My father, William Jamieson was a farm boy from Beaverton, Oregon.  His mother was widowed and consequently, he was not drafted until later in the war.   He started his training at Camp Adair in December of 1942, shortly after the Camp was activated.

He was 25 years old when he went into the army and 28 years old when he came home.  Miraculously, he had no injuries and was one of only about 9 men in a company of 100 who came home unscathed.  Like most veterans of WWII, he did not talk about the war to his children.  He did, however, take MANY photos during his time in the army and overseas.   What a gift that was for us.  He has left us his story, his legacy, in photos.

In 2010, twenty two years after his death, I undertook the task of identifying his army photos and telling his war story which led me to Adair Living History and to becoming a member of the Board of ALH. It is my honor to share a brief history of the 104th Timberwolf Infantry Division.

The 104th Infantry Division, known as the Timberwolf Division, named for their distinctive patch that features a gray timber wolf, native to the Pacific Northwest, set on a background of green.  They were activated on September 15, 1942, at Camp Adair in Oregon.   The division went through basic training at Camp Adair during one of the wettest winters on record in the Willamette Valley.   When the boys arrived by the trainload, some of the barracks were not even completed.  For many of the east coast boys, Swamp Adair does not evoke great memories but, the division managed to successfully complete their basic training and later the soldiers would share how the wet Oregon winter weather helped to prepare them for the wet battlefields of Holland.

Wm. “Jamie” Jamieson, Fourth from the Left, at Camp Adair with other Jeep Drivers of the 415th Regiment Company D

Jeeps all in a Line on the Camp Adair Training Grounds (notice the targets), 1943

Wm. “Jamie” Jamieson, Fourth from the Left, during training in the Woods with Second Platoon, Company D members of the 415th Regiment, 104th Infantry Division

From Camp Adair, on August 6, 1943, the division moved by train to Central Oregon to participate in the great “Oregon Maneuvers,” which was the largest military field exercise ever held in the Pacific Northwest.  It included 100,000 troops and covered 10,000 square miles of Central and Eastern Oregon.  

 In November of 1943, the Timberwolves entrained to the California-Arizona desert near Camp Hyder and Camp Horn to participate in desert maneuvers.  They also did some training at Camp Granite in this area.  This training would help the division prepare for desert warfare should they ever be deployed to North Africa.

 In March of 1943, they moved on to Camp Carson located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  At Carson they were infused by freshly trained Army Specialized Training Program or ASTP members, following the cancelation of the ASTP program.  (The ASTP was a military training program instituted by the United States Army during World War II to meet wartime demands both for junior officers and soldiers with specialized technical skills. Conducted at a number of American universities, it offered training in such fields as engineering, foreign languages and medicine.)  

 At Carson, the division essentially completed a second basic training period to bring the ASTP troops up to the training level of the rest of the division.  The result of the addition of the ASTP troops now made the 104th a division with a unique makeup,  ½ of its members had the highest IQ levels in the country and the other ½ of the division were some of the most highly, extensively trained soldiers of any division. 

 It was at Camp Carson that BG Terry DeLeMesa Allen was given command of the Division.   The division was created and trained as an infantry unit but General Allen focused on a new warfare tactic – nighttime combat operations.  Consequently, the Timberwolves were known as “Night Fighters” and because they fought at night, they suffered fewer casualties. There were 1473 killed in action and 385 Missing in Action.

 From Carson, the division headed for Europe aboard troop ships.  They were the first group of American soldiers shipping out directly to France, bypassing England.  The Timberwolves landed near Cherbourg, France in Normandy on September 7, 1944, and while waiting for battle orders, one of the duties assigned to them was to drive and “ride shotgun” on the famed “Red Ball Express” supplying the front lines.

 The Timberwolves then moved into a defensive position making their way to the Belgium, Holland border and on October 23, 1944 they engaged the enemy for the first time in Wuustwezel, Belgium. Battles in Holland include The Battle of the Dykes, where they pushed the occupying German forces all the way to the Maas River, securing the Scheldt Estuary and the port of Rotterdam for the Allies.

 

From there they fought their way through Holland into Germany, moving across central plains of Germany providing the spearhead of the Allied forces as they chased the retreating German Army eastward. 

In the battle at the Hurtegen Forest, they took control of the large Duren industrial areas and crossed the Roer River; and during the Battle of the Bulge, they were the easternmost Allied unit, providing the eastern defensive edge of the Allied forces. 

They brought the first major, metropolitan German City, Cologne, under Allied control and were a large part of the Encirclement of the Ruhr Valley, Germany’s last major defensive effort in the war, and where the Allies surrounded 450,000 Wehrmacht soldiers and took over 300,000 German troops prisoner.

 On their way through Germany they discovered and liberated a Concentration Camp in Nordhausen, Germany called Mittelbau Dora which housed political prisoners that were used as slave labor to build the VI and V2 bombs, the forerunners to today’s inter-ballistic missiles.    

They were one of the first infantry groups to meet the Russians at the Elbe River on April 26, 1945, effectively ending the war in Europe.  

The 104th Timberwolves were a highly decorated Infantry division who served 195 consecutive days on the front line in direct contact with the enemy. They took 51,727 German prisioners during the war.  The division received 2 Medals of Honor (including one of only seven WWII Medal of Honor medals awarded to African Americans), 24 distinguished service crosses, 1 distinguish service medal (by their fearless general, Terry DeLeMesa Allen), 786 silver stars, 6 legion of merits, 3623 bronze stars for heroic achievement, 54 Air Medals, 24 Soldier Medals, 7 Presidential Unit Citations and 7011 purple hearts.

The Timberwolves returned to US soil in July of 1945 where they were stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo, CA, training to participate in the invasion of Japan in “Operation Coronet.”    This planned invasion was cancelled due to the atomic bombing of Japan and the resulting surrender of Japan to the Allies which ended World War II.   

Some Timberwolves of note include: former Governor of Iowa, Leo Hoegh; former New York City Mayor, Ed Koch; and former New York Governor, Hugh L. Carey.

The division was deactivated on December 20th, 1945 and reactivated December 1, 1946 as a reserve division headquartered in Vancouver, Washington.  In 2014, the division headquarters were moved to Joint Base Lewis McChord as a part of the army’s realignment process.  

Today, the 104th Leader Training Division proudly trains the future officers of the US Army!!  

I hope that this brief history of the 104th Infantry Division from WWII has taught you something you did not know before!   If you wish to reach out to me with questions, you can email me at:  mejamieson@aol.com