Since I kept a record of principal events during my service with the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion during World War II, I felt that some of the events I recorded would be of interest to others. Each of us observed events from a different perspective and find the swiftly passing years have dimmed our memories as it has mine. The following log will contain errors and omissions because some were recorded hastily. Much of the everyday mundane and routine is not included.
I understood Divisions shipping out to combat arenas were required to ship with its full compliment of men and equipment - that battlefield replacements would come from trained manpower pools in theater. The 82nd Airborne Division was shipped in this manner. However, there were no qualified and trained parachute soldiers in manpower pools in Africa. Therefore, the U.S. Congress took action to authorize ten percent personnel over strength to accompany the 82nd. I was one of the ten percenters. My log starts here.
April 15, 1943, Thursday I was assigned to Officers Pool (X), The Parachute School, Fort Benning, Georgia where officers were outfitted and processed for overseas. We traveled by rail to Camp Shanks, New York.
April 19, 1943, Monday We were assigned to Excess Officers Company, EGB 447-20 at Camp Shanks. The enlisted troopers were in another EGB group.
April 27, 1943, Wednesday Both EGB groups boarded Army Transport Service Ship (ATS) George Washington in New York harbor bound for North Africa. The enlisted troopers were organized into groups with a senior NCOIC. Captain John T. Cooper and I were responsible for one group during the passage. Usually Captain Cooper attended the meetings and I passed on the information to the NCOIC and checked with him regularly.
April 29, 1943, Friday We sailed in a large convoy of troopships and Naval escort vessels. The convoy contained all of the 82nd Airborne Division. The ATS George Washington had been in mothballs since World War I. The U.S. Government had received it as reparation from the German Government after that war. The ship had recently been converted from a coal burner to an oil burner. This was its maiden voyage. Nightly the ship broke down and set dead in the water as Naval escorts circle the ship while repairs were being made.
May 10, 1943 Monday We debarked at Casablanca, French Morocco and were transported to nearby Replacement Pool, Camp Marshal Lydautey. About seven days later all paratroopers traveled by rail to Oujda where we joined the 82nd Abn. Div. It was an uncomfortable trip of about 18 hour through dry treeless wheat fields through Rabat to Oujda, French Morocco.
May 21, 1943 Friday Today I was assigned to Battery (Btry) D, 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, (PFA Bn.) 82nd Abn Division. Captain Landers was Battery Commander (BC). The only real duty I can remember being assigned to me was to train some of the troopers on the 4.2" Chemical Mortars. The bivouac area was open desert where the afternoon temperatures reached 130 degrees and dust devils that played havoc with our tents and equipment. Training was conducted and we paraded for visiting dignitaries. The heat, foul odor of animal dung, diarrhea and swarms of flies made life uncomfortable. I remember after a Division review for Lt. General George S. Patton, the division was assembled in front of the reviewing stand to hear Patton berate the British in very unflattering language. During this period, I recall a Lieutenant teaching a group of troopers how to deactivate mines and bombs being killed by a butterfly bomb he was deactivating. Later I was assigned to Headquarters (Hqs) as Assistant S-4 and made many trips about the area. A number of the troopers had failed to have their prized jump boots repaired at Camp Bragg and were wearing boots that needed resoling. Division G-4 located a shoe repair facility in the French Foreign Legion Post located in Sidi Bel Abbes some 100 miles from our camp. I made two trips to Sidi Bel Abbes. They were very interesting trips. My driver and I stopped at every British water point and took a shower to cool off. I was an observer at an equipment jump of a 376th PFA Battalion battery.
July 2, 1943 The 456th PFA Bn. moved by train and vehicle to bivouac areas in vicininty of Kairouan, Tunisia near the airfield they would be leaving from on July 9. We bivouacked in an almond orchard. Temperatures during the afternoon were the same as those in Oujda. While at this location all newly assigned officers were initiated into the organization by going through the "Prop Blast" ceremony. That evening the German Air Force mounted a large bombing raid on the area. The Division was reported to have expended all of its antiaircraft ammunition. After the ceremony I had made it back to my bedroll and didn't hear a thing. All personnel, officers and enlisted, stood reveille each day. At each formation the troops are dismissed by going through the commands, 'Port Arms, Inspection Arms, Order Arm'. One morning a trooper accidentally loaded a round in his folding stock carbine and fired a round into the head of the soldier on his left, killing him.
July 9, 1943, Friday The invasion of Sicily, Operation Husky (Code name Horrified), is launched. I volunteered to go, but the Bn. S-4, Captain Donald A. Fraser had been with the unit longer. He went and I stayed with the rear echelon and would proceed to Sicily later.
July 18, 1943, Sunday Bizerte, Tunisia. (There are several entries like this one and they mean that I had traveled to this location.)
August 1, 1943, Sunday Kairouan
August 23, 1943, Monday Sicily to Africa (This entry means I traveled to Sicily and back by C-47.)
August 28, 1943, Saturday Kairouan to Bizerte, Tunisia, Advance Party. The 456th PFA Bn. rear personnel and equipment moved to Bizerte and would be shuttled to Sicily from an airfield nearby.
September 4, 1943, Saturday Castelvetrano, Sicily via C-47. (I must have flown men and equipment to battalion at this location.)
September 16, 1943, Thursday Licata, Sicily, via C-47. (This was my last trip with the 456th PFA Bn. equipment and personnel.)
September 24, 1943, Friday Comiso, Sicily. I was detailed on Special Duty (SD) to Div. G-4, 82nd Abn. Div., Rear Echelon Staff. I contacted all Division's rear units to obtain their needs for packing and crating materials in order to prepare for shipping by rail and sea to England. I took our requirements to the British Military government Officer and he obtained what he could from the Sicilians. Wood and nails were scarce. What we got was unsuitable for our needs, but we had to make do. As movement day approached, I arranged with my Military Government contact for the necessary rail transportation. He came through again. It took eleven freight trains to make the move to Syracuse.
October 24, 1943 Today I made a training parachute jump. I don't remember the date the 456th PFA Bn. was alerted for its mission to Italy. Before they departed for Italy Major Hugh Neal, B. CO, summoned me to the Bn. CP in Licata and told me of the battalion's deployment and I learned that Btry. C and D would move with the division to England. Since I was assigned to Hq. Btry, I was given the choice of going with the battalion to Italy or going with the batteries to England. I decided on England.
November 8, 1943, Monday When the last train load of equipment left Comiso, Sicily I traveled by 1/4 ton truck (Jeep) to Augusta until we got a port call in Syracuse.
November 13, 1943, Saturday We sailed from Syracuse on LCI(L) for Bizerte.
November 16, 1943, Wednesday Landed in Bizerte, Tunisia. I reported to the officer in charge of the Division's Rear Echelon. I was present at the wharves when the longshoreman started unloading our equipment. The equipment was being unloaded here, but to be loaded on another ship later for further shipment to England. I watched with astonishment as the winch operator lowered each load to within six to eight feet above the warf and dropped the load bursting crate after crate. I went to the British Officer in charge and voiced a complaint all to no avail. The officer told me the men were communist's French union members and he had no control over them.
November 17, 1943, Wednesday Division released me from SD with Rear Echelon Staff and assigned me to Btry C, 456 PFA Bn. I was ordered to drive to Algiers and join my unit. My driver and one other soldier were to accompany me.
November 19, 1943, Friday We loaded our personal equipment in our Jeep, traveled from Bizerte to Phillipeville where we stayed in British billets and ate in their messes.
November 20, 1943, Saturday Today we arrived in Algiers, French Morocco and again found accommodations with the British until our departure.
November 27, 1943, Saturday Today we parted with our Jeep at a US Army Ordnance Depot.
November 28, 1943, Sunday We boarded HMS Franconia loaded with 82nd Abn. Div. troops. I believe Btry C was aboard. This is where I joined the unit for duty.
November 29, 1943, Monday Ship sailed at 1400 for England.
December 11, 1943, Saturday The HMS Franconia docked at Liverpool, England.
December 13, 1943, Monday We moved by ferry across the Irish Sea to Haysum, Northern Ireland.
December 14, 1943, Thursday Btry C traveled from Belfast to Bellaghy, where we wintered. During this time I did odd jobs and trained with the unit. We were billeted in Quonsets huts. I remember Btry exercises and runs. I also remember honey buckets and wagons, playing cribbage with Lt. Ross and Irish whiskey.
December 17, 1943 Bellaghy, Northern Ireland. Today I became 24 years old. I toasted my big event with Irish Whiskey.
February 7, 1944, Monday Traveled from Bellaghy to Larne.
February 8, 1944, Tuesday Traveled by ferry from Larne to Stranrarer, Scotland.
February 9, 1944, Wednesday Traveled from Stranrarer to Carlisle.
February 10, 1944, Thursday Traveled from Carlisle to Doncaster.
February 11, 1944, Friday Traveled from Doncaster to Market Harborough.
February 12, 1944, Saturday I was assigned billets in Highfield's House, Husband Bosworth.
March 1, 1944, Wednesday Today I (1st Lieutenant Herman L. Alley) was relieved from Btry C and was assigned Batty Commander (BC), of Btry A, 456th PFA Bn.
March 3, 1944, Friday My billets were moved to Park House, Market Harborough near the billets and training area of my newly organized Btry. A. The unit received a cadre of officers and enlisted parachutists from the US and our Bn. in Italy. We needed about 60 or more men to fill out the battery and trained parachute field artillerymen were not available. I was authorized to send Lt. Aust and a Sgt. to a replacement pool to recruit parachute volunteers with basic field artillery training. We got our fillers and training began in earnest.
April 11, 1944, Tuesday All parachute qualified troopers in Btry A traveled by truck convoy to Owtthorpe, England for a practice jump.
May 25, 1944, Thursday I was promoted to Captain today. Battery A departed Market Harborough for a restricted area St. May's Hill Camp (3), Wales. Travel was by organizational vehicles. While confined to the area I was sitting on a rock pile overlooking the harbor filled with ships of all kind when a housefly landed on my right ear. I attempted to brush it away, but caught the rim of my eyeglasses instead. The eyeglasses landed on the rock pile, destroying them. I am nearsighted and was without a second pair. It was my misfortune to go through the Normandy campaign having to use my field glasses to see clearly the next hedgerow. I was unable to get a replacement pair until we returned to England. There, arrangements were made for me to obtain a pair at a British Army post.
May 29, 1944, Monday Battery A's vehicles, howitzers and ammunition were loaded on Ship No. 212 at Rothgate Docks in Cardiff. Wales. Lt. Henry J. Aust, Btry Executive, two other officers and 50 troopers accompanied the equipment.
June 3, 1944, Saturday I and one other officer and 60 troopers departed St. May's Hill Camp (3), Wales at 0915. We arrived at Docks Newport, Wales at 1115 and boarded PP12 Excelsior USAT at 1300. We sailed to Bristol Channel where the ship anchored at 2300.
June 5, 1944, Monday The Excelsior sailed at 1715. Aboard with me was a regiment of an Infantry Division fresh from the US. The junior officers didn't know their destination in France. The Regimental CO had not been given authority to divulge this to his junior officers and asked me if I would brief them, which I did. I have always thought this was short sighted on the part of his higher headquarters. I have always believed that soldiers well informed are more willing to handle the task before them.
June 6, 1944, Tuesday This was D-Day for "Operation Neptune." The Invasion of Europe was under way. The Excelsior sailed from Bristol anchorage at 2015 part of a large convoy.
June 8, 1944, Thursday The Excelsior arrived off Utah Beach at 0815 and anchored. There were ships everywhere. Naval warships were firing at targets ashore. German artillery was dropping rounds here and there among the ships. A LST on our right nearer shore hit a mine and settled down on the bottom upright with five feet of water on the vehicles the ship was about to unload. My battery was the first unit to debark. At 1400 we clambered down landing nets into a US Navy landing craft just large enough to carry my troops to the beach. The tide was going out and the landing craft ran aground about fifty yards from shore. It was a wet landing in water chest deep. I marched my troops off the beach and inland a short distance to a Transit Area at Houdienville, France arriving at 1630. This area was in an apple orchard where we dug in and spent a cold night. Lt. Aust's party and equipment was scheduled to unload today. I returned to the beach and the Beach Master said the beach was too crowded with equipment. It would be tomorrow.
June 9, 1944, Friday By noon, we had consumed the rations we had carried ashore and some were beginning to grumble. I had observed trucks passing from the beach with loads of C-rations. I took supply sergeant S/Sgt. Donohue and a small detail with me and stopped a truck. I told the driver I need rations to feed my troops and had the number of cases needed thrown off. A Brigadier General drove up and asked me what was going on. I told him my problem and said I was taking care of my troops.
He looked around, said nothing and drove away.
Lt. Aust arrived and we moved Btry A to an assembly area one tenth mile west of Ste Mere Eglise. I received orders to move into position one mile south of Fresville. About 1800 we CSMO and moved to position three miles north of Fresville. The sun goes down late in the evening in June. As night descended on our first day in combat, a German bomber flew near our position and dropped cluster bomblets about 100 to 150 yards in front of our position. These bomblets filled the air with smoke and an acrid odor that nearly caused a panic. Someone yelled "gas" and there was a mad rush to don gas masks. Of course it was a false alarm, but afterwards we kept our gas masks nearby for awhile.
June 10, 1944, Saturday (No entry)
June 11, 1944, Sunday CSMO moved to a position vicinity of Chef du Pont about 0800.
June 12, 1944, Monday (No entry)
June 13, 1944, Tuesday CSMO moved to position vicinity of Picauville at 1900.
June 14, 1944, Wednesday (We did not have sufficient transportation to move without shuttling. My Motor Sgt. came across three abandoned German trucks and was able to get them running. They came in handy, but several days later someone from division saw us moving using our prices and ordered me to turn them in to ordnance-so much for initiative.)
June 15, 1944, Thursday CSMO moved at 0400 to position about two miles west of La Boneville. CSMO moved at 2100 to new positions one mile south of Etienville.
June 16, 1944, Friday 1st Lt. Henry J. Aust, whose normal duties was supervising the firing battery, had requested that he be permitted to take a Forward Observer Party out with the 505th PIR. Today I granted his request. That evening the supported infantry CO requested that Lt. Aust accompany the patrol. The citation tells the story of the event that night.
"HENRY J. AUST, 01166427, First Lieutenant, 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, for gallantry in action on 16 June 1944, about one-half mile east of COTTEVILLE, FRANCE. First Lieutenant AUST was on duty as a field artillery liaison officer with an infantry battalion whose troops were being harassed by enemy artillery. There was no observation on the enemy guns and their location could not be established. first Lieutenant AUST volunteered to go out beyond the front lines with an infantry patrol to a point where he could see and bring fire on the enemy pieces. The patrol was brought under intense fire, but despite the hazards involved and with utter disregard for his own safety, First Lieutenant AUST proceeded to a point approximately four hundred yards from the enemy gun positions and brought the fire of his artillery battalion down to silence them. This act was exemplary of the highest ideals of the Army. Entered military service from NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY."
June 17-19, 1944 (No entries)
June 20, 1944, Tuesday CSMO at 0015 moved battery to new position west of Uarenquebec.
June 21-30, 1944, (No entries)
July 1, 1994, Saturday Tec. 5 Angus J. Young, Battery Mail Clerk, a nice young man and a good soldier, was eating his supper seated under a tree in the kitchen area when one random artillery round burst in the tree above him. He was our first KIA, but not the last.
Tec.-5 Robert Bean was wounded by the same shell and evacuated. The Battery always had two Medical Aidmen assigned from the 307th Airborne Medical Company when we were in a combat situation. I kept them near the firing battery where most of the personnel were located. They were devoted to their duties and responded promptly when needed.
July 2-8, 1944 (No entries)
July 9-11, 1944 During the last few days in France, 1st Lt. Forest W. Eckert's FO Party was assigned to the 3rd Bn. 505th PIR. The party included Cpl. Peter A. Damajonitus (Dayman), Tec. 5 Vincent S. Cheadle and one other trooper. They were laying wire to the CP of the 3rd Bn. when they came under mortar fire. Cpl. Damajonitus was about 200 feet ahead of the others and was seriously wounded. Cpl. Damajonitus was my driver, but had a burning desire to be with the infantry where most of the action was occurring. I had granted his plea just a few days before we withdrew from Normandy.
July 12, 1944, Wednesday The 82nd Abn Division is returning to England to regroup and train for it's next mission. All Div. units had suffered great losses except for the 456th PFA Bn. At 1315 Btry departed Uarenquebec for Utah Beach.
July 13, 1944, Thursday Boarded LST 309 at 2015.
July 14, 1944, Friday At 0300 LST 309 sailed from Utah Beach.
July 15, 1944, Saturday At 0700 LST 309 landed in Southampton, England. Entrained at 1230 for Market Harborough.
(Note: Time for passes for everyone and preparation for the next4 mission. I managed a five day pass to London. I had wounded troopers in a US Army General Hospital and took this opportunity to visit them. I only remember that one name TEC 5. Robert Bean.)
August 7, 1944, Monday My new troopers made their first parachute jump after completing their pre-jump training at the 82nd Abn. Division Jump School. I had all my officers join me and participate in their first qualifying jump at airfield near Leicester. The jump was successful with no mishaps. All my new paratroopers completed their training a few days later and rejoined the battery.
Note: During this period we went from a four gun to a six gun battery. Something I had long advocated and included in my after action report. The powers authorizing the additional weapons failed to include the additional 3/4 ton trucks needed to transport them. This problem would encumber all batteries for the rest of the war.
September 13, 1944, Wednesday Battery was alerted for movement to Langer Airfield on Friday, September 15 in preparation for a pending air operation on the continent.
We learned at this time that due to a shortage of parachutes the 456th PFA Bn would be in a glider lift. Knowing all the troopers would want to be included, I prepared a roster of those that would be in the airlift. At a formation I told the men there would be no changes and the 1st/Sgt. read the names. Lt. Foster was left in change of bringing those coming later by sea and land.
September 14, 1944, Thursday Battery loaded vehicles and generally prepared for movement to the airfield. All men going by air prepared their equipment for departure on Friday. BCs were briefed today.
September 15, 1944, Friday Completed preparation for movement during the morning. Departed Camp Market Harborough by truck convoy at 1200 and arrived at Langer Airfield about 1430. The airfield was about 30 miles northeast of Leicester. Btry A was allotted 16 pyramidal tents. The troopers erected the tents in two hours. Cots were issued. We were quite comfortable. I had been suffering with sore throat and 104 degree temperature. Capt. Stein, Bn. Doctor had tried to send me to the hospital, but I'd refused to go. I went to bed hoping my temperature would abate.
September 16, 1944, Saturday Battery A was allotted 23 CG-4A gliders for the mission. Lt. Aust was in charge of loading our equipment and did a great job. I stayed in bed all day and Capt. Stein visited me every few minutes of so to swap by throat and take my temperature.
September 17, 1944, Sunday Today was D-Day for "Operation Market." The weather was nice. My temperature had subsided. I felt much better, but my sickness left me weak. We watched that morning and the 508th PIR took off and that afternoon watched the returning C-47s. We tried to count the returning aircraft. It seemed that most of them returned, but some were shot up and a few fired distress flares indicating wounded men aboard. We knew that they had taken some flak and knew we could expect the same tomorrow. We learned later that five of their 96 planes were lost. The returning pilots claimed to have put the 508th PIR on their Drop Zone. Hooray for the daylight airborne operations. During the day I inspected all of the battery gliders and found them ready. That afternoon I briefed the officers and troopers on the mission. They knew what was expected of them and were committed to give the mission their best effort. Combat rations, ammunitions and life jackets were issued. All personnel were instructed on the use of the jackets. That evening BCs were briefed on route we would fly and takeoff time. I met my glider pilot 2nd Lt. Ned H. Yarter. He had flown a glider in the Normandy operation and was confident and ready.
September 18, 1944, Monday D+1 today. Headquarters and Battery A are in second glider lift of 80 gliders. The pilot of my C-47 tow plane introduces himself saying, "I want you to know that I will deliver you on your Landing Zone (LZ)." We made a deal and shook hands. I started with communications between the pilot and the glider. The first lift had flown south to an Initial Point (IP) and were over Langer Airfield turning toward Holland when the second lift started taking off at
The Army Air Corps was short on Glider Pilots, so I was the co-pilot. My glider was number 58 in the lift and contained my command jeep with my driver and our equipment. Shortly after take-off the pilots right rudder control malfunctioned. The glider was flying almost sideways to the C-47. As co-pilot I applied the right rudder to straighten the glider. Lt. Yarter made the decision to release from our C-47. Luckily we had enough altitude to make it back to the airfield with me operating the right rudder pedal. We were immediately surrounded by Military Police. Lt. Yarter had stuck his head down over the controls on his side and said he could fix it. He called out the window to the MPs for a pair of pliers and a coat hanger. Someone came up with the needed items and Lt. Yarter made the necessary repairs. During the interval our C-47 had landed and was standing by. We were soon in the air a second time as our lift was turning over Langer and heading for Holland. In haste to get back in the air our communication line to the plane was not connected. The C-47 pilot did not go to the IP, instead he joined the lift at about 1000 feet altitude and the lift 1000 feet above us all the way to the LZ. We came under antiaircraft fire as soon as we reached the coast, tracers everywhere. From our altitude I could see the Germans manning their weapons on the dikes bordering flooded farmlands. One piece of flak punched a sizable hole in the fuselage of my tow plane. The C-47 pilot kept his word and we landed on the correct LZ at 1615 south of and in sight of Groesbeek. My C-47 pilot banked, wagged his aircraft's wings and headed back through the enemy flak.
German heavy artillery was working over the LZ as we landed. The glider landed at 70 mph plowing into a potato field, filling the inside with dirt and potatoes and jamming the clam shell release mechanism. We couldn't get my jeep out. I instructed Lt. Yarter and Pfc. Smith to take the ax off the side of the jeep and chop off the nose of the glider. There were about six Battery A gliders nearby and I joined the assembling men. Lt. Yarter and Pfc. Smith soon arrived, bouncing over the potato rows. As we approached Grosbeek, we passed a group of glider pilots assembled beside the road. Lt. Yarter bailed out and joined them. Along the road I met Capt. Bertram L. O'Neal, Bn. S-2 and received directions to 1st Lt. Aust's location. Upon arriving I found that he had the battery's six 75mm pack howitzers in position. The battery's six guns were not only in position ready to fire, but Btry A troopers had assembled half of our basic load of ammunition and all men were present or accounted for one hour after landing. We suffered only one WIA and three injured on landing. 1st Lt. Aust reported to Bn. Fire Direction Center (FDC) that the battery was laid and ready to fire. We registered on a target in Germany and became the first Battery of 456th PFA Bn. to fire into Germany. (Some will dispute this statement, but this is the way I remember events.) The Battery fired harassing mission on likely enemy targets all night. Our position was only a few yards in rear of the 505th PIR's frontline. It was as if we were part of the front lines.
September 19, 1944, Tuesday I sent 2nd Lt. Osmussen's FO party out to Co. B, 1st Bn., 505th PIR at Heikant. German medium artillery began shelling battery position about 1030. We were well dug in and suffered no damage. About 1115, 20 ME-109s strafed positions nearby for about 10 minutes. One Me-109 kept buzzing around the area. At 1330 I visited Cpl. Howard W. West and Pvt. Louis at Medical Clearing Station. The 504th PIR established contact with us. We received more intermittent counter battery fire (105 and 150mm) from about 1430 until after dark. One 50 cal. machine-gun (MG) was damaged. I and 1st Sgt. Arthur V. Hazlett reconnoitered for a new position that was in the open instead of beneath trees about 600 yards away. A ME-109 spotted us and nosed over to the line up on us. A few yards away was a large haystack. We ran for it and put the haystack between us and the enemy. He peppered the ground on both side of the haystack with a burst of exploding 20mm rounds. He must have figured that he gave us a good scare because he continued nor towards Nijmegen. I requested permission from Bn. FDC to go out of action and move to the open field I had reconnoitered. Permission was granted and the six howitzers and other equipment were moved by 1900. Pvt. William O. McKenna captures a German soldier today. There were many American fighter aircraft overhead during the day. Beginning about 1815 counter battery fire against our position ceased. 2nd Lt. Osmussen's FO Party was cut off and under mortar fire. Pfc. Knueppel and Tec.-5 Cheadle were wounded and Cheadle was evacuated.
To read Pfc. Knueppel's narrative of the events occurring September 18-21, 1944, click here
September 20, 1944, Wednesday Weather cloudy and hazy all morning. Heard enemy planes, but was unable to see them. An enemy patrol almost entered Battery C's position today. Lt. Ross's FO Party sent out to railroad bridge at Mook.
September 21, 1944, Thursday Weather was foggy during the morning and clear in the afternoon. Two German soldiers were taken prisoner by 1st Sgt. Hazlett and Pfc. Cook this morning. Again Lt. Osmusen's FO Party came under heavy mortar fire at 1400. He was wounded as was Pfc. Black. Cpl. Fitch A. Rowley was killed. The 505th PIR company also had casualties and was forced to withdraw. All wounded were evacuated to a field hospital in Nijmegen. The dead troopers bodies were not recovered until September 1945. I recommended Lt. Ossmussen for a well deserved battlefield promotion to 1st Lt.
September 22, 1944, Friday Weather was foggy in the morning and clear in the afternoon. The 3rd Bn., 505th PIR pushed east about 1000 yards and took Hagst. I with Lt. Ross and S/Sgt Prosser established an OP in a Glider on high ground 800 yards to the right front of battery position. We had an excellent view of Germany, but saw little activity. I adjusted fire on two probably targets. At 1600 fired on a small German patrol to the south that disappeared quickly and 1900, a German MG firing to the southeast. I adjusted a British medium artillery unit (8 guns) with good effect on this target. A lot of British and German planes were observed. A heavy firefight occurred about 1000 yards south of our position. A lot on anti-aircraft flak from 1700 to 1900. There was heavy shelling into a nearby area all night. Big firefight in 3rd Bn., 505th PIR area near Horst. Lt. Ross's FO Party returned to position. One of my machine guns opened fire on two man German patrol in potato field.
September 23, 1944, Saturday (No Entry)
September 24, 1944, Sunday CSMO at 0530 for move from Groesbeek position. Did not depart until 0730. Arrived in new position in Nijmegen at 0900. We had to shuttle equipment and ammunition as our land element had not arrived. Guns were laid and ready to fire by 1000. German Air Force puts up about 20 fighters. They dive bombed bridge north of Nijmegen. British AA gave them hell. Lots of AA guns in area. It was quiet in the afternoon and evening. I sent Lt. Ross out with his FO Party to 2nd Bn., 505th PIR.
September 25, 1944, Monday German planes are up again and the British AA got one this time. Planes left early in the morning, but returned at noon to reconnoiter area. There was a BC meeting at 1330 at Bn. CP. We were asked to tell story of battery operation up to D+6 in view of a possible Presidential Citation. German planes were up again in the afternoon. One aircraft was hit by AA and the pilot bailed out. In late afternoon a flight of British bombers returning from a mission inside Germany with some trailing smoke. My battery was in position in a large open area and we were all watching the flight. Suddenly one badly damaged bomber lost a wing directly over us. The wing twisted in the air first one way then another. We didn't know where to run for safety. The wing landed between me and my gun crews. We were only a hundred yards apart. (This must have been the day Lt. Foster and my vehicles arrived.)
September 27, 1944, Wednesday Weather rain in afternoon and evening. Little air activity today. Received Mail today for second time. Lt. Bolding and his FO Party sent out to support 505th PIR. Lt. Eglick wrecked motorbike.
September 28, 1944, Thursday Weather clear with 3/4 moon at night. Lot more air activity than yesterday. At 0715 a German bomber dropped a dozen bombs in our position wounding three men: Sgt. Cordell, Cpl. Nichols and Pvt. Gradler. Three bombs landed in the Motor Pool and kitchen truck area. One gun section had a bomb land near a foxhole, Two bombs landed 10 yards from me. Damage to two 1/4 ton trucks and one 2-1/2 ton truck took them out of action with punctured radiators. 1st/Sgt. Hazlett wrecked motorbike. At 1015 German jet airplane flew over, quite impressive. Kitchen equipment sustained heavy damage with every pot and 32 gallon can punctured and unusable. Kitchen was out of action for a couple of meals. The supply sergeant, S/Sgt. Donahue, was busy finding equipment for the kitchen. At 1300 Battery was alerted to prepare to move. At 1500 BC Party left to reconnoiter new position. CSMO at 2000 and battery moved to (?). From 1900 to 2200 Germans mounted heavy air attack on the Nijmegen bridge and succeed in damaging the bridge. It was knocked out during the night. Lt. Ross and Lt. Bolding and their FO Parties were sent to units of the 505th PIR. Later they were trapped temporally on the north side of Waal River.
September 29, 1944, Friday Weather cloudy morning clear afternoon. This morning we saw one German ME-109 shot down. At 1030 I was alerted to prepare to displace battery. At 1200 BC Party met Bn. CO and selected new position area northwest of Groesbeek on road to Nijmegen. CSMO at 1315 to new firing position. We fired all night.
September 30, 1944, Saturday Weather rain during the night. At 0800 Lt. Foster left for Air OP. At 1100 Lt. Ross and Lt. Bolding FO Parties returned. German's jet aircraft passed over during morning. Other enemy planes were in the sky as well. They were greeted by the British AA. At 1600 I attended a BC meeting where we were warned of possible German infantry attack with tanks.
October 1, 1944, Sunday Weather raining. Lt. Bolding and FO Party left battery area early. At 1530 today , I met Lt. General Browning, Commandant, British Abn. Corps. We are part of his command. Hi inspected Battery A's gun positions. We were issued a 50 cal. MG to replace damaged weapon. I visited Lt. Foster at Bn. Air OP location. Occasional artillery rounds land in woods to our left front and around the area. At 1200 today I alerted all members of the battery that the Germans had launched a determined attack against eh Division. I tighten our security by employing all bazooka and machine-gun teams in strong defensive positions. Bn. CP received heavy artillery fire. Battery fired 202 rounds during the night. The British artillery fired all night.
October 2, 1944, Monday Weather clear sunny day. The German attack was repelled by the 505th PIR and the situation is back to normal. I relieved all my special outposts. I t2ook over as battery executive duties all morning and Lt. Ross took over that afternoon while Lt. Aust rested. We received Mail today. I established an OP after dark. Battalion was shelled heavily. (I included in notebook "S&S", but cannot interpret it.)
October 3, 1944, Tuesday Weather cloudy with intermittent showers. Received Mail again. S&S.
Bn. CP received heavy artillery again today and displaced to new location in afternoon. Lt. Bolding's FO Party returned this afternoon. German air activities began in the afternoon and lasted until early evening. It was too hazy to observe anything from my OP. OP drew artillery fire that evening with one round about 10 yards away.
October 4, 1944, Wednesday Weather clear in morning hazy in afternoon. Manned my OP at 1030 and found it was too hazy to observe and left. About 1400 I went to the OP again and saw two German ME-109's drop four bombs in Groesbeek and left for home. Later one jet fighter flew in from Germany and flew towards Nijmegen, dropped two bombs and departed. About 0630 observed German rockets firing and passed the information to Bn. FDC and fired battalion and larger artillery guns, mix of calibers, at German rocket launcher locations. The Germans change position after each launching. Some of our artillery units were not in position to fire.
October 5 1944, Thursday Weather rain in morning and clear in afternoon. At 0700 Germans are firing rockets again from same area as yesterday. Their targets also seemed to be the same as yesterday. Sgt. Watson and I went to the OP at 1500. We didn't observe any German activity. We did observe a long building burning. I decided to try a Children's House (Orphanage) in Groesbeek on higher ground offering a good view of the area. We could observe the area well from there, but the house was a prominent landmark and a likely German target. We left about 1730 and the German artillery soon put in a few rounds there. Glad the children had been evacuated to a safer location.
October 6, 1944, Friday Weather clear. Mail. Sent Lt. Ross and his FO Party out. Put S/Sgt. Prosser and Pvt. R. W. Smith in for Bronze Star. Watched a dogfight at 1430. Two planes were shot down and the two pilots parachuted safely to earth. One landed in Germany and the other, a German, landed in Holland. Also watched a formation of approximate 300 British bombers fly over headed for targets in Germany. It was impressive. I manned my OP in the afternoon. No German ground action was observed.
October 7, 1944, Saturday Weather fairly warm and hazy. We watched an air Armada even larger than the formation seen yesterday fly over enroute to interior Germany. We learned later they bombed Cleve about 1430. I saw four bombers shot down. The battalion received very heavy shelling in the evening about 2000. Reported 118 artillery rounds hit the battalion. 1st Lt. Grossman and three enlisted troopers were wounded in Btry C.
October 8, 1944, Sunday fog and haze in morning. A quiet day. Some enemy aircraft were overhead in the evening.
October 9, 1944, Monday Weather cloudy day. Pvt. Stahl was found to have 383,600 German marks in his possession. They turned out to be worthless paper money and the case was closed.
October 10, 1944, Tuesday Weather rain. British troops took over our sector. Battery made preparation to move. BC Party reconnoitered new position area in vicinity of Nijmegen in pouring rain.
October 11, 1944, Wednesday Battery made two moves today. CSMO given at 0600. I departed with Advance Party at 0730. The rest of the unit followed at 0900 and were in position one mile east of Nijmegen. Short time later, the Bn. CO called BC Parties to reconnoiter new positions. He pointed out my area east of a road in a wooded area with a clear field of fire on wood's eastern border. He continued down the road with BC's of A and B. I discovered the area had been previously occupied by a British artillery battery and the area had received considerable artillery fire. I visited a British AA gun position about 200 yards away and learned the British artillery battery had been hit frequently. I met Lt. Col D'Alessio when he came back up the road and told him what I'd learned and asked him to let me emplace my battery in an open field west of the road. He said he wanted me in the spot he had chosen and that settled the matter. I saluted and did as I was ordered. CSMO at 1700 hr and moved to the new position 1 1/4 mile east of Nijmegen. I had learned that a German artillery unit fired a high burst adjustment daily before firing on targets in the area. Before we had organized our new position two enemy rounds landed near my No. 1 piece and a shell fragment destroyed its panoramic sight. We carry a spare sight. I had 1st/Sgt. Hazlett to pass the word that everyone was to dig in deep and put log and dirt protection over their foxholes as quickly as they could. We had a lot of daylight in which to do it. Col. March, CO, 82nd Abn. Division Artillery inspected the battery. Lt. Aust had asked me to let him have a tour as an FO. I told him I would sometime. I kept my word and he took out an FO Party today.
October 12, 1944, Thursday At 1000 we came under heavy artillery fire by German 170 mm guns. They hit us with about 25 rounds. Nine rounds and four duds inside the position causing great damage as follows: Wounded, S/Sgt. Monday, Pfc. Hadley, Pvt. Berdelle and Pvt. Wienell (?); damaged most vehicles, flat tires, hole in a couple of radiators, etc. We were hit again at 2200 with 10 rounds in area and 3 duds. I had S/Sgt. Monday move Motor Pool to another area and space them further apart as soon as he could.
October 13, 1944, Friday Weather clear. A quiet day that we needed. Mail & PX rations came today. Battery fired only a few missions.
October 14, 1944, Saturday Weather clear, nice sunny day. All quiet on the western front. Hazlett had shipped out to hospital in England and later would be on his way back to the USA. 1st/Sgt Hazlett lost his left leg above the knee, but the Army permitted him to stay in with an artificial leg and complete his 30 years. He was a fine soldier. Lt. Cameron returned from special duty (SD) with Btry C.
October 17, 1944, Tuesday Weather rain. German air activity after dark dropping bombs nearby. I visited Lt. Ross in hospital. I sent Lt. Bolding out with his FO Party.
October 18, 1944, Wednesday Weather hailed in afternoon. Moved my CP to a building in Holy Land Theme Park about 100 yards from our location. A nice comfortable stone structure. Lt. Aust returned from temporary duty as an FO. Cpl. Malizia's MG outpost fired at men who failed to halt when challenged.
October 19, 1944, Thursday Weather fair in morning cloudy by afternoon with lots of hail. I visited Lt. Ross in the Nijmegen Field Hospital. He isn't doing well. Enemy air activity after dark.
October 20, 1944, Friday Weather changed from cloudy to rain. Some enemy air activity. The 505th PIR attacked at 1840. They lost three men wounded. They killed several Germans and captured two. Mission was highly successful. We fired mission in preparation for the attack.
October 21, 1944, Saturday Weather clear in morning. Two German FW-190's flew over at treetop level and strafed nearby. One plane was shot down crashing on two British jeeps. Lt. Clarry, Btry C aerial observer's Piper Cub was attacked by one FW-190 but escaped with a few holes in the airplane. Visited Lt. Ross in Nijmegen Field Hospital. His situation is unchanged.
October 22, 1944, Sunday Weather Cloudy. Lt. Cameron's FO Party was sent out.
October 23, 1944, Monday Weather clear. Lt. Bolding and party returned from FO duties. German artillery active in early evening with big stuff at night. Enemy planes active tonight.
October 24, 1944, Tuesday Weather cloudy. No change in situation. Seems we are moving to France. General Gavin is nominated for two stars. OK.
October 25, 1944, Wednesday Weather fair. Lt. Richard A. Ross died at 0100 this morning in Army's Nijmegen Field Hospital of wounds suffered on October 15. Lt Ross's personal items were returned from hospital. I sent them to his wife with a letter. German artillery active during night some rounds near our area.
October 26, 1944, Thursday Weather cloudy. At 0915 a single artillery round landed behind our No. 1 gun, no casualties. At 1800 Lt. Cameron's FO party had three men wounded. (Pfc. Higel, Pfc. Bass and Pfc. Fowler)
October 27, 1944, Friday Weather cloudy and hazy. Sgt. Migliori returned to duty.
October 28, 1944, Saturday Weather sunny and clear all day. German's jet fighter appears again. Air activity is much reduced. Bombs were dropped in Nijmegen. They were hit with artillery fire during the night. I sent Lt. Bolding's FO Party out to relieve Lt. Cameron's party.
October 29, 1944, Sunday Weather clear, perfect day. Some German air activity with one shot down. It was reported the German's new jet aircraft was in area.
October 30, 1944, Monday Weather rain. Enemy shells Nijmegen.
October 31, 1944, Tuesday Weather more rain. Enemy artillery shells Nijmegen.
November 1, 1944, Wednesday Weather cloudy. Sat on court martial. Nijmegen receives German artillery fire.
November 2, 1944, Thursday (No Entry)
November 3, 1944, Friday Weather showers. Lt. Cameron's FO Party relieves Lt. Bolding's party.
November 4, 1944, Saturday Inspection by Major Clyde Andrews, Bn. XO. Lt. Gen. Ridgeway, CG, 18th Airborne Corps didn't shows. Some enemy air activity today.
November 5, 1944, Sunday Btry FO Party's OP, located in a house, was set afire by machine-gun tracers and they had to relocate.
November 6, 1944, Monday Enemy air activity is light.
November 7, 1944, Tuesday Election Day back home. Some rounds into town. German artillery seems short of ammunition lately.
November 8, 1944, Wednesday Some German artillery rounds in Nijmegen.
November 9, 1944, Thursday Weather rain. German artillery active. Fired into town with two rounds near enough to put fragments in my Motor Pool and ammunition area.
November 10, 1944, Friday Weather clear. The German Jet showed up again. This time the pilot dropped two bombs about 800 yards in rear of CP. German artillery fired it's usual high burst adjustment rounds in the afternoon and then put lots of rounds into Nijmegen.
November 11, 1944, Saturday Today we start our displacement to France. We fired the traditional salute honoring our fallen comrades in the afternoon. CSMO at 1730 and moved out at 1800 to assembly area at Hesch, Holland.
November 12, 1944, Sunday (Entry is illegible)
November 13, 1944, Monday Lt. Aust and his convoy departed Hesch at 0612 and arrived at Leopoldsburg, Belgium at 0930 and was billeted in British tents.
November 14, 1944, Tuesday This morning we departed Leopoldsburg at 0612 on last leg of movement to Camp Suippes, France arriving at 1730.
(During this period all personnel were given opportunity to go on pass for up to seven days and most did. I took advantage of the opportunity to go on pass for up to seven days and most did. I took advantage of the opportunity to visit Paris. I had the opportunity to visit my brother, S/Sgt. Harold F. Alley in US Army Air Corps at an airfield near Dijon, France. However, there was training, physical conditioning, repair of personal equipment and replacement of equipment and material. All activity was preparation for the next mission.)
December 17, 1944, Sunday "Operation Belgian Bulge" (Ardennes.) My 25th Birthday and it was to be an eventful day. I had retired about 2300 when I was awakened to attend a BC meeting. German Forces had broken through the American lines in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and the 82nd Airborne Division was alerted to move immediately. I met with my Officers and NCOs and laid out preparatory plans.
December 18, 1944, Monday Battery A troopers were fed, vehicles loaded ready to roll by 0700 and even got a few hours rest. However, the 456th PFA Bn was near the tail of the Division column and it was about 1030 before we moved out of Camp Suippes. We arrived in the vicinity of Werbomont, Belgium and went into position about 2100 after a 130 mile march. I sent FO Parties to the 505th PIR, attended BC meeting and held meeting with my Officers and NCOs advising them of the situation.
December 19, 1944, Tuesday This morning the 505th PIR attacked meeting little resistance. CSMO at 1700 and displaced battery to vicinity of Neuville closing in new position 2200.
December 20, 1944, Wednesday CSMO at 0800 and displaced Battery (8 miles) to new position near Haute-Bodeux. CSMO at 1830 and displaced battery (5 miles) to near Dairomont closed in new position about 0130.
December 21, 1944, Thursday Fog all day. The infantry contacted the enemy at Trois Ponts, lots of action. Battery fired many missions. The Germans counterattacked that night, but the 505th PIR held their ground.
December 22, 1944, Friday Snowed about 8 to 10 inches. Rumored that we are outflanked to the south. Pfc. Four captured a German soldier.
December 23, 1944, Saturday Naehange. (Battery probably was repositioned near here.)
December 24, 1944, Sunday Cold snowy day. At about 2000 ? passed overhead. BC Party left area at 1530. CSMO Battery A was in new position near Rohieunt at 2000. That night about 2100 a German Infantry Company, that had been trapped behind our lines during our rapid advance, stumbled upon my FO Party with the 505th PIR. The Germans were hungry and tired. They captured Lt. Cameron, S/Sgt. Burton, Pfc. Ehinger and Pfc. Adkins. The Germans mistreated them badly. They hungrily ate all the food they party had with them, tried to start the Jeep, but was unable to. They shot holes in the vehicle and shot Pfc. Adkins in his hand and shot Pfc. Ehinger in his foot. Since Ehinger could not walk they left him and took the others with them. Lt. Cameron told me later that a German had Pfc. Ehinger backed against a tree with a pistol at his head as they left. The German did not execute him and left with the others. Ehinger was the Jeep driver and had removed the Jeep's rotor and had it in his pocket. (After an infantry company hijacked an FO Party's Jeep in Holland this became a battery policy.) After the Germans got out of sight he put the rotor in the distributor and drove to the 505th PIR Medical Station and was evacuated to a field hospital.
The Germans were moving in a single file and put their POWs together in the middle of their column. It was partly cloudy that night. Lt. Cameron and S/Sgt. Burton noticed that when the clouds obscured the moon they could lag back and the tired Germans ahead did not notice and when the Germans in front were out of sight they could walk rapidly and get out of sight on the Germans in the rear when they did. They decided to take advantage of this and escape. Lt. Cameron and S/Sgt. Burton were back in Battery A's position in time for breakfast next morning. Pfc. Adkins was hurt and afraid to take the risk. He was rescued by the 505th PIR about two weeks later in the cellar of a house where the Germans left him when they retreated. He reported the Germans took care of his medical and other needs during his captivity. He was evacuated to a field hospital.
December 25, 1944, Monday, Christmas Day A beautiful sunny day with lots of air activity. The Division may be out-flanked one mile NE of Bergeoal the place where Lt. Cameron and his men were captured.
December 26, 1944, Tuesday (No entries for this period.)
January 2, 1945, Tuesday Weather more snow. CSMO at 0630 departed 0830 arriving at Hauit Badeaux. There were 155mm artillery rounds from our Army's artillery landing in area during the night. I notified the Bn. FDC several times. I was notified that they had been searching through channels and was unable to locate the rouge unit.
January 3, 1945 Wednesday Lt. Bolding's FO Party was sent to support the 505th PIR.
January 4, 1945, Thursday Weather Big snow forecast. Snowed 5 or 6 inches. BC Party left on reconnaissance at 1400 to Rehaiment.
January 8, 1945, Monday Weather foggy day. BC Party out on reconnaissance early. Battery moved to new position near Garome at 1315. It snowed all day. Sgt. Sendtko captured two Germans today.
January 11, 1945, Thursday CSMO at 0930 and moved at 1030. Arrived in rest area at Mont, Belgium at 1330. We were billeted in Belgian homes with their families and were quite comfortable. It seems there was 10 to 15 inches of snow throughout this time. During this period the Division went into reserve. Having not received replacements since Holland some of the infantry companies were seriously understrength. The US Quartermaster established showers nearby. I had the 1st/Sgt. check-off by roster to insure every man went. It was a stimulation experience hot shower in a tent with snow all around. You undressed in an unheated tent, entered the hot shower and exited through another tent where you received clean clothing. I also remember Hitler's new weapon - buzz bombs.
January 25, 1945, Thursday Our rest period is over, BC Party left Mont on reconnaissance at 0930 and returned at 1630.
January 26, 1945, Friday Lt. Foster in charge of advance party departed Mont for Bonn at 1200.
January 27, 1945, Saturday Battery departed Mont at 0700and arrived in Bonn at 1030. At 1130 departed Bonn for Adesburg arriving there at 1330.
January 28, 1945, Sunday Battery moved to Neohange
January 29, 1945, Monday CSMO at 0001 and closed in Halenfeld at 0130. Battery received enemy artillery fire at 1130. Pfc. Thomas F. Boyce was killed.
January 30, 1945, Tuesday Battery fired its first mission in present attack. CSMO at 1600 and moved to vicinity of Hansfeld at 1730. Germans shelled town during evening.
January 31, 1945, Wednesday Pvt. Lyons was wounded by a mine. Battery was shelled by enemy artillery at 1730. No casualties.
February 1, 1945, Thursday Battery moved to new positions one mile northwest of Lesheimergraben, Germany.
February 2, 1945, Friday The 517th PIR was attached to the 82nd for a short period. I had a friend from home in the regiment and his unit. I had promised his Mother that I would look him up if I ever had a chance. This would be my only chance. I left fairly late in the afternoon. It was a longer trip than I thought it would be. Night fell and I still had a ways to travel under blackout conditions. I was passing a new American Division in a wooded area and I heard shorts here and there. A Jeep with a man on a stretcher moaning in pain passed. I saw an officer and asked what's going on that he was a mile from the front. He said they were going into combat for the first time and the men were shooting themselves in the foot. I finally made it to Pvt. David Strout's company. I walked into his CO's CP. I introduced myself and told the Captain whom I was seeking. He asked his 1st/Sgt. if they had a Pvt. Strout. The 1st/Sgt. said they did, but he was sick and was evacuated two hours ago. I got back to my battery well after midnight.
February 3, 1945, Saturday (No Entry)
February 4, 1945, Sunday (No Entry)
February 5, 1945, Monday My entry reads Advance Party to Bra, Germany
February 6, 1945, Tuesday CSMO given at 1000. Battery departed at 1125 h and arrived Bra about 1445. I believe it was during this move by our inadequate number of vehicles compounded by the fact that we had not fired many missions in the past few days, I overloaded my ammunition truck. Actually, I overloaded all my vehicles. There was no supplementary transportation available and no opportunity to shuttle men and ammunition as we usually did. The ammunition 2-1/2 ton truck, after arriving at the new position was discovered to have a badly bent frame. I found the frame of the truck bent in a V almost to the drive shaft. The extremely rough roads contributed to the damage. We turned the vehicle in to Ordnance and drew a replacement. Later I was ordered by G-4, 82nd Abn. Div. to submit a Report of Survey. I did thinking it was a routine matter. After all we were in combat at the time and still was when I submitted the paperwork. Sometime later I was found negligent and ordered to pay $10,000 (Four years salary). I was mad and wrote back a blistering response to the effect that parachute field artillery batteries were never equipped with sufficient organic transportation for extended ground warfare. I also pointed out that the brilliant person that authorized six additional howitzers and 20 more men, provided no additional transportation had compounded my problem. I always had to shuttle personnel and ammunition. I probably said a bit more, signed my reply and never heard anything further from Division G-4.
February 7, 1945, Wednesday Departed Bra at 0700 arriving in new position one mile west of Hertgen, Germany at 1645.
February 8, 1945, Thursday This position was in a minefield containing antipersonnel mines. The Engineers had swept an area for the Battery and all my troopers had been warned of the danger. Also the area not cleared had been well marked with warning signs and yellow Engineer tape. Two Quartermaster drivers delivered ammunition to the gun sections and were warned about the minefield. They saw a German helmet and disregarded our warnings. One man stepped on a mine, wounding both. Lt. Aust and a medical aid man walked in their footsteps in the snow and carried them out safely.
February 9, 1945, Friday The snow continued to melt and the odor of human waste the infantry left hidden under the snow was unbearable.
February 10, 1945, Saturday CSMO was given at 1445 and Battery moved to Vassenack, Germany arriving in new position at 1630. Enemy artillery fell in adjacent areas.
February 11, 1945, Sunday (No Entry)
February 12, 1945, Monday (No Entry)
February 12, 1945, Tuesday (No Entry)
February 14, 1945, Wednesday CSMO was given and Battery moved out arriving in new position near Herseheidt at 1400.
February 19, 1945, Monday CSMO was given at 1030 and Battery moved to new positions near Raeren, Belgium.
February 20, 1945, Tuesday (No Entry)
February 21, 1945, Wednesday The 82nd Abn. Division returns to its base camp in France. Battery A departed Raren, Belgium and arrived in Suippes, France at 2330. Note: The best I remember of this period is troops were given some time for rest and recuperation. Of course training was not neglected. I went on leave to Paris as did many others. Our training was preparation for an air drop to establish a bridgehead across the Rhine River.
March 14, 1945 Battery A traveled to Sissone, France and made a training parachute jump. My battery sustained no injuries, however I did have one man that refused. I had a long conversation with him informing him of the consequences of refusing during time of war. He understood the punishment and promised he would jump with the Battalion's make up flight tomorrow. I talked with Capt. Edmondson, Asst. S-3 who would be responsible for the makeup jump. I told him the man was a good soldier and I wanted him out of that plane even if he had to throw him out. Capt. Edmondson said he'd take care of everything.
March 15, 1945 My 1st/SGT took the soldier to the airfield and handed him over to Capt. Edmondson. Afterwards Capt. Edmondson came to see me and told me that he watched my soldier, saw him don his parachute and had him in line to board the C-47 when he was distracted and took his eyes off my soldier. When he looked back the man's parachute was lying on the tarmac and he was gone. My 1st/Sgt found him in the billets that evening and said he has lost his nerve and don't care what happens. I hated to do it because he had been with the battery for one year and the war was winding down. There General Court handed down and sentence of 25 years hard labor and a dishonorable discharge.
March 30, 1945 Operation Central Europe, (The Final Action). Batteries were alerted at 1600 to prepare to move. Travel was to be by train and motor convoy.
March 31, 1945 At 0800 BC meeting departure times and order of march was given.
April 2, 1945 At 0800 the train elements departed and the motor units departed at 1200.
April 3, 1945 Battery A closed in Bruhl, Germany at 0300.
April 4, 1945 At 1630 Battery A departed Bruhl and went in position about one mile south of Cologne, Germany at 1730. Elements traveling by rail arrived in Stolberg, Germany.
April 14, 1945 The 82nd Abn. Division was relieved, but remained in position pending movement orders.
April 16, 1945 Battery A moved into Surth to occupy.
April 22, 1945 Battery A moved at 1330 to Trippelsdorf, Germany to occupy.
April 25, 1945 Battery A departed at 0900 for Surth.
April 26, 1945 Battery departed Surth at 0715 by motor convoy arriving at Wiedenbruck at 1800. The elements traveling by rail arrived the same day.
April 28, 1945 Battery departed at 0740 moved into position near Blcekede, Germany. 1st Lt. Aust's FO Party came under enemy artillery fire and his driver Pvt. Emil E. Zatchok was wounded.
April 29, 1945 Battery came under enemy artillery fire 0600 to 1200. Pfc. Stonewall was slightly wounded. CSMO at 1830 moved out at 2130 to vicinity of Hinterhagen across the Elbe River.
April 30, 1945 Enemy shelling began at 0600. Battery's Acting First Sergeant, S/Sgt. Burton was wounded and evacuated. CSMO at 1600 and took up new positions at 1800 vicinity of Neuhaus.
May 1, 1945 CSMO at 0915 moved into position vicinity of Lubtheen at 1130.
May 2, 1945 CSMO at 1300 moved to position vicinity of Horn at 1500. Battery A remained in this position and watched the remnants of the German Army surrender. We remained in position until the intentions of the Russian Army were clear. Most of my troopers wanted a souvenir, so I proceeded to get them souvenirs. I sent an officer with our German linguist in a jeep and trailer to the column of surrendering Germans. They spotted a German Officer in charge and told him to have his men throw their small arms in the trailer. He returned with an overloaded trailer. The 1st/Sgt. took charge, laid all of the look out on shelter halves and let each trooper select one. We had so many they were able to return for a second selection and some a third time until all were distributed.
May 5, 1945 Battery A moved to Leussow, Germany and took up occupational duties. During this period I had the opportunity to visit the German Concentration Camp at Ludwigslust. It was unbelievable, but it was there to see. We continued to maintain our weapons and equipment.
June 3, 1945 At 0615 departed Leussow, Germany. Arrived at West Hamburg, Germany at 1800. Here we spent the night in a hanger like building and slept on concrete - a miserable night.
June 4, 1945 Departed West Hamburg at 0645 arrived in Liege, Belgium at 1900.
June 5, 1945 Departed Liege at 0615, arrived in Camp Chicago, Marchais, France at 1500.
June 16, 1945 Departed Marchais at 0600 arrived in Epinal, France at 1500.
July 4, 1945 The 82nd Abn. Div. Paraded in Epinal, France. After the parade we were assembled and Maj. Gen. Gavin addressed the troops. Here we learned that the division would soon move to Berlin, Germany and take up occupation duties. He also told us that the division had been selected to represent the Armed Forces in a Victory Parade in New York later and said he'd like for all his veterans to consider remaining with him until after the parade.
Note: The Division moved to Berlin in July or early August. Before making this move two battery troopers, Sgt. William M. Sendtko and Pvt., Kurt L. Deschler, second generation German-Americans, were transferred to other units not scheduled for occupational duties. They had served faithfully and did not deserve such treatment. Sgt. Sendtko was the Battery Motor Sergeant and had been promoted by me.
September 15, 1945 I received a report that Pvt. Beryl L. Sisemore about 2200 had been shot in the right arm by a Russian soldier and was being treated in the 307th Medical and later taken to the 101st General Hospital. While he and Pfc. Thomas L. Scheifer, 376th PFA Bn. were returning to their billets they passed four Russian soldiers. One of the Russians started firing and Pvt. Sisemore was hit.
September 17, 1945, Monday This was the anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and the nation was celebrating. Cpl. Rowley's body had not been recovered and was being carried as a MIA. The Netherlands invited a limited number of the 82nd Abn. Division's veterans to be the nations guests. I had a quota of two troopers. I was interested in finding out if Cpl. Rowley's body was still where he was killed. I gave my men a map of the area and asked them to check the spot marked for any evidence. This they did and found two skeletons with dogtags still around their necks. They gave this information to Graves Registration personnel who recovered the remains. One was Cpl. Rowley's body. The other was a 505th PIR trooper.
At 1830 today I attended an excellent Concert performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Note: During this period, trips were made available to various European cities. I chose to take a trip to Switzerland. In Berlin we paraded for dignitaries and provided Honor Guards.
October 8, 1945 I was appointed Investigation Officer to determine Line of Duty (LOD) status for Pvt. Sisemore wounded on September 15. I found that he was LOD.
October 21, 1945, Sunday I attended the football game in Olympic Stadium in Berlin. The game was between the 82nd Abn. Division and the 2nd Armored Division. I don't remember the score. The Division's team has three away games on November 3 against the 100th Infantry Division, November 10 against 3rd Infantry Division and November 24 against 78th Infantry Division.
October 27, 1945, Saturday Today I attended a second football game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. This game was between the 82nd Abn. Division and the 2nd Armored Division. I don't remember the score. The Division's team has three away games on November 3 against 100th Infantry Division, November 10 against 3rd Infantry Division and November 24 against 78th Infantry Division.
December 17, 1945 Berlin, Germany. I never dreamed that I would celebrate my 26th Birthday here. It has been three years since I've been home. The world has changed and I have changed.
December 18, 1945 The 456th PFA Bn. is at one of the cigarette camps near the French coast. All personnel signed a customs declaration. I declared one German pistol serial No. 123393.
December 28, 1945 Entrained at Tidsworth at 0935 for trip to Southampton. We handled our own baggage.
December 29, 1945 Sailed from Southampton, England aboard the ship Queen Mary (Cunard White Star) for New York Port of Embarkation.
January 1, 1946, Tuesday Aboard the Queen Mary this New Year's Day. The ship mess prepared a special dinner in the Officer's Mess. The north Atlantic crossing ran into foul weather and there was a lot of seasickness. I even missed a meal or two, but managed not to be ill.
January 3, 1946, Thursday At 1030, The Queen Mary docked in New York Harbor. Transported by truck to Camp Shanks, New York.
Note: During this period a friend and his wife took out for dinner and to the Bijou Theatre to see "Life With Father". It was a great play. I enjoyed the evening immensely.
January 7, 1946, Monday At 2030 hours, I attended six boxing events in Madison Square Gardens, New York. Transportation was furnished by Camp Shanks.
January 9, 1946, Wednesday Today I submitted my application for commission in the Regular Army of the United States.
January 10, 1946, Thursday At 1030 today, we had a rehearsal parade at Camp Shanks, NY.
January 12, 1946, Saturday Marched at the head of Battery A, 456th PFA Bn., 82nd Airborne Division down 5th Avenue, New York City in the Victory Parade. A number of my old troopers who had arrived home a few weeks earlier shouted at me along the route. I was proud to be part of the parade.
January 16, 1946, Wednesday I arrived home from World War II at Fort McPherson, Georgia and was met by members of my family. After a 45 day leave, I reported to the 82nd Abn. Div. at Camp Bragg, NC to find they were so overstrength there was no unit assignment for me. I did odd jobs, i.e. closing down the Field Artillery Replacement Training Center until June when I received orders to Fort Benning, GA. End of story.
(Revised 29 May 1997)