1915 Highway 281 North
Blanco, TX 78606
While America had begun to build up its military as war spread through Europe and the Pacific, but still entered the war with an undersized and under equipped military. Once engaged in war, America grew its forces and capabilities at a remarkable pace. Volunteers and a national draft filled the ranks and American Industry cranked out the weapons and material to carry the war to the enemy within a year. Experience on the battlefield produced an evolution in military technology and tactics and by the end of the war American forces had attained a high level of combat efficiency. In this section we highlight certain American units which typified the commitment as America gained its war footing.
THE TEXAS 36TH INFANTRY DIVISION IN WORLS WAR TWO.
The Texas 36th Infantry was assembled from volunteers in Texas and Oklahoma as an Army National Guard Division for WWI. The 36th fought in several major engagements during the war and served on occupation duty until returning stateside and inactivated in June of 1919.
On 25 November, 1940 the Texas 36th Infantry was activated for Federal service again at Camp Bowie, Texas where it was mobilized. The Texas 36th Infantry built up and trained stateside where it participated in several major training exercises in readiness for overseas deployment.
The Texas 36th Infantry landed in North Africa in April of 1943. On 9 September, 1943, the 36th gained the distinction of being the first American unit to land in occupied Europe when it hit the beach at Paestum, Italy. After a fierce three day battle around Salerno, the Germans withdrew and the 36th Infantry began to move up the Italian peninsula.
The Texas 36th Infantry was at the forefront of the bitter fighting around Monte Cassino where German resistance and severe winter weather took a heavy toll on the 36th. The 36th had heavy casualties in the fighting for the Rapido River and was finally withdrawn from the line. It was then sent into the Anzio beachhead where it participated in the eventual breakout from Anzio and the liberation of Rome on 4 June, 1944.
On 15 August the Texas 36th Infantry conducted another amphibious assault operation landing when it hit the beaches of Southern France in Operation Dragoon. The 36th rapidly moved north and then became engaged in heavy fighting in the Vosges Mountains and the Colmar Pocket. The 36th was withdrawn to rest and refit in late December before returning to the line in March, 1945. It fought into southern Germany and ended up the war in Austria where it remained until December, 1945.
After 400 days of combat the Texas 36th Infantry came back to the United States and was returned to the Texas National Guard on 15 December, 1945. The Texas 36th Infantry had 14 Medal of Honor winners, seven campaign streamers, and the ninth highest casualty rate of any Army Division in the war.
FIRST ARMORED DIVISION IN WORLD WAR II
On July 15, 1940, the 1st Armored Division was activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Division trained at Fort Knox and in several large scale maneuvers before being deployed overseas. The 1st AD was the first American Armored Division to see combat in World War II. The unit's first contact with the enemy came in Operation Torch on 8 November 1942, when they landed in French Algiers. Landing west of Oran they skirmished with French defenders before taking the city and moving east towards Tunisia.
Their initial contacts with the Germans were costly lessons resulting in heavy equipment losses in December 1942. In its next major action, the 1st AD again sustained heavy casualties at the hands of the experienced Germans in the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in February 1943. The Division continued in the Allied drive to box in the Germans until the eventual surrender of the German forces in Tunisia on 7 May, 1943.
After the end of hostilities in North Africa the 1st AD reorganized and then invaded mainland Italy. It took part in the attack on the infamous Winter Line in November 1943 and was instrumental in the eventual breakout out of Allied forces from the Anzio bridgehead and then passed through the city of Rome and pursued the retreating enemy northward.
The division was reorganized in mid July 1944 which eliminated the armor and infantry regiments in favor of three separate tank and infantry battalions, and cut the strength of the division from 14,000 to 10,000. The result of the re-organization was a more flexible and balanced division. The additional infantry strength would prove particularly useful in the future campaigns in the largely mountainous combat of the Italian campaign. The division continued in combat to the Po Valley until the German forces in Italy surrendered on 2 May, 1945. In June, the Division moved to Germany as part of the occupation forces.
The division's casualties included:
During the war, 722 1st AD soldiers were awarded the Silver Star, 908 received the Bronze Star. The division received 5,478 Purple Hearts and two Medal of Honor recipients.
1915 Highway 281 North
Blanco, TX 78606