Monday, March 15, 2021

The Post-WWII Reorganization of the Ga. National Guard and the Birth of the 48th Infantry Division

 

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

The 1948 MTOE of the 48th Infantry Division. Note the military symbols for Quartermaster and Ordnance from FM 21-30:
Conventional Signs, Military Symbols and Abbreviations
, War Department, October 1943. Table by Maj. William Carraway

For as far as most currently serving National Guard personnel can recall, National Guard units have been activated for federal service, deployed overseas in support of named operations and returned to state service as the same unit. This was not the case in the wars of the early and mid-20th Century. When the Georgia National Guard was mobilized for World War I and World War II, units and personnel were accepted into federal service and often reassigned or reorganized Effectively, the Georgia National Guard ceased to exist as an organization with the deployment of these forces and state guard organizations were organized to fill the vacuum.

Brig. Gen. Marvin Griffin, Georgia's Adjutant
General, 1944-1947. Ga. National Guard 
Archives.

On March 15, 1946, former Georgia National Guard officers, combat veterans of World War II, gathered in Macon to lay the foundation for a new National Guard organization in the state. Brigadier General Marvin Griffin, Georgia’s Adjutant General and future governor, addressed the gathering and observed that the National Guard had very nearly passed out of existence in favor of federal forces. Griffin credited The National Guard Association for the survival of the Citizen Soldier concept.

Griffin laid out a bold plan for the reorganization of the Georgia National Guard.

“The zoning of Georgia (is) to carry out the War Department’s general plan for an over-all balanced defense of the nation,” said Griffin.[1] Under the plan unveiled by Griffin, units would be organized geographically to maximize training and supervision. At the same time, the state would strive to perpetuate the lineage of Georgia National Guard units, some of which pre-dated the American Revolution. Macon would become the home of the reorganized 121st Infantry Regiment. A new infantry regiment was proposed with headquarters in Atlanta. While this unit was initially to be the 292nd Infantry Regiment, Georgia opted instead to reinstate the 122nd Infantry Regiment which had existed from 1917 to 1939 before converting to form the 179th Field Artillery Regiment. In place of the 179th, Atlanta would receive the 945th Field Artillery Battalion. These and other units would form the 48th Infantry Division which would also contain units of the Florida National Guard.

In addition to the infantry division, Georgia would receive an anti-aircraft artillery brigade. These units would be based on Georgia’s coast and Savannah River Valley with the primary mission of providing air cover for Atlanta and its industrial capacity. This brigade would become the 108th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade, whose numerical designation would honor the former 108th Cavalry.

Charles Bowden, mayor of Macon welcomed the assembled veterans, many of whom were in the Army Reserve and considering service in the Georgia National Guard. Macon had served as the headquarters of the 30th Division prior to World War II, and its former commander, Maj. Gen. Henry D. Russell, himself a resident of Macon, also addressed the gathering.

Maj. Gen. Henry D. Russell (seated 1st to the left) and the division staff of the 30th Division during the Desota Maneuvers of 1938. Future
Ga. Air National Guard Colonel and Atlanta Mayor can be seen kneeling fifth from the left. Ga. National Guard Archives.
Under the initial reorganization the following cities were identified to host Georgia National Guard units:

Albany, Americus, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Bainbridge, Barnesville, Brunswick, Calhoun, Cedartown, Cordele, Covington, Dalton, Dublin, Eastman, Elberton, Forsyth, Gainesville, Griffin, Hawkinsville, Hinesville, Jackson, Jesup, LaGrange, Louisville, Macon, Marietta, Milledgeville, Monroe, Moultrie, Newnan, Perry, Rome, Savannah, Springfield, Statesboro, Swainsboro, Thomaston, Thomasville, Thompson, Toccoa, Valdosta, Washington, Waycross, Waynesboro and Winder.

General Order No. 17 of the Military Department, State of Georgia dated, December 31, 1946, established the allotment of troops for the state to include the 48th ID and 108th AAA Brigade. The total allotment of ground forces was 11,270 Soldiers. Additionally, the Air Corps was allotted and organized under the 54th Fighter Wing.[2]

The 48th ID was headquartered in Macon with Russell as its first commander. In its original structure, the 48th ID was comprised of three Infantry Regiments, the 121st and 122nd of Georgia and the 124th of Florida. The Division Artillery Headquarters was split between Florida and Savannah with three field artillery battalions, the 118th and 230th of Georgia and the 149th of Florida, armed with 105 mm howitzers. The Atlanta-based 945th FA provided division artillery with the heavy punch of 155 mm weapons.

Special troops were also split between the states with Georgia providing the band, signal and MP companies as well as a reconnaissance troop. Georgia’s 560th Engineer Battalion provided engineering capability to the 48th ID while Florida supplied the 202nd Medical Battalion, 748th Ordnance Company and 48th Quartermaster Company.

In 1948, changes to the modified table of equipment for infantry divisions[3] saw the addition of an organic tank and anti-aircraft artillery battalion, [4] 190th Tank Battalion and the self-propelled 101st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion.

Georgia National Guard Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment during the first annual training of the 48th ID at Fort Jackson, S.C. in 1948.
The Soldiers are uniformed and equipped as in World War II with double-buckle boots. The Soldiers wear the shoulder sleeve insignia of
United States Army Forces Command pending approval of an insignia for the 48th ID. Ga. National Guard Archives.

The shoulder sleeve insignia for the 48th Infantry Division was approved on Feb. 16, 1949.[5] The design incorporated a four-pointed star, one point up, 2 3/8 inches in diameter, with each point divided into white and red halves. The patch incorporated a 1/8-inch green border. The four points of the star alludes to the number "4" and the white and red alternating segments allude to the number "8." The design, therefore, suggests the number of the division.

 

 



[1] “Officers Lay Plans for New National Guard.” The Georgia Guardsman. May 1946, 2

[2] Military Department, State of Georgia. General Order No. 17. Dec. 31, 1946.

[3] John B. Wilson. Maneuver and Firepower The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades (Wsshington D.C.: Center for Military History, 1998) 226.

[4] “The New T/O – Greater Firepower Greater Strength.” The National Guardsman, November 1948, 25.

[5] TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-112

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