This historic set of four WWII U.S. Army, 79th Infantry Division pictorial maps was published by the U.S. 79th Infantry Division and presents the wartime campaign, hardships and accomplishments of the 79th Infantry from its landing at Utah Beach on 14 June, 1944, through France and Belgium and ultimately into Germany's industrial Ruhr Valley prior to and following the May 8, 1945 declaration of Allied victory over Nazi Germany. These illustrated maps were drawn by two artists, both likely in the Division, Steve Kaliher and Harry D. White 1/, whose names appear as facsimile signatures on each print. The pictorial maps were printed by Fritz Busche Druckereiges M.B.H. of Dortmund, Germany, itself located in the Ruhr Valley and shown on the fourth map in the series. The 79th Infantry Division pictorial maps were sold as a set of four in the Army commissaries for soldiers to take with them or mail home to family and friends. 2/
The most prominent artistic and symbolic feature on these four maps is the 79th Infantry's identifying insignia, the Cross of Lorraine, drawn in large scale as a white cross with two horizontals of uneven length framed in white upon a pale blue shield that is part of the title block of each map. 3/ The Cross of Lorraine also appears in these maps at small scale, but of no less importance as the identifying left shoulder patch on the uniformed members of the 79th in the map vignettes and on the 79th Infantry military equipment. In map three, expressing both humor and pride, the Cross of Lorraine is on the Division's sign "Welcome to Germany Courtesy of the 79th Infantry". The Cross of Lorraine held significance for the 79th Infantry and equally during WWII for the French people, for whom this 15th c. symbol came to represent the Free French Forces of WWII whose flag and military equipment bore the Cross of Lorraine. 4/
The design and format of each map in this set consists of a prominent border formed by the names of the French, Belgian and German towns through which the 79th Infantry marched on foot and in motorized columns. The large stylized letters in the border are hollow forms outlined in black. In "Through France" the map's top border names the U.S. base camps at which members of the 79th Division trained, and the other three sides of the border contain the French town names, to be read clockwise to track the route of the troops shown on the map with wide, black directional arrows. On the three subsequent maps in the set, the route names sometimes read counterclockwise and track the black arrows showing the Division's movements. Narrow red lines on the map intersect the black directional arrows of troop movement. These red lines report the dates on which troops reached a particular town, or milestone. Towns are located with small circles and labeled. Rivers and the English Channel are painted blue and labeled as well. The large vignettes, including that of the U.S. 79th Division landing at Utah Beach are painted in vivid colors. Each map has a hierarchy of fonts, by size and style, mostly informal and resembling hand writing. Color is applied variously as a wash, in solids or with a texture emulating a lithograph. The authors' names appear in two sequences, "Steve Kaliher" above "Harry D. White" below, and vice versa on the four maps.
In addition to being printed as independent pictorial maps, the artwork for each map is found in a reduced format as a full page illustration in the 79th Infantry Division's own published book, The Cross of Lorraine: A Combat History of the 79th Infantry Division June 1942 - December 1945.5/ The four map titles are also the four chapter titles of this book. This book is primarily illustrated with black and white photographs of soldiers and officers, some drawings, and what appear to be photographs of the four pictorial maps. The detailed narrative of the 79th Infantry's military campaigns includes both battles and certain letters and orders from Major General I. (Ira) T. Wyche, Commanding to the 79th Infantry. Two of the most moving and personal letters by Major General Wyche were written one at the beginning of the 79th Infantry Division's WWII service on 6 June 1944: in part it reads "1. This division is now headed for the battlefield. ...3. May each of you have good crossing. I shall be on the beach to welcome you." The second was written at the end of WWII, as a final Order on 3 Oct. 1945 from Camp Gruber, Oklahoma: "1. I intend to keep track of each of you in the future learning your whereabouts and your several activities....3. on or before June 19th annually render a report to keep me informed of your location and general situation concerning yourself....4. I shall endeavor to keep so supplied that if we should meet either by arrangement or otherwise we shall always be able to drink an appropriate toast to the Cross of Lorraine." 6/
WWII Battles of the 79th Infantry Division as shown on the Pictorial Maps
The striking imagery of these four pictorial maps is in some cases annotated by red text that explains the battle goals, dangers, ongoing training and methodical planning of the 79th Infantry Division. 7/ Strategic highlights and battle victories for which the 79th Infantry received citations include: liberating the Port and city of Cherbourg, routing the Germans from the Foret De Parroy, the battles of Hatten and Rittershoffen, being first to bridge and cross four major rivers, the Seine, Meurthe, Moselle and Rhine, and finally the liquidation of the Ruhr industrial "pocket". Upon the Allied victory, the 79th Infantry became responsible for U.S. Army relief and military government missions to temporarily feed, house and repatriate tens of thousands of refugees, to identify and collect almost 40,000 prisoners of war and other matters. The primary source that deserves reading for a full appreciation of these maps is the 79th Division own published history. /8 That history is the source for the summary below.
Map one, Through France 14 June to 29 August illustrates the first battle assignment of the 79th Division called the Cherbourg Campaign to take the Fort du Roule on the high ground at the port of Cherbourg and liberate the city. The Division's victory secured control of the primary port through which U.S. troops and supplies could land and to carry out the E.T.O. war effort against Nazi Germany. Other scenes in the map read counter clockwise. The military route is described by black arrows culminating in the top right corner of the map at a large grey and black swirl. Upon closer examination, that dark swirl reveals the 79th Infantry Division troops marching in the rain and total dark across a bridge. Red text on the map explains the imagery:
"At 2130 on the darkest, rainiest Aug. 19 on record, the Division received Orders to cross the Seine. By 0300 the 313th had one battalion across - the first Allied troops over the Seine. The Luftwaffe came in swarms but the 463 AAA BN made the homeward flight a lonely ride. The Division Artillery's murderous fire made a continuous pattern of death."
The Division's soldiers had without warning been roused from sleep in their tents to make this crossing in the driving rain under the cover of dark. The Seine bridgehead was in fact a narrow wooden catwalk across the top of a dam in the Seine. Others later crossed a second bridgehead closer to town. The 463 AAA is the Antiaircraft Artillery assigned to the 79th Division.
To Belgium and Back 31 August to 25 Oct, 1944, map two, contains five vignettes, one at large scale of 79th Infantry soldiers in fox holes and armed with shell launchers, amidst battered trees, a vivid image of the war torn Foret de Parroy. There are three narrative text blocks explaining the experiences of the 79th Infantry in this map's vignettes. The narrative explains that "Upon breaking out of the Seine bridgehead the Division started a Record-Breaking Advance - Destination Belgium." To emphasize the Division's unusual pace, the next text explains "One of the Fastest Opposed Advances of Comparable Distance By an Infantry Division in Warfare." At the Moselle bridgehead, the text describes how the Division "disregarded blown bridges and bullets, battered across to the first Moselle bridgehead" followed by a vignette of the German troops surrendering, hands up led by their officer who presents his pistol handle first to the 79th Infantry commanding officer. Reims Cathedral is drawn on the map. Text in all red capitals explains that "On October 24, after 127 days of continuous combat, The Division was relieved and moved into assembly south of Luneville."
To the Rhine With the 79th Infantry Division 25 Oct to 14 Feb 1945, map three, which reverses the order of the artist names placing Harry D. White first, is primarily concerned with the eight days spent in the Rest Area to repair and maintain equipment, clean clothes and training exercises. A memo from Major General Wyche in the Division's history recommends "intelligent rest and recreation and correcting all deficiencies." 9/ One of the vignettes portrays an outdoor theatre, with a juggler and a female singer at the microphone accompanied by a pianist to entertain the soldiers of the 79th seated as audience. Following this rest, the map shows with black arrows the route of the 79th Division now sent on its "Race to the Rhine."
The Division's battle experience to the Rhine is explained by red text: "House by House and Stone by Stone, Lacking Blood plasma and Ammunition, the 315 Inf. Made of Hatten and Ritterstroffen a Burial Ground for Many of Hitler's Best Troops." The scenes are bleak vignettes of destruction, a dead horse lies by the side of a dirt road. The Alsatian winter has set in, and the next color vignette on this map shows Division soldiers in white camouflage, sunken in fox holes surrounded by a snowy landscape of fields, hills and a broad valley. The final vignette along their route is a small color drawing of a wooden sign by a gatehouse: "You are Now Entering Germany Through the Courtesy of the 79th Infantry Division." This sign marks the U.S. Army's claim to German territory on the western banks of the Rhine.
Over the Rhine 17 Feb to 9 May 1945, map four, has a border composed of German town names that follow those of Luxembourg and Belgium. The red text humorously explains that upon reaching Brussels, "Ja,Ja" instead of "OUI, OUI". The map's largest vignette, and the ultimate attack of the 79th Division, shows troops in boats crossing the Rhine, while at the purpose built dock other soldiers bring crated supplies in preparation for crossing. By the shore near the dock empty troop carriers wait to transport 79th Division troops across the Rhine into Germany. Ordnance explodes in the Rhine waters sending geysers skyward. As described in the Division's history, during the day before their evening crossing, the 79th sent an extraordinary barrage over the Rhine of 300,000 ordnance. The 79th Division was ordered to cross the Rhine on March 23 under a full moon in small boats. 10/ The Division had trained for this water crossing in Holland. Crossing the Rhine was the biggest U.S. Army WWII water crossing since the landing at Normandy. According to the Division history, after the entire Division had successfully crossed, with no casualties, the Engineers and the Navy came to build bridges across the Rhine.
The final vignette on map four shows German territory east of the Rhine, a grey industrial landscape of factories and smokestacks with the names of certain industrial towns, including Dortmund, the location of the printer of these maps. The factories are shown largely intact. Allied control of this region from March 23 halted Germany's industrial production and interrupted access to the coal mines supplying the Nazi war effort.
On May 8, 1945, the Allies declared victory. A large pictorial vignette on map four represents a 79th Division soldier, beaming with pride, standing in a circle of European civilians, some holding flags of the European countries newly liberated by the United States armed forces from Nazi Germany. This vignette illustrates the 79th Division's new role as part of the U.S. Military Relief and Government missions to assist approximately 100,000 displaced persons, build temporary camps to house and feed them, distribute provisions, and gather almost 40,000 prisoners of war. The map text explains that the 79th Division was engaged in the government of more than 1000 square miles in the Ruhr Valley. The final map in this set thus illustrates one of the most respected U.S. Army attack divisions of WWII transformed in victory to serving peacetime goals. Maj. Gen. Wyche's order to the Division on May 8, 1945 emphasizes “The greatness of the 79th Division will be measured in history not completely on its brilliant record during the war but also by the conduct of its members in peace...."11/
1/ I have not located biographical data for Harry D. White pre- or post WWII. He is not listed on the 79th Division's casualty list. The 79th Division published its own newspaper during wartime and compiled its own illustrated history. It would be logical for these pictorial maps similarly to have been created by members of the 79th Division, and for both named authors of these pictorial maps to have served in the 79th Division.
2/ The printing date is not on any of the maps. I date these maps to 1945. The date of printing in Germany is prior to the American publication of the 79th Infantry's own division history The Cross of Lorraine, copyright 1946 because all four pictorial maps (showing some wear) were photographed and appear as illustrations in this book. See Note 5 below. I also date the printing of the maps to 1945 because I have owned a set of these maps accompanied by the postmarked wrapping paper in which they were mailed by a member of the 79th Division c/o Postmaster of New York to a family member with a Massachusetts address (to my surprise, walking distance from where I grew up): one stamp is postmarked "July 27, 1945."
3/ The Cross of Lorraine originated as the shoulder patch of the 79th Infantry in WWI when the Division was stationed in the Lorraine region of France to defend against German aggression against France. The Cross of Lorraine was originally a heraldic cross used by Dukes of Lorraine. Knights Templar carried the Cross of Lorraine into the Crusades.
4/ see, military.wikia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Lorraine
5/ The Cross of Lorraine: A Combat History of the 79th Infantry Division June 1942 - December 1945,
See digital version cited as United States Army, World War Regimental Histories, Book 39. htt://digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/39.
The book is "Copyright 1946 by The 79th Infantry Division, Printed by Army & Navy Publishing Company, Army and Navy Publishing Company Building, Baton Rouge, Louisiana."
6/ ibid. A letter by Maj. Gen. Ira T. Wyche’s serves as the frontispiece: "I shall always look back upon my Command of the 79th Division as the most successful period of my official career. This is so because of the cooperation of those fine Americans who wore the Cross of Lorraine. My greatest wish for the future is that all those who wore that Cross and their posterity will never again be exposed to the horrors of war." 3 Nov. 1945 Maj.Gen. Whyche.
Notes: Highlights of Military events Depicted
Pritzker Military Museum and Library, Chicago, Illinoiswww.pritzkermilitary.org