3AD Patch And Name Confusion
The shoulder patch insignia of the 3d Armored Division has a distinct heraldic meaning and a proud history in its mixture of form, color and symbols. The basic pattern is that of three interlaced torques, no one of which would be sufficient without the other two. Combined to form a triangle, the device indicates integrity and esprit de corps.
The predominating colors of the armored force patch, yellow, red and blue, are those of the basic arms: Cavalry, Field Artillery and Infantry. The super-imposed black symbols have a more modern meaning: the tank track for mobility and armor protection, the cannon for fire power, and the bolt of lightning to designate shock action.
The arabic numeral "3" is, of course, a division designation. The SPEARHEAD flash was authorized by Major General Maurice Rose after his 3d Armored Division had brilliantly led many of the First Army’s drives in France, Belgium and Germany, during 1944 and 1945.
Confusion between the "THIRD ARMORED" and the "THIRD ARMY" and of course the real
3d Armored Division!
PRELUDE TO CONFUSION
US Army unit designation conventions began in the Civil War and by World War I had pretty well been established. Armies were/are numbered and the number is spelled out such as "Third Army." Divisional numbers were/are simply the Arabic number such as 3d Armored. We are not sure just how or when but it was in the early days of the massive build up for WWII that Army "conventions" sometimes went by the wayside as the huge influx of citizens soldiers started.
Hence, soldiers of the 3d Armored started pinning their name with "THIRD ARMORED" instead of using the Army’s naming convention. All manner of publications and correspondence started doing the same thing and by the time the Division landed in Europe it was known as "Third Armored"…an ominous signal of history to be misplaced.
OUR "STOLEN" HISTORY
General George S. Patton, Jr. commanded the "THIRD ARMY" and General Omar Bradley commanded "FIRST ARMY" which included the "3d Armored Division" led by Major General Maurice Rose.
The glory and fame of the famous Third Army under Patton is not in question here… especially since many of the 3d Armored Division soldiers remain convinced to this day that folks in that Army made good use of 3d Armored actions and battle deeds to boast the Third Army story. We today are not privy to many of those stories or claims but wish to some day resolve this issue. Many of the WWII Spearheaders still cannot bear to hear, much less say, Patton’s name.
When the names THIRD ARMORED and THIRD ARMY are written side by side it is easy to see the confusion caused and just not in the heat of battle and thus the Army "convention." Verbally, there is almost no difference.
Personal experience over the last two years of working on this website and getting the new Association started has verified both the confusion and the hurt. We will work hard to rectify the mistakes over the years…it is time…and the hard part to accept is that the veterans themselves may have started the confusion themselves…