Terry de la Mesa Allen (1888-1969), the son of Samuel Edward Allen, a career army officer and Consuelo de la Mesa Allen, daughter of a Spanish physician, was born at Fort Douglas, Utah. He grew up on army posts and was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1907. After being dismissed from West Point in 1911, he enrolled in The Catholic University of America and graduated in 1912. On November 30, 1912 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the cavalry. His regiment spent much of the next five years on the Mexican border. During World War I he commanded the 3d Battalion, 358th Infantry, in the 90th Division. From his return to the United States in 1922 until the beginning of WWII, he served at various cavalry posts on the Mexican border. While stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1928, he married Mary Frances Robinson, the daughter of the late Mayor and Mrs. William F. Robinson of El Paso. In June of 1942, he was appointed Major General and assumed command of the 1st Infantry Division, which was then at Fort Benning, Georgia. He commanded the 1st Infantry Division in the North Africa campaign and the invasion of Sicily. On August 6th, 1943, he was relieved of command. He returned to the United States in October and was given command of the 104th Infantry Division at Camp Adair, Oregon. The 104th Division arrived in France on September 7, 1944. They captured Cologne in March of 1945 and Halle a month later. In July of 1945, they returned to the United States and were preparing for redeployment to the Pacific when Japan surrendered. General Allen retired August 31, 1946 and returned to make his home in El Paso where he was active in civic affairs and veteran and patriotic organizations.
The Terry de la Mesa Allen papers contain correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, and other documents and mementos. Official documents include training memoranda for both the 1st and the 104th Infantry Divisions during World War II. The correspondence spans the years 1918-1968 but is most voluminous during the periods of WWI and WWII. The collection also contains approximately 300 photographs documenting General Allen's life including many old family photographs.