California State Military Department
The California Military Museum
Preserving California's Military Heritage
California and the Second World War
A Short History of the California National Guard In World War II
 
The National Guard was called into Federal Service in August 1940 due to the war in Europe. Poland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium and France had fallen. Britain stood at bay, fighting for her life. The Japanese were spreading out in Asia. Germany had 300 divisions, Japan 120 and Italy 70-a total of 490. America had 28 divisions, understrength and poorly equipped, according to General Jacob Devers. "Ten of these divisions," he stated on September 18, 1940, "were Regular Army, 18 were National Guard. The 300,000 National Guardsmen doubled our military strength." It helped fulfill the requirements of the "Rainbow Plan" (the protection of the United States), and according to the Honorable Robert P. Patterson, "their presence (the National Guard) in the field gave the country a sense that it had passed the lowest ebb of its weakness."

About 12,000 troops of the California National Guard were called to federal duty in 1940 and 1941. Most115th Observation Squadron patrolling Pacific
served in the Pacific area and a few units served in the European and Mediterranean theaters of operations. Upon the outbreak of hostilities, the 40th Infantry Division patrolled the California coast. Shortly afterwards, the division went to Hawaii, assuming the defense of the outer Hawaiian Islands. It was later deployed at Guadalcanal and by January 1944, saw action on New Britain. The combat service of the 40th includes; Bismarck Archipelago Campaign, The Lingayen Gulf and Southern Philippines Campaign; assault Landings on Luzon and Panay were conducted. The division cleared the Negros Islands in April 1944 and was then sent to Korea where occupation duty was performed from September 1945 to March 1946. The 250th Coast Artillery Regiment moved to Alaska serving until the spring of 1944 when it returned to Fort Lewis, Washington where units were redesignated and transferred. These units and other California National Guard Artillery organizations served either in the Pacific or the European theaters of operations.

The 40th Tank Company (later Company C, 194th Tank Battalion) of Salinas was the first of the California National Guard units to see action. They were sent to the Philippines in September 1940. When the war broke out, the company fought on Luzon; it was the last U.S. element to pull back to the Bataan Peninsula. When American and Filipino forces surrendered they were forced to participate in the infamous "Bataan Death March." Three Presidential unit citations were awarded to the 40th Tank Company for outstanding performance in combat operations.

On December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the 184th Infantry Regiment immediately left by convoy to their designated areas which were the Mexican border, San Diego to San Clemente coast. During the next several months, the regiment performed various types of duties such as Coast Patrols, Security Guards for the Army Air Force bases, railroad bridges and tunnels and major dams. During this period, the 184th Infantry Regiment was detached from the 40th Infantry Division in Fort Lewis and was attached to the 7th Infantry Division for amphibian training at Fort Ord.

When the 7th Division landed on Attu, the 184th Infantry remained in Fort Ord to form the 9th Amphibian Force (special task force) commanded by Col. Curtis D. O'Sullivan and later landed on the island of Kiska in the Aleutians. After Kiska, the 184th Infantry Regiment became part of the 7th Division and convoyed from the Aleutians to Hawaii for jungle and amphibian training. On August 16, 1943, after an artillery preparation, the 184th Regimental Combat Team (less 1st Battalion) with the 1st Battalion, 87th Mountain Infantry, field artillery, antiaircraft artillery and engineers attached, and with a Canadian Brigade on its right, prepared to land at Long Beach, Kiska. The commanding Officer of the 184th Infantry ordered the band to play the troops ashore. They responded with: "California, Here I Come," and "The Maple Leaf Forever." Once ashore, the troops patrolled in vain for the enemy. They found tables set for mess, blankets soaked in oil but not burned, and arms in good condition. Mines and booby traps were abundant and took their toll - but not in the 184th.
 
The next regimental landing was at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. The 184th and the 32nd Infantry Regiments made the assault landing. Later the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, General George C. Marshal stated that the Kwajalein combat operation was one of the most efficient operations of the war. The next campaign was Leyte in the Philippine Islands. On April 1, 1945 the 7th Infantry Division, which was part of the 24th Corps of the 10th Army, landed on Okinawa. During these landings, the 184th Infantry Regiment was the assault unit and spent most of the battle on the front lines.

When the Nation was celebrating VE Day in Europe, the 184th Infantry was slamming through the NAHA- HURI-YANABAROU line, ending the stalemate that had tied up four divisions. Once again, the 184th lived up to its regimental slogan: "LET'S GO." After breaking through the Yanabarou line, units of the 184th Infantry Regiment captured Chinen Peninsula.

After VJ Day, on September 5,1945, the 7th Division set sail for Korea to disarm and repatriate the Japanese prisoners of war. The 184th Infantry area of responsibility was the city of Seoul and the areas along the Han River.

Colonel Roy Green, then the 184th Infantry commander, accepted the Japanese surrender at Seoul, Korea. The 184th left Federal service in January 1946. The unit officially rejoined the rolls of the California National Guard November 11th of that year.
 
Return of the National and Regimental Colors to California. November 11, 1946
Governer Earl Warren, Major General C.P. Hays (Commanding General, Sixth US Army), and Brigadier General Curtis O'Sullivan (Adjutant General, State of California)
 
California's Regiments during World War II
 
143d Field Artillery Regiment
Facta Non Verba
(Deeds, Not Words)
 
Headquartered in Stockton with elements in Oakland, Richmond, Sacramento, and Stockton
 
WAR TIME SERVICE:
Mobilized in March 1941 at Stockton and arrived at Camp San Luis Obispo later that same month. In February 1942 the Headquarters Battery, 143d Field Artillery Regiment became the Headquarters Battery, 204th Field Artillery Regiment (later 204th Field Artillery Group). The 1st and 2d Battalions became the 143d and 164th Field Artillery Battalions, elements of the 40th Infantry Division. The battalions inactivated on 7 April 1946 at Camp Stoneman and Fort Mason, California. Headquarters Battery inactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts 22 October 1945.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
143d and 164th Field Artillery Battalions
Bismarck Archipelago
Luzon
Southern Philippines
August 1945 Location: Los Negros, Commonwealth of the Philippines

Headquarters Battery, 204th Field Artillery Group
Northern France
Rhineland
Ardennes-Alsace
Central Europe
August 1945 Location: Seewalchen, Austria
 
144th Field Artillery Regiment
Contendimus
(We Strive)
 
Headquartered in Santa Barbara with elements in Santa Barbara and Ventura.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
Mobilized in March 1941 at Santa Barbara and arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington later that same month. In February 1943 the regiment became the 144th Field Artillery Group with the 1st and 2nd Battalions becoming the 980th and 981st Field Artillery Battalions. The 980th landed on Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The 981st and the Group Headquarters Battery landed later in the campaign. The 980th inactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts on 13 November 1945, while the 981st inactivate later that same month at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The Headquarters Battery inactivated in Austria on 23 April 1946.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Normandy
Northern France
Rhineland
Ardnennes-Alsace
Central Europe
August 1945 Locations:
Headquarters Battery, 144th Field Artillery Group: Thalham, Germany
980th Field Artillery Battalion: Sondershousen, Germany
981st Field Artillery Battalion: Bad Frankenhousen, Germany
 
250th Coast Artillery Regiment (First California)
Rien Apas Beau
(Nothing Is In Vain)
 
Headquartered in San Francisco. All elements from the City of San Francisco.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
Mobilized in September 1940 at San Francisco and arrived at Camp McQuaide in Watsonville later that same month. Served in Alaska from September 1941 until March 1944 when it returned to the United States. In May 1944 the regiment was converted to Field Artillery and Headquarters Battery, 250th Coast Artillery Regiment became the Headquarters Battery, 250th Field Artillery Group. The 1st, 2d and 3d Battalions became the 535th, 536th and 537th Field Artillery Battalions. The 537th later became the 537th Chemical Mortar Battalion. The Headquarters Battery inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The 535th was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York, while the 536th was inactivated in Italy. The Headquarters Battery and both battalions were inactivated in November 1945. 537th inactivated at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma in September 1945.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
535th Field Artillery Battalion
Central Europe
August 1945 Location: Mulchen Gladbeck, Germany
 
536th Field Artillery Battalion
Northern Apeinnines
Po Valley
August 1945 Location: Rosa, Italy
 
537th Chemical Mortar Battalion
None
August 1945 Location: Camp Gruber, Oklahoma
Headquarters Battery, 250th Field Artillery Group
Central Europe
August 1945 Location: Frankenforde, Germany
 
251st Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft)
We Aim to Hit
Headquartered in San Diego with elements in Long Beach, San Diego and San Pedro.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
Mobilized in September 1940 and deployed to Territory of Hawaii in November of that year. The regiment was the first National Guard unit deployed overseas. It was present at Pearl Harbor and three of its members were the first U.S. casualties of the attack on 7 December 1941. The regiment later served in Fiji, Guadalcanal, and Bougainville. In March 1944 the Headquarters Battery, 251st Coast Artillery Regiment became the Headquarters Battery, 251st Antiaircraft Artillery Group. The 1st and 2d Battalions became the 746th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion and 951st Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, while the 3d battalion was disbanded. All elements were inactivated in January 1946 at Camp Stoneman, California.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
746th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion
Central Pacific
Northern Solomons
Leyte
Southern Philippines
August 1945 Location: Cebu, Commonwealth of the Philippines
 
951st Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion
Headquarters Battery, 251st Antiaircraft Artillery Group
Central Pacific
Northern Solomons
Luzon
August 1945 Location: Manila, Commonwealth of the Philippines
 
159th Infantry Regiment (Fifth California)
Unity for Service
 
Headquartered in Oakland with elements in Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
 
Mobilized as part of the 40th Infantry Division in March 1941 at Oakland and arrived at Camp San Luis Obispo later that same month. Reassigned to the 7th Infantry Division in September 1941. Initially deployed to garrison Attu in the Aleutian Islands in July of 1943. Became an independent regiment in August of 1943. Returned to the United States in August of 1944. The regiment was then deployed to France in March of 1945 as part of the 106th Infantry Division. The 159th returned to the United States in November 1945 and was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York.
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Aleutian Islands
Northern France
August 1945 Location: Namedy, Germany
 
160th Infantry Regiment (Seventh California)
Habeant
(Strike)
 
Headquartered in Los Angeles with elements in Glendale and Los Angeles.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
Mobilized as part of the 40th Infantry Division in March 1941 at Oakland and arrived at Camp San Luis Obispo later that same month. Initially deployed to Hawaii as part of the 27th Infantry Division in September 1942. Reassigned back to the 40th the next month. Conducted combat landings at Cape Glouster, New Britain (29 April 1944), Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Commonwealth of the Philippines (9 January 1945), and Paney and Negros Islands (26 and 30 March 1945). Returned to the United States and inactivated at Camp Stoneman, California in April 1946.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Bismarck Archipelago
Luzon
Southern Philippines
August 1945 Location: Los Negros, Luzon, Commonwealth of the Philippines
 
 
184th Infantry Regiment (Second California)
Let's Go!
 
Headquartered in Sacramento with elements in Auburn, Chico, Eureka, Gilroy, Marysville, Maxwell, Modesto, Napa, Sacramento, Saint Helena, Santa Rosa, Suisan, and Yuba City.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
Mobilized as part of the 40th Infantry Division in March 1941 at Sacramento and arrived at Camp San Luis Obispo later that same month. Initially deployed to Adak as part of 7th Infantry Division in January 1943. Augmented by the 1st Battalion, 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, the regiment conducted it's first combat landing at Long Beach on Kiska Island in the Aleutian Islands. This was the first American territory recaptured from an enemy since the War of 1812. Conducted assault landings on Kwajalein, Leyte, and Okinawa. At the time of the war ended, the regiment was rushed to Korea and received the surrender of Japanese forces at Seoul on 8 September 1945. The regiment was then inactivated in Korea in January 1946.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Aleutian Islands
Eastern Mandates
Leyte
Ryukyus
August 1945 Location: Okinawa
 
185th Infantry Regiment
Nunquom Non Paratus
(Never Unprepared)
 
Headquartered in Fresno with elements in Anaheim, Fresno, Hanford, Monrovia, Oakdale, Orange, Ontario, Pasadena, Pomona, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Turlock, and Visalia.
 
WAR TIME SERVICE
Mobilized as part of the 40th Infantry Division in March 1941 at Oakland and arrived at Camp San Luis Obispo later that same month. Initially deployed to Hawaii in September 1942. Conducted combat landings at Cape Glouster, New Britain (23 April 1944), Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Commonwealth of the Philippines (9 January 1945), and Negros Islands (29 March 1945). Returned to the United States and inactivated at Camp Stoneman, California in April 1946.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Bismarck Archipelago
Luzon
Southern Philippines
August 1945 Location: Los Negros, Luzon, Commonwealth of the Philippines
 
 
640th Tank Destroyer Battalion
WAR TIME SERVICE
Formed at Camp San Luis Obispo on 19 December 1941 as an element of the 40th Infantry Division. Initially deployed to Hawaii in September 1942. Participated in combat landings at Cape Glouster, New Britain (3 May 1944), Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Commonwealth of the Philippines (9 January 1945), and Negros Islands (29 March 1945). Returned to the United States and inactivated at Camp Anza, Artington, California in January 1946.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Bismarck Archipelago
Luzon
Southern Philippines
August 1945 Location: Commonwealth of the Philippines
 
40th Tank Company
 
The entire unit was from Salinas.
 
WARTIME SERVICE
Mobilized in March 1941 at Salinas and arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington later that same month. Combined with the 34th (Minnesota National Guard) and 35th (Missouri National Guard) Tank Companies to form the 194th Tank Battalion (Light) of which the 40th became Company C. Deployed to the Commonwealth of the Philippines in September 1941. The 194th, along with another composite National Guard unit, the 192d Tank Battalion (Light), made up the 1st Provisional Tank Group headquartered at Fort Stotsenburg. Provided tank support to the American (including the Philippine Scouts) and Philippine Armies during the campaign to defend the Bataan Peninsula. Surrendered to the Japanese 14th Army on 9 April 1942. Officially inactivated in the Philippines after the war.
 
 
CAMPAIGN HONORS
 
Philippine Islands
 
 

Further Information on California's Military Forces in World War II

History of the Salinas National Guard Company (Emphasis on Company C, 194th Tank Battalion)
250th Coast Artillery Regiment
A Brief History of State Reserve Forces of California: A History of the California State Guard and State Military Reserve
We Aim to Hit: The The History of the 251st Coast Artillery Regiment
California's Own: The 40th Infantry Division during World War II
Habeant!: History of Southern California's 160th Infantry Regiment (Seventh California)
Let's Go!:Northern California's 184th Infantry Regiment (Second California) during World War II

For Further Reading, We Recommend:

 
The Fighting Fortieth in War and Peace
by Major General James Delk
History of California's 40th Infantry Division by a former Division Commander.
 


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