31ST INFANTRY DIVISION
World War I
Activated: October 1917 (National Guard Division from Alabama, Florida and Georgia). Overseas: 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 The personnel of most of the units were withdrawn and sent to other organizations. Commanders: 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). Returned to U. S.: December 1918.
World War II
Activated: 25 November 1940 (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 ; BSM-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. (See National Guard.)
The 31st Infantry Division arrived in Oro Bay, New Guinea, 24 April 1944, and engaged in amphibious training prior to entering combat. Alerted on 25 June 1944 for movement to Aitape, the 124th RCT left Oro Bay and landed at Aitape, New Guinea, 3-6 July 1944. The combat team moved up to advanced positions and took part in the general offensive launched 13 July, running into bloody fighting along the Drinumor 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 destroyed in these actions. In mid-August the Division began to stage for the Morotai operation, 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 seized Mapia, 15-17 September, and waded ashore on the Asia islands, 19-20 September, 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. 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 accomplished the surrender of all Japanese forces remaining in Mindanao.
Nickname: Dixie Division. Slogan: It shall be done. Shoulder patch: A white disk on which is a red circle, within which are two red D's, back to back. Publications: 31st Infantry Division in the Pacific; by unit memhers; Army & Navy Publishing Co., Baton Rouge 1, La.; 1947.
Nota Bene: These combat chronicles, current as of October 1948, are reproduced from The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, pp. 510-592.]
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