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.
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.
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.
34th Infantry Division arrives in Ulster
On 26th January 1942, soldiers of 34th Infantry Division, United States Army arrived at Dufferin Dock, Belfast. War Office Photographer Lieutenant J.R. Bainbridge was on hand to record the following series of photographs.
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.