Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Blackhawks move West

The 86th Infantry Division was my dad’s unit, at least the one he went into combat with in 1945.  He didn’t start out with the Blackhawks, but returned to the infantry when the Army Air Forces drastically reduced the number of pilot candidates.  In the summer of 1944, dad and the division completed their field training in the Louisiana maneuver area at Camp Livingston just outside Alexandria.  Next on the agenda was amphibious training in California.  That was scheduled for Sep 44 -Feb 45, which would have made them available for Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa in April of 45.  Adolf and von Rundstedt intervened in Dec of 44 though and caused a shake up in deployment plans as additional forces were rushed to the European Theater.  The Blackhawks were one such unit, diverted from their amphibious training in Jan 45 before it was complete. 

Looking for the move to Boston in the division records now at the National Archives at College Park, I didn’t find anything on that move.  But I did find three administrative memos that described preparations for the move west.  These memos were the instructions to the division components about which units and how many members and what equipment would be on which train on what date.  This was at least the second set of memos about the move as memo #30 of 2 Sep 44 rescinded and replaced memo # 25 of 21 Aug 44.   That earlier memo didn’t make it to the file box in the archives, so I can’t tell you what changed, or even if it was the first cut at the plan or the third one.  But we do have a record in memos 29 and 30 of what was carried out as evidenced by memo 1A issued on 9 Sep 44 at Camp Cooke detailing drivers to meet the twenty incoming troop trains.

So what did the Blackhawks move and how?  What did it take to move an Infantry Division in 1944?  What did they NOT take?  The division moved 9146 people (650 Officers, 8496 Enlisted) and their weapons in twenty one passenger and two freight trains.  They used 464 rail cars to make up those trains: 28 Standard Pullmans (26 Officer Capacity), 221 Troop Pullmans (39 EM Capacity), 43 Baggage, 42 Kitchen, 62 Box and 68 Flat cars.  On the first freight, 3 flats took 9 armored cars of the Reconnaissance Troop, 15 took 57 M10 trailers of the Division Artillery, 14 took all of the 37mm guns, 2 took 3 small arms repair trucks of the Ordnance Company, and one carried the Signal Company’s SCR-339 radio with trailer and the HQ company medium sedan.  The second freight carried 12 flats with 12 155mm howitzers and 12 M5 tractors of the 404th Field Artillery Bn.; 15 with the 36 105mm howitzers of the 331st, 332nd, and 911th Field Artillery Bns.(Link to militaryresearch.org 1944 TO&E 12 guns/Bn); and 6 with 4-ton trucks of the 404th Field Artillery and 311th Engineer Bn.  What they didn’t take was their trucks, half-tracks and jeeps.  Those evidently were assigned to the training centers and remained in place for the next division to roll through.  The Blackhawks would use the vehicles assigned to Camp Cooke for their next phase of training.

The advance party made up of 67 officers and 331 enlisted from elements of the division departed on 3 Sep 44 and arrived prior to 9 Sep.  They say an Army travels on its’ stomach and a portion of memo #29 bears that out, detailing who was to set up and run the two messes in the kitchen cars on the train and that the mess assignments would continue at the destination, Camp Cooke, until released to their respective messes upon the arrival of their respective units at the new station. 

The Army and the railroads choreographed the move to minimize congestion enroute.  All trains had to depart Livingston on the Missouri Pacific (SIMMS) and arrive Cooke on the SP.  In between, they took different routes.  Three Trains, numbers 1, MAIN 36485; 5, MAIN 36489; 12, MAIN 36496 CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA-SP(TNO) - EL PASO - SP - CAMP COOKE
Five Trains, numbers 2, MAIN 36486; 4, MAIN 36488; 11, MAIN 36495; 15, MAIN 36499; 17, MAIN 36501: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - KINDER -GCL - HOUSTON - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Five Trains, numbers 3, MAIN 36487; 8, MAIN 36492; 14, MAIN 36498; 16, MAIN 36500; 18, MAIN 36502: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS)- ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - EL PASO -SP - CAMP COOKE
Train number 6, MAIN 36490: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS)- ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - FORT WORTH - CRI&P - AMARILLO - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Two trains, numbers 13, MAIN 36497; 19, MAIN 36503: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - FORT WORTH - FW&DC - AMARILLO - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Four Trains, numbers 7, MAIN 36491; 20, MAIN 36504; F1, MAIN 4843; F2, MAIN 4761: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA - LONGVIEW - IGN - SAN ANTONIO - SP(T&NO) - EL PASO -SP - CAMP COOKE
Train 9, MAIN 36493: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA-T&P - FORT WORTH - FW&DC - AMARILLO - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Train 10, MAIN 36494: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) -ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - LONGVIEW - IGN - SAN ANTONIO - SP(T&NO) - EL PASO -SP - CAMP COOKE
The different routings resulted in this list of departure and arrival times:

Livingston
Cooke
ADV
ADV
31000
ADV
6????
F1
4843
71800
1
36485
111730
1
36485
80800
3
36487
112359
2
36486
81400
2
36486
120105
3
36487
81800
4
36488
121825
4
36488
90800
5
36489
122300
5
36489
91300
F1
4843
122359
6
36490
91900
6
36490
130545
7
36491
100800
8
36492
131830
8
36492
101300
9
36493
132245
F2
4761
101800
7
36491
132300
9
36493
101800
11
36495
142355
10
36494
110800
10
36494
150055
11
36495
111300
12
36496
150400
12
36496
111800
13
36497
151345
13
36497
120700
14
36498
151830
14
36498
121300
F2
4761
152359
15
36499
121800
15
36499
160515
16
36500
130900
16
36500
161430
17
36501
131300
17
36501
162355
18
36502
140900
18
36502
171430
19
36503
141300
19
36503
172015
20
36504
151000
20
36504
190030


I’ve compiled a spreadsheet showing the details of the trains and posted it to Google Drive.  You may download it by clicking here: 86 ID Livingston-Cooke.XLS.  Click here for copies of the de-classifiedadministrative memos.

I hope that you will find these tables both interesting and useful.  It took a lot of rolling stock to move a division, even one without its organic vehicles and just its weapons.  Also note that the division did not yet have its attached tank or tank destroyer battalions, only its recon troop of armored cars. The Freights were scheduled for 128 hours enroute.  The 20 passenger MAIN trains averaged 83.4 hours ranging from a 79.5 to 90.9 hours enroute.  



John Barry
Lovettesville VA
1102 JST 9 Aug 2019
44 years to the hour of the second event that saved my dad’s bacon in WWII.

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