26th Infantry Regiment in the Occupation of Germany

The 26th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division was known as the “Blue Spaders” from their distinctive unit insignia.

The Regiment had seen combat in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia. It made three D-Day landings and fought in eight campaigns in the European and Mediterranean theaters.

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Distinctive insignia of the 26th Infantry Regiment

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Insignia of the 1st Infantry Division. The “Big Red One”

The 26th Infantry Regiment learned many painful combat lessons fighting across North Africa against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. It fought on the beaches and hills of Sicily at Gela and Troina and landed on Omaha beach on the evening of D-Day. It helped capture Aachen, the first German city taken by the Allies, and held the line on the critical northern shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge.

After Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945, many American units were being sent home for deactivation. However, the 1st Infantry Division with its long and storied history was selected by the Army to remain in Germany as an occupation force.

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A soldier of the 26th infantry Regiment confers with a civilian and a German police officer

The Army placed elements of the 1st Infantry Division in cities across western Germany and Austria, from Berlin to Vienna. The 26th Infantry Regiment’s 3rd Battalion was assigned to guard the Nazi war crimes trial at Nuremberg.
Soldiers of the “Blue Spaders” stood guard outside courtroom proceedings and worked in Nuremberg’s prison watching over high ranking Nazi war criminals.

During the occupation, many of the “Blue Spaders” befriended their former German enemies as they protected them from Soviet aggression and helped them rebuild their war torn country.

After serving 13 years overseas, the 26th Infantry Regiment and the 1st infantry Division returned to the US. The Regiment had defeated the best the German and Italian military had to offer and was the vanguard against the spread of communism in Western Europe.

26th infantry regiment

Helmet Liner from a 26th Infantry Regiment Lieutenant Colonel

26th infantry regiment

Side of the Liner showing the 26th Infantry Regiment insignia. The insignia was placed on both sides during the Occupation of Germany


26th infantry regiment

A guard from the 26th Infantry Regiment looks into the cell of a Nazi war criminal

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“Blue Spaders” stand guard during the Nuremberg trials


26th infantry regiment

Ike jacket from a member of the 1st Division’s 26th Infantry Regiment

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Close up with the soldier’s overseas hat

For More Information on the Nuremberg Trials Check Out:

The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir

Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis

For Related Articles See:

One thought on “26th Infantry Regiment in the Occupation of Germany

  • Peter Kubicek says:

    I am ever-lastingly grateful to the American Army for liberating me, a concentration camp prisoner, on May 2, 1945, near the town of Schwerin in northern Germany. I was 15 years old at the time.

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