Preparation for War
In October 1939, the entire 1st Division was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, to participate in a corps-level maneuver experiment designed to improve the employment of the new “triangular” division structure. The regiment returned to Fort Jay that summer in time to participate in the next First Army maneuver in upstate New York in September 1940. The following January, the 1st Division was assembled at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where it was brought to full war strength and conducted the training requirements of the US Army’s Protective Mobilization Plan.
The regiment, along with the rest of the Big Red One, also conducted a number of amphibious training exercises in Maryland, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina which provided an indicator of how the division was to be used in any impending conflict. Pearl Harbor Day, 7 December 1941, found the 16th Infantry back at Fort Devens, but not for long. It departed for Camp Blanding, Florida, for a two month training stint, before embarking on the H.M.S. Queen Mary for England in August 1942. There it joined a large contingent of US troops slated for participation in Operation TORCH, the invasion of North Africa.