2nd Armored Division (France): Wikis


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2e Division Blindée
Original badge of the 2nd Armored Division. The divisional badge features the Cross of Lorraine
Active 24 August 1943 - 31 March 1946
Country France
Branch French Army, ex-Free French
Type Armored Division {later 2nd Armored Brigade (France)
Engagements Operation Cobra, Liberation of Paris, Liberation of Strasbourg, Capture of Berchtesgaden
Philippe Leclerc
M4A2 Sherman Île de France of the 12e RCA, 2e DB in Normandy

The French 2nd Armored Division (French: 2e Division Blindée, 2e DB), 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 Britain. On 29 July 1944, bound for France, the division embarked at Southampton.


World War II operations


Order of battle

Ier Régiment de Marche du Tchad
IIème Régiment de Marche du Tchad
IIIème Régiment de Marche du Tchad
1er Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains
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)
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
22ème Groupe Colonial de F.T.A
13ème Bataillon du Génie
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
15ème Groupe d'Escadrons de Réparations (15e G.E.R)
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 Pocket

The Division landed at Utah Beach 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 Pocket (12-21 August), 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.[1] [2]

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 Rhine, 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 let the French armored division and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division go and liberate Paris. In the early morning of 23 August, Leclerc's 2e DB left the south of Argentan on its march to Paris, march which was slowed by poor road conditions, French crowds, and fierce combats near Paris. On the 24th, General Leclerc sent a small advance party to enter the city, with the message that the Second Armored would be there the following day. This party, commanded by Captain Raymond Dronne, consisted of the 9th company[3] of the 3rd Battalion of the Régiment de marche du Tchad. Dronne and his men arrived at the Hôtel de Ville, in the center of Paris, shortly before 9:30 p.m. in the evening of 24 August. On 25 August, the French 2nd Armored & the U.S. 4th Division entered and liberated Paris. After hard fighting that cost the 2nd Division 35 tanks, 6 self-propelled guns, and 111 vehicles, von Choltitz, the German military governor of Paris, capitulated at the Hôtel Meurice. The following day, on 26 August, a great victory parade took place on the Champs Élysées, which were lined with a jubilant crowd acclaiming General de Gaulle and the liberators of Paris.

Alsace & Lorraine

The 2nd Armored Division marching on the Champs Élysées on 26 August 1944.

The 2nd Division later fought in the tank battles in Lorraine, 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 Mountains. Serving as the armored exploitation force for the U.S. XV Corps, the 2nd Division forced the Saverne Gap and thrust forward boldly, unbalancing German defenses in northern Alsace and liberating Strasbourg 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 Royan Pocket on the western coast of France in March-April, 1945.


After forcing the Germans in the Royan Pocket to surrender on 18 April 1945, the 2nd Division crossed France again to rejoin the Allied 6th Army Group for final operations in Germany. Operating with the U.S. 12th Armored Division, elements of the French 2nd Armored Division pursued the remnants of German Army Group G across Swabia and Bavaria, occupying the town of Bad Reichenhall on 4 May 1945.

2ème DB arms featuring the Free French cross of Lorraine.

Eventually, the 2nd Division finished its campaigning at the Nazi resort town of Berchtesgaden 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.[4]


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

It was reactivated in the 1940s-1950s and was active throughout the Cold War and afterwards, until it became the 2nd Armored Brigade in 1999.

See also


  1. ^ GUF, p. 989
  2. ^ The extraordinary ratio of casualties inflicted vs. casualties suffered that was reported by this unit is at odds with the overall relation between Allied and German casualties during the battle of Normandy that becomes apparent from the data under http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/faq.htm#casualities.
  3. ^ Made up of volunteers Spanish Republicans, the 9th company bore the name La Nueve, in Spanish, for its number "nine".
  4. ^ GUF, p. 1163

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