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3rd Signal Company Photography WWII  ::  ANZIO to AUSTRIA  ::  U.S. 3rd Infantry Division

d o g f a c e  s o l d i e r
a photographic journey of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division in WWII

the images from five combat photographers
of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division during WWII

Anzio | Rome | Dragoon | Breakout | Montelimar | Vosges | Strasbourg | Colmar Pocket | Rhineland | Germany | Austria

dogface soldiers < The 3rd Division's advance from the Anzio beachhead passed through Cisterna on May 25, 1944.

THE U.S. 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION'S WWII battle road passed through:
Casablanca, Messina, Salerno, Anzio, Cisterna, Rome, Cavalaire, Marseille, Aix en Provence, Besancon, Strasbourg, The Colmar Pocket, The Siegfried Line, The Rhine River Nuremberg, Munich, Berchtesgaden,
and Salzburg.

A part of this journey was documented by a team of five
3rd Signal Company photographers assembled on the Anzio Beachhead in February 1944 that went on to frame over 1,500 photographs of 3rd Division history from Anzio to Austria.

The five photographers developed and printed in a darkroom trailer they pulled to Rome and through France and Germany as part of the Seventh Army. Three photographers assigned to the unit on Anzio, John Cole, Howard Nickelson, and William Heller, were later joined in Rome by William Toomey and Robert Seesock.

dogface soldiers

< Pop Heller and Howard Nickelson
with "Fuzzy's Folly"

From the Anzio breakout in May of 1944, pulling their beachhead-built darkroom named "Fuzzy's Folly", the photo unit followed the 3rd Division to Rome as lead elements of the U.S. Fifth Army entering Rome as liberators on June 4, 1944.

The liberation of Rome was almost a year after the July 1943 landings in Sicily. For the past nine months Allied armies had fought a bitter battle for control of southern Italy. The war news was full of their stories: Messina! Salerno!, Taranto! Naples! Volturno!, Foggia! Cassino! Anzio!

News editors readied editions to herald the triumph in Rome on June 4, as the fantastic news from the Normandy beaches on the morning of June 6, 1944 consumed all attention.

The Italian Campaign — the longest in the war — became known as the "Forgotten Front" and finally ended May 1945 far north in the Po Valley.

dogface soldiers

< Operation Dragoon - Red Beach
Aug. 15, 1944

On August 15, 1944 the 3rd Division landed in southern France after sailing from Naples as part of Operation Dragoon. Dragoon was originally destined to be part of a simultaneous attack on northern and southern France and was later threatened with extinction. Under General Dever's Sixth Army Group, Dragoon assembled the French First Army with the American Seventh Army consisting of the 3rd, 36th and 45th infantry divisions (VI Corps) to assault the southern coast of France near the Riviera.

Over the next nine months the 3rd Division served as an integral and decisive combat force in its campaigns through southern France and Germany. The 3rd Division drove through the Vosges Mountains to the Rhine River, fought a fierce and frigid battle for the Colmar Pocket, breached the Siegfried Line in only three days near Zweibrucken, secured both Nuremberg and Munich and ended its fight with an alpine view at Hitler's Bavarian fortress.

dogface soldiers

< Prisoners in Munich – April 1945

The main units attached to the 3rd Division in WWII were the 7th, 15th and 30th Infantry Regiments; 9th, 10th, 39th and 41st Field Artillery Battalions; 10th Engineers; 3rd Medical; 703 Ordinance; 441st AA; 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion; and the 756th Tank Battalion. Also entwined with the division history is the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Darby's Rangers and the 254th Infantry Regiment.

THE PHOTOS EXHIBITED HERE are from a collection of over 700 chronicled by photographer William Toomey of Everett, Massachusetts who entered the war on the Anzio beachhead as a 15th Regiment radio operator before assignment to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battle Patrol. He joined the five-man photo crew in Rome in June 1944 after the Anzio breakout. Also shown are photographs from the collections of photographers Howard Nickelson and William Heller along with National Archives images and other images related to the 3rd Division and the action portrayed here.

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Anzio | Rome | Dragoon | Breakout | Montelimar | Vosges | Strasbourg | Colmar Pocket | Rhineland | Germany | Austria


last update: June 1, 2021 : site maintainence located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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