In today’s “Blast from the Past,” we see a gun crew from Battery B of the 205th Field Artillery Battalion from the 41st Infantry Division. The year is 1943, and they are in New Guinea, using a local hut to hide their firing position from the enemy.

The 41st Infantry Division was an important unit of the United States Army during World War II. Nicknamed the “Sunset Division” due to its insignia, a circle divided by a horizontal line with a yellow sun on top (representing a sunset), this division has a rich history.

41st ID patch
41st ID patch, representing a sunset.

The 41st Infantry Division was a National Guard division from the Pacific Northwestern states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington). It was federalized and entered active duty on September 16, 1940, in preparation for World War II. The 41st was the first American division to deploy overseas, the first to deploy in full strength, and among the first American divisions to engage the enemy in World War II.

After undergoing training in Australia, the 41st Division was assigned to operations in the Pacific Theatre. In World War II, it fought in the New Guinea campaign and the Battle of Biak as part of General Douglas MacArthur’s “island hopping” campaign.

In New Guinea, the 41st was involved in overcoming Japanese resistance at Salamaua and Lae, the Aitape-Wewak campaign, and other significant engagements. In Biak, the 41st was engaged in a tough fight to capture airfields that were strategic to the Philippines’ liberation.

The 41st Infantry Division ended World War II in the Philippines, preparing for the invasion of Japan when the war ended in August 1945. After Japan’s surrender, the division was stationed in Hiroshima as an occupation force.