33rd Infantry Division (United States)

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33d Infantry Division
33rd Infantry Division SSI.svg
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917–19
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname(s) "Illinois Division"; "Prairie Division"; "Golden Cross Division"

World War I

World War II

Decorations Presidential Unit Citation (6)

The 33d 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[edit]

Inter-War Years[edit]

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.[3] 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.[3]

World War II[edit]


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.[citation needed]

Action in the Pacific Theater[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Post World War II[edit]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Staff (18 May 1919). "Hard Hitting 33d Division". New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  2. ^ U.S. Army Center of Military History. "Medal of Honor Recipients – World War I". army.mil. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Daily, Ed (1996). 33rd Infantry Division: The Golden Cross Division (Limited ed.). Paducah, Ky.: Turner Pub. p. 8. ISBN 1-56311-264-7. 
  4. ^ National Guard Educational Foundation
  5. ^ Aumiller, Tim (17 June 2001). "US Army Divisions 1917–2000: 31st to 40th Divisions". Orbat.com, v. 2.0. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Wilson, John B. (1998). Chapter 12: Flexible Response. Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. Army Lineages Series (Washington D.C: Center of Military History). Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 


  • Cioper, Nicole M. Prairie Division The Thirty-Third in the Great War, 1917–1919. Springfield, IL: Illinois State Military Museum, 1997. OCLC 855688345
  • Daily, Edward L. 33rd Infantry Division: The Golden Cross Division. Paducah, Ky: Turner Pub, 1996. ISBN 1-563-11264-7. OCLC 38169636
  • Harris, Barnett W. and Dudley J. Nelson. 33rd Division Across No-Man's Land. Chicago, Ill.: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 1919. OCLC 70691220
  • Huidekoper, Frederic Louis. The History of the 33rd Division, A.E.F. Springfield, Ill: Illinois State Historical Library, 1921. OCLC 5175547
  • Johnson, F.B. Phantom Warrior: The Heroic True Story of Pvt. John McKinney's One-Man Stand against the Japanese in World War II. New York : Berkeley Caliber, 2007. ISBN 0-425-21566-0 OCLC 71126807
  • Payan, Jack Louis. World War 1, 1918: Kankakee (Illinois) Doughboys, Company L, 129th Infantry, 33rd (Prairie) Division. [Palos Heights, Ill.]: J.L. Payan, 2008. OCLC 256760135
  • Phipps, John R. A Short History of the 130th Infantry Regiment, 33d Infantry Division, Illinois National Guard. 1959. OCLC 16835243
  • United States. The Golden Cross: A History of the 33rd Infantry Division in World War II. Nashville: Battery Press, 2000. ISBN 0-898-39302-7 OCLC 47785230
  • Wilson, John B. (1997). Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. Washington, DC: Center of Military History. OCLC 30625000
  • Winston, Sanford H. The Golden Cross: A History of the 33rd Infantry Division in World War II. Washington [D.C.]: Infantry Journal Press, 1948. OCLC 220297114
  • The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950.

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