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Artillery Battalions in World War II


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.

Crew of a 155mm howitzer in North Africa, 1943 (1st ID ner El Guettar).  The version of the 155mm they're using was modfied the next year. Most notably, the safety plate was changed. On this version, there were no split trailers.

Crew of a 155mm howitzer in North Africa, 1943 (1st ID ner El Guettar). The version of the 155mm they're using was modfied the next year. Most notably, the safety plate was changed. On this version, there were no split trailers.

8 inch howitzer battery, Philippines, 1944.

8 inch howitzer battery, Philippines, 1944.

155mm "Long Tom" battery training in England

155mm "Long Tom" battery training in England

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 lay 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. 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 rank. 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.

Best and Brightest

Artillery officer candidates in 1942.

Artillery officer candidates in 1942.

Gunner Corporal using the M12 Panoramic Scope.

Gunner Corporal using the M12 Panoramic Scope.

Within an infantry division, there were four artillery battalions, three M2A1 105mm howitzer battalions and one 155mm battalion. The three 105mm battalion were assigned to one of the three infantry regiments to support, forming a combat team. The assignments were made back in the States 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 there was a sergeant (Section Chief), a gunner 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.

No. 1 gunner on a 105mm (M2). He's to the right of the breech responsible for elevating the gun and attaching the firing pin. Top of the safety plate can be seen upper right.

No. 1 gunner on a 105mm (M2). He's to the right of the breech responsible for elevating the gun and attaching the firing pin. Top of the safety plate can be seen upper right.

Although a staged photo, it does give a good view of the 105mm. You can see the #1 holding open the breech block, and the wheel that the gunner would use for deflection.  There's also a great shot of the gunner's M12 panoramic scope.

Although a staged photo, it does give a good view of the 105mm. You can see the #1 holding open the breech block, and the wheel that the gunner would use for deflection. There's also a great shot of the gunner's M12 panoramic scope.

105mm crew arriving in North Africa during Operation Torch, November 1942. Note the tire difference with later versions of the gun. Those are solid rubber tires. Within a year all 105mm M2s had pneumatic like the ones below.

105mm crew arriving in North Africa during Operation Torch, November 1942. Note the tire difference with later versions of the gun. Those are solid rubber tires. Within a year all 105mm M2s had pneumatic like the ones below.

Gun section of the 522nd Field Artillery supporting the famous 442nd Infantry Regiment in 1944.

Gun section of the 522nd Field Artillery supporting the famous 442nd Infantry Regiment in 1944.

240mm gun being towed by M33 tractor, Italy 1943 or 1944. The barrel was transported separately and then hoisted by crane into the gun carriage once in position.

240mm gun being towed by M33 tractor, Italy 1943 or 1944. The barrel was transported separately and then hoisted by crane into the gun carriage once in position.

240mm howitzer of the 698th FAB in Italy, March 1944.

240mm howitzer of the 698th FAB in Italy, March 1944.

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 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 one of the loaders to be tossed aside.

105mm ammo crew arming shells during the Battle of the Bulge (591st FAB -106th ID). Love the cigarettes around all that powder.

105mm ammo crew arming shells during the Battle of the Bulge (591st FAB -106th ID). Love the cigarettes around all that powder.

240mm howitzer preparing to fire, January 1944. This was the largest field gun in the U.S. inventory during the War.

240mm howitzer preparing to fire, January 1944. This was the largest field gun in the U.S. inventory during the War.

Priming an 8 inch shell

Priming an 8 inch shell

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. 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.

155mm gun section, Huertgen Forest 1944. Great example of crew members in action. The corporal gunner to the left of the breech and #1 gunner to the right. One of the loaders disposing of the casing.  3 ammo crew to the right. Section Sgt is on phone

155mm gun section, Huertgen Forest 1944. Great example of crew members in action. The corporal gunner to the left of the breech and #1 gunner to the right. One of the loaders disposing of the casing. 3 ammo crew to the right. Section Sgt is on phone

Empty shell casings near gun section, Elsenborn Ridge, 1944.

Empty shell casings near gun section, Elsenborn Ridge, 1944.

105mm shells

105mm shells

White phosphorus shells fired on German positions during the Bulge.

White phosphorus shells fired on German positions during the Bulge.

Great close-up of a crewman adding a propellant charge to a 155mm howitzer.

Great close-up of a crewman adding a propellant charge to a 155mm howitzer.

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 at 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.

155mm battery during the Battle of the Bulge

155mm battery during the Battle of the Bulge

8 inch howitzer on the move during the Bulge

8 inch howitzer on the move during the Bulge

A gun section of the 333rd Field Artillery  preparing for action in Normandy.

A gun section of the 333rd Field Artillery preparing for action in Normandy.

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.

105mm crew preparing the shells during training exercise. Ft. Jackson, 1943. The sergeant in the middle is instructing the soldier on attaching the shell (top part) to the casing below after it has been packed with ammo bags.

105mm crew preparing the shells during training exercise. Ft. Jackson, 1943. The sergeant in the middle is instructing the soldier on attaching the shell (top part) to the casing below after it has been packed with ammo bags.

Crew laying wire near St. Lo, June 1944. The steep hedgerows helped conceal the crews but also the enemy. Many times the Germans were able to ambush the crews and cut the wire.

Crew laying wire near St. Lo, June 1944. The steep hedgerows helped conceal the crews but also the enemy. Many times the Germans were able to ambush the crews and cut the wire.

No matter what your job, it was dangerous - Artillery battalion mess sergeant lies dead after a German barrage, April 1945.

No matter what your job, it was dangerous - Artillery battalion mess sergeant lies dead after a German barrage, April 1945.

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 an essential element 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.

Packing A Punch

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


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 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 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.



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.


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.


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, see


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



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!


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.


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

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

Ralph Poore on May 14, 2020:

CJ you might direct Mr. Gruber to the 4th Infantry Association's newsletter Ivy Leaves. It sometimes has mentions of the 20th Field Artillery, although references to World War II are becoming fewer and fewer. The editor can be reached at IVYLEAVESEDITOR@GMAIL.COM.

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:


Try this:


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...






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:


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:


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:


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:


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!


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.


Robert England on January 02, 2018:


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 Iron Duke at the Battle of Jutland during WW1 and was originally called Jack Bishop. After the battle he jumped ship, changed his name to Jack England and joined the Somerset Light Infantry in the army and was sent right to Flanders in the front line.

I am incredibly proud of my history and thanks for keeping this alive through your work

kindest regards

danny rodgers on December 15, 2017:

i appreciate everything you are doing thank you

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on December 14, 2017:

Hi Mr. Rodgers, my so called "sources" turned out to be a dud. So now I'm on to more official information. But overall, finding info on this unit post Bulge is very hard. I'm very rarely stymied, but in this case, hard case. Giving NARA another shot.

I did find a guy who runs a blog/website. He apparently has a lot pics, etc. Looks like B Battery only. It appears to me to be more pre Bulge. If I hear back from him, will let you know.

But Fort Sill might be come through for me. Will keep you posted. Sorry for the delays.

danny rodgers on December 14, 2017:

hey just reminding you it is past the first week in dec thanks

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on November 17, 2017:

Nothing yet. I have the names of two experts on the 285th. Hoping get something out of that. Also, using my Red Leg FB page to turn something up. I will put an ad up and keep you posted. Please contact me again the first week of December.

danny rodgers on November 17, 2017:

just wondering if you were able to find anything on my grandfather thanks

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on October 26, 2017:

Mr. Lagasse, the 15th FAB has a great website with rosters and stories (not sure if you've found it already). Finding rosters is incredibly hard but they might have them or be able to piece together the info. It's a mix of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, but their webmasters and historians are good. Try it out. Here's the links:

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

2) http://www.15thfar.org/worldwar2.htm

Peter Lagasse on October 26, 2017:

My uncle Charles David Knight served in WW 2 in Battery B 15th Field Artillery Battalion under the 2nd Infantry Division (Indianheads).

He saw his action on D+1 when they stormed Omaha. I am doing a blog on the 182 letters he wrote home while at Camp McCoy and then in the European Theater. Is there a list of the names in his Battery B? We have a group picture of Battery B taken on June 22, 1943. He listed many names and addresses on the back with their location in the picture. Is there a way to know who survived the war in his Battery B?

I know his headstone states he was a Sergeant but he must received that at Camp Swift in Texas in the three months before being discharged on October 14, 1945. However I have not been able to discover that fact. His closest living relatives are we nephews and nieces so we appear not to be able to obtain his D D-214. Any help will be appreciated in regards to my questions and my uncle's records. He died in 1984.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on October 03, 2017:

Absolutely. I'll email you later. Thx.

danny rodgers on September 30, 2017:

thank you for your service mr burr, you are a true american hero

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 30, 2017:

Just great info. I really appreciate it. Thx.

Can I ask one more question? - Did you get to Buchenwald at the end of the war?

Mr. Burr, I do a "Red Leg of the Week" on my Facebook and I would be honored could send a photo. I'll post your story.

Ned Burr on September 30, 2017:

No, the increase in FO's had no relationship to the increase in number of guns. In Europe, having one FO for each infantry battalion was unacceptable since it was the infantry company that was basic to infantry operations and each needed to call directly for artillery support. I was a reconnaissance officer in "B" Battery of the 324th Field, 83rd Inf Div - there were three of us in the battalion and we were all sent forward on or around 25 June '44 to inf companies as FO's. That raised the total to 6 - my assignment was to "E" Co, 331st Regt. In Korea I was the Fire Direction Chief as a Major, 64th Field (Lancer 3) - the T&O gave me 3 FO's per firing battery - whether that was a permanent change I have no idea. That is what I had when I arrived and a year later what I had when I left. I suspect that Sill arrived at the conclusion of WWII that the Btry Exec could manage 2 more guns - certainly from my point of view 18 rounds on the target instead of 12 was going to make a lot more noise. By the way I spent 3 months in the Punchbowl and fired only "high angle" fire - artillerymen seldom ever fire "high angle" so this was a unique experience - the max ord on a high angle round can be as much as 16,000 feet in altitude.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 28, 2017:

Hi Mr. Burr. Great to hear from you. Thanks for the insight. Was the increase in FOs officially part of the T&O? Or did the units adjust while in the field during Korea? I assumed because of the increase to 6 guns that there were more observers, but I was not sure if the 3 FO was a standard.

During WWII, what was your unit?

Ned Burr, Col USA Ret on September 28, 2017:

A couple of changes made that helped in Korea( I'm sure there were more but the two important to me as FDC Chief of 64th Field) - one was that we went to 6 gun batteries, 18 gave me a lot more firepower and, second, we increased number of FO's to 3 per battery so I had 9 on the line. In Normandy I was a 155 RO sent forward as an FO because the lights only had 1 per battery. By the way I used a lot of high angle fire to get defensive fire coverage in close to FEBA

danny rodgers on September 27, 2017:

thank you i'll be waiting and thank you for this site i think i may be able to add some pictures i will dig them out and see what i have

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 25, 2017:

Hi Mr. Rodgers. It is possible he was assigned after the massacre from another unit. That happened a lot in the wake of the Bulge. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks, CJK

danny rodgers on September 25, 2017:

my grandfather also passed before i could talk to him of his service. his discharge papers say he was in battery b 285th fa obsn which i know was the battalion at the malmedy massacre but i have never found his name on any survivor list his name by the was daniel coggeshall. he left for normandy july 2 1944 could he have been assigned after the masacre ? also his papers say he was on a 5in gun but i can find no other mention of a 5 in gun his papers also say he was awarded 5 bronze stars any info you could provide me with will be greatly appreciated thanks in advance

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on May 25, 2017:

Hi Mr. Phalunas,

I believe the 221st was assigned to the Americal Division, which ended up on Guadalcanal at the end of 1942. Since your dad was assigned in late '43, he probably ended up on Bouganville and then the Philippines. The Division has an excellent veterans association which is very helpful to families, see americal.org.

Richard Phalunas on May 25, 2017:

My Father was a Pvt with Btry B of the 221st Field Artillery Battalion with the Americals in WWII. He shipped over to the Pacific on 29 October 1943 and returned to the US in late 1945 after being with the occupation forces in Japan. Any information about this unit in the interim would be great! (He passed 10 years ago, having said little about his service!) Thanks!

John Huston on February 07, 2017:

Have been researching my Dad's WWII service for past 2 years. His name was Gayle W. Huston and he died in 1975. He did not talk much about his experience except one instance when he was in Italy as a Forward Observer being shelled so badly one night that his buddy's hair turned white by the next morning. His service records were burned in the ST Louis fire when I contacted NARA and did get one page which stated he spent 20 months with the 894th Ord HAM Co; however, I don't think that is correct. He was with the 2nd FA Obn Bn which was part of the 18th FA BDE prior to WWII. He enlisted Feb 42 and was sent to Ft Sill, then to CP Bowie TX until deployment 21 Aug 1943 from NY to ETO arriving Oran Algeria 2 Sep 1943. From what I have gathered he was with 5th Army as part of II Corps and or VI Corps Artillery through North Africa, Italy, then with VI Corps, VII Army through Southern France, and into Germany. I have his IKE Jacket and photos when he married my mother in Lyon France on 9 Oct 1945 before his re-deployment back to the US 0n 19 Nov 45 from Le Havre France aboard the Monticello AP-61 arriving NY 27 Nov 45. The unit crest on his IKE Jacket is the 2nd FA Obv Bn and he attained the rank of Tech 5. In some of his personal effects was a patch for the 44th Inf Div and a CIB. I can't find hardly any information about the 2nd FA Obv Bn or the 894th Ord HAM Co and am hoping you may be able to help me with any information about either of these units? Also from my research, I discovered the CIB was only awarded to Infantry men in combat but after the war in 1946, an exception was made for other soldiers who fought in direct combat did earn the CIB and thus awarded the Bronze Star. I am hoping to find any information about my Dad's service and whether my Dad could entitled to this award plus the Army of Occupation Medal. Hope you can help. My email is jhuston1440@wavecable.com Much thanks!!!

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on January 30, 2017:

John, go to my homepage and contact me via FB or email, etc. I have info for you as well as a possible contact in Europe. Thx. CJ

John on January 30, 2017:

Very informative! My father was a member of the 264th FA Bn, Btry B. How can one find a unit history? We are planning a trip to Europe to retrace the units movements.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on October 15, 2016:

Hi Ms. Southall, I would like a picture of your dad in uniform. I have an artillery tribute page and try to put up a "Red Leg of the Week" feature a few times a year. Maybe a quick bio on your dad (West Point class, hometown, etc.). Always a popular feature and in some cases, it has brought old friends together. You can either email me, friend me on Facebook or my Red Legs page. I'm also available on Google + or Twitter.

The term Red Leg began in the Civil War, First during the Kansas border wars and then the Army adapted it later. It referred to Unionists in the State. Then during the Civil War, the artillery branch began the practice of having red stripes down the side of their pants to distinguish from the infantry (who still wear blue). I left out a lot, but that's the easy synopsis.

Nancy on October 15, 2016:

Hi lions44-- I have a picture of my father in uniform, are you looking for those, or only with the howitzers? Also, where did the term red leg come from? I just read that recently, don't remember where, but couldn't find it at google.

Like Ms. Southall, my father was in two different FABs, and someone at the 83rd site said that because he, my dad, was regular army (West Point), he would be staying for the Occupation, which he did, for another year, and that's about when the change occurred, I think, from the 908 to the 323. That baffled me til someone pointed out that in his situation, points wouldn't matter, and exactly what you said--the regrouping of men. And I didn't really think about how the army wouldn't stop practicing, because my father's section, at least, thought they were going on to Japan.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on October 14, 2016:

Ms. Southall, thanks so much for sharing your dad's story. It was very common for the men to be reassigned to other units after the end of hostilities, as some units were rotated home as well as individual personnel based on points. So the personnel without enough points were kept with other units until their time came up. That is the most likely reason your dad was moved to the 196th. The 406th was probably sent home first as the 196th did occupation duty for a couple of months. I'm not sure that the 196th was part of the 79th. I'll have to confirm that. If you could share a photo that would be great.

Peggy Southall on October 14, 2016:

Thank you so much for sharing this information. This is the best article I have read on the US Army Field Artillery in World War II. My dad, Eugene F. Southall, was a field lineman (technician 5th grade) with HQ and HQ Battery. He went in with the 406 Field Artillery Group and was discharged with the 196th Field Artillery Battalion. I don’t know why he changed units. I think both were part of the 79th Infantry Division. I’m grateful to have found a book entitled “Under Cover” that in their own words provides a G-rated history of the 406th Field Artillery Group from January 29, 1944 through Ju;y 7, 1945.

My dad died in 1987 and never talked much about the war. I do know that he landed in England February 26, 1944 and France on June 14, 1944. He was discharged in NYC on December 26, 1945. He was in Normandy, northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. If anyone can share any knowledge or similar experiences, I would appreciate it. I’m especially curious as to why he changed units.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 29, 2016:

Mr. Lister, so glad to hear from you. I'm honored to have helped honor your uncle. If he has any pics he would like to share, please send. I do a Red Leg of the Week on FB page and I'm always looking for new guys. Thx.

Bill Lister on September 29, 2016:

Our uncle, Richard V. Fritts, was a Technical Fourth Grade in the 993rd Field Artillery Battalion, in the Pacific Theater in 1944 and 1945. He was a Artillery Mechanic and recently celebrated his 99th birthday! The pictures of the 8" Howitzer in the Phillippines, 1944 really brought back memories! Thank you so much for this information.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 19, 2016:

Thx Greener. I have seen them, but I hope to add them to my You Tube channel soon. Appreciate the reminder. Please pass them on. It's so important these men are not forgotten.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 16, 2016:

Absolutely, Nancy. Will do. Sorry I misunderstood you. Stay well.

Nancy on September 16, 2016:

Yes, I am familiar with, and a member of the facebook page, and have used Dave Curry's site. I meant when you go to the Battle of the Bulge reunion, if you hear of anyone there interested. Thank you.

CJ Kelly (author) from the PNW on September 15, 2016:

Nancy,the 908th was part of the 83rd Infantry Division during WWII. You can contact their historian (Dave Curry) or visit their website at:


Here is a link from the site: https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/units/908th-fa-bn/

Also, there is a Facebook page for the Division. Type in 83rd Infantry Division.

Nancy on September 15, 2016:

I would love to talk to anyone connected with the 908 FAB B Btry, if there are any descendants who have pictures to share, or stories, if you come across any. I just missed a man who served under my dad, died two weeks before I found him, but I have at least one of his descendants and hope to talk to her.

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