Philippine Division

Philippine Division, or from 1946-1947 the 12th Infantry Division, was the core U.S. infantry division of the United States Army's Philippine Department during World War II. On 31 July 1941, the division consisted of 10,473 troops, mostly enlisted Filipinos, known as the Philippine Scouts who formed the 45th and 57th US Infantry Regiments. All of the division's enlisted men, with the exception of the 31st Infantry Regiment, and various military police and headquarters troops, were Philippine Scouts.[1]

Philippine Division
12th Infantry Division
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active1921 – 47
Country United States
Branch United States Army
TypeSquare Division
HeadquartersFort William McKinley
EngagementsWorld War II
Philippine Islands
MG Jonathan M. Wainwright
MG William Weigel
Distinctive unit insigniaNone authorized

In October 1941, as part of the U.S. Army Forces Far East, plans were made to "triangularize" the division. The 34th Infantry was detached from the 8th Infantry Division and moved to a port of embarkation in December 1941, along with two battalions of 105mm field artillery. The Philippine Division was to have two complete U.S. regimental combat teams in place by January 1942 to provide General Douglas MacArthur with a modern, trained mobile reaction force, while freeing up Philippine Scouts for rounding out other units. The outbreak of war in December 1941, however, isolated the Philippines and prevented implementation of the plan. It was briefly reconstituted as the 12th Infantry Division in 1944–45.

Shoulder sleeve insignia

  • Description: On a scarlet spade-shaped shield, a yellow carabao's head caboshed.
  • Symbolism: The carabao is suggestive of the Philippines, and the colors red and gold represent the Spanish heritage of the islands.



  • Constituted 29 April 1921 in the Regular Army as Headquarters, Philippine Division.
  • Organized 8 June 1921 in the Philippine Islands, with Regular Army and Philippine Scouts personnel.
  • Surrendered 9 April 1942 to the Japanese 14th Army.
  • Redesignated 6 April 1946 as the 12th Infantry Division.
  • Inactivated 30 April 1947 in the Philippine Islands.
  • Disbanded 23 March 1953.

Combat chronicle[2]

  • Units of the Philippine Division were on security missions at Manila, Fort William McKinley, and Bataan prior to the declaration of war in the Pacific, 8 December 1941. After undergoing 2 days of bombings, the Division moved into the field to cover the withdrawal of troops to Bataan and to resist the enemy in the Subic Bay area. From 11 December 1941 to 23 December 1941, positions were organized and strengthened and on 23 December 1941 the Division was assigned to the Bataan Defense Forces. While the 31st Infantry Regiment moved to the vicinity of Zig Zag Pass to cover the flanks of troops withdrawing from central and southern Luzon, 30 December 1941, the rest of the Division organized the main and reserve positions on Bataan. The 31st Infantry Regiment moved to a defensive position on the west side of the Olongapo Road near Layac Junction, 5 January 1942. This junction was lost on 6 January 1942, but the withdrawal to Bataan had been successfully concluded.
  • The Division was placed in reserve from 7 January 1942 to 14 January 1942. This period was largely one of reconnaissance and development by the Japanese in preparation for their attack on the main battle position on the Abucay line. Elements repulsed night attacks near Abucay on 10 January 1942 – 12 January 1942, and other elements of the Division counterattacked on the 16 January 1942. Strong offensive and defensive action was not able to prevent enemy penetrations and the Division withdrew to the Reserve Battle Position in the PilarBagac area, 2 February 1942. Until the latter part of March the enemy, made cautious by heavy losses, engaged in patrols and limited local attacks, and after a general retirement, 24 March 1942, did not undertake any serious activity on this front until 28 March 1942. During this period elements of the Division were shifted to assist in the defense of other sectors. The enemy attack on 28 March struck at a division weakened by malnutrition, sickness, and prolonged exposure to combat. The Division, no longer operating as a coordinated unit, was unable to counterattack against heavy enemy assaults.
  • On 8 April 1942, the 57th Infantry Regiment and the 31st Infantry Regiment were lost near the Alangan River, and the 45th Infantry Regiment surrendered, 10 April 1942.

Wartime assignments

  1. U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) – 8 December 1941 – 24 December 1941.
  2. Bataan Defense Force – 24 December 1941 – 6 January 1942.
  3. U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) – 6 January 1942 – 26 January 1942.
  4. II Philippine Corps – 26 January 1942 – 7 April 1942.
  5. I Philippine Corps – 7 April 1942 – 10 April 1942.
  6. Prisoner Of War Captivity – 10 April 1942 – 1945


The regimental colors of the 12th Quartermaster Regiment (PS) were given to an Army nurse (one of the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor") by the regimental commander. Upon her capture she told the Japanese that they were "only a shawl" and kept them safe throughout more than three years of captivity.[3] Today, the colors are on display at the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum, Fort Lee, Virginia.[4]



Campaign participation credit

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
World War II
Philippine Islands 7 Dec 41 - 10 May 42
World War II
World War II Victory service between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946


Unit awards

Ribbon Award Embroidered
Presidential Unit Citation LUZON 1941–1942[5]
Presidential Unit Citation BATAAN[6]
Presidential Unit Citation DEFENSE OF THE PHILIPPINES[7]
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation 7 DECEMBER 1941 TO 10 MAY 1942[8]

Personal awards

  • Medals of Honor: 3.


  • Drake, Charles C. (28 June 1926). Philippine maneuvers. Infantry #625. p. 31.
  • Morton, Louis (1953). The Fall of the Philippines: United States in World War II Series. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History.

See also


  1. US Army Order of Battle 1919-1940 p287
  2. 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.
  3. Dr. Steven E. Anders, Heritage and Values: FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE: Building Great Quartermaster Soldiers Archived 15 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Honor Preserved at Corriegedor, The U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum, retrieved 22 May 2008
  5. (North Luzon Force, United States Army Forces in the Far East. Cited; War Department General Order # 14, 1942).
  6. (Army Troops, United States Army Forces in the Far East. Cited; War Department General Order #32, 1942.)
  7. (Military and naval forces of the United States and Philippine Governments. Cited; War Department General Order #22, 1942, as amended by Department of the Army General Order #46, 1948).
  8. (Military and naval forces of the United States and Philippine Governments. Cited; War Department General Order #47, 1950).
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