34th Infantry Division

United States Army 34th Infantry Division was the first American division deployed to Europe in the Second World War, arriving in Northern Ireland in 1942.

34th Infantry Division of the United States Army were the first Americans deployed to Europe during the Second World War. It fought with great distinction throughout the war, particularly during the Italian Campaign in 1943.

The Division is part of the National Guard and took part in both World Wars. Soldiers of 34th Infantry Division remain engaged in current conflicts throughout the world. The nickname “The Red Bulls” dates back to the First World War.

US Army on board HMTS Strathaird

Washington County Free Library Photo WCRH018. Part of the General Russell P Hartle Collection. American troops from 34th Infantry Division en route to Northern Ireland on board the British troop ship HMTS Strathaid. Photo taken in February 1942. Copyright United States Signal Corps.

By 1940, steps were already underway in the United States to prepare an army for war. This “precautionary training” established The Red Bulls as one of the most service-ready units. On 16th September 1940, the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 became law. The United States of America began peacetime conscription.

Federalisation of 34th Infantry Division took place on 10th February 1941. It formed of troops from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Training began at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. Major General Russell P Hartle took command of the Division on 5th August 1941.

US Army in Belfast, Co. Antrim

Members of the US Army parade on Donegall Square South in front of Befast City Hall, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Copyright unknown.

On 8th January 1942, the Division travelled by train to Fort Dix, New Jersey to prepare for deployment. The first contingent embarked at Brooklyn, New York on 14th January 1942 and set sail the following day. At 1215hrs on 26th January 1942, those first 4,508 troops stepped ashore at Dufferin Dock, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

There, a delegation awaited. It included Duke of Abercorn (Governor of Northern Ireland), John Miller Andrews (Prime Minister of Northern Ireland), Lieutenant General Sir Harold Franklyn (Commander of British Troops in Northern Ireland), and Sir Archibald Sinclair (Secretary of State for Air)

On 20th May 1942, Major General Hartle became Commanding General of V Corps. Major General Charles Ryder took the helm of 34th Infantry Division. Under Ryder, they trained in Northern Ireland until November 1942. They then departed for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa.

34th Infantry Division Units in Northern Ireland

Headquarters 34th Infantry Division

Headquarters 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army was as Erganagh House, Omagh, Co. Tyrone in 1942 before moving on to Ballymena, Co. Antrim.

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133rd Infantry Regiment

133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army had bases across Co. Tyrone and Co. Armagh including Dungannon and Caledon.

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135th Infantry Regiment

135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army had bases across Co. Fermanagh including Fintona, Brookeborough, and Colebrooke.

168th Infantry Regiment

168th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army's 34th Infantry Division arrived at Ely Lodge and nearby Killadeas, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in 1942.

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34th Infantry Division Artillery

In 1942, 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army arrived in Northern Ireland basing Artillery Battalions throughout Co. Tyrone and Co. Antrim.

109th Engineer Battalion

109th Engineer Battalion arrived in Northern Ireland as part of 34th Infantry Division, US Army. They set up a base in Killadeas, Co. Fermanagh in May 1942.

109th Medical Battalion

109th Medical Battalion arrived in Northern Ireland as part of 34th Infantry Division, US Army. They set up bases in areas of Co. Fermanagh from 1942.

34th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop

34th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop of the US 34th Infantry Division served in North Africa and Italy. In 1942, they trained in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

34th Signal Company

34th Signal Company of the United States Army 34th Infantry Division was in Northern Ireland in 1942. They set up base at Erganagh House, Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

34th Quartermaster Company

34th Quartermaster Company was part of 34th Infantry Division. This unit arrived in Northern Ireland on 2nd March 1942 on the troop ship Dutchess of Athol.

109th Ordnance Company

109th Ordnance Company arrived in Northern Ireland as part of 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army in 1942 to prepare for battle in the ETO.

34th Counterintelligence Corps Detachment

34th Counterintelligence Corps Detachment was in Northern Ireland along with other units of 34th Infantry Division in 1942 and 1943.

Military Police Platoon

Erganagh House, Omagh, Co. Tyrone provided a base for a Military Police Platoon of 34th Infantry Division between 31st January 1942 and 10th December 1942.

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34th Infantry Division Band

34th Infantry Division Band arrived at Camp Cromore, Portstewart, Co. Londonderry on 13th May 1942. There, they entertained locals and encouraged troops.