92nd Infantry Division (United States)

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92nd Infantry Division (Colored)
US 92nd Infantry Division SVG.svg
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917 – 1919, 1942 - 45
Allegiance United States of America
Branch United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname "Buffalo Soldiers"
Motto "Deeds, not Words
Engagements

World War I

World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia 92 Inf Div DUI.gif
US infantry divisions (1939–present)
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91st Infantry Division 93rd Infantry Division

The 92nd Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War I and World War II. Organized in October 1917 at Camp Funston, Kansas, the unit was formed with African American soldiers from all states. Before leaving for France in 1918, the buffalo was selected as the divisional insignia due to the "Buffalo Soldiers" nickname, given to African American cavalrymen by Native Americans in the 19th century. The "Buffalo Soldiers Division" divisional nickname was inherited from the 367th Infantry, one of the first units of the division organized. This segregated unit was the only African American infantry division to see combat in Europe during World War II, as part of the 5th Army.[1] It served in the Italian Campaign from 1944 to the war's end.

History[edit]

The 92nd Division was first constituted on paper 24 October 1917 in the National Army.[2] The division comprised the 183rd Infantry Brigade with the 365th and 366th Infantry Regiments, and the 184th Infantry Brigade with the 367th and 368th Infantry Regiments.[3] The division was actually organized on 27 October 1917 at Camp Funston, Kansas.[2]

World War I[edit]

  • Activated: October 1917
  • Overseas: 18 July 1918
  • Major operations: Meuse-Argonne less field artillery
  • Casualties: total: 1,647 (KIA: 120; WIA: 1,527).
  • Commanders: Maj. Gen. Charles C. Ballou (29 October 1917), Maj. Gen. Charles Henry Martin (19 November 1918), Brig. Gen. James B. Erwin (16 December 1918).
  • Returned to U S. and deactivated: February 1919.

For an account of the fighting of the Buffalo Division in the Woevre Plain offensive see the article on William M Cain at Kaiserscross.com.

As would be the case with the 93rd Infantry Division, parts of the 92nd would serve under and alongside the French Army after both the main American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and the British Army refused to have African-American soldiers serve in combat under them.

The 92nd was a National Army unit formed from black draftees, with a cadre of 154 NCOs transferred from the four Regular Army regiments, mostly led by inexperienced black junior officers fresh out of training and commanded by indifferent white officers. They were a green and untried unit that was not allowed to maneuver as a division before they were committed to the line. After arrival in France, the 92nd like all AEF units, trained for deployment in the trenches. They began to be fed into the French sector front lines by company in mid-August 1918. The 92nd Artillery Brigade only came online in October 1918.

Unlike the 93rd, the 92nd would ultimately fight as a whole under American command. The division saw combat in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during Nov 1918. Their indifferent showing was more due to brittle morale and poor handling by their white superiors than any real failings. As a result, the division received a bad reputation that further damaged morale.[citation needed]

Units[edit]

92nd Division (1917–19)

World War II[edit]

Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division operate a mortar, Massa, Italy in November 1944.
Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division pursue the retreating Germans through the Po Valley, Italy, end of April-1945.

The division was reactivated as an infantry division on 15 October 1942 at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. After two years of training, the 370th Infantry Regiment would be sent overseas in August 1944 and temporarily attached to the 1st Armored Division. The rest of the division would be sent overseas in September of that year, and the division as a whole would see heavy combat during the remainder of the Italian Campaign. Between August 1944 and May 1945 the 92nd Division suffered 3,200 casualties, and the factoring in of losses from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT) and other units attached to the division brings the total up to 5,000 casualties.

During the division's participation in the Italian Front, the Buffalo Soldiers made contact with units of many nationalities: beyond the attached 442nd RCT, they also had contact with the segregated troops of the British and French colonial empires (Black Africans, Moroccans, Algerians, Indians, Gurkhas, Arab and Jewish Palestinians) as well as with exiled Poles, Greeks and Czechs, anti-fascist Italians and the nonsegregated troops of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force.[4][5]

Commanders[edit]

The division's commander, Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond, was for a time highly regarded by George Marshall, who was a fellow Virginia Military Institute (VMI) graduate, and was Army Chief of Staff during World War II. This was a major factor in Almond's promotion to major general and subsequent command of the division, a position he held from its formation in October 1942 until August 1945. He led the division in combat throughout the Italian Campaign of 1944–1945. Almond was chosen by Marshall to command the division because Marshall believed Almond would excel at what was seen as a difficult assignment. However, Almond performed poorly and went on to blame his poor performance on the fact that the division was made up of largely African American troops. He saw his troops as the source of his failure in combat, and went on to advise the Army against ever again using African Americans as combat troops.[6][7]

Gothic Line[edit]

The 370th Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 1st Armored Division, arrived in Naples, Italy, 1 August 1944 and entered combat on 24th. It participated in the crossing of the Arno River, the occupation of Lucca and the penetration of the Gothic Line. Enemy resistance was negligible in its area. As Task Force 92, elements of the 92nd attacked on the Ligurian coastal flank toward Massa, 5 October. By the 12th, the slight gains achieved were lost to counterattacks. On 13 October, the remainder of the Division concentrated for patrol activities. Elements of the 92nd moved to the Serchio sector, 3 November 1944, and advanced in the Serchio River Valley against light resistance, but the attempt to capture Castelnuovo di Garfagnana did not succeed. Patrol activities continued until 26 December when the enemy attacked, forcing units of the 92nd to withdraw. The attack ended on 28 December. The attacking forces were mainly from the Italian 4th "Monte Rosa" Alpine Division (four battalions), with the support of three German battalions. Aside from patrols and reconnaissance, units of the 92nd attacked enemy forces in the Serchio sector from 5–8 February 1945, advancing against the Italian 1st "Italia" Bersaglieri Division, but enemy counterattacks nullified all Division advances.

1945[edit]

On 1 April, the 370th RCT and the attached 442nd RCT (Nisei) attacked the Ligurian coastal sector and drove rapidly north against light opposition from the German 148th Infantry Division, which was supported only by Italian coastal units. The 370th took over the Serchio sector and pursued the retreating enemy from 18 April until the collapse of all enemy forces on 29 April 1945. Elements of the 92nd Division entered La Spezia and Genoa on 27th and took over selected towns along the Ligurian coast until the enemy surrendered on 2 May 1945.

Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division with a captured German soldier.

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

Note: The MOH was not awarded to these recipients until 1997.

Capt. Ezekia Smith, of the 370th Infantry Regiment, receives treatment at the 317th Medical Battalion Collecting Station, for shell fragments in face and shoulders suffered near Querceta, Italy.

Units[edit]

92nd Division (1942–45)

Support units:

  • 92nd Military Police Platoon
  • 92nd Quartermaster Company
  • 92nd Signal Company
  • 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • 792nd Ordnance (Light Maintenance) Company
  • 317th Engineer Battalion
  • 317th Medical Battalion
  • 600th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)

Attached units:

Task Force 1 (February 1945):

  • 3rd Battalion / 366th Infantry Regiment
  • Company B, 317th Engineer Battalion
  • 760th Tank Battalion
  • 84th Chemical Mortar Battalion (4.2" [107mm])
  • 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Video: U.S. Air ForAllied Bombers Strike On Two Fronts Etc (1945). Universal Newsreel. 1945. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Wilson, p. 545.
  3. ^ McGrath, p. 173 – 174.
  4. ^ Ready, J.Lee, Forgotten Allies: The Military Contribution of the Colonies, Exiled Governments and Lesser Powers to the Allied Victory in World War II
  5. ^ Ready, J.Lee, Forgotten Allies: The European Theatre, Volume I
  6. ^ http://www.jstor.org/view/08993718/di962762/96p0222v/1?frame=noframe&userID=84aa3526@ucf.edu/01c0a848690050118e6d&dpi=3&config=jstor[dead link]
  7. ^ Ricks, Thomaz E. "The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today" Penguin Press, 2012 ISBN 9781594204043 pages 152-53

References[edit]

External links[edit]