History of 96th Infantry Division Up To the Leyte Landing
96th Infantry Division of World War I was activated late in World War I
at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina under the command of Major General
Guy Carleton on October 20, 1918. After the armistice of November 11,
i918, the under-manned, untrained 96th Infantry Division was demobilized
on January 7, 1919.
The 96th Infantry Division was
reconstituted in the Army Reserve system on June 24, 1921 in Portland,
Oregon. During the 1920’s and 1930’s the Division had summer training of
its reservists and aided Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the
By the start of World War II for
the United States, most reserve members of the 96th Division had been
called to active duty. The 96th Infantry Division, after arrival of a
cadre, mostly from the 7th Infantry Division, was activated at Camp
Adair, Oregon on August 15, 1942 under the command of Major General
James L. Bradley. Shortly thereafter Brigadier General Claudius Easley
became Assistant Division Commander. Both Generals stressed rifle
marksmanship and under the skilled training leadership of General
Easley, the 96th Division acquired the nickname, “The Deadeyes.”
The Division was filled with draftees in October 1942 and Basic
Training was undertaken, which was completed on February 20, 1943.
Shortly thereafter the 96th Infantry Division sent a cadre of men to
startup the 69th Infantry Division.
On May 5, 1943
the Division was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, with Division Artillery
going to the Yakima, Washington firing center. Additional
training moves followed, to the central Oregon maneuver area, back to
Camp Adair, to IV Corps maneuvers (91st, 96th and 104th Divisions) in
central Oregon, and to Camp White, Oregon.
White in late March 1944, 2,000 soldiers from the discontinued Army
Specialized Training Program, plus a number of Army Air Force aviation
cadets joined the Division to fill up the ranks.
April 30, 1944 the Division moved to Camp San Luis Obispo, California
for amphibious training. . This instinctively told the “Deadeyes” that
we were destined to fight the Japanese in the Pacific area. Individual
Regiments also went to Camp Callan, California for Regimental practice
With amphibious training completed by
early July, the Division went to Camp Beale, California to stage for
overseas shipment, and then to Camp Stoneman for final preparations.
Starting on July 23, 1944, over 5 days on separate ships, the Division
sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
By the end of July
1944, most of the Division was at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii;
except for the 381st Infantry Regiment quartered in the Pali Pass area
of eastern Oahu island. While on Oahu members of the Division received
jungle warfare training.
Between September 1 and 5, a
96th Infantry Division convoy, combat loaded, sailed for Maui Island
and made practice amphibious landings. The Division then returned to
Pearl Harbor and it camps on Oahu.
On September 11,
1944 the Division Landing Ship Tank (LST) convoy left Pearl Harbor for
an undisclosed landing operation and the troop ships departed on
September 15th After departing for our objective, it was revealed than
Japanese held Yap Island was our objective for an October 5, 1944
However, on arrival at Eniwetok Atoll our
objective was changed to Leyte Island, Philippines and a new landing
date of October 20, 1944, This operation was designated King II, with
October 20th being A-Day.
The Division Convoys
proceed to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands. Then on October
11th the LST force embarked for the landing on the east shore of Leyte
Island and the troopships departed on October 14th. The 96th
Division was nearly at full authorized strength of 14,253 men. We had
attached the 763rd medium Tank Battalion, the 88th Chemical Mortar
Battalion (4.2”) and the 593rd Joint Assault Signal Company.