General Dahlquist ’s Estimate of “Fighting 36th” Division

From the November 25, 1944 edition of the “T-Patch 36th Division News”

The “Fighting 36th” Division was all Texan when it went into training at Camp Bowie some months before Pearl Harbor. Then it was constituted from Texas National Guard, which had kept itself in fighting trim by training since World War I, and as consistently had maintained its target-practice.

By the time it reached Salerno—after fighting through the Tunisian campaign—the 36th Division was only half-Texan. When it went to battle at Anzio, broke through the Velletri Line and opened the way for the Allies’ drive upon Rome, the Division was but one-fifth Texan. The first 10 days at Salerno had cost it 5,000 men. Another 2,000 fell at San Pietro; three days’ fighting along the Rapido River took 1,500 more.


Major General John E. Dahlquist

So many replacements were sent in by the time the 36th smashed through at Velletri and headed for Rome, on May 25, that it was no longer Texan in fact, but all-American. Yet so readily did the newcomers fall into its tradition, that it remained Texan in spirit.

The Division fought along the road to Rome just as it had fought on the road to Tunis*, and as at Salerno, where it successfully carried out “the war’s most difficult operation.” That was the first American beachhead to be established on the European Continent, and the first to be won against entrenched German opposition.

The Fighting 36th had blazed the trail for D-Day on the French coast (June 6), in which operation another Texas organization (the 90th Division) figured creditably.

Today—fighting along the Arno, close to historic Pisa, with Berlin as its ultimate goal—the 36th Division has a new commander. Maj. Gen. John E. Dahlquist (who acknowledges himself a non-Texan) has succeeded Maj. Gen. Fred L. Walker, who has been called home and assigned to Fort Benning (Georgia).

Concerning his new command, General Dahlquist has written to Governor Stevenson at Austin:

“No greater privilege has ever been given me. The 36th Division is one of the finest in the Army. Its war record to date is one of which it is, and should be, extremely proud.”

That showing, the new commander credits largely to “the fact that the 36th is a Texas Division.” Certainly, under a leader who believes in it so thoroughly, the 36th cannot do otherwise than carry on to new feats as brilliant as any achieved up to now.

*Editors note: the 36th Division trained in North Africa but first saw combat during the Salerno invasion.

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