3rd Algerian Infantry Division

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3e Division d'Infanterie Algérienne
Insigne de la 3° DIA.JPG
The insignia of the 3e DIA represents the winged statuette of the Victory of Cirta
Victoire de Cirta with three crescents
Active 1 May 1943 - 15 April 1946
Country Flag of France.svg France
Allegiance Flag of France.svg French Army
Type Infantry Division
Size

49e RI
7e RCA
3e RSAR
3e RTA
7e RTA
4e RTT
67e RAA
83e BG

3e BM
Motto(s) It crescendo
Engagements Italian Campaign
Southern France
Vosges Mountains
Gambsheim Bridgehead
Bienwald
Baden

The 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (French: 3e Division d'Infanterie Algérienne, 3e DIA) was an infantry division of the Army of Africa (French: Armée d'Afrique) which participated to World War II.

Following the liberation of the French North Africa, the division illustrated capability particularly in Italy in 1944, at the corps of the French expeditionary corps (French: corps expéditionnaire français) of général Juin, by disembarking in Provence, during the liberation of Toulon and Marseille, in the Vosges, during the difficult combats for the liberation of the Basse-sur-le-Rupt, Cornimont, and in Alsace at the corps of the 1st Army of général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.

Considered by the generals de Monsabert and Juin as a « digne héritière » of Roman Legions of North Africa Legio III Augusta;[1] the 3e DIA was also referred to as the Division with three Crescents (French: Division des Trois Croissants) representing the 3 Tirailleurs Regiments :

The 3e DIA, was awarded 4 citations at the orders of the armed forces between 1943 and 1945, and along with the 1st Free French Division 1re DFL (4 citations as well), was considered the most decorated division of the second world war, with all forming regiments having been awarded a French Fourragere.

The 3rd Armored Division is an heir to 3rd Algerian Infantry Division. The 3rd Division was recreated in 2016 with the cadre of the reorganization of the French Army.

Creation and different nominations[edit]

  • November 1942 to April 1943 : Marching Division of Constantine (French: division de marche de Constantine).
  • April 15, 1943 : constitution of the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division by decision of général d'armée Henri Giraud under the orders of général de Monsabert, with two tirailleurs regiments with red fourragere, the 7e RTA and 4e RTT, one regiment with yellow fourragere, the 3e RTA and 67e RAA, similarly with yellow fourragere, 3 regimental colors decorated with the Légion d'honneur (3e RTA, 4e RTT and 7e RTA).
  • April 15, 1946 : dissolution of the division.

Insignia & motto[edit]

The division insignia represents a winged statuette of the « Victory of Cirta » (French: une statuette ailée, la « Victoire de Cirta »), which was discovered in 1855 in Constantine (old Cirta in the province of Numidia), and would the representation of a Roman Goddess protector of the emperors and venerated by the Roman army.

The motto is « It crescendo ».

World War II[edit]

Tunisian campaign (1942-1943)[edit]

The 3rd Algerian Infantry Division has for origin the marching division of Constantine of général Welvert.

Italian campaign[edit]

Created on May 1, 1943, in Constantine, Algeria and placed under the orders of général Goislard de Monsabert, the 3e DIA disembarked in Italy in December 1943.

At the corps of the French Expeditionary Corps, commanded by the future maréchal Juin, the 3e DIA apprehended the position of forte du Belvédère on January 25. While attracting the masses, the division allowed the development of the manœuvre of Anzio, and that of the U.S. Military on the promontory of Cassino. In relation to this arm event, the 4e RTT endured the loss of half of the effectifs.

In May 1944, the division made way to Monte-Cassino where Allied forces have engaged for several months, and participated to the reinforcing of the Gustav line during the victory of Gariglioni.

French & German campaign (1944-1945)[edit]

On August 15, 1944, the 3e DIA disembarked in Provence, at Cogolin in the Var, liberated Toulon and Marseille, then made way to the valley of the Rhône.

In September–October 1944, the division arrived at the Vosges. On October 3, 1944, under the orders of général Guillaume, the division mounted the assault between Moselle and Moselotte, made way through Moselotte, the villages of Bamont, Saulxures and the northern highlands. The division, then progressed towards Cornimont, pushing back on October 15 at Tête des Cerfs, at the Piquante Pierre, at Rondfaing, at Chapechatte, all the counter-attacks. In 20 days, the 3e DIA advanced more than 15 km while clearing the sectors of Belfort and Gérardmer.

Beginning of November 1944, the division was engaged in Le Haut du Tôt, Forge and Rochesson to cover the American U.S. Corps. Countering assaults, the division apprehended le Tholy, Château-Lambert, cols de Bussang, Col de Bramont and Col d'Oderen.

In December 1944, the division mounted the first assaults on Colmar, clearing the Col du Bonhomme, apprehending Orbey and the highlands of Worhof which remained the capital of the Haut-Rhin, accordingly preparing the departure base, from which the French military liberated Alsace.

Beginning January 1945, the division was called to mount the defensive of Strasbourg and pushed back one the final assaults on Kilstett.

On March 15, 1945, the division pierced through Oberhoffen-sur-Moder, and apprehended Lautrebourg. The division then crossed the Lauter and penetrated first into Germany. On March 31, 1945, at the head of the 1st Army, the division crossed the Rhin in the region of Spire. Reinforced by the Moroccan Goumier, the division braked the resistance at Heuchelberg and Stromberg.

On April 16, the division led at Enz in the north, infiltrating by Nagold in the south and encircled Pforzheim.

The campaigns of Alsace and Germany ended with the 3e DIA in Stuttgart.

On May 1, the division paraded in front of général de Lattre de Tassigny.

Dissolved on April 15, 1946, the division was awarded four citations at the orders the armed forces

Composition[edit]

Disembarked in Italy in December 1943, effectifs were 16840 men out of which 60% Maghrebis and 40% Europeans.[2]

Infantry[edit]

colonel de Linares, then Agostini and de la Boisse;

colonel Roux then Guillebaud;

colonel Chapuis, replaced in March 1945 by the 49th Infantry Regiment (French: 49e Régiment d'Infanterie, 49e RI).

One North-African Tirailleur regiment is composed of a little more than 3000 men (out of which 500 officers and sous-officiers) and 200 vehicles. The portion of Maghrebis reaches 69% for the regiment, 74% for the battalion, 79% for the company fusiliers-voltigeurs, 52% for the ant-tank company and 36% for the infantry cannon company.[3]

Armoured[edit]

The two regiments are composed of 900 to 1000 men with 15% Maghrebis and 85% Europeans.[4]

Artillery[edit]

One artillery regiment is composed of more than 2000 men out of which 40% are Marghrebis.

Other units[edit]

  • 83 Engineer Battalion ;
  • 3rd Medical Battalion ;
  • 3rd Divisionary Repair Company (3e CRD) ;
  • Mixed Transmission Company 83/84.

Decorations[edit]

The division was cited 4 times at the orders of the armed forces during the second world war and the forming regiments have been awarded the fourragere with at least 2 citations at the orders of the armed forces.[5]

Division Commanders[edit]

Division Combat Casualties[edit]

During World War II, the total losses (« Morts pour la France ») endured by the 3e DIA between November 1942 and May 1945 were 3078 men (2097 Marghrebis and 981 Europeans), almost 20% of the division. These do not include the 123 Frenchmen killed belonging to the FFI of the Franc Corps Pommiès/49th Infantry Regiment attached temporarily to the division between end of November 1944 and May 1945:

Killed in Action[6] French Maghrebis Total
Tunisia Campaign (1942–43) 50 72 122
Italian Campaign (1943–44) 587 1,307 1,894
Campaign in Southern France (1944–45) 292 599 891
German campaign (1945) 52 119 171
Total (1942–1945) 981 (32%) 2,097 (68%) 3,078

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Alphonse Juin, Mémoires, Fayard, 1959, v1, p. 264
  2. ^ Le corps expéditionnaire français en Italie, Histoire et collections, 2003, p.31
  3. ^ Le corps expéditionnaire français en Italie, Histoire et Collections, 2003, p. 33
  4. ^ Le corps expéditionnaire français en Italie, Histoire et Collections, 2003, p. 48-50
  5. ^ Livre d'or de la 3e Division d'Infanterie Algérienne, Imprimerie Nationale, 1948
  6. ^ Anthony Clayton, France, Soldiers, and Africa, Brassey's Defence Publishers, 1988

Article Sources[edit]

  • De Lattre de Tassigny, Histoire de la première armée française, Plon, 1949
  • Grandes Unités Françaises, Volumes IV and V-1, French Army Historical Service, Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1970 and 1972.
  • Le Réarmement et la Réorganisation de l'Armée de Terre Française (1943 - 1946), J. Vernet, French Army Historical Service, Château de Vincennes, 1980.
  • Anthony Clayton, France, Soldiers, and Africa, Brassey's Defence Publishers, 1988
  • Livre d'or de la 3e Division d'Infanterie Algérienne, Imprimerie Nationale, 1948
  • Capitaine Heurgon, La victoire sous le signe des trois croissants la vie, les peines et les gloires de la troisième division d'infanterie algerienne, P. Vrillon, 1946
  • Paul Gaujac, Le Corps expéditionnaire français en Italie, Histoire et collections, 2003
  • Alphonse Juin, Mémoires, Fayard, 1959

External links[edit]