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General Terry Allen was born April 1st, 1888 in Fort Douglas Utah.  Allen became a famous United States Army officer during World War II. He led the 1st Infantry Division (known as the “Big Real One”) in North Africa & Sicily. General Allen began his life as “an army brat”. His mother gave him an unusual middle name of “de la Mesa”. She was also an Army child, the daughter of a Spanish Colonel.  With this strong army background, it’s no surprise that General Allen excelled in his position as a strong leader of infantrymen. Being foot soldiers is the hardest part of fighting a war and General Allen inspired his men to greatness.

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With General Allen, his men came first. He was loved by his men because they knew that he would stand by them.  The enlisted men believed in him and he was quickly promoted up through the ranks to brigadier general.   In early 1942, he was promoted to major general and given command of the 1st Infantry Division. When he got his division, he found that his men were mainly from the New York area and he realized they were smaller than the soldiers he was used to.  But soon he learned that they were tough and good. In Great Britain he drilled them tirelessly doing long marches with full field equipment, getting them ready for invasions.  Rather than losing men on the beaches, on the day of landing in North Africa, he made a sound decision to send 2 units around the town of Oran and attack from the perimeter. He was a flexible and clever commander.

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General Allen was a great horse rider and enjoyed the game of polo.  He attended West Point but often broke with tradition and did not really care about getting good marks in school. However, once he left West Point and became a captain, he started to excel.  He was very brave and got a Silver Star for “distinguished and exceptional gallantry” in World War I. He even got a bullet through the jaw and mouth during a skirmish. Allen was a ladies’ man, but in 1928 to the surprise of everyone, he married Mary Frances Robinson and they had one son who later fought in Vietnam.

General Allen never bragged about his own division and he never put down others.  He really believed that his men wouldn’t let each other down and they lived up to that belief.  He was only about five feet ten but his hair stood up stiff and straight so he looked taller.  He had bushy eyebrows and had gentle brown eyes to reflect his personality. He saw that his men got every comfort and consideration. This was one reason why the spirit of the 1st Division was second to none in the US Army. Terry Allen never took the glory for himself but credited his success in battle to the enlisted men under him.  To many commanders and troops, Terry Allen was a living legend in World War II.

 

http://www.104infdiv.org/timemag.htm

General Terry de la Mesa Allen



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