Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen.
1st Infantry Division
"One of the finest American combat leaders of World War II, flamboyant Gen. Terry Allen was relieved of the command of a veteran division
in the midst of a campaign, producing a controversy that lingers to this day; he had come, some suggested, to love his men too much."
- Thomas Dixon
Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. (April 1, 1888 – September 12, 1969) was a United States Army officer who was featured on the cover of Time magazine during World War II.
He was a World War I veteran who during World War II was the commanding general of the First Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily, and later the commander of the 104th Infantry
Allen was born in Fort Douglas, Utah to Col. Samuel Allen and Consuelo "Conchita" Alvarez de la Mesa. Allen's family had a long line of military tradition.Besides his father, Allen's maternal
grandfather was Colonel Carlos de la Mesa, a Spanish national who fought at Gettysburg for the Union Army in the Spanish Company of the "Garibaldi Guard" of the 39th New York State
Volunteers, during the American Civil War.Allen grew up in various military bases because of his father's military career and in 1907, received an appointment to the United States Military
Academy (West Point) in New York.
There were certain factors which affected Allen's performance at West Point and which would led up to his eventual dismissal from said military institution. One of them was that he began to
stutter and soon fell behind in his classes. Another was that he was held back a grade in his second year because he failed mathematics. Finally, he failed an ordnance and gunnery Course.  
Allen enrolled and attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912. He joined the Army once more and after passing the
competitive Army officers exam, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to Fort Meyer in Virginia. In 1913, he was reassigned to the 14th Cavalry at Eagle Pass, Texas and
served there until 1917. During this time he pursued and captured ammunition smugglers and served on border duty. He was promoted twice, the first on July 1, 1916, to First Lieutenant and
the second on May 15, 1917 when he was promoted to Captain.

On June 7, 1918, a year and two months after the United States declared war against Germany and entered World War I, Allen was sent to France and assigned to the 315th Ammunition
Train. Allen showed up at a school for infantry officers the day before a class graduation. When the commandant of the school began to hand out certificates to the graduates, Allen lined up with
them. When confronted with him the commandant said "I don't remember you in this class." "I'm Allen—why don't you?" was the reply.Without further ado, Allen was given the certificate and
became a temporary major.
Allen was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division which he led into battle at St. Mihiel and Aincreville. During one battle Allen received a bullet through his jaw and
mouth and as a result of the wound never stuttered again. He was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart for his actions. Allen remained with the American Expeditionary Forces in France
until the Armistice with Germany (Compigne). He then served with the Army of Occupation in Germany until 1920 when he returned to the United States.
After Allen returned to the United States, his temporary rank of Major was reverted to Captain until July 1, 1920 when he was fully promoted to Major. He served in Camp Travis and later in
Fort McIntosh, both located in Texas. In 1922, Allen was assigned to the 61st Cavalry Division, at New York City.
He continued to take military related courses, among them: an advanced course in Cavalry School, Fort Riley, Kansas; a two year program at Fort Leavenworth's Command & General Staff
School; a course in the Infantry School at Fort Benning and an interim course in infantry command with other divisions. In 1928, he married Mary Frances Robinson of El Paso, Texas with
whom in 1929 he had a son, Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr.  On August 1, 1935, Allen was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became an instructor at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley in
Kansas. He wrote and published "Reconnaissance by horse cavalry regiments and smaller units" in 1939.On October 1, 1940, General George Marshall promoted him to Brigadier General
(without ever holding the rank of Colonel) and in 1942, he was promoted to Major General and given command of the 1st Infantry Division.
In 1942, the 1st Infantry Division was sent to Britain where they underwent further combat training, which included training in amphibious warfare. The division participated in the invasion of
North Africa under the command of General George S. Patton. The division landed in Oran, Algeria on November 8, 1942, as part of Operation Torch. Elements of the division then took part
in combat at Maktar, Medjez el Bab, Kasserine Pass, Gafsa, El Guettar, Bja, and Mateur, from January 21, 1943 to May 9, 1943, helping secure Tunisia. In July, 1943, the division supported
other units in the invasion of Sicily and took part in Operation Husky.

On June 23, when the invasion of Sicily was 17 days away, Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen wrote a letter from North Africa to an Army friend at home. Of himself, General Allen wrote
Of his men in the 1st Infantry Division, which he commands, Terry Allen wrote:

"The Division has been fighting hard and has done well, I am happy to say. They fought through the gloomy, defensive days in the Ousseltia Valley,
led the American counterattack in the Kasserine Pass,started the American offensive with the seizure of Gafsa, fought through 21 days at the grueling battle of El Guettar, and
closed in for the'kill'at the final drive on Tunis. Particularly in their last drive, they managed to knock the hell out of the best units the Germans put against them.But enough of
bragging about our fine division.
       My best regards to you, Old Top.
      P.S. We are busy as hell again."   

When Allen took over the 1st, the division had no superior in the Army, and in the opinion of its men it had no equal. Its boast, when Allen was ready totake it to Britain early last year,was that
all but six of its 13,000-odd menwere volunteers. They were already calling themselves "the first team." They drilled, maneuvered, played under their shoulder patch (the figure 1 in red)
with a special swagger, and they roared out the infantry's song with a special gusto:

The infantry, the infantry,
With the dirt behind their ears,
They can whip their weight in wildcats
And drink their weight in beers,
The cavalry, artillery
And the goddamn engineers,
They'll never catch the Infantry
in a hundred thousand years"

(The men of course, improved the song with unprintable addenda.)

Most of the division's men were from the eastern seaboard, particularly from the New York areas,and Allen's first impression was that they were smaller than the soldiers he was used to. But he
soon learned that they were tough and good. In Scotland and England he drilled them incessantly for war: a 40-mile march in 24 hours, with full field equipment, was required of every unit. They
trained in amphibious war (although they then lacked the landing craft which they would actually use, and missed practice in the precise timing of real invasion).
Allen had a divisional staff to his liking. Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt Jr. was  his second in command. Third of a convivial and efficient trio was Colonel Henry B. Cheadle, commander of
the famed 10th Infantry Regiment, now a brigadier general and assistant commander of another division. His personal aide was Major Kenneth Downs, a former newsman whom Allen met and
adopted at a party shortly before the division sailed for Britain. At Oran, where the 1st landed and met some of the hardest fighting of the early campaign in North Africa, Allen demonstrated the
quality which had sometimes been confused with casual impetuosity. The French held a strong position at St. Cloud, a suburb of Oman.
Rather than lose men in frontal assault, Allen, on a spur-of-the-moment decision, sent two units around the town, into Oran.As his men told it later, it sounded obvious and easy, but they knew it
was the act of a resourceful and flexible commander.

For the men on the spot, these early operations were not the easy matters which the censored accounts then made them seem to be. Men were killed. Men were wounded. Most of the officers
in the 1st and other divisions got their first combat test. At that time, not one division in the new U.S. Army (excepting the lost men of Bataan) had, been thoroughly schooled in battle for more
But, everything  considered, the divisions engaged in Sicily did well and the 1st division did very well. Once the landings were over and consolidated, Allen entered the blackest period of his
Army life. The 1st Infantry Division found itself in a situation remarkably similar to that which the 1st Division of World War I faced in early 1918. It was broken up.Its battalions, with those of
other divisions, were scattered over a 100 mile defensive front,under British and French command. These arrangements may have been unavoidable at the time, but they graveled Terry Allen. "I
blooded them, didn't I?" he would say in aggrievement when he thought of his lost battalions. Finally, fuming at his divisionless division headquarters in the rear, he went to see General
"Is this a private war, or can anybody get in it?"

In March he did get in with his division, intact once more. At Gafsa and El Guettar, on hills held and bloodied by the men of the 1st, Terry Allen and his division did superlatively well (TIME,
May 24). After he had taken Gafsa, he was ordered to "hold" the town as a supply base for the British Eighth Army. "But the orders don't say anything about what steps to take to hold it," said
Allen with a grin. So be attacked.
Correspondents with Allen at this period discovered a commander whom his prewar acquaintances at home would have hardly recognized. At times he was shy, quiet. He never bragged,in
public,of his own division; he never slighted the others. Once, when the 1st Armored Division was late on one of his flanks, Allen said:
"I guess they had motor trouble."
On an interim afternoon, during El Guettar, Allen sat at tea with another officer and a TIME correspondent in the oasis that was his headquarters. He talked of home,of his wife, of Terry Jr. and
of how he wanted the boy to be a polo player, of his men and of how "all this talk about Division spirit just means that the men won't let the other men down." His philosophy of the war he gave
in four words:
"It's crazy, this war."

The correspondent jotted down these notes:
"The distance from the flat of Terry Allen's feet to the top of his skull is about five feet, ten inches, but his stiff, straight hair stands up far enough above that to bring his total height up to six feet.
His hair also sticks out on the sides. It is blue-black, flecked with gray, and his bushy brows are the same color. His eyes are deep brown and gentle. He is a gentleman. He does not like the
fact that men will be killed carrying out his orders, but he has accepted the inevitability of it. He will spare or spend his men as military necessity demands; while they live, he will see that they get
every comfort and consideration. That is one reason why the spirit of the 1st Division is second to none in the U.S. Army."
Terry Allen and his division were ready for the final days in Tunisia when (with other units of the U.S. II Corps and the British First Army) they smashed through to Tunis and final victory in
Tunisia. They were ready for Sicily, for Gela, where the Germans counterattacked to the beaches and Terry Allen said:
"Hell, we haven't begun to fight. Our artillery hasn't been overrun
They were ready for the inland march, for battle at Ponte Olivo and Barrafranca, for fierce and clever battle with the Germans at Nicosia last week.
With his division, sobered and hardened Terry Allen was gaining a personal luster. But now, as he did when be was with his bartender in El Paso,he would certainly point to his stars and his
fame and say:
"You know who is responsible for that - the enlisted men, that's who.".
Allen and his second in command Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (son of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt) distinguished themselves as combat leaders. Another associate
under his command, was Chief of Staff, Norman Cota, who would later play an important military role in The Invasion of Normandy. In spite the success, however, General Omar Bradley was
critical of both Allen and Roosevelt, and once Patton was relieved of command of the 7th Army (for striking a soldier), Bradley asked General Dwight D. Eisenhower permission to relieve both
Allen and Roosevelt of their commands on the theory of rotation of command. On August 7, 1943, Allen was relieved of his command by Major General Clarence R. Huebner

Allen retired from the Army on August 31, 1946. For a number of years he served as a representative for various insurance companies in El Paso and was active in civic affairs and in veteran
organizations.In October 1967, Allen's son, Lieutenant Colonel Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr., was killed in the Vietnam War, while commanding the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment {AKA
"Black Lions"}, a unit of the 1st Infantry Division, which his father had commanded in World War II. Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr., died of natural causes on September 12,
1969, in El Paso, Texas, at the age of 81. He was buried, alongside his son, in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery with full military honors. The United States Military Academy presents the
"General Terry de la Mesa Allen Award" to the student with the highest rating in Military Science.

Among Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr.'s military awards and recognitions are the following:

Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Mexican Border Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Foreign Decorations
Honorable Order of the Bath - United Kingdom
French Croix de Guerre with Palm medals - France
St. Mihiel Medal- France
Order of Suvorov Class II (Gold) - USSR
Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen (left) commander of the 1st Infantry
Division, studies a map with the man who became his nemesis, Lieutenant
General Omar N. Bradley, commander of the U.S. II Corps. Censors have inked
out a landmark between the two to avoid pinpointing their location in Sicily.