35th Infantry Division Memory

For never forget...
Santa Fe
flagfr flagus

Chapter 1

Ready and Waiting

War clouds were forming all over the world in the decade preceding 1940, threatening to rain destruction on the peoples of the earth in the global holocaust that was to be World War II. Military leaders of the Allied Nations, with their eyes on the war barometer, saw the need for preparation long before the inevitable conflict. And so, while the world was tensed for war in those bleak, black, ominous days, the President of the United States and Congress started in motion the vast military machine that was to safe-guard our nation.

One of the key cogs in that machine was the veteran 35th (Santa Fe) Infantry Division. As part of the military foresight of the War Department, the 35th was ordered into Federal Service by Executive Order 8605 on 23 December 1940, almost a full year before the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

During the years of peace, the 35th, as units of Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri National Guard, had stood ready in its vigil for our National security. Now, called into Federal service during the period of free people's darkest hour, it assembled at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, in early January 1941, for training. Advance work as a unit at the Louisiana Maneuver Area made it almost immediately ready for action. Then, with Pearl Harbor, came its first assignment, the defense of the Southern California Sector of the Western Defense Command.

Spread along the long California coast, the division maintained its unity and quickly won the respect and admiration of the Californians who called it their "adopted Army."

Meanwhile, the War Department was working speedily to schedule its war-winning plans. Already the destiny of the Santa Fe Division was being shaped. On 1 March 1942, came reorganization as a standard triangular division. Then, early in 1943, the various units were assembled at Camp San Luis Obispo, California. Here, for several months, training and reorganization took place. The Army's fast-changing new methods of waging all-out global war were introduced quickly; the officers and men were inculcated with Divisional spirit. The military incubator was hatching one of the roughest, toughest outfits ever to step onto the field of battle.

The entire Division moved to Camp Rucker, Alabama, on 1 April 1943 for advanced training. At the time the components of the Division were substantially the same as those which accompanied it later into combat zones. These included the following:

Hq. & Hq. Co, 35th Infantry Division.

The 134th Infantry Regiment, which prior to World War I was the 5th Nebraska Infantry and served from 1917 on as the 134th Infantry Regiment of the 34th Division.

The 137th Infantry Regiment, formerly the 1st Kansas Infantry, fought with the 35th Infantry Division during World War I.

The 320th Infantry Regiment was activated at Camp San Luis Obispo on 14 January 1943. This Regiment fought as part of the 80th Division during World War I.

The 127th Field Artillery Battalion, formerly the 2nd Battalion of the 127th Field Artillery Regiment, was made up of men from Eastern Kansas. This unit formerly had been the 114th Cavalry Regiment.

The 161st Field Artillery Battalion was formerly part of the 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery Regiment.

The 216th Field Artillery Battalion was organized 6 January 1943 with an initial cadre of officers and enlisted men from the 161st Field Artillery Battalion.

The 219th Field Artillery Battalion was activated 12 January 1943 with a cadre of officers and enlisted men from the 130th Field Artillery Battalion originally of the Kansas National Guard.

The 60th Engineer Combat Battalion was activated 29 January 1943 at Camp San Luis Obispo, California.

The 110th Medical Battalion was reorganized from the 110th Sanitary Train, Nebraska National Guard Medical Regiment, 35th Division, and the 117th Sanitary Train, 42nd Division.

The 35th Quartermaster Company was a part of the 110th Quartermaster Regiment, Nebraska National Guard.

The 35th Division Military Police Platoon was activated 23 December 1940 at Garden City, Kansas.

The 35th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop was activated 1 March 1942 at Camp San Luis Obispo, California.

The 735th Ordnance Company was activated 15 November 1942 and consisted of men from Kansas and Nebraska.

The 35th Signal Company was activated 24 December 1940 and consisted of men from Kansas City, Kansas.

The men who trained with the Santa Fe at Camp Rucker will long remember those days. The combat ranges and battle courses gave the men rigorous and thorough training. The division was taking shape as a top-notch fighting team.

By November 1943, the Santa Fe was considered sufficiently trained to participate in the Tennessee maneuvers. It was cold and wet and under the most unfavorable weather conditions the Division engaged in two months of realistic battle problems, two months of conditioning for combat that earned the 35th the commendation of the Second Army directors of the exercises.

Following the completion of the eight phases of the Tennessee maneuvers, the Division moved to Camp Butner, North Carolina, on 18 January 1944 for its final polishing. Combat Teams 134th and 137th went to West Virginia to attend cliff-scaling schools and take mountain training, in the West Virginia Maneuver Area. After four months of putting the finishing touches to its leashed potentialities, the units of the Santa Fe, during the first week of May, 1944, moved into the staging area at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. A final, thorough inspection of the men and equipment by Port of Embarkation officials and the 35th was ready to sail, ready to assemble with the gathering Allied forces to uncork its power when the word was given to attack.

An Advanced Detachment, under the command of Brigadier General Edmund B. Sebree, Assistant Division Commander, sailed from Fort Hamilton on 20 April aboard the S.S. Queen Elizabeth. The party consisted of 54 officers, one warrant officer and 69 enlisted men. The ship docked at Greennock, Scotland, on 27 April 1944.

Debarking the next day, the detachment entrained for a 21 hour ride to Okehampton were they remained from 30 April to 20 May making arrangements for the reception of the division.

On 12 May 1944, three transports, the SS Edmund B. Alexander, SS General A. E. Anderson and the SS Thomas H. Berry, carrying the main body of the division as part of a mighty convoy steamed out of the Port of New York. The ships, and the units they carried, were:

SS Edmund B. Alexander

Hq. & Hq. Co., 35th Infantry Division
320th Infantry Regiment
35th Reconnaissance Troop
Special Troops Medical Detachment
127th Field Artillery Battalion
216th Field Artillery Battalion
35th Signal Company

SS General A. E. Anderson

Hq. & Hq. Battery, 35th Division Artillery
35th Division MP Platoon
35th Division Band
60th Engineer (C) Battalion
134th Infantry Regiment
161st Field Artillery Battalion
219th Field Artillery Battalion

SS Thomas H. Berry

137th Infantry Regiment
35th Quartermaster Company
735th Ordnance Company
110th Medical Battalion

"35thInfantryDivision-memory.com" 2010-2024
The contents of this site and the images belong to their respective owners.