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The 26th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the United States Army. As a major formation of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, it was based in Boston, Massachusettsmarker for most of its history. Today, the division's heritage is carried on by the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

Formed in 1917 consisting of units from the New Englandmarker area, the division's commander selected the nickname "Yankee Division" to highlight the division's geographic makeup. Sent to Europe in World War I as part of the American Expeditionary Force, the division saw extensive combat in Francemarker. Sent to Europe once again for World War II, the division again fought through France, advancing into Germany and liberating the Gusen concentration campmarker before the end of the war.

Following the end of World War II, the division remained as an active command in the National Guard, gradually expanding its command to contain units from other divisions which had been consolidated. However, the division was never called up to support any major contengencies or see major combat, and was eventually deactivated in 1993, reorganized as a brigade under the 29th Infantry Division.

History

World War I

The 26th Infantry Division was first constituted on July 18, 1917 as the 26th Division. It was formally activated on August 22 of that year in Boston, Massachusettsmarker. The division commanded two brigades comprised of national guard units from Massachusettsmarker, Connecticutmarker, Rhode Islandmarker, New Hampshiremarker, Vermontmarker, and Mainemarker. The 51st Infantry Brigade contained the 101st Infantry Regiment and the 102nd Infantry Regiment, while the 52nd Infantry Brigade contained the 103rd Infantry Regiment and the 104th Infantry Regiment. Shortly thereafter, division commander Major General C. R. Edwards called a press conference to determine a nickname for the newly formed division. Edwards decided to settle on the suggestion of "Yankee Division" since all of the subordinate units of the division were from New Englandmarker. Shortly thereafter, the division approved a shoulder sleeve insignia with a "YD" monogram to reflect this.

Two months later, in October of 1917, the division was sent overseas. It was one of the first divisions of the American Expeditionary Force to arrive into the theater at the time, joining the 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Division and 42nd Infantry Division. Most of the division's soldiers were raw recurits, new to military service. Because of this, much of the division's force was trained by the experienced French forces. It trained extensively with the other three US divisions before being moved into a quiet sector of the trenches in January of 1918.

The 26th Infantry Division remained in a relatively quiet region of the lines near St. Mihielmarker for several months before it was attacked. In late April, the German forces conducted an offensive, one of the first attacks on Americans during the war. On April 20, the division saw bombardment with German field artillery before a German regiment moved against the village of Seichepreymarker. The fight was a rout for American forces. The continued artillery barrage trapped the American forces and the Germans were able to overwhelm two copmaines of the division's force and breach the trenches. They were able to withdraw before the division could conduct a counteroffensive, and the division suffered 650 casualties and 100 captured, while killing only 160 dead of their own. As the size of the American Expeditionary Force grew, the division was placed under command of I U.S. Corps in July.

When the Aisne-Marne campaign began shortly thereafter, the division, under I U.S. Corps was placed under command of the French Sixth Army protecting its east flank. When the offensive began, the division advanced up the spine of the Marne salient for several weeks, pushing through Belleau Wood, moving 10 miles from July 18 to July 25. On August 12 it was pulled from the lines near Toulmarker to prepare for the next offensive. The division was then a part of the offensive at St. Mihielmarker, during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The division then moved in position for the last major offensive of the war, at Meuse-Argonne. This campaign was the last of the war, as an armistice was sighed shortly thereafter. During World War I the division spent 210 days in combat, and suffered 1,587 killed in action and 12,077 wounded in action. The division returned to the United States and was demobilized on May 3, 1919 at Camp Devensmarker, Massachusetts.

In the years following World War I, the division remained in the National Guard, seeing periodic reorganizations but no major deployments except for weekend training. In 1921, the 102nd Infantry Regiment was replaced in the guard by the 182nd Infantry Regiment. In 1923, the 103rd Infantry Regiment was replaced with the 181st Infantry Regiment. In 1941, the 101st Infantry Regiment was replaced with the 164th Infantry Regiment briefly; one year later it was relieved from the division, along with the 182nd Infantry Regiment, in order to form the Americal Division.

World War II

As a part of Army-wide reorganization, the division's brigade headquarters were disbanded in favor of regimental commands. The division was instead based around three regiments; the 101st Infantry Regiment, the 104th Infantry Regiment, and the 328th Infantry Regiment. Also assigned to the division were the 101st, 102nd, 180th, and 263rd Field Artillery Battalions, the 39th Signal Company, the 726th Ordinance Company, the 26th Quartermaster Company, the 26th Reconnaissance Troop, the 101st Engineer Combat Battalion, and the 114th Medical Battalion. Major General Willard S. Paul took command of the division, which he would lead through the rest of the war.

Europe

The division was assigned to III Corps of the Ninth United States Army, Twelfth United States Army Group. It was shipped from the United States directly to Francemarker, and was never sent to Britianmarker. The 26th Infantry Division landed in France at Cherbourgmarker and Utah Beachmarker on September 7, 1944, but did not enter combat as a division until a month later. Elements were on patrol duty along the coast from Carteret to Siouvillemarker from September 13 to the 30th. The 328th Infantry saw action with the 80th Infantry Division from October 5 to October 15. The division was then reassigned to XII Corps of the Third United States Army. On October 7, the 26th relieved the 4th Armored Division in the Salonnesmarker-Moncourtmarker-Canal du Rhine au Marne sector, and maintained defensive positions. The division launched a limited objective attack on October 22, in the Moncourtmarker woods. On November 8, the division went on the offensive, took Dieuzemarker on November 20, advanced across the Saar Rivermarker to Saar Unionmarker, and captured it on December 2, after house-to-house fighting. Reaching Maginot fortifications on December 5, it regrouped, entering Saaregueminesmarker on December 8. Around this time it was reassigned to III Corps.

Rest at Metz was interrupted by the Battle of the Bulge. The division moved north to Luxembourgmarker from December 19 to December 21, to take part in the battle of the Ardennesmarker break-through. It attacked at Rambrouchmarker and Grosbousmarker on December 22, beat off strong German counterattacks, captured Arsdorfmarker on Christmas Day after heavy fighting, attacked toward the Wiltz Rivermarker, but was forced to withdraw in the face of determined German resistance. After regrouping on January 5-8, 1945, it attacked again, crossing the Wiltz River on January 20. The division continued its advance, taking Grumelscheidmarker on January 21, and crossed the Clerf Rivermarker on January 24. The division was reassigned to XX Corps. The division immediately shifted to the east bank of the Saar, and maintained defensive positions in the Saarlauternmarker area from January 29 until March 6, 1945.

The division's drive to the Rhine Rivermarker jumped off on March 13, 1945, and carried the division through Merzigmarker from March 17, to the Rhine by March 21, and across the Rhine at Oppenheimmarker on March 25-26. The division was then reassigned to XII Corps. It took part in the house-to-house reduction of Hanaumarker on March 28, broke out of the Main Rivermarker bridgehead, drove through Fuldamarker on April 1, and helped reduce Meiningenmarker on April 5. Moving southeast into Austriamarker, the division assisted in the capture of Linzmarker, May 4. It had changed the direction of its advance, and was moving northeast into Czechoslovakiamarker, across the Vlatava River, when the cease-fire order was received. One day later, the division overran the Gusen concentration campmarker in conjunction with the 11th Armored Division, liberating it from German forces. There, it discovered that the Germans had used forced labor to carve out an elaborate tunnel system with underground aircraft production facilities. SSmarker officers at the camp allegedly planned to demolish the tunnels with the prisoners inside, but the movement of the 26th Infantry and 11th Armored divisions prevented this.

Post-war

During World War II, the 26th Infantry Division spent 199 days in combat. During that time, it suffered 1,678 killed in action, 7,379 wounded in action, 740 missing in action, 159 prisoners of war, and 6,895 non-battle casualties, for a total of 16,851 casualties during the conflict. Soldiers of the division won two Medals of Honor, 38 Distinguished Service Crosses, seven Legions of Merit, 927 Silver Star Medals, 42 Soldier's Medals, 5,331 Bronze Star Medals, and 98 Air Medals. The division returned to the United States and disbanded at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusettsmarker on December 21, 1945.

Cold War

The division was reactivated on April 11, 1947 in Boston. It remained as the major command of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, but its command took control of units from other states following consolidation of the Army National Guard. The division remained as an active reserve component of the Army National Guard, but it was not selected for any deployments to cold war contengencies. In 1956 the division received its distinctive unit insignia.

In 1963, the division was reorganized under the Reorganization Objective Army Division plan. Its regimental commands were deactivated in favor of brigades. The 101st Infantry Regiment became the 1st Brigade, 26th Infantry Division, headquartered in Dorchester, Massachusettsmarker. The 104th Infantry Regiment became the 3rd Brigade, 26th Infantry Division, headquartered in Springfield, Massachusettsmarker. The division was organized as a light infantry division, and in 1967 the 43rd Infantry Division of the Connecticut Army National Guard was consolidated into the 43rd Brigade, 26th Division, and put under the command of the 26th Infantry Division.

On April 1, 1988, the division was relocated to Camp Edwards, Massachusettsmarker. The division headquarters was consolidated with 1st Brigade, 26th Infantry Division. In its place, the 86th Infantry Brigade was assigned to the division as a round-out unit.

Deactivation

Following the end of the Cold War, the Army began a process of downsizing its forces. The Army reactivated the 29th Infantry Division and began reorganizing its forces and further consolidating them. As a result, the Army decided to downsize the 26th Infantry Division into a brigade, and put it under the command of the 29th Infantry Division. On September 1, 1993, the division was deactivated, and the 26th Infantry Brigade designated in its place, based in Springfield. The 3rd and 43rd brigades, 26th Infantry Division were deactivated, and the 86th Infantry Brigade was put under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division. On October 1, 1995, the division was formally designated the 26th Brigade, 29th Infantry Division.

Honors

The division received one unit decoration and six campaign streamers in World War I and one unit decoration and four campaign streamera in World War II, for a total of two decorations and 10 campaign streamers in its operational lifetime.

Unit decorations

Ribbon Award Year Notes
French Croix de Guerre, World War I (With Glit Star) 1918 Embroidered "LORRAINE"
French Croix de Guerre, World War II (With Palm) 1944 Embroidered "LORRAINE"


Campaign streamers

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
World War I Champagne-Marne 1917
World War I Aisne-Marne 1917
World War I St. Mihiel 1917
World War I Meuse-Argonne 1917
World War I Ile de France 1918
World War I Lorraine 1918
World War II Northern France 1944
World War II Rhineland 1945
World War II Ardennes-Alsace 1945
World War II Central Europe 1945


Legacy

The beltway around the city of Boston, Massachusetts Route 128, is nicknamed the "Yankee Division Highway" in honor of the 26th Infantry Division. For its contribution in liberating the Gusen concentration camp, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museummarker continually flies the division's colors at its enterance and for high-profile memorial ceremonies, honoring it as one of 35 US divisions to have assisted in the liberation of German concentration camps.

Notable members of the division include Walter Krueger, Edward Lawrence Logan, and Sergeant Stubby, a dog that served with the Division in combat in World War I. Additionally, two members of the division received the Medal of Honor in World War II, Ruben Rivers, and Alfred L. Wilson.

References

  1. Wilson, p. 327.
  2. McGrath, p. 168.
  3. Order of Battle, p. 100.
  4. Almanac, p. 528.
  5. Stewart, p. 25.
  6. Stewart, p. 26.
  7. Stewart, p. 30.
  8. Stewart, p. 36
  9. Stewart, p. 37.
  10. Almanac, p. 592.
  11. Order of Battle, p. 101.
  12. Order of Battle, p. 105.
  13. Order of Battle, p. 106.
  14. Almanac, p. 529.
  15. Order of Battle, p. 104.
  16. Order of Battle, p. 102.
  17. McGrath, p. 192.
  18. Wilson, p. 328.
  19. McGrath, p. 194.
  20. Wilson, p. 330.
  21. Susan Rosegrant, David R. Lampe, Route 128: Lessons from Boston's High-Tech Community, Basic Books, 1992, ISBN 0-465-04639-8


Sources



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