Want to learn more about the role of the 85th Recon Troop during WW2 Italy? Read on for a historical overview regarding the fundamental role that this special infantry division played in Italy during WW2…
The 85th Recon Troop is an infantry division of the United States Army which participated in both World War I and World War II. It is all so known as the Custer Division after the cavalry commander who headed the first deployment of the division, George Armstrong Custer.
The infantry division had a fundamental role to play in Italy during World War II. Following its role in World War I this infantry division was reactivated on 15 May 1942. Training for the members of this division was initiated in June 1942 at Camp Shelby. The recon troops went through a series of training procedures, which included the desert warfare training following which it was deployed overseas.
The troops arrived in the city of Casablanca, French Morocco on 24 December 1943. Here they received amphibious training at different ports. The 85th Division first stepped foot on Italy in 27 March 1944 when they landed in the city of Naples. From the northern side of the city and other selected advanced detachment, the infantry division was made to enter. The two deployments joined together to form one unit and initiated their first military action in World War II on 10 April 1944 at the north of Garigliano River. It faced opposition from the Gustav Line and managed to hold a defensive position for about a month.
Advances of the 85th Division
It was on 11 May that the recon troops of the division launched a full-fledged attack in which they took on Formia, Solacciano and Castellonorato. Following their success in these regions, the division continued to progress up to Gaeta Peninsula. They managed to take over Terracina, as well as the road that led to Anzio beachhead.
During the offensive the division chased the enemies up to the hills of Sezze. It was only by the help of certain friendly forces that the enemies were able to escape from Anzio. After crushing the Gustav Line the division had an area, as well as a chance to rest. However, the very next day they were ordered to proceed to the Lariano sector. They managed to clear this area by the 31st.
Following the victories, the 85th division was now making its way to Rome. They progressed from Monte Compatri and made their way through Frascati to enter it on 5 June 1944. They managed to advance up to Viterbo, after that they relieved by the 10th of June.
An extensive rehabilitation and training period followed after which the 85th division took over a defensive position at Arno line.
On 13 September they proceeded to attack the mountain defenses of the Gothic Line. They successfully managed to break through and took over Firenzuola. Heavy rain and muddy waters, as well as fierce opposition from La Martina hindered the division’s progress. However, they managed to make their way through the tough conditions and secured a victory against the enemy forces by 22 November 1944.