÿ went into combat and helped the VI Corps of the Seventh Army launch its attack through the Vosges Mountains. The Cactusmen, after crossing a river and taking a key hill dominat-ing St. Die, had cracked through the mountain and 14 days later; spilled out into plains beyond. And one of their units, Company I of the 411th Infantry, had staked a claim to being the first Seventh Army outfit to touch German soil, when it fought its way into Wissenbourg.

In December and January, the Germans counterattacked, just as they were doing in the Ardennes up north, and the 103rd saw hard fighting as it helped to stem the enemy tide. On January 25 and 26, the Cactusmen were conspicuous in crushing a German salient at Schillersdorf, as the Nazis made their final all-out bid to retake Alsace.

A little later, the Division crossed the Palatinate border at the same spot the Seventh Army had occupied three months earlier, before the German counteroffensive had forced it to withdraw temporarily. Then, in the rugged Hardt Mountains, the 103rd took on some of the toughest enemy positions, and crawled successfully past the concrete pillboxes the Germans had installed to defend the area.

After its junction with the Fifth Army, the 103rd returned to Innsbruck and went on guard duty there. When the war ended, the Cactus Division organized sight-seeing tours for its soldiers who had already traveled so far. One private first class was asked for his opinion of these tours, and his answer might have been made by any GI in Europe. "I'd like to see some of the places I went through on the double with my nose in dirt," he said.

From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.

"Cactus Division"

The division insignia consists of a yellow disc with a green Saguaro cactus superimposed upon a patch of blue, and was adopted in 1922 when this reserve division had its headquarters in Denver, Colorado. The yellow disc represents a golden sky, while the green cactus growing out of the blue sage-covered earth characterizes the southwest.


Commanding General

20 Oct 44 Maj. Gen. Charles C. Haffner, Jr.
11 Jan 45 Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe

Assistant Division Commander

20 Oct 44 Brig. Gen. John T. Pierce

Artillery Commander

20 Oct 44 Brig. Gen. Roger M. Wicks

Chief of Staff

20 Oct 44 Col. Guy S. Meloy, Jr.

Assistant Chief of Staff G-1

20 Oct 44 Maj. Walter E. Winter
20 Nov 44 Lt. Col. Charles A. Robinson

Assistant Chief of Staff G-2

20 Oct 44 Maj. Bland West

Assistant Chief of Staff G-3

20 Oct 44 Lt. Col. Russel R. Lord
13 Dec 44 Maj. Richard C. Thomas
16 Feb 45 Lt. Co. Richard C. Thomas

Assistant Chief of Staff G-4

20 Oct 44 Maj. Robert E. Myers
16 Dec 44 Lt. Col. Robert E. Myers

Assistant Chief of Staff G-5

10 Nov 44 Maj. Shelden D. Elliott

Adjutant General

20 Oct 44 Lt. Co. Alfred W. Croll

Commanding Officer, 409th Infantry

20 Oct 44 Col. Claudius L. Lloyd
19 Apr 45 Lt. Co. Hubert E. Strange

Commanding Officer, 410th Infantry

20 Oct 44 Col. Henry J. P. Harding

Commanding Officer, 411th Infantry

20 Oct 44 Col. Donovan P. Yeuell



  • Activated 15 November 1942
  • Arrived ETO 20 October 1944
  • Arrived Continent 20 October 1944 (D+66)*
  • Entered Combat
  • First Elements 9 November 1944
  • Entire Division 11 November 1944
  • Days in Combat
  • D-Day for Southern France - 15 August 1944

Casualties (Tentative)

  • Killed 582
  • Wounded 3,276
  • Missing 662
  • Captured 23
  • Battle Casualties 4,543
  • Non-Battle Casualties 4,826
  • Total Casualties 9,369
  • Percent of T/O Strength 66.5


  • Rhineland
  • Central Europe

Individual Awards

  • Distinguished Service Cross 6
  • Legion of Merit 7
  • Silver Star 291
  • Soldiers Medal 12
  • Bronze Star 2,087
  • Air Medal 92
  • Prisoners of War Taken 57,517


  • 409th Infantry
  • 410th Infantry
  • 411th Infantry
  • 103d Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • 328th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 328th Medical Battalion
  • 103d Division Artillery
  • 382d Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)
  • 383d Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)
  • 928th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)
  • 384th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

Special Troops

  • 803d Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
  • 103d Quartermaster Company
  • 103d Signal Company
  • Military Police Platoon
  • Headquarters Company
  • Band

[page 403]


Antiaircraft Artillery

353d AAA SL Bn 25 Jan 45-5 Feb 45
354th AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 29 Mar 45-5 May 45
354th AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 6 May 45-9 May 45


Co B, 756th Tk Bn 15 Nov 44-3 Feb 45
1 tank co, CCA (14th Armd Div) 2 Dec 44-3 Dec 44
Co A, 43d Tk Bn (12th Armd Div) 5 Dec 44-7 Jan 45
Cos A & C, 47th Tk Bn (14th Armd Div) 14 Dec 44-19 Dec 44
781st Tk Ben (- Co A & 2d Plat, Co D) 17 Jan 45-5 Feb 45
Co A, 191st Tk Bn 25 Jan 45-5 Feb 45
Co C, 781st Tk Bn 7 Feb 45-22 Feb 45
Assault Gun Plat, Hq Co, 781st Tk Bn 17 Feb 45-22 Feb 45
756th Tk Bn 22 Feb 45-31 Mar 45
Cos A & C, 48th Tk Bn (14th Armd Div) 4 Mar 45-10 Mar 45
761st Tk Bn 10 Mar 45-28 Mar 45
781st Tk Bn 23 Apr 45-5 May 45


115th Cav Gp 24 Apr 45-3 May 45
117th Cav Rcn Sq 24 Apr 45-5 May 45


Co B, 3d Cml Mort Bn 14 Nov 44-
Co B, 3d Cml Mort Bn 5 Dec 44-21 Dec 44
Cos B & C, 81st Cml Mort Bn 15 Mar 45-5 May 45
83d Cml Mort Bn 21 Apr 45-5 May 45
83d Cml Mort Bn 6 May 45-9 May 45

Field Artillery

495th Armd FA Bn (12th Armd Div) 26 Dec 44-2 Jan 45
69th Armd FA Bn 19 Feb 45-
242d FA Bn (105mm How) 2 Mar 45-25 Mar 45
Btry C, 991st FA Bn (155mm Gun) 20 Mar 45-24 Mar 45
242d FA Bn (105mm How) 28 Mar 45-29 Mar 45
242d FA Bn (105mm How) 26 Apr 45-5 May 45
69th Armd FA Bn 3 May 45-9 May 45


274th Inf (70th Div) 17 Jan 45-22 Jan 45

Tank Destroyer

Co C, 601st TD Bn (SP) 15 Nov 44-5 Feb 45
Co C, 614th TD Bn (T) 7 Feb 45-31 Mar 45
Co A, 614th TD Bn (T) 21 Feb 45-31 Mar 45
824th TD Bn (SP) 24 Apr 45-5 May 45
614th TD Bn (T) 30 Apr 45-5 May 45


103rd Infantry Division World War II Missing in Action

There are 16 soldiers of the 103rd Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.

Staff Sergeant Donald F. Brian 409th Infantry Regiment 12/20/1944
Private First Class Kenneth A. Brooks 410th Infantry Regiment 01/18/1945
Sergeant Lauren N. Clement 411th Infantry Regiment 01/12/1945
Private Oscar F. Cox 411th Infantry Regiment 12/19/1945
Private Walter R. Dowdell 409th Infantry Regiment 12/18/1944
Private First Class Salvatore R. Fano 411th Infantry Regiment 03/15/1945
Private First Class Harold S. Helfgott 411th Infantry Regiment 12/11/1944
Private First Class John W. Lucas 410th Infantry Regiment 01/24/1946
Private First Class Harold D. Pittman 328th Engineer Combat Battalion 01/24/1945
Private First Class David W. Reed 411th Infantry Regiment 03/16/1946
Private Harold E. Simmons 411th Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944
Private First Class Bernard T. Swanson 410th Infantry Regiment 12/04/1945
Sergeant Vern D. Weatherspoon 411th Infantry Regiment 03/21/1946
Private First Class Emerson V. Weaver 411th Infantry Regiment 03/21/1946
Sergeant William G. Weston 409th Infantry Regiment 12/03/1944
Technician Fifth Grade Walter R. Wisdorf 328th Engineer Combat Battalion 01/24/1945

 103rd Infantry Division

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103rd Infantry Division World War II patch, front view


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