200 U. S. trained divisions?

Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
Counter
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 01 Mar 2019 16:48
Location: Europe

200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Counter » 18 Jan 2021 23:11

Hi Everybody!

I found this in the book "Masters and Commanders" by Andrew Roberts (chapter 11):

" In divisional terms, the US Army had 37 trained divisions at the time of Pearl Harbor, 73 by Operation Torch, 120 by the summer of 1943 and 200 by D-Day. By contrast the British Commonwealth had seventy-five divisions by the summer of 1943 and hardly any more the next year."

I don´t understand what this "trained divisions" means as I thought that the US never prepared more than 100 divisions (counting US marines too) https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_15.htm The figure about the british I find known...

Thank you for any answer...

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 4249
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 19 Jan 2021 02:19

Counter wrote:
18 Jan 2021 23:11
Hi Everybody!

I found this in the book "Masters and Commanders" by Andrew Roberts (chapter 11):

" In divisional terms, the US Army had 37 trained divisions at the time of Pearl Harbor, 73 by Operation Torch, 120 by the summer of 1943 and 200 by D-Day. By contrast the British Commonwealth had seventy-five divisions by the summer of 1943 and hardly any more the next year."

I don´t understand what this "trained divisions" means as I thought that the US never prepared more than 100 divisions (counting US marines too) https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_15.htm The figure about the british I find known...

Thank you for any answer...
I think he is counting personnel and using an assumed "divisional slice"?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Gary Kennedy
Member
Posts: 920
Joined: 28 Mar 2012 18:56

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 19 Jan 2021 14:21

The Organization of Ground Combat Troops (by Greenfield, Palmer and Wiley) is online as a PDF.

Page 52 includes a comment that McNair 'estimated that operations would require 200 divisions and their training could not begin too soon'. This estimate would appear to date to the end of 1941. As noted the US Army in actuality raised 90 Divisions (66 Inf, 5 Abn, 1 Mtn, 2 Cav and 16 Armd) and the USMC 6 Divisions. I would likewise assume he's counting other, non-Div elements (there were a surprising number of Inf Regts that were not part of Inf Divs, well, surprised me anyway) and possibly non-Div Tank Bns and so on. If he's got the most basic headcount of Divs wrong then, wow...

Gary

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 4249
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 19 Jan 2021 18:35

Gary Kennedy wrote:
19 Jan 2021 14:21
(there were a surprising number of Inf Regts that were not part of Inf Divs, well, surprised me anyway)
Gary, most of the separate infantry regiments were created from the triangularization of the infantry division. In the process, most of their personnel were transferred to the newly-organized divisions to make up shortfalls in personnel, which meant most of them were left badly understrength. The theory was they would then be used as the basis of task forces and as relief of divisional units under the plug-and-play non-divisional unit concept conceived by McNair, which essentially never worked. Various were eventually employed as line-of-communications, theater replacement-training organizations, and the like, but most appear to have been shell organizations with mostly cadre personnel.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8751
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Jan 2021 18:49

Counting the foreign divisions the US equipped and supplied, French, Brazilian, Chinese, ect... The count was closer to 110 near the end of 1944. Averaging out divisional & corps level material sent to the Chinese. USSR, & other it was well over 120 divisions in 1944. Perhaps as high as 130.

The allowances for US air forces, service forces, and the Navy were lower in 1941 & that's where most of difference in ground forces went to.

Within the ground forces a large part of the difference went to independant tank battalions (65), tank destroyer battalions, combat engineers, or corps & army artillery. In terms of raw firepower a US or Commonwealth division was about double the German or Italian equivalent. In that perspective the US fielded the equivalent of far over 200 Axis divisions globally

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8751
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Jan 2021 19:57

Counter wrote:
18 Jan 2021 23:11
Hi Everybody!

I found this in the book "Masters and Commanders" by Andrew Roberts (chapter 11):

" In divisional terms, the US Army had 37 trained divisions at the time of Pearl Harbor, 73 by Operation Torch, 120 by the summer of 1943 and 200 by D-Day. By contrast the British Commonwealth had seventy-five divisions by the summer of 1943 and hardly any more the next year."

I don´t understand what this "trained divisions" means as I thought that the US never prepared more than 100 divisions (counting US marines too) https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_15.htm The figure about the british I find known.
"Trained" may be a exaggeration. While the companies may have been well trained, relative to most conscript armies the HQ staff could not be. Few of the divisions had been mobilized a year, and all the Regular Army units had their officer cadre turn over considerablly. Over 50% in most cases. The necessity to triple or quadruple instructors in the schools, and staff new units like the armored divisions, & new corps combat and support units drew heavily on the 17,000 man RA officer cadre of 1939.

Speaking from 20 years of direct experience you don't train the command staff or support of HQ in a few weeks as you can a rifleman, or a few months as with a skilled technician. Mechanized combined arms warfare was new to the US Army & as a group the officers had a very long way to go. Perhaps a dozen divisions were well enough trained Dec 1941 for combat, maybe even half, but not all 37.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8751
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Jan 2021 05:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
19 Jan 2021 18:35
Gary Kennedy wrote:
19 Jan 2021 14:21
(there were a surprising number of Inf Regts that were not part of Inf Divs, well, surprised me anyway)
Gary, most of the separate infantry regiments were created from the triangularization of the infantry division. In the process, most of their personnel were transferred to the newly-organized divisions to make up shortfalls in personnel, which meant most of them were left badly understrength. The theory was they would then be used as the basis of task forces and as relief of divisional units under the plug-and-play non-divisional unit concept conceived by McNair, which essentially never worked. Various were eventually employed as line-of-communications, theater replacement-training organizations, and the like, but most appear to have been shell organizations with mostly cadre personnel.
Here is a quick list of the Separate Regiments, drawn from Staunton. More than I'd thought, 62, and more were sent outside the US or Caribbean the I'd thought. By my rough count 15 separate regiments and three provisional groups of regiment size had actual combat. Eight were overseas in combat zones as Line of Communications Guards. 10 were at various garrisons in Alaska, Six garrisoned various points in the Canal Zone & Caribbean islands, 17 Never left the US & most of those ended at the Infantry training center in 1944. On paper these were infantry regiments for 20 more divisions. Just counting those that actually fought, then the infantry component for six divisions. There were a few Separate infantry battalions. Tho Im not looking those up tonight.

1 Fillipino. Activated in US 1942 & fought in the PI.

2. Fillipino. Activated in US, never departed. A training/replacement function?

3 Inf To France 1944, attached to 106th ID in 1945 LOC & PoW guard

4 Inf Fought on Attu

24 Inf 'Colored'. Fought in S Pac & later Saipan & Tinian vs Japanese holdouts

29 Inf LOC guard France & Belgium

33 Inf Canal Zone then Trinidad garrison

37 Inf Alaska

53 Inf Alaska

58 Inf Alaska

65 Inf Puerto Rico, Carriebean

89 Inf Caribbean

90 Inf US

102 Inf Pacific garrisons

111 Inf Kawalejien-combat

113 US

118 Inf Iceland from 1942, LOC guard in Belgium & German from Dec 1944

124 Inf New Guinea From April 1944. Presumably confining by passed Japanese

125 Inf US

131 Inf US

138 Inf Alaska

140 Inf US

144 Inf US

147 Inf Guadalcanal as part of the Combined Army Marine Div Temp. Assorted islands then Okinawa

150 Inf Pananma

153 Inf Alaska

156 Inf England 1942, Algeria LOC guard, England as Assault Training Center staff (?), part ashore in Normandy 6th
June, LOC guards France

158 Inf Fought on New Britain & New Guinea 1943-45

159 Inf Alaska 1943-44, France 1944 & with 106th ID 1945 LoC & PoW guard

164 Inf South Pac 1942, Americal Div

166 Inf US

174 Inf US

175 Inf US

181 Inf US

182 Inf Americal Div

197 Inf Alaska

198 Inf Alaska

201 Inf Alaska

295 Puerto Rican Carribean & Canal Zone

296 Puerto Rican Canal Zone & Hawaii

297 Inf Alaska

298 Inf Hawaii, South Pac LOC duties

299 Inf Hawaii, separated from 24th ID & inactivated 1942

300 Inf US

364 Inf Colored Alaska

366 Inf Colored Mediterranean LOC guard, temp to 92 ID

376 Inf Colored US

372 Colored US

434 Inf US

442 Inf Nisei Highly decorated

473 Inf Activated 1945 in Italy from "automatic weapons battalions (435, 532, 900) with HHC from 2d Armored Group.
Supported 92 ID

474 Inf Formerly 1st Special Servce Force, redesigned 1945 & fought in Germany

475 Inf Long Range Penetration. Activated 1944 in India & fought in Burma.

503 Para Inf Fought S Pac & Philippines

508 Para Inf Fought in Europe attached to the 82 ABD & 17 ABD

541 Para Inf Phillipines & broken up to reinforce 187 & 188 Para Inf Regiments

542 Para Inf US

551 Para Inf Fought S France, Germany

777 Inf US

800 Inf US

5307 Composite Provisional AKA Merrils Marauders. Three battalion group Burma

6615 Ranger Force Provisional. Anzio

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9522
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 Jan 2021 12:26

Hi Carl,

It is perhaps worth mentioning that 156th Infantry Regiment contained mostly Cajuns and that its second Battalion was overwhelmingly French-speaking, with a few even monolingual in French. This may have been why it was kept independent.

The 2nd Battalion was later broken up to provide French-speaking military police companies for the campaign in France.

Cheers,

Sid.

Counter
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 01 Mar 2019 16:48
Location: Europe

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Counter » 20 Jan 2021 15:42

Hi, again!

At the end of 1942 there had been 52 infantry, 2 cavalry, 14 armored, 2 airborne, and 4 motorized divisions in the Army-74 in all. One year later there were 90 divisions in existence-67 infantry, 2 cavalry, 16 armored, and 5 airborne. The 16 new divisions activated during 1943 represented less than half the number of divisions-38-activated in 1942.

Accumulation of activated and trained divisions in the United States began to mount during 1943 because of the imbalances in shipping and the strain on port capacities and in the absence of final strategic decisions." Training camps were crowded and it was difficult to activate additional divisions-only 13 divisions moved overseas during the year as compared with 17 in 1942. This left 60 divisions in various stages of readiness scattered throughout the United States. Many, however, were neither at full strength nor fully equipped, since replacements often had to be drawn from the newer divisions and the outfitting of French divisions in northwest Africa had produced shortages in equipment. [30] When in late 1943 new demands for manpower were made to operate the B-29's, to provide for the rotation program, and to keep the Army Specialized Training Program going on a reduced basis, any possibility of organizing another fifteen divisions in 1944, as had been planned in mid-1943 and approved in the Victory Program Troop Basis of October 1943, appeared doomed.


This text comes from here https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_15.htm and my question has to do with the limitations of the US army to fight a war against a german army of 200 effective divisions. Fortunately, the enormous sacrifice of the Russian people fixed the problem from Stalingrad on (february 1943). BUT I know that previous to D-Day germans -always fairly weak in Intelligence- thought that the US army in England was much bigger.

And the Russians? Did the Russians know, at the time of the Stalingrad battle (ending 1942) that the large USA could not provide more than twenty trained divisions -at the most!- to fight the germans for all 1943 long? Did they also think that the US army was larger?
Carl wrote: you don't train the command staff or support of HQ in a few weeks as you can a rifleman, or a few months as with a skilled technician.
Thank you very much to Carl for this observation. It seems to me that the US army in Europe was nearly a bluff. Of course, after the soviets nearly destroyed the Wehrmacht they did a good job from D-Day on... but the optimism of the Allies after US joining the war was not much justified...

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9522
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 Jan 2021 17:52

Hi Counter,

I think the optimism of the Allies at the US joining the war was entirely justified, but less for the massive size or quality of the US Army than for other strategic factors.

Without the US in the war, Britain and the USSR were essentially on the defensive and could expect to remain so for the foreseeable future, if they survived at all.

With the resources of the US joining them in the war, they could look forward to going over to the offensive with some prospect of success.

The US Army wasn't outstandingly large or good, but it was quite a fast learner and it certainly became both large enough and good enough to complete the job the other Allies couldn't do on their own.

So, Go Yanks!

Cheers,

Sid

Counter
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 01 Mar 2019 16:48
Location: Europe

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Counter » 20 Jan 2021 19:02

The Americans gave money, the British gave time, the Russians gave blood’ :?

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8751
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Jan 2021 00:31

Counter wrote:
20 Jan 2021 15:42
... And the Russians? Did the Russians know, at the time of the Stalingrad battle (ending 1942) that the large USA could not provide more than twenty trained divisions -at the most!- to fight the germans for all 1943 long? Did they also think that the US army was larger?
To understand the Soviet PoV, or more usefully the Politburo PoV you need to understand their perspective of a nations defense or military in terms of the 'peoples army'. Some historians use the term peasant army. That is the Soviet leaders looked at the raw numbers of men in military service in the US at the end of 1942, 10 million+ and thought the US should be marching 200 divisions with horse drawn artillery across the Atlantic. This a bit simplistic, but they were clueless about the real strengths and problems of the Commonwealth and US military. One illustration of this is the combat losses in aircraft in 1943. The RAF & US AAF were inflicting more than double the losses on the Axis or German air forces as the Soviet air forces were that year. In the last quarter of 1943 the German AF reduced its operating strength in the east by some 40% to reinforce the defense of Germany against the Allied air attack. Its not clear at all the senior Soviet leaders understood this part of the strategic equation.
Carl wrote: you don't train the command staff or support of HQ in a few weeks as you can a rifleman, or a few months as with a skilled technician.
Thank you very much to Carl for this observation. It seems to me that the US army in Europe was nearly a bluff. Of course, after the soviets nearly destroyed the Wehrmacht they did a good job from D-Day on... but the optimism of the Allies after US joining the war was not much justified...
[/quote]

Not a bluff. There a long running error in the consideration of armies in WWII in terms of ground forces, or worse in terms of 'divisions' WWII was a combined arms war & you cant properly evaluate a nations armed forces without looking at the total force. The US and Britain were similar in that they invested a lot in air power. There has been a lot of babbling in the historical dialogue that over focuses on one aspect or another & not considering the whole in operational or tactical terms.

Some years ago I was reading Ruppenthals 'Logistics in Overlord' & slowly developed a appreciation or new PoV of how the Commonwealth/US Armies operated. This came from a remark concerning the calculations for logistics support. That is the estimates were based of a "Division Slice". This was all the units ashore in France or Europe at any date, divided by the number of division HQ. This included the air forces groups, their base/support echelon, Line of Communications units, Corps & army support echelons, transport units, Communications Zone units, everyone. 44,000 men per Division Slice was the number used for the logistics estimates. Now take this allocation & think of it in terms of fire power of combat power. When you toss in the corps and army artillery groups, the independent tank battalions, the tank destroyer battalions, engineer battalions the West Allied 'divisions' Were a entirely different class of combat power in contrast to the German, Italian, Japanese division slice. The supporting echelon, bot combat and service support did not provide the same level of combat power. Looking at the corps, the largest & primary tactical organization, as a 'Corps Slice' of the over all combat power gives another perspective of this.

Where this affected the US Army, & the Commonwealth armies, was in the complexity of controlling this diverse combination of units. The German infantry corps commander had infantry, artillery, some AT guns, a relatively small engineer unit, and could count himself lucky if there were a couple company size units of SP AT or assault guns available. His artillery group would at best be half the size of a Brit or US corps artillery group, tanks were a fantasy, and air support so thin the corps typically did not have a air liaison section with it. A far simpler task running that for the corps and division command staff. If the US or Britain took a while to master combined arms, its because they were expecting all their corps/division command to be skilled at something the other nations expected a small elite portion of the armies to master.

Then consider the time allowed. In June 1940 the US Army & its air component had less than 300,000 active service men. Four years later it hit some eight million men & was expected to fully engage all its combat power. In contrast the German army & air forces starting from 1934 had eight years to reach its 1941 peak of skill and combat power. The question people should be asking is how the hell did the US army/air forces get from their very weak starting position of 1940 to where they were in 1944. Somehow it happened.

Counter
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 01 Mar 2019 16:48
Location: Europe

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Counter » 21 Jan 2021 19:23

Carl Schwamberger wrote:In June 1940 the US Army & its air component had less than 300,000 active service men. Four years later it hit some eight million men & was expected to fully engage all its combat power. In contrast the German army & air forces starting from 1934 had eight years to reach its 1941 peak of skill and combat power. The question people should be asking is how the hell did the US army/air forces get from their very weak starting position of 1940 to where they were in 1944. Somehow it happened.
I agree totally, but it remains an important fact in order to ponder the reality of the WWII that political and military deciders at that time had in many ways a "dilusional" sight of the facts: military power of Western Allies was too weak up to 1944 and tactical superiority of the Wehrmacht could have been decisive. Fortunately, strategical errors of Hitler and his generals changed everything. Even the USSR was about exhaustion previous to Stalingrad.

There is no moral or political or economical lesson to learn: the outcome of the war happened just by chance. We count only on the data of the historical record.

Anyway, there were no "200 US trained divisions".

At the end of 1943, in Tunis and in the only front the US army was keeping against the germans (Italy) only existed 1 and 2 armored divisions, 82 airborne, and 1, 3, 9, 34, 36 and 45 infantry divisions

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8751
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Jan 2021 06:34

Counter wrote:
21 Jan 2021 19:23
...

At the end of 1943, in Tunis and in the only front the US army was keeping against the germans (Italy) only existed 1 and 2 armored divisions, 82 airborne, and 1, 3, 9, 34, 36 and 45 infantry divisions
I suspect you meant at the start of 1943?

Thats in part because of the emergency that developed in the Pacific in early 1942. At the start of 43 there were in the PTO:

24th ID @ Oahu to May 43
25th ID @ Oahu to 25 Nov 42, to Guadalcanal
27th ID Departed US for Oahu Mar 42
32d ID Departed US April 42, arrived Australia May 42, -
-to New Guinea Sept-Nov 42
37th ID Departed US May 42, Fiji June 42
40th ID Departed US to Hawaii Aug 42
41st ID Departed US Mar 42, arrived Australia May 42
43d ID Departed US Oct 42, to Fiji New Caledonia
TF 6814 arrive New Caledonia March/April 42. Designated AmeriCal Div-
- May 42 wi three inf regiments To Guadalcanal Nov 42

24th Inf Reg From US to New Hebridies May 42
53rd Inf Reg From US to Alaska Jun 42
58th Inf Reg from US to Alaska May 42
102 Inf Reg from US to Bora Bora Jan 42
138 Inf Reg from US to Alaska May 42
146 Inf Reg from US to New Zealand May 42, to Fiji July 42,
147 Inf Reg from US to Fiji April 42, to Guadalcanal Nov 42
153 Inf Reg From US to Alaska April 42

So Eight Army divisions plus two Marine divisions, then the separate regiments combined to form the Americal Div, and eight other separate regiments, which with attached artillery and other combat/support units added up to a couple more divisions.

During 1942 1943 the following went to the ETO/MTO

5 Infantry Iceland 3/42
29 Infantry UK 11/42
1 Infantry Tunisia Torch US to UK 8/42
3 Infantry Tunisia Torch
9 Infantry Tunisia Torch To UK 11/43
34 Infantry Tunisia Torch US to UK 1/42
1 Armored Tunisia Torch US to UK 5/42
2 Armored Tunisia Torch

36th Infantry US to Africa 4/43
45th Infantry US to Africa 6/43
88th Infantry US to Africa 12/43, to Italy Feb 44

So 24 divisions or equivalents. & a third Marine Division went to the PTO in 1943. This of course is a incomplete or distorted picture. There were the eight French & three Chinese divisions the US was then reequipping. In the air at the start of 1943 the US Army AF in the MTO/ETO nearly equalled the 5,500 operational aircraft of the Luftwaffe. At the end of 1943 the US alone had about double the operational aircraft of the Luftwaffe, which could not keep much more than 5000 combat aircraft operating on all fronts.

Its difficult to arrive at a direct equivalence between bomber of fighter wings and ground combat divisions. If you use my earlier take on the division slice of the overall air and ground combined combat power then then the 24 or 25 divisions are closer to fifty Axis divisions in combat power. Which is including only the tactical air forces.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8751
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Jan 2021 06:47

Getting back to this:
Counter wrote:
18 Jan 2021 23:11

I found this in the book "Masters and Commanders" by Andrew Roberts (chapter 11):

" In divisional terms, the US Army had 37 trained divisions at the time of Pearl Harbor, 73 by Operation Torch, 120 by the summer of 1943 and 200 by D-Day. By contrast the British Commonwealth had seventy-five divisions by the summer of 1943 and hardly any more the next year."

I don´t understand what this "trained divisions" means as I thought that the US never prepared more than 100 divisions (counting US marines too) https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_15.htm The figure about the british I find known...

Thank you for any answer...
Roberts is counting just the divisions. I doubt he s referring to the same trick accounting I've been exploring. Which means his numbers for for summer of 1943 - 120, and for mid 1944 - 200 are gross errors. As I wrote earlier the idea all 37 or 73 were trained is a error as well. Im skeptical the figure of 75 for the Brits is accurate too. A lot of the ground combat divisions on the books were training units, or reduced strength like those garrisoning Iraq or Palestine.

Return to “USA 1919-1945”