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Lucian K. Truscott Jr. Biography :: press.umsystem.edu

 
Third Signal Company Photography WWII  ::  ANZIO to AUSTRIA  ::  U.S. Third Infantry Division

Medics in The Vosges Mtns < Medic Sation in The Vosges, France - September 1944

d o g f a c e  s o l d i e r s
a photographic journey of the U.S. Third Division in WWII

the images from five combat photographers
of the U.S. Third Infantry Division during WWII
_______________________________________

 
Anzio | Dragoon | Breakout | Montelimar | Vosges | Strasbourg | Colmar Pocket | Rhineland | Germany | Austria


The U.S. Third Division's WWII battle road passed through Fedala, Casablanca, Sicily, Cassino, Anzio, Cisterna, Cori, Valmontone, Rome, Cavalaire, Marseille, Cogolin, Brignoles, Aix en Provence, Montelimar, Besancon, Vesoul, Brouvellieres, Mutzig, Strasbourg, The Colmar Pocket, The Siegfried Line, Worms, Kaiserlautern, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Munich, Berchtesgaden and finally, Salzburg.

A part of this journey was documented by a team of Third Signal Company photographers assembled on the Anzio Beachhead under Third Signal Company Lt. George "Fuzzy" Fezell in February 1944. For the rest of the war, the photographers framed over 1,300 photographs of Third Division history from Anzio to Austria. They developed and printed in a darkroom trailer they pulled to Rome and later through France and Germany as part of the Seventh Army. Three photographers assigned to the unit on Anzio, John Cole, Howard Nickelson, and William Heller, were later joined in Rome by William Toomey and Robert Seesock.

After leaving Anzio in May of 1944 pulling their beachhead-built darkroom "Fuzzy's Folly", the unit followed the Third Division to Rome as lead elements of the U.S. Fifth Army under the Allied 15th Army Group. Allied soldiers entered Rome as liberators on June 4, 1944.

It was almost a year after the July 1943 landings in Sicily and for nine months the Allied armies had fought a bitter battle for control of southern Italy. Their stories were the headlines: Messina! Salerno!, Taranto! Naples! Volturno!, Foggia! Cassino! Anzio! Finally editors readied editions to herald the triumph in Rome only to hastily scrap them for the fantastic news from the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944.

The Italian Campaign — the longest in the war — became known as the "Forgotten Front" and finally ended May 1945 in the Po Valley.


In the shadow of the Normandy invasion, the Third Division traveled from Naples to southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. Dragoon was originally destined to be part of a simultaneous attack on northern and southern France and was later threatened with extinction. Under General Dever's Sixth Army Group, Dragoon assembled the French First Army with the American Seventh Army consisting of the Third, 36th and 45th infantry divisions (VI Corps) to assault the southern coast of France on August 15, 1944.

Over the next nine months the Third Division served as an integral and decisive combat force in its campaigns through southern France and Germany. The Third Division drove through the Vosges Mountains to the Rhine River, fought a fierce and frigid battle for the Colmar Pocket, breached the Siegfried Line in only three days near Zweibrucken, secured both Nuremberg and Munich and ended its fight with an alpine view at Hitler's Bavarian fortress.

The main units attached to the Third Division in WWII were the 7th, 15th and 30th Infantry Regiments; 9th, 10th, 39th and 41st Field Artillery Battalions; 10th Engineers; 3rd Medical; 703 Ordinance; 441st AA; 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion; and the 756th Tank Battalion. Also entwined with the division history is the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Darby's Rangers and the 254th Infantry Regiment.


The photos exhibited here are from a collection of over 600 chronicled by photographer William Toomey of Everett, Massachusetts who entered the war on the Anzio beachhead as a 15th Regiment radio operator before assignment to the Third Reconnaissance Battle Patrol. He joined the five-man photo crew in Rome in July 1944 after the Anzio breakout. Also shown are photographs from the collections of photographers Howard Nickelson and William Heller.


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Anzio | Dragoon | Breakout | Montelimar | Vosges | Strasbourg | Colmar Pocket | Rhineland | Germany | Austria

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last update: Sept 27, 2010 : site maintained by Denis Toomey : Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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