"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
Terry de la Mesa Allen - even his name swaggered, an admirer once wrote. The name still conjures overtones of magic. Those who knew him are to this day moved by their recollections of the man. Their personal affection for him matches their admiration of his military professionalism and style. Both remain boundless. There was something ineffable about him, indescribable. He had an unquestioned ability to inspire and to lead. His charisma and flair were beyond compare. Stirring in appearance and manner, he captured everyone's fancy. A supreme individualist, he rivaled, for a while at least, George S. Patton, Jr. in his hold on the American imagination. He was flamboyant and good copy for war correspondents, successful and hard-driving in his operations, the right man at the right time to command troops in battle.
One of the great and distinguished division commanders in World War II, Terry Allen was a living legend.
This was the lead page in "ARMY" magazine by Thomas Dixon.
Major General Terry Allen
Terry de la Mesa Allen - one of the greatest combat commanders in the history of the United States Army - took command of the 104th Infantry Division October 11, 1943. The Timberwolves quickly benefited from his vast experience, both as a battalion commander in World War I and, in 1942, as the commanding general of the First Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily.
Confident, cocky, tough, stubborn, friendly, honest, determined, tireless, quick, aggressive, skillful, religious...all these and more described our Chief Timberwolf. His chest was bedecked with ribbons, among which was a Purple Heart with cluster, and a Silver Star - he knew what it took to be an infantryman.
General Allen was a third-generation soldier; he believed his non-coms and men must always come first..."I want no Timberwolf to spend the night in any damn jail house in town"..."by God, get extra blankets for the men making tonight's river crossing"..."this lousy weather calls for dry socks - the troops need 'em and I mean now!" He was genuinely fond of "his" men, and he'd grin broadly as he'd pop your head back with a sharp, playful left to the chin, and remind you, "hell, those are the guys who make the brass look good - don't ever forget it!" In Arizona and Colorado, he hammered home his principles: "find 'em, fix 'em, fight 'em"..."take the high ground"..."inflict maximum damage to the enemy with minimum casualties to ourselves, night attack, night attack, night attack."
After the Division's brilliant campaign to the Rhine, General Allen was overheard in Cologne talking with General Omar Bradley:"Terry, I'm pleasantly surprised to see these young Timberwolves of yours already ranked along with the First and the Ninth as the finest assault divisions in the ETO."
Without hesitation, General Allen responded:"Brad, the First and the Ninth are in damned fast company!"
General Allen understood casualties of war...they hurt him keenly - more than he'd acknowledge. But in the fall of '67, when Lt. Col. Terry Allen, Jr. died in battle in Vietnam, the General suffered a severe blow.
The sparkle in his eyes was gone and his erect carriage sagged; but, never a quitter, he took the flag at his son's funeral, standing tall and proud. Minutes later at his home, where many friends had gathered, he admonished all, "let there be no tears in this house - this is the home of an infantry man."
On September 16, 1969, Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen was buried in the National Cemetery at Ft. Bliss with full military honors.
"There was no one quite like the 104th's Chief Timberwolf... Terry Allen was a helluva leader, an outstanding soldier, and a great guy!"- Albert Schwartz, Capt. Former Aide de Camp to MG Terry Allen
Terry de la Mesa Allen
Major General, U.S. Army
A Biographical Sketch:
Born 1 April 1888, Fort Douglas, Utah. His father Colonel Samuel Edward Allen, was a West Point graduate (1881) and a career Army officer. His mother, the former Conchita de la Mesa, was the daughter of Carlos de la Mesa, a Spanish Colonel who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Allen entered the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY in 1907 with the class of 1911. He failed mathematics in his second year, and moved back to the class of 1912. In his senior year, he failed an ordnance and gunnery course, and was discharged. He enrolled in Catholic University of America at Washington, D.C., where he completely devoted himself to his studies and graduated in 1912 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. On 30 November 1912, Terry Allen obtained a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Cavalry. With an outstanding career that belied his West Point experience, he was commissioned a brigadier general in October, 1940, thus becoming the first member of the West Point class he had failed to graduate with to be made a general officer.
He married Mary Frances Robinson of El Paso in June, 1928. About a year later they celebrated the birth of a son. A major personal tragedy marred the General's name sake and only son, Lt. Col. Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr., killed in action in South Vietnam on 17 October 1967. He was serving with the First Infantry Division, his father's old outfit, and was killed while leading a battalion against the Viet Cong near Lai Khe, northwest of Saigon, at the battle of Ong Thang.
Having retired on 31 August 1946, Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen died on 12 September 1969, in El Paso, Texas, at the age of 81. He was buried in the National Cemetery at Fort Bliss, with all military honors
DecorationsSilver Star, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf cluster,
Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf cluster, and the Legion of Merit
Foreign DecorationsHonorary Companion of the most Honorable Order of the Bath (British); French Croix de Guerre with Palm, The French Order of the Legion of Honor; and the Soviet Order of Suvorov, Class II (Gold)
30 Nov 1912- commissioned Second Lieutenant, Cavalry
1912-1913- 14th Cavalry, Fort Meyer, VA & Eagle Pass, TX
1916- Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, KS (graduated May 1916)
1 July 1916- promoted to First Lieutenant, served at Del Rio & Eagle Pass, TX on border duty
15 May 1917- promoted to Captain
April, 1918- Fort Sam Houston, TX
7 June 1918- promoted to Major (temporary)and sent to France with the 315th Ammunition Train. Transferred to the Infantry and 3rd Battalion, 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division.
September, 1918- received first of three battle wounds; remained with American Expeditionary Forces in France & with the Army of in Germany through Sept. 1920.
15 March 1920- reverted to Captain.
1 July 1920- promoted to Major.
September, 1920- Camp Travis, TX
March, 1922- Fort McIntosh, TX
September, 1922- 61st Cavalry Division, New York, City
January, 1924- Cavalry School, Fort Riley, KS (graduated from the advance course in June 1924).
1926- graduated from a two year course of the Command & General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth,KS(Dwight David Eisenhower was #1 in the class).
1926 - 1929- 7th Cavalry, Fort Bliss, TX
16 June 1926- married Miss Mary Francis Robinson, daughter of Mayor & Mrs. Wm. F. Robinson
Later served at Camp Jackson, SC, Fort Oglethorpe, GA & Fort Benning, GA with 6th Cavalry.
June, 1932- completed the advance course, Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA.
August, 1934- entered Army War College, Washington, D.C., graduating June, 1935.
1 August 1935- promoted to Lieutenant Colonel & became an instructor at the Cavalry School, Fort Riley, KS.
June, 1939- 7th Cavalry, Fort Bliss, TX.
1 October 1940- promoted to Brigadier General (temporary), without ever holding the rank of Colonel, & assigned to 3rd Cavalry Brigade, Fort Riley, KS
April, 1941- became Commanding General, 2nd Cavalry Division, Fort Riley, KS
December, 1941- became Assistant Division Commander, 36th Infantry Division, Camp Bowie, TX
19 June 1942- promoted to Major General (temporary) & given command 1st Infantry Division, Fort Benning, GA and commanded this division in England, North Africa & Sicily until relieved of command in September, 1943.
October, 1943- given command of the 104th Infantry Division.
31 August 1946- retired from active duty to his home at 21 Cumberland Circle, El Paso, Texas.
Mrs. Allen, Leo Hoegh, & General Allen - 1966
Reference General Terry Allen
TIME Magazine Aug. 9, 1943
Lt. Col Terry Allen, Jr.
Battalion and Company Commanders - 10 Jan 67 (Terry & his Company Commanders)
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