131st U.S. Field Artillery Regiment, 1917



FORMATION: Although listed as the first artillery regiment of the 1917 Texas mobilization on October 15, 1917, it is the youngest of the three regiments established at that time. It was created from the Second Texas Field Artillery Regiment, which had its origins in January, 1916, when recruiting for a field artillery battery began in San Antonio. This San Antonio battery was designated Battery B, Second Texas, and was recognized in June, 1916 when it was mustered into state service. Other units were organized around Battery B and the entire Regiment was ordered into federal service with other Texas units in August, 1917, redesignated as the 131st Field Artillery on October 15, 1917. It was designated as a 75 mm gun regiment.

WORLD WAR I SERVICE: After training the unit sailed for France, landing at Brest in August, 1918, and moving into a training area near Redon. French training officers at the famous French artillery training area, Coetquidan, reported the regiment ready for service in only six weeks of the eight-week training course. The unit did not reach the front before the end of the war, although it was determined to be in "perfect condition for service" by the commander of the 61st FA Bde, General John F. Stephens. Returning to the USA in 1919, the unit was mustered out at Camp Travis, San Antonio, Texas, effective 2 April 1919.

BETWEEN THE WARS: After reorganization in 1922, the unit attended field training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma that year, and at Camp Stanley, Leon Spring, Texas in the three years following. From 1926 to 1939, the unit attended annual training at Camp Hulen, Palacios, Texas, participating in the Third Army maneuvers in 1938. By 1939, the Regimental headquarters was at Austin, Texas.

WORLD WAR II: The Regiment was called to federal service as part of the 36th Infantry Division on 25 November, 1940 and arrived at Camp Bowie, Brownwood, on 11 Jan 1941. 2d Bn detached in November, 1941. 1st Battalion was designated 131st Field Artillery Battalion (75 mm Truck), trained with the 36th Division, moved to Camp Blanding, Florida and Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, departing from New York for North Africa on 2 Apr 1943.

SALERNO, ANZIO, SOUTHERN FRANCE: After staging in North Africa, the unit, assigned as direct support for 141st Infantry, landed in the assault at Salerno 9 September, 1943 and fought the bloody battles up the boot of Italy until relieved, retrained and committed to reinforce the Anzio assault on 22 May, 1944. Later the unit made a third amphibious landing in Southern France, 15 August, 1944, and fought with the 36th during the later months of the war, ending the war on the German-Austrian border area. The unit was returned to the United States and demobilized in December, 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia.

2d Bn, 131st Field Artillery ("The Lost Battalion"). After training with the 36th Division, the unit was separated from the 36th and assigned to the Pacific theater as a reinforcement for the forces in the Philippines. Sailing from the west coast of the U. S. in November, 1941, the unit was at sea at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack and was diverted to Australia. It was later sent as a reinforcement to Australian, British and Dutch forces in Indonesia and was captured by the Japanese in 1942 on the island of Java. The unit was used as slave labor by the Japanese on the Rangoon-Bangkok railroad from 1943-1945 and was liberated at the end of the war. Campaigns: East Indies, 1941-42. Distinguished Unit Commendation Streamer embroidered "JAVA".


1st How Battalion (105mm Towed) was organized in 1947 as a component of the 36th Infantry Division and remained a part of the 36th Division until the Pentomic Army restructuring of the National Guard in 1959, when it was reorganized as the 1st Rocket/Howitzer Battalion, 131st Artillery (HJ/8-inch) and assigned to the 49th Armored Division. When the 36th Infantry and 49th Armored Divisions were restructured in 1963, the unit was resdesigned and reequipped as the 1st Rocket/Howitzer Battalion (155mm, 8-inch), 131st Artillery and was assigned to the 36th Infantry Division. The battalion was retired from service in 1968 at the retirement of the 36th infantry Division.

2d How Battalion (105mm SP) was organized 29 May 1947 as the 645th Armored Field Artillery Battalion continuing the lineage of 2/131 and assigned to the 49th Armored Division. The battalion was redesignated as the 2d Howitzer Battalion, (SP) 131st Field Artillery on 16 March 1959, with units at Wichita Falls, Jacksboro and Olney, Vernon and Electra, Texas. On September 19, 1961, the battalion was mobilized with the rest of the 49th Armored Division as part of national defense activities relating to the "Berlin Crisis". The unit was deployed to Fort Polk, Louisiana, on 24 October, 1961, after training at home stations. After completing extensive maneuvers entitled "Iron Dragoon" in May, 1962, the unit was demobilized in June, 1962, and returned to state service as organic to the 49th Armored Division.

In 1968, the 49th Armored Division was deactivated, and the 2/131 was rearmed with 155mm SP guns, assigned to the 72d Mechanized Brigade. In 1973, the 2/131 (105mm SP) was assigned to the reactivated 49th Armored Division. It remained a component unit of the 49th Armored Division.

3d Battalion (Honest John), 131st Artillery was organized in 1963 and equipped with two batteries of the Honest John rocket, assigned to the 49th Armored Division. The unit was deactivated in 1968 when the Texas National Guard restructured from the retiring of the 36th Infantry Division and the 49th Armored Division and was not reactivated in 1973 in the new 49th Armored Division.

Current as of 20Nov99


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