[Webmaster Note: The following division information is reproduced
from the public domain publication, The Army Almanac: A Book of
Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office,
1950. Portions of the information may be out of date. Only minor formatting changes and
typographical corrections have been made.]
World War II
Activated: 15 April 1943.
Overseas: 17 August 1944.
Campaigns: Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe.
Days of combat: 45.
Distinguished Unit Citations: 4.
Awards: MH-3; DSC-4; DSM-1; SS-179; LM-15; SM-6; BSM-727; AM-21.
Commanders: Maj. Gen. William M. Miley commanded the division throughout
its entire life in World War II.
Returned to U.S.: 15 September 1945.
Inactivated: 16 September 1945.
Reactivated: 3 July 1948.
The 17th Airborne Division was stationed in the United Kingdom from 25 August to
23 December 1944. From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to
the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights. These elements closed in at
Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to
Verdun, 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through
the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division, 3 January 1945. The
Division entered the Ardennes campaign, 4 to 9 January, at the Battle of Dead
Man's Ridge. It captured several small Belgian towns and entered Flamierge,
7 January, but enemy counterattacks necessitated a withdrawal. However, constant
pressure and aggressive patrolling caused the enemy to retreat to the Ourthe River. On
18 January, the Division relieved the 11th Armored Division at Houffalize, pushed
enemy remnants from the Bulge, and seized Wattermal and Espeler, 26 January. Coming
under the III Corps, the 17th turned toward Luxembourg, taking Eschweiler and
Clervaux and clearing the enemy from the west bank of the Our River. Aggressive
patrols crossed the river to probe the Siegfried Line defenses and established
a limited bridgehead near Dasburg before being relieved by the
6th Armored Division, 10 February. A
period of reequipment and preparation began. Taking off from marshalling areas in
France, the 17th dropped into Westphalia in the vicinity of Wesel, 24 March. Operation
Varsity was the first airborne invasion over the Rhine into Germany itself. On the
25th, the Division had secured bridges over the Issel River and had entrenched
itself firmly along the Issel Canal. Moving eastward, it captured Haltern,
29 March, and Munster, 2 April. The 17th entered the battle of the Ruhr Pocket,
79th Infantry Division. It
crossed the Rhine-Herne Canal, 6 April, and set up a secure bridgehead for the
attack on Essen. The "Pittsburgh of the Ruhr" fell, 10 April, and the industrial
cities of Mulheim and Duisburg were cleared in the continuing attack. Military
government duties began, 12 April, and active contact with the enemy ceased, 18 April. The
Division came under the XXII Corps 24 April. It continued its occupation duties
until 15 June 1945 when it returned to France for redeployment.
Assignments in the ETO
12 August 1944: XVIII (Abn) Corps. // 1 January 1945: VIII Corps, Third Army, 12th Army Group. //
26 January 1945: III Corps. // 6 February 1945: First Allied (Abn) Army, but attached
to the III Corps, Third Army, 12th Army Group. // 10 February 1945: First Allied (Abn)
Army. // 15 February 1945: XVIII (Abn) Corps. // 24 March. 1945: XVIII (Abn) Corps, First
Allied (Abn) Army, but attached to the 12th Army Group. // 30 March 1945: XVIII (Abn)
Corps, First Allied (Abn) Army, but attached to the Ninth Army, 12th Army Group. //
31 March 1945: XIII Corps. // 4 April 1945: First Allied (Abn) Army, 12th Army Group,
but attached to the XIII Corps of Ninth Army. // 6 April 1945: XVI Corps. //
7 April 1945: XVI Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group. // 25 April 1945: Ninth Army,
12th Army Group, but attached to the Fifteenth Army. // 27 April 1945: XXII Corps.
Nickname: Thunder from heaven.
Shoulder patch: Circular patch in black with stretching claw in gold and arc
with word "Airborne" above.
Publications: History of the 17th Airborne Division; by unit members; and Pictorial
Review; by unit members; Albert Love Enterprises, Atlanta, Ga.; 1944.
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