The Leon-Journal Reporter
Leon, Iowa
Thursday, October 4, 1917


Many Persons Have Wondered Why It Was Thus Named—
President Wilson Suggested It.

Sergeant Major John W. Ball, a well known Des Moines newspaper man, who is with the 168th Infantry, has written from Camp Albert Mills, at Hempstead, N. Y., telling something in regard to how the Rainbow Division came to be known by this name, and we have heard a number of Leon people ask the question, but no one was able to give an answer to the question. Sergeant Ball writes:

Why was the Forty-second division, the National Guard organization honored with the first call to service in France, named the Rainbow Division?

That is a question which has puzzled many since the men were called out.

An answer came yesterday when Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, and Chief of the General Staff Major General Tasker H. Bliss visited Camp Mills to review the soldiers preparing for the trenches overseas. For my information on the subject, I am indebted to Lieut. Col. Matthew A. Tinley, of the One Hundred and Sixty-eighth (Iowa) regiment.

The idea of a National Guard Division comprising practically every section of the country had its origin with President Wilson, it develops. He submitted it to Secretary Baker who told the general staff to make plans for organizing such a division for immediate service abroad. In the general staff, it received further endorsement.

When finally the plans were completed they were laid before Secretary Baker for his approval. Twenty-six and the District of Columbia were represented and the territory from which the men were drawn was marked in a sort of semi-circle on a map on which every state was set in a different color.

The secretary of war studied the map a moment and then remarked: “It forms a regular bow, doesn’t it?”

Some one amplified the secretary’s remark by pointing at the multi-colored map and remarking: “Yes, a rainbow. The emblem of hope for this country.”

The division was named.

Iowa Men Reporting to Camp Dodge To Be Specifically Assigned.

The majority of Iowa’s selective men who were called to the colors for duty with the Eighty-eighth division of the national guard at Camp Dodge in the third and fourth increments will go to the two provisional regiments of the 163rd depot brigade.

This course, it is believed, will be pursued as soon as Iowa’s two regiments—the 350th Infantry and 339th artillery—have been brought to war strength by the assignment of selective men still to report.

The depot brigade is a supply organization in which men are trained to fill up the ranks of brigades at the front depleted by casualties.

The strength of the 350th infantry comprising recruits from the southern counties of Iowa now is 2,327 men. The war strength of the 339th field artillery comprising men from the three northern tiers of counties in the state is 1,225. The war strength of this regiment is about 1,600 men.

With the arrival of recruits called to the colors with the third increment it is believed these regiments soon will be brought to war strength by the assignment of additional men.

When this has been done the majority of those recruits remaining will go to the depot brigade in the regiment commanded by Col. H. J. Price.

Those who are not assigned to the depot brigade will be the men who show special qualifications for some particular branch of the service, such as the machine gun battalion, the engineers or the signal corps battalion. These units still are below war strength and will require men of good physique or who have had special training.

It is estimated that approximately 1,750 men are needed to bring the 350th Infantry and the 339th field artillery at Camp Dodge to war strength.

In this event there will be about 6,000 selected men from Iowa go into the depot brigade from the balance of the selected men to report from the state.

The depot brigade is a new unit in the organization of American military forces. Its principal duty, officers say, is to train men for all branches of the service.

The brigade as an organization probably never will be on the battle front proper although the men who are trained in the brigade will be sent directly into the front line trenches as well as elsewhere.

[transcribed by LZ, Nov 2019]
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