339th Infantry Regiment
339th Infantry Regiment
Men of the 339th Infantry during the Polar Bear Expedition.
|Branch||United States Army|
North Russia Intervention
The 339th Regiment was created in June 1918, composed mainly of young draftees, for the purpose of fighting on the Western Front in France. Most of the 4,487 men were from Michigan, but some 500 draftees from Wisconsin were included. It was commonly referred to as "Detroit's Own". They were sent to fight the Bolsheviks in Northern Russia. They were nicknamed the “polar bears” because of their service there.
The journey to Archangel went via England, where they were outfitted with English winter equipment. Only after leaving England, were the men told of their destination. Spanish Influenza broke out on two of the three transports, and seventy-two men would eventually succumb to the disease or resultant pneumonia.
World War II
The 339th Infantry Regiment was later reactivated in 1942, during World War II, to serve in the European theater, fighting in the Allied campaign in Italy from 1944 to 1945. The regiment was assigned to the 85th Infantry Division. As a unit of the 85th Infantry or "Custer" Division, the 339th Infantry saw combat service in Italy from March 1944 until the surrender of German forces in May 1945.
Distinctive Unit Insignia
- Description/Blazon 
A Gold color metal and enamel device 1 5/32 inches (2.94 cm) in height consisting of a shield blazoned: Azure a polar bear statant on an ice cake Argent: on a canton Or a fess Sable between three martlets of the like two and one. Attached below and to the sides a Gold scroll inscribed "Штыкъ рѣшаетъ" in Blue letters.
The polar bear on its blue background is copied from the unofficial shoulder patch of the North Russian Expeditionary Force, of which this Regiment was a part during the years 1918-1919. The Regiment, organized in 1917, was made up to a large extent of men from Detroit, and was known locally as "Detroit's Own." The canton bears a part of the coat of arms of Cadillac, the founder of Detroit, and is symbolic of the origin of the Regiment and of its 1924 allocation. The motto is pronounced as though spelled in English "shtyk reshayet" (Russian pronunciation: [ˈʂtɨk rʲɪˈʂajɪt]). Literally translated it is the "The bayonet settles it," freely translated it may be rendered "We Finish With The Bayonet."
The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 339th Infantry Regiment on 9 June 1924. It was redesignated for the 339th Regiment and amended to include the motto on 5 August 1960.
- Rhodes, Benjamin D. (1988). The Anglo-American Winter War with Russia, 1918-1919, Greenwood Press, Inc. Connecticut, USA ISBN 0-313-26132-6.
- "339th Infantry in World War II". Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Catalog/HeraldryMulti.aspx?CategoryId=4161&grp=2&menu=Uniformed%20Services DUI for the 339th Infantry Regiment
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