America's best known division, the 42nd, does not believe in hiding its light under a bushel.
Visitors to torn, battered Germany, report that one can follow the path of the fighting 42nd by keeping an eye out for rainbows painted on the sides of buildings.
Let an element of the Division halt for a moment and some GI, paint brush in hand, would splash the red, gold and blue of the rainbow, for all to see.
The 42nd got its nickname in World War I when one of its majors, noting that its personnel was drawn from 26 states and the District of Columbia, said “This Division will stretch over the land like a rainbow.”
The major who inspired the nickname has moved up in grade since that time. He is now General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.
The 42nd was late getting into action against the Nazis, but once in the line, it fought with the same dash which characterized the World War I Rainbow, in the Champagne, Champagne-Marne, and Aisne-Marne offensives.
The Division first faced the Wehrmacht in December 1944, when, under the Seventh Army, it was given the unglamorous role of plugging gaps and weak spots on the army’s right flank near Saarbriicken. Near the middle of February the Rainbows were readied for the attack, and it was at this time that the Division was officially announced as part of the Seventh Army.
A month later, the 42nd made its first penetration of Germany. In bitter weather, the men with the rainbows ’round their shoulders, drove through the Hardt Mountains. Early in April the towns of Dahn and Busenberg fell to the slugging Doughs. These conquests were made doubly difficult by the weather and terrain. Vehicles could not be used on the icy mountain roads, and it was necessary to move in supplies by pack mule.
Rolling east of the Rhine, the 42nd took Fiirth and Schweinau, drove on to capture Schweinfurt, and then joined in the assault on Nürnberg.
The 42nd was the first division to reach Munich, and from Munich it went on to infamous Dachau, and helped liberate 32,000 inmates of this nightmarish Nazi prison camp.
The Rainbows moved into Austria, collecting prisoners by the thousands. One of the Nazi “prizes” to fall into the Rainbow’s hands was Major General Wilhelm, German communications chief.
Following V-E Day, the Rainbow occupied Ritsbah, the Hollywood of Germany.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
In 1917 men were selected from various units of the national Guard of 26 states and the District of Columbia to form a truly representative division with a view towards "bringing the war home" to the people. It was numerically designated the 42d Division, and called the "Rainbow Division" by General Douglas MacArthur, then Colonel and newly appointed Chief of Staff of the Division, because "it spanned the nation like a rainbow." To further characterize the nickname, the adopted division insignia resembles a rainbow in bright, red, gold, and blue colors.
|24 December 1944||Maj. Gen. Harry J. Collins|
|24 December 1944||Brig. Gen. Henning Linden|
|24 December 1944||Col. Giles R. Carpenter|
|24 December 1944||Col. Burns Beal|
|29 April 1945||Lt. Col. Robert G. Sherrard|
|24 December 1944||Lt. Col. Roy N. Walker|
|24 December 1944||Lt. Col. John C. F. Tillson, III|
|9 March 1945||Lt. Col Edwin Rusteberg|
|24 December 1944||Lt. Col. Frederick W. Coleman|
|8 April 1945||Lt. Col Robert G. Sherrard|
|29 April 1945||Lt. Col. Frederick W. Coleman (Acting)|
|3 May 1945||Lt. Col. Frederick W. Coleman|
|24 December 1944||Lt. Col. Robert G. Sherrard|
|8 March 1945||Maj. Donald Swihart|
|3 February 1945||Maj. James F. X. O'Connell|
|24 December 1944||Lt. Col. James D. Tanner|
|24 December 1944||Col. Henry J. Luongo|
|28 April 1945||Lt. Col. Lucien E. Bolduc|
|24 December 1944||Col. Alfred McNamee|
|24 December 1944||Col. Norman C. Caum|
|26 April 1945||Lt. Col. George S. Fricke|
|1 May 1945||Col. Burns Beall|
|Activated||14 July 1943|
|Arrived ETO||18 January 1945 [Three infantry regiments and detachment of division headquarters arrived ETO 9Dec44. Entered combat as Task Force Linden]|
|Arrived Continent (D+156)||18 January 1945|
|Entered Combat: First Elements||24 December 1944|
|Entered Combat: Entire Division||17 February 1945|
|Days in Combat||106|
|Percent of T/O Strength||42.2|
|Distinguished Service Cross||1|
|Legion of Merit||3|
Prisoners of War Taken 59,128
|431st AAA AW Bn (Mbl)||16 Mar 45-27 Mar 45|
|431st AAA AW Bn (Mbl)||22 Apr 45-5 Jul 45|
|191st Tk Bn||17 Feb 45-4 Mar 45|
|Cos B & D, 48th Tk Bn (14th Armd Div)||4 Mar 45-12 Mar 45|
|48th Tk Bn (- Co D) (14th Armd Div)||12 Mar 45-25 Mar 45|
|749th Tk Bn||26 Mar 45-28 Mar 45|
|CC A (12th Armd Div)||7 Apr 45-14 Apr 45|
|27th Tk Bn (20th Armd Div)||24 Apr 45-28 Apr 45|
|27th Tk Bn (20th Armd Div)||30 Apr 45-10 May 45|
|117th Cav Rcn Sq||13 Mar 45-24 Mar 45|
|83d Cml Mort Bn (- Cos A, B & C)||17 Feb 45-20 Feb 45|
|Co C, 83d Cml Mort Bn||17 Feb 45-4 Mar 45|
|Co A, 83d Cml Mort Bn||4 mar 45-25 Mar 45|
|168th Cml Co (SG)||23 Mar 45-24 Mar 45|
|1 plat, 168th Cml Co (SG)||23 Mar 45-14 May 45|
|163d Cml Co (SG)||3 Apr 45-9 Apr 45|
|99th Cml Mort Bn||3 Apr 45-19 Apr 45|
|Co A, 2d Cml Mort Bn||22 Apr 45-Still attached 23 Aug 45|
|2d Cml Mort Bn (-)||6 May 45-Still attached 23 Aug 45|
|Co B, 2d Cml Mort Bn||9 May 45-Still attached 23 Aug 45|
|69th Armd FA Bn||16 Feb 45-25 mar 45|
|969th FA Bn (155mm How)||2 Apr 45-21 Apr 45|
|693d FA Bn (105mm How)||20 Apr 45-29 Apr 45|
|414th Armd FA Bn (20th Armd Div)||24 Apr 45-28 Apr 45|
|283d FA Bn (105mm How)||1 May 45-5 May 45|
|250th FA Bn (105mm How)||2 May 45-5 May 45|
|645th TD Bn (SP) (- Co A)||17 Feb 45-4 Mar 45|
|510th TD Bn||12 Mar 45-16 Mar 45|
|692d TD Bn (SP)||15 Mar 45-29 Mar 45|
|692d TD Bn (SP)||31 Mar 45-12 Jul 45|
There are 33 soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private First Class Lawrence E. Brucker 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/10/1946|
|Private First Class George S. Callahan 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/16/1945|
|Private John C. Castle 232nd Infantry Regiment 03/08/1946|
|Private First Class Glenn F. Chaney 242nd Infantry Regiment 02/24/1945|
|Sergeant Robert L. Christman 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/05/1945|
|Private First Class Arthur W. Crossland 242nd Infantry Regiment 03/15/1945|
|Private First Class John Durda 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/18/1945|
|Private First Class Sidney L. Erdman 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/10/1946|
|Second Lieutenant Dallas B. Hartwell 222nd Infantry Regiment 01/06/1945|
|Private First Class Gilbert J. Himelhoch 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/05/1945|
|Private First Class Howard C. Holmes 242nd Infantry Regiment 03/15/1945|
|Private First Class Tom A. Hubbard 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/06/1945|
|Private First Class Worley D. Jacks 232nd Infantry Regiment 03/07/1945|
|Private First Class William W. Kinsie 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/18/1945|
|Private First Class H. L. Lapides 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/21/1945|
|Private James B. McCartney 222nd Infantry Regiment 03/02/1946|
|Second Lieutenant James A. McPhee 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/10/1945|
|Sergeant James R. Metcalfe 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/19/1945|
|Staff Sergeant Carl L. Pasco 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/19/1945|
|Private First Class Franklin H. Peeler 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/18/1945|
|Private First Class Wilbur J. Roeder 242nd Infantry Regiment 04/26/1945|
|Private James H. Runyan 242nd Infantry Regiment 03/06/1945|
|Private Manuel Saenz 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/17/1945|
|Private Bernhard W. Schkade 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/19/1945|
|Private Robert L. Skaar 222nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1945|
|Private First Class Arthur G. Skirrow 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/21/1945|
|Private First Class Robert B. Stevens 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/18/1945|
|Private Robert J. Svec 222nd Infantry Regiment 02/21/1945|
|Private Ranny J. Verrett 232nd Infantry Regiment 01/05/1945|
|Private First Class John C. Vollmer 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1945|
|Private Johnnie L. Walden 242nd Infantry Regiment 03/03/1945|
|Staff Sergeant Graydon E. Waters 242nd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1945|
|Private First Class John F. Young 222nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1945|
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