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Artillery Battalions in World War II

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Author of "Red Legs of the Bulge: Artillerymen in the Battle of the Bulge." Always looking for great stories from any conflict.

Crew of 105mm (M2). Note the panoramic scope on the left side of the gun.

Crew of 105mm (M2). Note the panoramic scope on the left side of the gun.

Unparallelled Development

The use of artillery reached its zenith in World War II. The technical development between the world wars, particularly in the United States, created a system that was second to none. Time and time again in postwar interviews, German soldiers mentioned the fear that American artillery engendered along the front lines. They knew that as soon as an American spotter plane appeared over their positions, it would only take minutes before a massive barrage rained down death and destruction. There was no place to hide. The multitude of different caliber weapons combined with pre-configured firing tables meant no escape from its power, no matter how deep you tried to dig or how far you tried to run.

One of the keys to the success of the artillery branch in World War II lays in the structure of the battalion and its personnel. Whether it is within a division or as part of a Corps artillery group, the battalion was the primary unit structure for the artillery branch in World War II. Within those battalions were some of the most highly skilled personnel that the U.S. Army had throughout the war. Between the wars, there were important changes to the standard practices of the branch. The unit structure was evaluated, standard operating procedures were rewritten, and new technologies came on line. Regardless of the theater in which they operated, the branch was able to put all of these innovations into use.

Variety of Weapons

The size of the battalion depended on its main weapon. The bigger the gun, the more men you needed, though the basic battalion structure for both the 105mm M2A1 and 155mm M1 units was similar regardless of the gun. Each battalion had three firing batteries (4 guns each), a Headquarters battery (the CO and his staff along with the fire direction personnel, communications center, etc.), and a Service battery (ammunition, basic supplies, mechanics, etc.). Batteries were further subdivided into sections. Battalions were usually headed by a lieutenant colonel with an executive officer who was usually a major. Batteries were headed by a captain with an exec who was a lieutenant. A 105mm battalion contained just over 500 men. Each battery had about 100 men, which broke down into five officers and 95 enlisted of various ranks. A 155mm battalion had approximately 550 enlisted men with 30 officers, with each battery having around 120 men. I use the word approximately because once combat operations began, it was rare for any unit (Division, Battalion, Regimental, etc.) to have a complete table of organization. There was a replacement system, but the exigencies of combat left all units in the combat arms (infantry, armor, engineer or artillery) short of men. The Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 caused such a manpower crisis in infantry units that even some artillery units ended up sending non-essential personnel to the infantry as replacements.

Within an infantry division, there were four artillery battalions, three M2A1 105mm howitzer battalions and one 155mm battalion. The three 105mm battalions were assigned to one of the three infantry regiments to support, forming a combat team. The assignments were made back in the US and continued upon deployment. The 155mm battalion supported the units or areas most in need at the discretion of the Division artillery commander (better known as Divarty). There were also units called cannon companies that used the M3 105mm, a lightweight, short-barreled version of the gun. In the first two years of the war, the 105mm self-propelled and 75mm howitzer were their main weapons. But they were part of the infantry regiment and used at the discretion of the regimental CO. In theory, it was supposed to provide supplemental firepower for the infantry companies. However, in practice, they just never seemed to fit into the basic operations of the regiment and, in many cases, ended up being used as perimeter defense. Using the vernacular of today, they could be described as a heavy weapons company on steroids. After the war, they were disbanded.

Besides the four firing battalions, an infantry division’s artillery complement contained a Division Headquarters component. It consisted of a battery headquarters, operations platoon, communication platoon, an air observation section, and a maintenance section. Included in the operations platoon was an instrument and survey section along with a meteorological section. The communications platoon had the wire and radio section which was provided with over 30 miles of telephone wire and 4 radio sets. The supply and cooks sections rounded out the unit.

The jobs of the enlisted members of each firing battery varied depending on their training and circumstances, with many personnel being cross-trained to do a variety of work. Each gun crew was considered a section, and within each section was a sergeant (Section Chief), a corporal and assistant gunner (known as the #1), two other assistant gunners, and three cannoneers. A driver and assistant driver rounded out the 105mm section, making for a total of nine men. Although requiring more personnel and having some technical differences (i.e. external powder bags), the duties of the 155mm crews were essentially the same.

Behind the safety plate, on the left side of the breech, the gunner corporal worked a telescopic sight known as the gunner’s quadrant (or gunner’s scope), containing an azimuth scale that measured horizontal deflection, which he set on orders from the firing officer. Officially, it was called the M12A2 panoramic telescope. It could be rotated manually 360 degrees. The sight had an alcohol bubble which he had to level prior to firing while using the number wheel to traverse the tube left or right.

Red and white aiming posts were laid to the rear of the sight, almost in a straight line. One aiming stake was approximately 30 to 40 yards back, while another was placed halfway between the gun sight and the other stake. The position of aiming posts could vary depending on the unit and terrain. Upon receiving the orders from the firing officer, such as Command Left 10 or Right 20, the key task for the gunner was to get the aiming stakes and the gun sight lined up on the vertical crosshair in the scope. If the command was left 10, the head of the site would then be moved off of the aiming stakes by that many degrees. Then he would use a hand wheel to traverse the gun left. Looking through the sight once again to determine that he was still lined up with the aiming stakes, his last task would be to level the bubble and shout ‘Ready!’ This told the Section Chief that the gun was ready to fire; he then held up his right arm as a signal to the gun crew.

Keeping the gun aligned properly was a difficult task when under the pressure of multiple fire missions, so the gunners had ways of cheating a little bit. Where possible, they could set the scope on a fixed target (e.g. Church steeple) and line up the angle on that. The wide dispersal of an exploding shell, which could be more than 50 yards, gave the gunners room to be off a little bit.

While the gunner corporal worked his sight, the assistant gunner, positioned on the right side of the breech, operated a hand wheel to set the elevation. During the relay of firing commands, included were terms such as Up 15 or Down 5, from the zero. Once the orders were received, he would spin his wheel to the correct angle. But his task did not end there; he also operated the breech block, set the primer, and pulled the lanyard upon the order, Fire! Both he and the gunner corporal were also responsible for keeping the crew away from the tremendous recoil of the barrel, which could kill or maim, especially in the 155mm. After firing, the breech was opened by the #1, and the shell casing would drop out automatically, where it was picked up by one of the loaders to be tossed aside.

Hard Conditions

The two assistant gunners and three other cannoneers in the section were responsible for packing the shells with powder bags, setting the fuses according to the mission specifics, and loading. Although the shells were shipped semi-fixed with the fuse already installed, it was the powder that provided the punch, so that had to be added to the shell. Each shell could take up to seven bags of powder, which were wrapped in silk and tied together. The maximum range for the 105mm was approximately seven miles (12,205 yds). The ammo men would disassemble the shell, pack the bags based on the firing orders, and reattach the fuse. Then the fuse had to be set using a special wrench. The majority of the shells expended during fire missions were usually high explosive (HE). There was a setting sleeve located at the base of each fuse. On an HE round, the ammunition crews could set it for either point detonating (PD) or time superquick (TSQ). This depended on how it was turned. For example, if the setting sleeve was turned parallel to the shell, it was set for superquick. Under the pressure of a fire mission, these tasks were hellish in the freezing, wet weather of Northern Europe. If your frostbitten hands were not already cut up from separating the silk powder bags with a knife, you got soaked kneeling down in the puddles and mud that formed around the gun pit.

Differing Challenges

The crews on the 155mm had different challenges. Extra men were needed just to carry the shells. The 95-pound shell required separate-loading bagged charges that were loaded with the shell according to the orders given by the firing officer. There were seven different propelling charges, with TNT being the most frequently used. It was the sheer weight and logistics involved with the operations of the 155mm ammo that was daunting. Shells were usually shipped in pallets, with eight shells per pallet. At the ammo dumps, these were broken down for shipment by truck to the batteries. A truck could carry between 50 and 60 shells per trip. The fuses were shipped in crates, about 25 per box. The shells had lifting rings attached to their nose during shipment, and they had to be removed to install the fuse. As with the 105mm, color markings were used to differentiate the type of shells. The setting sleeves also mirrored those on the 105mm ammo. Because of the separately loaded powder, it was vital that the powder chambers of the 155mm tubes be swabbed and inspected after each round was fired. If too much powder residue built up in the barrel, it could cause a catastrophic explosion when a round was fired. Amazingly, those incidents were relatively rare considering the near-constant use that most of the weapons received.

Getting Technical

Other battery and battalion personnel included radiomen, wiremen, instrument operators (survey team), cooks, drivers, and mechanics. Many of the specialists were also grouped into sections and personnel from both the communications section and survey teams often were part of forward observation teams. Artillery batteries also had a fifth section, which was called the machine gun section. They were responsible for guarding the perimeter and hauling extra ammo.

One of the primary jobs of the instrument and survey section (also called the detail section) was to scout new positions for the battery, help lead the battery into and out of their firing positions, and lay in the guns. The skills of these men also translated into high quality artillery observers. They were also charged with conducting topographical surveys, which during combat operations were carried out rather infrequently. Upon arrival at a position, using such equipment as aiming circles, range finders, and other survey equipment like steel tapes and chains, the enlisted men of the section would lay in the guns to prepare them for aiming direction and elevation. Their officer would take a reading from the aiming circle so that the four guns of the battery would be aligned and shoot parallel with each other. The aiming circle was a small scope graduated with 6,400 mils as opposed to the usual 360 degrees (a mil is 1/6400 of a circle). It aids in laying in the guns by taking into account the Y Azimuth distance between true north and magnetic north. The reading was then given to each gunner while the howitzers were at zero deflection and a minimal elevation from level.

Many of the other non-firing battery assignments came with a multitude of dangers, and nowhere was that more illustrated than for the men of the wire section of HQ Battery. Their job was to lay, repair, and pick up telephone line. An artillery battalion communications net was its lifeline, and monitoring its operation meant constant vigilance. The risk of being spotted by enemy observers was ever-present. Running a spool of black telephone cord from HQ to an observation post could put one under fire from mortars, machine guns, snipers, shelling, both friendly and German, as well as enemy patrols. The black telephone cables were constantly shot up, and there were up to several miles of cable laid out between an observation post and the FDC or battery. Dense woods, thick mud, and snow made repairing the lines physically demanding work. Finding the break in a line required both skill and a little bit of luck. Usually, two men were sent out. They would follow a dead line some distance, usually to a place that had just been shelled. From there, they would splice into the line with their own EE8A telephone, and crank it to ring back to their starting place. If they received an answer, they had to keep moving, and the procedure was repeated until they did not get an answer. This indicated that the break was somewhere between where they were and the location of the last “Okay” call.

M7 Self-propelled 105mm ("The Priest")  near La Gleize, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge

M7 Self-propelled 105mm ("The Priest") near La Gleize, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge

Forward observation team near Cherbourg, France, June 1944.

Forward observation team near Cherbourg, France, June 1944.

Officer Corps

The officers’ jobs within the battery varied. Despite the copious Army manuals and regulations that defined nearly every aspect of life, the Army still encouraged low-level decision making regarding daily operations of its combat units. Junior commanders were expected to use their own initiative. Although this concept was much more limited in the artillery branch than in other branches, in practice each battery’s CO had great autonomy on officer assignments. In many cases, the executive officer ran day-to-day operations and oversaw all firing sequences and missions. Just like the enlisted, the cross-training of commissioned personnel was essential in every battalion. The other officers could be assigned to a variety of tasks, which included motor officer, daily maintenance, firing officer or forward observer.

Duty as an observer usually occurred on a rotating basis for the officers of each battery within the battalion. A lieutenant led the small team of 3 or 4 men to a forward outpost to spend up to several days manning a front-line position. There was even an instance within the 106th ID when a battery commander was actually manning an observation outpost at the time of the initial attack during the Bulge. When the situation was more fluid, as was the case in the summer and fall of 1944, the observation team may stay with a particular infantry unit for an extended time.

The majority of the officers within the artillery branch were highly skilled. If not West Pointers, many were from military schools such as the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) or the Citadel. Others were graduates of rigorous artillery ROTC programs from around the country. The Ivy League schools supplied the artillery branch with hundreds of officers throughout the war. Many others were reserve officers with established professional careers in civilian life. Later in the war, field commissions for qualified noncoms became commonplace.

The Field Artillery OCS at Fort Sill (one of three during the war) produced 25,993 second lieutenants during the war years, which included over 3500 ROTC cadets who had completed between six and eight semesters of ROTC. Many of them had graduated from college but had not completed the summer training after their junior year required for commissioning. To be commissioned, those ROTC cadets had to attend OCS after going through basic training and AIT.

US Marine artillery crew on Guadalcanal operating a 75mm pack howizter.  The jungle environment created unique problems for observers because of the tree canopy.  The climate was also corrosive to ammunition.

US Marine artillery crew on Guadalcanal operating a 75mm pack howizter. The jungle environment created unique problems for observers because of the tree canopy. The climate was also corrosive to ammunition.

The 105mm M3 is seen above in France, 1944.  This smaller version of the 105mm howitzer replaced the 75mm gun in Army airborne units and cannon companies.

The 105mm M3 is seen above in France, 1944. This smaller version of the 105mm howitzer replaced the 75mm gun in Army airborne units and cannon companies.

They used captured weapons too

They used captured weapons too

artillerybattalions

Adapting to the Mission

Another key feature of American artillery during the war was the role of non-divisional artillery battalions of all calibers. These battalions were directly under the command of their respective Corps, which had its own commanders and staff to coordinate all its elements. Battalions were also formed into field artillery groups of various calibers. The groups began forming in 1943. The command element of the groups was structured very similarly to that of a divisional artillery HQ with such features as a fire direction center, H&H battery and service battery. A group was usually assigned from two to six battalions. One or more of the battalions of a group might be attached for direct support to an individual division. Such was the case with many African American artillery battalions. All of these units, regardless of their group or assignment, were considered Corps artillery. In a postwar study, the Army noted that the group command structure was one of the keys to success during the war because it permitted the commanders to shift artillery battalions from army to army, corps to corps or even to support individual divisions. This way, the additional fire support went where it was needed quickly. During the Bulge, many of these Corps units were on the move every 12 to 24 hours. The shift of several large caliber artillery units, particularly segregated African American battalions, to Bastogne during the first 48 hours of the battle helped save the city from capture.

There were 238 separate field artillery battalions operating in the ETO by the war’s end, with 36 105mm and 71 155mm battalions. This included self-propelled units such as the 275th Armored Field Artillery, who were positioned just north of the 106th. The other calibers were the 8-inch, the 240mm, and the 4.5-inch gun. For the larger caliber units and the armored field artillery, the number of guns per battalion differed from those of the standard infantry division artillery. Armored field artillery battalions had the same command structure within their organic divisions as the infantry but contained 18 self-propelled howitzers instead of the usual 12 for the towed variety. The 8-inch gun and 240mm howitzer battalions had a total of six guns per battalion.

After the war, change came again. Guns continued to be improved while others were phased out. By the Korean War, they had added six guns to the standard battery. Self-propelled artillery took on a greater role, and of course, missile and rocket technology changed the branch forever. But it was the work those battalions did in World War II that set the stage for the rest of the 20th Century and beyond.

Sources

Books

Dastrup, Boyd. King of Battle: A Branch History of the U.S. Army's Field Artillery. TRADOC 1992.

Lee, Ulysses. The Employment of Negro Troops. U.S. Army 1966. (part of the Green Series)

Zaloga, Steven. U.S. Field Artillery in World War II. Osprey 2007.

Periodicals

Field Artillery Journal, March 1945.

Field Artillery Journal, October 1943.

Military History Online, "US Army in World War II: Artillery and AA Artillery." Rich Anderson, 2007.

Interviews

John Gatens, U.S. Army Ret., Personal interview, October 17, 2011.

John Schafner, U.S. Army Ret., Email interivews.

For More Information on the 589th Field Artillery

Comments

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on July 15, 2020:

goldenlions44@yahoo.com

Thanks

Scott McCasland on July 14, 2020:

I can't put pictures there.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on July 14, 2020:

Just realized my email is not up there. Just hit "Contact CJ Kelly."

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on July 14, 2020:

You can use the email in my profile.

Scott McCasland on July 14, 2020:

Thank you! My information is at my house in Arizona, and I'm now at our place in Juneau. I have the outfit's schedule from landing at Utah to disbandment in Germany. If you have an email I can send them to you.

Again, Thanks!

Scott

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on July 14, 2020:

Thanks, Mr. McCasland. I will start checking into the unit ASAP. If you have a photo and bio for your dad, I would love to add him to the Red Leg of the Week feature I do. Sometimes brings in units' other families looking for info too.

Scott McCasland on July 13, 2020:

Me again. I read the above about the communication, wire and phones. My dad was a wire corporal with the 268th FA 8in gun. He only spoke of the war on a few occasions. We did learn the story of when he was wounded by a landmine near Monchau while looking for a break in the wire. I've been to the area. I emailed you about information on his unit. I do have some informationI got from other members before they passed. I'm looking for whatever I can find. I can share with you his story of stepping on a landmine. Thank you

Scott McCasland on July 13, 2020:

Interesting article. My dad was with the 268th FA during the Bulge.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on June 27, 2020:

Hi Ms. Goetschi, great to hear from you. First, with regard to artillery replacement, for the part, once a soldier was assigned to a artillery battalion, he stayed with them. All units in the last year of the war were short men on their roster. Even the famous infantry replacements rarely moved. There were instance after the Bulge were survivors who were in units wiped in the battle were farmed out to other battalions until their original units were reformed or the war was over. That happened to most of the 589th FAB survivors. But overall, no, the guys rarely moved if the unit was intact. Many of the men who were replacements in the final 6-8 months of the war were from ASTP units back in the States. The 106th Infantry division (including their artillery units) were composed of nearly 30% ASTP men.

There are some resources on the 666th as well as a book that was published. It was a 155mm howitzer battalion and did fight in the Bulge and in '45. I will put together the links for you. If you can, use the email provided as it will be easier for you to contact me.

Deborah Goetschi on June 27, 2020:

Greetings Mr Kelly,

I have been trying to find information about my father during WW2 and hoping you can answer a question I have regarding field artillery replacement troops. My father went to Camp Roberts for replacement field artillery training as a lineman. From there to the ASTP at University of Arizona. Here is where I lose track of him and can find no records of what battalion he was assigned . My grandmother had a newsletter from the 666th field artillery, which was a non divisional battalion, telling about their travels in Europe so I was thinking he was with this battalion. I also have a Kemper Military School paper that said he was with battery A of the 666th. My grandmother would provide info to the school on my father’s whereabouts. He did ship out to Europe the same date as this battalion. I have been able to get in contact with people with unit history books of each battery of the 666th but my father is not listed in any of the books. My question, were field artillery replacement soldiers moved around from battalion to battalion wherever they were needed? I understand infantry replacement soldiers were moved frequently from divisions but I cannot find information regarding field artillery replacement soldiers. The 666th was a non divisional battalion which frequently moved to different groups so wondering if this battalion was made up of field artillery replacements. Any information you have would certainly be appreciated. Thank you

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 17, 2020:

Mr. Gruber,

I might have some contacts for you, when you have a minute, just email me. Thx

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 15, 2020:

Thx, Greener. It's getting harder and harder to get detailed histories because the NA does not catalog AA reports below Regimental (for infantry) and below FA Group for WWII. But I'll keep trying. Stay well.

greener333 on May 15, 2020:

The surviving descendant of the 20th FA is 2nd BN 20th FA which is now MLRS. This may be what you are seeing. The lineage and honors of 2/20th is in the link.

I was associated with another descendant of the 20th, the 4th Bn in Lansing, MI. It was an M110 (8" SP) Bn. They were inactivated in 1994. I think I have their lineage and honors somewhere on backups.

It's going to be hard coming up with history unless you find a dedicated 20th historian.

https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/arm...

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 14, 2020:

Mr. Poore, thank you very much. I will pass it on. Much appreciated.

Randel Walters on May 14, 2020:

Hi Mr. Kelly. I do mean Service Battery. Thankfully my sister is older and paid more attention! You would think I would have realized that after reading your site and getting a LOT of education on what they went through.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 13, 2020:

Hi Mr. Gruber, I do. Can you email me using the email listed in my profile? Let me know if you have trouble, and I can just list them here. Figure it would be easier via email.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 13, 2020:

Hi Mr. Walters, do you mean Service Battery? That would be common.

Marc Gruber on May 13, 2020:

Hi Mr. Kelly- I did not have much luck on the 4th Infantry Division Association Page in finding anything on the 20th Field Artillery Batallion- do you have any other page suggestions- any advice is much appreciated!

Have a great day!

Randel Walters on May 13, 2020:

Thank you, Mr. Kelly. My sister cleared some information. He was a heavy machine gunner in the 662nd Service Battalion. He talked about working with the howitzers, and even firing them, but apparently he was attached to the Service Battalion. I'm not certain if that means they are attached to each other or used independently.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 12, 2020:

Hi Mr. Walters, still looking for info on either the Battalion or at least a FA group history. No luck so far. 8 inch battery histories can be touch to find. I will keep at it. Stay well.

Marc Gruber on May 12, 2020:

Thank you so much!

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 12, 2020:

Hi Mr. Gruber, the 20th was part of the 4th Infantry Division and a ton of information on the unit can be found on that unit's WWII pages. Start with the 4th Infantry Division Association page. It's a great place to begin the search. Keep me posted on what you find and if you need any clarification.

Marc Gruber on May 12, 2020:

Hello- My grandfather served in WWII with the 20th Field Artillery Batallion as a T/5 with the 155 mm Howitzer I believe. He did not speak of his service- wondering if you have any leads that might help?

Randel Walters on April 28, 2020:

My father was with the 662nd FA Battalion in Europe in WWII. I have found them with XX Corps in the 204th FA Group from March through the end of war with Germany, but I can't find them from Normandy across France. Dad passed a decade ago, so I started this idea too late to ask him. I'm trying to assemble their route to share with family, but of course I'd also like to make a Bucket List trip and follow the route.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on April 16, 2020:

Hi Mr. Bowles, try this website...http://www.89infdivww2.org/index.htm

S Bowles on April 09, 2020:

My father was in Battery B 563RD Field Artillery Battalion and he did not talk at all about his service. Can you help me to find anything about where they went and what they did?

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on April 01, 2020:

Mr. Ferandes, I'll do the best I can. Should have something for you in a few weeks.

Mike Fernandes on April 01, 2020:

My Dad was in the 745th Field Artillery Battalion in World War II firing the 240 Howitzer over the Rhine River. I would like to find out my Dad's route of travel in Europe from his arrival in 1942 to his departure in 1945. Some day I would like for me and my brother to travel the same route together. Can you tell me where I can find this information? It will be very much appreciated.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on October 22, 2019:

Hi Mr. Schulte, great to hear from you. I can send you a description of his duties as an FC Operator. One of the men I feature in my book was in fire control. Will send over the excerpt. If I can find the correct manual from 1940s, I will send tha tover as well. Gimme a couple of weeks.

Gary Schulte on October 22, 2019:

My father was part of the 147th FA. He was in the Pensacola convoy and then was in Darwin in early 1942. While I have found quite a bit of information about his unit, including a book published by the South Dakota Historical Commission, a book by Richard Cropp, and the daily reports for his battery.

What I have had difficulty finding is information about the duties in a battery. His MOS, according to his discharge papers, was Fire Control Instrument Operator (645). I am especially interested in his duties, but also how the battery functioned as a whole.

My father died in 1985 without talking much about his time in the service. I am trying to write a history of the 147th from November 1940 when his National Guard unit was activated and November 1945 when he was discharged.

Any help would be appreciated.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on October 11, 2019:

Hi,

Try this:

https://unofficialsignalcorpsarchive.wordpress.com...

Helmethead Brown on October 11, 2019:

I'm looking for pictures of the C Battery 81st Field Artillery. Anything out there??

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 25, 2019:

Hi Mike, I think I still have the info. Will do my best and get back to you as soon as I can.

Mike on September 25, 2019:

My grandfather was in the 282nd fab and i saw you respond to mr. Armstrong in the comments and was hoping that u still had access to the information id love to find out more but its very hard to find info in his personell file bc alot of what they actually did differs from what it says they did. I remeber my grandpa and uncle looking thru timelife magazine and my grandpa exclaiming "we werent actually there! We were over here!" So i just wanted some info even if vaguely describes the 282 during the war

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 23, 2019:

Hi Mr.. Clendeeny,

Try these links and see if they help...

http://www.84thrailsplitters.com/history.html

http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/84th...

https://history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/84ID-ETO...

https://web.archive.org/web/20020409040148/http://...

https://archive.is/20030327053614/http://www.battl...

Not sure how useful these will be, but give it a shot. There is an active Div Association. Contact them. Keep me posted. Thx for stopping by. CJK

Pat Clendenny on September 23, 2019:

My father was in WWII. I'm trying to trace where he was during WWII. The bits and pieces I have seem to point to him being in the 325th FA 84th Infantry Division Railsplitters. He may have landed in Scotland. I'm not finding information about the 325th FA after that. Does anyone have suggestions on where to look or find roster of the unit, or unit picture? Thanks!

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on June 07, 2019:

Hi Mr. Armstrong, can you email me directly? I have a lot of links and contacts for you. You can use the email provided on my page.

Chuck Armstrong on June 06, 2019:

My father serverd in the 282nd FAB in Europe.I understand they were loaned out to may units.. Is there a way I can find out more about their unit and the men killed in his outfit. Many Thanks Chuck Armstrong son of Sgt. Charles (Mac) Armstrong 283nd. FAB

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 05, 2019:

Mr. Renfroe,

What have you found so far, if anything? Let me know and that can help the search be more specific. Thanks.

George Renfroe on May 05, 2019:

My father was in the 752 field artillery laying cable, in ww 2, trying to get info on his journey.

Scott B Henry on March 27, 2019:

Thank You for the links to the Artillery Battalions in the European Theater. I am assuming that my father was in a 3rd Army towed 155 mm battalion until VE-Day and then transferred to the 274th in Austria during the reorganization & disbanding of units. Thank You for your quick response.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on March 24, 2019:

Also, Mr. Henry, I'm assuming you've seen this:

https://donmooreswartales.com/2010/09/20/ralph-cof...

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on March 24, 2019:

Hi Mr. Henry, thanks for stopping by.

I cannot find either a towed 155mm Howitzer or Long Tom 155mm battalion (non-divisional) designated as the 274th. The 274th was an Armored Field Artillery unit using the "Priest," 105mm on an M7 chassis. Here is a complete list of all non-divisional artillery units in the European Theater: https://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/usarmy/...

The locations are correct for the unit. The unit ended the war near Hitler's Eagles Nest.

I will check the 20th Corps order of battle just to confirm. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Scott B Henry on March 23, 2019:

Hello - I'm trying to find out some detailed information about my fathers service record from WW2. My father just passed away last week and I've been trying to find out about the actual unit he served in. His detailed service records were lost in the St.Louis fire. Everything in his records say that he served in the 274th Field Artillery Battalion from his inscription to discharge. His discharge papers list 274th Field Artillery Battalion, Battery B Let me explain - His name was Willis L. Henry and was drafted in 9/44 and discharged in 1946, He trained in Fort Sill, OK and arrived as a replacement in a camp in Charleyville, France sometime in late February or early March 1945 and joined his unit shortly after. He told me numerous times that he served in a 155 mm Howitzer Battalion that used high speed tractors to pull the guns, Corps Artillery attached to the 3rd Army, and at times attached to the 20th Corps. He also said that his unit was emplaced for a couple weeks around Kassel, Germany during the Rhineland Campaign as he got strafed by German fighters. He also mentioned Regansburg, Germany and ended the war in Austria and did occupation duty there until coming home to train for the invasion of Japan. He also mentioned that he was transferred to the 274th FAB in the United States and started training on the M7 105 MM Howitzers Mounted on tracks. Did the 274th Field Artillery Battalion have a towed 155 MM Battery attached to it anytime during the war?? According to it's unit history - the 274th Field Artillery also fought in the Kassel, Regansburg then ended the war in Austria? I'm just trying to find out what actual unit my father served in while in the combat zone? I know that Corps Artillery Units are hard to trace and that units were disbanded and soldiers with low points were transferred to other units. Any information you have would be great - I'm just trying to put together some detailed information for my sons about their grandfather who served in World War 2. Thank You! Scott

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on December 29, 2018:

Hi Nancy,

Yes, most units had a yearbook published, one while in the State training. Some after the war. I've seen so many. Usually, one or two of the men had a copy years later and sent to the Association. So there must be one out there for the 908.

Nancy Hamilton on December 29, 2018:

Hi, I got a notice of a new post and after reading it scrolled down for others I may have missed. I saw one from Peter Lagasse, where he mentions a yearbook in connection with a FAB ("I already have the 1946 yearbook of the 15th FAB and also the 2nd Infantry Division book that was published.").

Would such a book exist for all of the FABs? I would be interested in the 908 FAB if there is one!

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on December 26, 2018:

Hi Liaisonpilot, thanks for reading and commenting. I actually have several L-4 pics (not great ones), but I put the best one in another article, the Artillery Innovations article. But please send anyway.

Several I have are a little blurry, etc.

Thanks again, CJK

liaisonpilot on December 26, 2018:

Fine article. Mention of how important to the success of the artillery was the role of the Liaison aircraft. There are lots of photos of guns and crews, but not one L-4 and pilot. I would be glad to furnish you with that.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on June 09, 2018:

Thanks for getting in touch.

I'm going to assume you know these sites?

1. http://indianhead-roster.com/roster/15th-field-art...

2. http://www.15thfar.org/announce.html

I'll keep looking and get back to you. I believe the 15th FAB has a Facebook page too.

Peter Lagasse on June 08, 2018:

I am doing a blog about the 100 letters my uncle Charles D Knight wrote home while in Europe in the 15th FAB section B using the 105mm howitzer. Their Division was the 2nd Infantry Division aka as the Indianheads. Any sources would be appreciated. I already have the 1946 yearbook of the 15th FAB and also the 2nd Infantry Division book that was published. I also have the two small booklets that were published about the 2nd Infantry Division. Thank you for any other sources that I can be directed to.

liaisonpilot on January 24, 2018:

For those of you who are looking for info. about practically any U.S.Army unit contact: jcontrovich@comcast.net.

Jim has the largest library of unit histories anywhere. He may charge a fee to do a search.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 20, 2018:

Hi Mr. Mercadante, glad to hear about your project.

Please email at the address provided in my profile. I have info and other things I could help you with.

Also, if you have a photo your dad, that would be great. Would you to feature him as a Red Leg of the Week on my page.

Richard Mercadante on January 19, 2018:

I am researching the 259th Artillery Battalion. My father left behind a narrative of his service years. He was corporal gunner. '44/'45. I am interested in any info or interviews. My plan is to base a novel on his exploits and service. Any assistance will be appreciated.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 08, 2018:

Would love it. You can email me. If you can't attach it on there, send me your email and I can get back to you.

You should be able to find it on my profile page. Or you can go to FB, and message me. Red Legs of the Bulge FB page.

Or go to redlegsofthebulge.com.

Nancy Hamilton on January 08, 2018:

CJK -- how do I send you a photo? I have zip skills but can usually figure out how to do that. I don't know if the few I have of my dad would do you any good because he is not in a fighting scene, but one time I think you remarked that you would like a picture.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 08, 2018:

Hi Ms. Hamilton,

Sorry about that, I've been receiving one request per day lately. While exciting, it can get confusing. The 908th should not be a problem. I used to speak with two different librarians/assistants at the library in Fort Sill (I'm calling the library, it could be the office for Field Artillery Journal mag). I will contact the office to see what they have or maybe they can point me in the right direction. Retirements and budget cuts have occurred but I will dig into it, let you know what I find.

It sounds like you've spoken to just about everybody, including the division association. Good luck and I will keep you posted. Thx.

Nancy Hamilton on January 08, 2018:

CJ Kelly-- We have corresponded before (see way below); my dad was the CO of the 908FAB B Btry, 83rd Inf Div. One of the members of the 83rd group. who does research at the Library of Congress, did a search on my father for me. Because he was an officer, there was a lot of paper work that mentioned him, but much of it was repetitious, mostly lists of soldiers in the B Battery as they changed over time. I also know a researcher who will go to NARA in St. Louis, Myra Miller, where more records are due to arrive (the M-to-Z batch, which would include my John McNamara), and though many military papers were burned in a fire, she has found quite a few good papers that survived or can be reconstructed. For my father, I am hoping that there Are papers there on him, and that they are not duplicate information, and Morning Reports, a good source of information. But I will pursue Ft. Sill and see what they say--always worth a try! And Edgewood Arsenal, he was there.

We took a trip last fall to the areas where both of my parents were during the war (my mother was a nurse at an evacuation hospital closest to the Battle of the Bulge, outside Liege), and Myra found wonderful information for me on where my father was at various times, places we visited, like a farmhouse command post, and a church where he was observing as it was being shelled. But of course, I want More information! I guess we will all be pursuing our parents for the rest of our lives.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 07, 2018:

Hi Ms. Hamiliton, can I ask what unit you are researching? Several places could have reports and other info, like NARA.

Nancy Hamilton on January 06, 2018:

Hi lions44 -- Somewhere below I saw that you hoped Ft. Sill would still come through for you. My father taught at Ft. Sill right after the war, and again at various times over the years for shorter stints (summer camp?) I believe. I never thought to look for information on him there -- Can you tell me what department or person I would approach for that? If it wasn't in the Library of Congress, is it likely they would have anything? I know he also went to Edgewood Arsenal at some point (I don't know my own history!).

Justin Oakley on January 06, 2018:

Thank you for so quickly getting back to me. Yes it was WWII. Any information, no matter how little helps, so I would very much appreciate it.

I can be reached by email here:

jcoakley12987@gmail.com

Thank you very much for your help.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 04, 2018:

Hi Mr. England, with regards to the cook lying dead in the photo, it is not him. That GI was from a divisional artillery unit.

Also, if you google the following, some interesting pages about the 200th will come up:

200th Field Artillery Battalion WWII

This page in particular was interesting:

http://ww2veteransmemories.com/bill-graham-200th-f...

Another person just contacted me through Facebook about the 200th, there is a homepage. I did not see you mention, so I'm assuming you have not seen it. I passed your name along. You can contact several folks there.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 04, 2018:

Hi Mr. Oakley, I'm assuming this is WWII? If so, info is scarce because it was a non-divisional unit. There is some data and reports out there.

Working on another unit right now but I can put together a list for you this weekend. Send me an email (link from HP) and I will send the list.

Justin Oakley on January 04, 2018:

Sir,

I have been trying to find out more information on the service of the 689th FA battalion (155mm). My grandfather Sgt. William Oakley was a Forward Observer for Battery A. Information on this unit has been hard to come by, do you have any notion of how I might find out more about the 689th?

Thank you,

J. Oakley

Robert England on January 02, 2018:

Hi Mr Kelly

Thanks for the quick response and that would be amazing if you could turn up something to add to our story. Please take as long as you need. If you copy this link into the web this is the small booklet I mentioned. It is very interesting and quite humbling. I think he was in the 20th Service Battalion of the 200th Just half an hour ago I purchased a hard copy on ebay from someone in Old Forge Pennsylvania, just 4hr drive from where he lived in Slippery Rocks. These thing never turn up!

http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib....

Many thanks

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 02, 2018:

Hi Mr. England,

Glad to hear from you. The 200th was a 155mm Long Tom unit, correct? I have some info. There are vets with home pages, etc. Obtaining information and reports from non-divisional battalions is extremely difficult as the National Archives has not formally cataloged their after actions and daily rosters.

But there is stuff out there and I will put together a page w/links. Hope to get it to you by the end of the week.

Robert England on January 02, 2018:

I forgot to ask but if you are able to find out any more information on my granddad or the unit it would be very much appreciated.

Regards

Robert England on January 02, 2018:

Hi

We have been putting together some information about my granddad recently after putting out a Facebook message. All we had to go on was a name from my gran. His family found out about it and replied. Neither of us including my mother new of each other existed. His name was George Irwin Brown and we have since found out he was a Master Sergeant with the 200th Field Artillery Battalion and was from Slippery Rocks, Pennsylvania. We found on the internet a small book with 17 pages called 200th Field Artillery Battalion and gives a brief history and account of their journey from America to England, D-Day and ending up in Czechoslovakia. It mentions that in the UK they were stationed in a small town in Devon called Torrington. My gran lived in the next town called Bideford where they had a relationship. I don’t know if he found out about my mother before he left or in fact if he ever did? He landed on D-Day +2 and the book covers a few engagements and on the back cover is the list of those killed which list my grandad. We have since been sent some letters from his family that he wrote home but is does not talk about any action or locations due to security and censorship. I found out that there was a book written by two serving men from the 200th at the time who wrote it as they were going along and is a detailed account of their exploits and experiences and has 165 pages. At the end of the war each member was given a copy and is called Scatter Come Together. Last week we found a Facebook group for the 200th and sent them a mail about if they knew of the book as it might mention my grandad. The group owner very kindly sent us a photo copy of the page where it describes in detail how my grandad and three others were driving two trucks from a supply depot in the rear back to their position with rubber tracks for the prime movers on April 18th 1945 (three weeks before the war ended!) and were ambushed by SS. Whilst driving their truck under blackout they found a steel wire across the road and stopped. The SS then opened fire with machine guns and bazookas killing my granddad and PFC Lusk with the other two managing to escape. We are still trying to get hold of the full copy so if anyone out there who can help then please get in touch.

After seeing you very interesting page I noticed the photo of a destroyed truck and a battalion mess sergeant wrapped in a poncho on the ground in April 1945. I am wondering if this could be him?

My other granddad was on HMS Ir