The 32D Infantry Division
in World War II
The ‘Red Arrow’
Mobilization, Training and Deployment to Australia
Papuan Campaign - Strategic Situation & Overview
Papuan Campaign - The Advance to Buna
Papuan Campaign - The Battle of Buna
Papuan Campaign - The Battle of Sanananda
Back to Australia - Rest, Rehabilitation and Training
New Guinea Campaign - Saidor
New Guinea Campaign - Aitape
New Guinea Campaign – Biak
New Guinea Campaign - Morotai
Luzon Campaign - The Villa Verde Trail
Luzon Campaign - Mopping Up
Occupation of Japan
A new book about the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division in WWII has recently been released. In 32 Answered: A South Carolina Veterans' Story, Joe H. Camp, Jr. details the experiences of a group of South Carolina officers, “all products of the state's four pre-war ROTC programs,” who found themselves assigned to the 32D Division. It is available in paperback and digital format.
James Campbell has written a remarkable book describing the 32D Infantry Division’s grueling march over the steaming and disease ridden Owen Stanley Mountains during their approach to Buna, New Guinea. It also effectively details the Division’s early struggles and eventual triumph in the capture of Buna, its first battle during WWII. Click on the book cover to the left, it will take you to Mr. Campbell's web site, where you will find information about how to purchase this book.
Mr. Howard Kelley, a 32D Infantry Division Veteran, has written a book describing his service during World War II. In Born in the U.S.A. - Raised in New Guinea, he shares some of his most personal experiences as a member of the 'Red Arrow's' 3D Battalion, 127TH Infantry. This book offers a rare, first-hand glimpse of the 32D Infantry Division in World War II, as seen through the eyes of an enlisted GI. Click on the book cover to the left, it will take you to Mr. Kelley's web site, where you will find information about how to purchase this book.
On 10 August 1940, the Soldiers of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division were working at their armories throughout Wisconsin and Michigan, completing final preparations for the annual encampment. This year’s encampment would be longer-than-normal, for the first time in the history of the National Guard it would be 3 weeks long instead of the normal 15 days. This year the entire National Guard of the United States, with a few excepted units, as well as many units from the Regular Army, would participate in army-level maneuvers at each of the four army areas throughout the U.S. from 11 to 31 August. [all from this “˅” to its inverse symbol below was added 2 Nov. ’14, TPB]
While they were packing their gear they were contemplating a piece of legislation working its way through Congress, legislation that would permit the mobilization of the entire National Guard, even though the U.S. was not yet at war, for up to a year for training. They all understood the unprecedented peacetime mobilization was designed to improve the training and readiness of the armed forces in general and the National Guard in specific. What was less clear, and weighing heavily on some of their minds, was how the mobilization would impact their civilian lives, whether positive or negative, in particular the effect on their civilian jobs and their ability to support their families. They were also thinking about the news on the radio and in the papers stating this legislation might be approved by the end of the month, before the end of this year’s encampment.
The 32D Division provided 11,159 of the nearly 70,000 Soldiers who participated in the Second Army Maneuvers, also known as the Wisconsin Maneuvers, conducted at Camp McCoy, Camp Williams, plus a thousand square miles of Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, and Wood Counties in west-central Wisconsin from 11 to 31 August 1940. Second Army consisted of the V Corps (Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia) and the VI Corps (Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, plus Jefferson Barracks, Missouri). A copy of the maneuver map can be viewed at the Wisconsin Historical Society website.
The V Corps, headquartered at Indianapolis, IN, established its command post at Camp Williams, WI. Some of its subordinate units included:
The 37TH ‘Buckeye’ Division, Ohio National Guard, established its assembly and primary training area east of Millston, WI and north of Warrens, WI.
The 38TH ‘Cyclone’ Division, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia National Guard, established its assembly and primary training area between Valley Junction, WI and Norway Ridge, WI.
The 5TH ‘Red Diamond’ Division, Regular Army, from Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN, established its assembly area east of Shamrock, WI. Recently converted to the new “triangular” division MTOE, it was one of the Army’s most modern, streamlined divisions. This division, reinforced with several attached units, was the primary opposing force or aggressor force during the maneuvers.
The 7TH Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized), Regular Army, from Fort Knox, KY, established its assembly area was just northeast of Camp Williams. This was the Army’s premier armored unit at the time. Not too long after these maneuvers it formed the nucleus of the 1ST Armored Division.
The 107TH Cavalry Regiment, Ohio National Guard, participated in the maneuvers but its assembly area was not indicated on the map I found. They may have encamped with their cavalry brethren during the maneuvers, for they detrained at Wyeville, WI, not far from the 53D Cav. Bde. assembly area.
The VI Corps, headquartered at Chicago, IL, established their command post just east of what was then the main post of Camp McCoy, WI. When the new and current main post of Fort McCoy was built in 1942 during the WWII expansion, the original main post became known as Old Camp McCoy. Sometime after the war those buildings were sold off; Fort McCoy’s current housing area is located where the old main post once stood. Some of its subordinate units included:
The 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division’s assembly and primary training area was north of Camp McCoy, WI, where Fort McCoy’s main post is now, but in Aug. ’40 that land was not part of the military reservation yet.
The 33D ‘Prairie’ Division, Illinois National Guard, established its assembly and primary training area just south of Camp McCoy, WI.
The 53D Cavalry Brigade, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard, established its assembly area between Valley Junction, WI and Norway Ridge, WI.
The 53D Cav. Bde. consisted of the 105TH Cavalry Regiment, Wisconsin National Guard, and the 106TH Cavalry Regiment, Illinois and Michigan National Guard.
It is interesting to note the commander of the 53D Cav. Bde. was Brig. Gen. Ralph M. Immell, who was also the Adjutant General for Wisconsin.
The 8TH Illinois Infantry Regiment, Illinois National Guard, participated in the maneuvers but its assembly area was not shown on the map that I found. The 8TH Ill. Inf. reinforced the 5TH Div. during some, if not all, of the maneuvers, so its assembly area may have been close to the 5TH Div. near Shamrock, WI.
The 8TH Ill. Inf. was an African-American unit, originally organized 4 November 1895 as 4TH Battalion, 5TH Illinois Infantry. It was the 8TH Ill. Inf. by the time of the Spanish-American War, during which it served in combat in Cuba. It fought in France as the 370TH Inf. during WWI. It was one of very few National Guard units in the U.S. which were allowed to keep their historic unit designations after WWI.
The 61ST Anti-aircraft Regiment, Regular Army, from Fort Sheridan, IL, participated in the maneuvers but its assembly area was not shown on the map that I found. They reinforced the 5TH Div. in the opposing force, or aggressor force, role.
The 14TH Cavalry Squadron, Regular Army, from Fort Sheridan, IL, was attached to the 53D Cav. Bde. for some, if not all, of the exercises.
The 23D Reconnaissance Squadron (Motorized), Illinois National Guard, participated in the maneuvers but their assembly area was not shown on the map that I found. They were a scout car equipped cavalry unit organized earlier that year in Springfield, IL. They were attached to the 53D Cav. Bde. but they routinely reinforced the 5TH Div. in the opposing force, or aggressor force, role.
The 15TH Observation Squadron, Regular Army Air Corps, from Scott Field, IL, participated in the maneuvers. They likely operated out of the airport at La Crosse, WI, as did the 32D Division’s 107TH Observation Squadron. There is a good chance the 108TH, 112TH and 113TH Observation Squadrons, from the 33D, 37TH and 38TH Divisions respectively, operated out of La Crosse as well; there were not many airfields in the area in 1940. The 15TH Obs. Sqdn. primarily, if not exclusively, reinforced the 5TH Div. in the opposing force, or aggressor force, role.
The Army, to include the reserve components, had been conducting larger and larger maneuvers for the past several years, but these 1940 maneuvers were of a size, scope, and intensity the National Guard had not experienced before. The Regular Army itself had only conducted its first serious corps maneuvers earlier that spring. There were numerous objectives for the maneuvers; the primary goals being to assess the training status of the National Guard, appraise the leadership ability at the upper echelons, and to increase the tactical proficiency of the National Guard. The maneuvers also served as an introduction to the latest mobile warfare concepts being studied and adopted by the Army, largely based on lessons learned from the war raging on the other side of the world.
Training started at the individual and small unit level, and then rapidly progressed through the echelons from battalion to corps. The pinnacle of the maneuvers was a 3-day corps versus corps engagement at the end of the encampment. Even at 21 days in length, the encampment only allowed a couple of days’ training at each of the echelons.
The 64TH Inf. Bde. arrived in camp on 11 August, their first training event the next morning took them to the rifle ranges where they received an introduction to the Army’s new service rifle, the M-1 Garand. It would still be a while before they would be issued the new rifle though; National Guard units, and some Regular Army units, were still using the M-1903 Springfield rifle. The M-1903 was a good rifle, but it was clearly outclassed by some of the rifles being used by other armies in actual combat at the time. The other infantry units likely received similar introductory training on the M-1.
Rifles were not the only equipment deficiency faced by the National Guard when they went up against the Regular Army units, who were equipped with the latest, modern equipment in the American arsenal: “Virtually every type of equipment was obsolete, or scarce, or both. Guardsmen reported to their encampments with World War I tents, webbing, shoes, and blankets in various stages of decay. Their khaki clothing looked old and worn even before field maneuvers began. News correspondents (147 at First Army’s encampment alone) who covered the August maneuvers paid particular attention to the numerous items of equipment that the National Guard did not have at all. A shocked public read about trucks with “TANK” painted on the sides, Springfield rifles labeled “.50 CALIBRE,” and simulated antitank guns constructed of drainpipe. (Gabel 13-14)”
Speaking of tanks, each of the “square” National Guard infantry divisions was authorized seventeen tanks for the tank company assigned to each division; the 32D and 33D Infantry Divisions had but two M-2 light tanks apiece. The 37TH and 38TH Divisions were almost certainly in the same position regarding tanks. The tank companies could only be deployed as a tank platoons throughout the exercises, with two actual tanks trailed by a truck hauling the twelve Soldiers who were supposed to man the other three tanks, had they been issued in accordance with the MTOE.
The M-2 light tank, equipped with one .50 caliber and one .30 caliber machinegun, was nicknamed the ‘Mae West,’ on account of its twin turrets.
An editorial in the Chicago Daily Tribune on 27 August, labeled “Tanks in the Wisconsin Maneuvers,” offered a terse opinion of the equipment shortage endured by the National Guard: “The maneuvers have shown the army making an intelligent effort at experiment in the use of armored columns. The tanks, of course, are purely imaginary, consisting of trucks designated as tanks. The country would feel more secure if the war mongers in Washington would leave off bawling for conscription long enough to provide modern weapons for the troops we already have.” Legislation to permit an unprecedented peacetime draft was working its way through Congress at the same time as the legislation to activate the National Guard in peacetime.
The scope of these unprecedented maneuvers were a test for America’s railroads as well, the largest mass troop movement since World War I. While some units made the trip by motor convoy, 300,000 Soldiers and their equipment had to be transported from all over the country to their assigned maneuver areas in the span of a few days, with the process repeated in reverse at the end of the exercise. The U.S. massive, efficient railroad networked encountered little difficulty in meeting the extraordinary demands.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Resolution No. 96, 76th Congress, into law on 27 August 1940, four days before the end of the nationwide 21-day army maneuvers. The document granted him authority to order units and individuals of the Army’s reserve components to active duty for up to a year, with the stipulation that they could not deploy outside the Western Hemisphere, unless it was to a U.S. territory or possession. [all from this “˄” to its inverse symbol above was added 2 Nov. ’14, TPB]
All 18 existing National Guard divisions, plus countless, smaller, non-divisional units, would be called up in the months that followed; the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division was among the first. The National Guard of the United States was activated in 20 increments between 16 Sept. 1940 and 23 June 1941.
On 25 September 1940, President Roosevelt ordered 35,700 National Guard officers and men to active duty, with a report date of 15 October. This was the second increment of National Guard mobilizations and included the 32D Division, minus the 32D Tank Company which would be detached from the Div. and mobilized separately a few weeks later. The order included the announcement that the Division would train at Camp Beauregard, LA. [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
Other units in this executive order were:
The 27TH ‘New York’ Division, New York National Guard, minus its tank company; they would train at Ft. McClellan, AL.
The 37TH ‘Buckeye’ Division, Ohio National Guard, minus its tank company as well as Co. F and Co. I, 112TH Med. Regt. They would train at Camp Shelby, MS.
The 102D Observation Squadron, New York National Guard, which would train at Ft. McClellan, AL.
The 153D Observation Squadron, Mississippi National Guard, which would train at its home station in Meridian, MS.
The 107TH Observation Squadron, Michigan National Guard, which would train at Camp Beauregard, LA.
Since its post-WWI reorganization and Federal recognition in May of 1926 the 107TH had been organic to the 32D Division, however it was detached from the Div. when it was activated and came under control of the Regular Army. “The War Department was in alarm over the extent to which mechanized armor and military aviation had been neglected [in the Regular Army]. In a desperate, eleventh-hour effort to remedy the situation, all the National Guard Divisional Tank units and the Divisional Air Observation Squadrons were ordered to active duty as non-divisional troops and quite often sent to a different camp, or even a different Corps area, from that of the parent Division. (Hill 532)” [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
Almost overnight the Army Air Corps grew from 55 air squadrons to 84. However, all 29 of the newly added National Guard aviation units were observation squadrons, the Air Corps did not need that many observation squadrons, they already had 10 to begin with. Most of the old National Guard observation squadrons would be converted to perform different missions, about two thirds of them would keep their original unit number, but a third of them would lose that too. [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
The 107TH retained its original unit number, but it would be converted to a photo reconnaissance squadron. Deployed to England in Aug. ’42, it flew British Spitfires for about a year until the arrival of its new F-6As, a photo reconnaissance variant of the P-51 ‘Mustang’. [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
The Wisconsin National Guard’s 126TH Observation Squadron would become the 34TH Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (the 126TH was not organic to the 32D Division, it was a corps-level asset). [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
On 15 October 1940, the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division, consisting of National Guard units from Michigan and Wisconsin, was called to active duty.
The Division was commanded by Major General Irving J. Fish and had an assigned strength of 11,392 Soldiers. Like almost all units in the National Guard, and even the Regular Army, at that time, the 32D Division was not at full strength and did not have all of the equipment it was authorized.
“See You In a Year”
“Honoring Those Who Have Served through Art”
Stencel Military Fine Art
When the Division was called up, it was basically the same “square” division that it was during World War I. It was centered around the 125TH and 126TH Infantry Regiments of the 63D Infantry Brigade from Michigan and the 127TH and 128TH Infantry Regiments of the 64TH Infantry Brigade from Wisconsin. The 32D Division's 57TH Field Artillery Brigade was comprised of the 120TH, the 121ST and the 126TH Artillery Regiments of the Wisconsin National Guard.
The 119TH Field Artillery Regiment of the Michigan National Guard had recently been detached from the 32D Division and assigned to the 72D Field Artillery Brigade, headquartered in Michigan. The 72D Field Artillery Brigade included the 182D Field Artillery, 177TH Field Artillery, and 119TH Field Artillery, all Michigan National Guard. The 126TH Field Artillery, which took the place of the 119TH Field Artillery in the 57TH Field Artillery Brigade, had recently been converted from the 105TH Cavalry Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard.
Some of the major unit commanders at this time included:
63D Infantry Brigade - Brigadier General Thomas Colladay, from Detroit, MI
125TH Infantry Regiment - Colonel Matthias A. Wiesenhoefer, from Detroit, MI
126TH Infantry Regiment - Colonel William Haze, from Grand Rapids, MI
64TH Infantry Brigade - Brigadier General Paul Bernard Clemens, from Milwaukee, WI
127TH Infantry Regiment - Colonel Forrest Hale Himes, from Crandon, WI
128TH Infantry Regiment - Colonel William A. Holden, from King, WI
57TH Field Artillery Brigade - Brigadier General William Squire Wood, Jr., from Beloit, WI
120TH Field Artillery Regiment - Colonel Jim Dan Hill, from Superior, WI
121ST Field Artillery Regiment - Colonel Waldemar F. Breidster, from Milwaukee, WI
126TH Field Artillery Regiment - Colonel Frederick C. T. John, from Milwaukee, WI
107TH Engineer Regiment, Colonel Ralph A. Loveland, from Ann Arbor, MI
107TH Medical Regiment, Colonel John Dale Buck, from Detroit, MI
107TH Quartermaster Regiment, Colonel John C. P. Hanley, Chilton, WI
On 20 October Lt. Col. J. Tracy Hale, Jr. succeeded Col. Himes as commander 127TH Infantry.
Col. Himes had enlisted in Co. L, 2D Wis. Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Rhinelander, WI in '07. He was promoted 1st Lt. on 13 May '10. He served as Capt. and commander of Co. L, 2D Wis. Inf. during the Mexican Border Crisis and when it mobilized again on 15 Jul. '17. He was assigned as commander of Co. L when the 127TH Inf. was organized. He was Maj. in HQ, 127TH Inf. on 1 Apr. '21. He was Col. and commander of 127TH Inf. when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40; he had been commander since at least '30. After he relinquished command, he helped organized the Wisconsin State Guard and assumed command of the 2D Regt., Wis. State Guard. His son, 1st Lt. Thomas F. Himes, assigned to the 317TH Inf., 80TH Inf. Div., was KIA 25 Sep. '44 in France. Col. Himes passed away 23 Jul. '63 and is interred at Crandon Lakeside Cemetery, Crandon, WI.
During the last week or so of October 1940, the Division was shipped to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana. Most of the personnel and equipment were shipped by rail, but some advance detachments went by motor convoy.
The Division suffered its first casualty in one such convoy when Pvt. Donald George Henry, from Wisconsin Rapids, WI, died after being struck by a drunk driver at 1110 hours on 22 October at Covington, TN. He was one of several Soldiers, riding their own motorcycles, who were detailed to serve as dispatch riders and traffic guides for the convoy bound for Camp Beauregard, LA. The car driver, William Ford, had narrowly missed a couple of vehicles in the convoy before colliding with Pvt. Henry. The impact caused the motorcycle to become imbedded in the car; the two moved as one while the car spun several times. The motorcycle was dislodged when the car rolled. Henry was thrown inside the car; he suffered head injuries and a broken neck. He expired in the ambulance enroute to a hospital in nearby Ripley, TN. Ford escaped serious injury and was immediately arrested, a case of liquor was found in his car. He was supposedly charged with second degree murder. He, reportedly, had to be moved from the local jail to another location. The local populace being incensed by what he had done; there were threats he might be lynched. Pvt. Henry had enlisted in his local Wisconsin National Guard unit, Btry. E, 120TH FA Regt., at Wisconsin Rapids, WI, shortly before they mobilized on 15 October. [added 24 Mar. ’14, TPB]
Late in the afternoon of 22 October, the 81 officers and Soldiers then assigned to Co. E, 127TH Inf. marched from their brand new armory at the fairgrounds in Manitowoc, WI to the Chicago & North Western (C&NW) railroad depot. They were escorted by the local Marine Band. At the depot they embarked a special train which included Pullmans, diners, and baggage cars the trip to Camp Beauregard. [added 25 Dec. ’13, TPB]
Also on 22 October, Co. G, 127TH Inf. departed from the Milwaukee Road railroad depot at Oconomowoc, WI at 2030 hours aboard a 12-car train bound for Camp Beauregard. A crowd of 4,000 citizens turned out see them off; the community had a population of 4,562 people in ’40. [added 15 Dec. ’13, TPB]
Co. I, 127TH Inf., and the HQ Cos. of both the 1ST and 3D Bns. of the 127TH Inf., departed the Twin Cities of Menasha and Neenah, WI, bound for Camp Beauregard, on 22 October. A newspaper article in the Menasha Record on 20 October 1943, commemorating the 3rd anniversary of their mobilization for WWII, recalled that “The boys were given a rousing sendoff by the cities of Menasha and Neenah, whose people gathered upon the streets to see them on parade as they marched to the [Chicago & North Western (C&NW)] depot for entrainment to the southern camp.” [added 29 Apr. ’13, TPB]
On 23 October, HQ Det., 3D Bn., 125TH Inf., and Co. L, 125TH Inf., departed Port Huron, MI, aboard a Grand Trunk Western (GTW) train at 1850 hours for Camp Beauregard. The units formed in front of their armory on Broad St. at 1730 hours and, escorted by the Port Huron City Band, “marched along Broad St. to Huron Ave. and then south along Huron Ave. and Military St. to Court St., east to 4th St. and a block south to the” Tunnel Station. A crowd of 10,000 turned out to see them off. [added 25 Aug. ‘18, TPB]
The Port Huron units received a unique send-off in the form of a telegram from Mickey Rooney. The young actor had visited Port Huron for the world premiere of his movie Young Tom Edison, on 10 Feb. ‘40. He sent a telegram to Capt. O. D. Brown which said: “Warm spot in my heart for your reception to my Young Tom Edison premiere last February. Am sure when you strike up the band and go south they will welcome you as warmly as you did me.” [added 25 Aug. ‘18, TPB]
On 25 October, Co. A, 126TH Inf., boarded a train at Coldwater, MI, bound for Camp Beauregard. [added 29 Mar. ’17, TPB]
That process was repeated for 157 company-size units in 83 communities from Abbotsford, Wisconsin to Ypsilanti, Michigan at the end of Oct. ‘40. [added 29 Apr. ’13, TPB]
The living conditions for the soldiers at Camp Beauregard were less-than-ideal, so some soldiers un-affectionately nicknamed it ‘Camp Disregard.’ The poor living conditions were partly the result of the fact that the camp was designed to accommodate one regiment, but the entire 32D Division was sent there anyway.
In November and December of 1940, and possibly beyond, the nine bands of the 32D Division rotated to play weekly concerts for the patients of the VA Hospital at Camp Stafford, near Pineville, Louisiana. The concerts were held from 1530 to 1630 hours each Monday. [added 19 Nov. ’17, TPB]
On 16 November 1940, the 32D Division Tank Company of Janesville, Wisconsin (informally known as the Janesville Tank Company), which had been detached from the 32D Division, entered Federal service with a strength of 114 officers and men. The unit's name would be changed to Company A, 192D Tank Battalion, 1ST Armored Division.
“The War Department was in alarm over the extent to which mechanized armor and military aviation had been neglected [in the Regular Army]. In a desperate, eleventh-hour effort to remedy the situation, all the National Guard Divisional Tank units and the Divisional Air Observation Squadrons were ordered to active duty as non-divisional troops and quite often sent to a different camp, or even a different Corps area, from that of the parent Division. (Hill 532)” [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
On 27 November, Company A, 192D Tank Battalion left Janesville in a convoy of trucks bound for Fort Knox, Kentucky. At Fort Knox, new M-3 light tanks were issued along with other vehicles and equipment.
On 4 December 1940, Pvt. Harold W. Buckley, from Madison, WI and assigned to Co. G, 128TH Inf., became the first 128TH Inf. Soldier to die since mobilization. He died of natural causes at Camp Livingston. He was a Pvt. in Co. G, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Madison, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. I thought he was the 1st Soldier from 32D Div. to die since mobilization, but have subsequently learned that Pvt. Donald G. Henry, 120TH FA Regt., was killed in an accident on 22 Oct. '41, see above. [added 11 Mar. ’14, TPB]
In February of 1941, the 32D Division moved to Camp Livingston, Louisiana.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
A company street at Camp Livingston, LA.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Co. D & HQ Detachment, 1ST Battalion, 128TH Infantry pass in review at Camp Livingston, LA, on 29 May 1941.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
BG Wood & Staff of the 57TH Field Artillery Brigade pass in review at Camp Livingston, LA, on 29 May 1941.
On 30 March 1941, a truck transporting (at least) five Soldiers from the 32D Division overturned at Fishville, LA. Pvts. Albert A. Fiet and Robert W. Marx were two of those injured in the accident. Both men were members of HQ Co., 64TH Inf. Bde., Wisconsin National Guard, at Sparta, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. Pvt. Marx succumbed to his injuries (DNB) on 4 Apr. '41. Pvt. Fiet was expected to recover from his injuries, but his ultimate fate is unknown. [added 11 Mar. ’14, TPB]
On 11 April 1941, 2d Lt. Wilmer E. Esler, from Detroit, MI and assigned to the 107TH Observation Squadron, was killed in an air crash at Camp Beauregard’s airfield. He was killed when his O–47B, ser. no. 39-96, experienced engine failure on takeoff; it reached an altitude of about 150 feet before it crashed. Two companions were injured in the crash. On 19 Jun. '41 the air field at Camp Beauregard was named Esler Army Airfield in his honor. He was a 2d Lt. in 107TH Observation Squadron, Michigan National Guard, at Romulus, MI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. The 107TH Observation Squadron had been organic to the 32D Div., but upon mobilization it was detached from the Div. and absorbed into the Regular Army’s fledgling air forces. [added 27 Apr. ’14, TPB]
In July of 1941, the 32D Division’s official name was modified to 32D Infantry Division. This change applied to all U.S. divisions organized as infantry divisions.
On 12 August 1941, congress narrowly passed legislation that would allow the Federal service of the National Guard to be extended from 12 to 18 months, and would permit the National Guard to serve outside the Western Hemisphere.
In August and September of 1941, the 32D Division was participating, in the words of then Col. Jim Dan Hill, CO of the 120TH Field Artillery Regiment, “in a series of the most grandiose field exercises and full maneuvers ever staged any time, anywhere, before or since, by American troops. (430)” These exercises, involving half a million troops, were collectively referred to as the Louisiana GHQ Maneuvers, more often simply the Louisiana Maneuvers, conducted in a maneuver area of over 30,000 square miles, nearly 16 million acres. They started out pitting division against division, then built up to corps against corps, and culminated in the grand finale of Lieutenant General Walter Krueger's Third Army taking the offensive against Lieutenant General Ben Lear's Second Army.
“The Great Maneuvers”
“Lear's Second Army (Red) Order of Battle included 3 'square' Infantry Divisions (Guard), 2 'triangular' Infantry Divisions, two Armored and one Cavalry [horse] division. Krueger's Third Army (Blue) consisted of 8 'square' Infantry Divisions (Guard), two 'triangular' Infantry Divisions, one Tank Group of only 60 light tanks, 3 Anti-Tank Battalions, one Cavalry [horse] Division and one Cavalry [horse] Brigade. Each Army Commander had 300 Air Corps planes at his disposal. A company of paratroopers was present and operational for the first time in American history. Note that Lear was comparatively light and nimble with a tremendous preponderance in armor and enjoyed all the advantages inherent in being on the defense in most difficult terrain. The opposing Third Army was heavy with 330,000 officers and men, weak on proportional motor vehicles and short on Armor and modernity of Divisional organization and equipment.
“Initial deployment for Krueger's Blues, with Headquarters at Lake Charles, was from Beaumont, Texas to Bayou Teche, Louisiana. Lear's Red Second Army initially was deployed North and East of the Red River from Alexandria Northwesterly to Shreveport and Caddo Lake on the Texas border. The river line and its terrain were unfavorable to tank tactics, hence Lear with some logic crossed the river on a wide front for a strong thrust forward to seize the comparatively open Peason Ridge country where the preponderance of Red Armor would be most advantageous. Red Cavalry swept wide from the Northwest flank to help foreclose the mortgage on Peason Ridge country and threaten Blue's flank from the line of the Sabine River. But the Red Cavalry did not sweep wide enough and started its flanking movement too soon. Krueger's Third Army Blue Cavalry successfully screened its own Army's open flank but also used its weight and mobility to sweep still more widely and cut deep into Red's rear North and East of Mansfield, Louisiana. While the horse cavalry war was proceeding along a line that would have met with the warm approval of both Phil Sheridan and Jeb Stuart, Blue Army's eight 'square' Guard Divisions were proving to be far less cumbersome and awkward than their obsolete organization and shortage of equipment had appeared to dictate. By temporarily 'grounding' a part of each division while all vehicles did fast shuttle movements, Blue Infantry from the Guard Divisions appeared amazingly soon in areas where time and space factors had suggested impossibility.
“Fast shuttle motor movements reconcentrated the 'square' Divisions for coordinated attacks upon specified objectives on their fronts. Thus each Division fought its own little war within its zone of action. Lear's Red Armor was denied the ownership of Peason Ridge with its potential for a quick defensive victory through offensive tactics.
“The Red Air Force was either less lucky or not so well handled. Moreover, it had been beefed up with some Navy fliers who knew not the terrain and who had no opportunity to become integrated into an instinctively reacting membership of their entire team. The 300 Blue planes were credited with more successful missions. A Blue paratroop drop of 127 officers and men, as rear area raiders and saboteurs, wrecked General Lear's Red communications. They stank up Lear's own headquarters with smoke bombs simulating complete destruction, which could have claimed Lear as a casualty. "A re-e-edicu-u-lous performance!" General Lear sputtered in the lobby of the Camp Polk movie theater shortly prior to the grand critique.
“The Umpires must have partially thought likewise. The squad that pulled the stunt was ruled out because its only hostile identification was a short, thin strand of blue baby ribbon. This notwithstanding, the tide of battle forced Lear to displace his Headquarters to the rear. But it was the Cavalry that ended the long, hot, dusty campaign. With the Guard Cavalry Brigade screening and thus containing the entire Red Cavalry Division, the Blue Division of horse Cavalry swept far to westward and came in behind the Red forward positions to capture and destroy supplies. These included the Red gasoline depot. There could be but one Umpire ruling. The Red tanks and other mobile vehicles were declared immobile as their fuel tanks became empty.
“The maneuver war was over except for the equally grandiose critique. In it there was almost as much yapping about improperly policed, vacated bivouac areas as there was about tactics and strategy. This fell alike upon all units, Regulars and Reservists in the 'triangular' Divisions and Guardsmen in the 'square' Divisions. This situation was indeed bad throughout the maneuvers for the simple reason that the thrifty Louisiana farmers broke out their shovels and opened all the marked and dated kitchen refuse pits as fast as the sites were vacated so that their hogs could get at the garbage. Maneuver Headquarters . . . must have been aware of this, for one of the Guard Regimental Executive Officers sought a measure of remedial action by switching the markings upon otherwise properly-covered kitchen pits and the latrine trenches. There appears to have been a civilian complaint. In any event, the Guard officer received a written rebuke for having displayed an unsanitary sense of humor. (Hill 431-33)”
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Soldiers of Co. D, 128TH Infantry, during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
A bivouac area during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Soldiers conducting daily exercise in a bivouac area during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
A field kitchen during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
A truck from the 120TH Field Artillery Regiment stuck in mud during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.
Engineers constructing a pontoon bridge during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.
In mid-October 1941 the 192D Tank Battalion, including the former 32D Division Tank Company (now Co. A of the 192D), was moved by rail to San Francisco, California. The 192D was sent to the Philippines, where with the 194TH Tank Battalion became the Provisional Tank Group on Luzon. This Tank Group included the tank companies from the National Guard Divisions from California (40TH), Kentucky (38TH), Illinois (33D), Minnesota (34TH), Ohio (37TH) and Wisconsin (32D).
Prior to the creation of the 1ST and 2D Armored Divisions on 15 July 1940, the only armored force the US Regular Army had was an experimental Mechanized Cavalry Brigade at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Just prior to the induction of the National Guard divisions, their organic tank companies were declared non-divisional GHQ (General Headquarters) Troops. As a result, each division was stripped of its tank company and those companies now came under the direct control of the new and growing Armored Force, with then Brig. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee as its first Chief. When it was recognized that US forces in the Philippines needed some tanks for a more balanced force against the rising threat from Japan, Brig. Gen. Chaffee selected the 6 National Guard tank companies mentioned above. The tank companies of the 18 National Guard Divisions represented the oldest, most-experienced, and best-equipped armored units in being in the US. These National Guard tank companies had been training with World War I French tanks (FT-17) up until about 1940 and only now were being equipped with the M-3 light tank.
On 31 October 1941, the 3,500-man 128TH Infantry Regimental Combat Team departed Camp Livingston in a convoy of about 500 trucks bound for Fort Jackson, SC, to participate in the First Army Carolina maneuvers (held later in November). The unit was commanded by Col. William A. Holden. Its major units included: 1ST Bn., 127TH Inf., commanded by Lt. Col. William A. Draheim, from Neenah, WI; 2D Bn., 128TH Inf., Lt. Col. Herbert A. Smith, from Oshkosh, WI; 3D Bn., 125TH Inf., Maj. Brice C. W. Custer, from Detroit, MI; det. from 107TH QM Regt., Capt. Lester Warner Schuler, from Janesville, WI; a bn. from 120TH FA, Maj. Kenneth J. Hough, from La Crosse, WI, and 2 companies from 107TH Med. Regt. from MI. Stops along the 1,000-mile route included Jackson, MS, Selma, AL, and Fort Benning, GA where a brief, impromptu reunion occurred with some officers from the Div. who were training there. [updated 20 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Maj. Brice C. W. Custer was supply officer in 125TH Inf., Michigan National Guard, when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. His brother, Cpt. Charles A. Custer, was commander of Co. C, 125TH Inf. on 15 Oct. ’40. Both officers were from Monroe, MI and were grand-nephews of Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Both would end up serving with other units in the European Theater because of the looming “triangularization” of the 32D Div. about to be described below. Brice would serve as commander of 1ST Bn., 232D Inf., 42D Div. across France, Germany and Austria. Lt. Col. Custer would earn the Silver Star for his actions 6 Jan. '45 near Stadtmatten, France; he would personally organize and lead an ad hoc force to rescue 2 platoons from his Bn. when they become cutoff by the Germans. [added 20 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Capt. Lester W. Schuler was commander of Co. B, 107TH QM Regt., Wisconsin National Guard, at Janesville, WI when it was first organized in '38 and when it mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. Earlier he had commanded the 32D Tank Co. at Janesville, in '30s. Due to the looming “triangularization” of the 32D Div. about to be described below, Co. B converted to Co. A, 150TH Light Maint. Bn. and served in the European Theater. [added 20 Oct. ’14, TPB]
On 13 November, Brig. Gen. William S. Wood, Jr. resigned so he could return to his civilian job as vice-president and general manager of Beloit Iron Works (later Beloit Corp.), which was starting to receive numerous defense contracts. He was succeeded by Brig. Gen. Ellerbe W. Carter, from Louisville, KY, as commander of the 57TH Field Artillery Brigade.
Brig. Gen. Wood had graduated USMA at West Point in '20. After being stationed in France for a year, he transferred to Ft. Knox, KY where he met his wife, father of at least 3. He then served with 3D FA Regt. at Schofield Barracks, HI; other assignments included Ft. Sam Houston, TX and Jefferson Barracks, MO. He resigned from Regular Army in '28 or '29 and joined Wisconsin National Guard. Col. Wood became commander of newly formed 126TH FA Regt., converted from 105TH Cav., in '40. He was promoted to Brig. Gen. ca. Oct. '40 at age 43, one of the youngest to hold that rank. He was commander of the 57TH FA Bde. at Milwaukee, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. He worked at Beloit Corp. until retirement; retired to a farm in WI, then moved to FL, later returned to Beloit. He passed away 6 Nov. '75 at Beloit, WI and is interred at Oak Hill Cemetery, Janesville, WI. [added 23 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Brig. Gen. Carter had enlisted in 1ST Ky. Inf., Kentucky National Guard, in '11. Promoted Capt. by '15, he commanded Co. B, 1ST Ky. Inf., during the Mexican Border Crisis, stationed at Camp Owen Bierne, about 2 miles from Fort Bliss. He was assigned to the 138TH FA Regt. when 38TH Div. was organized at Camp Shelby, MS for WWI. Promoted Maj. on 16 Jul. '18. Promoted Brig. Gen. in '23 and commanded the 63D FA Bde. from 3 Mar. '23 to Oct. '41. After the 32D Div. was “triangularized,” he was assigned commander of 7TH Div. Arty., '42-'43. He was Asst. CG of FA Recruit Training Command, Ft. Bragg, NC, '43-'46. He retired from the military in '48. Married twice and father of 11, he passed away 11 Oct. '72 and is interred at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Titusville, FL. [added 23 Oct. ’14, TPB]
At about the same time, Lt. Col. Kenneth L. Hallenbeck, from Ann Arbor, MI, became the commander of the 125TH Infantry, taking the place of Col. Matthias A. Wiesenhoefer.
Col. Wiesenhoefer, a WWI veteran, was Capt. and commander of Co. B, 125TH Inf., Michigan National Guard, at Detroit, MI when it received Federal Recognition on 30 Apr. '20 during the post-WWI reorganization of the 32D Div. He was Col. and commander of 125TH Inf. when the 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. Not sure what he did after he left the 125TH Inf. He passed away 22 Dec. '56 and is interred at Saint Francis Cemetery, Phoenix, AZ. [added 23 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Then Capt. Hallenbeck was commander of Co. K, 125TH Inf., Michigan National Guard, at Ann Arbor, MI ca. '32. He was Maj. and Asst. G-3 at HQ, 32D Div. at Lansing, MI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. Not sure what he did after the 32D Div. was “triangularized,” but Col. Hallenbeck continued to serve with the post-war Mich. Nat. Guard and attained the rank of Brig. Gen. before he retired ca. ’60. He was namesake of the Gen. Hallenbeck Award, a Mich. Nat. Guard award bestowed by 3D Bde., 46TH Inf. Div. during annual training in the '60s. Married and father of two, he passed away 13 Sep. '75 at Dearborn, MI at age 74 and is interred at Forest Hill Cemetery, Ann Arbor, MI. [added 23 Oct. ’14, TPB]
On 3 December 1941 the 632D Tank Destroyer Battalion was formed at Camp Livingston, Louisiana from personnel of the 32D Infantry Division.
When the 'square' National Guard divisions were “triangularized,” each was required to create one tank destroyer battalion from surplus units (for some reason, the 41ST Division was not tasked with this requirement). These battalions were numbered in the 600-series with the last 2 digits indicating the division it came from. There were 7 additional tank destroyer battalions created from the 7 brigades of National Guard corps artillery. They were numbered in the 700-series with the last 2 digits indicating the brigade it was created from. These battalions were non-divisional units; they were GHQ Troops under the control of the Armored Force, so technically they were not organic to the parent unit. However, some of these tank destroyer battalions went overseas and served closely with the parent unit. Most were separated, some were re-designated to become part of an armored division, and others were inactivated with their personnel absorbed into some other Armored Force unit.
The 632D Tank Destroyer Battalion served closely with the 32D Division. It went to Australia with the 32D Division. It fought with the 32D at Aitape and Saidor. It went into the battle for Leyte with the 1ST Cavalry Division, but later joined the 32D on Leyte. On Luzon it was initially attached to the 13TH Armored Group but subsequently served with 37TH, 44TH and 32D Divisions on Luzon.
On 7 December 1941, in conjunction with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese began bombing the Philippines in preparation for an amphibious assault a few days later. Company A, 192D Tank Battalion (formerly the 32D Div. Tank Co.) fought against the Imperial Japanese Forces in many engagements and rear guard actions, and rendered assistance in covering the eventual retreat of our forces into Bataan.
Wisconsin’s Governor Julius P. Heil visited the Soldiers of the 32D Infantry Division at Camp Livingston, LA on 10 December. [added 27 Aug. ’13, TPB]
On 1 February 1942, the 32D Division was reorganized into a “triangular” division, centered around three infantry regiments instead of four. This change affected all National Guard divisions (the Regular Army divisions had been “triangularized” starting 1 Nov. ‘40). Obviously a reorganization of this size and scope was not completed in one day; 1 February is simply the official, effective date of the reorganization.
The 32D and 37TH Divisions were the first National Guard divisions to convert on 1 February 1942; the conversion of the other National Guard divisions was staggered between that day and 1 September 1942. With this reorganization, all divisional infantry brigade headquarters (with one exception) were disbanded. One infantry brigade headquarters company from each division was converted and re-designated as the division reconnaissance troop (with two exceptions). The headquarters and headquarters battery of each divisional field artillery brigade was reorganized as the division artillery headquarters and headquarters battery. Other divisional elements were reorganized, re-designated, reassigned, or disbanded.
As a result, the 125TH Infantry Regiment was detached from the Division and assigned to Fourth Army to expand the forces defending the West Coast.
The three existing artillery regiments (120TH, 121ST and 126TH) were converted into four battalions (120TH, 121ST, 126TH and 129TH; three battalions of 105mm howitzers and one battalion of 155mm howitzers).
The 1ST Battalion, 120TH Field Artillery Regiment became the 120TH Field Artillery Battalion, 105mm howitzer, track-drawn, on 31 January 1942.
The 2D Battalion, 120TH Field Artillery Regiment became the 129TH Field Artillery Battalion, 105mm howitzer, track-drawn, on 31 January 1942.
The 1ST Battalion, 121ST Field Artillery Regiment became the 121ST Field Artillery Battalion, 155mm howitzer, track-drawn, on 16 January 1942.
The 1ST Battalion, 126TH Field Artillery Regiment became the 126TH Field Artillery Battalion, 105mm howitzer, truck-drawn, on 31 January 1942.
The 2D Battalions of the 121ST and 126TH Field Artillery Regiments were combined to form the 173D Field Artillery Regiment, 155mm, motorized. COL Waldemar F. Breidster assumed command of the new unit; he had been the commander of the 121ST Field Artillery Regiment. [updated 28 Apr. ’14, TPB]
The 2D Battalion, 126TH Field Artillery Regiment became the 1ST Battalion, 173D Field Artillery Regiment on 16 Jan. ’42.
The 2D Battalion, 121ST Field Artillery Regiment became 2D Battalion, 173D Field Artillery Regiment on 16 Jan. ‘42. [updated 28 Apr. ’14, TPB]
The engineer, medical and quartermaster regiments were also converted into battalions as part of the reorganization to a “triangular” division.
The 1ST Battalion, 107TH Engineer Regiment became the 107TH Engineer Battalion; the 2D Battalion became the 131ST Engineer Battalion, on 16 January 1942.
When the reorganization was complete, the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division consisted of the following units:
Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Military Police Company
126TH Infantry Regiment
127TH Infantry Regiment
128TH Infantry Regiment
Division Artillery Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (formerly HHB, 57TH FA Bde.)
120TH Field Artillery Battalion, Lt. Col. Harold A. Morgan, from Merrill, WI
121ST Field Artillery Battalion, Lt. Col. Melvin Leslie McCreary, from Milwaukee, WI
126TH Field Artillery Battalion, Lt. Col. Ross J. Quatsoe, from De Pere, WI
129TH Field Artillery Battalion, Col.
Ralph A. Loveland, from Ann Arbor, MI
107TH Medical Battalion, Lt. Col. Carl Hanna, from Detroit, MI
107TH Quartermaster Battalion, Lt. Col. Donald M. Farris, from Madison, WI
32D Signal Company
32D Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (formerly HQ, 64TH Inf. Bde.) [updated 28 Apr. ’14, TPB]
632D Tank Destroyer Battalion (not organic to the Division), Maj. Roy William Bailey, from Eau Claire, WI
The drastic reorganization meant that thousands of the Division’s soldiers and officers were now excess, and their pending loss was difficult for many at first. Many of these men were National Guard Soldiers from Michigan and Wisconsin who had served with the 32D Division for years. Some of them, especially junior enlisted and junior officers, could be transferred to fill vacancies within the Division. For many, the only option was a transfer to some other unit outside the Division.
Only two of the Division’s original full-bird Colonels remained after the reorganization. Col. J. Tracy Hale, Jr., from Milwaukee, remained commander of the 127TH Infantry. Col. Frederick C. T. John, from Milwaukee, had been the commander of the 126TH FA Regt., not sure what his new duty position was.
Col. John C. P. Hanley and Lt. Col. Sylvester S. Zintek were transferred to the 28TH ‘Keystone’ Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, then training at nearby Camp Beauregard, LA. Both had been with the Wisconsin National Guard for many years, Col. Hanley resided at Chilton, Wisconsin, and had commanded the 107TH Quartermaster Regiment; Lt. Col. Zintek was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and had been the Div. medical inspector, prior to that he was regimental surgeon for 127TH Infantry.
Col. Hanley was the commander of the 107TH QM Regt., Wisconsin National Guard, when the 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. He was a Capt. assigned to Co. B, 4TH Wis. Inf. at Stanley, WI, when the Wisconsin National Guard mobilized for WWI. That company became HQ Co, 107TH Ammunition Train when the 32D Div. was created. Capt. Hanley served with that unit in France during WWI. Maj. Hanley served with the 105TH Cav. Regt., Wisconsin National Guard, ca. 1920 to 1940, ultimately attaining the rank of Col. and assigned as commander of the regiment. Col. Hanley served in the European Theater during WWII. After his arrival in England he was assigned base transportation officer for the Normandy invasion. Later he was made chief of transportation for the UK and the liberated countries of Europe. He earned the French Croix de Guerre and Legion of Merit for his WWII service. When he was discharged after the war he moved to Manitowoc, WI, he died there suddenly on 22 Jul. '50 at the age of 59. He is interred at Evergreen Cemetery, Manitowoc, WI.
Lt. Col. Zintek enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps during WWI. He joined the Wisconsin National Guard in '30. Promoted to Maj. on 13 Mar. '40, he was regt. surgeon in Med. Det., 127TH Inf. at Milwaukee, WI when the 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. He retired as a Col. on 31 Dec. '58 and passed away 15 Apr. '73 at age 74. [added 25 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Col. Waldemar Fritz Breidster, as mentioned above, became commander of the newly organized 173D FA Regt. He joined the Army as a Pvt. in ‘18, was appointed to USMA at West Point in Jun. ‘19, and commissioned 2d Lt. in ‘23. He left the Regular Army and was assigned to the Reserve in Apr. ‘25. Commissioned Capt. in Wisconsin National Guard and assumed command of Btry. D, 121ST FA Regt. in Jan. ‘27. Promoted Maj. and battalion commander in ‘31 and Lt. Col. and XO of 121ST FA Reg. in ‘36. Col. and commander of 121ST FA Regt. in Aug. ‘40. After his command of 173D FA Regt., he was sent to India in Aug. ‘43, where his assignments included chief FA liaison officer to the Chinese army in India, and chief of staff with the Northern Combat Area Command (NCAC), commanded by Gen. Joseph ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stilwell. He sailed from India for the U.S. on 1 Dec. ‘45. Brig. Gen. and Cdr. of the 32D Div. Arty. in Mar. ‘47. He assumed command of 32D Div. on 1 Oct. ‘56 and retired on 1 Jul. ‘60. His awards include Legion of Merit w/OLC, Chinese Yun Wei (Cloud Banner), Chinese Kua Chang (Hero of the Nation). He passed away 2 Apr. ‘82 at Fox Point, WI, and lies interred at Wisconsin Memorial Park, Brookfield, WI. [added 22 Oct. ’14, TPB]
None of the Division’s four general officers survived the reorganization. Major General Irving J. Fish, from Wisconsin and commanding general of the Division, was soon to be transferred. Brigadier General Thomas Colladay, from Flint, Michigan, and commander of the 63D Inf. Bde., retired. Brigadier General Paul B. Clemens, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and commander of the 64TH Inf. Bde., transferred. Brigadier General William S. Wood, Jr., commander of the 57TH FA Bde., resigned, as mentioned above.
A number of the 32D Division’s now excess officers were transferred to help form the nucleus of the fledgling 82D ‘All-American’ Airborne Division which was just starting to be organized at nearby Camp Claiborne, LA, under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley.
In February of 1942, Maj. Gen. Fish was reassigned to other duties when he became “over-age for combat command.” Maj. Gen. Fish had been associated with the 32D Division and the Wisconsin National Guard for many years; he served on the Mexican Border with the Wisconsin National Guard in 1916 and served with the 32D Division in World War I.
In truth, the creation and enforcement of this ‘over-age’ policy was little more than a thinly veiled excuse to get rid of senior National Guard officers and give their desirable commands to Regular Army officers. To make a long, complicated story short, the Regular Army in 1940 was bloated with officers, especially colonels, but other officer ranks as well. This excess in officers was partly caused by the fact that the strength of the Regular Army was drastically reduced after World War I; they got rid of many enlisted soldiers, but kept many officers. Also, the promotion system for officers between the wars was very ineffective. Sometimes the Regular Army officers that replaced these so-called ‘over-age’ National Guard officers were themselves over-age or later became over-age but were not replaced when they did. Another tactic used to replace National Guard officers with Regular Army officers was to give the National Guard officers extremely rigorous physical examinations, much more thorough than those given to enlisted soldiers, junior officers or Regular Army officers. In this way they could create more vacancies for Regular Army officers by claiming that some of these National Guard officers suffered from often unnamed or nonexistent ailments. This information is not being included here to imply that these Regular Army officers were in any way undeserving or unqualified for these positions, it is only being included to point out that some National Guard officers were treated in an unjust and unprofessional manner by some in the Regular Army.
On 9 February 1942, Brig. Gen. Edwin F. Harding assumed command of the Division. He was promoted to Maj. Gen. on 13 February.
Maj. Gen. Harding, a native of Franklin, Ohio, came to the 32D Division from the 9TH Infantry Division, where he had been assistant division commander. Before that, he had been commander of the 27TH Infantry Regiment (at that time the 27TH Inf. was assigned to the Hawaiian Division). He had graduated from the USMA at West Point in 1909.
Brig. Gen. Albert W. Waldron, from Rockville Center, NY, was assigned to the Division around this time as commanding general, 32D Division Artillery.
Brig. Gen. Waldron had graduated the USMA at West Point in ‘15. He had served with the Punitive Expedition in Mexico during the Mexican Border Crisis. He served with the 7TH FA Regt. in France during WWI. Information about his assignments right before his transfer to the 32D Div. has proven elusive. [added 25 Oct. ’14, TPB]
On 10 February, Col. J. Tracy Hale, Jr. succeeded Col. William A. Holden as commander of the 128TH Infantry. Col. Hale was succeeded by Col. Ben Stafford, Reg. Army, as commander of the 127TH Infantry. [added 20 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Col. Holden was reassigned for stateside duty due to age. He had enlisted in Co. L, 3D Wis. Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Sparta, WI in Apr. ’03. He was commissioned lieutenant at some point prior to ’12. He was 1st Lt. with Co. L during Mexican Border Crisis. He was Capt. and commander of Co. L, 128TH Inf., when 32D Div. sailed for France Feb. ‘18. After landing in France, he was transferred to 16TH Inf., 1ST Div., while 32D Div. was briefly designated a replacement division. He was seriously WIA and earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart during WWI. Col. Holden ran POW camps in Western U.S. for the remainder of WWII. [added 20 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Col. Stafford, from Quincy, MI, was stationed at Manila, Philippines, during WWI. He deployed to Australia with 127TH Inf., but was succeeded as commander of 127TH Inf. before it deployed to New Guinea. He passed away 9 Apr. ‘76 at San Jose, CA. [added 24 Oct. ’14, TPB]
Shortly after Maj. Gen. Harding assumed command, the Division moved to Fort Devens, Massachusetts and began preparing to be shipped to Northern Ireland.
On 18 February, the 107TH Engineer Battalion sailed from Brooklyn Navy Yard aboard the George F. Elliott, destined for Northern Ireland as the Division’s advance party. The unit departed sooner than originally expected and some of its Soldiers were home on leave. To ensure that the unit sailed at full strength, Soldiers from other Division units were hastily transferred to it. When those Soldiers returned from leave, they were reassigned to the units which had given up personnel to the departing unit. [added 10 Jan. ’18, TPB]
On 25 March 1942, the Division was notified that it was being sent to Australia to help halt the Japanese advances in the Southwest Pacific and attempt to put the Japanese on the defensive.
The 32D Division, along with the 41ST Division, would become part of I Corps in Australia. Maj. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, a classmate of Maj. Gen. Harding’s at West Point, was the I Corps commander. I Corps had been scheduled to participate in Operation TORCH in North Africa later in the year, until a last minute change sent it, too, to Australia. Maj. Gen. Eichelberger had seen sudden changes of mission before (and he would see more in the future), during World War I, when scheduled to go to France, a last minute change found him as assistant chief of staff of our American Expeditionary Force in Siberia, Russia.
On 9 April 1942, Bataan fell to the Japanese. All surviving members of Company A, 192D Tank Battalion became prisoners and, along with the other American and Philippine forces who surrendered to the Japanese, participated in the infamous “Death March.” Over three years later, after the defeat of Japan, the 35 remaining men of the Janesville Tank Company would be released from POW camps and returned home. The Company had 114 officers and men when it entered Federal service on 16 Nov. 1940.
On 10 April, the Division boarded troop trains at Fort Devens and headed for San Francisco, the last train arriving there on 14 April. The 107TH Engineer Combat Battalion had already sailed for Europe, so the 114TH Engineer Combat Battalion from New England hastily took their place in the 32D Division.
While preparing to embark, the Division picked up some 3,000 replacements, most of these had just finished basic training (the Division was still short around 1,800 men).
On 22 April, the 32D Division sailed from San Francisco, bound for Australia, making them the first U.S. division to be shipped overseas in one convoy.
The convoy consisted of:
· USAT Ancon (formerly SS Ancon, later became USS Ancon (AP-66))
· USAT Argentina (formerly SS Argentina)
· USAT Hugh L. Scott (formerly SS President Pierce, later became USS Hugh L. Scott (AP-43)): carried 632D Tank Destroyer Battalion, 114TH Engineer Battalion, 107TH Medical Battalion, 32D Reconnaissance Troop [according to a copy of the ship’s newsletter The Deep Sea Doodle, 11 May ‘42].
· USAT Lurline (formerly SS Lurline): carried some or all of the 126TH Infantry Regiment.
· USAT Matsonia (formerly SS Matsonia)
· USAT Monterey (formerly SS Monterey)
· USS Mount Vernon (AP-22) (formerly SS Washington): carried some or all of the 127TH Infantry Regiment.
· SS Hawaiian Planter
· SS Hawaiian Merchant
· USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
· Two Australian destroyers joined the convoy as it neared its destination. [updated 19 May ’12, TPB]
It is interesting to note that the date 7 May 1942 never existed for the men of the 32D Division. When their convoy crossed the International Date Line, they went from 6 May to 8 May.
On 14 May 1942 the 32D Division reached Adelaide, South Australia. It was sent to Camp Woodside (east of Adelaide) and Camp Sandy Creek (north of Adelaide).
On 1 June 1942 the 107TH Engineer Battalion (Michigan National Guard and formerly part of the 32D Division) was inactivated in Northern Ireland. Its equipment and personnel were combined with that of the 112TH Engineer Battalion (Ohio National Guard) to form the 112TH Engineer Regiment (a Corps-level unit). The former 112TH Engr. Bn. became the new unit’s 1ST Bn.; the former 107TH Engr. Bn. became the 2D Bn. [updated 10 Jan. ’18, TPB]
The new 112TH Engr. Regt. wouldn’t last long. It was broken up on 12 August 1943, its HQ Co. was redesignated the 1121ST Engineer Group Headquarters. The 1ST Bn. became the 112TH Engr. Bn., once again. For some strange reason the 2D Bn. did not revert to the 107TH Engr. Bn., but instead was designated the 254TH Engr. Bn. The 254TH Engr. Bn. landed at Normandy on D-Day and fought through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. [added 10 Jan. ’18, TPB]
In July of 1942 the Division relocated to Camp Tamborine, near Brisbane on Australia’s east coast. The 900-mile move from Adelaide to Brisbane was rather difficult. Much of the Division’s equipment and personnel were shipped by railroad (some also went by sea). Each Territory in Australia had its own (different) rail gauge (gauge refers to the distance between the two rails). The trains had to stop at the border of each territory; the train was then unloaded and all the equipment and soldiers had to be loaded onto a different train that was compatible with the rail gauge in the next territory. The 32D Division crossed the borders of four Australian Territories before it reached Brisbane.
On 30 August, Camp Tamborine was renamed Camp Cable, in honor of Technician Fifth Grade Gerald Owen Cable, a Soldier from Michigan assigned to Service Company, 126TH Infantry. Tec. 5 Cable was making the trip to Brisbane aboard a Liberty Ship that was transporting some of the Division’s equipment. He has been MIA, presumed KIA, since 22 July when the ship, William Dawes, was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-11. He had volunteered to serve as an ammunition bearer for a deck gun at the stern. He, and four Navy Armed Guards, was killed when the torpedo struck the stern. Fifty-four crew members and passengers made it to the life boats before a second torpedo sealed the ship’s fate. Some references state that Cable had spotted the approaching torpedo and attempted to give the alarm before it exploded. Some references suggest that the deck gun was shooting at the torpedo before it struck. He became the first Soldier of the 32D Division to be KIA during World War II. Tec. 5 Cable earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously, for his service and sacrifice on 22 Jul. ‘42. More information about him and his medal can be found on the roster of Silver Star recipients. [added 1 Feb. ’13, TPB; updated 17 Sep. ’18, TPB]
In August of 1942, the 173D Field Artillery Regiment, Col. Breidster, moved from Camp Livingston, LA, to Camp Gruber, OK, where it was assigned to the 16TH Field Artillery Brigade. It had been organized earlier in the year, when the 32D Division was “triangularized,” from the 2D Bns. of the 121ST and 126TH FA Regts. [added 22 Oct. ’14, TPB]
photo added 7 Jun. ‘14
photo from collection of Tec. 5 Sydney E. Anderson
Unit photograph of 1ST Platoon, Company A, 128TH Infantry – Somewhere in Australia
Men Lying Down: Pvt. Dominig Pifatta and Pvt. Lawrence. 1st Row, L to R: Pvt. Lawrence Hansford, Pvt. Cody Horly, Pfc. Sydney E. Anderson, Pvt. Milford Jones, Corp. Lyle R. Froeschle, Corp. Leo W. Rubusch, Corp. Kenneth A. Drake, Sgt. Richard E. ‘Rich’ Randles, Pvt. Claude Jones, Pvt. Leonard Badaczewski. 2nd Row, L to R: Pvt. Robert Nevins, Pvt. Chester Jones, Pvt. William Early, Pvt. Victor A. ‘Vic’ Jablonowski, Pvt. Clarence Jackson, Pfc. Bob Einim, Pfc. Orville Geise, Pvt. Leonard Hardin, Pvt. Ed Henderson, Pvt. John R. Mansfield. 3rd Row, L to R: Pvt. Robert H. Ivy, Pvt. Edmund Henke, Pvt. Link P. ‘Pershing’ Hopper, Corp. Virgil M. Stang, Sgt. Donald L. 'Donny' Gunvalson (Gunvaldson or Gunnaldson) (platoon guide), Lt. Hopkins (platoon leader), SSgt. Allen K. Johnson (platoon sergeant), Sgt. Henry Aho, Sgt. Richard L. ‘Rich’ Becker. 4th Row, L to R: Pfc. Carl Foss, Pvt. Aloysius Hieger (Alousos Heiger), Pvt. Roland (Ronald) P. Grossheim, Pvt. Clarence Henderson, Pvt. E. E. Jones, Pvt. Clifford J. Horn, Pvt. Clyde Gaskin, Pvt. Van W. Hill, Pvt. Ralph Hathoway, Pfc. Stanley Severson, Pfc. Marvin Market, Pvt. Harvey Hornbeck. 5th Row, L to R: Pvt. Clyde Downing, Pvt. Albert Dunn, Pvt. Robert J. Soden, Pvt. Orville L. Harbison, Pfc. John L. Halvorson, Pvt. Ken M. Mahoney, Pfc. Herman Seiler.
Photograph submitted by HSC Michael R. Anderson, USCG; grandson of Sydney E. Anderson. [added 7 Jun. ’14, TPB]
Sgt. Henry Aho was from Menomonie, WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Pvt. Leonard J. Badaczewski (Badazewski) was from Cuyahoga Co., OH. He entered active service 15 Oct. '40 at Cleveland, OH as Pvt. with Ohio National Guard.
Sgt. Richard L. Becker was from Dunn Co., WI. He was a Cpl. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Pvt. Clyde L. Downing was from Bragg City, MO.
Sgt. Kenneth A. Drake was from Dunn Co., WI. He was a Pfc. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Cpl. Lyle R. Froeschle was from Dunn Co., WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Pfc. Roland (Ronald) P. Grossheim was from St. Louis, MO. He would be KIA on 2 Dec. '42 near Buna, New Guinea and earn the Purple Heart. Pfc. Grossheim is interred at the Manila American Cemetery.
S. Sgt. Donald L. 'Donny' Gunvalson (Gunvaldson), platoon guide, was from Spring Valley, WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Pfc. John L. Halvorson was from Menomonie, WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Pvt. Orville L. Harbison was from Oregon Co., MO. He would be KIA on 2 Dec. '42 near Buna, New Guinea and earn the Purple Heart. Pvt. Harbison is interred at Myrtle Cemetery, Myrtle, MO.
Pvt. Aloysius Hieger (Alousos Heiger) was from St Louis, MO. He would be KIA, date and circumstances unknown. Pvt. Hieger was repatriated and re-interred ca. Aug. '48 at Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, Saint Louis, MO.
Pfc. Van W. Hill was from Craighead Co., AR and entered service 10 Jul. '42 at Little Rock, AR. He has been MIA since 28 Jan. '44 at Teterei, near Saidor, New Guinea, FOD 17 Jan. '46. Pfc. Hill would earn the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on 28 Jan. '44 at Teterei; he would also earn the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery and is also memorialized at Macey Cemetery, Monette, AR.
Pvt. Link P. ‘Pershing’ Hopper was from Fornfelt, MO and entered service on 5 Jan. '42. He would be KIA on 2 Dec. '42 near Buna, New Guinea. Pvt. Hopper was repatriated ca. Jun. '48 and re-interred at Saint Joseph Cemetery, Scott County, MO.
Pfc. Robert H. Ivy was from Cherokee Co., KS and entered service 8 Sep. '43 at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. He would be WIA and earn the Purple Heart.
S. Sgt. Allen K. Johnson, the platoon sergeant, was from Menomonie, WI. He was a Sgt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
Pvt. Lawrence might be Glenn E. Lawrence who entered service 24 Mar. '43 at Fresno, CA and would be KIA on 26 May '45 on Luzon, Philippines. He would earn the Purple Heart w/OLC. Pvt. Lawrence is interred at Manila American Cemetery.
Pvt. John R. Mansfield was from Indianapolis, IN and entered service 29 Dec. '41 at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN. S. Sgt. Mansfield would be KIA on 17 Nov. '44 on Leyte, Philippines, shortly before he was scheduled to go home. S. Sgt. Mansfield is interred at Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery, Indianapolis, IN.
Sgt. Richard E. Randles was a Pfc. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40.
T/Sgt. Leo W. Rubusch (Rubush) was from Menomonie, WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. He would be WIA near Buna, New Guinea and earn the Purple Heart w/OLC.
Pfc. Robert J. Soden was from Pepin Co., WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized on 15 Oct. '40. He would be WIA and earn the Purple Heart.
Cpl. Virgil M. Stang was from St. Croix Co., WI. He was a Pvt. in Co. A, 128TH
Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Menomonie, WI when 32D Div. mobilized
on 15 Oct. '40. Cpl. Stang
would earn the Silver
Star, date and circumstances unknown.
H. W., Major General, Retired. The 32D Infantry Division in
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Harrisburg: The Stackpole Company, 1964.
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Smith, Herbert M., Lieutenant Colonel, Retired. Four Score and Ten: Happenings in the Life of Herbert M. Smith. Eau Claire, WI: Heins Publications, 1995.
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revised 30 May
since 15 March 1999