33rd Infantry Division (United States)
|33rd Infantry Division|
Shoulder sleeve insignia
|Branch||United States Army|
|Nickname(s)||"Illinois Division"; "Prairie Division"; "Golden Cross Division"|
|Decorations||Presidential Unit Citation (6)|
The 33rd Infantry Division was a formation of the U.S. Army National Guard between 1917 and 1968. Originally formed for service during World War I, the division fought along the Western Front at Le Hamel, in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, on the Somme and around St. Mihiel. It was re-formed in the inter-war years, and then later activated for service during World War II, seeing action against the Japanese in the Pacific. In the post war era, the division was reconstituted as an all-Illinois National Guard division. In the late 1960s, the division was reduced to brigade-sized formation, and is currently perpetuated by the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
World War I
- Activated: July 1917 (National Guard Division from Illinois) at Camp Logan, Illinois
- Overseas: May 1918.
- Major operations: Le Hamel (four companies), Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Somme offensive, and St. Mihiel
- Casualties: Total – 6,864 (KIA – 691, WIA − 6,173).
- Commanders: Brig. Gen. H. D. Todd, Jr. (19 September 1917), Maj. Gen. George Bell, Jr. (7 December 1917).
- Returned to U.S. and inactivated: May 1919 at Camp Grant, Illinois
- Medal of Honor: Sergeant Willie Sandlin
The 33rd infantry division was a division that served in World War I and beyond that. The 33rd division was trained at Camp Logan in Houston Texas as part of the National state guard in Illinois. The 33rd infantry division was made up of around multiple companies. The first unit went to France on 1918. The first unit to go into France was the 108th engineers, under colonel Henry A. Allen. On June 20 and 21st the division went to the Amiens sector, where there was expected to be a major German attack. The division was trained by British and was part of some of their operations. The first major battle the 33rd division took part in was the assault on Hamel on July 4 . Four companies took part in the assault they were 131st infantry and 132nd infantry. From a strictly military point of view, the battle was not that significant. However, it was the first occasion on which US Army personnel fought alongside British Empire forces. It was also the first time that American troops fought alongside Australians. It demonstrated to their allies that US troops could play an effective role in the war.
On August 23rd the 33rd Division was moved to the Toul sector. It was the only division to fight as part of British Empire, French and US corps in the history of the US Army. The last mission the 33rd division took part in was on December 27, 1918.
In total, from the 33rd arriving in France to the German armistice on November 11, 1918, the division captured 13 units of heavy artillery and 87 pieces of light artillery. Also, they captured 460 machine guns and 430 light guns. In total, the entire division gained 40,300 meters of land in WW1. The 33rd division was the only unit in the war to have machine gun barrage enemy nests while infantry turned the position. In total, the 33rd infantry division received 215 American decorations, 56 British decorations, and various others.
In 1918, the 33rd Division was organized as follows:
- 65th Infantry Brigade
- 129th Infantry Regiment
- 130th Infantry Regiment
- 123rd Machine Gun Battalion
- 66th Infantry Brigade
- 131st Infantry Regiment
- 132nd Infantry Regiment
- 124th Machine Gun Battalion
- 58th Field Artillery Brigade
- 122nd Field Artillery (75mm)
- 123rd Field Artillery (155mm)
- 124th Field Artillery (75mm)
- 108th Trench Mortar Battery
- 122nd Machine Gun Battalion
- 108th Engineers
- 108th Field Signal Battalion
- 108th Train Headquarters & Military Police
- 108th Ammunition Train
- 108th Supply Train
- 108th Engineer Train
- 108th Sanitary Train, consisting of: 129th Field Hospital, 130th Field Hospital, 131st Field Hospital, and the 132nd Field Hospital
Three years after the end of the First World War the United States Congress passed the National Defense Act of 1920 providing for civilian components of the army. An organized reserve was created under the authority of the War Department. This reorganization allowed for the reconstitution of the 33rd Infantry Division. Regular army officers were detailed to act as instructions for the 33rd. One of the regular army officers was Colonel George C. Marshall who served with the 33rd from 1933 to 1936.
The 33rd Infantry Division was a National Guard division for the State of Illinois. It was federalized on 5 March 1941 at Chicago, Illinois. The 130th Infantry Regiment was formed that same day. The division participated in the 1941 Arkansas and Louisiana Maneuvers. It contained:
65th Infantry Brigade HHC
129th Infantry Regiment
130th Infantry Regiment
66th Infantry Brigade HHC
131st Infantry Regiment
132nd Infantry Regiment
58th HHB Division Artillery
122nd Field Artillery Regiment (75mm)
124th Field Artillery Regiment (75mm)
123rd Field Artillery Regiment (155mm)
Headquarters 33rd Division
HQs & HQs Detachment
33rd Military Police Company
33rd Signal Company
108th Ordnance Company
108th Engineers (Combat) Regiment
108th Medical Regiment
108th Quartermaster Regiment
33rd Tank Company (later re-designated Company B/192nd Tank Battalion)
World War II
- Activated: 5 March 1941 (National Guard Division from Illinois).
- Overseas: 7 July 1943.
- Campaigns: New Guinea, Luzon.
- Presidential Unit Citation: 6.
- Awards: Medal of Honor – 3 ; Distinguished Service Cross – 31 ; Distinguished Service Medal – 2; Silver Star – 470 ; Legion of Merit – 34; SM – 49; Bronze Star Medal – 2,251 ; AM – 36.
- Commanders: Maj. Gen. Samuel T. Lawton (March 1941 – May 1942), Maj. Gen. Frank Mahin (May–July 1942), Maj. Gen. John Millikin (August 1942 – September 1943), Maj. Gen. Percy W. Clarkson (October 1943 – November 1945); Brig. Gen. W. G. Skelton (November 1945 to inactivation).
- Inactivated: 3 February 1946 in Japan.
The division, along with the other National Guard divisions, was ordered to convert from the square to the triangular formation between January and February 1942. The 108th Engineers (Combat) Regiment was broken up on 12 February 1942 and the HQ, HQ and Service Company, and Companies A, B, and C became the 108th Engineer Combat Battalion, which remained with the division. The HQ, 1st Battalion was inactivated on 21 February 1942 and the 2nd Battalion became the 181st Battalion (Heavy Pontoon), an engineering unit.
The 132nd Infantry Regiment was detached on 14 January 1942. On 21 February 1942 the division was re-designated the 33rd Infantry Division. That same day the 131st Infantry Regiment was detached. The 129th Infantry Regiment was detached on 31 July 1943. The 136th Infantry Regiment was formed and assigned to the division on 1 April 1942 and the 123rd Infantry Regiment was formed and assigned to the division on 28 September 1942. The division served in the south Pacific, fighting in New Guinea and in the Philippines. In 1944/1945 the division contained:
Order of Battle
- 123rd Infantry Regiment
- 130th Infantry Regiment
- 136th Infantry Regiment
- HHB Division Artillery
- 122nd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
- 123rd Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)
- 124th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
- 210th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
- 33rd Reconnaissance Troop, Mechanized
- 108th Engineer Combat Battalion
- 108th Medical Battalion
- 33rd Counter-Intelligence Corps Detachment
- Headquarters Special Troops
- Headquarters Company, 33rd Division
- 33rd Military Police Platoon
- 733rd Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
- 33rd Quartermaster Company
- 33rd Signal Company
- 33rd Band
During its combat operations, divisions usually had various units attached in support of it and other organic units detached. Where those attachments and detachments are well-documented for the divisions that fought in the European Theater of Operations, no such documentation was found for this division, which fought in the Pacific.
When the US Army reorganized from the "square" (4 regiments to a division) to "triangular" (3) concept, the 132nd Infantry Regiment was separated and was sent to New Caledonia as part of Task Force 6814 where it became part of the Americal Division. The division was left with the 123rd, 130th, and 136th Infantry Regiments. The 33rd Tank Company was sent to the Philippines as Company B of the 192nd Tank Battalion prior to Pearl Harbor and it was captured at Bataan.
Action in the Pacific Theater
The 33rd Infantry Division arrived in Hawaii on 12 July 1943. While guarding installations, it received training in jungle warfare. On 11 May 1944, it arrived in New Guinea where it received additional training. The 123rd Infantry Regiment arrived at Maffin Bay on 1 September, to provide perimeter defense around the Wakde Airdrome and in the Toem–Sarmi sector. The 123rd was relieved on 26 January 1945. Elements of the 33rd arrived at Morotai, on 18 December 1944 and landings were made on the west coast of the island on 22 December, without opposition and defensive perimeters were established. Aggressive patrols were sent out which encountered scattered resistance. The 33rd then landed at Lingayen Gulf, on Luzon, on 10 February 1945, and relieved the 43rd Infantry Division in the Damortis–Rosario Pozorrubio area, over the period 13–15 February. The division drove into the Caraballo Mountains on 19 February, toward its objective, Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines and the headquarters of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
Fighting against a fanatical enemy entrenched in the hills, the 33rd took Aringay on 7 March, Mount Calugong on 8 April, and Mount Mirador on 25 April. Baguio and Camp John Hay fell on 26 April, under the concerted attack of the 33rd and the 37th Infantry Divisions. Manuel Roxas, later President of the Philippines, was freed during the capture of Baguio, which was liberated by the 33rd and Filipino soldiers of the 66th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army on 27 April. After mopping up isolated pockets of Japanese troops, the division captured the San Nicholas–Tebbo–Itogon route on 12 May. All elements went to rest and rehabilitation areas on 30 June 1945. The division landed on Honshū Island, Japan, on 25 September, and then performed occupation duties until it was inactivated in early 1946.
- Total battle casualties: 2,426
- Killed in action: 396
- Wounded in action: 2,024
- Missing in action: 5
- Prisoner of war: 1
Post World War II
The 33rd Infantry Division was reformed as an all-Illinois National Guard division on 7 November 1946. However, some of its former units were assigned to the 44th Infantry Division, which was also reorganized in the postwar Guard structure as an Illinois-based division.
By 1954, the division's infantry and artillery units included the 129th, 130th, and 131st Infantry Regiments, and the 122nd, 123rd, 124th, and 210th Field Artillery Battalions. A number of National Guard divisions were deactivated in 1968, including the 33rd Infantry Division on 1 February 1968. However, in its place the 33rd Infantry Brigade was organised. On 1 February 1968, the 178th Infantry Regiment was reorganized to consist of the 1st Battalion, an element of the 33rd Infantry Brigade. The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team carries on the division's heritage, and circa 2010 was assigned to the 35th Infantry Division.
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