27th Infantry Division, World War Two

Pre WWII Service:

In 1912 the New York State National Guard was organized into a Divisional format, which meant that groups of its regiments would be placed together under a larger organized unit, in a manner similar to that of the regular army. This new Division would eventually become the 27th Infantry Division. On June 16th, 1916 the New York State National Guard Division was mobilized and moved to the Mexican border to participate in Brigadier General John Pershing’s sortie into Mexico. The Division, known initially as the New York Division and then as the 6th Division remained in Mexico until March of 1917 when it was recalled to New York in preparation for possible service in Europe. In late April of 1918, the Division was transported to Europe where it fought gallantly for the remainder of World War I.

WWII Service:

The 27th Infantry Division was federalized for service on October 15th, 1940 and initially commanded by Major General William Haskell. At this time it still retained its WWI organization of two brigades and four regiments. The 53rd Brigade consisted of the 105th and 106th Infantry regiments while the 54th Brigade contained the 108th and 165th Infantry regiments. Following a lengthy period of maneuvers and training, the 27th was ordered to California in December following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. While in California the 27th awaited orders to ship out and concentrated on bringing itself up to the authorized field strength of 1,012 officers and 21,314 enlisted men. The Division’s strength had been reduced by discharges to around 14,000 men. The first elements of the Division boarded ships bound for Hawaii on February 27th 1942, the first Infantry Division to leave the states following Pearl Harbor.

The Division remained on Hawaii for a number of months, during which time it was triangularized, with the 108th Infantry regiment being reassigned to the 40th Division. A Division that has been triangularized has been given three infantry regiments instead of the four of a square Division. This final reorganization dismantled the brigade structure and again dropped the Division’s strength to 14,000 men. Following the reorganization, the 27th Division was shifted to Oahu, where it would relieve the 25th Infantry Division, which was slated to join the U.S forces fighting in Guadalcanal. For most of its time in Hawaii, the 27th was under the command of Brigadier General Ralph Pennel.

On November 20th 1943, the 27th Infantry Division embarked on its first combat assignment, the capture of the coral atoll of Makin. The 27th also had a new Division commander, Major General Ralph Smith. Units from the 27th Division also occupied the Majuro atoll on February 1st 1944 and successfully assaulted Eniwetok Island on February 19th of the same year. In June 1944, the Division landed on Saipan, where its regiments fought together for the first time as a full Division. Following Saipan the Division was rested and reinforced at Espirto Santo for seven months before any further operations. During this time the 27th received its final Division commander, Major General George Griner Jr * . On April 9h, 1945 the Division landed on Okinawa, where it would remain until September when it was sent to Japan briefly for garrison duty. The Division was mustered out in late December of the same year. Since its arrival in the Pacific, the 27th Infantry Division had suffered 1,512 killed in action, 4,980 wounded in action and 332 who later succumbed to their wounds.

General Smith had been removed from command following a dispute with the aggressive and eccentric Marine commander, General Holland “Howling Mad” Smith who had been in overall command of the Saipan invasion. Holland Smith claimed that Ralph Smith had disregarded orders and mishandled the 27th Division, prompting the relief order. Later court of inquiry showed that the charges were for the most part unsubstantiated and General Ralph Smith was quickly given a new command.

NYSMM Online Resources

Men who were federalized in 1940

The National Guard In War:  An Historical Analysis Of The 27Th Infantry Division (New York National Guard) In World War II, By Charles S. Kaune, MAJ, USA.
A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

27th Division Yearbook, 1940-41
From the Army-Navy Publishers. Pictorial history, Twenty-Seventh Division, United States Army, 1940-1941. Atlanta, Ga. Army-Navy Publishers, inc, 1941. 
Name index is here.

Organization Chart: 27th G-2 Section, 27th Division (Intelligence) Language Section 

Operation Iceberg - Plans for the invasion of Okinawa, (27th Division) April 1945.
Part of the Col. Howard R. Gmelch Collection, 2003.0211 *I still have to insert pdf link*

27th Division News
Periodical published by the Division while it was stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama, 1940 - 1941
Note: we are missing mulitiple issues and would certainly appreciate donations (physical or digital) of the missing issues.

 In remembrance and honor of the brave US servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Marianas Campaign during WW II : in celebration of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of World War II in the Marianas *still have to insert pdf link*

Descriptive history of the 27th Division, July 1940 to July 1942, and of the Hawaii district, March 1942 to July 1942

New York's Citizen Soldiers *still have to insert pdf link*

Partial Index for The 27th Infantry Division in World War II By Capt. Edmund G. Love



Other Resources

Articles on Saipan, 1943-1945.
Articles collected and donated by Francesca Pitaro.
"Awarded Purple Heart," A-P Interoffice, December 1943; "The Pacific War as a reporter sees it," by Rembert James, January 1944; "Nip Base hit, 1500 miles from Japan," The Washington Post, 16 June 1944; "Nearest Navy approach to Japan," New York Times, 17 June 1944; "Saipan Foothold two miles deep," Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1944; "Carries smash attact, Saipan Airdrome taken," New York Times, 20 June 1944; "Airstrip in operation," New York Times, 22 June 1944; "Loudspeaker wins prisoners," New York Times, 25 June 1944; "Pay highest price of Pacific War on Saipan," Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1 July 1944; "Conquering Saipan proved harder than expected," Daily Boston Globe, 6 July 1944; "Bulldozer on Saipan seals up Japs in cave," Chicago Daily Tribune, 6 July 1944; "Japs on Saipan face liquidation," Daily Boston Globe, 7 July 1944; "Saipan life road set up," New York Times, 8 July 1944; "Americans moving in for kill on Saipan," Washington Post, 8 July 1944; "1500 Saipan Japs wiped out," Daily Boston Globe, 9 July 1944; "Saipan Front," Chicago Daily Tribune, 9 July 1944; "Yanks take Saipan," Daily Boston Globe, 10 July 1944; "US Troops conquer all Saipan," Los Angeles Times, 10 July 1944; "South Pacific," A-P Interoffice, July-August 1944; "Honolulu," A-P Interoffice, August-September 1944; "General Loses Command in dispute on Saipan," Los Angeles Times, 10 Sept 1944; Superior Defends Ouster of General," New York Times, 10 Sept 1944; "Removal of General Laid to Clash," Washington Post, 10 Sept 1944; "Terrific Pacific," A-P Interoffice, November 1944; "D-Day Landings [Guam]," May 1945; Wirecopy stories.