This day in history the 26th Infantry Division, also known as the 26th “Yankee” Division (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT), becomes the first American division to arrive in Europe during World War I.
The division was formed on July 18, 1917 and was activated on August 22, 1917 at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. It consisted of units from the New England area and saw extensive combat while in France.
More than one million American soldiers and Marines would join them by war’s end in November 1918. All 18 National Guard divisions will serve in France but only 11 see combat as intact units. Six others become “depot” divisions, serving as a source of replacements for casualties suffered by the front-line divisions.
One of them, the 93rd Division, composed of all of the Guard’s African American units, had each of its four regiments parceled out to three different French divisions because American Army leadership did not want to mix black and white soldiers together.