World War I Highlights of the
32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division
Michigan and Wisconsin National Guards activated for Federal service on 15 July 1917.
32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division was organized from Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard units at Camp MacArthur, Texas, in August & September of 1917. The organization of the 32D Division was completed 15 October 1917.
There are three important dates associated with the birth of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division. General Order No. 95 (some references state 101) War Department, 18 July 1917, specified that the National Guard troops from Wisconsin and Michigan would be combined to form the 32D Division and would train at Camp MacArthur. War Department instructions dated 22 September 1917 provided detailed information about how the old Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units would be combined and reorganized to form the 32D Division in accordance with the 1917 Tables of Organization. Numerous Division unit histories list 15 October 1917 as the date the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division came into existence. This is likely the completion date, the effective date, of the physical reorganization to create the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division from the old Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units. [updated 1 Sep. ‘14]
Arrived in France, with about 27,000 officers and men, on 16 February 1918, the sixth division to join the A.E.F.
Served six months in combat, from 18 May to 11 November 1918, with only 10 days in a rest area.
First American troops to set foot on German soil – in Alsace in May 1918.
Fought on five fronts in three major offensives – the Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne and Meuse-Argonne.
Captured Fismes in the Marne offensive after an advance of 19 kilometers in seven days.
Fought in the Oise-Aisne offensive as the only American unit in General Mangin’s famous Tenth French Army, breaking the German line which protected the Chemin des Dames.
Twice in the line in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, fighting continuously for 20 days, penetrating the Kriemhilde Stellung, crossing the Meuse and starting drive to flank Metz.
Fought and defeated 23 German Divisions, capturing 2,153 prisoners.
Gained 38 kilometers in four attacks and repulsed every enemy counter attack.
In action east of the Meuse when the Armistice was signed.
Suffered over 14,000 casualties from all causes. Casualty figures vary from one source to another, but the Division suffered from 2,898 to 3,245 Soldiers killed and approximately 10,900 Soldiers wounded-in-action, non-battle injuries, or incapacitated due to illness. [updated 12 Feb. ‘14]
Received at least 20,140 replacement Soldiers from nearly every state in the Country. [added 12 Feb. ‘14]
Marched 300 kilometers to the Rhine for Army of Occupation duty as front line element of the Third U.S. Army. Occupied the center sector in the Coblenz bridge-head for four months, holding 63 towns and 400 square kilometers of territory.
Over 800 officers and men decorated by American, French and Belgian governments, including 275 Distinguished Service Crosses. The colors of all four Infantry Regiments, three Artillery Regiments and three Machine Gun Battalions wear the Croix de Guerre With Palm of the Republic of France while every flag and standard in the Division has four American battle bands.
The units of the 32D Division which were awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm were the only National Guard units bestowed with the highest order of the Croix de Guerre during WWI.
Insignia is a Red Arrow, signifying that the Division shot through every line the enemy put before it.
Awarded the nom-de-guerre of “Les Terribles” by the French.
The 32D Division was the only American division to be bestowed with a nom-de-guerre by an Allied nation during the war.
Commanded in all its actions by Major General William G. Haan and in the Army of Occupation by Major General William Lassiter.
Departed Europe for home in April 1919. Arrived in the United States and demobilized in May.
Haan, William G., Major General. "The Division as a Fighting Machine". The Wisconsin Magazine of History. Volume 04, Issue 1. Menasha, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1920.
Captain. The 32nd Division in the World War. Madison, WI: Wisconsin War History
Souvenir of the First Annual Reunion of the 32nd Division (Les Terribles). Milwaukee, WI: 121ST F. A. Veterans’ Association, 1920.
revised 26 April 2020
created 19 February 1999