31st Infantry Division (United States)
|U.S. 31st Infantry Division|
31st Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||1917 – 45, 1950 – 54|
|Branch||Army National Guard|
|Motto||It shall be done|
|Albert H. Blanding|
|US infantry divisions (1939–present)|
|30th Infantry Division (Inactive)||32nd Infantry Division|
The 31st Infantry Division was a unit of the Army National Guard in World War I and World War II. It was originally activated as the 10th, a division established in early 1917 consisting of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia national guardsmen. By the end of that same year, the 10th Division became the 31st.
World War I
The division was activated in October 1917 (National Guard Division from Alabama, Florida and Georgia). Possibly at Camp Funston. It comprised the 61st Infantry Brigade and the 62nd Infantry Brigade, with four infantry regiments between them.
It went overseas in September 1918. Upon arrival in France the 31st was designated as a replacement division. The personnel of most of the units were withdrawn and sent to other organizations.
- Commanders: Maj. Gen. F. J. Kernan (25 August 1917), Brig. Gen. J. L. Hayden (18 September 1917), Maj. Gen. F. H. French (15 March 1918), Brig. Gen. W. A. Harris (28 September 1918).
- Returned to U.S.: December 1918.
World War II
- Mobilized: 25 November 1940 (National Guard Division from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi).
- Overseas: 12 March 1944.
- Campaigns: New Guinea, Southern Philippines.
- Distinguished Unit Citations: 1.
- Awards: MH-1; DSC-7; DSM-3; SS-178; LM-11; DFC-1; SM-73; BS-948; AM-77.
- Commanders: Maj. Gen. John C. Persons (25 November 1940 – September 1944), Maj. Gen. Clarence A. Martin (September 1944 to inactivation).
- Returned to U.S.: 12 December 1945.
- Inactivated: 21 December 1945. (See National Guard.)
The 31st Infantry Division arrived in Oro Bay, New Guinea, 24 April 1944, and engaged in amphibious training prior to entering combat. During the war, at various times its units included the 124th Infantry Regiment, the 155th Infantry Regiment from Mississippi, the 156th Infantry Regiment, and the 167th Infantry Regiment.
The 156th Infantry Regiment of the Louisiana National Guard was separated from the 31st Division on 14 July 1942. The unit was sent to England and then to Oran, Algiers where they were redesignated the 202nd Infantry Battalion and assigned military police duties due to the large number of French speaking members in the unit. Portions of the unit participated in the D-Day landings with the entire unit being reunited on 24 June 1944. The unit was later used to guard the Allied Expeditionary HQs. The unit returned to the US on 11 March 1946.
Alerted on 25 June 1944 for movement to Aitape, New Guinea, the 124th RCT left Oro Bay and landed at Aitape 3–6 July 1944. The combat team moved up to advanced positions and took part in the general offensive launched 13 July, including the bloody Battle of Driniumor River.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the division relieved the 6th Infantry Division in the Sarmi-Wakde island area, 18 July 1944, built bridges, roads, and docks, patrolled the area, and engaged small units of the enemy, trying not to provoke a large scale counterattack by the enemy. Over 1,000 Japanese were killed in these actions. In mid-August the division began to stage for a landing on Morotai, leaving Aitape and Maffin Bay, 11 September 1944. The division made an assault landing on Morotai, 15 September 1944, meeting only light opposition. During the occupation of Morotai, elements of the division, primarily the 167th Infantry Regiment, seized Mapia, 15–17 November, and waded ashore on the Asia Islands, 19–20 November, only to find the Japanese had already evacuated.
Other elements reverted to Sansapor, where they maintained and operated the base. On 22 April 1945, the division landed on Mindanao to take part in the liberation of the Philippines. Moving up the Sayre Highway and driving down the Kibawe-Talomo trail, fighting in knee-deep mud and through torrential rains, the 31st forced the enemy to withdraw into the interior and blocked off other Japanese in the Davao area. With the end of hostilities on 15 August 1945, the 31st accomplished the surrender of all Japanese forces remaining in Mindanao.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, small units and individual leaders were sent to Korea as replacements from the activated 31st Infantry Division ("Dixie"). No units were deployed, but individuals representing three-fourths of the authorized strength were sent to either Korea or Japan. The 31st Infantry Division was transferred to Fort Carson, Colorado in February 1954 from Camp Atterbury. The 31st Division as an active service formation was then reflagged as the 8th Infantry Division on 15 June 1954.
The 31st Infantry (NGUS) Division was effectively reformed with units from Alabama and Mississippi. It served as a National Guard division until its inactivation on 14 January 1968. Alabama Army National Guard units subsequently became a part of the 30th Armored Division (“Volunteers”).
The 31st Armored Division transitioned to a brigade in the late 1960s serving through the three decades as a separate armored brigade. In November 2002 the brigade was redesignated the 31st Chemical Brigade.
- The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at CMH.
- After-Action Report and G-3 Journal, 31st Infantry Division, NARA.
- History of the 31st Infantry Division in training and combat, 1940–1945. Army & Navy Publishing Company. 1946.
- Robert Ross Smith (1991). US Army in World War II, War in the Pacific, Triumph in the Philippines. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army.