Encyclopedia - The Rainbow Division

The Rainbow Division The 'Rainbow Division' was the nickname given to the U.S. 42nd Division.  It was so-named because it was comprised - deliberately - from National Guard Units from 26 states and the District of Columbia.  Colonel Douglas MacArthur, the new division's Chief of Staff (and ultimately its commander), remarked that "the 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other".

In addition to the National Guard Units the 42nd Division (created in August 1917) also included four infantry regiments from New York, Ohio, Alabama and Iowa along with men from many other U.S. states.

One of the first American divisions to reach the battlefields of the Western Front in November 1917, the Rainbow Division first saw action fighting alongside the French in February 1918.  The division played a notable role in six major campaigns, including the Battle of Champagne in July 1918, in addition to fighting at Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, Verdun and the Argonne.

With the armistice the Rainbow Division was assigned German occupation duties.  Its service officially came to an end in May 1919.  The division was re-activated with America's participation in the Second World War.

A "red cap" was a British military policeman.

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