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Were there plans for a Marine division in World War I?

4/23/2013 • Ask Mr. History, Gear, World War I

In World War 1, had Germany kept fighting did the Marine Corps have any plan on activating a full division?

Also, was there ever any plan to activate a 7th Marine Div and or a 6th Marine Air wing if Japan had to be invaded in World War 2?


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Dear John,

By November 11, 1918, the Marine Corps had grown to 2,400 officers and 70,000 enlisted, but the only Marines active were still those of the brigade attached to the 2nd Division of the First Army, some of whom were advancing from their crossing of the Meuse at noon before they belatedly learned of the ceasefire.

For Operation Olympic, the V Amphibious Corps was attached to the Fifth Amphibious Force, slated to land on Kyushu—59,898 Marines in an overall force of 80,056. The VAC consisted of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Marine Divisions, the 2nd having replaced the 4th since Okinawa. About 30 percent of the Marines were new, the rest veterans. The Navy was to back them up with 240 aircraft flying from eight escort carriers (CVEs), in addition to which they would be given close support by the 1st Marine Air Wing from bases in the Ryukyus and later on Kyushu itself, the 2nd Marine Air Wing from Okinawa, and the 3rd and 4th Marine Air Wings as needed. In other words, no, there don’t seem to have been immediate plans for forming new Marine units before the war ended.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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