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{{Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=2e Division Blindée
image=
caption=Original badge of the 2nd Armored Division. The divisional badge features the Cross of Lorraine
dates=24 August 1943 - 31 March 1946
country=Francemarker
allegiance=
branch=French Army, ex-Free French
type=Armored Division {later 2nd Armored Brigade
role=
size=
command_structure=
current_commander=
garrison=
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname=
patron=
motto=
colors=
march=
mascot=
battles=Operation Cobra, Liberation of Paris, Liberation of Strasbourg
notable_commanders= Philippe Leclerc
anniversaries=}}

The French 2nd Armored Division ( ), commanded by General Leclerc, fought during the final phases of World War II in the Western Front. The division was formed around a core of units that had fought at Koufra in 1941 under Leclerc; later renamed the 2nd Light Division, in August 1943, it was organized under the US light armored division organization. The Division's 14,454 personnel included men from the 2nd Light Division, escapees from metropolitan France, about 3,600 Moroccans and Algerians, and some 3,200 Spanish Republicans. The division embarked in April 1944 and shipped to various ports in Great Britainmarker. On 29 July 1944, bound for France, the division embarked at Southamptonmarker.

World War II operations

Order of battle

Infantry

Ier Régiment de Marche du Tchad

IIème Régiment de Marche du Tchad

IIIème Régiment de Marche du Tchad

Reconnaissance

1er Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains

Armor

501ème Régiment de Chars de Combat

12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique

12ème Régiment de Cuirassiers

Tank destroyers

Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins (R.B.F.M)

Artillery

1er groupe du 3ème Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale (1/3° R.A.C)

1er Groupe du 40ème Régiment d'Artillerie Nord Africain (1/40° R.A.N.A)

IIeme Groupe du 64ème Régiment d'Artillerie

Anti-Aircraft

22ème Groupe Colonial de F.T.A

Engineers

13ème Bataillon du Génie

Signals

97/84ème Compagnie Mixte de Transmissions

Motor transport and services

97ème Compagnie de Quartier Général

197ème Compagnie de Transport

297ème Compagnie de Transport

397ème Compagnie de Circulation Routière

497ème Compagnie de Services

Supply

15ème Groupe d'Escadrons de Réparations (15e G.E.R)

Medical

1ère Compagnie Médicale et Groupe d'Ambulancières "Rochambeau" (Rochambelles)

2ème Compagnie Médicale et Groupe d'Ambulancières de la Marine ("Marinettes")

3ème Compagnie Médicale et groupe d'Ambulancières "Quakers" (Britanniques)



Tactical organization

Groupement tactique "Dio" (G.T.D)

Colonel Dio

Ier Régiment de Marche du Tchad

4ème R.M.S.M

12ème Cuirassiers

3ème R.B.F.M

1/3ème R.A.C

2/13ème Bataillon du génie



Groupement tactique "Langlade" (G.T.L)

Colonel de Langlade

IIème Régiment de Marche du Tchad

2ème R.M.S.M

12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique

4ème R.B.F.M

1/40ème R.A.N.A

2/13ème Bataillon du génie



Groupement tactique Warabiot (G.T.V)

Colonel Warabiot, puis

Colonel Billotte, puis

Colonel de Guillebon

IIIème Régiment de Marche du Tchad

3ème R.M.S.M

501ème Régiment de Chars de Combat

2ème R.B.F.M

11/64ème R.A

2/13ème Bataillon du génie



Falaise Pocketmarker

The Division landed at Utah Beachmarker in Normandy on 1 August 1944, about two months after the D-Day landings, and served under General Patton's Third Army. The division played a critical role in the battle of the Argentan-Falaise Pocketmarker, the Allied breakout from Normandy, when it served as a link between American and Canadian armies and made rapid progress against German forces. They all but destroyed the 9th Panzer Division and defeated several other German units. During the Battle for Normandy, the 2nd Division lost 133 men killed, 648 wounded, and 85 missing. Division material losses included 76 armored vehicles, 7 cannons, 27 halftracks, and 133 other vehicles. In the same period, the 2nd Division inflicted losses on the Germans of 4,500 killed and 8,800 taken prisoner, while the Germans' material losses in combat against the 2nd Division during the same period were 117 tanks, 79 cannons, and 750 wheeled vehicles.

Liberation of Paris

The most celebrated moment in the unit's history involved the Liberation of Paris. Allied strategy emphasized destroying German forces retreating towards the Rhinemarker, but when the French Resistance under Henri Rol-Tanguy staged an uprising in the city, Charles de Gaulle threatened to send the Division into Paris, single-handedly, to prevent the uprising being crushed as had recently happened in Warsaw. Eisenhower agreed to send help. Delayed by combat and poor road conditions, General Leclerc sent a small advance party to enter Paris, with the message that the Second Armored would be there the following day. This party was commanded by Captain Raymond Dronne, and was given the honor to be the first Allied unit to enter Paris ahead of the 2e Division Blindée. The 9th company of the 3rd Battalion of the Régiment de Marche du Tchad was made up of Spanish volunteers. After hard fighting that cost the 2nd Division 35 tanks, 6 self-propelled guns, and 111 vehicles, von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, surrendered the city at the Hôtel Meuricemarker. Jubilant crowds greeted French forces, and de Gaulle conducted a famous parade through the city.

Alsace & Lorraine

The 2nd Division later fought in the tank battles in Lorrainemarker, destroying the German 112th Panzer Brigade at the town of Dompaire on 13 September 1944. Subsequently, the 2nd Division operated with U.S. forces during the assault into the Vosges Mountainsmarker. Serving as the armored exploitation force for the U.S. XV Corps, the 2nd Division forced the Saverne Gapmarker and thrust forward boldly, unbalancing German defenses in northern Alsacemarker and liberating Strasbourgmarker on 23 November 1944. The Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to the Division for this action.

Fighting in Alsace until the end of February, 1945, the 2nd Division was deployed to reduce the Royanmarker Pocket on the western coast of France in March-April, 1945.

Germany

After forcing the Germans in the Royan Pocket to surrender on 18 April 1945, the 2nd Division crossed Francemarker again to rejoin the Allied 6th Army Group for final operations in Germanymarker. Operating with the U.S. 12th Armored Division, elements of the 2nd Division pursued the remnants of German Army Group G across Swabia and Bavariamarker, occupying the town of Bad Reichenhallmarker on 4 May 1945.
Eventually, the 2nd Division finished its campaigning at the Nazi resort town of Berchtesgadenmarker in Southeastern Germany.

At the end of the campaign in northwestern Europe, the unit counted 1,687 dead, including 108 officers, and 3,300 wounded. It had killed 12,100 Axis soldiers, captured 41,500 and destroyed 332 heavy and medium tanks, 2,200 other vehicles, and 426 cannons of various types.

Post-WWII

On 13 May 1945 SHAEF relinquished operational control of the 2nd Division to France. From 23 May-28 May 1945 the 2nd Division moved to its new garrison in the region of Paris, where the division was inactivated on 31 March 1946.

It was reactivated in the 1940s-50s and was active throughout the Cold War and afterwards, until it became the 2nd Armored Brigade in 1999.

See also



Footnotes

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