1st BATTALION 77th FIELD ARTILLERY
This is the historical journal of Lieutenant Colonel George R. Quarles, who commanded the 1/77th FA through WWII.
February 8 to June 30, 1943
The First Battalion, Seventy-Seventh Field Artillery, sailed from the United States on 8 February 1943, on the U.S.A.T. "Uruguay". The "Uruguay" voyage was quite an experience. At 0132, (convoy time) on 12 February, 1943, the transport was rammed by a Navy tanker in the convoy and although neither vessel sank, they were so badly damaged that they had to turn back and head for Bermuda about 800 miles away. The "Uruguay" sustained a hole on the starboard side forward, which extended from "B" Deck nearly to the keel. Of the troops aboard, seven men were killed; six were lost, and about twenty-one sustained major injuries. Of the battalion, Pfc. John M. Thompson of "B" Battery was killed in the crash and thus became the first member of the battalion to give his life while on foreign service in the present conflict. Another member of the unit, however, gained some distinction, and that was Sgt. Cecil H. Davis of "C" Battery who was in bed in the hospital at the point of collision and landed on the prow of the Navy tanker as it penetrated the "Uruguay". When the ships separated after the crash, Sgt. Davis found himself on the deck of the tanker, uninjured. (Later he rejoined his organization when the vessels reached port). The damage to the "Uruguay" necessitated an attempt to reach Bermuda 800 miles to the southwest, and after limping through a stormy sea for three anxious days, she made Bermuda on 15 February, 1943, to the intense relief of all members aboard. It should be said at this time that during this entire emergency, all troops aboard conducted themselves with the utmost fortitude and that this great courage on their part allowed those in charge to prevent a panic.
The arrival of the "Uruguay" presented a tremendous problem to the Bermuda Base Command since the 4500 troops aboard more than doubled the garrison. However, under the direction of Brigadier General A.G. Strong, the Base Commander, all troops were housed in barracks or pyramidal tents and well fed, a miraculous achievement considering the drain on the local facilities which the survivors constituted. The survivors were partially re-clothed and re-equipped and attempted to be of service to the Base Command by performing both specialized and unspecialized working details to aid local construction work. In this way, the "Uruguay" troops contributed thousands of man-hours of labor to the Bermuda Base Command during their visit.
On 6 March 1943, the "Uruguay" troops sailed from Bermuda in two more army Transports which had been sent from New York to pick them up. All members of the battalion were assigned to the U.S.A.T. "Santa Rosa". This time the voyage went without mishap, and on 18 March, 1943, Casablanca, French Morocco, North Africa, was reached, and all troops debarked. This battalion was now assigned to I Armored Corps.
At Casablanca, the battalion was partially re-equipped, having lost large amounts of individual and organizational property. (All officers had lost their footlockers and all enlisted men their "B" barracks bags through the hole in the side of the "Uruguay".) As equipment became available, training was undertaken; but extensive details around the docks and supply installations of Casablanca made continuous training extremely difficult. A few service practices were about all that could be accomplished.
On 18 April 1943, the battalion moved to the Cork Forest near Rabat for more extensive training. Here, in an excellent bivouac area, the battalion worked hard to taper itself off for the many requirements of combat; field problems, physical hardening; service practice, and organized athletic programs combined to made the men more nearly ready for the test.
On 2 May 1943, the test seemed near at hand; for on this date the unit was notified of its attachment to the Third Infantry Division and ordered to join the division at once in the vicinity of Constantine, Algeria, for duty on the Tunisian front. On 6 May 1943, the battalion began its march to the front under Lt. Col. von Kann, Commanding Officer. On successive days the organization bivouacked at Fez, Morocco; Cuercif, Morocco; Tlemcen, Algeria; Fleurus, Algeria; Orleansville, Algeria; and l'Arba, Algeria, spending the night of 11 May 1943, at this last location. Here, Lt. Col. von Kann was notified by Allied Force Headquarters that the battalion was assigned to the VI Corps and to move to Chanzy, Algeria. This change of orders was due, of course, to the sudden conclusion of the Tunisian campaign. However, it was a severe blow to all members to learn that their introduction to battle was to be delayed once more.
On 12 May 1943, the battalion returned to Orleansville, Algeria, and the following day marched to Bedeau, Algeria, near which point they found an excellent bivouac area and settled down to see what would take place next. Again intensive training was undertaken and due to the excellent facilities available for service practice, the cannoneers were given plenty of opportunity to practice their calling under realistic conditions. Ample amounts of small arms ammunition were available and combat ranges and overhead fire courses were used to give the men and officers as much realistic training as possible.
On 19 May, 1943, the battalion was again assigned to the I Armored Corps, and on I June, 1943, was once more attached to the Third Infantry Division (Reinforced). On 6 June, 1943, the battalion departed to report to Major General Truscott near Bizerte, Tunisia; under command of Major George R. Quarles, the new commanding officer. The organization bivouacked on successive nights at Orleansville, Algeria; I'Arba, Algeria; Setif, Algeria; and SoukAhras, Algeria. On 10 June 1943, the unit moved into a bivouac area near El Alia, Tunisia -- not far from Bizerte.
Sensing that combat was not far off, all members pitched into the job of supplying the outfit and completing their training. Other tasks to be done included the planning of the combat loading of the unit; sandbagging of vehicles; waterproofing of vehicles; and the briefing of key personnel on their assignments in the operation, which was being planned. Great ' secrecy about the location of the next operation was, of course, necessary; but Major Quarles and a few key officers had been informed of necessity that the operation planned was the Sicilian invasion.
INVASION OF SICILY
July 1st to July 6th, 1943
The plan for the initial assault was as follows: The battalion stripped, down to two howitzer batteries and a minimum of headquarters and service personnel would land on D Day to reinforce the fires of the Forty-First Field Artillery Battalion -a light battalion from the Third Infantry Division Artillery. The remainder of the battalion, less supply vehicles, would land in the first follow-up on D plus 4. Supply vehicles were to be landed D plus 8.
July 4th - The entire Battalion attended a formation at which Major General Truscott gave a stirring address and rallied his troops for the coming invasion of Axis soil.
July 5th & 6th - Final plans for the assault group of the battalion were completed. Major George R. Quarles would be in command with Capt. Paul J. Bidle commanding "A" Battery; and Capt. Dale E. Hodgell commanding "C" Battery. They would be loaded on an LCT and would land at an early hour in order to perform the necessary reconnaissance. Other officers in the assault would be on an LST and they are: Capt. Al D. Sims, Capt. James W. Gibson, 1st Lt. Addison G. Wilson, 1st Lt. Kenneth T. Smith, 1st Lt. William F. Smalley, 1st Lt. Walter B. Stevens, 1st Lt. Wayne E. Lash, 2nd Lt. Richard J. Deegan, 2nd Lt. Arthur M. Dix, and 2nd Lt. Ferd H. Rees.
JULY 7th to AUGUST 19,1943
JULY 7th - Assault Battalion (Batteries A and C less rear echelon and detachment from Hq and Service Battery) departed from bivouac area and loaded on LST #388. The Battalion CO and BC's of A and C Battery loaded on LCT #29. LST and LCT left Bizerte at 1700 and rendezvoused for the night off shore.
JULY 8th - (Report of LCT #29 only) - Convoy put out to sea at 0430. Weather clear, sea calm. Passed Cape Bon at 1500 - off Pantellaria at 2000. During the night, LCT #29 lost position in convoy and did not regain it until the morning of the 9th of July.
JULY 9th - (LCT #29 only) Convoy headed generally northeast toward Sicily. Passed north of Malta - weather clear - 35 mile wind and sea very rough. LCT #29 took a terrific pounding and most of the men were seasick. Water was continually taken aboard. After dark LCT #29 again got separated from the convoy and did not regain position during the night.
JULY 10th - Anti-aircraft fire and Naval gun fire visible from LCT #29 due north at 0200. Sea still very rough. Came in sight of Sicily at Licata at 0300. About 3 miles off shore at 0400 came under fire of shore batteries and had star shells fired at us. Started inshore to land, and came under artillery fire. About 1 mile off shore, we were bracketed by HE - No hits scored. Hit shore 3 miles east of Licata at 0500 and landed in 2 feet of water. Beach under mortar fire and some sniping. All personnel and vehicles were safely ashore at 0515. Started forward to make reconnaissance of Battalion position. Road was closed and under fire due to enemy strong point at (00.5-34.8) not being taken. Moved on foot over hills to rear of strong point and made reconnaissance of position areas at (00.5-35.6). Completed at 0800. Strong point had fallen by now and road was available. Battalion CO went east on shore road to Blue Beach. Came under mortar fire enroute. LST #388 beached at 1015 and Assault Group went into position at 1115. Remained in position reinforcing 41st FA. No rounds fired. Attacked by 3 ME 109's at 1430 - no casualties. Again attacked by ME 109's at 1600. 2 bombs dropped. No casualties. Received orders to make reconnaissance to western part of Licata sector. Assault Group went into position reinforcing 10th FA at 2300. In position area (86.8-43.3). No rounds fired from this position.
JULY 11th - Ordered to make reconnaissance and go into position east of Palma (80.841.9) parties left position at 1100. Batteries were in position at 1400 still supporting 10th FA. Battery A registered BP (75.1-46.0) 6 rounds fired. No other firing from this position. One JU 87 and 3 ME 109's over area - no straffing or bombing.
JULY 12th - Hq Section moved to position 1000 yards east of batteries. No firing during day. 2 ME 109's over about 1500. 1 ME 109 over at 1700 - very low.
JULY 13th - Battery A moved west to position at (73.7-46.3) reinforcing fire of 10th FA at 0700. Returned to Battalion area at 2000. Fire supported reconnaissance of the 7th Infantry in vicinity of river at (68.2-52.4). Nothing else of note.
JULY 14th - 1st follow-up joined Assault Battalion at 2130. Received orders that the battalion would move into position (73.5-50.5). This position about 3000 yards in front of Infantry positions so no reconnaissance could be made prior to darkness, as road was under enemy observation and fire. Parties went forward at 2000. Batteries followed at 2100.
JULY 15th - Position occupied at 0500. OP opened fire at 0800. Majority of fire delivered on strong point on west bank of river. Received orders at 1600 to move out at 2100 to positions in the vicinity of Favara. Parties left area at 2030. Batteries at 2100 moved via Palma to Favara. Distance about 45 miles.
JULY 16th - In position at edge (south) of Favara (69.4-56.9) at 0200. Adjusted on BP (62.8-57.9) at 0730. Fired on strong point (63.0-58.1) 2-100 mm guns. At 1020 fired numerous concentrations on call from 3rd Division Artillery and 10th FA. At 1530 sighted enemy truck convoy (63.9-60.3) Battalion fired 5 rounds. After completion of concentration, observed 5 vehicles burning and 15 left on road. Troops were seen leaving trucks and fleeing over the hill. Moved at 2100 to position north of Favara (70.0-59.0) supporting the 15th Infantry. Did not fire from this position.
JULY 17th - No movement - Nothing to report.
JULY 18th - Joined 82nd Division (Air Borne) at 1200. Moved out at 2225 for new position.
JULY 19th - Went into position east of Siculiana (50.0-59.5) at 0100. No firing from this position.
JULY 20th - Parties went on reconnaissance at 0130 and met Maj. Gen. Ridgeway and Brig. Gen. Taylor at point east of Menfi. Ordered to make reconnaissance of position along river east of Menfi (125865). Reconnaissance held up for 2 hours Is Infantry had not entered Battalion area. Batteries arrived at position at 2300. No firing from this position. Battalion relieved from 82nd Air Borne Division at 2230.
JULY 21st - Lt. Col. Darby of the Rangers came to position at 0030 and Battalion CO went forward with him at 39th Infantry CP and called parties forward to make reconnaissance. Unable to get to assigned areas due to mines. So selected positions at (065895) east of Campobello. Battery B moved into position at 0500 and adjusted on Base Point. Battery B silenced enemy artillery holding up tank advance in vicinity of Castelventro at 0930. Parties left position at 0900 to reconnoiter new positions east of Castelventro. Batteries left for new position at 1030. Battalion bivouaced east of Castelventro (005915) at 1220. Capt. Garnett Liaison Officer entered Castelventro with Lt.'Col. Darby at 1300. First troops in town. Parties entered town at 1400 and made reconnaissance of positions 7 miles west of Castelventro close behind advance parties of the 4th Rangers. Battalion arrived in positions at 1910.
JULY 22nd - No movement - no firing. Located German airport (abandoned) with large bomb dump 3 miles north of position.
JULY 23rd - Parties left to join remainder of Combat Team X (Command) near Marsala. Road assigned still in enemy hands so were forced to return to area and reconnoiter different route. Left for Mazara via back route to avoid traffic closely followed by remainder of Battalion. Arrived Mazara at 2000 and joined column behind Cannon Co of 29th Infantry. Road west of Mazara under fire from the north so were forced off road into bivouac area west of Mazara (720010) at 2115.
JULY 24th - Battalion CO and Staff with C Battery left for position at (692048) at 0500. Called remainder of Battalion forward at 0900. Rendezvoused Battalion less B Battery at Terrenove. Battery B in position at 665075. Battalion CO, S-3 and S-2 and Liaison Officer directed fire on enemy battery at (671113) at 1145. OP was under fire from this battery at this time. Excellent effect. Battery B got into action and delivered fire quicker than Infantry Cannon Co. Battalion CO left OP at 1400 and went forward through Marsala where he contacted Infantry Advance Detachment. Received verbal notice of relief from Combat Command X at 1655, and was ordered to proceed to Palermo to report to Prov. Corps by 1800. Remainder of Battalion to arrive at Palermo by 25, 1200. Left at once with Battery CO's for Palermo via Castelventro, Alcamo and Partinico. Arrived Alcamo at 2000. Found bridge out between Alcano and Partinico so was forced to take secondary roads along coast. Road very dangerous well trapped. Arrived at Partinico at 25,0200.
July 25th - Left Partinico at 0500. Arrived at Palermo at 0700. Reported to Commanding General Prov. Corps and was ordered to rejoin Regiment either at Alia or Roccapalumba. S-3 and Battery CO's remained in Palermo to rejoin Battalion. Battalion CO left Palermo at 0830 to find Regiment. Caught rear of Regimental column at Vicari at 0200 followed as far as Roccapalumba then returned west to meet Battalion. Placed Battalion in bivouac at Vicari (645105).
JULY 26th - Left Battalion with parties at 0805. Battalion left at 0845. Located Regimental area south of Petralia at 1200. Battalion in bivouac at 1400.
July 27th - Battalion in bivouac. Make reconnaissance to Gangi at 1430.
JULY 28th - Battalion in bivouac.
JULY 29th - Left bivouac area with parties at 0645 and made reconnaissance north of Sperlinga (317085). Battalion in position at 1740. No firing.
July 30th - Battalion in position north of Sperlinga. Battalion CO left with parties at 1820 and selected position north of Nicosia at 1820 (365085).
JULY 31st - Battalion moved into new position at 0315. A platoon of AA from Battery C 103rd CA (Sept) was attached this day. No firing from this position.
AUGUST 1st - Battalion, less-rear echelon had been in position during the night, 1 mile north of Nicosia. Orders were received to join the 1st Division and to move the battalion to position 2 miles northwest of Cerami. The Battalion, less rear echelon moved to the new position at 0515 and Liaison Q reported to the 1st Div. Arty, CP. A forward OP was established in the eastern edge of Cerami from which the valley east to Troina could be observed. Adjustment was completed and observation was continued up the valley all day. At.1130 the battalion was straffed by a low flying ME 109. The attached AA opened up and shot it down. No casualties or damage. At 1900 two ME 109's again were over the area and both were knocked down by the attached AA (1st Platoon, Battery "C", 103rd CA). During the day Division concentrations were fired and harassing missions were continued during the night. One Battalion concentration was fired on enemy positions on Hill 1040 from OP - effect excellent. One enemy gun position was fired upon using Infantry FO at (52501895). This gun was beyond Range Table range, however, by extra ramming and leaving the powder in the sun the position was reached and a direct hit was scored on one piece, the others were neutralized. The range on this 12,700 yds.; thirteen (13) rounds were fired. A total of 163 rounds were fired during this 24-hour period.
AUGUST 2nd - Battalion was still in position northwest of Cerami. During the day fourteen (14) concentrations were fired. All except one were unobserved and effect was excellent testifying to the accuracy of maps and survey. A total of 442 rounds were fired. During the afternoon, a reconnaissance was made north of Capizzi for possible positions. The rear echelon was moved forward to positions north of Nicosia. One eighty-four (84) round concentration was placed on enemy strong point at (49550950). Interdiction fire was maintained during the night on the road net east and west of Troina. A 210 mm Rocket gun was silenced at (50650745).
AUGUST 3rd - Interdiction fire was continued during the early morning. Six (6) concentrations were fired during the day. All unobserved. A total of 264 rounds were fired on enemy troops in the vicinity of Troina between 1110 and 1410. Requested that the battalion be allowed to move to positions in the vicinity of Gagliano to support the flanking movement of the 18th Infantry Regt. moving on Troina from the south. At 1505 Battalion was ordered to move to Gagliano area via Nicosia-Agira. Battalion left Cerami area at 1600. The road as far as Nicosia was very good - between Nicosia and Agira the road was very bad. Five bridges in all these places had not been constructed by engineers, and it was necessary to move very cautiously across country. However the battalion got through without the loss of a single vehicle and arrived in position I mile southwest of Gagliano at 0545 Aug. 4th. The advance parties arrived in Gagliano at 1800 and halted at the edge of town as the road north of town was under enemy, observation and fire. The Battalion CO went forward to meet the CO of the 65th FA (Armored) and obtain information of the area. When returning, the road north of Gagliano, and the town, was fired on by a 210 Rocket gun. Some rounds landed about 100 yds. from a command car. No casualties or damage resulted. It was noted here that the Rocket gun seems to have a great deal of dispersion and can be easily identified by the scream of the shell. Blast effect seems to be very small.
AUGUST 4th - A forward OP was established at (47300580) at 0700 and the battalion was registered on BP (507059). Fourteen (14) concentrations were fired during the day and a total of 591 rounds expended. All. except five (5) concentrations being fired by FO. Two Rocket guns were fired upon and destroyed. Two other enemy batteries and an Infantry concentration were also taken under fire. A company of the 18th Infantry Regt. were observed under fire from enemy infantry at (504061) and the enemy was taken tinder fire. It was noted that the positions reported as occupied by friendly troops was often erroneous as troops could be plainly seen from OP which were identified as those of the enemy. This was especially true of Hill 1040 which was continuously occupied by enemy troops upon which we were refused permission to fire as friendly troops were supposed to be there. However, these enemy positions were taken under fire without authority. The rear echelon was moved to positions in the valley about 2 miles north of Agira. Enemy strong points were fired on at (544070, 531085, and 526078). A Battalion concentration of 4 rounds per minute for 5 minutes was placed on Troina at 1633. A total of 210 rounds were expended in this concentration. There was no firing during the-night.
AUGUST 5th - The Regimental Hqs and 2nd Battalion moved into position to the west of us today, and took over most of the firing. Three problems were fired during the day and a total of 35 rounds expended. One enemy battery was fired upon but due to the extreme time required to get approval through channels, the fire was ineffective as the battery had moved when fire was finally delivered.
AUGUST 6th - No firing during the 24 hour period.
AUGUST 7th - Still in position - no firing.
AUGUST 8th - Battalion moved into rendezvous area 1 mile northwest of Troina (51710).
AUGUST 9th - In rendezvous west of Troina.
AUGUST 10th - AUGUST 19t1i - Same as August 9th.
AUGUST 19th - Battalion left Troina area for bivouac area east of Termini Immerse. Sicilian campaign over. A total of 91 missions and 2345 rounds expended during the campaign.
KEY PERSONNEL SICILIAN CAMPAIGN
1 September 7 November, 1943 (Incl.)
The Battalion remained in its rest area near Termini Imerese, Sicily, through the month of September and most of October, 1943. On 12 September, the battalion was relieved from assignment to the Seventh U.S. Army and assigned to the Fifth U.S. Army, which had invaded Italy at Salerno three days earlier. On 24 September, all batteries received brand new 155 mm. Howitzers, M-1, except for Battery "All which did not complete drawing new weapons until early in November.
October 19th - The Battalion received orders to move to Italy overland via the Messina ferry (which consisted of several LCT's). October 24th, the battalion left the Termini Imerese area.
October 27th - The Battalion was informed it would be attached to VI Corps and would go into combat shortly.
October 29th - The Battalion arrived at the Pomigliano bivouac area. Next day, Brig. Gen. Lewis informed the battalion that it would be attached to the II Corps instead of the VI Corps.
November 5th - The Battalion was visited by Brig. Gen. Vincent Meyer, GG, 18th F.A. Brigade, which had recently arrived in the theatre, and to which the battalion had been assigned when alerted for overseas movement at Camp Bowie, Texas. Brig. Gen. Meyer had served with the unit overseas during World War I and had commanded the battalion upon its reactivation at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in 1935.
November 7th - Orders were received from II Corps to move to an assembly area in the vicinity of Camigliano, Italy. From this location several reconnaissances were to be made for possible position areas to be used at such time as the battalion should be ordered into the line.
8 NOVEMBER to 1 DECEMBER, 1943
NOVEMBER 8th to NOVEMBER 18th (Incl.) - Bivouacked in vicinity of Comigliano, Italy in preparation for movement into forward areas.
NOVEMBER 19th - Battalion moved under cover of darkness to positions in vicinity of Presenzano (Coord H075-075). In position at (200230). Area very muddy and vehicles and guns very difficult to get in.
NOVEMBER 20th - Unable to register due to difficulties in observation and communications. Sent out forward observers. Lt. Fowler to position G 982140, Lts. Smith, Kidd and Smalley to hill at H 005-163. Still raining.
NOVEMBER 21st - Lt. Fowler back. Unable to stay in observing position due to enemy fire. Lts. Kidd, Smith and tinalley also back. They were forced off the hill by enemy MG and mortar fire after heroic attempt to maintain observation. Sgt. Wing, "C" Battery, was injured by a mortar shell. Reconnaissance was made for forward position. Moving to new positions at 1800. New positions were occupied at (220230). (Coord 017072 161 111 1/50,000).
NOVEMBER 22nd - Tractor required to get guns in - very muddy - lots of rain. Registered by Air OP. Received CB fire from enemy at 1600. Six men wounded, 2 concussions. Considerable interdiction fired during the night.
NOVEMBER 23rd Some enemy shelling - intermittent rain all day. 2 EM wounded.
NOVEMBER 24th Overhead enemy fire during the day. Determined enemy guns were 105 and 170 mm. Under enemy CB three times during the day. No casualties. -Still raining.
NOVEMBER 25th - Quiet day - very little enemy fire - just a few rounds at a time -evidently adjustments. We did considerable harrassing and CB firing during day. Still rainy.
NOVEMBER 26th - Very quiet day. Rain stopped. We did considerable CB fire.
NOVEMBER 27th - First day of two days of hell. Received enemy shelling three (3) times. Considerable damage. Six (6) wounded. Gave the Germans four for one in return though. Weather clear.
NOVEMBER 28th - Worst day to date. Four times under fire. Estimate about 250 rounds of enemy shells landed in the area, of about 500 yds. square. Jerry makes initial adjustment with 4 or 5 rounds (may be high burst) then about an hour later lets go with 40 to 60 rounds mixed 105 and 170 mm stuff. He seems to fire only once from any position and does very little firing at night. Most of his fire is from 1200 to 1800. We give it right back though. S-2 can do a lot of good with prompt shelling reports. Damage 4 vehicles, kitchen equipment, water trailer. Six wounded - one killed. EM killed was believed to have been hit by fragments of 210 mm How- All of the wounded have been caught out of slit trenches and are leg wounds. Mud has been our salvation. Beginning to think it better to place guns in open fields away from trees due to shells bursting in them.
NOVEMBER 29th - Skies overcast. No enemy fire until 1720 when we received about 75 rounds - mostly over in range. One (1) wounded, not serious. Believe error in the enemies range due to lack of adjustment. We did usual CB and harassing fire.
NOVEMBER 30th - Cloudy. Light enemy shelling. We continued our CB and harassing fire. During period 19 November to 30 November, 1943 (Incl.) we fired 167 missions and a total of 4894 rounds. We've had one EM killed. One officer and 19 EM wounded and three EM evacuated due to concussion. We have been shelled intensively by the enemy nine (9) times with an estimated total of 500 rounds. in the area, besides numerous stray rounds. The functioning of the firing batteries, the ammunition train, the communications and CP personnel and medical detachment, in fact all units were superior and the stamina, morale and guts shown by all men in this hot and exposed position is worthy of the highest commendation.
1 DECEMBER to 31 DECEMBER, 1943 (Incl.)
This month was marked by rain and mud. There were 13 days of rain and 10 days cloudy to partly cloudy
DECEMBER 1st - In position (106073). Supported attack on San Pietro.
DECEMBER 2nd and 3rd - Heavy firing during night in preparation for attack on Camino-Magorrie hill mass. Fired over 2,000 rounds during period. Our heaviest firing -also heaviest we've ever seen. Attack is successful which is a great relief to us as we were under direct observation from the hills.
DECEMBER 4th - Heavy rains - a few enemy shells landed in position of which about 30 per cent were duds.
DECEMBER 5th to 10th - Quiet spell. Fired a few harassing missions. Weather unsettled. No enemy shelling of any consequence.
DECEMBER 11th - Some enemy air activity - no rain.
DECEMBER 12th - Caught enemy truck column at BP - 4 vehicles left burning. Chaplain held services this AM. He is doing an excellent job.
DECEMBER 13th to 15th - Weather generally clear. Some enemy air activity -FW 190's. A few shells in area - about 60 percent duds. One (1) FW 190 shot down on the 15th about 500 yards from A Battery.
DECEMBER 16th - Our infantry takes Lungo and Pietro.
DECEMBER 17th to 19th - Made reconnaissance of area vicinity of Lungo for positions.
December 20th and 21st - Made reconnaissance in vicinity of Mignano - located positions at (G982097) - will move on orders. Period was quiet.
DECEMBER 22nd to 24th - Made reconnaissance area (G982097). Moved during the 23rd and 24th. Very rainy and muddy and some difficulty was encountered in moving.
DECEMBER 25th - Christmas Day. A good turkey dinner - sunshine at noon - rain at night.
DECEMBER 26th to 29th Italian weather. Rain one day - clear the next. No activities of note.
DECEMBER 30th and 31st The old Year, 1943, went out like a lion - cold, blustery north wind with lots of rain.
December was generally a miserable month - very sloppy - however its been easier on us from the stand point of enemy fire. Everyone enjoyed a good Christmas. Lots of packages and mail and a good dinner. Morale is good and all are in the best of spirits and health. Have fired over 12,000 rounds in Italian campaign. Have been overseas 101~ months and 80 days in combat including Sicily. Here's to a winning 1944 - and then HOME.
INVASION OF ANZIO
1 JANUARY to 31 JANUARY, 1944 (Incl.)
JANUARY 1st to 9th - Battalion was in position 1 mile southwest of Mignano, Italy. This period was marked by cold and rainy weather with snow on the mountain and comparatively little activity. We fired in excess of 2,000 rounds supporting the push on Mt. Poncie and Avara. There was also some air activity and some light shelling in the battery areas. In addition some anti-personnel mines were dropped in the area. On the 7th we received note that the battalion would be withdrawn from the front for a special mission. Orders were received relieving the battalion from attachment to the II Corps and attaching it to the VI Corps as of 0001 January 9th. We moved to the rest area during January 9.
JANUARY 10th to 22nd - This period was spent in the bivouac area near Afragola, Italy, reorganizing for an invasion. The vehicles were sent to the waterproofing area on the 20til. During our stay here we had occasion to see two movie celebrities, Humphrey Bogart and Joe E. Brown, as well as two Italian stage shows and three movies. On the 22nd we received march order.
JANUARY 23rd - The Battalion (less C Battery and rear elements of Hq. Battery) left the area at 0130 and arrived at Staging Area #1 in Bagnoli at 0430. Vehicles started loading on Berth #368 at 1100. Men arrived at docks at 1710 and were loaded on LST #361 by 1800.
JANUARY 24th and 25th - We left harbor at 0001. The weather was windy and sea rough causing considerable sea sickness. We anchored off Anzio at 1630 but spent the night aboard ship. There were four air raids during the night, including one severe one at 0200. We started in at 0330 and docked at 0630. We unloaded at 0630, assembled, and de-waterproofed in Anzio. The Battalion was ordered to support the Rangers and at 0800 the Batteries moved to position 865-237. There was considerable air activity over the area throughout the day and some intermittent shelling during the night - 10 rounds, 170 mm.
JANUARY 26th - 8 JUR8's were over the area at 1800, 4 of which were shot down. At 2400 B Battery moved to new position (870-266).
JANUARY 27th - A Battery moved forward at 0820. A reconnaissance was made for new CP position but none found available in the recommended area.
JANUARY 28th - The remainder of the battalion landed.
JANUARY 29th - We were cautioned to be on the lookout for enemy paratroopers in the event of attack by Armored units. At 1600 AT Platoon moved forward to position (894-293). The Battalion was ordered to reinforce the 3rd Div. in the position near (976-234). At 1630 the Batteries moved forward and all guns were in position by 2400. Parts of operations and wire sections plus 4 vehicles from A & B Batteries remained in old position.
JANUARY 30th and 31st - The night of the 30th and 31st was a quiet one. On the 31st word was received of the attack on Cisterno. At 1800 the AT Platoon moved to position (008245). We were subjected to some light harassing fire from 88 mm guns - about 20 rounds. We expended 1010 rounds in supporting the attack on Cisterno.
After 51 days on the 5th Army front in the vicinity of Magnano, we were given 13 days of rest. We then landed the Anzio invasion and a chance to work with our old friends, the Rangers, and the 3rd Div. All in all, it was a full month of considerable satisfaction derived out of knowing that a hard job was well done. The morale is still high and efficiency excellent.
George R. Quarles
1st BATTALION, 77th FIELD
At 1100, 23 January, 1944, C Battery and the ammunition train of Service Battery, under the command of Maj. Blood, was alerted to move to the Naples Dock Area and report to berth #500 for embarkation, leaving the bivouac area at 1300.
Upon arrival at the dock, we learned that 500 was not allotted to us, but the officer at the berth tried to load us anyway, with no success. Our trucks were not in this area, and upon contacting the port TQM, found that he did not know where the trucks were, but after a check over the phone, contended the trucks were at the Palace at Caserta.
Maj. Blood, though he was sure-the TQM was wrong, went to Caserta to check and could not locate the trucks, nor anyone who had any idea where the assembly area was.
After returning to the dock area and the TQM office he was told that no berth had been assigned the group as yet, but they still did not know where the trucks were. However, a colored sergeant standing there very obligingly pointed out the area and route to it on the map. Consequently after three hours the Major was able to locate the trucks and assemble trucks and personnel in the same area.
The night of the 23rd and 24th were spent in the assembly area. At 1130 24 January, the Major received orders to move to the dock area at 1300 and load on LST #11.
Trucks and personnel left the assembly area at 1300 and began embarking at 1400. The LST had been shot up on the preceding trip and had to undergo repairs to water lines, electric lines, and hull before sailing so the ship did not put out to sea until 0700, 25 January.
After sailing to the LST assembly point, the ship was held until late afternoon when it joined a convoy. Received a storm warning but proceeded.
Heavy weather was encountered during the night of the 25th and 26th and progress was very slow. An LST rammed us at 0600, 26 January, but no major damage was done outside of the loss of our small boat. In the late afternoon we reached a point off Anzio and stood off because no landing could be made in the heavy sea. At least half of the men aboard were seasick
The night of the 26th and 27th, we stood off from the harbor and on the morning of 27 January, were called in to an anchorage where we spent the whole day dodging air raiders. There were some near misses, but no damage.
At 0400, 28 January, we finally docked and unloaded trucks and men. Maj. Blood called the VI Corps Arty, Sec. and reported by telephone. Trucks were moved to the de-waterproofing area and on to an assembly area where we were attacked from the air twice without damage.
C Battery and the ammunition train moved to the area occupied by Service Battery, 1st Battalion. 77th FA at 1000 and joined the rest of the battalion.
Reuben S. Blood
FEBRUARY 1st to-23rd, 1944 (Incl.)
During the above period, the battalion took part in the operations on the Anzio Beachhead. The battalion was initially attached to the 3rd Infantry Division Artillery reinforcing the division fires. It was relieved from attachment to the 3rd Infantry Division Artillery and attached to the 35th Field Artillery Group (4 February to 23 February, incl.) and moved into new positions on 031600. The Battalion was now in defensive positions for the first time in combat. There was considerable enemy air activity during this period. Enemy artillery was generally light and scattered. Our OP's did excellent work throughout the period, and a very large percentage of our fire was observed and adjusted by them. A number of enemy tanks and armored vehicles were neutralized by our fires. Heavy losses were inflicted on enemy personnel by carefully adjusted fire.
On 16 February 1944, a Company of enemy infantry was caught with time fire and destroyed. On 19 February 1944, four tanks were knocked out with observed fire.
The weather for the period was generally fair with cool and frosty nights -some light showers.
This is the last report of the 1st Battalion, 77th FA Regt, as the battalion is to be redesignated and reorganized as the 634th FA Battalion, effective 24 February 1944.
634th FA BATTALION
This is the first narrative report of this unit after reorganization and redesignation. The battalion is in position on the Anzio Beachhead, attached to the VI Corps and sub-attached to the 35th Field Artillery Group. The mission is reinforcing the fires of the 3rd Infantry Division Artillery and in general support of the VI Corps front.
On the 24th of February, the battalion was bombed, and there were some casualties. On the 29th of February, the battalion took an active part in stopping the attack of the German forces. On this date, over 2500 rounds were fired - a major portion of them observed by our OP's. Fifteen tanks were taken under fire, five of which were destroyed. Numerous enemy artillery pieces were neutralized, and very heavy concentrations were laid down on enemy infantry advancing in the open, effectively aiding in halting the attack.
Since the battalion has entered combat, both as the 1st Battalion, 77th FA Regt. and the 634th FA Battalion, we have fired in excess of 33,000 rounds.
Weather generally clear with warm days and cool nights.
1 MARCH to 31 MARCH, 1944 (Incl.)
Operations presented no changes from the previous month as the battalion spent the entire period in position and made no movements. The weather was generally good with periods of two to three days of cold and rainy weather. Periods of fair weather gradually became longer. The wind was generally from the north. During the period six per cent of the command were casualties from enemy action, due entirely to enemy shellfire. Eight per cent of the command was hospitalized due to illness; the majority of the illness due to fevers of influenza type.
The Battalion was shelled extensively the first 15 days of the month with approximately 1,000 rounds falling in the area, but fire fell off greatly towards the last of the period - numerous days passing without a shell falling in the area. There was a noticeable increase in heavier calibers, and the majority of shells are now 150 mm with few if any of smaller caliber. Air activity was sporadic, generally about 0700 or 1800 hours with no low flying or strafing planes or bombing in the area.
Experiments were conducted with M116 smoke shell (BE) using various fuzes, and the shell was found to be inadequate for our use. No new methods of fire were developed. Jerry used a trick once of shelling in the area heavily with SP at night and following up with bombing, using the light of the bursting smoke shells as markers; otherwise no new developments were noted in enemy tactics and methods. With the increase of caliber in enemy shells, it was noted that a larger majority of the shells were low order or delay fuze bursts.
This Battalion has fired 48,116 rounds in the Italian campaign to date. During the period covered by this report, we have fired 654 missions, 297 of them observed and a total of 11,917 rounds expended.
1 APRIL to 30 APRIL, 1944 (Incl.)
The month of April was marked by much improved weather, being considerably warmer and drier than previous months, with the ground drying up very fast. Visibility was improved over March. Enemy activity showed no major change from March, being confined to small-scale attacks, but the counter-battery fire did increase and there was more air activity over the forward areas.
During the period the battalion gun area received approximately 800 rounds of counter-battery fire in twenty (20) different concentrations. Enemy airplanes were over the area twelve (12) times and dropped only flares. Bombs were dropped three (3) times during three (3) of the raids. All were at night. Three guns were destroyed by enemy gunfire, all in Battery "B".
In all we fired during the period 628 missions, 255 of which were observed and a total of 14,997 rounds. Total missions to 30 April 1944 is 2,561 (Italian campaign) with a total of 64,415 rounds. No difficulties have developed in the Ml Howitzer, and over 5,000 rounds have been fired from each piece.
Casualties during April: Killed in Action five (5), Wounded in Action twelve (12). Total Anzio Beachhead: Killed in Action thirteen (13), Wounded in Action thirty-six (36). Morale excellent. (A temporary deterioration of morale is noted in Battery "B", due to the high number of casualties.)
The organization during this period received counter-battery fire of caliber up to 210 mm. Some 155 mm French noted. Most counter-battery was of 155 mm caliber.
This Battalion has occupied the same positions for 88 days and has been in action for 99 days on the Anzio Beachhead. Total combat days to date: 189 days.
1 MAY to 31 MAY, 1944 (Incl.)
The first 22 days were a continuation of the defensive operations of the past three months. The battalion suffered usual counter-battery fire with a noticeable falling off during the later part of the period. Preparations were being made for offensive action and on the 23rd preparation fires were laid down prior to the jump off. The battalion supported the 1st Armored Division in the first phase, and on the 24th the battalion moved to new positions for ward, the first movement in 111 days a record of continuous occupation of position.
The battalion finished the period occupying positions in the vicinity of Valletri, the breakthrough being a success. During the period the battalion fired 568 unobserved and 149 observed missions, a total of 717, and 20,587 rounds for a grand total of 85,286 rounds. Losses during the period were two'(2) guns due to enemy artillery and one (1) Enlisted Man killed, and 13 wounded. The guns of the battalion are in generally poor shape and are about worn out averaging over 7,000 rounds each. Weather during the period was generally fair and warmer.
1 JUNE to 12 JUNE, 1944, (Incl.)
This period was marked by rapid movement against a retreating enemy.
JUNE 1st - In position five (5) miles west of Cisterna, a quiet day marked by the capture of Velletri.
JUNE 2nd - Enemy air bombardment during early hours, no casualties or damage. Displaced during day to positions on east edge of Velletri.
JUNE 3rd - No activity; very little artillery action.
JUNE 4th - Displaced forward to vicinity of Nemi on top of mountain at 0001. Displaced again at 1900 to position two miles southeast of Rome on Rome-Frascatti road.
JUNE 5th - This was without a doubt the biggest day of our combat tour. March ordered at 0300 and loaded vehicles with infantry from the 143rd Infantry Regiment and started through Rome and crossed Tiber River on the Ponte Littorio -first troops across this bridge -- a really triumphant entry. It took hours to get through the crowds that had formed. Went into position one (1) mile northwest of the Vatican City. No firing.
JUNE 6th - March ordered (less Service Battery) at 1500 and moved to bivouac area about 12 miles northwest of Rome. Started on reconnaissance for forward positions at 2000. On reconnaissance all night.
JUNE 7th - Battalion moved forward at 0800 and into positions about 2 miles south of Lake Bracciano. Released from the 36th Infantry Division Artillery at 1200 noon and went into rendezvous.
JUNE 8th Moved into bivouac on south shore of Lake Bracciano near Anguillara Sabazia. Service Battery (less Ammo Train) still one mile northwest of Vatican City.
JUNE 9th 10th - No change.
JUNE 11th Battalion (less Service Battery) moved into rest area with VI Corps Artillery Headquarters two miles west of Maccarese on the coast.
JUNE 12th - Service Battery joined the battalion. Entire battalion now at rest.
George R. Quarles
INVASION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE
1 AUGUST to 31 AUGUST, 1944 (Incl.)
1. August 1st and 2nd were spent in preparation for the proposed operation in Southern France and vehicles used in the "Shamrock" training operations were re-waterproofed and loaded on LCT 222.
2. The period August 3rd through the 6th was spent in final preparation for loading of LCI's and other ocean going vessels. The final briefing of Battery Commanders and other key personnel was also accomplished.
3. On the 7th the battalion Commander attended the final briefing by VI Corps and 3rd Division Commanding Generals and their staffs. The same day recon personnel were loaded on LCT 222, which remained in the harbor off Baia, Italy, until the afternoon of the 9th, when the slow convoy put out to sea.
4. During the period 8th through the 14th LCI's and larger craft loaded and proceeded towards Southern France. Personnel aboard LCT 222 were allowed to go ashore for a swim and other exercise on both the 13th and 14th while the LCT convoy lay at anchor in Jacchio Harbor, Corsica. Late afternoon of the 14th the LCT's put out to sea. LCI's carrying personnel and equipment of B and C Batteries arrived in Jacchio Harbor and lay at anchor all day leaving late in the afternoon. Other elements of the convoy did not stop enroute. Heavy seas and rain made the day of the 8th and the night of the 8th and 9th very uncomfortable for the personnel on the LCT. Rations were very poor, but due to the cooperation of Ensign Winters, the skipper of LCT 222, rations were supplemented to some extent, which was indeed a great help to the Army personnel aboard. Overcrowding (74 officers and men) also added to the discomfort endured during the nine days spent aboard. Some of the men aboard liberty ships though aboard for as long as 28 days had nothing but C rations.
5. The convoy arrived off the beaches early on the morning of the 15th and proceeded on schedule to the landing points but due to the existence of a sand bar just off the beach, landing was slowed to the point that LCT 222 scheduled to unload at 1000B did not beach until 1700B. Other craft were also delayed and final complete organization ashore was not accomplished until 2400B. At this time elements of Hq Battery, B Battery, C Battery and Ammo train 634th FA Battalion and C Battery 36th FA Battalion were assembled and prepared to fire. However, the advance inshore had been so rapid, that an immediate move had to be made in order to reach targets.
At 2115 hrs, B Battery 634th FA Battalion plus one platoon of C Battery 36th FA Battalion were ordered forward to reinforce the fires of the 10th FA Battalion in position about three miles west of La Mole, France. B Battery arrived in position at 2300 B but C Battery 36th FA Battalion was halted enroute and relieved from attachment.
6. On the 16th at 0800 C Battery and Hq Battery 634th FA Battalion moved to the vicinity of B Battery's position. Registration was accomplished through the 10th FA Battalion and one concentration of 114 rounds was fired on enemy assembling for a counterattack. Effect was evidently good, as the attack did not develop.
7. During the period of Aug. 17th through 19th everything was very quiet. The Battalion supported the 10th and 39th FA Battalions and outside of a couple of registrations didn't fire a round. Battery A joined the battalion in position 3 miles west of St. Anastasia at 1800 on the 18th and went into position. Major Sims, the battalion Executive also reported at 1330 on the same date, having been unable to get ashore until then. Attachment to 6th Armored FA Group came on the 18th though the battalion was left in support of the 39th FA Battalion.
8. The 6th Armored FA Group became attached to Army B (French) on the 20th and the battalion was ordered by the Group Commander to occupy positions in the vicinity of Cuers, France. Here the battalion began its part of the siege of Toulon. The situation was very obscure when the battalion reconnoitered and occupied positions; one German machine gun nest was located about 600 yards in front of A Battery's position and mopped up by French Infantry. The Battalion recon party had previously gone beyond and in full view of the machine gun crew, but had received no fire. Registration was accomplished and a few rounds of light caliber counter-battery fell about 200 yards forward of C Battery position. Due to C Battery's exposed location it was moved to the east and placed behind better defilade as the enemy had excellent observation of the battalion area.
9. Considerable firing on enemy batteries both FA and AA on the 21st. No counter-battery was received and both air and ground OPs picked up several enemy battery locations on which the battalion -fired. Those out of range or sectors were fired on by the 36th FA Battalion which was in position about 1500 yards to our rear. Excellent results were reported by both our observers and the French.
10. Still firing into the area east and northeast of Toulon on the 22nd with the bulk of fire on enemy batteries. B Battery was moved to a new position ahead of C Battery to increase their range. No counter-battery. 280 rounds fired during this 24 hour period. The Battalion was hooked into the FDC of the 3rd Battalion DIC (French 105 Battalion) to give them what assistance it could, but the French moved later in the day and contact with them was lost.
11. On the morning of the 23rd, the battalion recon party left to select positions in the vicinity of Le Plan, France. The valley to the east of Le Plan proved to be heavily mined so positions were selected just south of Le Plan and the battalion moved in just before dark. One gun from C Battery had gone into position early to register but smoke and haze obscured the target area preventing observation so no registration was made. The batteries were layed to cover the peninsula just west of Toulon where the final resistance existed. No firing during the remainder of the period.
12. The 24th started off with the capture of 23 enemy personnel by B Battery's OP detail when they occupied their OP. Registration was made and enemy batteries and forts taken under fire. Major Fourier of the Regiment de Chineiers d'Afrique visited the CP and complimented us very highly on our firing in support of his unit and informed us of the location of known enemy installations.
13. Still in position below Le Plan on the 25th and firing on forts and enemy batteries. Several of the forts surrendered or set times for surrender late in the period. The Battalion fired 507 rounds up to 1600B. After this pounding Fort 64 decided to surrender the next morning and transmitted this request through the Swiss Emissary working in conjunction with the French.
While changing OP's Lt. Lash and Cpl. Scott encountered enemy troops and in the ensuing skirmish Lt. Lash was wounded in the arm and both he and Cpl. Scott captured. In the meantime the German Colonel who commanded the isolated pocket was captured by members of the 1st FOB and decided to order his men to surrender which they did thus releasing the two prisoners. When the prisoners were counted there were 74 including the Colonel and a Captain. Lt. Lash was the first casualty the battalion had suffered since landing.
During the day the French reported the following results of one of the battalion concentrations: three enemy guns knocked out, the German Colonel commanding several batteries wounded, 12 enlisted men wounded, 10 killed and 100 surrendered.
14. Saturday the 26th was very quiet with practically no firing. Negotiations were in progress for the surrender of additional strong points isolated on the peninsula.
15. The 27th was another quiet day. Late in the afternoon gun batteries were displaced forward to enable them to cover the island of St. Mandrier occupied by the enemy who intended to hold out as long as possible because they could dominate the harbor entrance with their 240 mm guns. However, the batteries did not fire as the Emissary was again in contact with the German garrison and eventually secured their promise to surrender at 0800 the following morning.
16. At 0800 August 28th the garrison on St. Mandrier Island surrendered. Prisoners taken numbered 1800 enlisted men, 75 officers and one Admiral. Thus ended the resistance in and around Toulon. At 1800 the 6th Armored FA Group was detached from Army B (French) and Attached to 3rd Inf. Div. (American).
17. Movement of the battalion to Avignon was accomplished on the 29th. Some difficulty was encountered in the fording of the Durance River just south of Avignon. A pontoon bridge in place there would not carry the heavy vehicles or guns so most of the battalion had to ford. After much winching the battalion got across. Light vehicles were held up in the use of the bridge by very poor traffic control by the French MF's. Civilian traffic was allowed to monopolize the one way bridge. Crossing from the north side of the river, pedestrians, bicyclists and private automobiles were allowed to cross as fast as they approached while military traffic was held up on the south side of the river in a column approximately two miles long. After taking the control into our own hands we managed to get all of the light vehicles across. The Battalion bivouaced one-half mile southwest of Bedarrides, France, for the night.
18. Wednesday, the 30th, the battalion moved to a bivouac area just north of Allan, France, about 10 miles southeast of Montelimar. The Battalion was just a day too late to get in on the kill along Highway 7 in and north of Montelimar, which irked us considerably.
19. A quartering party was ordered forward to the vicinity of Voiron, France, on the 31st and the battalion was to remain in bivouac until the following day when movement would be made to the Voiron area.
20. Good weather prevailed throughout August with only occasional rain. The temperature was warm and no extremely high winds occurred. Air OP's were very helpful not only in locating targets but also in reconnaissance beyond front lines in search of evidence as contact was hard to maintain. No serious failures in material. Gasoline supply was very limited. Rations for the month were types K, C and 10-in-1.
Morale of the members of this Battalion is very high and they take great pride in their success in overcoming the enemy artillery at Toulon.
Reuben S. Blood
1 SEPTEMBER to 30 SEPTEMBER, 1944 (Incl.)
SEPTEMBER 1st - The battalion moved out at 1600 hours with orders to contact the billeting party in the vicinity of Voiron, France, and after considerable trouble with congested traffic arrived at Voiron, but could not contact the forward party. While the battalion was enroute the billeting party had been given further instructions to locate an area in the vicinity of Bourgoin and had proceeded to the new location instructing the MPs enroute to direct the battalion, which they did. At 2330 hours the battalion arrived at Bourgoin to find that it was attached to the 39th FA for a further move to a position near Lagnieu. This move was accomplished after the 39th FA had cleared and the battalion arrived in position two miles north of Lagnieu at 0430 hours 2 September. Total distance traveled -157 miles.
SEPTEMBER 2nd - At 1800 hours the Battalion Commander received orders from the CO 6th Armored FA Group to place Battery "A" in position to support the 160th FA Battalion of the 45th Division. At 1830 the battery displaced and occupied a position six miles west of Lagnieu. No firing by the battalion during the period, however reports of tanks to the west of us kept coming in, but no locations within range. Rained practically all day.
SEPTEMBER 3rd - A quiet day as far as firing was concerned. At 1600 hours Lt. Col. Quarles, who had been hospitalized since late June, returned to the battalion. The Battalion was also relieved from attachments to the 3rd and 45th Infantry Divisions and placed under control of the 6th Armored FA Group. Clear weather gave everyone a chance to dry out.
SEPTEMBER 4th - Lt. Col. Quarles resumed command of the battalion. Another quiet day.
SEPTEMBER 5th - The Battalion Commander went forward to reconnoiter an area in the vicinity of Salins de Bains. Due to the fact that 18 of the battalion's trucks were transporting Infantry forward it became necessary to shuttle the battalion on future moves until the trucks returned. Orders were received to move the following morning.
SEPTEMBER 6th - On the 6th, 7th and 8th, the battalion moved by shuttling. Hq Battery and Battery "A" were moved to the new location on the 6th and arrived near Marnoz in the vicinity of Salins-de-Bains at 1300. Battery "B", Service Battery and the Medical Detachment were moved to the same location on the 7th, and Battery "C" on the 8th. Reconnaissance was made for a displacement toward Besancon, France, and the battalion prepared to move the next day.
SEPTEMBER 9th - The Battalion moved to a bivouac area near Arguel just southeast of Besancon and had just arrived when orders were received to move to the vicinity of Braillans just north of Besancon to support the 3rd Infantry Division. After arriving in this location the battalion was ordered into position just east-of Misery and went into this position at 2000B hours. No missions fired.
SEPTEMBER 10th - The Battalion (less Service Battery) displaced to Traitiefontaine, just east of Rioz, where it was placed in general support of the 3rd Infantry Disivion, reinforcing the fires of the 41st FA Battalion. Positions were occupied at 1400 and a total of 55 rounds were fired at enemy personnel and a registration.
SEPTEMBER 11th - Relieved from support of the 41st FA Battalion and placed in support of, the 10th FA Battalion. Battalion displaced forward to Aubertans, France, and occupied positions at 1200B. Battery "A" was placed in support of the 10th FA Battalion and displaced to a position just west of Sorans at 1530 B and fired through the 10th's FDC. At 1800B the remainder of the battalion displaced to vicinity of Filain, France. Very quiet day.
SEPTEMBER 12th The Battalion received orders for all batteries to support the 41st FA Battalion and was joined by Service Battery, which was moved up from Misery.
SEPTEMBER 13th - One platoon of Battery "A", 441st AAA was attached. After reconnoitering for positions the battalion, less Service Battery, moved to Les Faty, and was in position at 1600. No firing during the period.
SEPTEMBER 14th - Back to reinforcing the fires of the 10th FA Battalion. At 1600 a 120 round preparation was fired for the 30th Infantry and due to a threat of counterattack, the battalion did not move as planned, but remained in position until 1945B when it displaced to the vicinity of Lievans and was in position at 2030.
SEPTEMBER 15th - A total of 314 rounds was fired on the 15th in support of the 30th Infantry during the last 24-hour period. No change in position.
SEPTEMBER 16th - Still firing for the 10th FA Battalion and during this 24-hour period fired 114 rounds on targets to the west of Lure. At 1840 the battalion displaced to the vicinity of Genevreuille, France, was in position at 1915B.
SEPTEMBER 17th - A very quiet day outside of a little excitement in Battery "C" at about 0500B when a German corporal was finally run down in the battery area after a very hot foot race in which Lt. Kidd the Battery Executive joined clan in his shorts and barefooted. The German turned out to be an Artillery FO and had a sending key on his person. One of the several rounds fired at him penetrated both sinuses and he was unconscious when evacuated. TNT blocks and an ignition device was also found on his person. At 1300 Battery "B" was moved to a position ill' the vicinity of Bouhans-les-Lure and tied in with the FDC of the 39th FA Battalion.
SEPTEMBER 18th - After reconnaissance in the morning, the battalion (less Battery "B") displaced to positions in the vicinity of Magny Vernoie. In moving into position, the #1 prime mover ' of Battery "C" ran over a mine. One Enlisted Man was killed and five were wounded.
1 OCTOBER to 31 OCTOBER, 1944 (Incl.)
The period was marked by increasingly bad weather and difficult operating conditions. Continued rains with swollen streams combined with mud, made operations off of roads very difficult. The Battalion made three moves during the month advancing approximately 15,000 yards. No casualties occurred during the month.
Major Blood, Battalion Executive, was relieved from assignment and joined the 141st Field Artillery Battalion assuming command. Major Sims assumed the duties of Executive Officer. Two new officers joined the battalion during the period. Major Sims was awarded the Legion of Merit, and Major Blood the Bronze Star. The Battalion remained attached to the 6th Field Artillery Group and in support of the Third Division. A Battalion Rest Center was opened at Bourbonne in cooperation with the 6th FA Group.
No new operating methods were developed. Experiments were carried out with Smoke-HE shells and results were unsatisfactory. Developments were continued with Shell M102 (1918) for High Angle fire. There was no air activity of note. No counter-battery fire was received. The health of the command was good. Morale excellent.
1 NOVEMBER to 30 NOVEMBER, 1944 (Incl.)
The month was marked by the breakthrough of the Vosges Mountain line into the valley of the Rhine River in spite of continuous bad weather and difficult terrain. The Battalion was in position in the vicinity of les Rouges Eaux. No changes occurred during-the first 14 days of the month. On 9 November, 1st Lt. Donald L. Parrack, and Pfc. Theodore J. Junka, Battery "A", were injured by mortar fire on the OP. Reconnaissance was also made on this date for positions for two batteries to support the 103rd Division in their attack to take the high ground south of St. Die. On 13 November the #4 gun of Battery "B" fired the 100,000th round in combat in World War II. Pictures were taken and the lanyard was pulled by Brigadier General Baehr, VI Corps Artillery Commander. On 14 November, 1st Sgt. Cecil P. Baker, Battery "B", was wounded while on the OP. On the 15 November batteries YB" and "C" moved forward to new positions to reinforce the fires of the 103rd Infantry Division Artillery.
NOVEMBER 16th - Reconnaissance was made for positions in the vicinity of St. Remy, to support the 3rd Infantry Division in the crossing of the Meurthe River.
NOVEMBER 17th - S/Sgt. Jesse B. Thompson, Battery "A", lost a foot due to shumines while sweeping new positions.
NOVEMBER 18th - Battalion returned to reinforcing the fires of the 3rd Division for the drive across the Meurthe and displaced to positions in the vicinity of la Rappe during the night.
NOVEMBER 19th - The 1st platoon, Battery "C", 431st AAA attached to the battalion. Preparations made for supporting fires.
NOVEMBER 20th - The 3rd Infantry Division jumped off in a crossing that was to break the German winter Vosges line. One EM killed and two wounded in Battery "B" due to friendly TD fire.
NOVEMBER 21st - The river crossing being successful, the battalion march ordered to move forward across the Meurthe River.
NOVEMBER 22nd - The Battalion crossed the Meurthe River and after being held up by bad traffic jams went into position in the vicinity of la Chapelle at 1400A.
NOVEMBER 23rd - Thanksgiving and plenty of turkey - reconnaissance completed for movement forward during the morning, and the battalion moved to new positions vicinity of au Renclos during the afternoon.
NOVEMBER 24th - Reconnaissance made for possible positions vicinity of Saulxures.
NOVEMBER 25th - Reconnaissance completed for movement to positions in the vicinity of Champenay during the morning, and in the afternoon the battalion moved forward crossing the border into Alsace and the top of the pass through the Vosges Mountains. Battalion now in what Hitler classed as the Reich.
NOVEMBER 26th - Reconnaissance made for positions in the vicinity of Heiligenberg during the morning. During the afternoon the battalion reached the entrance to the valley of the Rhine River.
NOVEMBER 27th - Battalion march ordered. Reconnaissance made for positions in the vicinity of Graffenstaden. The Battalion displaced at dusk and went into position southeast of Graffenstaden about 2100A - the CP in Graffenstaden and the firing batteries occupving some of the old French Maginot Line forts. We are now in position to fire over the Rhine River into Germany proper.
NOVEMBER 28th - The first round was fired into Germany proper today. At 0900A the third section of Battery "C" fired one round into a town across the Rhine. In accordance with a long standing promise made two years back the lanyard was pulled by Captain Persing, thus the battalion claims to have fired the first round across the Rhine. The 3rd Division Artillery did-not fire until 9035A. This point will be long contested.
NOVEMBER 29th - The day was spent in cleaning and maintenance of vehicles, small arms and guns.
NOVEMBER 30th - Continued maintenance. Battalion now keeping the "Watch on the Rhine."
During this month the battalion fired 168 missions, 4,733 rounds. Since entering combat in five (5) campaigns the battalion has fired 102,548 rounds.
During the month 1st Lt. Gordon F. Sandefur was awarded the Air Medal and Lt. Col. George R. Quarles was awarded the Legion of Merit. The Battalion has now completed 338 days in actual combat as follows: Sicily - 39, Naples - 51, Anzio-Rome - 140, France and Germany - 108.
1 DECEMBER to 31 DECEMBER, 1944 (Incl.)
The month was marked by the drive north to the German border south of Karlsruhe and the actual entering of German soil by the battalion. At the start of the period the battalion was in position south of Strasbourg near Graffenstaden and reinforcing the fires of the 3rd Infantry Division, protecting the right flank of the Seventh Army.
At the Rhine River considerable necessary maintenance was performed on vehicles and other equipment. An inspection found the battalion to be in excellent shape despite the fact that many of the vehicles were over 18 months old and had been in continuous use in five campaigns.
DECEMBER 5th - The Battalion was relieved from attachment to the 6th Field Artillery Group and ordered to make reconnaissance north for the drive to take Hagenau.
DECEMBER 6th - The Battalion was reattached to the 6th Field Artillery Group and made reconnaissance and occupied positions in the vicinity of Batzendorf, reinforcing the fires of the 79th Infantry Division in preparation for the division's drive on Hagenau. This is our initial introduction to the 79th Infantry Division and it's like losing an old friend to part with the 3rd Infantry Division.
DECEMBER 7th - OP's were established. Service Battery moved up and preparations were made for our part in the coming battle.
DECEMBER 8th - The Battalion was inspected by the VI Corps Inspector General's Department and found to be in excellent shape.
DECEMBER 9th - The push was started to take Hagenau, Bischweiller and to drive north along the Rhine to the German border.
DECEMBER 10th & 11th - The push continued with Hagenau being captured.
DECEMBER 12th - Reconnaissance was made and positions selected in the vicinity of Walbourg, but were not occupied.
DECEMBER 13th - Reconnaissance was made for positions in the vicinity of Koenigsbruck,- and the battalion displaced forward to occupy them. The Battalion is now reinforcing the 315th Combat Team of the 79th Infantry Division.
DECEMBER 14th - The Battalion displaced forward to positions selected in the vicinity of Wintzenbach. Battalion now firing into the famed Seigfried line.
DECEMBER 15th - Battery "A" was moved forward to area of Oberlauterbach.
DECEMBER 16th - Presentation of awards was made to members of the battalion by Brig. Gen. Baehr, VI Corps Artillery Commander.
DECEMBER 17th - Reconnaissance was made for positions across the Lauter River into Germany proper in preparation for the attack on the Seigfried line and one gun was moved forward to register.
DECEMBER 18th - No change in our situation. The Infantry is probing the Siegfried line and has found it tough. The front has become stabilized and due to the German counterattack on the American First Army front is apt to stay that way.
DECEMBER 19th - Battery "C" displaced to forward positions 200 yards short of the German border for counter-battery fire.
DECEMBER 20th - Captain Willis B. Lynch, Battalion S-3, promoted to the rank of Major.
DECEMBER 21st - Plans being made for defensive positions.
DECEMBER 22nd - Battery "C" pulled back to its original positions. The front is to become stabilized along the Lauter River.
DECEMBER 23rd - No material change in the situation.
DECEMBER 24th - Reconnaissance made for positions in the rear in preparation for the withdrawal to the Maginot line in case of large scale German attack. Lt. Col. Quarles, the battalion Commander, left for Bourbonne les Bains to eat Christmas dinner at the battalion rest camp.
DECEMBER 25th - MERRY CHRISTMAS -- Last year in the vicinity of Cassino in Italy; this year on the German border; next year???
DECEMBER 26th - The Battalion fired a counter ack-ack program for the XII TAC Air Force in Rastatt, Germany. Bombers reported no ack-ack interfered with the mission and the Commanding General, XII TAC Air Force thanked the battalion. The new "posit" fuse was used against enemy infantry with excellent results.
DECEMBER 27th - Reconnaissance was made for alternate positions and positions for attack.
DECEMBER 28th - BC call held and probable situations reviewed and plans drawn to cover all known probabilities.
DECEMBER 29th - Preparations made for a shoot with "Posit" fuse against dock and ferry installations in the vicinity of Karlsruhe. Battery "A" moved forward to positions 1,000 yards short of our outposts and at a pre-arranged time fired an arranged schedule on these installations then quickly withdrew to the rear. A Corps counter-battery program was fired to cover the withdrawal. As far as can be determined the shoot was successful.
DECEMBER 30th - Ten percent of the authorized strength were placed on Detached Service at the 2nd Replacement Depot for Infantry training.
DECEMBER 31st - NEW YEARS EVE -- The Battalion still in position near the German border. The weather has been colder during the month and the ground and streams are frozen over, the ground to the depth of about 15 inches and 5 inches of ice on the lakes. For the past 10 days it has been fairly clear permitting good air observation. The Battalion completed one year of actual combat on Christmas Day and has fired during the month 376 missions for a total of 6,109 rounds. Total rounds to date: 108,652.
1 January to 31 January 1945 (Incl.)
The period 1 January to 31 January 1945, inclusive, was notable for the first withdrawal of this Battalion in the face of superior enemy forces. This withdrawal was orderly with no losses in equipment or personnel.
January 1st - The Battalion was in position in the vicinity of Wintzenbach, France, firing into the outer works of the Seigfried line north of the Lauter River (the Franco-German border). During the day the battalion was alerted for possible withdrawal to previously reconnoitered positions back of the Maginot line fortifications. This was due to heavy German counterattacks on our left flank by the 21st and 25th Panzer Grenadier Divisions. The Battalion less Battery "C" was march ordered, and movement was ordered for 020200; Battery "C" was to follow after daylight, after first covering the withdrawal of other artillery elements on the front.
January 2nd - Withdrawal started at 0200 hours and was completed by Hqs, A and B at 0400. Reconnaissance was made for positions along the edge of the Vosges Mountains as a final defensive line. Battery "C" completed withdrawal at 2000 hours and the entire Battalion was in position in the vicinity of Schwabwiller with the MLR the outer defenses of the Maginot Line. Service Battery was moved to Romanswiller at the edge of the Vosges Mts.
January 3rd - The Battalion was ordered to withdraw further to positions in the vicinity of Batzendorf by infiltration. After about half of the battalion had moved orders were revoked and the battalion was ordered to reoccupy positions in the vicinity of Schwabwiller. The Battalion was completely in position by 1600.
January 4th - Reconnaissance was made for positions for Service Battery in the vicinity of Haguenau and during the night part of Service Battery was moved. Battery "C" moved forward 3000 yards to cover targets formerly out of our range.
January 5th - Remainder of Service Battery closed in Haguenau. Situation somewhat clarified.
January 6th - Reconnaissance made for positions in the vicinity of Bischwiller.
January 7th - Enemy tank fire forced our observers from the OP at Hoffen, but our OP was established at Rittershoffen. Five enemy tanks taken under fire and one was definitely destroyed.
January 8th - Heavy firing was continued during the day as the enemy pressed his attacks and at one place more than 100 enemy surrendered due directly to our artillery fire.
January 9th - Our OP at Hatten was forced to withdraw due to enemy tank attack, but the OP at Rittershoffen continued to fire effectively. On this day the enemy attacked with considerable armor in vicinity of Hatten-Rittershoffen. A cannon company of the 42nd Division was attached to the battalion after it had been cut off from its own unit. Two M12 guns were attached to the battalion for operations. During this day we fired 1007 rounds with the following effect: four tanks destroyed, fires started in enemy gun positions and numerous enemy personnel killed and vehicles destroyed.
January 10th - Enemy attack continued. The cannon company attached to the battalion was withdrawn. 850 rounds were fired on enemy positions and pill-boxes.
January 11th - Enemy attack continued during the day -- overrunning our OP at Rittershoffen and forcing the personnel. to withdraw. The enemy had penetrated our front during the night with a considerable number of tanks and infantry. Battery "C" was now in a position less than 2000 yards behind our front and exposed to enemy view; due to the confused and fluid situation it was with great difficulty that permission was granted to withdraw Battery "C" even through all the light artillery had withdrawn from in front of it and our tanks were firing from positions to the rear of the battery. At one time the battery was called upon to fire a concentration on enemy personnel. less than 3000 yards in front of them, using charge two -- the first time in over one year of combat a thing like that had happened. Battery "C" was finally displaced to positions in the vicinity of Surbourg. One man, Pvt. Mohr of Battery "C", was severely wounded during the day. One later died of wounds. 791 rounds were fired -mostly defensive.
January 12th - Generally a quiet day. Reconnaissance carried out for positions in the rear for future occupation. 907 rounds fired.
January 13th - Our first experience with the German ME 263 today. It is a jetpropelled plane -- very fast and difficult to pick up due to the lack of motor noise. It is commonly called a "blow job" by the soldiers. One man -- Sgt. Bowdre, Battery "A", was wounded by rocket fire from a ME 263, and another ME 263 bombed Schwabwiller hitting a building less than 100 yards from our CP, killing six men and wounding 30, not of this Battalion, however. An enemy strong point was completely destroyed by our fire during the day. A total of 635 rounds were fired.
January 14th - Reconnaissance made for positions in the vicinity of Wintersheim for possible further withdrawal. Day generally quiet.
January 15th - Enemy made heavy attacks against the Hatten-Rittershoffen area. A total of 1108 rounds fired.
January 16th - Generally a quiet day.
January 17th - Battery "B" moved to new location to the west of Schwabwiller during the day. This move was made due to the exposed location of the battery.
January 18th - Battery "A" displaced to positions near Surbourg during the day. This leaves the battalion CP in front of the batteries, not unusual though.
January 19th - Some harassing fire in Battery "A" area during the early morning.
January 20th - Due to the enemy bridgehead on our right flank a further withdrawal to the Haguenau line was indicated. Service Battery was ordered to withdraw to the Saverne area; the ammunition train was attached to Hqs Battery. At 1600 the Batallion (less Service & Battery "A") withdrew to Krautwiller-Brumath area. Battery "A" withdrew to positions in the vicinity of Hochstett. Battalion now firing into enemy bridgehead area. Today marked our second withdrawal; also the second anniversary of our departure from Camp Bowie to the New York Port of Embarkation.
January 21st - Battalion displaced north to previously reconnoitered positions in the vicinity of Wittersheim, again in support of the 79th Infantry Division, which has withdrawn to the Moder River line (Haguenau).
January 22nd - OP established in the church steeple at Wintershouse. Generally quiet. Enemy evidently caught off balance by our withdrawal.
January 23rd - Service Battery moved from Saverne to Zoebersdorf. A very quiet day.
January 24th - The quietest day of the month.
January 25th - Reconnaissance carried out for positions in the vicinity of Altdorf (Battle Positions #1). Considerable increase in our fire during the period. One enemy tank set on fire and two enemy gun positions taken under fire.
January 26th - The 101st Airborne Division is now on our left and we are now firing for both the 79th Infantry Division and the 101st A/B Division. Red Cross girls served doughnuts and coffee to the batteries.
January 27th - The Battalion shifted sectors and is now reinforcing the fires of the 101st A/B Division.
January 28th - Sunday - a very quiet day.
January 29th through January 31st - Front extremely quiet. Routine harassing fires were carried out.
The weather this month was generally cold and overcast with considerable snow in places. Roads are closed by drifts, and on the level the snow is about eight inches deep. The Battalion suffered several casualties and one death during the period. Numerous replacements have been received. We now have 402 days in combat and lack but seven days of having been overseas two years. During the month we fired 12,148 rounds -a major portion of the Corps total for 155 howitzers. To date we have fired 120,800 rounds in combat and have completed 402 combat days. All operations have been carried out successfully and in spite of the setbacks suffered by the withdrawal, the morale is excellent. Combat efficiency excellent.
1 February to 28 February, 1945 (Incl.)
During the period 1 February to 28 February 1945 inclusive, there were no major changes in the front or in the disposition of the battalion. At the beginning of the period, the battalion was reinforcing the fires of the 101st Airborne Division and the left half of the 79th Infantry Division sector. The Battalion (less Service Battery) was in a widely dispersed position about six miles WSW of Haguenau, France. Service Battery was billeted in the town of Zoebersdorf, France. One platoon of Battery "B" 463rd AAA was attached to the battalion. The Battalion remained attached to the 6th FA Group and the 33rd FA Brigade. Activity was very slow, and the weather moderated during the period and all the snow melted rendering many roads impassable and all cross country movement impossible.
February 5th - Battery B and C shifted their center lines to the left for better coverage. 463rd AAA relieved from attachment. One platoon of Battery A, 398th AAA attached.
February 6th - Battery A moved forward to Batzendorf for better coverage of the 79th Division sector.
February 8th - The Battalion started its third year overseas today having departed from the U.S. at 0100 hours 8 February 1943.
February 9th - Battery C displaced forward 1,000 yards to better positions, being forced to move due to impassable roads. A Battery Commanders' call was held to discuss a training program.
February 12th - Battery "B" was forced to move the CP and kitchen installations due to mud, moving to Wittersheim.
February 13th & 14th - Small arms, howitzers and vehicles were inspected by ordinance teams. Most of our equipment is two years old and many vehicles have been driven in excess of 25,000 miles.
February 15th - Instructions given and film shown on non-fraternization with Germans.
February 18th - Training program for second week of training period and phase one on the War Department Information and Education program were discussed at a Battery Commanders' call today.
February 22nd - Reconnaissance made for movement of Battery "B" to vicinity of Altdorf.
February 23rd - Battery "B" displaced to vicinity of Altdorf, France. Battalion now reinforcing the fires of the 14th Armored Division, and the 36th Infantry Division.
February 24th - The Battalion was one year old today having been reorganized and redesignated the 634th Field Artillery Battalion on the Anzio Beachhead 24 February 1944. Battalion relieved from attachment 33rd Field Artillery Brigade. Battery A, 398th AAA relieved from attachment, and a platoon of Battery D, 533rd AAA attached. Second week of basic training completed.
February 26th - Reconnaissance made for positions for Battery A in the vicinity of Minversheim.
February 28th - Pay Day. The end of what has probably been our quietest period in combat. The Battalion has completed 430 days in combat, and has been in continuous combat in France for 198 days. A total of 321 missions were fired during the month and 3,224 rounds expended.
1 March to 31 March, 1945 (Incl.)
After seven weeks of relative inactivity the month was marked by the battalion's participation in the final drive of all armies to clear the enemy from all the area west of the Rhine, and the eventful crossing of the Rhine together with the deep penetration into the heart of Germany.
March 1 to 10 - Battalion in position in the vicinity of Wittersheim, France, reinforcing the fires of the 36th Infantry Division Artillery and the 14th Armored Division Artillery. Completed four weeks of light training, scheduled during the quiet period while in this area.
March 10 to 14 - Light training discontinued and plans and preparations made for the battalion's role in the coming breakout from the Moder river line. Battery Commanders were thoroughly briefed on our operations -- and reconnaissance 'Was made for position areas to be occupied when the Moder river was crossed by forward elements
March 15 - Attack was launched at daylight. Battalion participated in a heavy preparation prior to the kick off. By mid-afternoon, situation was such that the firing batteries were able to displace to positions previously reconnoitered.
March 16 to 20 - Light firing and frequent displacements brought the battalion back over ground that was given up last winter. For the second time, the battalion was in position along the German border, placing counter-battery and harassing fire into Germany proper. During this period we have been attached to one Group headquarters -with a primary Corps artillery mission, reinforcing the fires of both the 36th IDA and the 14th Armd. DA. On the 20th our attachment was changed to the 46th FA Group with the same general reinforcing mission.
March 21 to 24 - Reconnaissance with Battery Commanders was made for positions to be occupied in Germany proper, as soon as the Siegfried defenses were broken through. Initial area reconnoiter, V4 was east of Bergzabern. Upon return to the battalion area, we were told that the battalion was now attached to the 35th FA Group, a new area had to be reconnoitered in the vicinity of Bellheim, Germany. Reconnaissance was made and Battalion displaced. For the first time in history the battalion as a whole was now on German soil.
March 25 - Battalion relieved from attachment with 35th FA Group and attached to 405th FA Group.
March 26 to 29 - Further displacements were made until Battalion was in position just short of the Rhine river -- vicinity of Ludwigshafen -- firing across the Rhine. At this spot on the Rhine a pontoon bridge was intact and preparations were made for the battalion to cross.
March 30 - The fact that the battalion was to cross the Rhine at last, improved the morale of the men more than anything else -- as some put it -- crossing the Rhine left no doubt but that the outfit was really in Germany. Reconnaissance party crossed at 1800 hours and selected rendezvous areas. Battalion was march ordered and the first element crossed the pontoon bridge at 0030 hours on the 31st of March. Entire Battalion, less elements of Service Battery closed into rendezvous area by 0100.
March 31 - Battalion now reinforcing fires of 10th Armored Division -- direct support of Task Force "Harris". Plans were made and preparations completed for an assignment for this, as a Corps Artillery Battalion, to follow and give covering fire for an armored column, deep into the Literior of Germany.
During the past month 377 missions were fired for 6293 rounds. Total number of rounds in France since D-Day, 15 August 1944 through 24 March, was 39,641. Grand total number of rounds in combat overseas: 130,317. The Battalion has completed 461 daysin combat, and spent 26 months overseas. It has also been continuously in the line for 229 days since the Riviera landings on D-Day.
During the month of March, the following changes occurred in officer personnel: Captain Amos V. Persing, Jr., who had been with the organization for over two and a half years, as our Battalion Surgeon, was released from assignment and assigned to the 202nd General Hospital, on a rotation policy within the theater for deserving medical officers. First Lieutenant James L. Hoopingarner, is our new medical officer. Captain Dale E. Hodgell, CO of Battery C for over two and a half years, left the organization and will return to the United States for 45 days on temporary duty.
1 April to 30 April, 1945 (Incl.)
The month of April proved to be one of the most exciting and interesting in the history of this Battalion since our entry into combat. Having crossed the Rhine river, we were given an assignment of reinforcing the fires of the 10th Armored Division Artillery -- an entirely new role for us, a medium outfit, to take part in over an extended period. Initial operations were all but smooth. But as we were able to adapt our methods, in some ways practically in the opposite "direction" from our normal operations, to those of-the "armor", little difficulty was encountered. Following various "task forces" took the battalion deep into the heart of Nazi land. Numerous position areas were occupied by all batteries, while under machine gun and sniper fire. For four days the outfit knew what it was like to be "cut off" from its supply source. Attempts during this time of getting supplies up i;1 an armored supply column failed or were badly shot-up. "Came out" of Crailsheim with the loss of several vehicles, including our ambulance, six men missing in action, of whom three were recaptured and returned to the organization.
April 1 to 4 - Battalion became part of the Task Force "Reilly", and armored column with a mission to drive southward in the direction of Heilbronn. Stopped short of the town itself, but within easy artillery range.
April 5 to 10 - Again a new assignment. This time with Task Force "Hankins". Reversed our route and went several miles north of Heilbronn and crossed the Neckar river at Mosbach, driving east to Assainstadt, Germany. At this point the 10th Armored Division passed through the 63rd Infantry Division with a mission of driving to Crailsheim. Mission was accomplished without too much trouble. While in the vicinity of Crailsheim the enemy closed in on our supply route. Numerous armored supply columns "ran the gauntlet" to get supplies to us. After about four days the situation was such that the mission was changed -- to turn back and contact our forces to our rear. Elements of the 63rd Infantry Division were contacted on the 10th.
April 11 to 26 - Task Forces took a little time for regrouping and took off south and crossed the Danube in the vicinity of Ulm.
April 26 to 30 - Little resistance enabled the column to it roll", covering from 25 to 75 miles in some days. Many days the battalion made three long moves during a day's time. Few night moves were necessary. Battalion now moving through the famous tourist resorts of pre-war days. At the end of the month, the Austrian border and the Brenner Pass were only a short distance away.
1 May to 9 May, 1945 (Incl.)
The first week in May was marked by the battalion's participation in the final drive to the VI Corps objective and the ultimate climaxing surrender of all German forces. Having been thoroughly "armorized" in our past operations with the 10th Armored Division, involving long marches and fast occupation of positions, we soon found ourselves deep in Southern Germany.
The 1st of May the 10th Armored Division and this Battalion were located in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen -- a city very famous for being the center of German winter sports. At this point the armor stopped and the 103rd Infantry Division passed through for the final drive to the Brenner Pass. The Battalion was relieved from attachment to the 10th Armored Division and given a mission of reinforcing the fires of the 103rd Infantry Division Artillery. Previously we had been told that our combat days in this sector were over -- and looked forward to a few days of relaxation. Nevertheless, we felt that only a matter of a few days was left before the long awaited V-E day would come. With that in mind, our new assignment was not to "hard to take". The Battalion's specific mission was to reinforce the fires of the 928th FA Battalion., the direct support Battalion for the 411th Infantry Regiment.
First position occupied on 3 May in Seefeld, Austria. Little resistance except for demolitions, mines, and roadblocks, resulted in no rounds being fired. On 4 May, the battalion was displaced for movement into the Brenner Pass. A Regimental Combat Team composed of the 411th Infantry, 928th FA Battalion and this Battalion together with Armored Cavalry units comprised the elements having a mission of taking Brenner. The leading elements with full headlights rode into Brenner without a shot being fired, on the night of 3 May. The Battalion moved at 0800 hours 4 May and was stopped at Matrei, Austria. This proved to be our finale as far as combat was concerned in World War II.
After two days we were moved into an occupation area of the 103rd Division west of Innsbruck, Austria, on the 6th of May. Plans were made for security and patrolling of our assigned area. On 8 May we were released from the 103rd Division and reverted back to VI Corps Artillery and 6th FA Group control. Battalion moved back north to an area in the vicinity of Altenau, Germany. After an initial clean up of material and personal equipment, the men had ample time to figure out their "Point score" and spin yarns as to what the "first" thing they would do upon reaching home in the good old United States of America.
10 May to 14 May, 1945 (Incl.)
May 10 - The Battalion was in bivouac in the vicinity of Altenau, Germany, having moved on 9 May from Ober Perfuss, Austria, a distance of 61 miles. This position is a few miles north of the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a famous German winter sports center in the Alps.
May 11 - Reconnaissance ordered made for bivouac area in the vicinity of Konigsdorf, Germany.
May 12 - Battalion displaced to new area. Hqs Battery in a former Hitlers Youth Camp at coordinates WY8221; Battery A in Ellgach (WY8816); Battery B in Schonegg (WY8824); Battery C also in Schonegg (WY8824); Service Battery in Konigsdorf (WY8020). Distance traveled 52 miles.
May 13 to 14 - No change in location. Personnel performing duties as road blocks, guarding places containing art treasures, supply dumps, etc. (targets), checking displaced persons in area and searching areas for military property and personnel.
77th Field Artillery Battalion
15th May to 31 May (Incl.)
May 15th - The Battalion was redesignated once again and received its old number -the 77th Field Artillery Battalion -- which will inherit the history of the former 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment and also the 634th Field Artillery Battalion.
May 16 to 19 - No change in location. Same duty assignments.
May 10th - Reconnaissance was made for new locations in the southwestern part of the Weilheim Landkreis.
May 21st to 23rd - Battalion displaced to new area with Hqs Battery at Seehausen (WY5607); Battery A at Unter Englfing (14Y3805); Battery B at Oberhausen (WY5414) and Battery C at Peissenberg (WY5016). Travelled 30 miles. Battalion continuing same duties as in previous location.
May 24th - Battalion given duties of perimeter guard in Ebersberg Landkreis, 20 miles east of Munich, during demobilization of the First German Army. Reconnaissance was made for positions in the Ebersberg Landkreis.
May 25th - Continued reconnaissance.
May 26th - Battalion displaced to new areas. Hqs Battery st Steinhoring (WZ1951); Service Battery at Tulling (WZ2151); Battery A at Forstinning (WZ1060; Battery B and C at Hohenlinden (WZ1759). Travelled 75 miles.
May 27th to 29th - Usual duties guarding perimeter of First German Army.
May 30th - Memorial Day. Battalion held formation honoring those who made the supreme sacrifice. A total of 24 men in the battalion gave their lives for their country -- at sea, in Sicily, Italy, France and Germany, during a period of 27 months overseas.
May 31st - Usual duties.
The entire period was marked by movement and uncertainty. Forty high point men were returned to the States.
1 June to 9 June, 1945 (Incl.)
During the period 1 June to 9 June, 1945, the battalion was in bivouac in the Ebersberg Landkreis. 11(i Battery at Steinhoring (WZ1951); Battery A at Forstinning (WZ1060); Battery B and Battery C at 11ohenlinden (WZ1759); and Service Battery at Tulling (WZ2151).
The Battalion continued with duties as perimeter guard around the Ebersberg Landkreis during demobilization of the First German Army. Daily truck details were furnished to haul discharged personnel to various points.
On 9 June, 1945, Reconnaissance was made in the Landsberg Landkreis for new bivouac areas. Suitable areas were located and preparation was made to displace on 10 and 11 June, 1945.
The Battalion was relieved from assignment Seventh Army and attachment VI Corps and assigned Third Army and attached to XX Corps effective noon 9 June 1945.
George R. Quarles