MilitaryHistoryOnline.com Home   Genealogy   Forums   Search   Contact
Search
Amazon:
Keywords:
MHO Home
MHO Home
 Ancient
 Medieval
 17th Century
 18th Century
 19th Century
 American Civil War
 World War I
 World War II
 Korea
 Vietnam
 20th - 21st Century


 Write for MHO
 Search MHO
 Civil War Genealogy Database
 Privacy Policy
 MilitaryGaming.com

WWII Sections
MHO Home
 WWII Home

US Army in World War II Sections
WWII Home
 US Army in WWWII Home <<<
  Introduction and Organization
  Armor and Tank Types
  Cavalry and Infantry
  Artillery and AA Artillery
  Engineers and Logistics
  Manpower and Training
  Notes

Rich Anderson Articles
US Army in WWII

Ads by Google



US Army in World War II
US Army in World War II
by Rich Anderson

Introduction and Organization
The US Army of World War II was created from a tiny antebellum army in the space of three years. On 30 June 1939 the Regular Army numbered 187,893 men, including 22,387 in the Army Air Corps. On the same date the National Guard totaled 199,491 men. The major combat units included nine infantry divisions, two cavalry divisions, a mechanized cavalry (armor) brigade in the Regular Army and eighteen infantry divisions in the National Guard. Modern equipment was for the most part nonexistent and training in the National Guard units varied from fair to poor. The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 led to a gradual expansion of the Army. On 27 August 1940, Congress authorized the induction of the National Guard into Federal service. On 16 September 1940 the first peacetime draft in United States history was passed by Congress. However, the draftees were inducted for only one year. Fortunately, on 7 August 1941, by a margin of a single vote, Congress approved an indefinite extension of service for the Guard, draftees, and Reserve officers. Four months later to the day, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Read More...
* * *
* * *

Armor and Tank Types
US armored units underwent a considerable number of changes - most of them forced by operational requirements -- during the war. The most significant of these were the reorganization of the armored divisions in 1943 and the modified Tables of Equipment (TE) that were utilized by most tank battalions in Europe during late 1944 and early 1945. The modified TE was put in effect when losses of medium tanks in Europe outpaced the Army's ability to replace them and reduced the number of medium tanks in the battalion from fifty-three to forty-one. All of the light armored divisions and separate tank battalions in Europe in the fall of 1944 were placed on the modified establishment. It is probable that those divisions (8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th) and battalions that arrived in late 1944 retained the original TE, although some separate battalions were temporarily stripped of equipment to provide replacement stocks for the battalions that were already in combat. One battalion, the 740th, was stripped when it arrived in Europe in December 1944. Then it was hastily refitted from a British tank repair depot on 18 December and was flung into the path of KG Pieper during the Ardennes Offensive. The 740th's odd lot of equipment included M4s, Fireflies, M10 and M36 tank destroyers, and M8 armored cars, all of which were equipped with British radios -- which the Americans didn't know how to use! Despite this handicap the battalion (actually a reinforced company) materially assisted in halting Pieper's advance west of Stoumont Station by a combination of good luck and excellent gunnery.
Read More...

Cavalry and Infantry
Reconnaissance in the armored divisions was performed by the armored reconnaissance battalion -- in the heavy division -- or by the cavalry reconnaissance squadron, mechanized -- in the light division. These units were identical, except that the battalion was organized as companies, the squadron as troops (although the light tank unit was a company in both organizations). In addition, each armored regiment had a reconnaissance company and each infantry division a reconnaissance troop (organized the same as below), while each tank battalion had a reconnaissance platoon. The mechanized cavalry squadrons were organized with three Cavalry Troops, lettered A to C, each equipped with 13 M8 armored cars and jeeps; an Assault Gun Troop, E, with six M8 HMC; a Light Tank Company, F, with 17 M5 Stuart, or later M24, tanks; a Service Company; and an H & H Company. The armored divisions reconnaissance squadron was identical except that it had a fourth Cavalry Troop, D, and the Assault Gun Troop had eight M8 HMC. Infantry divisions each had a single cavalry reconnaissance troop.
Read More...

Artillery and AA Artillery
In World War I the artillery arm of the U.S. Army had fought in Europe equipped entirely with French or British weapons. There were many reasons for this: the need to standardize Allied arms, lack of shipping space, and lack of industrial capacity. However, another factor was that many ordnance specialists in Britain and France felt that the indigenous American gun designs were not up to European standards. As a result, in 1921 the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Charles P. Sommerall (one of the most brilliant artillerymen in U.S. Army history) established the Westervelt Board to examine the army's ordnance requirements for the future. The board's report was impartial and farsighted, and it had dramatic consequences for the U.S. Army artillery in World War II. The board recommended that the standard divisional artillery piece be increased in caliber from 75mm to 105mm, while the general support weapon for the division was to be standardized as the 155mm howitzer. The 4.7" corps general support gun (a British design) was to be discarded in favor of the 155mm gun (a French design). In addition, the board recommended that heavier pieces of the most modern type be designed, and that all artillery pieces be suitable for rapid motorized road movement. Finally, improvements in fire control methodology and communications were recommended, based upon concepts that had been pioneered by Summerall as an artillery brigade commander in France.
Read More...

Engineers and Logistics
It was perhaps fitting that the U.S. Army, with an officer corps heavily influenced by the teachings of the United States Military Academy (which was the first engineering school in the United States), should be lavishly equipped with engineer troops and equipment. The divisional combat engineer battalions were capable of performing most engineering tasks (including demolitions, obstacle emplacement, fortification, and light bridge building) for the division. Additional battalions from corps or army augmented divisional engineers for more extensive tasks. Corps battalions were assigned to the command of an engineer group headquarters, which consisted of an H & H Company and an engineer light equipment company. Normally there were between three and six battalions in an engineer group and one or two groups per corps or army.
Read More...

Manpower, Doctrine and Training
In late 1944 a severe problem in the U.S. Army in general was the manpower shortage. Plans to expand the Army to 213 divisions were never met and it was proving difficult to maintain the 89 divisions then in existence - even though almost one-quarter of them had yet to see combat. Furthermore, the prewar planning for replacements was found to be totally inadequate. The causes were manifold: U.S. industrial and agricultural demands could only be partially met by bringing women into the workforce; the Army was fighting a two-front war; fear of the blitzkrieg had resulted in an over-expansion of the antiaircraft and tank destroyer arms; the requirements of the massive expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces in general had reduced the manpower pool; and, perhaps worst of all, segregation meant that a large percentage o the available manpower, African-Americans, were restricted to service support organization and a few separate combat units.
Read More...

* * *

Copyright © 2000 Rich Anderson.

Written by Rich Anderson. If you have questions or comments on this article, please contact Rich Anderson at:
richto90@msn.com.

About the author:
Richard C. Anderson, Jr. works as the Chief Historian at the The Dupuy Institute (a non-profit organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military campaigns.

Published online: 2000.
Last Modified: 02/11/2007.

* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent those of MHO.
Featured Books


The Army


US Army: A Complete History

© 2014 MilitaryHistoryOnline.com, LLC Contact Brian Williams at: militaryhistoryonline@hotmail.com