Military Wiki
27th Infantry Division (1917–1954)
27th Armored Division (1954–67)
27th Infantry Division SSI.svg
27th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia. The red circle stars depict Orion, punning on "O'Ryan", the name of the division's World War I commander John F. O'Ryan.
Active 1917–1919
1954–67 (27th Armored Division)
Country United States of America
Allegiance United States of America
Branch Army National Guard
Nickname(s) New York
"O'Ryan's Roughnecks"
Engagements World War I
World War II
Iraq Campaign {as 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team}
Major General John F. O'Ryan

The 27th Infantry Division was a unit of the Army National Guard in World War I and World War II. The Division traces its history from the New York Division, formed originally in 1908. The 6th Division designation was changed to the 27th Division in July 1917.[1]

When the New York Division was organized in 1908, the New York National Guard became the second state, after Pennsylvania, to structure its National Guard at such a high tactical level in peacetime.[2] The New York Division was called to active duty during the Mexican border crisis of 1916. While on Federal duty it was redesignated as the 6th Division in June 1916. It was released from active duty in December 1916, only to be recalled for World War I service in July 1917. The 6th Division was reorganized and redesignated as the 27th Division on 1 October 1917.[3]

World War I

The New York 27th Division was one of only three Divisions formed up entirely from a single state National Guard, the other two being Illinois and Pennsylvania. However, not all New Yorkers served in the 27th.[4] Its initial Strength was 991 officers and 27,114 enlisted men.

  • Casualties: Total 8,334 (KIA: 1,442; WIA: 6,892).
  • Inactivated: April 1919.


  • Maj. Gen. John F. O'Ryan (16 July 1917);
  • Brig. Gen. C. L. Phillips (19 September 1917);
  • Maj. Gen. J. F. O'Ryan (6 December 1917);
  • Brig. Gen. C. L. Phillips (23 December 1917);
  • Maj. Gen. J. F. O'Ryan (29 December 1917);
  • Brig. Gen. C. L. Phillips (22 February 1918);
  • Maj. Gen. J. F. O'Ryan (1 March 1918);
  • Brig. Gen. Palmer E. Pierce (16 June 1918);
  • Maj. Gen. J. F. O'Ryan (18 June 1918);
  • Brig. Gen. Palmer E. Pierce (14 November 1918);
  • Maj. Gen. J. F. O'Ryan (23 November 1918)

Chain of Command Deployed

  • Fourth Army, British Expeditionary Force
    • II Corps, American Expeditionary Force

Initial Organization carried over from 6th Division

  • Three Brigades
    • Three Infantry Regiments each

Organization Jul – Nov 1917

  • Headquarters Division
    • 1st Brigade
      • 7th Infantry
      • 12th Infantry
      • 14th Infantry
    • 2nd Brigade
      • 1st Infantry
      • 23rd Infantry
      • 71st Infantry
    • 3rd Brigade
    • Brigade Field Artillery
      • 1st Field Artillery
      • 2nd Field Artillery
      • 3rd Field Artillery
      • 1st Cavalry
      • Squadron A and Machine Gun Troop
      • 22nd Engineers
      • 1st Battalion, Signal Corps
    • Trains
      • Military Police
      • Ammunition Train
      • Supply Train
      • Engineer Train
    • Sanitary Train
      • Headquarters Ambulance Companies
        • 1st Ambulance Company
        • 2nd Ambulance Company
        • 3rd Ambulance Company
        • 4th Ambulance Company
      • Headquarters Field Hospital
        • 1st Field Hospital
        • 2nd Field Hospital
        • 3rd Field Hospital
        • 4th Field Hospital

Organization from Nov 1917

  • Initially 3 Brigades consisting of 3 infantry regiments each, for a total of nine regiments
  • Reorganized into 2 Brigades of 2 infantry regiments each
  • Final Organization before deployment
    • 53rd Infantry Brigade (now 53rd Troop Command)
    • 54th Infantry Brigade
    • 52nd Field Artillery Brigade
      • 104th Field Artillery (75mm) Regiment
      • 105th Field Artillery (75mm) Regiment
      • 106th Field Artillery (155mm Howitzer) Regiment
      • 102nd Trench Mortar Battery (assigned to Division)
    • Divisional Machine Gun Brigade
      • 104th Machine Gun Battalion (assigned to Division)
      • 105th Machine Gun Battalion (assigned to 53rd Infantry Brigade)
      • 106th Machine Gun Battalion (assigned to 54th Infantry Brigade)
    • 102nd Divisional Trains Headquarters
      • 102nd Ammunition Train
      • 102nd Supply Train
      • 102nd Regt, Engineers
      • 102nd Engineer Train
      • 102nd Sanitary Train
      • 105th Ambulance Company
      • 106th Ambulance Company
      • 107th Ambulance Company
      • 108th Ambulance Company
      • 102nd Field Signal Battalion
      • 27th Military Police Company

Note: The Artillery elements were reassigned upon arrival in France, and those elements did not see service with the 27th Division during combat.


Prior to departing to training, the Division participated in a large send off parade in New York City along 5th Avenue on 30 August 1917. The 7th Infantry Regiment was the first to leave for training on Sept 11, 1917 by train. The training was conducted at a purpose built temporary facility at Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Nearby hotels such as the Cleveland Hotel became centers for social life. The camp also house seven YMCA Huts and a Knights of Columbus Hall. While the 27th did have African American service-men they were not permitted to enter the service organization clubs on base which were segregated, until a black soldier's club was built in early 1918.[5]

The division shipped out on 20 April 1918.

Camp Schedule

6:15 A.M.-Reveille and assembly. 6:35 – Mess. 6:55 – Sick call. 7:00-Fatigue. 7:05-Stables. 7:25-First Call. 7:30-Assembly for Drill. 11:30-Recall from Drill. 11:35-First Sergeant's call. 12 Noon-Mess. 12:55 P.M-First Call for Drill. 1:00-Drill. 5:30-Recall. 5:40-First Call for Retreat. 5:45-Assembly. 5:55-Retreat. 6:00-Mess Call. 9:00-Tattoo. 10:45-Call to Quarters. 11:00 Taps.2

Combat Record

Called into federal service on July 15, 1917, the Twenty-Seventh Division hastily recruited to increase its numbers and late in August, was concentrated at Camp Wadsworth, near Spartanburg, SC, for intensive training. In the spring of 1918, the division began its movement toward embarkation camps. The division’s advance detachment left Hoboken on May 2 and arrived at Brest, France, May 10, 1918. Late in June the last units of the Twenty-Seventh Division had arrived safely overseas.

Until July 24 the division was in the final stages of training under British mentors, in Picardy and Flanders. On July 25, the 27th Division less its artillery brigade and 102nd Ammunition Trains, occupied the Dickebusch Lake and Scherpenberg sectors in Flanders. In just over a month, this operation merged into the Ypres-Lys action, and then, from August 19 to September 3, the 27th was on its own.

The great Somme "push," lasting from September 24 to October 1, saw the 27th engaged in severe fighting along the Saint Quentin Canal Tunnel—one of the out-lying strong points of the supposedly impregnable Hindenburg Line. Following heavy losses, the 27th was placed into reserve for rest and replacements at the conclusion of the first phase of the Somme Push. Six days later the Twenty-Seventh Division was back into action again, moving steadily toward Busigny on the heels of the retiring Germans.

The 27th Division had, in conjunction with British forces and the 30th Division, American Expeditionary Force, had accomplished the supposedly impossible by cracking the vaunted Hindenburg line wide open.

The 52d Field Artillery Brigade and the 102nd Ammunition Train of the New York Division had not gone with the rest of the Twenty-seventh Division to the British front in Flanders. They had moved up on October 28, to support the Seventy-Ninth Division in the Argonne.

Meanwhile the Twenty-Seventh Division units which had seen heavy action in Flanders, had moved back to an area near the French seaport of Brest.

  • Major Operations: Meuse-Argonne (only the artillery), Ypres-Lys, Somme offensive.
  • Saw service with several British and the 30th Infantry Division, U.S. Army.
  • Initially stationed in the East Poperinghe Line.
    • Battle of Dickebusche Lake, Summer 1918
    • Battle of Vierstratt Ridge, Summer 1918
    • Struggled to break the German defensive Hindenburg Line, September 1918.
    • Somme Offensive, 25 September 1918
    • Selle River, November 1918

The 27th did break the Hindenburg line during the Battle of the Somme and forced a German retreat from their defensive line and forced the Germans to a final confrontation. After a final confrontation with the retreating Germans at the Selle River the Armistice ended the fighting and the division was sent home in February 1919, to be mustered out several months later.[4][6][7]

World War II

  • Activated: 15 October 1940 sent to Fort McClellan for training.
  • First division to be deployed in continental US, December 14, 1941 sent to southern California.
  • Overseas: 10 March 1942.
  • Campaigns: Various elements participated in several campaigns in the Pacific but not the entire division.
  • Distinguished Unit Citations: 2.
  • Awards: MH: 3; DSC: 21; DSM: 2 ; Silver Star: 412; LM: 15; SM: 13; BSM: 986; AM: 9.
  • Commanders:
    • Maj. Gen. William N. Haskell (October 1940 – October 1941)
    • Brig. Gen. Ralph McT. Pennell (November 1941 – October 1942)
    • Maj. Gen. Ralph C. Smith (November 1942 – May 1944)
    • Maj. Gen. George W. Griner, Jr. (June 1944 – December 1945)
  • Returned to U.S.: 15 December 1945
  • Inactivated: 31 December 1945


  • 105th, 106th, 165th Infantry Regiments ("The Fighting 69th")
  • 104th, 105th, 106th and 249th Field Artillery Battalions
  • 102nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 152nd Engineer Combat Battalion.
  • 27th Quartermaster Co. (originally the 102nd Quartermaster Bn.)

Combat chronicle

The first stateside division to be deployed in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 27th Division departed Fort McClellan December 14, 1941 for California to establish blocking positions against an anticipated seaborne invasion of the United States southwestern coast. They were further transferred into the Pacific Theater of Operations and arrived in Hawaii, 21 May 1942, to defend the outer islands from amphibious attack. Divisional units first saw action against the enemy during the attack and capture of Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, 21–24 November 1943. Two battalions of the 106th Regiment participated in the attack on Eniwetok Atoll, 19–26 February 1944, returning to Oahu in March. During this mission, one battalion landed unopposed on Majuro Island, 1 February, and completed its seizure, 3 February. The division began preparations for the Marianas operations, 15 March. On D-day plus 1, 16 June 1944, elements landed at night on Saipan to support the Second and Fourth Marine Divisions. A beachhead was established and Aslito Airfield captured, 18 June. Fighting continued throughout June. Marine General Holland Smith, unsatisfied with the performance of the 27th Division, relieved its commander, Army General Ralph C. Smith., which led to angry recrimination from senior Army commanders, including General George C Marshall. During a pitched battle, 7 July, Japanese overran elements of the division in a banzai attack, but organized resistance was crushed the next day. During the months of July and August, the 27th cleaned out isolated pockets in the mountains and cliffs of Saipan. Beginning in the middle of August, the division moved to the New Hebrides for rest and rehabilitation. On 25 March 1945, the 27th sailed from Espiritu Santo, arriving at Okinawa, 9 April 1945. The Division participated in the XXIV Corps general attack, 19 April 1945, securing a dominating ridge line south of Machinato and Kakazu. Machinato Airfield was captured, 28 April, after a severe struggle. On 1 May, the division was relieved by the 1st Marine Division and attached to the Island Command for garrison duty. Tori Shima was seized, 12 May, without opposition. The 27th attacked from the south end of Ishikawa Isthmus to sweep the northern sector of Okinawa. The enemy fought bitterly on Onnatake Hill from 23 May until 2 June, before losing the strong point. After a mopping-up period, the division left Okinawa, 7 September 1945, moved to Japan and occupied Niigata and Fukushima Prefectures.


The division was reformed as a National Guard formation on 21 April 1947.[8] The division was reconstituted along the lines of its war time structure with limited reorganizations. Composition of the Twenty-Seventh Division 1948 to 1954: Division: Headquarters & Headquarters Co. Infantry: 105th Infantry Rgt.,108th Infantry Rgt., 174th Infantry Rgt. Artillery: DIVARTY, 156th Field Artillery Bn., 170th Field Artillery Bn., 249th Field Artillery Bn., 127th AAA Bn (from 106th AAA, from 7th AAA, from 106th of WW2). Admin Support: 27th Military Police Co., 727th Ordnance Co., 27th Quartermaster Co., 134th Medical Bn., 27th Replacement Co. Combat Support: 127th Tank Bn., 152nd Engineer Bn., 27th Recon Troop, 27th Signal Co

In February 1955 the 27th Division became the 27th Armored Division, retaining many of its former units.


  1. Wilson, John B. (1998). Maneuver and Firepower: Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 60-14. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  2. National Guard Education Foundation
  3. However the Combat Chronicles give the date of the redesignation as the 27th as 20 July 1917.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "27th Division World War One". Unit History Project. New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  5. "Chapter 7 Fighting Boredom: Life at Camp Wadsworth". Tent and Trench. Spartanburg County Historical Association. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  6. "Why My Ancestors Fought in the Civil War". 29 April 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  7. "Star Performers 27th Division World War One". Unit History Project. New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  8. National Guard Education Foundation, 27th Armored Division, accessed December 2012.


External links

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