33rd Infantry Division (United States)

The 33rd Infantry Division was a formation of the U.S. Army National Guard between 1917 and 1968. Originally formed for service during World War I, the division fought along the Western Front at Le Hamel, in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, on the Somme and around Saint-Mihiel. It was re-formed in the inter-war years, and then later activated for service during World War II, seeing action against the Japanese in the Pacific. In the post war era, the division was reconstituted as an all-Illinois National Guard division. In the late 1960s, the division was reduced to brigade-sized formation, and is currently perpetuated by the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

33rd Infantry Division
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Nickname(s)"Illinois Division"; "Prairie Division"; "Golden Cross Division"
EngagementsWorld War I

World War II

DecorationsPresidential Unit Citation (6)

World War I

Sergeant Sydney Gumpertz[5]


The 33rd infantry division served in World War I and beyond. The 33rd division was trained at Camp Logan in Houston, Texas as part of the National state guard in Illinois. The first unit went to France in 1918. The first unit to go into France was the 108th Engineers, under Colonel Henry A. Allen. On 20 and 21 June the division went to the Amiens sector, where there was expected to be a major German attack. The division was trained by British Empire forces – in particular the Australian Corps – and was part of some of their operations.

The first major battle in which elements of the 33rd Division took part was the Battle of Hamel on 4 July. Individual platoons from four companies from the 131st Infantry and 132nd Infantry were distributed among Australian battalions, to gain combat experience. This, however, occurred without official approval as there was controversy regarding the battlefield command of US troops by junior officers from other countries. Thus, while Hamel was a relatively minor battle by the standards of World War I, it was historically significant as the first occasion on which US Army personnel had fought alongside British Empire forces, and demonstrated that the previously inexperienced American troops could play an effective role in the war. The battle was also historically significant for the use of innovative assault tactics, devised by the Australian general John Monash, were demonstrated.

On 23 August, the division was moved to the Toul sector. The 33rd Division fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive from 26 September 1918 to the end of the battle 10 November 1918. The last mission in which the 33rd division took part was on 27 December 1918.

In total, from the 33rd arriving in France to the German armistice on 11 November 1918, the division captured 13 units of heavy artillery and 87 pieces of light artillery. Also, they captured 460 machine guns and 430 light guns. In total, the entire division gained 40,300 meters of land in WW1. The 33rd division was the only unit in the war to have machine gun barrage enemy nests while infantry turned the position. In total, the 33rd infantry division received 215 American decorations, 56 British decorations, and various others.[6][7]

As result of its World War I service, the division remains the only US Army division that has fought as part of British Empire and French corps.

Order of battle

In 1918, the 33rd Division was organized as follows:

  • Headquarters, 33rd Division
  • 65th Infantry Brigade
  • 66th Infantry Brigade
  • 58th Field Artillery Brigade
    • 122nd Field Artillery Regiment (75mm)
    • 123rd Field Artillery Regiment (155mm)
    • 124th Field Artillery Regiment (75mm)
    • 108th Trench Mortar Battery
  • 122nd Machine Gun Battalion
  • 108th Engineer Regiment
  • 108th Field Signal Battalion
  • Headquarters Troop, 33rd Division
  • 108th Train Headquarters & Military Police
    • 108th Ammunition Train
    • 108th Supply Train
    • 108th Engineer Train
    • 108th Sanitary Train
      • 129th, 130th, 131st, and 132nd Ambulance Companies and Field Hospitals

Inter-War Years

Three years after the end of the First World War the United States Congress passed the National Defense Act of 1920 providing for civilian components of the army.[8] An organized reserve was created under the authority of the War Department. This reorganization allowed for the reconstitution of the 33rd Infantry Division. Regular army officers were detailed to act as instructions for the 33rd. One of the regular army officers was Colonel George C. Marshall who served with the 33rd from 1933 to 1936.[8]

The 33rd Infantry Division was a National Guard division for the State of Illinois. It was federalized on 5 March 1941 at Chicago, Illinois. The 130th Infantry Regiment was formed that same day. The division participated in the 1941 Arkansas and Louisiana Maneuvers. It contained:

  • Headquarters, 33rd Division
  • 65th Infantry Brigade
    • 129th Infantry Regiment
    • 130th Infantry Regiment
  • 66th Infantry Brigade
    • 131st Infantry Regiment
    • 132nd Infantry Regiment
  • 58th Artillery Brigade
    • 122nd Field Artillery Regiment (75 mm)
    • 124th Field Artillery Regiment (75 mm)
    • 123rd Field Artillery Regiment (155 mm)
  • 33rd Military Police Company
  • 33rd Signal Company
  • 108th Ordnance Company
  • 108th Engineer Regiment
  • 108th Medical Regiment
  • 108th Quartermaster Regiment
  • 33rd Tank Company

World War II


The division, along with the other National Guard divisions, was ordered to convert from the square to the triangular formation between January and February 1942. The 108th Engineers (Combat) Regiment was broken up on 12 February 1942 and the HQ, HQ and Service Company, and Companies A, B, and C became the 108th Engineer Combat Battalion, which remained with the division. The HQ, 1st Battalion was inactivated on 21 February 1942 and the 2nd Battalion became the 181st Battalion (Heavy Pontoon), an engineering unit.

The 132nd Infantry Regiment was detached on 14 January 1942. On 21 February 1942 the division was re-designated the 33rd Infantry Division. That same day the 131st Infantry Regiment was detached. The 129th Infantry Regiment was detached on 31 July 1943. The 136th Infantry Regiment was formed and assigned to the division on 1 April 1942 and the 123rd Infantry Regiment was formed and assigned to the division on 28 September 1942. The division served in the south Pacific, fighting in New Guinea and in the Philippines. In 1944/1945 the division contained:

Order of Battle

  • Headquarters, 33rd Infantry Division
  • 123rd Infantry Regiment
  • 130th Infantry Regiment
  • 136th Infantry Regiment
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 33rd Infantry Division Artillery
    • 122nd Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
    • 123rd Field Artillery Battalion (155 mm)
    • 124th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
    • 210th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
  • 108th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 108th Medical Battalion
  • 33rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • Headquarters, Special Troops, 33rd Infantry Division
    • Headquarters Company, 33rd Division
    • 733rd Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
    • 33rd Quartermaster Company
    • 33rd Signal Company
    • Military Police Platoon
    • Band
  • 33rd Counterintelligence Corps Detachment

During its combat operations, divisions usually had various units attached in support of it and other organic units detached. Where those attachments and detachments are well-documented for the divisions that fought in the European Theater of Operations, documentation is poorer for those divisions which fought in the Pacific.


When the US Army reorganized from the "square" (4 regiments to a division) to "triangular" (3) concept, the 132nd Infantry Regiment was separated and was sent to New Caledonia as part of Task Force 6814 where it became part of the Americal Division. The division was left with the 123rd, 130th, and 136th Infantry Regiments. The 33rd Tank Company was sent to the Philippines as Company B of the 192nd Tank Battalion prior to Pearl Harbor and it was captured at Bataan.

Action in the Pacific Theater

The 33rd Infantry Division arrived in Hawaii on 12 July 1943. While guarding installations, it received training in jungle warfare. On 11 May 1944, it arrived in New Guinea where it received additional training. The 123rd Infantry Regiment arrived at Maffin Bay on 1 September, to provide perimeter defense around the Wakde Airdrome and in the Toem–Sarmi sector. The 123rd was relieved on 26 January 1945. Elements of the 33rd arrived at Morotai, on 18 December 1944 and landings were made on the west coast of the island on 22 December, without opposition and defensive perimeters were established. Aggressive patrols were sent out which encountered scattered resistance. The 33rd then landed at Lingayen Gulf, on Luzon, on 10 February 1945, and relieved the 43rd Infantry Division in the Damortis–Rosario Pozorrubio area, over the period 13–15 February. The division drove into the Caraballo Mountains on 19 February, toward its objective, Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines and the headquarters of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Fighting against a fanatical enemy entrenched in the hills, the 33rd took Aringay on 7 March, Mount Calugong on 8 April, and Mount Mirador on 25 April. Baguio and Camp John Hay fell on 26 April, under the concerted attack of the 33rd and the 37th Infantry Divisions. Manuel Roxas, later President of the Philippines, was freed during the capture of Baguio, which was liberated by the 33rd and Filipino soldiers of the 66th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFIP-NL on 27 April. After mopping up isolated pockets of Japanese troops, the division captured the San Nicholas–Tebbo–Itogon route on 12 May. All elements went to rest and rehabilitation areas on 30 June 1945. The division landed on Honshū Island, Japan, on 25 September, and then performed occupation duties until it was inactivated in early 1946.


  • Total battle casualties: 2,426[9]
  • Killed in action: 396[9]
  • Wounded in action: 2,024[9]
  • Missing in action: 5[9]
  • Prisoner of war: 1[9]

Post World War II

The 33rd Infantry Division was reformed as an all-Illinois National Guard division on 7 November 1946. However, some of its former units were assigned to the 44th Infantry Division, which was also reorganized in the postwar Guard structure as an Illinois-based division.[10]

By 1954, the division's infantry and artillery units included the 129th, 130th, and 131st Infantry Regiments, and the 122nd, 123rd, 124th, and 210th Field Artillery Battalions.[11] A number of National Guard divisions were deactivated in 1968, including the 33rd Infantry Division on 1 February 1968. However, in its place the 33rd Infantry Brigade was organised.[12] On 1 February 1968, the 178th Infantry Regiment was reorganized to consist of the 1st Battalion, an element of the 33rd Infantry Brigade. The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team carries on the division's heritage, and circa 2010 was assigned to the 35th Infantry Division.

Notable members

  • Abel Davis, commanded the 132nd Infantry Regiment of the 33rd Division during World War I
  • Clayton K. Slack, served in 124th Machine Gun Battalion during World War I
  • Joseph B. Sanborn, commanded the 131st Infantry Regiment of the 33rd Division during World War I
  • Milton J. Foreman, Lieutenant General
  • Robert V. Connolly, Major served in the 123rd Infantry Regiment and commanded famed "Connolly Task Force" on Luzon



  1. Staff (18 May 1919). "Hard Hitting 33d Division" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  2. U.S. Army Center of Military History. "Medal of Honor Recipients – World War I". army.mil. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  3. U.S. Army Center of Military History. "Medal of Honor Recipients – World War I". history.army.mil.
  4. U.S. Army Center of Military History. "Medal of Honor Recipients – World War I". history.army.mil.
  5. cite Medal of Honor recipients _World War1 author U.s.Army Center of military history
  6. "33rd_aef.pdf" (PDF).
  7. "The history of the 33rd".
  8. Daily, Ed (1996). 33rd Infantry Division: The Golden Cross Division (Limited ed.). Paducah, Ky.: Turner Pub. p. 8. ISBN 1-56311-264-7.
  9. Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953)
  10. "National Guard Educational Foundation". Archived from the original on 15 April 2013.
  11. Aumiller, Tim (17 June 2001). "US Army Divisions 1917–2000: 31st to 40th Divisions". Orbat.com, v. 2.0. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  12. Wilson, John B. (1998). Chapter 12: Flexible Response. Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. Army Lineages Series. Washington D.C: Center of Military History. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2015.


  • Cioper, Nicole M. Prairie Division The Thirty-Third in the Great War, 1917–1919. Springfield, IL: Illinois State Military Museum, 1997. OCLC 855688345
  • Daily, Edward L. 33rd Infantry Division: The Golden Cross Division. Paducah, Ky: Turner Pub, 1996. ISBN 1-56311-264-7. OCLC 38169636
  • Harris, Barnett W. and Dudley J. Nelson. 33rd Division Across No-Man's Land. Chicago, Ill.: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 1919. OCLC 70691220
  • Huidekoper, Frederic Louis. The History of the 33rd Division, A.E.F. Springfield, Ill: Illinois State Historical Library, 1921. OCLC 5175547
  • Johnson, F.B. Phantom Warrior: The Heroic True Story of Pvt. John McKinney's One-Man Stand against the Japanese in World War II. New York : Berkeley Caliber, 2007. ISBN 0-425-21566-0 OCLC 71126807
  • Payan, Jack Louis. World War 1, 1918: Kankakee (Illinois) Doughboys, Company L, 129th Infantry, 33rd (Prairie) Division. [Palos Heights, Ill.]: J.L. Payan, 2008. OCLC 256760135
  • Phipps, John R. A Short History of the 130th Infantry Regiment, 33d Infantry Division, Illinois National Guard. 1959. OCLC 16835243
  • United States. The Golden Cross: A History of the 33rd Infantry Division in World War II. Nashville: Battery Press, 2000. ISBN 0-89839-302-7 OCLC 47785230
  • Wilson, John B. (1997). Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. Washington, DC: Center of Military History. OCLC 30625000
  • Winston, Sanford H. The Golden Cross: A History of the 33rd Infantry Division in World War II. Washington [D.C.]: Infantry Journal Press, 1948. OCLC 220297114
  • The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950.
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