In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment. An impatient 1st Cavalry Division was dismounted and they were processed for movement to the Southwest Pacific theater as foot solders. In mid June 1943, the last troops of the division departed Fort Bliss, Texas for Camp Stoneman, California and later on 03 July, boarded the "SS Monterey" and the "SS George Washington" for Australia and the Southwest Pacific.
On 26 July, three weeks later, the division arrived at Brisbane and began a fifteen mile trip to their new temporary home, Camp Strathpine, Queensland, Australia. The division received six months of intense combat jungle warfare training at Camp Strathpine in the wilds of scenic Queensland and amphibious training at nearby Moreton Bay. In January 1944 the division was ordered to leave Australia and sail to Oro Bay, New Guinea. After a period of staging in New Guinea, it was time for the 1st Cavalry Division to receive their first baptism of fire.
On 27 February, Task Force "Brewer", consisting of 1,026 troopers, embarked
from Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea under the command of Brigadier General
William C. Chase. Their destination was a remote, Japanese occupied island of
the Admiralties, Los Negros, where they were to make a reconnaissance of force
and if feasible, capture Momote Airdrome and secure a beachhead for the
reinforcements that would follow.
Following the invasion of Los Negros, the 8th Regiment departed from New
Guinea as the part of the reinforcements for the Admiralty Campaign. On 09
March 1944, they landed at Salami Beach, Los Negros Island. By 10-11 of March,
mop up operations were underway all over the northern half of Los Negros and
attention was being shifted to a much bigger objective immediately to the
west; Manus Island.
On 18 March, the 2nd Brigade crossed the river in force and drove the enemy from Lorengau Village. The objectives were Rossum, a small village south of Lorengau and Salsia Plantation. By 21 March, the 8th Cavalry had won control of most of the plantation, but the battle for Rossum was slowed by heavy jungle which the Japanese used to their advantage. After 96 hours of bitter combat the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry was relieved by the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry. The final push to Rossum was made behind heavy artillery fire and air bombardment. On 28 March, the battle for Los Negros and Manus was over, except for mopping up operations.
The Admiralty Islands campaign officially ended on 18 May 1944. Japanese
casualties stood at 3,317 killed. Training, discipline, determination and
ingenuity had won over suicidal attacks. The 8th Cavalry Troopers were now
With the last of the strongholds of Leyte eliminated, the division moved on to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Leyte had been the biggest campaign of the Pacific war, but the record was about to be shattered by the invasion of Luzon. On 26 January, conveys were formed and departed for the Lingayan Gulf, Luzon Island, the Philippines. Landing without incident on 27 January, the regiment assembled in an area near Guimba and prepared for operations in the south and southwest areas. One of the First Team's most noted feats was accomplished during the fighting for Luzon.
On 31 January 1945, General Douglas MacArthur issued the order "Go to Manila! Go around the Japs, bounce off the Japs, save your men, but get to Manila! Free the internees at Santo Tomas! Take the Malacanan Palace (the presidential palace) and the legislative building!" The next day, the "flying column", as the element came to be known, jumped off to slice through 100 miles of Japanese territory. The rescue column, led by Brigadier General William C. Chase was a high risk gamble from the beginning. The column was able to get around, over and past each obstacle in its path.
The "race" for Manila was now between the 37th Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, with the cavalry in the lead. Since the operation had begun, its units had been fortunate enough to find bridges and fordable crossings almost everywhere they went. The column was able to get around, over and past each obstacle in its path. The 37th Division, on the other hand, was slowed down by difficult crossings which forced it to either ferry its artillery and tanks across or wait for the engineers to build bridges. On 02 February, Chase's flying column was dashing toward Manila, sometimes at speeds of fifty miles per hour, with individual units competing for the honor of reaching the city first.
On 03 February, elements of the 1st Cavalry Division pushed into the northern
outskirts of Manila, with only the steep-sided Tuliahan River separating them
from the city proper. A squadron of the 8th Cavalry reached the bridge just
moments after Japanese soldiers had finished preparing it for demolition. As
the two sides opened fire on one another, the Japanese lit the fuse leading to
the carefully placed explosives. Without hesitation, Lt. James P. Sutton, a
Navy demolitions expert attached to the division, dashed through the enemy
fire and cut the burning fuse. The way to Manila was now clear.
As the sun set over the ocean behind the advancing Americans, a single tank named "Battling Basic" crashed through the walls surrounding Santo Tomas University, the site of a camp holding almost 4,000 civilian prisoners. The Japanese guards put up little resistance. By 2100 hours, the internment camp at Santo Tomas was liberated and the prisoners, many of whom had been incarcerated for nearly two years, were liberated. By 03 March 1945, organized resistance in Manila was finally wiped out. The Division was able to add another "First" to its name;
"First in Manila".
The next assignment given to the First Cavalry was the difficult task of
cracking the Shimbu Line, a few miles east of Manila, and securing a front
from Taytay on the North to Antiplo on the South. The goal was to prevent
Japanese reinforcements from reaching Manila. The First Cavalry fought
regiments abreast as it destroyed the Southern flank of the Shimbu Line. From
north to south, the units involved were the 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th Regiments.
Once high ground had been taken, the troopers were given a weeks rest before
taking on a new assignment to help clear southern Luzon of organized Japanese
resistance. On 30 June 1945, when the Luzon Campaign was declared finally
completed, the First Cavalry was in Lucena, at the southern end of the Tayabas
At 0800 hours on 08 September, a history making convey left Hara-Machida with Tokyo as their destination. Headed by Major General William C. Chase, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, the party included a veteran from each troop of the division. Passing through Hachioji, Fuchu and Chofu, the Cavalry halted briefly at the Tokyo City Limits. General Chase stepped across the line thereby putting the American Occupational Army officially in Tokyo and adding another "First" to its name;
"First in Tokyo".
Over the next five years, until the outbreak of the Korean War, the regiment was able to perform many valuable duties and services that helped Japan reconstruct and create a strong, viable economy. On 25 March 1949, the reorganization which began in 1945, was completed by redesignating troops as companies.
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