31st Infantry Division (United States)

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31st Infantry Division
31st ID SSI.svg
31st Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917–45
1950–54
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname(s) "Dixie Division"
Motto(s) It shall be done
Engagements

World War I
World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Albert H. Blanding
John Cecil Persons
Clarence Ames Martin

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. In World War II, national guardsmen from Mississippi were included in the division.

World War I

The division was activated in October 1917 (National Guard Division from Alabama, Florida and Georgia). It was activated for World War I at Camp Gordon, Georgia. 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 The personnel of most of the units were withdrawn and sent to other organizations as replacements for combat casualties.

Its commanders were: 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).

The 31st Division was part of the Army of Occupation in southern Germany at Koblenz, at Fort Ehrenbreitstein. The division returned to the US in July 1919 to Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina, where its soldiers were mustered out of active service.

Order of battle

  • Headquarters, 31st Division
  • 61st Infantry Brigade
    • 121st Infantry Regiment
    • 122nd Infantry Regiment
    • 117th Machine Gun Battalion
  • 62nd Infantry Brigade
    • 123rd Infantry Regiment
    • 124th Infantry Regiment
    • 118th Machine Gun Battalion
  • 57th Field Artillery Brigade
    • 116th Field Artillery Regiment (75 mm)
    • 117th Field Artillery Regiment (75 mm)
    • 118th Field Artillery Regiment (155 mm)
    • 106th Trench Mortar Battery
  • 116th Machine Gun Battalion
  • 106th Engineer Regiment
  • 106th Field Signal Battalion
  • Headquarters Troop, 31st Division
  • 106th Train Headquarters and Military Police
    • 106th Ammunition Train
    • 106th Supply Train
    • 106th Engineer Train
    • 106th Sanitary Train
      • 121st, 122nd, 123rd, and 124th Ambulance Companies and Field Hospitals

World War II

  • Mobilized: 25 November 1940; Camp Blanding, Florida (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

Order of battle

  • Headquarters, 31st Infantry Division
  • 124th Infantry Regiment
  • 155th Infantry Regiment
  • 167th Infantry Regiment
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery,
    • 114th Field Artillery Regiment (105 mm)
    • 115th Field Artillery Regiment (105 mm)
    • 117th Field Artillery Regiment (105 mm)
    • 149th Field Artillery Regiment (155 mm)
  • 106th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 106th Medical Battalion
  • 31st Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • Headquarters, Special Troops, 31st Infantry Division
    • Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry Division
    • 731st Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
    • 31st Quartermaster Company
    • 31st Signal Company
    • Military Police Platoon
    • Band
  • 31st Counterintelligence Corps Detachment

Combat chronicle

World War II combat survivors of Company B, 124th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 31st Infantry Division. The regiment arrived at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation on 14 December 1945 and was inactivated two days later at Camp Stoneman, California, where this photo was taken.

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. The division was helped by the Filipino troops under the Philippine Commonwealth Army and Philippine Constabulary units and the local organized Christian and Islamic guerrillas fight the Japanese. 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 and the Philippine Commonwealth military were accomplished the surrender of all Japanese forces remaining in Mindanao.

Casualties

  • Total battle casualties: 1,733[1]
  • Killed in action: 340[1]
  • Wounded in action: 1,392[1]
  • Prisoner of war: 1[1]

Postwar

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").[2] 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.[3] 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 2002 it started transitioning to a chemical brigade, initially designated the 122nd. In November 2002 the brigade was redesignated the 31st Chemical Brigade.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953)
  2. ^ Globalsecurity.org, 31st Armored Brigade (Separate), accessed May 2009
  3. ^ History of the 31st Chemical Brigade, accessed May 2009

References

  • 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. 
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