Association History

The Birth of the 4th Division Association

Headquarters 4th Division was constituted in the Army on November 19, 1917. On December 3, 1917 the War Department of the United States issued the order creating the 4th Division and on December 10, 1917 the Division was activated. In April 1918 the first contingents of the Division sailed for France where by the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, elements of the Division had served in five major campaigns. According to the Center of Military History, the Division suffered 2,160 killed in action and 10,660 wounded in action. Other accounts place the number of killed in action higher.

In 1919 while the 4th Division was on occupation duty in Germany, immediately following the end of the war, it was recognized that the large Army raised to fight the war would soon be reduced to peacetime strength and the 4th Division might cease to exist.  A shared feeling arose from the ranks that some kind of organization should be formed that would forever bind together the men who served in the 4th Division.

Division Headquarters took up the task to find out what kind of organization should be implemented and what the purpose and immediate objects of that organization should be. Other Divisions had begun to form associations, some for social purposes, some for political purposes, some to erect monuments, and the perception was that such associations would most likely be temporary.  From its beginning, the 4th Division Association was intended to last as a permanent body dedicated to comradeship among those who served in the Division.

The Association would not be just for officers. Enlisted men would make up the greater part of its members and their opinions concerning the makeup and purpose of the organization was considered paramount. A circular was sent out and read to all units of the Division proposing the formation of the Association and inviting suggestions as to its objectives.

Possible objectives for the Association outlined in the circular were: the marking of the battlefields by suitable monuments; the marking of the graves of those men whose bodies were to be exhumed and taken back to the States; the formation of an endowment fund, the interest of which was to be used in creating scholarships for the children of such men as were financially unable to put their own children in school and college; the organization of a divisional paper or magazine to be issued monthly; the installation of a central office of the Association under the charge of a permanent secretary-treasurer; and the activity of the Association in matters of a non-political nature in supporting the United States military.

The proposal was met with enthusiasm by all ranks and a convention was called in order to create the Association. The convention met at Neuenahr, Germany on Sunday, June 29, 1919. All field officers of the Division were directed to be present, together with the first sergeant of each company and two enlisted men from each company elected as delegates by their fellow soldiers.

A nominating committee consisting of two thirds enlisted men was appointed for the purpose of selecting permanent officers for the Association. The nominations were accepted and voted on by all present and Brigadier General Benjamin A. Poore, Commander of 7th Brigade, was elected as the first President of the Association. All three officers who had commanded the Division, Major General George H. Cameron, Major General John L. Hines, and Major General Mark L. Hersey, along with Brigadier General Edwin B. Babbit who had commanded the 4th Field Artillery Brigade were elected as Honorary Presidents. Brigadier General Ewing E. Booth, who had commanded the 8th Brigade was elected as Honorary Vice-President. The remainder of the elected and appointed officers of the Association were about equally divided between officers and enlisted men of the Division.

The convention lasted from 9:30 in the morning until past 5 o’clock in the afternoon. All proposals suggested in the circular were adopted, including the establishment of The Ivy Leaves as the Association’s official publication. It was decided that three monuments to the Division’s fallen in battle would be erected and dedicated in France while the Division was still overseas and its organic engineers, the 4th Engineer Regiment, could be utilized for their construction. One monument was emplaced near the Vesle River, one in the St. Mihiel area, and one in the Meuse-Argonne area, thus commemorating the three major engagements during the war in which the Division as a whole had participated. All monuments were finished and in place before the Division returned to the United States. All three still stand in France today. The Division owns the ground on which these monuments stand.

All of the original proposals and concepts adopted by the Association in 1919 are still in action nearly 100 years later. Officers of the Association are still elected from the general membership, the Scholarship Trust Committee is still awarding funds to eligible recipients, monuments are still being dedicated, The Ivy Leaves is still our principle means of communicating with each other, and our Association still supports our active 4th Infantry Division and our country’s military year round.


The Ivy Leaves Volume 1 Number 1
Published at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa October 25, 1919

 

The First President of the 4th Division Association
Brigadier General Benjamin A. Poore

Benjamin Andrew Poore was born in Alabama on June 22, 1863. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy on July 1, 1886 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 12th Infantry. He participated in the Pine Ridge Campaign, the final campaign of the Indian Wars. He was transferred to the 6th Infantry in 1892. During the War with Spain he was detached from his Regiment and served with BG Theodore Schwan’s Independent Regular Brigade in the invasion of Puerto Rico. He was awarded a Silver Star Citation for his actions in the battle at Hormigueros in August 1898. Poore returned to the 6th Infantry and sailed with the Regiment to the Philippines, where, as a Captain he was awarded a second Silver Star Citation for his command during a battle at Guin-Tabuan on the island of Negros in October 1899. He served a second tour of duty in the Philippines with the 6th Infantry in 1905-1906.

In October 1908 Poore was promoted to Major of the 22nd Infantry. He commanded a Battalion of the 22nd Infantry in Alaska and then in Texas for two years on Mexican Border duty. In 1912 he was detailed as a member of the General Staff in Washington, D.C. and also as Director of the Army War College. In 1914 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, unassigned to any Regiment. His detail to the General Staff ended in 1916 and he joined the 15th Infantry on duty in China. In late 1916 he was promoted to Colonel of the 8th Infantry and commanded that Regiment until August 1917. At that time he was promoted to the temporary rank of Brigadier General in the National Army. He commanded the 162nd Depot Brigade at Camp Pike, Arkansas and then the 14th Infantry Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas.

On April 4, 1918 Poore reported to the 4th Division at Camp Greene, North Carolina as Commander of the 7th Infantry Brigade. In May 1918 he sailed with the Brigade to France. He commanded the Brigade in the Aisne-Marne Offensive in July/August 1918. In August MG George Cameron, commanding the 4th Division, was promoted to command of V Corps and Poore took temporary command of the 4th Division until the end of August. When MG John Hines assumed command of the Division, Poore returned to command of the 7th Brigade and led them through the St. Mihiel Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. During this period he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of the Brigade. In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive his Brigade led the attack of the 4th Division and on October 11, 1918 Poore personally reformed the disorganized soldiers of his Brigade, who were falling back through lack of command and severe casualties, and led them back to the lines under heavy fire where they were able to present an unbroken front line to the enemy. For his actions that day he received the Distinguished Service Cross.

Poore again took temporary command of the 4th Division in late October 1918 until MG Mark Hersey assumed command. Poore commanded the 7th Brigade on occupation duty in Germany and was elected the first President of the 4th Division Association when it was created in June 1919. He returned with the Division in 1919 to the United States. In 1920 he was discharged from the National Army and reverted to his rank of Colonel. He commanded the 1st Infantry until 1921 when he was promoted to the permanent rank of Brigadier General. For the next few years he commanded the 4th Brigade and then the 12th Brigade until 1925 when he was promoted to Major General and assigned to command of the 7th Corps Area of the continental United States. He held this position until his retirement in 1927. Benjamin A. Poore died in 1940 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Compiled By Michael Belis Co C 1/22 Infantry 4th Infantry Division RVN 1970