The following historical summary of the participation of the
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in World War II is written by
Ken Hesler (thank you Ken !), Btry. D, 463 PFA, shown at
left in Paris in January 1945 shortly after the battle at Bastogne. It is
based upon more than 2,000 pages of documents copied from the U.S. Military
archives at Suitland, MD, and other historical materials, mostly documents
and personal interviews with members of the battalion, including Lt. Col.
John T. Cooper (Ret.), who read the article and concurred in its accuracy.
The 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion was organized on February 21,
1944, near the small Italian village of Borgo Bainsizza on the Anzio
beachhead. It was formed from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 456th Parachute
Field Artillery Battalion, less Batteries “C” and “D”, and commanded by Maj.
Hugh Neal, the first of only three men to lead the battalion in combat in
World War II. The 456th designation was transferred with the 82nd to the
In the photograph at right, taken at the 1988 101st Airborne Division
Reunion in Omaha, NE, are the three men who served as commander of the
battalion: standing from left, John Cooper, Hugh Neal, and Stuart Seaton.
Seated is Vic Garrett, the battalion S-3, who was responsible for directing
September, 2002, all are deceased with the exception of Stuart Seaton.)
men of the newly organized unit were vets of the 82nd drop into Sicily
in July 1943, campaigns on the southern Italian front near Casino, and weeks
of bitter fighting at Anzio in support of the First Special Service Force
along the Mussolini Canal. Many had been members of the Army’s original
Parachute Field Artillery Test Battalion.
Lt. Col. John T. Cooper Jr.
(thanks to Ms.
C. (Cooper) Baker,
his daughter, for the picture)
With its new
designation, the battalion remained in support of the FSSF which, in early
June 1944, led the Allied Forces into Rome. A marble plaque in that city
commemorates the FSSF accomplishment, noting the assistance of “the armored
units of Task Force Howze, 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, and
the Italian Resistance…” The battalion commander now was Maj. John T.
Cooper, Jr., formerly the executive officer, who has assumed command when
Maj. Neal was seriously wounded and evacuated form Anzio on May 31.
fall of Rome, the battalion received some 200 replacements to fill out “C”
and “D” batteries and bring its rosters to full fighting strength. A month
later, the battalion was on its way to the invasion of Southern France with
the First Airborne Task Force as part of a combat team with the 509th
Parachute Parachute Infantry Regiment. Divided to operate as two separate
units, if necessary, the battalion flew from loading zones at Grosseta and
Follonica airports near Rome.
In the early
morning hours of August 15, one group under the command of Major Stuart M,
Seaton, the battalion executive officer, jumped near Le Muy, France. The
second contingent under Cooper's command were dropped across a wide area
around St. Tropez, France, some 12 miles from the drop zone, where they
fought as infantry against heavy German concentrations. Cooper was injured
in the drop; and the third person to command the unit, Maj. Stuart Seaton,
the executive officer, served as battalion commander until Cooper returned
Battalion was credited with capturing 375 prisoners during the first two
days of the invasion, more than the remainder of the entire Task force over
the same period. As the seaborne invasion troops drove inland, the 463rd
moved eastward along the coast until on August 30, 1944, when it was shifted
northward to the Alps and attached to the 55Oth Airborne lnfantry. Its
mission was to cutoff an important German escape route from Italy.
campaign, which found the battalion spread along a 12-mile front, included a
blizzard which buried the guns of Btry “A" under eight feet of snow at an
altitude of 10,000 feet and a late evening German attack in
mid-October which was repulsed with 5,600 rounds of direct fire. On October
22, the battalion moved into position along the French-Italian border near
the coast, again in support of the First Special Service Force.
mid-November, the 463rd was relieved by the 6O2nd FA and moved into bivouac
near Nice. Over the three-month period of the Southern France campaign, the
battalion conducted 1,000 fire missions and fired approximately 35,000
rounds of 75mm ammunition. With the "Champagne Campaign" concluded, the
463rd moved northward by truck and train in December. Scheduled to join the
17th Airborne Division then on its way to Europe, the battalion arrived in
Mourmelon, France, on December 12, 1944, where the 101st Airborne Division
was recuperating from the Holland campaign. The German break through into
the Ardennes came just four days later. The Battle of the Bulge had begun.
463 PFA in Bastogne
As the 101st
prepared to depart for Belgium, Cooper, by now a Lieutenant Colonel, offered
the services of the battalion to Gen. McAuliffe, who said the 463rd was
outside his command; but he suggested that Cooper talk with Col. Joseph H.
Harper, commanding the 327th Glider Infantry. Harper readily accepted
Cooper's offer, and the 463rd was off to Bastogne "attached" to the 101st
although technically A.W.O.L.
of its existence, except for the airborne drop info Southern France, the
463rd, unlike most airborne units, had been utilized as a ground-equipped
unit provided with its own transportation. It had arrived in Mourmelon with
27 2 1/2-ton trucks, 26 1/4-ton trucks, and a sizable supply of 75mm
ammunition, including more than 200 anti-tank rounds, a factor to be of
significance at Bastogne.
units heading for the Ardennes, it had been fully supplied with wool
overcoats and "mud-pack" overshoes before leaving Southern France. With the
addition of 12 2 1/2-ton trucks attached from the 645th Quartermaster
Company, the 535 men of the 463rd headed north from Mourmelon at 9:30 p.m.
December 18. 1944. Although the destination listed on the Unit Report dated
11 p.m. of the same date reads "now enroute to Werboment, Belgium," the
101st would instead be shifted to Bastogne, Belgium, an important road
At 9 a.m. on December 19, the unit reached an assembly
area near Flamizoulle, Belgium, and moved on later the same day to establish
positions around Hemroulle in support of the 327th. By December 20, the
101st Airborne Division, including the 463rd, was completely surrounded in
the three-mile wide Bastogne "doughnut", by at least five German divisions.
The fighting was intense. On December 22, the Germans delivered a note
demanding the 101st surrender, to which General Anthony McAuliffe issued his
famous reply, “NUTS". With the weather clearing on December 23, C-47
transport planes dropped badly needed ammunition and supplies. Finally, on
December 26, General Patton’s 4th Armored Division broke through from the
south to relieve the besieged city.
During the Battle of Bastogne, the 463rd howitzers
conducted fire missions over a 360- degree sector. From December 19 through
January 17, its 16 howitzers fired 21,748 rounds. When the first aerial
re-supply mission was flown on December 23, the battalion was down to nine
rounds of high explosive shells, a small supply of anti-tank rounds, and no
rations. The battalion casualty report for the Ardennes campaign was 11
killed, 24 wounded, and one missing.
During the Bulge, Lt. Col. Cooper and Sgt. Joseph F. Rogan
were awarded the Silver Star. Cooper for action during the encirclement and
Rogan for action as a forward observer on December 25 and 26. In addition,
seven men received the Bronze Star, two posthumously. Thirty-two received
the Certificate of Merit, 29 of them for action during the German attack on
There is disagreement about the tank battle on Christmas
morning when one spearhead of enemy tanks attacked toward Hemroulle from the
west. Col. T. L. Sherburne, Jr., the Acting Field Artillery Commander of the
101st credited the battalion with two medium tanks destroyed and one
captured. Cooper maintains that eight of 11 enemy tanks in the thrust at
Hemroulle were destroyed by the battalion, with one captured intact and two
escaping only to be destroyed by armored units. He tells the story this way:
“At the conclusion of the battle on Christmas mornings,
General McAuliffe, Col. Sherburne, and others of their staff came to our
headquarters and we inspected the battle area.
“General McAuliffe looked at each tank and asked the
question. 'Which gun got this one?' Only two of the tanks were in direct
line of fire as shown by ‘ricochet marks in the snow.’ The others were hit,
but had been moving and were not in line of ricochet marks. Also, all direct
fire does not hit the snow along its path of flight.”
“Col. Sherburne took notes and wrote the commendation as
decided by Gen. McAuliffe. I did not object, as I was a new Lt. Colonel
unknown to any of the brass at the time. Nor was I looking ahead to 50 years
later. No other unit has ever claimed any of the Christmas morning kills in
Relieved in Belgium on January 17, 1945, the 463rd moved
with the 101st to the French Alsace region on January 20 and went into
direct support of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment from positions near Keffendorf and Winterhouse. The battalion was relieved by the 36th Division
Artillery on February 25, and moved from Sarrebourg to Mourmelon by train
and truck. It was at Mourmelon that General Dwight Eisenhower presented the
101st with the Presidential Unit Citation for its defense of Bastogne, the
first such citation to be awarded an entire division. Operating as a unit
attached to the 101st during the Bastogne encounter, the 463rd was formally
assigned to the division in March 1945.
Remaining in Mourmelon until April 3, the battalion, still
in support of the 327th, moved to the vicinity of Neuss, Germany, where it
completed its last day of direct contact with the enemy at 4 p.m. April 17,
1945. It was then on to Schillingstadt, Schwabsoin, Starnberg, Thalham and
Bad Reichenhall --arriving at the last on May 12. The final moves were to
Saalfelden, Austria, on July 8, and Joigny, France, on August 2. Most of the
remaining members of the unit were transferred for deployment and discharge
in October, 1944. The 463rd was inactivated November 30, 1945.
The Unit Citation and Campaign Participation Credit
Register of the U. S. Department of the Army lists the following campaigns
for the 463rd in World War II: Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland,
Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
DETAILED CHRONOLOGY AND HISTORY OF THE 463rd PARACHUTE FIELD ARTILLERY
DATE OF ARRIVAL
Feb. 24, 1942
War Department authorizes the activation of a
test battery to conduct experiments to determine feasibility
of parachute artillery. Volunteers accepted from
Provisional FA Brigade at Fort Bragg (4 officers/150
enlisted men) (FA Journal 257/260)
Fort Benning, Georgia
500 volunteers become part of Class 12B (Infantry was
class 12). Instructors from the 501PIR had orders to
thin the class down to 150 qualified paratroopers.
Since the infantry hated artillery, the instructors tried to
eliminate everyone from class, but 143 men graduated. (Joe
April 17, 1942
Fort Benning, Georgia
4 officers/112 enlisted men of Parachute Test Battery
became first qualified parachute artillerymen under command
2nd Lt. Joseph D. Harris- Battery Commander
Lt. Carl E. Thain - Executive Officer
Lt. Lucian B. Cox -
Lt. Herbert E. Armstrong - Test Officer
Mission : to develop method whereby an artillery battery
could land with all its weapons and equipment so it could
immediately go into action in support of parachute infantry.
The "Pack 75" was the chosen artillery piece. 1,268
pounds, it could be broken down into 9 pieces:
It's range was 9,475 yards. Harris developed
procedures to drop his 108-man battery, 4 Pack 75's, basic
load of ammunition, defensive light machine guns, and survey
and communication equipment from 9 C-47 planes. Most
of the hardware was fixed under the wings and bellies of the
airplanes in padded containers which resembled coffins, and
to which were affixed standard Air Force Cargo parachutes.
The "coffins" were joined by a heavy-duty rope and dropped
over landing sights. (Devlin 121/123;FA Journal 257/260)
8 hours of physical training or detail each
day and the showing of a German paratrooper
training film. Everything at double time.
PT consisted of morning: an hour exercise, an
hour run, 2 hours of various training (rope
climbing, judo, grass crawls, log tossing,
Indian clubs, obstacle course); afternoon: an
hour exercise, an hour run, 2 hours of various
training (rope climbing, judo, grass crawls, log
tossing, Indian clubs, obstacle course).
Mornings - 4 hours of exercise (calisthenics,
Afternoons: Fuselage Prop - stand up on
plane, hook up on static line, check equipment of
man in front, responding to commands of jump master,
making proper exit from plane. Landing Trainer -
student hooked up in a jumper's harness attached to
a roller that slides down a long incline. Mock-Up
Tower - 38 foot platform with a long cable extending
on an incline to a big soft pile of sawdust.
Trainasium - 40 foot maze of bars, catwalks,
ladders. Free Towers - 250 foot tower for making
controlled and free jumps. Wind Machine -
practice collapsing chutes.
Mornings - 4 hours of exercise (calisthenics,
Afternoons- Packing Shed
5 qualifying jumps.
On training (Courtesy: Don Gallipeau)
April 23, 1942
Fort Benning, Georgia
First RSPO from airplane with Lt. Harris, Lt. Thain, 2
detail men, howitzer section under Sgt. Charles Raby
Sept. 24, 1942
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
456th PFA activated. Test Battery became B Battery.
Col. Harrison B. Harden, Jr. - CO
Maj. Hugh Neal - Executive Officer
1st Lt. Herbert Wicks - S3
Capt. John Cooper - Adjutant (considered by Harrison
to be the best officer he had)
75mm Pack Howitzer
37mm anti-tank gun
2.36" Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher
Feb. 12, 1943
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Joined 82nd Airborne Division. Prior to going
overseas, the artillery of the 82nd had to be given a
proficiency test. The test was administered by Hugh
Neal. All units failed. Taylor and Ridgeway were
mad at Neal for flunking the division artillery and
dismissed him. They ordered Cooper to retest which he
did but the artillery once again failed. Taylor and
Ridgeway ordered Cooper to change the grades, but he refused
and was also dismissed. Prior to leaving for overseas,
Neal and Cooper were reassigned to the 456th.
April 22, 1943
Camp Edwards, Massachusetts
Traveled by train.
April 28, 1943
Camp Edwards, Massachusetts
Departed 6:00AM. Arrived at Jersey City at 1:30PM.
Walked 1/2 mile to ferry to Staten Island, arriving at
April 29, 1943
At 4:30AM left USA as part of 505th Parachute Infantry
Regimental Combat Team on the Matson liner S.S. Monterey.
6 men to a state room. Trip took 12 days.
We boarded the S.S. Monterey in New
York for the 12 day trip to North Africa where we
disembarked at Casablanca. On the ship they only
served two meals a day, and we only had a bunk to sleep
in every other night. The nights we did not have a
bunk to sleep in, we just found a place on deck to
sleep. The S.S. Monterey had been a cruise ship
for the Matson line that went from San Francisco to
Hawaii in peace time. It had been converted to a
troop ship. There was about 5000 troops aboard,
mostly out of my Division - the 82nd. (Bailey)
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT BASIC TRAINING
Houser was West Point graduate
as were his father and grandfather. Didn't want to be
part of war. Killed self with pistol before being
Soldier went home on leave before being shipped
overseas. Found wife in bed with another man.
Soldier killed both of them, his baby daughter and self.
Soldier brought a brand new 1940 car with him to Fort
Benning. When in Phoenix City drinking, came back to
car to find it on blocks with tires missing. Since
couldn't find new tires, had to abandon car.
Officers enrolled in parachute school quickly realized that
rank held no bearing. Lieutenants, Captains, Majors,
Colonels were all subject to commands of noncommissioned
Neil and Cooper tested the airborne field artillery for
overseas. Failed them. (tape)
Jay Karp, trained as an infantryman, joined the 456th, B
Battery at Fort Bragg. He was busted from corporal to
private, but doesn't know why. (Karp tape)
Vic Tofany - The great Monk Meyer - All American guard at
West Point - quit jump school.
After leaving Camp Beauregard in
Louisiana in 1943 I was being transferred to Camp
Carson, Colorado to the 71st Light Infantry Division,
which was being formed.
In my mind I thought this was going
to be a hard hitting outfit or unit. How wrong I
was. This unit or Division carried everything by
pack boards, machine gun carts and other carts.
They carried rations and other types of equipment and
ammunition, and they had mortar bags which slip down
over your head. It had pouches to put your mortar
Then after arriving in Camp, we began
to take long strolls into the Rocky Mountains outside
the Camp. Marching into the mountains it was an
incline to start with. After you got into the
mountains everything was straight up, rocky trails and
After being in Camp about 6 weeks,
one Monday we marched to some sheds and there we had
wooden Jack Asses. At the end of the week we were
told that we were going to have the privilege of taking
the real live Jack Asses into the mountains for two
Well, we went into the mountains for
our two weeks holiday or celebration with the mules, the
carts and full field packs.
While were in maneuvers it snowed and
rained, and turned cold. The trails in the
mountains became slippery and hard to maneuver on and
the mules would balk and refuse to move on sometimes
because of the weather conditions.
I remember one mule balked and the
men were trying to get it moving. One soldier
looked as if he were going to hit the mule in the nose
and one old mule skinner sergeant said to the soldier,
"Son you might as well slap your Colonel in the face as
hit that mule in the nose." So then and there I
began to realize that if I was to have an illustrious
army career I was going to have to change branches of
So, I began to think Airborne.
I felt that I had rather fall out of airplanes with
chutes than down the mountain side with mules. So
then in mid-December of 1943 I got my orders to report
to Fort Benning, Georgia for Paratrooper training. It
was three weeks to the day after I signed up.
Now after some fifty years if I had
another choice I would still go "Airborne" because they
are a special breed of soldier.
The 463rd didn't start with the 456th
at Fort Bragg. The 463rd started at Fort Benning
in March of 1942 in class #12B. The infantry class
going through school at that time was class #12, so the
artillery volunteers, numbering over 500 for that 1st
Artillery Paratroopers class was numbered 12B, so they
would be kept separate from the infantry jump class.
Only 143 graduated, all the rest either quit, or were
washed out. The instructors from the 501 had
orders to thin the class down to 150 qualified
paratroopers, & they followed orders real good, they
worked us over more than any class that ever hit that
place. The infantry at that time hated the
artillery any way & those instructors told me artillery
men weren't good enough to be paratroopers anyway.
They tried to disqualify all of class 12B, but couldn't
get it done. I was the only artillery man stupid
enough to insist that my sergeant's stripes stay on no
matter what. All the other non-coms took their
stripes off, as some officer instructor ordered.
Not me! I spent 2.5 yrs in the National Guard and
1 of them in the swamps of Louisiana earning those
stripes & no one was going to make me take them off.
Boy what a mistake that was. It seems those
instructors dressed in black sweat pants & black sweat
shirts were not non-coms & they hated sergeants more
than they hated artillerymen, so many a night after all
the other guys were asleep on their cots, I would be
finally released from running around the parade ground
holding a rifle over my head, & doing push ups, & having
as many as 3 of them at a time practice jiu-jitsu on me.
I'd crawl up the stairs on my hands and knees and leave
blood on the stairs, & then the next morning, before I
could go to breakfast I would always have to clean the
blood off the steps to the staff sergeant's
satisfaction, or no breakfast, sometimes I was too late
& the mess sergeant wouldn't let me in. I think
they had it worked out between them.
When we formed the 456th, 2nd Lt. Lt.
Harris (VMI) declared we were no longer Test Battery we
were B-Battery 456th Battalion then immediately I was
taken out of B-Battery and told I could pick 10 men to
form A-Battery and they sent a Lt. I had never seen
before to introduce himself, it was Stuart M. Seaton
from VMI and he was sharp and he was a qualified
paratrooper I was to be his 1st Sergeant & I was one
May 10, 1943 Boat
Arrived 2:30PM. Marched 5 miles East of Casablanca,
arriving at 7:00PM at Camp Marshall Leoty.
May 14, 1943 Truck/Train
Camp Marshall Leoty at 7:30AM and arrive 8 miles East of Fez
May 15, 1943 Truck/Train
bivouac area East of Fez at 7:30AM and arrived 8 miles East
of Oujda at 6:30PM. While at Oujda, most
of 456th PFA made their first night jump. Went into
training for Sicily jump. Night compass problems.
June 3, 1943
in review for General Eisenhower (stood nearly 2 hours at
parade rest waiting). 36 planes of jumpers
demonstrated a mass jump. Awarded a North Africa
campaign bar. Wide spread dysentery caused by
"dung-laden dust" (conjecture by Doc Lewis A. Smith of the
505th PIR - dust home of endema histolitica, difficult to
identify and treat and often fatal.
June 9, 1943
jump tactical with equipment.
June 14, 1943
jump combat problem.
June 15, 1943
Paid in full.
June 16, 1943
Went on pass to Oujda, rented a bike,
bought some canned fruit. Rumor that German
Paratroops in the vicinity. Made night jump
shortly after midnight near Oujda, in French Morocco.
One man would not jump and was later shipped out of the
battalion. I made a good landing but had hard time
finding 4th gun section. Some of the bundles
landed in wheat field, but 4th section was first to get
to the assembly point. First section did not jump
because door load got stuck in the door.
June 21, 1943
Stu Seaton walked their asses off on
night problems, 4 points to find in dark.
Went on compass course last night
wandered all over the bills of Morocco, did not get back to
camp until daylight completely bushed.
June 25, 1943
Packed all extra equipment, B Battery
getting ready to go by plane to our next destination.
Packed my old boots, wearing my new ones. They
hurt my feet, going to get some beer tonight. Hope I
get some mail.
July 2, 1943 Air
Kairouan (Karawain), Tunisia
Departed from bivouac East of Oujda, arriving at staging area 30
miles North East of Kairouan at 10:00AM.
Left Oujda by plane for area around Souse
or Kairouan - flew high, very cold. Just about got
air-sick, pissed in helmet. Camped near Kairouan,
very, very hot, drinking lots of water. Too hot to do
anything in daytime, do it at night. Wind like a blast
furnace, sharing put tent with Bennett. Dug fox holes.
Guess my hair will grow back to normal one of these days.
Know I'm going into combat. Think it's tomorrow night.
They showed us the sand table of the area that we are
jumping in. I'm in #4 plane loaded with ammunition
Lt. Cole is jumpmaster, also went to planes and had
instructions in case of a sea landing.
July 3, 1943 Air
Kairouan (Karawain), Tunisia
General Ridgeway gave combat speech.
July 6, 1943 Air
Kairouan (Karawain), Tunisia
Beer ration and dry beef on hot desert.
July 9, 1943 Air
Gela, Sicily (Warm & Clear)
Unloading American troops and supplies
on the Gela beach, July 1943
Boarded planes about 8:00PM July 9 for jump into Sicily. Had
about 1512 rounds of ammunition. Parachuted miles from
target due to faulty navigation, high winds, and impaired
visibility. Many men airsick in planes, making floors very
slippery. Jumped between 12:35 and 1:00AM. Planes
were going too fast and flew too low. Many men hit the
trees almost at the same time their chutes opened.
Batteries A and B jumped with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the
505th and Battery C jumped with the 3rd Battalion. Cooper
was liaison for 505th and 456th and, in Gavin's plane, he was
the first artilleryman to jump into Sicily. Headquarters
and D Batteries bivouacked at a point east of Santa Crosse with
Major Wicks in charge.
HQ and D Batteries landed in same area but widely scattered.
Orientation impossible during darkness due to being about 50km
from DZ. High ground seized without resistance, security
established and organization started. At daylight
approximately 250 men from all serials of CT 505 had been
assembled. Patrols out bringing in equipment. Three
prisoners captured at 8:00AM when questioned gave our location.
Verbal order issued by CO to be prepared to move at 10:00AM to
seize and hold the town of San (Santa) Croce Camerina.
Organization for attack completed at 9:30AM. At 9:50AM Lt.
Col. Billingsley arrived, assumed command and rescinded order
for movement. Ordering group to strengthen outposts and
remain on high ground then in our possession. At 12:10PM a
patrol made contact with 2nd Bn 505 with B Battery 456th
attached then under orders to move toward Marina Di Ragusa at
2:00PM. Patrol returned with this information at 1:00PM.
Orders were issued to move at once to join 2nd Bn 505 CT.
Units joined at 6:00PM at La Croce under command of Lt. Col.
Billingsley. Strength approximately 600 men and officers.
Unit bivouacked here sending out patrols to engage with the
enemy. All enemy troops defending beach from Marina de
Ragusa to a point 2 miles west of Punta Secca captured by
B Battery dropped in area pattern 10 miles wide. By
daylight 3 guns and 50 men were assembled. Fired on pill
boxes and strong points by direct laying. Moved at 2:00PM
to La Croce, fired on pill boxes on beach, direct laying.
Bivouacked at La Croce.
C Battery landed 10 miles from DZ and assembled 3 guns and 10 of
the 12 plane loads. At 1:00PM joined point of 157 CT of
the 45th Division and advanced into Vittoria where howitzers
were used to knock out snipers by direct laying. Bivouac
in Vittoria for night. One AA MG Cal. 50 shot down 2 enemy
planes ME 109's which were strafing the Battery position.
A Battery jumped at 12:45AM and by daylight three howitzers all
but four men and most of the equipment had been assembled.
It was found that the battery was alone and far from the DZ.
Patrols were sent out and our location was given to us by
civilians. A battalion of German 88mm guns was located
1500 yards to our southeast, and our patrols made contact with
German infantry patrols and a skirmish started which lasted most
of the day. In the afternoon one of the German 88's was
used to support the infantry with direct fire. At 8:30PM
the battery was moved and the Germans shelled the former
position just after it was cleared. The battery moved
south all night and went into position at daybreak.
Lt. Col. Harrison Harden - CO
Maj. Hugh Neal - XO
Capt. Stuart H. Seaton - A Battery
Harris - B Battery
Capt. Victor E. Garrett -
Colonel Hugh Neal
Major Stuart Seaton
Left night of the 9th from Kairouan,
Tunisia. Flew over Maita which was a check point about
five or six hundred feet. Pretty light out, took my
turn standing at door holding door load. Two guys got
airsick. Anti-aircraft fire got us as we came over the
coast of Sicily. Red light came on, then green light.
Door load partly stuck in door. I went out head first,
could see flashes and tracers from ground fire before my
chute opened. When chute opened, grabbed front risers
and slid most the way to ground, hit very hard. Lots
of firing going on. Loaded gun and got grenades ready.
505 guy beside me broke stock of gun going out door we had
hard time getting oriented, every time we moved, machine gun
bullets whiz over our heads. Joined a group of
troopers, and started looking for my gun crew. Came
across paratrooper with broken leg. He had crashed
into a tree stump. He was on the wrong side of a brick
wall about five feet high. When some of the firing let
up, about 4 of us jumped over the wall and lifted him over
on the safe side. Finally met some guys from
B-Battery. Fought with the infantry knocked out two
machine gun nest and captured the Italians and their guns.
Dead Italian soldier in cart. Lt. from 505 killed
while trying to throw grenade through slit n tall pill box.
Olosy shot in foot. Two medics killed, one from
My Battery "B" jumped with the 2nd
Battalion of the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment. When
we loaded the planes in Tunisia we didn't put on our chutes.
When we were about half hour from the coast of Sicily the
Crew Chief of the plane came back and told us it was time to
chute up. This was a nervous time for all, slipping
around where the air-sick guys puked on the floor. It
was dark, the plane was jerking around, and we had to get
all the straps and harness over all our stuff. It was
our first combat. I guess we were a little nervous.
The pilot missed our drop zone by about 20 miles and gave us
the green light over an area of pill boxes, rock walls and
trees. I don't think we were over 250 to 300 ft. when
we jumped. We also jumped with our guns unloaded and
had little tin crickets for identification. The
password was George and the countersign was Marshall.
Passed over Gela, Sicily, town on fire
(jumped at 11:40PM) on the following morning at 7AM one of
our men was scouting around for equipment and ran into a
German machine gun nest. He escaped with a crease
across his helmet. We had landed 200 yards from an 88
battery, then all hell broke out. They threw mortars
down on us. Everyone was on his own. I was
pinned down for about 3 hours with Bob Bolen. Finally
the Germans left. We regrouped after burying the dead
and moved out pulling our 75 pack howitzers. We had
lost contact with our combat team 505 Infantry. Spent
all night trying to link up with the 505.
July 10, 1943 March
12km North of Marina Di Ragusa, Sicily (Clear & Warm)
Neal and Major Wicks with HQ and D Batteries joined B
Battery on hill east of bivouac area. Capt. Moore left
back with men that could not walk.
July 10, 1943 Truck
Participated in the Battle of Biazza Ridge on July 10/11.
Battery C destroyed 3 Me 109s by 50 caliber machine gun
fire. Gavin praised battery for assisting in the
Witnessed the tragic "friendly fire" jump of the 504th. 45
men of Battery C joined forward elements of the infantry and
served with them as assault troops. 60 others of Battery C
with 3 guns were the first troops to enter Vittoria.
At one point in my wanderings I went
to a well in a courtyard of house to fill canteen.
There was a Sicilian woman wailing because her husband
was lying in the doorway dead. Shot by mistake I
would guess in all the confusion that night.
Battalion formed with prisoners and moved out after we
broke their rifles over a rock wall, also a couple of
ancient machine guns. Two 505 guys killed by
Italian grenades. Moved out late in the afternoon,
hadn't went too far when started to receive some fire
from the left flank. Had to knock down wall to get
barrel of the 75mm gun to bear, the rear trail was
sitting on hard road, gun bucked up and back every time
we fired. Nobody hurt and we were soon on our way.
Made some of our prisoners pull the gun. This was
probably against the Geneva Convention. Marched
all night, at one time past of bunch of dead Germans or
Italians by some knocked out armored cars. The
smell was very bad. B Battery was right in the
middle of all this wreckage, and smell, when the long
column stopped for a break. We were exhausted and
just dropped in the ditches. It was dark so the
living and the dead were sharing the same ditches.
It was hard to tell which was which. We kept
moving all night headed for Gela. We were moving
through the town of Vitoria I think about midnight when
we saw the anti-aircraft fire that shot down so many of
the 504 combat team. One of the guys from my gun
squad got hold of some vino and got himself pretty well
plastered and started to give Capt. Harris a bad time.
Capt. Harris hauled off and knocked him to the ground.
Then he motioned for myself and another guy to come over
where the guy was still on the ground and told us to
take his rifle away from him and to keep an eye on him
until he sobered up. The guy was later transferred
out with the rest of the screw-ups. Another
trooper and myself had been guarding a bunch of Italian
prisoners. They were really happy to be out of the
war. They would pull out their wallets and show us
pictures of their wives, or girlfriends, their babies.
We really didn't have to guard them. They seemed
quite content. They just wanted to get their part
of the war over with and go home.
1st. Lt. Charles G. Derby (HQs) KIA
Tec 5 Theodore Cabali (HQs) KIA
Pvt. Ben F. Blount (A) KIA
Cpl. Richard Rosenbush (B) KIA
Capt. Stuart M. Seaton (A) WIA
1st Lt. Edward D. Whitley (HQs) WIA
1st Lt. Richard S. Aiken (D) SWA
1st Lt. Emil H. Nelson (D) SWA
Capt. Goodwin Johnston (HQs) LIA
Sgt. Harold K. Wuestenberg (HQs) LIA
Pvt. Carmelo J. Pulizzano (C) WIA
Pvt. Stanley Wilczewski (D) WIA
Pfc. Vernon P. Aubin (D) LIA
Pfc. Charles O. Lofton (A) WIA - GSW - Neck &
Pvt. John N. Calvert (C) SIA
Pvt. Alfred J. Basse (C) SWA
Pvt. Otis B. Clifton (C) SIA
Pfc. Sam T. Skoda (D) LWA
Pvt. John W. Burris (A) WIA - GSW - Abdomen
Pfc. William L. Sperbert (A) LWA
Pvt. Robert E. Parsons (B) LWA
Sgt. Floyd U. Bond (C) LIA
Pvt. Michael Waslesyn (B) LWA
Pvt. Thomas Wojcischowski (B) LWA
Pvt. Frederick Davis (D) SWA
Olosy WIA - shot in foot
1/Lt. Orval H. Sheppard WIA
Sgt. James W. Ayers WIA - Sprained Knee
T/4 Kenneth Yochum WIA - Sprained Back
Cpl. Harold E. Cook WIA - LW - Nose
Sgt. Raby MIA
Monument at Biazza Ridge (Ponte
Pillbox at Biazza Ridge in 1943
Pillbox today (2005)
July 11, 1943
La Croce, Sicily
& D Batteries received verbal order Lt. Col. Harden at
7:00PM to move to bivouac North of San Croce Camerina.
Movement began at 10:30PM.
C Battery made contact with CO 505 CT at 8:00AM.
Ordered to move five miles NW of Vittoria on road to Gela.
Movement began at once using captured transportation.
Immediately upon arrival at Biazza Ridge, howitzer were put
into position to repel tank attack using direct laying.
Attack repelled with one MK VI destroyed one damaged and
others hit. Machine gun crew shot down another ME 109
(confirmed) by 180th CT of 45th Division. Bivouacked
in the area where remainder of Battalion less A Battery
joined arrived the next morning. A Battery remained in
bivouac. Patrols sent to make contact with friendly
troops with no results.
We pulled into wooded area, dug in,
sent out patrols, tried to make radio contact.
After marching all night we pulled
into a barnyard about daylight, and everybody took a
break. When we rested we were on the road again
and joined the combat team at Biazza Ridge.
Somewhere along the way we got rid of all our prisoners.
I think we gave them to the 45th Division. Went
into position and dug in. Got some
watermelon out of garden. We have captured Italian
tanks, trucks, guns and a couple motorcycles.
Heard that Sgt. Sholonis was killed when there door load
got stuck, and by the time they jumped they were over
the beach. Sgt. Raby and his planeload are still
missing. Just ate some K rations and waiting to
move up to front. German planes bombing ships in
harbor, saw only one shot down. Got my foot taped
up. Just came from where 505 lost a lot of guys.
After we had taken a break and had a chance to get some
sleep in the barnyard, we hit the road rested and in
very high spirits. We had survived our first night
combat jump, our first fighting and winning over the
enemy. The climate was better than North Africa
and we went in columns, one on each side of the road
with the prisoners pulling the howitzer in the middle.
Sometimes when we would take a short break and if we
were lucky we would be opposite grape vineyards or melon
patches, or tomato patches. We would take the
steel part off our helmets, run out in the field and
fill it up with whatever was available. The spoils
of war you know. As we marched down the road, we
would see these little farm houses with pretty curtains
in the windows, some close to the road and others
further back. When we got up close we could see
that they were not what we thought they were. They
were pill boxes with the curtains that looked so nice
and pretty painted so they looked like real curtains.
Cpl. Lewis W. Baldwin (C) KIA
Pvt. Trafford H. Williams (C) KIA
Pvt. Edward G. Lakomy (C) KIA
Capt. Victor E. Garrett (HQs) SWA
Pfc. Harvey K. Brenes (B) LWA
S/Sgt. George Dariska (HQs) LWA
S/Sgt. Clarence G. Bell (HQs) LWA
Tec 5 Dolan R. Doby (HQs) LWA
July 12, 1943
5 miles South of Vittoria, Sicily
& D Batteries moved into bivouac five miles south of
Vittoria at 4:00AM. Received orders at 7:30AM to move
five miles NW of Vittoria. Movement begun at 8:00AM.
Closed in new area with C Battery at 2:00PM. A Battery
remained in bivouac area sent out patrols to make contact
with friendly troops. No results. Two howitzers
lost on drop. Much signal equipment lost or abandoned
due to lack of means of transportation. Personnel
tired, dirty and hungry. Not transportation available.
Water supply satisfactory. Morale very high.
pinned down from July 12 to 15th
Tec 4 Claude A. Doster (A) KIA
Sgt. Edward R. Bucher Jr. (C) DOW
1st. Lt. Billy R. Lewelling (HQs) LWA
Pvt. John C. Cherkauskas (D) LWA
Cpl. Winfred L. Mellon (HQs) LWA
July 13, 1943
Battalion less A Battery cleaning equipment. A Battery
no change. Patrols made contact with 16 CT 1st
Division at 7:30PM.
HQ, B & D batteries joined Lt. Col. Harden and C Battery 7 miles
west of Vittoria at 11:00PM.
Still at Biazza Ridge, US 155
artillery outfit just went by. 376 Parachute
Artillery and 504 Parachute Infantry lost a lot of guys.
Talked to a medic out of 504. Their plane was hit
and blew up. He was only one to get out of his
plane. He pulled his reserve and got clear of the
wreckage and came down with his reserve chute only.
Went to look at Mark 6 Tiger tank that "C" Battery
knocked out, it's a big son of a gun, had 88mm gun on
it. Also looked at a 77mm gun, a motorcycle, and 5
German graves. Cecil Farmer and myself went over
to where they had German prisoners from the Herman
Goring Panzer Division, burying about 15 of our guys in
shallow graves. Two troopers from our Battalion
were killed when the light Italian tank that they
captured that resembled a British Bren Carrier took a
direct hit from a German 88 on a Mark 6 Tiger Tank.
Since we didn't jump with blankets and it got pretty
cold at night, I had been using my cellophane type gas
cape to keep a little warm at night. Looked up one
morning, and here comes Rip True with wheelbarrow full
of German blankets he got out of a barracks near by.
The 4th gun section slept warm that night, but had to go
to the 45th Division aid station the next day to get
Ridgway's Paratroopers, Clay Blair - Gavin, in one of the
finest, most dogged displays of leadership in all of World War II,
held on to Biazza Ridge. As the day wore on he got decisive
outside help. Some 75mm pack howitzers of Harrison Harden's
456th Parachute Artillery arrived.
(Harden himself was dropped thirty-two miles from the assigned DZ.)
Sgt. Anthony W. Sholonis (C) KIA - Jumped
1st. Lt. Carrell F. Willis (HQs) KIA
Pvt. Maurice P. Doran MIA
Sgt. George S. Sipple (A) SWA
Pvt. Valentine Bianchin (C) WIA
Cpl. Roy L. Montague (A) LWA
July 14, 1943
1 mile East of Gela, Sicily
Departed Biazza Ridge at 7:00AM on foot and arrived 1 mile
East of Gela at 5:00PM. A Battery joined Battalion
here at 7:10PM. Ammunition on hand, 1180 rounds.
Marched to Gela, a tough hike, feet
are killing me (new boots). Saw some American
jeeps and five American tanks that were destroyed and
dead paratrooper beside bridge. Somebody had taken
his boots. German and American equipment scattered
in the ditches. Sgt. Raby is ok. We are now
on big hill overlooking Gela. Can see group of
American ships in harbor. I'm out of water.
Very thirsty. Sgt. Raby and his planeload reported
missing, found out later that they got lost over the
ocean and flew back to Africa, and came in the next
night with the 504.
July 15, 1943
Still on hill by Gela. Have
plenty of water now. Everybody pissed off because
we had to shave. Had an inspection by General
Gavin. After inspection went to beach. Got a
ride in amphibious duck to Gela. While on the hill
at Gela, we had a after battle critique where anybody
could speak out his ideas on the jump, weapons, etc.
One guy got up and suggested that since we had such a
bad dispersal, that they let the paratroopers fly the
planes, and make the air force jump.
Pvt. Lee M. Ross (A) KIA
Pfc. James O. Ellis (HQs) WIA
Pvt. Horace E. Drew (C) LWA
July 16, 1943
Had mountain rations for breakfast,
pretty good. Busted part of my rifle. Got
another part and fixed it. Went swimming in the
ocean today and had lots of fun. Lots of landing
craft wrecked on beach. Sweated like heck going
over and back. Eating 5 & 1 rations, better then C
or K rations. Lots of ships in harbor unloading
men and equipment.
GIs from Gela pushed inland and we
moved out to Gela 10 miles away by donkey & carts.
We bivouacked on the outskirts of Gela for 4 days trying
to get out act together.
Pfc. Leonard Orlowski (B) WIA
July 17, 1943
1 mile South of Agrigento, Sicily
Departed from Gela area at 9:00AM by vehicle and arrived at
bivouac area 2 miles Southeast of Agrigento at 10:00PM.
Cleaned 75mm howitzer. Still
waiting to move out. They said we would leave tonight.
We moved out by truck towards the front. Passed lots
of wrecked pill boxes and trucks. Bridges were blown
up so we went around them. Using some captured trucks
to move up. A. J. Pierce driving a big charcoal
burning truck. Camped for the night near Littica.
All the towns we went through are pretty old and dirty.
Traveled about 60 miles today. Lot of troops going
July 18, 1943
Neal and Lt. Lewellan reconnoitered vicinity.
Went down to a stream and washed.
Filled my helmet with grapes. Went swimming in the
ocean again, came back and ate. Watched about 200
Italian prisoners go by with only two guards.
July 19, 1943
1 mile Southeast of Ribera
Departed Agrigento area at 10:00AM by vehicle and arrived at
bivouac area 1 mile Southeast of Ribera at 11:30PM.
Cleaned bazooka and rifle, moved
again toward the front. More bridges blown out.
Moved at night. Now in orchard. Dug slit
Tec 4 Cyril D. Schreiner (A) LWA
July 20, 1943 Truck
We moved up the coast toward Trapani,
knocking out pill boxes along the coast.
Cpl. James M. Bishop (A) WIA - FS -
Cpl. George W. Blair (B) LWA
July 22, 1943 Truck
Ste. Margherita, Sicily
Departed Ribera area at 8:00AM and arrived at bivouac area
1/2 mile South of Santa Margherita at 9:00PM.
Still in orchard, found well.
Best drinking water since I left the states. Took
whores bath out of helmet. Ate some grapes and
July 23, 1943 Truck/March
Departed Santa Margherita area at 12:00PM and arrived at
firing position 1 mile East of Trapani at 5:00PM.
Still at Orchard, had gun drill.
Cleaned bazooka. Laying around waiting to go
July 23, 1943
1 mile east of Trapani
established strong points and road blocks east of Trapani
and in San Marco and Paparrela. All resistance ceased
on July 23. A Battery attached to 1st Battalion 505
with mission to seize San Marco and Paparrela.
Remainder of Battalion went into position under enemy
artillery fire. Fired five battery concentrations
silencing two enemy batteries and knocking out a strong
point and some pill boxes. Enemy resistance ceased at
about 6:45PM. Fired 141 rounds leaving 1189.
Moved up to another place.
Going into action again soon.
Ridgway's Paratroopers, Clair Brown - To counter the artillery
fire, Ridgway and Gavin brought up some guns of Harrison
Harden's 456th airborne artillery. Seeing this, the
Italian artillery zeroed in on the American artillery, sending
in a hail of bursting shells that forced one gun crew to run for
shelter. Ridgway's G-2, George Lynch, and the G-3, Klemm
Boyd, were watching. What happened next was one of the
boldest acts Lynch had ever seen, and he would never forget it.
"Ridgway calmly strode up to the deserted gun while Italian
shells were bursting in all around it. His brave example
rallied the crew back into action." The incident did not bode
well for Harrison Harden. Later, on Ridgway's order, Max
Taylor relieved Harden from command, reduced him in rank and
sent him back to the States. Harden, replaced by his exec,
Hugh A. Neal, was bitter. He wrote later that he
distrusted most infantrymen, whom he found to be "uncooperative,
unimaginative, and unintelligent." He faulted infantryman
Ridgway in particular for "lack of care for his men" and for
"bad judgment in the planning of the second jump into Sicily."
In the Trapani "battle," Harden thought that Ridgway "seemed to
be commanding well and was brave under fire to the point of
being exhibitionistic." (pg. 113)
1st. Lt. Timothy A. Moran (C) LWA
July 24, 1943
July 24, 1943 March/Truck
Moved to Trapani by truck. Crowded
as heck. Went past burning railroad station.
Went into position on outskirts of Trapani Went
into position under fire. They were using time
fire, but had their fuses set wrong and their shells
were bursting high in the air. I could lay in my
slit trench and reach up and pick grapes.
July 25, 1943
of Trapani. Forces engaged were 505th Combat Team and
124th Coastal Infantry Regiment (Italian) and 207th Coastal
Division (Italian) as well as Italian naval personnel.
Fires from yesterday still burning.
White flags on houses. People cheering as we came
through the towns. Threw us apples, candy,
flowers, and sometimes when we stopped they gave us
bottles of wine.
July 26, 1943 Truck
Departed firing position 1 mile East of Trapani and arrived
at bivouac area 6 miles southeast of Trapani.
July 27, 1943
Left few guys on gun, and the rest of
the Battalion went prowling through the hills and some
little towns. I think this was a show of force to
let the people know what we were in charge.
Sweated so much, it got in my eyes. Found out that
we are going back to North Africa. Somebody
stealing morphine out of first aid packets.
July 28, 1943
again on another hike through the country side, longer than
yesterday. Went past airport which had been bombed.
All kinds of planes scattered all over. Dead horses in
August 3, 1943
Colonel Harrison B. Harden relieved, and reduced in rank, by
Brigadier General Maxwell D. Taylor (artillery commander)
for failure to maintain discipline in battalion during the
July 24 Battle of Trapani. "A" battery had jumped into
foxholes during some shelling which angered Ridgeway.
He walked out to the abandoned gun in the midst of shelling,
rallying the artillerymen. Many officers and men of
the battery felt that the dismissal of Harden was really
because of a difference in artillery philosophy. Being
infantrymen, Ridgeway and Taylor felt that artillery should
be used in direct support where Harden, a professional
artilleryman, felt artillery should provide indirect
support. Ridgeway found the incident at Trapani as a
good excuse to replace Harden.
Harrison Harden (notes to Clay Blair for his book on Ridgeway)
Prior to the time it was assigned to
the 82nd Airborne Division, the 456th Parachute FABn,
then a part of the Airborne Command at Fort Bragg,
developed and constructed and tested the special
equipment necessary to deliver parachute field artillery
into combat. The battalion conducted training for
and furnished cadres for all of the original parachute
field artillery battalions. The 456th PFAB was the
first such battalion to go into battle, on 9 July 1943.
During training in North Africa the 456th was attached
to the 505th Combat Team commanded by then Col. Gavin.
Gavin and I did the detailed planning for the first jump
into Sicily. The battalion fought initially with
10 75mm pack howitzers (of 12 planned and transported).
At Biazza Ridge the unit assisted in repulsing an attack
by the tanks of the Herman Goering Tenth Panzer Division
and helped hinder the attack of the Tenth on the beaches
at Gela. The battalion was part of the attack on
Trapani. Before assembly after the drops, the
batteries conducted much fighting at various locations.
(I personally landed 32 miles from my destination).
I was relieved by then Brig. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor for
alleged failure to maintain discipline in the battalion.
Neal was battalion Executive. I was reduced in
rank and sent home to the Airborne Command. I have
never had contact with Neal or d'Alession since 3 August
John T. Cooper was liaison for me to the 505th and the
best officer I had. Stuart H. Seaton commanded "A"
Battery of the 456th on the jump into Sicily.
Seaton and the Headquarters Battery Commander, Victor E.
Garrett, were wounded on the jump.
I have already stated cause not particularly to like
Mathew B. Ridgeway. As a field artilleryman I
distrust most infantrymen. As a breed, they are
uncooperative, unimaginative, and unintelligent (note
their standings in the West Point classes). They
do fight, which I guess is what they are paid for.
The Russians attack with tanks and artillery and send in
the infantry to mop up.
Blair/Cooper - Major Hugh Neal, also a professional
artilleryman, assumes command and Wicks becomes
XO. Neal was an excellent teacher but many under
his command felt that he was a perfectionist who was
August 1943 Truck
Went of firing problem on other side
of Trapani. Then went swimming in ocean. A
bags came in with rear echelon. On guard post #4.
Visited Areecce (The city above the clouds) Then
went on firing problems and road marches.
Civilians come in area couple times a day to sell eggs,
melons and vino. Getting ready to leave, going
back to North Africa. The island is now in our
hands. Went on another hike, got back with two
blisters. Heard again that we are going back to
North Africa. Moved about 3 miles to old German
camp. German and Italian equipment scattered all
over. Everybody had the Red Ass, all non-coms
ducked retreat. S--- Drunk, Sgt. R--- & Sgt. ---
shipped out. Mc--E--- & E---put in guard house.
Don't remember all the details, but do remember when we
had to take one guy up to court martial proceedings.
We had to get a stretcher from the Medics because he was
too drunk to walk. The outcome of all this was
that they transferred all the habitual screw up and
trouble makers out of the Battalion.
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT SICILY
Wounded not evacuated
Cooper had trouble keeping order in a guard house, filled with
misfit parachutists and drunkards. Women were coming in the
evenings, bringing wine. Cooper turned to Pvt. Carson "Booger"
Childress, known for his strength and devotion to Cooper.
(Before war, Booger had been member of SC chain gang after setting
fire to a church.) Cooper told him he was promoting him to
sergeant and placing him in charge of the guard house. Booger
didn't want to be a sergeant, but Cooper insisted. Booger
drove up to the guard house and called all the men out. He
asked any man who thought he could take on the Booger to step
forward, but none did. He then asked for any two men, but none
stepped forward. There was some shuffling of feet and Booger
ordered them to attention. He then asked all of them to step
forward if they felt they could take him on, but they stayed at
attention. He then got on the front of his jeep with his Tommy
gun and ordered them to fall into formation and to begin running.
Booger followed them in the jeep with the Tommy gun, making sure
they were sufficiently tired. They did not give the unit any more
Battery A Entered Sicily with 175
men. 76 were not killed or wounded. Lt.
Shepard only lt. not k/w.
Stuart Seaton (tape)
On second day, Stuart Seaton took
some men on patrol and was wounded in the right shoulder
and head by rifle fire.
Al Mury (tape)
Weather during flight to DZ was
terrible. Half the men were getting sick on the
plane. It was tough getting up to prepare to jump
because of the slipping over the vomit on the floor of
the plane. Mury landed near Camissa, about 30
miles from the DZ. If had landed on the DZ, would
have been in the middle of the Herman Goering Div.
They took a lot of Italian prisoners, who willing turned
Remembers beautiful moonlit night accentuating 3 ancient
While heading toward Trapani, Mury saw a sign for the
505th Troop Carrier Wing. Remembering the claim of
his pilot that if he didn't drop Mury's stick on the DZ.
The pilot would give him a bottle of whiskey, Mury went
looking for him. He finally found him but only got
a glass of whiskey for his trouble.
Gus Hazzard (tape)
Missed dropped zone by more than 25
miles. The first person he met was Bob Boland.
They landed near a German 88 battery.
Jay Karp (tape):
landed in open field with stone walls
a couple of miles from DZ. Came up on Biazza Ridge
at end of battle. On road to Trapani, saw allied,
anti-aircraft guns fire on the 504th. Felt this
second jump was totally unnecessary since the positions
had already been taken. When reached Trapani, had
folding stock carbines which were useless. He told
Italians that folding stock carbines were to be used to
shoot around corners.
Other Casualties During Sicily Campaign - no dates known
1st. Lt. Charles R. Zirkle (Med. Det.) WIA
Pvt. John J. Milner (D) WIA
Pvt. Harold Mast (B) LIA
Pvt. Alfred Karimaki (B) WIA
Pvt. Bernard V. Hart (D) WIA
Pvt. Edd Edmonds (B) WIA
Tec 5 Clyde B. Martin (D) WIA
Pfc. Henry F. Rutherford (D) WIA
Tec 5 James W. Hanley (HQs) WIA
Pvt. Lewis R. Dohtery (HQs) WIA
Pvt. Fred R. Snyder (HQs) WIA
Tec 5 Charles W. Whitney (C) WIA
Pvt. Robert E. Compston (C) WIA
Tec 4 Lester L. Wilhelm (A) WIA
Cpl. Glen E. Witwere (B) WIA
Sgt. John A. Saver (B) WIA
Cpl. Frank T. Pfeil (B) WIA
Pvt. Nicholas J. Converso (D) WIA
S/Sgt. Howell S. Blankenbaker (HQs) WIA
Pvt. Joseph E. Meighan (HQs) WIA
S/Sgt. Alvaro L. Beltran (HQs) WIA
S/Sgt. John J. Szpila (HQs) WIA
Pfc. Thomas G. Stivale Prisoner
Pvt. Joseph T. Kieltyka of Battery D is listed as
a battle casualty, but is not included in above because he shot
himself in the feet in Trapani while in his quarters and not in
proximity to the enemy. Pfc. Boleck S. Morez of Battery C
was shot in the ear by adjoining man while in ranks at
Aug. 20, 1943 Air
Departed Trapani area by truck at 9:00AM and arrived at
airfield 8 miles South of Trapani at 10:30PM. Departed
airfield by plane. Arrived at airfield 10 miles
Northeast of Kairouan. Departed airfield by truck and
arrived base camp 30 miles Northeast of Kairouan at 10:00PM.
Blair (pg. 160):
Batteries C & D flew back across the
Mediterranean to Comiso, Sicily. Ridgeway and
Taylor had soured on the 456th due to the incident at
Trapani. For that reason, neither Ridgway nor
Taylor pressed to have the 456th included in the
Salerno, Italy operation. It enplaned in Sicily
for North Africa and, owing to an administrative
foul-up, was scattered around North African and Sicilian
Went to airport at Trapani.
C-47s all over the place to fly us back to Africa.
Got souvenir from wrecked German plane. Boarded
C-47 and flew back to North Africa. Went into
bivouac at pretty good place. Bob Hope on show.
Moved by truck to Bizerte. Good deal. Go
swimming everyday. Heard that we will be flying
back to Sicily.
Batteries C & D
Batteries C & D
Batteries C & D
Batteries C & D
Aug. 23, 1943
Batteries A & B. Bob Hope Show
with Jerry Colona & Francis Langford??
Aug. 28, 1943 Truck
Batteries A & B
We were camped right on the beach
outside of the harbor at Bizerte. Went through our
biggest air raid of the war. We could see the
German planes when the search lights caught them in
their beams. Flack was really filling the sky, and
lots of stuff with fuses that didn't work were falling
down in our area and exploding. Watched a lighted
up hospital ship come sailing out of the harbor, making
a mad dash for the open sea. Another trooper lost
couple of fingers while taking apart a fuzzed 37mm shell
he picked up at Trapani airport while waiting for planes
to take us back to Africa.
trained for amphibious landing,
camping on the beach.
Sept. 5, 1943
we had a large air raid.
Sept. 7, 1943
Departed from bivouac area 30 miles Northeast of Kairouan by
vehicle at 9:00AM.
Arrived at the airfield 4 miles South of Matfur at 11:00AM.
Sept. 9, 1943 Air
Batteries A & B
Departed airfield by plane at 2:00PM and arrived at airfield 4
miles north of Comiso, Sicily at 4:00PM. Bivouacked on
north edge of airfield. Had returned to Sicily for
possible airborne mission.
Back in Sicily now camped at airport
a few miles from Vittoria. Wrecked German planes
all over the place. Took my trench knife and took
joy stick out of a ME-109 fighter. Lots of German
bombs in woods. Flies terrible. Went to
Vitoria one day, got some vino. We do a little
drill in morning and get afternoon off. Too hot to
do much. Heard that we are going to Italy soon.
Back to the old grind of training again. Had big
rain storm. Got my tent fixed up. Hope it
will keep me dry. Sleeping on a bed made of 88mm
shell cases (they were like a wicker basket).
Adolph Menjou was here today, told us the people back
home thought the war was over and that production had
decreased. Still near airfield at Vittoria shows
just about every night. Bowersox and I took bath
over by a Sicilian well. Civilians thought that
was real funny. This place in the trees at the
edge of the airport was really shanty town. We
made huts out of old lumber shelter halves, and other
stuff that we found in the area. Lt. from another
battery killed when he put down a German teller mine by
the mess tent. It went off and riddled the mess
tent and wounded a couple more guys. I heard that
he brought it into the area to lecture about it?
Sept. 12, 1943
504 took off for jump in Italy.
Sept. 13, 1943
505 took off for jump in Italy.
Oct. 12, 1943
American pilot flying captured ME 109
killed at field near here while landing. Raining
Oct. 13, 1943
- O--- got on a crying drunk, and had
the whole battery in hysterics. Going out to fire
Oct. 14, 1943
Went out and fired the 75s.
Oct. 22, 1943
Squadron of B17s from bases in North
Africa landed at airport here. They are going on a
mission deep in Austria.
Oct. 25, 1943
Batteries A & B. Experimental day jump made with the
pack 75 already assembled in an attached glider.
Planes flew over Mediterranean, turned, and came back in,
released the glider, then the tow ropes and jumped. Most of
jumpers concerned more about tow ropes than the glider.
After breakfast, all squads had to
furnish two men each to make jump at Gela. Like
always, when something like this came up, my 4th gun
section would cut cards. Bowersox and myself were
the ones from our squad. We loaded up in the C-47s
with a glider hooked on behind with the 75mm gun fully
assembled and took off from the airfield where we were
bivouacked. Flew out over the Mediterranean for
awhile then came in over the airport at Gela. They
dropped the glider, then the tow rope over the field,
and we jumped and landed in a nice soft plowed field at
the edge of the airport. Then pretended to attack
an anti-aircraft position on a hill overlooking the
airport. We were quite concerned that the tow rope
would not release and the hook on the end would hit and
split a canopy. So we tied a string to the end
hooked up to the tail of the plane and ran it along the
fuselage to the guy standing in the door so when the tow
rope released it would pull the string out of the guys
hand, and we would know the tow rope was released ok.
Nov. 1, 1943
Gus Hazzard - Batteries A & B packed for England (rumor)
Nov. 5, 1943
Gus Hazzard - Loaded box cars in Comiso.
Nov. 7, 1943 Train
Departed from Comiso Airfield by vehicle at 8:30PM.
Arrived Comiso Station at 10:00PM.
Batteries A & B - Rainy
Batteries A & B
Batteries A & B
Nov. 8, 1943 Train
Arrived British Transient Camp 5 miles outside of Augusta at
Batteries A & B. Camped with British troops.
Nov. 9, 1943 Boat
Departed Transient Camp by foot at 7:00AM and arrived at
Augusta quay at 9:00AM. Boarded ship S.S. Villa De
Walked five miles to dock and boarded
British run French ship The Villa De Oran
Leaving Sicily. Went to Augusta
by train, stayed overnight in British camp.
Marched to docks and boarded French ship run by the
British named "Villa De Oran". I had yellow
jaundice and was put in ships sick bay all the way to
Algiers. Had German prisoners aboard. Landed
at Algiers stayed three days. Went by box car to
Bizerte. I was very sick and had miserable trip.
Box car was crowded. Took long time to get to
Nov. 13, 1943 Boat
Arrived Algiers at 6:00PM
Nov. 14, 1943 Boat
Debarked from S.S. Ville at 10:00AM and departed quay by
vehicle. Arrived at the 23rd Replacement Depot at 11:00AM.
Batteries A & B arrived 12PM. Batteries reunited.
Nov. 17, 1943
Batteries A & B departed 23rd Replacement Depot by vehicle
at 10:00AM. Arrived Maison Blanche at 10:30AM.
Entrained and departed at 12:00PM.
Nov. 20, 1943
Batteries A & B arrived at bivouac area 3 miles west of
Bizerte at 2:00PM.
Nov. 22, 1943
Now at Bizerte. Will stay about
4 days. Went to Tunis on pass. Nice modern
city. Raining like heck. On night detail at
dock loading crates of parachutes to go to England with
Nov. 24, 1943
Headquarters Battery and Batteries A & B boarded S. S. Anson
Jones at 5:00PM.
the S. S. Anson Jones
Nov. 25, 1943 Boat
Headquarters, Batteries A & B sailed on Liberty Ship Anson
Jones at 10:30AM. Batteries C & D remained behind
under command of Capt. Raymond M. Crossman, attached to HQ
Battery, 82nd A/B Division Artillery.
Now on Liberty ship "Anson Jones"
headed for Naples I think? Bunch of British
engineers on board.
Nov. 26, 1943
Had turkey for dinner today on board
Liberty ship "Anson Jones". Now anchored in harbor
of Augusta, Sicily. Same place we left from quite
some time ago to go back to Africa. On guard
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT NORTH AFRICA
Vic Tofany (tape):
Borrowed battery jeep to visit
friends after Sicily. Jeep was stolen.
Tofany reported it stolen. When he notified his
driver that it was stolen, his driver was upset because
he had stolen it and had pained the 463rd designation on
the side. It became common practice for the men to
steal trucks and jeeps and paint the unit designation on
Tony Spagnol and other men from his unit were sitting listening to a
Captain from division headquarters request volunteers for a special
mission on August 25. Tony and Bob Langfeld volunteered.
On August 31 Tony and Bob were sent to the 319th Glider Field
Artillery which was assigned to support the 1st Ranger Battalion of
Colonel Darby. Tony was assigned to a 50 caliber machine gun
crew to anchor the north end of the 319th gun positions on the
Salerno beachhead. Prior to the invasion of Italy, Tony could
see LCT's, LCI's, destroyers, sub-chasers, liberty ships, the
British battleship Monitor with its 14" guns, American and British
cruisers within and around Salerno Bay.
"There were air raids every five
minutes. We were told that the cruiser Savanah
received a direct hit on a gun turret. The ship
was in our convoy; I would guess several miles or so
away. We were told that the ship suffered about
250 casualties, many may have been killed and\or
severely wounded. Big dog fight took place
overhead. Our fighter planes and German 109's go
at it above our fleet. Warships opened up with
their ack, ack guns but for some reason some of the
ships around us did not open up, why I don't know.
A fire fight could be seen on the beachhead a distance
away. We left Salerno Bay at about 1430 hour.
We saw several fighter planes go down in smoke flames.
I could not determine whether the planes shot down were
ours or German. Late at night, I guess about 2300
hour, we hit the beach at Maiori, Italy which we
understand is north of Salerno. Less than 15
minutes later I set foot in Italy. Even at night I
could see that Maiori is a quiet little town nestled
against the hills along the coast of western Italy.
I thought I saw a beautiful white stucco chapel from the
LTC before we landed. The full moon shown on the
little town which looked like a small town in the States
from the distance of our LCT. We unloaded the LCT
in about 35 minutes. I worked on the ammo detail.
We had an air raid in the area but no one was hit.
One or two bombers dropped bombs nearby at about 2400
hours. I was mighty tired so I laid down on the
ammo boxes with my buddies and fell asleep. I
slept through my first night of the invasion of mainland
Italy. We were told that the Rangers had landed
hours before us and cleared the beachhead and they were
now fighting for the hills behind the town. Also,
rumor has it that the Rangers are opposed by the XIV
Panzer Corp under General Vietinghoff. They are
meeting stiff opposition after they took the high ground
cutting off the Chiunzi Pass, near Monte di Chiunzi.
I believe we had guys from the 504 on ship with us and
also on the LSI's. I was assigned to a 50 caliber
machine gun crew to anchor the north end of the 319 gun
positions. After several days of firing the 105s
in support of the Rangers, I volunteered to carry five
gallon cans of water up to the Rangers on the top of the
hills in front of our gun positions. I had several
close calls when I got lost in front of the Ranger
positions. The battles were fierce and the balance
of the Salerno beachhead was precarious for several
days. We rejoined the 456 PFA after the Salerno
campaign which ended with the capture of Naples on
October 1, 1943. Langfeld and I were flown down to
Comiso, Sicily in a C-47."
Ridgway's Paratroopers, Clay Blair - One major element of the
division remained behind: the 456th Parachute Artillery, now
commanded by Hugh A. Neal. Ridgway and Taylor had soured on
the outfit and had replaced its commander, Harrison Harden.
For that reason, neither Ridgway nor Taylor nor Andy March pressed
to have the 456th included in the Salerno operation. It
enplaned in Sicily for North Africa and, owing to an administrative
foul-up, was scattered around North African bases. Much later,
it regrouped and landed in Italy by ship. (pg. 160)
Nov. 27, 1943 Boat
Arrived in Augusta at 11:00AM. Stayed in harbor over
night inside sub nets.
We had pulled into Augusta to wait
until dark and then make dash through the straits of
Messina. Convoy was raided going through straits
yesterday. Lots of British troops on board.
Nov. 28, 1943 Boat
Left 11:00AM. Passed through Messina straits at 12AM.
Nov. 28, 1943 Boat
Batteries C & D boarded British ship "Franconia" for British
Nov. 30, 1943 Boat
Batteries A & B & Hq docked at Naples at 11:00AM.
Debarked at 11:30AM and marched to bivouac area 5 miles
North of Naples at Bagnoli, Italy, arriving at 5:00PM.
Arrived at 10:00AM
Nov. 30, 1943 March
Came through the straits of Messina
OK. No sign of enemy planes. Pulled into
harbor at Naples. Lots of ships sunk in harbor.
Had long march to quarters, staying in some Italian
college buildings (Victor Emmanuel College)
Dec. 1, 1943
Christmas package from home.
Dec. 5, 1943
Went into Naples without pass.
Pretty interesting place. On guard tonight.
Dec. 8, 1943
Went to Naples with Datoli.
Walked all over. Talked to some survivors of 16
merchant ships that were sunk in the Atlantic.
They told us there were lots of ships in the Harbor at
Barry, including ammunition ships when some Faulk Wolf
fighter bombers that had twin tails and were mistaken
for out own twin tail P-38s. Got in close and
bombed heck out of them.
Dec. 9, 1943
Advanced detail left this morning for
Dec. 13, 1943
Departed Bagnoli by vehicle by echelon starting at 6:00AM.
Now about 30 miles from Naples at
Italian Army Garrison with the Canadian/American First
Special Service Force. Living in bombed out
buildings. Allied planes going back and forth all
day to the front lines. This was our first meeting
of the Canadian/American First Special Service Force.
We would be with them quite some time.
Dec. 14, 1943 Truck
Santa Maria, Italy
in bivouac area 1 mile Northwest of Santa Maria at 11:00AM.
Attached to the First Special Service Force, known to the
Germans as the "Black Devils". Gen. Frederick had stickers
printed with "The Worst is Yet to Come" in German which were
pasted on the foreheads of Germans killed during patrols. (Rome
'44, Trevelyan, pg. 193)
Dec. 21, 1943 Truck
Rain, snow, mud, mules & mountains
was the story of Cassino front. Water filled shell
holes, trees shattered, and destroyed villages.
Took hot shower and got clean underwear. Cleaned
gun and loaded in trailer. Getting ready to move
Dec. 22, 1943 Truck
Departed Santa Maria area by vehicle at 4:00PM.
Arrived in position at Ceppagna at 7:00PM.
Still by San Vittore (del Lazio).
Got haircut from kid about 12 years old in bombed out
town. On 4 hour guard last night but nobody woke
me up. So didn't stand guard. Don't think
the guy I was suppose to relieve could find my hole.
Gun all dug in and camouflaged. Did not do a hell
of a lot of firing. Moved back by jeep and trailer
to San Vittore for a rest.
Dec. 23, 1943
Mt. Sammucro (Monte Sambùcaro)
Went into position near Ceppagna in
support of First Special Service Force. Due to
heavy snow and general inclement weather, operations
were static during the period that this unit was on the
Italian southern front. Heavy artillery fire going
in both directions was the usual order of things.
Heard of Allied landings below Rome.
Moved up to new positions on side of hill. Raining
like heck. While digging gun pit came across old
Roman road. Did a lot of firing. German
planes diving on our positions on other side of hill.
Kitchen tent burnt down. Moore got hand burnt.
Dec. 25, 1943
in assault on Hill 720 (Western spur of Mt. Sammucro) on
Christmas at the front. Pulled
in last night. Dug gun in. Wet and muddy.
Saw Bill Faires and Norm Svela. They are in little
town close by. We moved up at night, and when
morning came found out we were in a really bad exposed
position on this hillside. We could see Casino and
the Abbey in front of us. I think this is why we
did not stay in this position very long. That
night the rain was really coming down and I was on guard
out in front of position and noticed a long line of guys
coming down past me. I asked, "What outfit you
guys in?" It was the Japanese 100th Battalion,
later to be part of the Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat
Dec. 28, 1943
T/5 Daniel Torrieri WIA
Jan. 3, 1944
Saw our plane dive bomb German position.
Went about 25 miles back of front to take shower. On
way back to front, German planes strafed us. Trucks
stopped. I jumped out over tailgate and dove under
motor of truck behind us. Green Eyes (Bennett) dove in
ditch full of water. So did Powers. Planes came
back about 2:00PM. Two of them shot down. Came
during fire mission. Everybody hit the dirt.
They killed about 20 men and left 3 trucks burning on the
Jan. 4, 1944
Still at front. We are dug in
on side of hill and close by there was a pile of dead
Germans that were piled up like a stack of wood and
Jan. 5, 1944
Watched our planes dive bomb German
positions. Big battle going on all night.
Sky was all lit up. Dead German wrapped in shelter
half close to position. Lots of rain.
Jan. 6, 1944
Enemy planes overhead. AA drove
them away. Germans shelling town and hill about a
mile away. Our planes dive bombing Germans.
Mortar shelling in close by the Germans. Now have
slit trench with roof.
Jan. 7, 1944 Truck
San Vittore (San Victoria), Italy
Departed positions area at Ceppagna by vehicle by echelon at
Arrived in position area 1/2 mile East of San
Vittore at 9:30PM.
Pvt. Wendell D. Gillman WIA - LW - Leg
Jan. 8, 1944
German planes overhead nearly all
day. Moving up tonight.
Pfc. John Rimm DOW
Jan. 9, 1944
Moved up to the front last night.
Dug gun in. Five of us came up late. Driver got
lost on the way up. After digging in, dug slit
trenches. It is raining very hard. A few enemy
shells bursting near. Finished slit trench and had
some fire missions.
Jan. 11, 1944
Firing at the Germans. Shell landed
right in front of our gun. A dud. It was in this
position when we first heard the German Nebelwerfer
(Screaming Meemie) a six barrel rocket gun that made such a
Jan. 13, 1944
Pvt. Francis Kane WIA - SFW - Back
German planes came over while eating
breakfast. Everybody scattered. Spitfires
chasing Germans. Our AA shooting at the Spitfires.
Shelled German dug out with good effect. B-25 received
direct hit from German AA. Burst into flames.
Jan. 15, 1944
Pvt. George M. Akin WIA - LW - Hand & Leg
Pfc. Wayne L. McKenzie WIA
Jan. 16, 1944
Departed positions area San Vittore by vehicle in
echelon at 2:30PM. Arrived in position area on Southeast edge of Cervaro at 5:30PM.
Fired all night. Heard that Rezor from HQ had foot blown off by
German mine while laying wire.
Pvt. Nicholas Rezor WIA - foot
Jan. 17, 1944 Truck
Finally relieved after months of rain,
snow, and mountains. Water-filled foxholes and gun pits.
Fired all night. Germans shelling us with mortars.
Took compass reading on them and fired corps 5 rounds. Today saw
German fighter plane blow up over gun position. Spitfire shot it
down. It was a German ME 109.
Jan. 17, 1944 Truck
Jan. 18, 1944
Departed position area Cervaro by vehicle by echelon at 7:00PM.
Jan. 19, 1944
Arrived positions area 2 miles Northwest of Cervaro at 4:00AM.
In position on outskirts of Cervaro. Moved in two
nights ago. Dug gun in. Fired very little. Now waiting to move a
couple miles toward Casino. Germans shelling close. S---- had a
nervous breakdown and sent to rear. Enemy planes overhead every
day. Moving up tonight.
Jan. 20, 1944
Departed position area Cervaro by vehicle by echelon at 3:30PM.
Arrived bivouac area 1 mile East of San Vittore at 8:00PM.
Jan. 24, 1944
Germans shelling pretty close. Moved back
to fox hole to sleep. We were attached to the First Special Service
Force, then the 36th Division and now attached to the 91st Recon
outfit. Still wet.
T/4 Robert T. Hambright WIA - CW -
Jan. 25, 1944
Moved up a railroad bed that was being used as a road pretty close
to front. Germans shelled heck out of our old area about 10 minutes
after we left. Direct hit where no. 2 gun position was. Crashed
P-38 out in front of our position.
Jan. 26, 1944
Departed bivouac area San Vittore at 12:00PM.
Arrived position area
2 miles Southwest of San Vittore at 2:30PM.
Jan. 26-27-28, 1944
All dug in at new position. Doing most of our firing
German shells landing close. A few guys get to go back
to a rest camp for a few days.
Jan. 30, 1944
Departed position area San Vittore by vehicle at 9:00AM
and arrived at bivouac area 11/2 miles North of Santa Maria at
Departed at 8:00PM by vehicle.
Jan. 31, 1944
Arrived outskirts of Pozzuoli, Italy by vehicle and foot at
11:30AM. Arrived at the landing at Pozzuoli at 1:30PM. Boarded
British LST's at 2:30PM and departed for the 100 mile trip to Anzio
Loaded on LCT's and LCI's and left for Anzio on January
Heard rumor that we would take off in morning. It
came true. Packed gun and went back to base camp at Santa Maria.
First Special Service Force all ready to go. Pulled out and spent
night in a staging area. Marched to docks. Got to see Bill and
Norm (two guys from my home town) in staging area. Rags hit guy
that was pestering Major Wicks. Boarded a LST. Had shower on board
and good chow. Even got a bunk. Pulled out and don't know where we
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT CASSINO
When troopers released from
hospital, they were put into pool and sent to any unit needing
reinforcements. If wanted to return to original unit, had to go
AWOL, find their units and report. Unit had to place them back on
rolls even though they realized they were AWOL.
Stuart Seaton (tape)
week as a forward observer on a hill near Monte Cassino and
witnessed the bombing of the abbey. Afternoon of the day of the disastrous crossing of the Rapido River
by the 36th Infantry Division and Texas National Guard, Neal took
Seaton and some other officers on a reconnaissance because of the
plan to attempt another crossing the next day. Seaton remembers a
deadly silence while driving in the jeep. All he saw were medics
with big Red Cross banners. The absence of noise was unusual for
Italy which was always a mass of noises. Stuart mentioned this to
Neal who said the Germans had permitted an hour moratorium to cross
the Rapido and remove the dead and wounded.
Al Mury (tape)
Cassino campaign, the 456th was the most ill-equipped unit for
fighting that God ever created." On Hill 1205, had very poor
equipment. No decent boots or coats. Mury got trench foot. On Mt.
Trocchio, the trail to the summit was a nightmare, heavily mined.
Had to follow the tape guides very carefully. Mury heard explosions
and men scream when they stepped on mines.
Claude Smith (tape) of Baker
Battery was going to put a shell into the abbey at Monte Cassino but
was told anyone doing that would be court-martialed.
Screaming meemies were coming in about every 5 minutes, so Smith
would time the shots and jump in the foxhole just before the shells
arrived. He thought he spotted the gun and called the position in.
2,700 guns opened up on the position. About an hour later the enemy
shells began coming in gain.
August Hazzard (tape)
1205, used mules to go up and down the hill. Hazzard laid wire to
OP back and forth. Forward observers under Lt. Shephard. There was
a mine field in front of 1205. Two Germans became trapped in the
field when they exploded mines. Every time they moved they set off
more mines. They laid and moaned all day until night when the
moaning finally ended. This was the one incident from the war that
stands out in Hazzard's mind. (Joe Lyons state those 2 bodies froze
and Ben Wright propped them up in front of the OP and said they were
his guards.) Hazzard remembers mud, rain, and slush during the
campaign. They were moving all the time. He observed French
Goumier troops from Morocco who would cut off their victim's ears.
They would come back at night and come extremely close to you
without your knowing it.
Jay Karp (tape)
On OP on hill
1205. Dead German was in front of OP. (refer to Hazzard tape) One
night when he was relieved along with another guy, they started down
the hill, but got lost. They weren't sure if they were headed
toward allied or enemy positions. They split up so at least one of
them would reach headquarters. Jay sat down behind a ledge until
daylight and then finished the journey down.
When moving beyond the Rapido River, Jay Karp passed over where the
34th Division had been slaughtered. All bodies still in holes,
bodies blown apart. He was later on a gun section by the abbey.
They received a lot of enemy counter fire. He dove for a lot of
holes. German rockets were fired at them. On one occasion, Jay
shared a hole with John Cunius. When they heard a German incoming
shell, they dove into a hole and the shell hit about 2 feet away.
They thought it was an on-time fuse, but after 10 minutes they came
out of the hole to find it was a dud. There were a lot of duds in
"In Italy the 456
supported the 505 PIR and the First Special Service Force in battles
near Santa Maria and continued support up to the Cassino front. I
was assigned as a cannoneer, substitute radio operator and any open
area where anyone needed help."
Rain, snow, mud,
mules and mountains - that's the story of the Casino front. The
only place during the whole war that the ground looked like pictures
of No-Mans land during the first World War with water filled shell
holes, trees shattered and destroyed villages. After a few weeks on
the Casino front, we pulled out and headed back to Naples. We
thought we were going to get a rest. Little did we realize that the
next day we would load on naval landing ships to be fed into the
meat grinder that became the Anzio beachhead.
Feb. 1, 1944
Debarked at Anzio at 8:30AM. Marched on foot to troop concentration
area 11/2 miles Northeast of Anzio, arriving at 10:00AM (2 miles).
Spent good night on LST. Landed on new beachhead at
Anzio. Saw spitfire on fire. Pilot bailed out and landed in the
ocean. Plane crashed in the sea. Destroyer picked up pilot.
Feb. 2, 1944 Boat
Anzio, Italy/Gustav Line
Departed concentration area Anzio by vehicle at 8:00AM. Arrived
bivouac area 4 miles North of Anzio at 9:00AM (3 miles). Departed
bivouac area by convoy at 7:00PM. Arrived position area 1/2 miles
Southeast of Borgo Bainsizza at 8:00PM (4 miles).
First Special Service Force, with 456th (less Batteries C & D),
relieved the 39th Engineer Combat Regiment to defend right flank of
VI Corps S at Bridge 5. The sector stretched about 8 miles along
Mussolini Canal from Bridge 5 to sea (1/4th of beachhead).
Batteries C and D and the designation 456th PFA were officially
assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in England. Neal was
incensed at the "rape of the battalion" (Blair, page 192) Lived on
Anzio like moles. Foxholes and slit trenches dug into sides of
canals and irrigation ditches. Shelling/counter shelling. Enemy
bomber attacks at night and fighter planes strafing during the day.
Enemy ground attacks during the day and night.
During the first days of the battalions stay on the
beach-head the enemy made repeated efforts to shove all the troops
in the ten mile square back into the sea. These efforts were
usually in the form of concentrated Infantry attacks supported by
heavy artillery fire.
Still in position. Germans shelled us yesterday.
Used a little time fire. Shells hitting close.
Feb. 3, 1944
2/Lt. John C. Millard WIA - LW - Arm
Feb. 5, 1944
Three officers (who had been relieved from direct command due to
there plotting against Neal) were in the Command Post with Cooper
and 8 enlisted men. A 170mm howitzer shell passed to the right of
Cooper and exploded in room with Capt. Joseph Harris, Battalion S-2,
Lt. William Sparks, Assistant S-2, and Lt. Herbert Wicks, Battalion
Executive Officer. Harris and Sparks killed along with enlisted man
and Cooper pulled Wicks from the wreckage. Cooper became Executive
Officer. Due to officer shortage, NCO's placed in postions normally
held by officers. In four day period between February 16th and
19th, the eight howitzers from the two active batteries averaged
over 1,200 rounds a day against counterattacks which usually lasted
an hour each.
Capt. Joseph D. Harris DOW
1st Lt. William N. Sparkes KIA
1st Lt. John B. Higdon KIA
1st Lt. Herbert Wicks WIA
Maj. John T. Cooper WIA - CW - Back
M/Sgt. Noah D. Gray WIA - MW - Face
Tec 4 Merwin L. Sandlin WIA
Cpl. Emmette W. Gordon WIA - CW - Head &
LW - Finger
Cpl. Paul E. Robin WIA - LW - Arm & Back
Pfc. Alex P. Miller WIA - LW - Head
Pfc. William L. Justice WIA - CW - Leg
Feb. 6, 1944
Shell hit CP. Killed Capt. Harris, a couple of
others, and one or two were wounded. German planes over today. Saw
one crash. Two of them flew over us real close. Both smoking.
Last night shelled German gun that was in cemetery. Germans counter
attacked but failed. Fighting around a canal over here. I believe
Cooper was in the building when the shell hit. I heard that this
farmhouse had a Navy radio team in it with a high powered radio that
was directing fire for warships off shore, and that the enemy radio
direction finder zeroed in on it.
Feb. 7, 1944
Pvt. Jeff N. Dyer WIA - LW - Wrist
Up all night last night. Expected Germans to counter
attack, but they didn't. Fired time delay and HE at them on
different sectors. Cold as hell last night. 20 Jerry's over today
attack ships in the harbor. Think two of them shot down.
Feb. 8, 1944
Germans again bombed harbor. Our bombers overhead
headed north. Plane drops emergency gas tank real close. Think it
was one of ours. Shelled house today. Delayed fuse. Germans ran
out. Use time fire and got em.
Feb. 9, 1944
Sgt. Joseph F. Rogan, Jr. WIA
Feb. 10, 1944
B-17 group going over to bomb German positions. One
received direct hit from German AA fire. Went down in balls of
fire. Another circled two men bailed out. Plane circled again and
then went into dive. Crashed. I think 7 men got out of this one.
Feb. 11, 1944
Got rained out of hole. Pitched tent. Ammo cases
floating down ditch.
Feb. 12, 1944
Germans dive bombing harbor.
Feb. 13, 1944
Same old stuff. Germans over at night bombing
harbor. Saw three shot down. Olivant and myself went out at night
to dig bazooka position. We didn't get much done. It was raining
like heck and the L shaped trench was full of water. There we were
up to our knees in water and miserable as heck. So, we started
singing some crazy song.
Feb. 15, 1944
Took shower back at the beachhead. I think its safer
up on the front.
1st Lt. Orval K. Sheppard WIA - LW
Feb. 16, 1944
By General Order No. 20, Headquarters, 5th Army, the 456th PFAB,
less personnel and equipment, was transferred to the European
Theater of Operations. In the same order, the 463rd PFAB (less C &
D) was organized with the personnel and equipment of the the 456th
PFAB. At the same time the Battalion was required to furnish a
cadre of 6 officers and 61 enlisted men. This seriously affected
their fighting strength.
In the four day period, between 16 February 1944 and
19 February 1944, the right howitzers from the two active firing
batteries averaged over one thousand two hundred (1200) a day
against counterattacks which usually lasted about an hour each.
Germans over in force last night. Raided harbor and
our positions. Dropped flares. Bombs all around us. Big attack
going on. Fired a lot this morning. Two ME 109s tried to shoot
down our cub observation plane. Missed him. Germans shelling road
Feb. 17, 1944
German planes tried to get Cub again. It flew around
the Church and big trees and got away. Saw our B-25s bomb German
positions. Germans over bombing harbor again. Germans expected to
attack again. We are ready for them.
Feb. 18, 1944
Saw 3 B-24s go down in flames over German territory.
About 300 B-24s in raid. Saw two make force landing on our side of
the lines. One plane was disabled. Crew jumped. Empty plane flew
overhead and over German lines. In a big circle, German AA missed
it. Plane flew back over our lines and crashed near Nettuno. German
counterattack last night. Fired like hell and beat it off. Got
some tanks. Germans sent in wrecker tank to get 2 disabled tanks
and we got it too.
Feb. 19, 1944
Germans attacked again and driven back by artillery and small arms
fire. Germans bomb ships in harbor about 3 times a day.
Pvt. Hubert M. Mullin WIA
Feb. 20, 1944
1/2 mile southeast (1SSF map 168/169). Batteries A and B were
re-designated the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion at a
location near the Mussolini Canal, about one half mile southeast.
Assigned to Fifth Army and attached to the VI'th Corps. Hugh A. Neal
assigned as battalion commander. Six officers and 60 men from this
unit rejoined the 456th in England several weeks later. The Germans
nicknamed the 463rd the "Whispering Death Automatic Machine" due to
the effectiveness of fire. Captured Germans thought the fire came
from some special machine.
John Cooper & Fred Shelton
The quiet flight of the 75MM howitzer shell going through the air to
its target. It had a quiet whispering sound, and it was on the
target before you knew it was there. The Germans began to know and
call this shell as "The Whispering Death."
German shells landing close. German bombers came over
in the evening and dropped radio controlled rocket bombs at ships in
Feb. 21, 1944
Same old stuff. Enemy planes over so low could have
thrown rocks at em. Saw one go down about 2 blocks from our
Feb. 22, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Enemy planes over last night. Bombed hell out of
harbor. Hit ammo dump or gas dump. AA shell hit about 10ft. from
gun position. Shook us up a little. Found some foil that the
Germans drop to foul up the radar net. German shells again landing
close. Ragsdale to hospital (Tonsils). [He was wounded at Bastogne
and later killed when the ambulance taking the wounded to the rear
was ambushed and shot up.] Got 14 new men. Part of the outfit
going to England. Germans had another big attack. Fired a heck of
a lot. Fired bell out of gun. Part of gun blew off. Nobody hurt,
lucky. Rained a lot but hole is ok. Eating C and K rations.
1st Lt. Roman W. Maire WIA
Feb. 24, 1944
T/5 William E. Gibson WIA - LW - Arm
Feb. 27, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Battalion officially credited with stopping an attack on a 700 yard
front, aimed at cutting the friendly lines and recapturing the
natural fortifications along the canal, by firing 1,782 rounds in a
little more than an hours time. During the action, S/Sgt. Robert
Donahue and Pvt. Raymond R. Rogers crawled 500 yard through constant
enemy artillery shelling to repair communication lines. This action
allowed artillery to mass fire, causing many enemy casualties. 2
tanks disabled by direct hits, enemy gun battery neutralized, and 3
self propelled guns forced to withdraw.
Headquarters Battery and A Battery machine gun sections were also
officially credited with knocking down one enemy plane each, after
remaining by their guns and continuing firing while the area was
Feb. 29, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Monthly Report -
From Feb. 20 to 29, expended 6,857 rounds and destroyed or disabled
7 tanks, 9 self-propelled guns and neutralized 3 gun batteries.
Less and less German activity noticed in the sector.
It became necessary for forward observation parties to conduct daily
patrols in order to pick up targets. A Battery's observer sighted a
large enemy unit assembling for an attack. Calling for fire, he
completely encircled the enemy by skillfully adjusting fire and the
entire group of 167 men walked one thousand yards to surrender.
This was the largest enemy catch in Italy, up to this time. On
being questioned by infantry intelligence officers, they stated that
the artillery in this sector was so terrible that they feared to
move at all, during the day. On numerous occasions during the time
on Anzio, Battalion reconnaissance officers personally controlled
rolling barrages in front of enemy infantry attacks, by advancing
with the infantry scouts and keeping the barrage in as close as
possible, often less than 100 yards.
March 2, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
U.S. bombers bombed enemy position. 3 B-17's shot
down. Witnessed 10 G.I.'s bailing out. Bob Bolen and Fred Bock
stole a cow & horse & brought them back to Btry. A. Dressed oxen
out, "tough as leather." Sergeant Green went on patrol with the
FSSF and was captured.
Sgt. Green MIA
March 10, 1944
1/Lt. Victor J. Tofany WIA when 88 shell landed
next to him. Not hospitalized.
Pfc. Alfred J. Pierce WIA
March 20, 1944
Pfc. Harold B. True WIA
March 26, 1944
additional howitzers obtained. Battalion now has 2 six-howitzer
Still in same position. Battery got two more guns.
Now in another section, they brought some rear echelon guys up from
Santa Maria to fill up gun crews. A few Tech & Master Sgts. I had
3 days at rest camp with Ben Ziegler at Santa Maria and Naples.
Went down on a LST and came back on a LCI.
April 20, 1944
In celebration of Hitler's birthday, Major Neal and Major
Heatherington of the 69th FA decided to throw shells and HE into the
town. (1SSF 205)
Pvt. Frank J. Curran WIA
April 23, 1944
Pvt. James Dumas WIA - LW - Face
April 26, 1944
Pvt. Edward Kalinowski WIA
Sgt. Joseph F. Rogan WIA
Pvt. Ralph A. Glendening WIA
April 27, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Beer ration (2 cups)
April 30, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Fired approximately 13,270 rounds on following using ground & air
OPs: Personnel 108; Guns/Mortar/MG 10; Tanks/SP 11; Vehicles 10.
3rd Provisional Pack Battery attached for operational control.
May 8, 1944
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Dug in for barrage & push.
May 9, 1944
Support for 1st Special Force ended. Went into support of 36th
Engineer Combat Regiment.
May 10, 1944
Cannon Platoon for 1st Special Forces attached and remained until
May 20, 1944
Assigned mission of reinforcing 156th Field Regiment.
S/Sgt. Reed R. Satterstrom WIA - LW
May 21, 1944 Truck
Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Moved into center for push to Rome. Placed in direct
support of 1st Special Force.
T/5 Jackson R. Bell WIA
May 22, 1944 Truck
1500 yards NE Conca, Italy
1,500 yards northeast
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT ANZIO
Three officers were in building
with Cooper. Shell passed to the right of Cooper and exploded in
room with Lt. Joseph Harris, Lt. William Sparks, and Lt. Wicks.
Harris and Sparks killed and Cooper pulled Wicks from the wreckage.
Gus Hazzard and some other men
stole a truck loaded with beer from the dock by posing as drivers,
taking the trucks and painting their unit designation on the side.
John Cooper & Fred Shelton - Orval Sheppard, Forward Observer on the
Anzio beachhead, was responsible for laying down a rolling barrage
that completely encircled or boxed in the enemy troops that these
167 men walked one thousand yards to surrender. I would say this
was very good shooting by the 463rd Battalion and wonderful fire
direction by Orval Sheppard.
Hank Smithers was also a Forward Observer on the Anzio Beachhead.
The mission was a tank attack by the enemy. Hank was called by the
Captain of the 1st Special Service Force to observe and place
artillery fire on the tank attack. Smithers called the S-3, Vic
Garrett and Fire Direction of the Battalion of the situation they
were facing. The Anzio Beachhead had a battleship off shore. Or
Fire Direction Center had made previous arrangements that they would
fire targets for the 463rd Battalion if needed. So the Navy fired
this mission, after the enemy tanks were blasted to pieces the
Captain of the 1st Special Service Force said to Smithers, "Boy that
Keynote outfit sure can shoot." Keynote was the code name for the
463rd on the beachhead.
John Cooper tells how he and Hugh Neal were going to the Latrine one
day on Anzio, they were observed and shot at by a German 88. They
were in process of relieving self when one shell hit in back of
them, the next shell hit in front of them. John immediately ran for
a fox hole. Hugh still set there; the next shell that came in was
close. Hugh was found running for the fox hole with pants down and
fell head long into the canal.
Al Mury (tape) - Mury and his
crew were forward observers for the 1st Special Service company
under Captain Diamond. They moved forward to the Mussolini Canal
but it wasn't high enough, so took his crew, Corporals Keller &
Fairbanks to the second floor of a house behind the canal. They dug
a slit trench behind it for cover. Not too concerned about night
actions since the German's weren't good night fighters. They
preferred fighting during the day. Mury stayed there a couple of
weeks with no problem. He'd usually wake up at about 4AM and would
just lay and listen. One day he heard tank activity. As the mist
was rising, he saw muzzle of an 88 pointing directly at them. First
round it fired was armor piercing tracer which hit the canal bank
and ricotched over the canal bank and over the house. Next two
shots hit before they got out of the house. They were able to get
to the slit trench. They then moved out to the canal and observed
from there, staying away from the house. To disturb the Germans,
the 1st Special Service Force would go out on night combat patrol
about 1,000 yards into the German area, take an intersection and
hold it for a few hours. One day Mury and his crew went with them,
laying wire for the phone. The man in front of Mury was "shot
between the horns." When they got there, they discovered that the
wire had been shot out. The 1st SSF Captain Heaton Underhill (6'4,
240#) asked Mury to establish radio communication, but Mury
discovered his crew had forgotten the handset. When he told
Underhill that they couldn't contact headquarters, Underhill told
him that if they engaged the enemy, he would shoot Mury first.
Luckily no action took place before they withdrew at about 1:30AM.
Transfer of 456th to England -
Ridgeway needed another parachute field artillery battalion for the
82nd Airborne but Frederick (related to Roosevelt) would not permit
him to have the whole 456th, so agreed to transfer two batteries
along with the name. (Some believe the decision to split the
battalion had been made by Eisenhower in an attempt to satisfy both
Gavin and Frederick) Cooper chose batteries C and D since they had
more misfits in them than the other two. He also chose men from
batteries A and B who were misfits and shell shocked (grey, can't
keep pants up, glassy eyed, drooling at the mouth, can't respond.)
When the men arrived, Ridgeway and Gavin initiated action to court
martial Cooper for the quality of men sent to them. Since he was in
another theater, they approached Eisenhower who told them they could
not touch him because he was in another theater, but if Cooper ever
became part of the 82nd, they could proceed with the court martial.
When Cooper was filling the spots for Batteries C and D, he checked
personnel records and chose men with IQs over 110.
Gus Hazzard (tape) - Hazzard was
a forward observer with Lt. Shephard and the FSSF. He was wounded
by a shell while driving a jeep.
N. R. Laidlaw (tape) - joined the
463rd while at Anzio. He was a 1st. Lt. in the Hdqts Battery as
Asst. S2. He did surveys of possible positions. An officer of a
neighboring division chewed him out for surveying in front of his
position for fear of drawing enemy fire. Laidlaw did the same thing
in front of a Japanese-American division and no one got on his
case. In fact they invited him to join them.
Jay Karp (tape) - went up to the
Mussolini Canal on outpost. While up there, found German police
dog, limping, wounded. Doc Moore fixed him up and the dog stayed
with Karp for about 4 days. Dog slept on top of sandbags on their
gun position and would growl whenever anybody walked by. Dog
eventually took off and never returned. Another day while on the
front, heard and saw planes passing over their position. They first
thought they were American, but discovered they were German, headed
for beach. They waited for them on their trip back and shot one
463rd Code Name - KEYNOTE. When reporting would say:
4 gun crews/battery before Anzio
6 gun crews/battery after Anzio
"At the breakout at
Anzio, Bob Langfeld was killed with others when the jeep they were
riding in hit a mine. I was assigned permanently to the Forward
Observer section as a radio operator. The breakout campaign began on or
about May 15, 1944. From this date onward I served as an FO and served
with Lt. Merriman and others in our section for the duration of the
war. I requested and received my old "Browning Camera" from my mother
in mid April 1944.
the Germans retreated from the Anzio area, the First Special Service
Force (FSSF) pushed hard to reach Rome. During the drive I volunteered
several times to go on patrol with the FSSF. We were lucky we had no
losses because the Germans moved so fast that we were more concerned
with land mines than Germans shooting at us. We captured Rome on June
4, 1944. I felt very proud because I was in on the capture of Naples
and Rome. At each city I took pictures and updated my diary."
For five months we
lived like moles in one man slit trenches dug into the sides of the
irrigation ditches. It was on Anzio we left the 456th Parachute
Battalion and became the 463rd Parachute Battalion.
38 years, memories of Anzio all run together. The shelling and counter
shelling, German bombers over at night bombing by the light of parachute
flares that lit everything like daylight, firing thousands of rounds at
the enemy, firing TOT missions (Time on Target) when every gun on the
beachhead would open up at the same time and pulverize the same target
area, watching our own bombers being shot down as they flew overhead to
bomb enemy positions, German bombers dropping radio controlled glider
bombs in front of our gun positions and then directed to hit ships in
the harbor. Picking up German propaganda leaflets telling us to get off
the beachhead while we still had a chance, building fox hole radios out
of a carbon out of flashlight batteries, a razor blade, some wire, lead
out of a pencil, and the crystal out of a sound power phone. We could
pick up the girl broadcaster in Rome putting out propaganda programs.
We referred to her as the "Berlin Bitch". Week after week of C & K
rations, and having our battery commander killed, and our battalion
commander so badly wounded that he never returned to the battalion.
Joe Lyons (article appearing in
Bronx Home News):
When the Germans across the Pontine Marsh just beyond
the canal say, "Ach, Heinrich, another Mark IV shot to pieces-it's that
'Red Beard' again," they are unknowingly talking about First Lt. Joseph
W. "Red Beard" Lyons, 226 E. Tremont Ave., the Bronx, New York, and his
flaming, bushy red beard.
artillery observer gifted with excellent eyesight plus a set of powerful
binoculars, Lieut. Lyons peers into the private lives of German
soldiers-and directs his battery's artillery fire accordingly. Enemy
lines are so close on the Pontine Marsh front that the Germans often
stare back through Nazi binoculars and sight the bright splotch of red
jutting from the lieutenant's chin. They also see Lyons' binoculars
gazing intently back to them.
numerous groups of Germans this red signal was their death warrant.
Lieut. Lyons was hurrying across the marshlands, closely followed by his
radioman, Corp. Fay E. Kizer, West Kelso, Wash., and his wireman, Corp.
Thomas J. Strider, Huntersville, N.C. Lyons waved to his men and
stopped abruptly to scan the horizon. Raising his binoculars, he saw a
German crew seated around their gun. One of their number was intently
eying Lyon's position with field glasses.
It wasn't until several minutes later that it
occurred to the Germans to fire their machine gun. Now they began to
shell the mud far ahead of Lyon's party, harmlessly, but they were
The three Yanks worked fast. Readjusting their
artillery fire onto this singular position, they saw the German gun and
its crew almost completely wiped out. Only two of the Nazi crew
escaped. That was just enough to help spread the terror story of the
"Red Beard" Lyons who commands a deadly accurate barrage.
another occasion, "Red Beard" Lyons made a moonlight patrol into the
depths of no-man's land, a muddy plateau near the canal.
later when the first light of dawn unmasked the Germans ahead, Lieut.
Lyons saw two platoons carrying boxes of demolitions along a garden wall
to a highway bridge. Again he met the enemy eye-to-eye via binoculars.
But too late for them! His battery was already dropping artillery
shells increasingly closer to the enemy. They carefully set their
wooden boxes on the ground and dashed madly to the rear, possibly
shouting: "The Red Beard! The Red Beard!" (Fifth Army engineers
carefully examined the boxes, found them loaded with useful TNT, and
will use them against the Germans).
During one of Kesselring's last big efforts to
seize the Fifth Army's beachhead, a German attacking party attempted to
grab the Pontine area. Lieut. Lyons was observing it from a hidden
"The Krauts didn't have me spotted this time,"
he said, "although their air bursts were exploding somewhere overhead.
The flash from their big guns made great targets, so we laid down
battalion's executive officer, Maj. John T. Cooper, Jr., Wewoka Okla.
credits Lyons with having an important part in stopping the Nazi thrust
over the Marsh.
"I was talking over the field phone to the 'Red
Beard,'" said Maj. Cooper. "I asked him if the shells were landing
close. He answered "no," then a pause, then Wham! 'Red Beard' said:
'Major, that one almost seared off my whiskers.' Another phyff-wham!
'That one nearly lit my pipe,' he said. And so, under shellfire from
the enemy, "Red Beard" Lyons directed fire until he silenced the attack
Lieut. "Red Beard" Lyons is mild-mannered when
away from no-man's land in the Pontine Marshes. He dotingly washes and
trims his flourishing whiskers until the next forward observation
When we made the landing
on the Anzio beachhead, we grouped and took up positions in one of
Mussolini's canals inland. Nearby was a farmhouse, and in time we
became very friendly with the people living there. Many nights, a few
of us would sneak over and mix with the occupants. One of our group,
Joe Heble, went so far as to milk the cow at times. This was a help,
since many of the males were out of the area. One of the girls who was
pregnant, had a baby born to her. Since there were no men around, she
asked Joe Heble if he would be the Godfather. After quite some
persuasion he did agree and a date was set for the christening. When
the big day came, Joe had to take the child to church. It was the first
and only military christening I ever attended. Picture Joe in full
battle gear carrying the baby, the mother alongside. The other members
of the family stringing out behind him, and three flankers, myself
included, strung out on both sides of the road as a precaution. We did
get to the church, which was about one mile from the farmhouse, in good
order. The baby was christened, and of course a wine party was held
later on, at the farmhouse. To this day, I often wonder how this 35
year old baby is and someday would like to make a trip back to Anzio to
Ridgway's Paratroopers, Clay
At that time, Ridgway had his two glider artillery battalions
but no parachute artillery. Both Wilbur Griffith's 376th and Hugh
Neal's 456th were still in Italy with Tucker's 504th. Since it was
imperative that Ridgway begin training some parachute artillery (and
aircraft pilots) for NEPTUNE, he was finally able to pry loose one 75 mm
pack-howitzer battery of Neal's 456th (along with the battalion's
numerical designation) and have it shipped to England. Neal was
naturally incensed at having his outfit "broken up" and later called it
"the rape of a battalion." What was left of the 456th in Italy was
thereupon re-designated the 463rd Parachute Artillery Battalion and did
not ever rejoin the 82nd Division. When Neal was seriously wounded, his
exec, John T. Cooper, took command of the 463rd. Command of the 456th
cadre shipped to England was given to an 82nd Division Artillery
staffer, Wagner J. d'Allessio, who quickly expanded it to a fully manned
parachute artillery battalion. (pg. 192 - 193)
23, 1944 Truck
1500 yards NE Conca, Italy
Assigned with 155th Field Artillery Battalion to reinforce fires of
151st FAB which was firing in direct support of 133rd Infantry.
Breakout of Anzio began this morning at 5:00AM, the
day Neal returned from leave. Provided effective support
against heavy concentrations of Tiger and Panther tanks. Knocked out
(1SSF 216/219) - Arrived 3 miles southeast of Cisterna at
1/Lt. William W. Biggs WIA - LW -
1500 yards NE Conca, Italy
Direct support of 1st SSF with 155th & 938th FAB in support.
Pvt. Robert D. Langfeld KIA on OP
T/4 Roland C. Crandall WIA
1st Lt. Aubrey Milne WIA
Pvt. Wendell D. Gillman WIA
Pvt. George M. Akin WIA - LW - Face
3 miles East Cisterna di
& 938th FAB relieved from reinforcing fire and 39th FAB placed in
26, 1944 Truck
2 miles West Cori, Italy
Arriving 9AM. Took Highway 6 road to Rome.
27, 1944 Truck
Colle Tafo, Italy
Cpl. Billy J. Lester WIA
Colle Tafo, Italy
kilometers southwest at 1AM. That night, Germans moved in tanks and
flak wagons which began firing up and down the steep streets of Artena.
463rd observers well placed and began engaging targets as fast as
appeared. (1SSF 226/227) Fighting "Tic, Tac, Toe" (Hazzard)
2/Lt. Melvin A. Dewar WIA - LW - Face
Pfc. Dominick Lanese WIA - Abrasion, Chest
1/Lt. Henry L. Smithers WIA - LW - Hand
Cpl. James Schwartz WIA - KW - Arm
Colle Tafo, Italy
(missing page in Col. Cooper's report requires certain assumptions) Lt.
Rozen crawled to an exposed position 200 yards from the target and
destroyed it with fire. He then found his retreat cut off by another
tank that was holding up the surging infantry and be destroyed that one
The 463rd was credited with opening the hole that let the
1/ Lt. James K. Rozen WIA
1/Lt. William W. Biggs WIA - LW - Leg
31, 1944 Truck
Colle Tafo, Italy
Major Neal was seriously wounded with shrapnel in liver by
an 88mm shell and was replaced by Major John T. Cooper who was the
battalion executive officer.
Maj. Hugh A. Neal WIA
Pfc. Alexander D. Price WIA
Sgt. Felix H. Mendoza WIA - LW - Neck
T/4 Kenneth Yochum WIA - LW - Finger
T/5 Walter H. Sckerl WIA
41,245 rounds of ammunition on following targets:
tanks/SPs 23; vehicles 7; guns/mortars/MG 47; ammunition dump 1;
observation posts 21.
Fired 2121 rounds fired in breaking enemy
counterattack on May 29 at midnight.
Decorations: Bronze Star to S/Sgt. Robert J. Donahue and Pvt. Raymond R.
Rogers of Battery A for action on Feb.27.
1st Lt. Rozen 2 Bronze Oak
Leaf Clusters for completion of 70 field artillery observation sorties
between Feb. 27 and April 11.
1, 1944 Truck
2 Km SW Artena, Italy
Fighting around Artena and Valmontone lasted until June 2
2, 1944 Truck
2 Km SW Artena, Italy
miles west at 4PM.
The assistant S-2, while on reconnaissance, entered the town of Colle Ferro and contacted the French forces advancing from the southern
front. This was the first contact made with the forces moving from the
south and information which was exchanged proved very valuable and aided
materially in facilitating a rapid union of troops.
3, 1944 Truck
11/2 miles West Colle Ferro, Italy
1.5 miles west. 463rd PFA and First Special Service Force
spearheaded attack on Rome.
Tor Sapienza, Italy
Arrived at 12AM
11/2 miles West Colonna, Italy
1 mile NE C. del Finocchio
Arrived 4:00AM coming under fire by anti-tank guns with orders to secure
the 6 bridges over the Tiber River to north of Vatican City. Had
secured 8 bridges over Tiber by 11:00PM. Bob Bolen, Steve Polinone &
Gus Hazzard went into Rome and had a ball, the only G.I.'s in Rome.
On a late evening reconnaissance in front of the infantry,
which was dug in for the night, Cooper's party cleared a house of enemy
personnel with small arms fire before setting up a temporary advance CP
for an early morning attack. The same night, the gun batteries quietly
moved out in front of the infantry and into position to deliver maximum
direct and indirect fire for the attack.
Tor Sapienza, Italy
The 463rd was in position in suburbs of Rome. In order to
deliver fire on the Tiber River bridges, which was the only escape route
for enemy troops in Rome, it was necessary to move 2 battery positions
far to the right flank. Suddenly a tank battle was observed 1,000 yards
to the right rear and the howitzers were turned 3,200 mils to fire in
support of the French coming up on the flank. Fire was observed from
the battalion CP. Headquarters Battery turned in two prisoners captured
in the battalion area.
6, 1944 Truck
Monthly Report -
Attached to 6th Armored Field Artillery Group & firing in direct support
of 1st SSF from June 1 to June 6. Fired 1907 rounds.
Placed in 5th
Army Reserve on June 6th.
Relieved from combat at 6AM going into Fifth Army reserve. The
unit had been in the lines 166 days and fired 120,000 rounds of
ammunition. In the previous 14 days, the unit changed position 11
times, on two occasions, three different positions were occupied in one
day. While in Italy, the battalion destroyed or neutralized 41 houses,
111 enemy gun positions, 27 command posts, 24 mortars, 46 machine guns,
46 enemy observation posts, 39 self propelled guns, 111 pill boxes, 44
tanks, 26 vehicles, 13 ammunition dumps, and 400 personnel targets.
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT ROME Alfred Mury (tape) - The breakout
was very brutal with a lot of fire and bodies. About 3PM, the advance
was stymied. Col. Walker of the 1st SSF ordered Mury and his crew to
accompany a patrol along a ditch. Mury said he should go to a hill and
observe from there rather than remain on the ground. Walker told him to
accompany the patrol or he'd be court-martialed and placed so far back in
Leavenworth that they'd have to feed him with a slingshot. Just then
German fire came in flattening everyone. When Mury got up, he couldn't
see Walker so he took his crew to the hill.
Alfred Mury (tape) - From a hill
overlooking a valley between Artena and Valmontone, Mury and Tim Moran
saw Germans everywhere. They called for "ladder or smoke" to find out
where our guns were. The guns fired and the valley became a shooting
gallery. 2 guys with GI clothes and war correspondent patches came over
and one of them introduced himself as Homer Bigart, the New York Herald
Tribune correspondent. Bigart interviewed them and included them in his
article published May 29, 1944. They proceeded from there to Rome with
Claude Smith (tape) - was gun
sergeant for gun #1, Battery B. During the push into Rome, Smith's gun
shot 17 rounds in 43 seconds when rapid fire was considered 7
Laidlaw (tape) - During push into
Rome, Laidlaw was with Sgt. Hodge. They stopped their jeep on the
outskirts of Rome and saw a German Volkswagen zip out from under a
bridge, headed in the opposite direction. They had run into a long line
of American tank destroyers near Colle Ferro that were stopped along the
road. They passed the lead tank destroyers who were cheering Laidlaw's
jeep on. About a half mile from Colle Ferro, they had a flat tire.
Good thing that happened since the town had not yet been taken. The
tank destroyer crews thought it a good idea to cheer a pair of
paratroopers into a trap. (Laidlaw tape)
Jay Karp (tape) - During the
breakout, Karp was part of a number of fire missions, moving forward,
stopping, firing, and moving forward again. They passed many vehicles,
stopping many times and firing a mountain of ammunition.
Jay Karp (tape) - When the unit was
busted up, Gavin and Fredericks argued over the unit. Fredericks wanted
to keep the 456th and Gavin wanted to take them to England. The
argument went all the way to Eisenhower who decided to split the unit up
to placate both generals. All had a good time after taking Rome.
Armond Cerone (tape) - traveled to
Italy on the same liberty ship as John Mockabee and Martin Graham. (Paratrooper,
Gerard Devlin, pg. 441 - In May 1944 the 517th sailed for Italy from
Hampton Roads, Virginia, aboard the Santa Rosa, whose passenger
list included some four hundred Army WACs. After nearly two weeks of
nautical naughtiness between paratroopers and WACs, the Santa Rosa
docked in Naples.) They went to Oran, Naples, Trapani, Naples, and
Rome. Armond was a trained infantry paratrooper. He was interviewed by
different officers. The candidates were told that they had to fill the
ranks of different batteries and infantry outfits. Capt. Roman Maire
told Armond he looked like he could be an artillery replacement, so
without the chance for much say, he became an artilleryman. His outfit
stayed in apartment buildings with balconies in Lido di Roma. Roman
Maire was a very strong personality. Armond did not have a specified
assignment. He was a cannon-cocker, he pulled the lanyard and he loaded
the gun. Corporal Shephard from Alabama and 1st Sgt. Dirty Neck Howard
were the NCOs. Armond was only at Lido di Roma for about 3 to 4 weeks
before the invasion of Southern France. He went through intensive
training, briefed on sand tables.
Our ship from the States landed in Naples, Italy in
early May, 1944, and the troopers on the ship were assigned to the
Airborne Task Force. We stayed a few days in Italy and then went to
Sicily for more training. We made a practice jump near Trapani, Sicily
and had a few casualties. We remained in Sicily about two weeks and
went back to Italy. During a truck convoy the leading jeep with Captain
Bates and the jeep driver ran over a land mine and it killed the Captain
and driver. We moved a little town in Italy and there we joined the
463rd and we, I mean three of us were assigned to the medics. Captain
Moore was our officer in charge of the combat training. There we
learned how to treat a wounded soldier, gave injections & administered
IVs to those in need. We later moved to Lido Di Roma, Italy for more
John Cooper (proposed citation) -
The 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion fought for one hundred
sixty-six days in Italy, on two of the bloodiest fronts of the war and
in one of the most fiercely fought pushes to date, Casino, Anzio, and
the drive to Rome. During this six month period the Battalion was at
all times under strength and yet they asked for and received four extra
howitzers, just before pushing off to Rome, in order to increase their
fire power. All available personnel were used on the gun crews. At
Anzio, the men were forced to live for months in a drainage ditch. To
step out of the ditch meant certain enemy artillery fire, because the
enemy commanded all of the heights. There were two and three air raids
nightly and at least twice a week the Battalion motor pool was shelled.
The unit lost one Battalion Commander, one Battalion Executive Officer,
two Battalion Communications officers, two air observers, one S-2, one
assistant S-2 and one assistant S-3, from the Staff during this period.
Vacancies were filled from available personnel, however, as fast as they
occurred and at no time was the efficiency of the organization seriously
impaired. Seven large scale counter attacks were repulsed by fire from
this Battalion. A flash base was set up by the Battalion survey section
in lieu of a flash observation group for the sector, operated nightly
with excellent counter battery results. On the push to Rome, all
personnel worked overtime to assure the success of the Battalions
function as Division Artillery. Forward displacements were made right
along with or in front of Infantry assault companies. Battalion
officers flying in the liaison planes often scouted ahead for advancing
friendly tank columns, sometimes flying sixteen hours a day. Tremendous
preparation barrages, and accurate call fires by the Battalion made
possible the initial breakthrough from the Anzio beach-head on the push
to Rome, the second breakthrough at Artena, and the union of French
troops and American troops at Colle Ferro.
7, 1944 Truck
Lake Albano, Italy (Pope's summer retreat)
Arrived 6PM. Sent for re-equipping and re-training.
Col. Thomas E. de Shazo, 6th Field Artillery Group,
Commendation to the 463rd PFAB:
especially desire to commend the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery
Battalion who operated under this Headquarters during the battles of
Artena, Valmontone, and Rome, while in direct support of your command.
The attitude of all of the personnel of the Battalion was aggressive at
all times. In spite of changing situations, the 463rd PFAB was
constantly prepared to carry out its missions of supporting fires.
Brig. Gen. Robert T. Frederick, First Special Service Force,
Commendation to the 463rd PFAB:
1. I wish to express to the officers and men
of the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion my appreciation for the
manner in which they performed their missions during the recent
operations prior to the occupation of Rome.
The aggressive willing spirit displayed in the execution of all assigned
missions was gratifying and a tribute to your organization. The speed
and exactness with which all orders were carried out were important
factors in the excellent artillery support your unit provided. Your
missions were difficult and placed unusual demands upon the battalion,
but each was accomplished in a superior manner.
Lake Albano, Italy
Pope Pious XII appeared and gave silver medals to nine out of ten
of the boys. (Hazzard)
Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark's Letter of Farewell to the 463rd
1. It is with sincere regret that I see the
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion leave the fold of the Fifth
Army. You leave us with an enviable record of achievements and with the
high esteem of the infantry units which you supported so vigorously and
The field artillery has played a most important role in the entire
Italian campaign and a spectacular one in the recent great offensive
which you are now called upon to leave its completion. We have had
ample confirmation of this from German prisoners as well as from our own
am well aware of the difficulties and hardships which you have had to
overcome in order to achieve these outstanding results. However,
regardless of the mountainous terrain, scarcity of roads, long supply
lines and a constantly changing tactical situation, you have done a
superb job in accordance with the highest traditions of the artillery.
At this time I wish to congratulate you for the task performed and
extend my heartfelt good wishes for further successes in the new
assignments which you are about to undertake. With my renewed thanks
for you help and splendid cooperation, I am
Mark W. Clark
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army.
Lake Albano, Italy
Big party celebrating invasion of Sicily. (Hazzard)
15, 1944 Truck
Lido Di Roma, Italy
Officers at Lido di Roma
(click image to enlarge)
So far we identified :
[#1] 1st Lt Benjamin (Ben) WRIGHT (Air Observer)
[#2] 1st Lt James K. (Keith) ROZEN (Liaison Officer #3) - Iowa
[#3] 2d Lt Harold L. HODGE (Asst Bn S-2) - Wisconsin - (KIA Korea)
[#4] 1st Lt Grahame WOOD, Jr (Asst RO Btry "A")
- New Jersey
[#5] - ? -
[#6] 1st Lt Douglas SAUNDERS (Btry "C")
[#7] WO (jg) John M. KIRCHNER (Personnel Officer) - New York
[#8] Capt Aubrey MILNE (Btry
Comdr Hq Btry & Communications O.) - New York
[#9] Capt Timothy (Tim) S. MORAN (Bn S-2) - Maryland
[#10] Capt William (Bill) H. GERHOLD
(Btry Comdr Btry "A") - Michigan
[#11] Major Stuart M. SEATON (Bn Exec O and S-1) - Virginia
[#12] Lt Col John T. COOPER (Bn Commander) - Oklahoma
[#13] Major Victor (Vic) E. GARRETT (Bn S-3) - Texas
[#14] Capt Ardelle (Kiddo) E. COLE (Btry Comdr Btry "B") -
[#15] Capt William (Dick) R. LAIDLAW (Asst Bn S-3) - California
[#16] Capt Roman W. MAIRE (Btry Comdr Btry "C") - New Jersey
[#17] 1st Lt James M. AUSTIN (Maint O. Hq Btry)
[#18] Capt Donald (Don, Bull) MARTIN (Liaison Officer #1) - Mississippi
[#19] 1st Lt Alfred (Al) MURY (DS (US)) - New Jersey
[#20] 1st Lt Joseph W. LYONS (Exec Officer Btry "B") - New
[#21] 1st Lt Donald (Don) W. MERRIMAN (RO Btry "A") - Pennsylvania
[#22] 1st Lt Louis (Lou) W. KRANYAK (Exec Officer Btry "A") - Ohio
[#23] 1st Lt Henry (Hank) L. SMITHERS (Liaison Officer #2) - New Jersey
[#24] Capt John (Doc) S. MOORE (Bn Surgeon) - Washington D.C.
[#25] Capt Victor (Vic) J. TOFANY (Btry Comdr Btry "D") - New
[#26] 2nd Lt Robert (Bill) F. ANDERSON (Asst
Exec Btry D) - Oregon
[#27] - ? -
"B" Battery at Lido Di Roma
(click to enlarge)
Arrived 9:30AM. Training for invasion of Southern France. Battalion
received 200 replacements for Batteries C and D on July 13. Batteries C
and D activated on July 21. Became part of the 1st Airborne Task Force,
5,600 infantry and artillery paratroopers. They were to launch
Operation Albatross, the airborne component of Operation Dragoon. The
463rd was assigned as artillery support for the 509th Parachute Infantry
To fire in direct support of the 509th PIB
To assist by fire the capture of Le Muy
by the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade
To prevent by fire the movement of all enemy forces within allocated
sector of responsibility
To be able to fire on Le Muy
To aid by fire the advance of Seaborne
To reinforce on call the fires of the
460th PFAB and the 64th Light Battery.
Tactical Mission for Subordinate Units:
after landing will secure equipment, assemble on proper light and move
to the South end of the DZ and install Battalion CP and FDC. Then set
up Battalion Communications, mark resupply field and establish security
"A" Battery, after
landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into
position on the South side of DZ. They will establish battery defense.
"B" Battery, after
landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into
position on the South side of the DZ. They will send on Battalion
order, one 75mm Howitzer as an anti-tank gun to go into position,
prepared to fire on enemy armor approaching from North and South on Le
Muy-Ste Maxime Rd.
"C" Battery, after
landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into
position on South side of DZ.
"D" Battery, after
landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment, and proceed
to outpost south side of DZ and furnish all round anti-aircraft and
anti-tank protection. They will pay especial attention to repelling
enemy reconnaissance parties.
Bolen & Gus Hazzard started running their own bar. Best customer Ray
Truck Civitavecchia, Italy
Truck Tarquininia, Italy
11, 1944 Truck
Arrived 4PM. Major Cooper commanded half of Headquarters
Battery (3 planes), all of Batteries B (12 planes) and C (12 planes),
and 3rd and 4th Platoons of Battery D (2 planes). They were part of
Serial 5 and boarded 29 C-47s for invasion of Southern France on August
11, 1944 Truck
Arrived 4PM. Major Stuart M. Seaton commanded half of Headquarters
Battery (2 planes), Battery A (14 planes), and 1st and 2nd Platoons of
Battery D (4 planes). They were part of Serial 4 and boarded 20 C-47s
for invasion of Southern France on August 14.
15, 1944 Air
San Tropez, France
Serial 5 jumped at 0430 at altitudes of 600 to 1,000 feet. Due to
navigational error and fog, they landed more than 12 miles from DZ.
Major Cooper severely fractured ankle during jump. Area occupied by
strong enemy forces: 2 Coastal Batteries, 1 AA battery, and 2 garrisons
of troops: one on an overlooking hill and the other on a nearby slope.
Fighting as infantry, attacked hilltop garrison and coastal
batteries inflicting heavy casualties and taking numerous prisoners.
Patrols from B & C batteries attacked the garrison on the slope and,
meeting heavy resistance, called for artillery support. 1 gun from B
Btry was brought up and its crew fired 5 rounds of direct fire scoring 3
direct hits after which the Germans surrendered.
Lt. Saunders with elements of B & C batteries occupied the high
ground above San Tropez, then joined B company of the 509 Parachute
infantry and both units moved into San Tropez, capturing the Citadel and
other strong points.
Major Vincent Garrett, Battalion S-3, moved to a position northwest
of San Tropez with one gun crew from B Btry where he bought direct fire
upon 2 enemy pill boxes. This single 75MM howitzer, under heavy enemy
small arms and machine gun fire, landed 2 direct hits upon each bunker
and forced the enemy to surrender.
A patrol from B Btry. was sent toward the beach in an effort to make
contact with amphibious forces. Finding no landing had yet been made
they joined a patrol from C Btry and attacked a stronghold of enemy
troops covering the landing areas. After 2 of the enemy were killed,
the rest (about 90 Germans) surrendered.
15, 1944 Air
Serial 4 jumped at 0425. Even though the ground was blanketed by fog
and there was no signal, with the exception of 2 planes, Major Seaton's
command landed within 1,000 yards of DZ. Of the two remaining planes,
one stick landed near St. Raphael and the other near Les Arcs. The
combat team's mission was to cut major road and rail junctions and seize
key terrain features. By 7AM, A Battery had 3 of their 4 guns assembled
but not in battery positions. At 9:30AM, the Battalion CP was
established near A Batteries' guns and by 10:30AM the first gun was
moved into position, laid and ready to fire. The other two were in
position by 3PM. Headquarters Battery and D Battery moved into position
throughout the morning and early afternoon.
Before we boarded
the planes, we were given antiemetic medication. Nobody got sick but
some were sleepy. I fell asleep after the crew chief notified me we
were 15 minutes from the drop zone. The kid next to me woke me up and
we got hooked up and jumped on schedule, landing just south of Le Muy.
The next day I found one guy, Eldon Jones, sleeping beside the road. I
gave him a kick and said, "Hey, soldier, get going. There's a war going
Pvt. Chester B. Jezefski KIA Pfc. Theodore N. Legg KIA (buried in
Draguignan Cemetery) S/Sgt. Paul E. Allen IIA - Contusion, Knee 1st Lt. James M. Austin IIA - Contusion,
Chest Pvt. Richard M. Bailey WIA T/5 Daniel W. Boden IIA - Abrasion, Leg Cpl. Rester W. Bryan WIA Pvt. Richard A. Carroll IIA - Contusion, Knee Pvt. John M. Carver IIA - Contusion, Nose &
Knee Maj. John T. Cooper IIA - Sprain Ankle Pvt. Julian J. Cwynar WIA Pvt. James J. Dineen WIA Pvt. Thomas H. Ensor WIA - SFW - Chest Sgt. Bernie Estep IIA - Sprain Ankle Pfc. James E. Flewelling IIA - Abrasion, Nose Pvt. Donald J. Gallipeau WIA Cpl. Nick A. Gattuso IIA - Contusion, Face S/Sgt. Noah D. Gray WIA Pvt. Clifford M. Haerr WIA Pvt. Rachambeau A. Herosian WIA Sgt. Weldon W. King WIA S/Sgt. Robert C. Kircher IIA - Sprain Foot 1st Sgt. Ralph B. Leggett IIA - LW - Lip Pvt. Harvey J. Lozier IIA - LW - Thigh Pvt. Raymond F. MacDonald, Jr. WIA Pfc. Apostolis J. Maravelias IIA - Abrasion
Elbow Cpl. Gilbert A. McKnight IIA - Sprain Knee T/5 Winifred L. Mellon WIA Pvt. Eugene Menaco IIA - Abrasion, Face Pvt. Joseph G. Miller IIA - Contusion Foot Pvt. Harry Murphy WIA Pvt. Paul N. Nesbitt IIA - Sprain Ankle
T/5 Thomas Pace IIA - Contusion, Arm
S/Sgt. Derwood Parker IIA - Contusion, Toe
Pfc. John A. Phillips WIA
S/Sgt. Joel O. Pierce IIA - Abrasion, Face
Cpl. George N. Porteous IIA - Abrasion, Face
Pfc. Odis P. Powell WIA
1/Lt. James K. Rozen WIA - GSW - Buttocks
S/Sgt. Harry Rudyk IIA - LW - Forehead
Pvt. Ethan E. See WIA
Cpl. Roy C. Simmons WIA
1st Sgt. Joseph F. Stolmeier IIA - LW - Wrist
T/5 James F. Strothers IIA - Strain Feet
S/Sgt. Samuel Tapryk IIA - Sprain Foot
T/5 Ray V. Tennis IIA - Sprain Ankle
Cpl. Leo A. Traeder IIA - Contusion, Knee
T/5 George L. Walker WIA
Pvt. Raymond W. White WIA
Sgt. Joseph Yagesh WIA
T/5 Riley J. Watts MIA
Le Muy, France
batteries under Seaton fired a total of 62 rounds during the 15th and
16th in support of the 509th's attack on Le Muy.
about 10AM, Cooper and other casualties were evacuated with Major
Garrett assuming command.
Pvt. Walter Danowski WIA
Pvt. Dan P. Garner WIA - SFW - Right Hand
Pvt. William Hough, Jr. WIA
Cpl. Billy J. Lester - WIA - LW - Arm
Pvt. Regis Mills WIA
Cpl. James E. Murphy WIA
T/5 Michael L. Sajazovich WIA
S/Sgt. Samuel Tapyrik WIA
17, 1944 Truck
3.5 miles southwest Le Muy, France
PFA reunites. Major Seaton succeeds Cooper as battalion commander for
two months. Relieved from combat at 12 midnight. Battalion credited
with capturing 375 Germans, more than those captured by the remainder of
the Task Force combined.
Pvt. Joe L. Rodriquez WIA - SFW - Face
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT THE INVASION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE
Crew served weapons:
Eight rocket launchers
by Headquarters Battery
launchers by "D" Battery
Two heavy machine guns
by Headquarters Battery
Two heavy machine guns
by "A", "B", and "C" Batteries
Right Coat pocket: 2 fragmentation grenades,
1 cotton drawers
Left Coat pocket: Colored and smoke grenades (6 yellow/battery), 1
Watch pocket or belt: Compass, watch, or lensatic
Right Hip pocket: handkerchief, 2 pair socks
Right Leg pocket: 2 meals "K" rations, Spoon, M-10
Insert in bandolier liner: 6 meals "D"
Left Leg pocket: 1 meal "K" rations, cleaning patches, soap & razor w/4
blades, towel & face huck
Right Chest pocket: 1 can insect powder
First aid pouch: Sulfadiazine packet
On left side: Lightweight gas mask w/ointment
and eye shields, rifle or pistol belt w/suspenders
Tied on left from suspenders: First aid kit,
Suspended from belt: double web pouch, mag. pistol, filled canteen w/cup
& cover, entrenching tool, trench knife, first aid packet w/pouch
Contents of "A" bag: 3 pair
cotton shorts & drawers, 1 garrison cap, 2 handkerchiefs, jacket &
trousers, 3 pair light wool socks, 1 wool shirt, 1 wool trousers, 3
cotton undershirts, 2 wool blankets, 2 bath towels, 1 parachute boots, 1
can meat w/knife, fork, spoon, 5 pins for tent, shelter half, 1 pole for
tent shelter half, 1 raincoat, 1 insect & field bar.
SETS NETS FREQUENCY
SCR-284 45th Div. Arty. 4075 Kcs
SCR-300 509th Prcht. Inf. To be announced
SCR-609 Army "A" channel 27.4
SCR-609 A/B Arty. channel 32.7
SCR-609 Bn. "A" Channel 30.4
1. Bn. will lay to battery switchboard in
vicinity of guns
2. Btrys. will lay one line direct from guns
to Fire Direction Center
3. Bn. will lay two trunk lines to
switchboard of 509th
4. Maintenance of wire lines will be a joint
5. Btrys. will establish wire communication
with their OP's
Headquarters Battery - Blue
"A" Battery - Green
"B" Battery - Red
"C" Battery - Yellow
Bn. assembly signal will be a white flare
fired into the ground
John Cooper - broke ankle in jump on
August 15th. Stayed with unit until August 17th when transferred to a
hospital in North Africa. Remained there for a while before he left for
Paris, his leg still in a cast. He ran into a surgeon he knew who
x-rayed the leg and determined that the cast could be removed. He
removed it and Cooper set off across country to rejoin his unit. He
rode with another. He had written orders for himself to rejoin his
unit, orders being necessary to get through the many checkpoints across
Southern France. He rejoined the 463rd at Barcellonnette on October 14.
Stu Seaton - Prior to boarding the
plane for the jump into Southern France, Seaton supervised the packing
of the cells to be loaded onto the bottom of the plane. Once they were
loaded and in place, they started boarding. When he saw the pilot,
Seaton told him that everything was ready to go and not to touch any of
the buttons for releasing the cells until they were above the drop zone.
The pilot mistakenly hit the button releasing the cells onto the runway
(6 of them).
Alfred Mury - While preparing for
the jump, the men were trained on sand tables and talks with the navy.
5 minutes from the French coast, the plane filled with mist. When
Mury's stick jumped, they landed on the coast, practically on the
beach. They knew the navy was going to bombard before the invasion, so
they looked for cover. They found little enemy resistance and took
plenty of prisoners without firing a shot.
Stu Seaton - While on the flight,
Seaton saw that his plane had crossed the French coast. He waited for
the red light which he expected any second. When no red light came, he
had the men begin to line up. The green light suddenly came on (without
the red) He looked down and could only see fog and what appeared to be
the peaks of the two mountains signifying they were close to their drop
zone. He sent the men out and they landed near their DZ.
Claude Smith - landed within 1,000
yards of San Tropez. Ordered not to use radios because of interference
with Navy communication. Navy barrage came within a few yards from
him. His gun fired on a pillbox causing the Germans to surrender.
American troops came in and surprised to see paratroopers there. Went
into Monte Carlo and got drunk.
Gus Hazzard (tape) - went into
Southern France by boat since he had gotten into some trouble with Col.
Cooper. He was taken off jump status. He didn't join the unit until
Laidlaw - Asst. S2 in Hdqts.
Battery, landed within 5 miles of Le Muy. Very dark. He took his chute
off, found his cricket and tried to remember the password. Very careful
at the beginning but within half hour was shouting trying to round up
his men. Within an hour after daylight, found nearly everyone, putting
batteries into place.
Jay Karp - Everybody on Karp's plane
was confident and not very worried. He landed just inland from San
Tropez. Formed up with Barney Brian, Joe Hibble, Red McVicar, August
Chruscial, Gene Olivant and a few others. Told to put German bunker out
of commission. On the way up the hill, found Lt. Rozen laying on his
stomach cursing because he was wounded in the rear end. They continued
up the hill and found a German in a hole. After a few rounds, he
surrendered. He told them there were about 35 Germans in the bunker
ready to surrender. The 4 Americans got about 40 Germans with only
small arms fire. They left the bunker and were going down the hill, the
Germans with their hands on their heads. American planes appeared above
and Karp was afraid they were going to be straffed. They waved their
helmets and the Germans kept their hands on their heads. The planes
shook their wings and kept going.
John Mockabee (tape) - jumped as a
50 caliber machine gunner and landed near the drop zone. He landed
between two peaks that had been studied on their sand tables. As he was
floating toward the ground, he heard someone yell "Water". John scooted
up into the saddle on the harness and prepared to unbuckle. He looked
down and saw chutes disappearing and heard branches breaking. John
realized it was only ground fog. His first action was to set up on a
curve in a road near a river by a town thought to be occupied by Germans
with orders to block enemy troops attempting to get by. Some Americans
were firing into a house. John's gun crew was then moved back about
3/4ths of a mile and placed along another curve. They had 2 containers
of 300 rounds of 50 caliber ammo. They heard vehicles coming their
way. They thought German vehicles were approaching but found it was the
lead jeep of the 45th Division with the Division commander riding in the
lead jeep. The 463rd Lt. in charge briefed the General on the
situation. The 463rd was brought together and then got orders to back
up the 509th heading up along the Mediterranean. The 509th asked for 4
- 50 caliber machine guns and onve volunteer for each of them. The
509th supplied the extra men. When John got there, however, he found
out that the 463rd were supposed to supply their own gun crews. So the
call went out for 12 more men (for the 4 men gun crew). Assigned to
heavy weapons company. They waited until dark and set guns in place by
a woods filled with German snipers. At about 6:00AM, machine gun fire
and artillery fire hit the patch of woods, but the infantry could not
advance because of sniper fire. A Lt. from the 509th had just been hit
in the leg by sniper fire and sat behind a rock next to the gun crew.
509th squad leader came up and the Lt. told him that he wanted him to
take the squad over the back part of the hill to get behind the woods.
The squad leader said he couldn't take men there because Gerry had
artillery fire concentrated there. It was just a plain hill with no
covering. The Lt. repeated the order and the sergeant repeated that he
couldn't do it because they'd get mowed down. The Lt. said he would
have him court-martialed if he didn't obey the direct order. The
sergeant took his men behind John's position and began to move to the
position. Gerry let loose with everything he had. The sergeant came
back shortly with a few men and asked the Lt. if he would like to go up
on the hill and pick up his men. The Lt. didn't say a word. Medics
shortly moved the Lt. down the hill to the rear. John's group was
ordered to move back because of sniper fire. The gunner stood up to
grab the handle on the barrel, but was shot in the knee and fell
backward. John ran to pick up the 50 caliber and a shot rang out and
hit him in the helmet. John was thrown backward and said he was
bleeding but was reassured that he wasn't. His left ear was deafened
and remained so for 15 minutes. Others got the weapon and moved it to
the bottom of the hill. They set the gun up and began once again to
fire into the woods. Snipers didn't give up until 1 or 2 in the
afternoon. 9 men came out. Members of John's gun crew were John Hay,
PFC Walker, PFC Knapp and a corporal from the 509th. On the 2nd morning
they were told to move forward to another hill which was laid out with
50 caliber and 30 caliber guns. They were ordered to fire at enemy
bunkers. An offshore cruiser also fired. John was ordered to fire at
the bunker so the captain on the ship could follow the tracers to the
enemy bunker. The 509th took another hill and John's group moved
forward again. Soon after, John's group was ordered back. The 509th
corporal told them to place their gun at another position. They placed
the gun on a cart and Hays was on the left side when the left rear wheel
struck a mine. Hay was right above the mine when in exploded and
everything went into his chest. Kay and Knapp were knocked forward.
Every time Hay would breath, bubbles of blood would pour out. Shrapnel
had also entered the breach of the machine gun and blew it into a tree
where it was left. John remained with the 509th in case they needed
more help. They came to a bridge that was blown out and the Lt.
wouldn't let the men move forward on either side or down because he was
sure there would be mines. He called back for engineers to check area.
An officer came up with a jeep and the Lt. told him that they had
stopped because of fear of mines. Officer said he doubted mines were
there and he was going on through. He went forward and hit a mine. It
blew the wheels off the jeep but didn't hurt the officer of the driver.
Mine detector personnel came up with mine sweepers and probes.
Armond Cerone (tape) - landed 30
miles from the drop zone, around San Tropez, within shooting distance of
the town, at about 4:30AM. The first persons he met were 463rd guys.
He went into town around the time the seaborne outfits were landing.
His outfit was unable to get gun crews together and didn't have any
maps. Germans there were mostly from the 4th Army - Czechs, Slavs, etc.
They herded the captured into one area and Cerone left to guard them. A
few Germans, were dressed in black, SS, and were aggressive. The 463rd
guys went through abandoned enemy garrison and collected money and other
We moved to Grosseto, Italy and there we stayed about
three days and was informed we were going to invade Southern France in
early morning and about 0100 hours we boarded the C-47s. It was about
0430 when we jumped in the Southern France near the town of Menton. We
had some casualties and I saw one trooper hanging in a tree killed by
anti-aircraft-artillery. Major Cooper had a leg injury as you have
already described. I recalled of one thing that happened to me. Before
we jumped in Southern France and before we hooked-up and trooper noticed
my chute as dragging the floor. He immediately adjusted the straps and
showed me how to place my M-1 rifle so it wouldn't tangle up with my
suspension lines. Think the trooper was named Lester or Hesler.
When the 463rd was
pulled out of the lines after Rome was captured, we first went to Lake
Albano, which is south of Rome and where the Pope has his summer
residence. After a short time we moved out to the coast to Lido de Roma
which was a summer resort for the wealthy Italians. Here we received
replacements to build the 463rd up to full strength for the next combat
jump. They sent some officers back to the replacement depots in Africa
to hand pick the qualified troops.
before we left Lido De Roma, some Engineers came out with a compressor
and spray guns to camouflage us. We fell out with our jump suits on,
and all our webbing and musset bag. One guy sprayed us with black paint
and the other guy sprayed us with green paint. We also had tubes of
grease paint to paint our faces, so by the time it came to load the
planes, we would be a mean looking bunch.
left the Rome area and went north about 100 miles to the Grosseto
airport where we would take off for France. We left around midnight and
flew west over the Ligurian Sea, then north about on the same route that
Napoleon took when he returned to France from exile.
463rd and the 509 made up a Combat Team, and we took off about 40
minutes before the rest of the Airborne. These two little Bastard
Battalions spearheaded the attack. Jumping around 4:30AM just before
daylight. We were supposed to jump at a place called Le Muy about 15
miles inland, but quite a few plane loads of the 463 and 509 got the
green light over St. Tropez, which is on the coast.
we went to the planes to chute up, there were two extra main chutes and
two reserves left over at our plane. So we just threw them in the
plane. About half way to France, one of the guys got his back pack
snagged and the chute came out behind him. So we grabbed one of the
extra chutes and somehow, in that dimly lit plane, got the old one off
and the new one on over all the equipment.
they made the big plan, they did not figure that when all those planes
arrived over the coast, that the coast and miles inland would be covered
by low clouds. When I went out the door and my chute popped open, I
immediately entered what I thought was a ground mist or fog and got
ready to hit the dirt. I came out of that cloud and went into another
one, and thought this must be a ground fog. I came out of that one and
then I could see in the moonlight that we were coming down on the
coast. I could see the coast line real clear in the moonlight and knew
that they had dropped us in the wrong area. I could see that I was over
land, but not by much. So I grabbed my front risers and tried to slip
further away from the coast and the Ack Ack fire, which I had become
quite allergic to after the Sicily invasion jump. We had jumped from
quite a high altitude, in fact the highest I ever jumped, so it was
quite a long ride down. (One whole planeload of 18 troopers from the
509 were lost when they came down through the clouds to land in the
water and they all drowned.)
came down on a dirt road with trees on both sides, and could hear other
troopers coming crashing down through the trees and high brush. I
scurried over to a ditch and had a heck of time getting out of my
chute. The belly band that goes between your body and through the
reserve chute had twisted up my back and I could not reach the Quick
Release tab. I had to get my jump knife out to cut myself loose. The
first guy I met was out of my gun section. He was an Apache Indian from
the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona. He had joined us as a
replacement on Anzio.
joined up with a few others, captured one garrison and took many
prisoners, and also captured a large pill box on the beach, and took
them prisoners too. Most of them were not Germans but from other Balkan
countries that the Germans had captured and impressed into the German
army. They had German uniforms and had German equipment. The big Pill
box we captured had a German Sgt. and corporal, but the other 12 or 14
soldiers were these other troops. We also got into a street fight in
St. Tropez with some German Marines, but they soon showed the white
While all this was going on, other 463rd guys were capturing a
German Coastal Battery. Jay Karp, who was one of the guys that made
that charge up the hill told me, "We came upon Lt. Rosen, who had been
shot in the rump. He hollered at us. 'Don't mind me, go get those
Bastards.'" -- "So we did." Later that evening we turned our prisoners
over to the 3rd Infantry Division that had landed, and we moved by
amphibious ducks to Le Muy, which was the original drop zone.
Just after we came through Cannes and set up our gun
positions, I was blown up (blown sky high) by the 1st incoming shell of
a barrage. None of the shell fragments got me just the explosion and
concussion, the big shell probably an 88 mm from a tank in the hills,
although the men said it was a coastal gun they'd turned inland came in
flat trajectory and hit the road right where I was walking, so up in the
air I went, along with the 2 bottles of wine I had just purchased from a
French lady in one of the 3 houses that was torn apart by the shell
fragments. Both bottles busted when I came down on the asphalt road,
the only thing I had in my hands were the bottle necks - "NO WINE!" I
remember Cannes cause its the last town I saw for several days until we
were in the Alps and I recovered enough strength to move around, we were
then in Jausiers before we went up a mountain 12,750 ft. high to a
French fort, and set up our gun positions.
George Dorsey ( Stars & Stripes Staff Writer) "Lost Paratroopers, FFI
Take Riviera Resort"
A beautiful Riviera fishing and resort town was
captured by a group of lost paratroop artillerymen and a force of French
Patriots who rose vengefully against their German masters.
Dropped miles from their target, the paratroopers came down through a
hail of small-arms fire onto some craggy, wooded country near the sea
during the night before D-Day. Several of the men, who comprised two
batteries of mobile artillery, were shot to death before they hit the
ground, and others were wounded in the air.
"But," said Pvt. Francis Heitz, of Chester, Pa., "the moment we landed
the first of the Frenchmen who aided us rushed up. Arsenault (Pvt.
Roland Arsenault, of Couthbridge, Mass.), who's a French-Canadian,
interpreted for us, and those French Partisans really began to go into
took the guys that were wounded, gave them a shot of brandy and carried
them into their homes," said Pvt. Barney Dryan, one of a group lounging
along one of the shop-lined streets. "Then they pointed out the
minefields and told us where the Krauts were."
pointed out the houses where the garrison for this point was staying,"
reported Pfc. Harold True, of Buffalo, Iowa.
and tree other guys lined up our 75 and sent six rounds into one of the
houses. For the six rounds, we got 58 prisoners, toute suite."
John Cunnius, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said, "When we got to the town these
FFI (Free French of the Interior) men really helped. They must be given
a lot of credit. They must have kept hundreds of guns in hiding for all
"Yeah," added Pfc. Julius Karp, also of Brooklyn, "there was a girl with
a repeating rifle. She was tough, and she was ready to shoot anyone who
got in her way."
there was the captain of the underground," said Cpl. Lou Bonucci, of
Pittsburgh. "He got shot through the neck, a bad wound, but he just
bandaged it up and went on fighting, shouting orders and everything. A
lot of credit should go to these people."
morning," he continued, "the regular infantry came up. There were only
a few snipers around by then, and when they saw that we and the French
had taken the town, they laughed and said, "Thanks."....
same dark airfield (Lido di Roma), Sgt. Charles B. Rawls, Jr., a member
of the Intelligence section of headquarters company of the 1st Airborne
Task Force, was checking his personal equipment and mulling over his
encounter earlier that day with one of the most prominent officials of
the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, Archbishop Francis
Spellman of New York City. Early in the war, President Roosevelt had
agreed to the appointment of Spellman as apostolic vicar to the United
States armed forces. Now he was on hand to give his blessing and to
lend encouragement to Dragoon assault troops.
"Catholic paratroopers and glidermen were
blessed at Lido Airfield, but members of all denominations had been
invited to participate. [Note: On returning to New York after the
Dragoon assault, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Spellman wrote personal
letters to the parents, wives, or next of kin of the many hundreds he
had blessed] (pgs. 109-110)
"About three miles from his DZ, Capt. Tims Quinn
of Louise, Mississippi, was lying stunned alongside a stone was
bordering a large field. The twenty-six-year old Quinn, operations
officer of Colonel Joerg's 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, had
jumped with the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, which was
attached to the 509th Parachute Infantry, in order to be on the drop
zone when Joerg's men bailed out in daylight hours. Captain Quinn had
crashed into the stone wall but, other than being dazed, suffered no
"When he had shaken the cobwebs out of his head,
Quinn instinctively began feeling around the dark ground for his
personal weapons. Then his woozy mind played a flashback: When his
parachute popped open he had received a terrific jolt; his Tommy gun,
Colt 45, and musette bag had been ripped from his body by the hurricane
blasts that had engulfed him. Now, in enemy-held territory and alone,
he was armed only with a trench knife. Silently Captain Quinn cursed
the pilot of his C-47; obviously he had flashed the green jump signal
while racing at a speed far in excess of the 110 miles per hour orders
specified for dropping paratroopers.
"Quinn started stealthily slipping through the
night in what he thought was the direction of his DZ. In the quiet, he
heard a barely restrained "Psssttt!" The captain froze.
"Psssttt" certainly was not the password. Then he heard it
again, this time louder and more insistent-- "Psssttt!". As the
battalion operations officer gripped his trench knife tightly, there
was a rustling in the bushes and an American paratrooper, clearly
overjoyed to discover a friend, edged up to Quinn. The
captain, too, was relieved to find a comrade. He said nothing
about the "Psssttt" password, presuming that the trooper had been
too excited to remember the real one. The pair trekked off
into the night." (pp. 136-137)
Paratrooper, Gerard Devlin -
In another drop error, three planeloads of troops from Company A, 509th
Parachute Battalion, along with two planeloads of the 463rd Parachute
Field Artillery, were given the green light two minutes too soon.
Landing near Saint Tropez, all five planeloads banded together, linked
up with Free French forces, and liberated that plush resort town. (pg.
Aug. 18, 1944
Le Muy, France
20, 1944 Truck
Strength of command:
& Hq Btry
Pvt. Thomas M. Shaw WIA
Pvt. Warren L. Snead WIA
Pfc. Edward M. Spath WIA
Pvt. Thomas J. Wolf WIA
23, 1944 Truck
La Napoule, France
Pvt. John P. Hay KIA (buried at Draguignan
Cemetery) Pfc. George P. Ruell KIA (buried at
Pvt. Howard Knapp WIA - LW - Leg
Pvt. George P. Tolster WIA
Pvt. Merlin E. Van Etten WIA
Pvt. Joseph Vuchak WIA
Pfc. Weldon Walker WIA - LW - Leg
24, 1944 Truck
La Napoule, France
25, 1944 Truck
Pvt. Alfred H. Hulshizer KIA
Pvt. Michael J. Austin IIA - LW - Left Knee
Pvt. Lloyd L. Boisjolie WIA
T/5 Hudson J. Chenevert IIA - Contusion,
Pvt. Leo A. Guelette WIA
Pfc. James W. Hall WIA - SFW - Back
Pvt. Stewart H. Pelton WIA
Pvt. Paul A. Pyontek WIA
T/4 Frank W. Scott WIA
Cpl. Edward Kalinowski MIA
Aug. 28, 1944 Truck
3 Km East Antibes, France
30, 1944 Truck
30, 1944 Truck
30, 1944 Truck
Batteries A and D arrived at 8PM.
463rd rapidly moved into
Maritime Alps with the 550th Airborne Infantry to cut off German escape
route into Italy. "Champagne Campaign"
The mission of all 4 batteries
was to protect the pass through the Col de Larche and the Col de Vars,
the two main roads to Turin, Italy.
The battalion front extended 12
miles with resupply by mules and backpacks.
30, 1944 Truck
10 Kilometers west of St. Andres
Headquarters Battery and Batteries B and C arrived at 7:30PM.
Battalion united at 7:50PM. Set up position at 12,750 ft. at French
& Hq Btry
(7 Os & 96 EM joined Hq
from rear echelon)
Casne de Restefond, France
Battery A moved into this position
suspicious man about 6'1" tall, blond hair, and wearing an OD shirt and
slacks was reported in vicinity of Jausiers. It is believed that this
man could be Capt. Bisping of the 90th PZ, Gren. Div.
Reinforced by one platoon of French 105mm Howitzers for 3
2nd Lt. Robert F. Anderson WIA
1st Lt. William F. Biggs WIA
Pvt. Jose F. Rodriguez WIA
platoon of D Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion went into position at
(5195-4545) and were ready to fire at 0800 hrs. 26 Sept. 1944. Patrol
consisting of 1 O & 7 EM (1 O (Capt. Timothy Moran) & 1 EM 463rd, 2 EM,
mortar observers 550th, & 4 EM from FFI) left the pill box at La
Condamine to secure and set up observation post on Tête du Cuguret.
Equipment consisted of 2 M1 rifles, 3 French rifles, 1 cal. .45 pistol,
1 TSMG & 1 Machine Rifle (French or German make), and several grenades,
Fragmentation, one telephone and radio SCR 536 were also carried. At
0930 hours the patrol started with Machine Rifle covering advance in
bounds of 1 to 2 hundred yards. On arriving approximately 600 yards
from objective, 2 German riflemen were seen on ridge to left of
Artillery fire was called for and enemy retreated behind
ridge. Patrol then proceeded towards objective. Upon reaching base of
peak, the telephone line was found to be blown out in several places.
It became necessary to leave four men to repair the line while one
French EM and the one American officer mounted the peak. Upon attaining
the peak at approximately 1110 hours, 4 German riflemen were seen
approaching the peak from about 25 yards, 3 more joined them from the
left and 5 more from the right. There was no way to signal the men at
the base, so one grenade was tossed by the Frenchman and the two beat a
hasty retreat down the side of the peak, gathering the rest of the
patrol as they went. Numerous egg-shaped grenades were tossed by the
Germans. Upon reaching base of peak, a machine gun approximately 150
yards to the right and another 175 to 200 yards to the left opened fire
with rifles supporting them. Slight cover was found about 200 yards
from there and Artillery fire was called for. They received Artillery
fire with Chemical and 81mm mortars in addition. Under cover of this
fire, they were able to withdraw by leaps and bounds to a comparatively
safe position, when they began to receive enemy mortar fire and timed
fire from Artillery. They returned to the pill box at approximately
Germans wearing French civilian clothing over their uniforms were
challenged by the sentry at 463rd Command Post at 0300 hour. Josef
Gogler Unteroffizier, German Sergeant ASN 1414, 1st Co. 242 Pioneer
Battalion, Division unknown was shot and killed by the sentry. His
companion escaped through wadi. Believed to be slightly wounded. Both
are believed to have been unarmed.
Battery A, in position at 10,000 feet at Casne de Restefond, found
itself under 8 feet of snow after a three day blizzard. Much of the
equipment had to be pulled down the mountain by hand on sleds fashioned
from sheets of corrugated roofing before the roads were opened 3 days
T/5 James J. Hawkins WIA - SFW -
German speaking men were fighting with a man from D Btry, in Jausiers at
2115. Several Frenchmen ran over to help the man from D Btry. The men
who were speaking German ran away. A patrol from B Btry (5 men in a
jeep) left Jausiers at 2200 hour and proceeded to Barcelonnette looking
for the German speaking men, but could not find them. The patrol
returned at 2330 hour.
Col. Cooper returns to battalion.
Cpl. Lloyd C. Hood WIA - SFW - Leg
During the previous week, C Battery was shelled out of its battery
position in the village of Le Sauze and had to move its guns; a German
was shot and killed while sneaking through battalion positions in
uniform and on a bicycle wearing a French beret and French overcoat
attempting to replenish his squads liquor supply as he had numerous
empty canteens and wine bottles; and at dinnertime one evening with the
chow lines full at battalion headquarters the Germans cut loose with a
heavy artillery barrage scattering all chow lines.
Without infantry in
its front, the 463rd was vulnerable to enemy attack.
Austin, FO, reported an enemy attack at 2030 hour on 463rd position at
(52864656). It was receiving fire from machine guns and other small
arms; also hand grenades. Lt. Austin adjusted fire in area from
(52864670) to (54264760) to (53494775) to (52684710) with the result of
breaking up the attack at 2300 hour. One EM was wounded. Enemy
casualties were unknown. Strength of attack was one enemy platoon.
Light harassing fire vic Jausiers and the 463rd CP throughout the
night. Lt. Schoenedk, Air Observer, reported occupied enemy artillery
position at (36325689) three mules and enemy personnel entering position
from the south. Occupied defensive positions at (34405520). Enemy
living in house probably prefabricated at (33455580). 2 large trucks on
road between Col de Larche and Argentera. 5,619 rounds were fired
throughout this period, arguably the most fired in a 24 hour period by a
single battery during the course of the war.
(Being unattached and on paper attached to 2 separate units, the 463rd
was able to acquire as many shells as it wanted along with any other
equipment and rations it needed. Some thought the shelling was more to
get rid of the excess shells than anything else.) Corps. Headquarters
heard of the incident and Cooper was called to justify his use of so
much ammunition. Gen. Fredericks was all set to chew Cooper out when
Cooper brought the General's attention to the fact that there were no
infantry in the 463rd's front and that all he had to shoot Germans with
were 75mm shells. Shortly after, French Colonial Senegalese Infantry
showed up to cover the front. A French Senegalese sergeant appeared
with his squad one afternoon at C Battery's switchboard and
communication center. One of the 463rd, speaking French, found out that
these soldiers were sent to protect the area. They were taken out and
shown the wire net to the guns and OP and the infantrymen were dispersed
throughout the area. The nights, being very cold, the black colonials
from equatorial Africa, who wore long robes and carried very sharp
knives which they sometimes used on German victims, built large bon
fires every night to keep warm.
22, 1944 Truck
2 KM NW Menton (St. Agnes), France
snows of late fall began and Hdqts, B and C Batteries arrived at this
position at 2030 hour, joining the First Special Services Forces closer
to the coast. They traveled through Antibes, Nice and Monte Carlo.
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT FRENCH ALPS AND RIVIERA
During one evening
after Cooper returned, having recovered from his injuries during his
jump, all batteries opened fire on their front, firing 5,600 rounds.
(Being unattached and on paper attached to 2 separate units, the 463rd
was able to acquire as many shells as it wanted along with any other
equipment and rations it needed. Some thought the shelling was more to
get rid of the excess shells than anything else.) The official reason
for the firing was that the enemy were attacking and there were no
infantry in the front, but the real reason was that one forward observer
thought he had seen something and called fire on it. Since he had just
returned, Cooper and some other officers were drinking when the firing
began and unsure of the reason, let it continue. Only 3 wild goats fell
victim to the shelling. General Frederick called Cooper to the first
Airborne Task Force headquarters in Nice? to explain what had been going
on. The shelling had been the greatest the battalion would fire in the
war and one of the greatest in the European Theater. Cooper told him
the truth, that he had just returned, had been celebrating and the
firing began. He also called attention to the fact that no friendly
troops were in his front. Frederick laughed, told Cooper to watch
himself. He also told Cooper to prepare to bring his men back for a
Claude Smith/Jay Karp (tapes)
gun in Baker Battery taken up behind enemy lines because of reports of
enemy mule train. Claude Smith, Joe Lyons, Nichols (gun sergeant), Karp
and Clark were the only ones who could fit in jeep along with the
ammunition. They fired 10 to 20 rounds. They fired so fast that the
forward observer made the comment that he thought they were firing a
machine gun. At one point they settled down to eat. While eating, a
shell passed several yards behind them. Another fell several yards in
front of them. One of the members asked Lyons, "Lt., what would you do
if you were the forward observer and you threw one shell over and the
other short? Where would you put the next one?" Lyons said, "I'd put
the next in the middle." Before they knew it, a salvo exploded next to
them. They ran for the basement of a nearby house and Lyons reported to
headquarters that they were under fire and they were ordered down from
the mountain. The Germans had fired 88s. The Americans got the gun out
in a hurry.
A unit of the FFI was
stationed near them. One of the men would go out with them, alternating
missions. The 463rd was eventually relieved because of coming snow.
John Mockabee (tape)
Battery and went into Menton and went through there and the batteries
set up there. Just when the guns pulled in, but were not yet set up, an
enemy artillery barrage came in with busts occurring every 5 to 10
minutes. Whittaker, radio man, John, Lt. Bill Biggs, and other man went
up into the alps to set an OP up in a castle. They stayed there 4 to 5
days. It overlooked a pass, road, and a little hamlet. They could see
German vehicles. Jerry used the castle as an aiming point. Every
morning at 6:00AM, Jerry fired on the castle until hit and after a
couple of more rounds, would fire beyond to the units behind. When John
went back to the battery, a 75mm pack went off and John hit the ground,
an impulse from reacting daily to the shelling on the castle. Another
trooper saw him and laughed. A sergeant came up to him and said
"Mockabee, I hate to ask you this and you can refuse if you want, but I
need to have someone go back up the castle with Lt. Anderson. You can
refuse but I'd rather have volunteers. John said he'd be willing to go
back up if that other trooper would be willing. The other guy finally
agreed and the two of them went back up to the OP with a 50 caliber.
Booger Childress went up carrying a radio pack. They arrived at the
castle that evening. The next morning at 6:00AM, Jerry starting firing
again and the other trooper couldn't get deep enough and John was
laughing. Another time while they were up there, one of Jerry's shells
went short. The next over. Another shell fell to the left. Booger
said, "If that SOB don't hit this castle the next time, I'm going to
wave him a maggy drawers." The next shell went over and Booger had an
old sheet which he tied to a stick, got to the highest peak of the
castle and started waving it. The Germans kept shelling the castle for
several hours and Lt. Anderson told Booger, " God damn you Booger
Childress. I could just kick your butt for doing that." After the
shelling stopped, they got back up and started firing at troop
formations or trucks going by and Lt. Anderson called for artillery
fire. Shells hit close to the trucks which dodged them the best they
could. Lt. Anderson wanted to get closer, so they left the castle and
went down until enemy artillery bursts came in. Booger kept walking
with the radio. Lt. Anderson told him to get down. Booger said if
they're going to get me, they'll get me standing or lying. The Lt. said
he didn't care about him, he needed the radio. They couldn't find a
place with as good a view, so they headed back to the castle. On the
way back, it was getting dark and they stopped at a little house along
the road. 2 stayed up while 2 slept. About 2:00AM, they heard what
they believed to be a German patrol walking by and on up the hill, but
luckily never stopped to check out the house. When they got back to
Barcelonnette, they went out a little to the east and were placed on the
right of the road. They stayed there a couple of days and then moved
back to the left side of the road and before they could set up, an enemy
artillery barrage came in. Lt. Anderson was wounded in the back by
shrapnel. John's machine gun (Corporal Fraley's) was placed always to
the left of the howitzers and Bill McConnell's always to the right.
Armond Cerone (tape)
arrived in Barcelonnette, Armond remembers going into foxholes where there
was blood on the blankets. Armond feels there must have been some
action there before they arrived. One night he was asked to be a
volunteer to help man a gun in a forward position. During the night
they zeroed into a target and fired many rounds into an unknown
position. The fired at isolated targets.
John Cooper/Alfred Mury (tapes)
Cooper sent Lt. Mury and Benucci?? to Nice to look for a place for the
unit. Mury found the Hotel Bristol in Nice all boarded up and thought
that would be an ideal location for a recuperation center. He found the
owner in Monte Carlo who was happy to have the hotel opened again. Mury
was the manager and ran the hotel as a rest basin on a rotating basis
for each battery.
"We were shipped to the mountain area near
Jausiers, France. Our observation Post (OP) was located at an old
French fort called (I believe) Fort Restafund about 9,000 ft. at the top
of mountain which gave a scenery sight which seemed to be on the top of
the world. Activity was very limited. We fired on vehicles traveling
along the road in the valley between our OP and that of the Germans on
the mountain top across the valley. After several days of inactivity,
all hell broke loose. The Germans zeroed in our OP and fired about
twenty or more rounds of an 88 or 105mm artillery hitting our Fort
directly above our sleeping quarters and knocking down part of the heavy
stone siding at the rear of the building. Several infantry men were
hit, not seriously, but most of us were at a forward OP about 100 ft. in
front of the Fort. I was lucky to have my camera with me and took a few
pictures of the damage. I was at the OP with Lt. Merriman and Siemer.
We were told that there were no Germans in the area. On our few days
off, Montague and I became very friendly with a Jewish family in
Barcelonnette. I took pictures of members of the family and their
home. We gave them soap, toilet paper and other items which were in
very short supply in France.
"During a giant snow storm which lasted several days we were forced to
abandon the Fort and troop down to our gun positions to catch a truck to
our Command Post. After about a month at the foothills of the French
Alps we returned to the French Riviera for a few days of R&R. We were
trucked to Toulon where we boarded a railroad for a trip to Marseilles.
From Marseilles we traveled by rail to Reims where we loaded on trucks
to Mourmelon a staging area for the 18th Airborne Corps. I got a two
day pass for Paris, took a log of pictures, went sight seeing and of
course looking for girls."
After we got together with the 463rd and 509 guys that did drop
at Le Muy, we continued along the coast until we got to the outskirts of
Nice. At one point we came to a river, and the Germans had blown the
bridge. There was a blown up jeep that had hit a mine with pieces of
the jeep in the branches of a tree and what looked like clothing or body
parts. The engineers had marked a path with white tape down the bank of
the river which was fairly shallow and the trucks started down to
cross. Most of them made it. But the truck behind us turned too soon
and did not follow exactly and hit a mine in the middle of the river and
blew up. I could see two guys flying trough the air over the side of
the truck and come splashing down in the river. One suffered a broken
leg, and I heard later that the other guy, I think his name was "Felton"
was paralyzed from the waist down. They were the only two really hurt.
The rest were pretty shook up, and the truck was totaled. Later two
more 463 troopers were wounded when their machine gun position was hit
by mortar fire. One was named "Tolster" who was an ex-Marine and had
served in China. On the transport that took us to N. Africa, the Matson
Liner S.S. Monterey, he ran into the captain of the S.S. Monterey's
steward who had owned a bar in Shanghai that Tolster use to patronize.
They looked at each other and recognized each other, and had a
mini-reunion right there down on D Deck. A few days after the capture
of Nice, we were on our way to the mountains. The 463rd along with a
glider battalion was sent up into the French Maritime Alps to fight as
took about two days for the trucks to get up in the mountains to our
destination in the Alps. We had our rear echelon in a pass through the
mountains in the own of Barcelonnette, and our front line positions near
the village of Jausiers. We were told that this was the same pass that
Hannibal took his elephants through on the way to Italy.
Battery had a good position on the side of a mountain and did not
receive too much counter battery fire. The other batteries further down
from us took a lot of fire. I believe one battery had to move a couple
times. They sent one battery way up higher on a mountain, and while
there were covered by deep snow and became ineffective. They took 3 or
4 men from each gun section, and sent us up the mountain to help dig out
the road so the snowbound battery could get out. I did not mind going
up there, although the snow was about 8 feet deep in places. We really
worked up a sweat shoveling that snow. I think we were in the mountains
for about 3.5 months. We lived on C & K rations and once in a while we
had 10 in 1 rations. I think they were packed in England. Because each
box was a great big can of beef and kidney stew which was the worst food
I ever tasted. Even now I shudder when I think of it. We were finally
relieved by French Moroccan troops from North Africa that had mules to
get around with. The 463rd moved back down along the French Riviera
where we fought what we called the Champagne campaign. This was not too
bad as the country was too rough for any serious fighting. Sheer rock
cliffs almost from the beaches. We were dug in near Mentone, which is
on the French/Italian border.
as we were ready to leave the Maritime Alps and go back down to the
Riviera, the Germans mortared heck out of the positions we had just
left. We were really lucky to have missed all that incoming fire. This
also happened when we pulled out of a position down on the Riviera.
About the time the last truck pulled out, the mortar shells started to
fall. The same thing happened in Italy one time. I guess we were just
a lucky battalion.
one time we were emplaced in a position by the French Maginot line that
ran from the North Sea to the Riviera. One day a couple of us decided
to enter one of the big forts. We got some flashlights and entered. We
went in quite a ways, but when we encountered all kinds of explosives
laying around and teller mines laying all over the place, we beat a
hasty retreat. The place was huge. It had tracks for the small railway
cars, rooms with big generators, large elevators, kitchens, sleeping
rooms, and mess halls.
were finally pulled off the front lines for good and moved to a terraced
hillside on the outskirts of Nice. We spent a couple of weeks here
waiting for our next move. Things were pretty relaxed and we got to
into the city of Nice as much as we wanted, or until your money ran
out. I used to head for "The Queens Bar" that was a hangout for the
airborne. Had an orchestra that played American tunes. At this stage
of the war, the Germans did not have much of a bomber force left and the
city of Nice at night was lit up just like in peacetime. This ideal
situation lasted about two weeks, and then we went by truck to Marseille
where we loaded up in box cars for the trip up into the middle of France
near Rheims to a place called Mourmelon La Grande, and joined the 101st
Airborne Division. Mourmelon Le Grand means Big Mourmelon, and was
next to Mourmelon Le Petit, which means little Mourmelon.
The S.S. Monterey
3rd Gun Section
Battery D, the battalion was in firing positions in Jausiers, France
near Barcelonnette. One of the weeks while we were in this firing
action in these mountains. There was a fire mission called for, or a
registering fire, for just number 3 gun along for a period of five
days. We fired about 2 rounds each day about 11:00AM. At the end of
the fifth day, after firing, we in the gun pit, heard over the phone
mission complete. About a week later we found out from Forward Observer
Party that we were firing at a German postman on a bicycle, who had to
be just in the right place on the curve of the mountain road or we did
not have a good shot because he went in back of the mountain shortly on
the curve so we had to be right in our timing also. All things turned
out for good when your Forward Observer Post has patience and
determination to stay on the job.
24, 1944 Truck
2 KM NW Menton (St. Agnes), France
Batteries A and D arrived at 1800 hour.
31, 1944 Truck
2 KM NW Menton (St. Agnes), France
Monthly Report -
Fired approximately 12,970 rounds on: Personnel - 64; Machine guns - 16;
OP's & CP's 11; Gun Positions - 9. Targets disabled: 16 machine guns; 9
enemy gun positions; 5 self-propelled guns; 3 strongpoints; 10 vehicles;
19 mortar positions. Fired in support of 2 counterattacks. No
& Hq Btry
support to last push by First Special Services Forces. (1SSF 295)
18, 1944 Truck
Gattiers, France (just northwest of
Battalion fired on Enemy personnel at (8220-9294) with good effect.
Battery A relieved by Battery A, 602nd FAB at 1845 hour 17 Nov. 1944.
Battery B relieved by B Battery, 602nd FAB at 1757 hour 17 Nov. 1944.
Battery C relieved by C Battery, 602nd FAB at 1818 hour 17 Nov. 1944.
Battery D closed from firing position at 0800 hour 18 Nov. 1944. 602nd
FAB relieved CP and assumed control of sector 0800 hour 18 Nov. 1944.
463rd moved to bivouac area vicinity Gattières, France 0800 hour 18 Nov.
1944. During Operation Dragoon, 463rd conducted over 1,000 fire
missions and fired 34,759 rounds of ammunition, captured 375 enemy
troops (244 in the first days after the airborne invasion), and suffered
Monthly Report - Fired
4,632 rounds on: Personnel - 54; OPs - 8; Gun Positions & Machine Guns -
30; Mortars - 7. Targets disabled: 1 mule train, 2 machine guns; 5 gun
positions; 2 mortars; 1 road block; 1 75mm gun; 2 vehicles. No
casualties. Broke up German counterattack on November 12.
& Hq Btry
Truck Antibes, France
463rd en route to Mourmelon.
Train Toulon, France
Train Marseilles, France
Train Avignon, France
Train Valenca (Valence),
Train Lyon, France
Train Macon, France
Train Dijon, France
Train Chaumont, France
Train Saint Dizier, France
Train Châlons, France
12, 1944 Train
12, 1944 Train
Arrived 2:30PM. Temporarily attached to the 101st Airborne
Division for administration and rations.
A drinking spree for
everyone. (Smith tape) (Hazzard tape)
ATTACHING THE 463RD TO THE 101ST:
Wasn’t AWOL After All
(By Ken Hesler)
nephew of Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, in a recent online
communication with Filip Willems, webmaster of the 463rd
Parachute Field Artillery Battalion on Trigger Time Forum
noted his discovery of a wartime document from Gen. George
C. Marshall to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower that expands the
story of how the battalion came to “join” the 101st Airborne
Division on its dash to the defense of Bastogne, Belgium in
December 1944. (see image below)
The oft told story
of how Lt. Col. John T. Cooper, 463rd Battalion Commander
volunteered the unit’s services to the Screaming Eagles
although assigned to become part another airborne division
is now a historic footnote in the Bastogne saga.But the document recently found by Ken McAuliffe,
along with related research, has expanded that story.
February 1944 on the Anzio Beachhead from Headquarters and
two batteries of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 456th Field
Artillery Battalion and with months of combat in Italy,
Southern France, and the Maritime Alps, the battalion was
sent north in early December 1944 to join the 17th Airborne
Arriving in Mourmelon,
France, December 12,
following a truck and "forty-and-eight"box car
ride from Gattieres, just west of Nice on the Mediterranean
coast, the battalion was quartered with the 101st at FortMourmelon
to await the arrival of the 17th.
But the Battle of the Bulge
December 16, 1944, the same date that the Germans
counterattacked across the borders of Luxembourg and
Marshall sent a message to Eisenhower saying that, upon the
latter’s concurrence, “War Department will immediately issue
the necessary reorganization directive for 101st Airborne
Division...” to “incorporate” the 463rd in the 101st.
The Marshall letter was sent
from the War Department at
December 16, 1944,
and was received at Eisenhower’s headquarters at Versailles, France,
the next morning. Cooper
made his offer to join the 101st at a 9 p.m. meeting called
that same day by Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe who said,
“All I know of the
situation is that there has been a breakthrough and we have
go to get up there.”
In his article
titled “High Tide at
Bastogne” for the December 1944
World War II Magazine,
Martin Graham, son of a 463rd veteran, describes the
incident this way:
“As the meeting
broke up, Cooper approached McAuliffe and the acting
division artillery commander, Colonel Thomas Sherburne, to
remind them that his unit was only temporarily attached to
the 101st and requested permission to join the division in
its advance. McAuliffe directed Cooper to talk to Colonel
Joseph H. "Bud" Harper of the 327th Glider Infantry
Regiment, which lacked direct support artillery. Cooper
found Harper, who had just made it back from England, and
asked, "Do you need me?" Harper replied, "You're goddamn
During the exchange
with Willems on the Forum, Ken McAuliffe writes, “When the
463rd arrived in Mourmelon, they had already been designated
to be assigned to the 17th Airborne Division. The 17th was
still in England, but was coming to France in the
463rd was attached to the 101st only administratively for
quarters and rations.Obviously, neither Cooper nor the 101st knew about
Marshall's letter. If they had,
Cooper wouldn't have had to ask to be included in the move.”
The December 1944
463rd narrative reports that "At about 2100 hours on 17
December, the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery, attached to
the 101st Airborne Division, was alerted to move from its
France, to the
As a historical note,
the 463rd was attached to the 101st just before
but not assigned until March 1945 under a planned
reorganization of the division.Shelby Stanton’s encyclopedic
World War II Order of
Battle” reports the 463rd as being attached to the 101st
December 9, 1944.When the 463rd accompanied the 101st to Bastogne rather than wait
to join the 17th Airborne, some have referred jokingly to it
being AWOL, but that can no longer be alleged.
Although the 463rd was slated to join the 17th Airborne
Division, Colonel John Cooper requested that the battalion accompany the
101st to the Ardennes line following word that Germans had broken
through in Belgium. General McAuliffe called a meeting of all officers
in camp at 2100 hours, informing them about the German breakthrough in
the Ardennes and informed officers that the 101st division was to
prepare during the next two days to pull out to confront the enemy
somewhere near Bastogne. After the meeting, Col. Cooper met with
McAuliffe to offer the 463rd's services. McAuliffe asked, "How soon can
you move out with the 101st?" Since the battalion had not yet unloaded
their trucks since their arrival at Camp Mourmelon, Cooper replied, "45
minutes - but I don't have any orders" (the 463rd was slated to join the
17th Airborne Division which had not yet arrived from England). "To
hell with that," McAuliffe said, "to see Bud Harper of the 327th."
Cooper found Harper, who had just returned from England and was still in
dress uniform. "Do you need me?," Cooper asked, to which Harper
replied, "Your Goddamn Right." Cooper went back to his officers and
gave them a choice, either join the 101st in its drive to Belgium or
remain behind as camp guards. To a man, the officers voted to go. The
men were given 45 minutes to prepare to leave.
Col. John T. Cooper, Jr.
Officer/S-1: Major Stuart Seaton
S-3: Major Victor
S-4: Capt. John F.
Surgeon: John S.
Battery A: Capt.
William H. Gerhold
Battery B: Capt.
Ardelle E. Cole
Battery C: Capt.
Roman W. Maire
Battery D: Victor
Departed at 2130 hrs December 18 for Werbomont, Belgium.463rd convoy
included: 27 1/4-ton trucks, 27 2.5-ton trucks, and 12 2.5-ton trucks
attached from the 645th Quartermaster Company. The 463rd was the last
unit to leave Mourmelon and on the way out went through the ammunition
dump and loaded all the ammunition that they could possibly carry in
every vehicle they had. The convoy moved out in a heavy fog and misty
weather northeast from Mourmelon along muddy & slick roads, turned north
at Suippes on the road to Sedan, passing through Sommepy-Tahure,
Attigny, Poix-Terron, and across the historic battlefields of Sedan.
& Hq Btry
enlisted men returned from hospital and 2 from confinement. Took about
1,500 rounds of ammunition.
"About 2 days after I returned from Paris, we were told to get
ready to move out because the Germans had broken through somewhere east
of our position. We were trucked to Bastogne, Belgium and assigned to
the 101st Airborne Division to support the 327 Glider Infantry. Lt.
Merriman, about 2 other guys from our section and I were sent to an
infantry outpost near a section where the 502 Parachute Infantry and the
327 Glider Infantry joined near a town called Hemroulle northwest of
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck
Then, like a thunderclap, came the order: "Get them men out of
the brothels and bars", "Drag the officers from the land of no return"
-- the officers club, "It's time to earn your keep". Then started the
retrieving of the lost souls.
Being a Pack Howitzer unit and going long distances we either
went by air, truck or mule. This time it was by truck. This truck unit
being called the 40 & 8, driven by black soldiers. We loaded everything
we could with the small number of vehicles we were allowed. We did have
some trucks which made up our supply unit. They were to come later with
more ammunition, food, etc. We traveled all night, then about mid-morn
the next day we began encountering troops coming from the opposite
direction. This wasn't good as far as I was concerned. These troops
were from the 42nd, 106th Divisions and their supporting troops. Then
we found another group intermingled with these troops and they were
Germans that were dressed as American soldiers, they caused us a lot of
trouble. The further we went the more traffic, roads becoming blocked,
etc. I talked to some of these soldiers and they gave me some account
of what had happened.... I was the liaison officer between the 327th GIR
and the 463rd. I kept my battalion informed of intelligence concerning
the enemy, weather, terrain, planned fires to support the mission given
the 327th, place other liaison officer, forward observers and fire
missions of my own.
I was in the lead truck of D Battery and was following B
Battery in the convoy. Lt. Kranyak was leading the column. He missed
the turn-off and we had to turn around. When I asked him what went
wrong, he said he was following D Battery. We turned around by winding
the trucks out into a field and then winding them back onto the road.
When we had them all turned around, the last truck had his front wheels
in the ditch next to the road. The black driver said he couldn't get
out because his front wheel drive wouldn't work. I think he was
stalling. Lt. Eastman jumped into the drive's seat and promptly backed
it out onto the road. We were told when we left we could leave our
lights on until we got to Werbomont. However, when we stopped about 10
miles short of Bastogne, I was cooking coffee on the hood of the jeep (I
decided to do my own leading of the column) and a tank came by headed to
the rear and told us to "put out that goddam light!" I talked to him
and he said things were changing very rapidly. About 5 more miles and
we caught up to the rest of the 101st. At dawn we were bumper to bumper
outside of Bastogne. Thank God for the fog.
I was one of several
riding in the back of a covered 2 1/2-ton truck filled mostly with
5-gallon cans of gasoline and pulling a trailer. It was cold and damp,
and I slept as best I could using both the seat and the tops of the
gasoline cans for support. We were lost briefly at least once during
the night. After dawn, we took advantage of the stops to heat instant
coffee over stoves made of a C-ration can, dirt and gasoline. I recall,
with no great pride looking back on history, how we shouted to small
groups of tired soldiers from the 28th Division trudging along the other
way to remind them that "Hey, you're going the wrong way. The Germans
are this way."
saw little, if any, of the confusion. Coming in from the west, we did
not go into Bastogne, stopping first south of Flamizoulle. We dug in
along the road, and a few hours later moved on to Hemroulle.
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck
Dec. 19, 1944 Truck
Dec. 19, 1944 Truck
Dec. 19, 1944 Truck
SW Flamisoul, Belgium
19, 1944 Truck
arrived in Bastogne at 1100 hrs. Battalion reached Bastogne without any
maps since had been originally ordered to Werbomont. When arrived, Col
Cooper went to Col. Sherbourne's headquarters and asked where he should
place his men. Sherbourne's staff said they didn't know. He looked at
their map and decided to move to Hemroulle, 1.5 miles northwest of
19, 1944 Truck
arrived at 1500 hours and set up its Command Post and Fire Direction
Center set up in a house with the Aid Station in a chapel across the
street. Mission was to provide artillery support to the 327th Glider
Infantry west and south of Bastogne.
C: 500 yards slightly
to the northeast of Hemroulle
A: 350 yards southwest of Hemroulle on right side of road leading to
D: 750 yards southwest
of Hemroulle on left of road
B: a few yards beyond
Battery D on the right of the road
Hemroulle with chapel (aid station) and CP
weather continued to be cold, cloudy and foggy with poor visibility.
After crossing the Meuse, the truck convoy, with frequent stops and
delays, entered Belgium. Near the Bois de Herbaimont, where the
northward route intersects the Namur-Bastogne road, the 463rd found Col.
Sherburne, the acting 101st artillery commander, directing traffic and
sending the convoy southeast towards Bastogne. Dawn was gray, dreary,
cold and wet. During the many frequent stops, troops would jump off the
trucks, pour gasoline into puddles along the roadway and try to warm
themselves or heat canteen cups of water for coffee over flaming
C-ration cans partially filled with gasoline-soaked gravel. Along the
way, the convoy passed groups of infantry, mostly from the 28th
Division, walking single-filed along the roadway away from Bastogne.
Occasionally, someone from the battalion would shout to them, "Hey, you
fellas are going the wrong way."
At 9AM the trucks turned north off the
highway to an assembly area about 1KM southwest of Flamisoul where
they dug foxholes along the roadway and waited. Finally they were
directed to proceed to Bastogne, where they arrived at 11AM. The
battalion reached Bastogne without any maps since they had been
originally ordered to Werbomont. When they arrived, Col Cooper went to
the collection point which also proved to be division artillery
headquarters and asked where he should place his men. He was told that
they had no equipment, no wire, no phones, and no information. He
looked at their map and decided to move to Hemroulle, 1.5 miles
northwest of Bastogne, the sector assigned to the 327th, since the
battery's mission was to provide artillery support to that unit west and
south of Bastogne. The 463rd communication section tied a telephone
line around a tree, and laid lines to Hemroulle and later to all the
artillery battalions. After arriving in the village at 3PM, the Command
Post and Fire Direction Center were located in a house in Hemroulle,
with the Aid Station in a chapel across the street.
APPROXIMATE DISTANCES FROM BATTERY POSITIONS SOUTH OF
Rolle(y) - 2,000 yards
Champs - 3,000 yards
Remoifosse - 7,000
Longchamps - 4,000 yards
Recogne - 5,000 yards
- 4,000 yards
Noville - 7,500 yards
Etienne - 3,500 yards
Bizory - 6,000 yards
Flamisoul - 4,500 yards
Mageret - 7,000 yards
Neffe - 6,000 yards
463rd Supply Train sent back for more ammunition was cut off. The
463rd was assigned the mission of providing artillery support to the
327th GIR whose sector thinly covered the west and south borders of the
defensive perimeter. Initially, this support was limited because of
extremely heavy fog and low clouds which prevented the Forward Observers
from adjusting indirect fire. However, fire missions were conducted
whenever targets could be spotted.
Pvt. Charles R. Davault, Hq Btry, WIA
by shell fire
Pvt. William L. Hurley, D Btry, WIA by
Pvt. James G. Ragsdale, B Btry, WIA by shell
Slept all night, but the crew on duty did a bit of
firing. Our infantry is having it rough, but we're holding. We can't
get any ammunition through, we had 18 trucks wiped out. We are digging
defensive positions all over area, fox holes everywhere, ready for the
last stand, on guns in night.
I was a Captain assigned to the 506th PI as Liaison Officer. A
few days after we were relieved of combat duty and were recuperating in
Reims, France I was ordered to report to Gen. Maxwell Taylor
immediately. I had been his aide through Africa, Sicily, Italy, and
Normandy. Because of this long past association he offered to take me
back to the states for approximately two weeks to brief the Pentagon on
airborne operations. We left the same day, December 20??, and flew back
to Washington via Prestwick, Scotland; Gander, Newfoundland and on to
The Medical Battalion had occupied a position about due north
of the 463rd's position. I had been on reconnaissance in this area as
they were going into position. The next morning I was back in that
area as we were to put an infantry battalion in that area, the Germans
were making their circle around us. But there was no medical Battalion
there. Except for the personnel that escaped they had been
demolished.... The weather was real foggy, sometimes you couldn't see
30 to 40 yards in front of you. The air force had no visibility so we
could get no support from them, which we relied on very heavily. Now
this put us in a position of firing artillery only when we just had to.
Therefore we could not give the infantry the support they needed and
were used to. The word of course had by now reached all the front line
soldiers and as a result two things were revealed. The first Esprit de
Corps and self preservation.... First we had what we called the
"Midnight Charlie" or a German plane that came over every night and
bombed us. As a result of this, even though I was not in the front
lines I took precautions. The 327th was headquartered in an old army
barracks, which were one story, tile roof and had thin tile floor
inside. I decided I better not get caught short, because that bomb came
straight down from that airplane. I decided I would dig through that
floor with a wall locker on top of it with dirt in the locker and deep
enough to be comfortable in, this I did. Mind every one knew this was
my hole, some made fun of me but I didn't care because I knew how much a
hole in the ground could protect you. Well about the third night when
Charlie decided to drop a bomb right on top of our building. My hole
was filled with those persons that had made fun of me for digging it.
When the bomb hit the whole ceiling fell in. Charlie departed I got out
of my hole, the part that was in it, checking my condition, my jacket I
had on was riddled with shrapnel and plaster from the ceiling. I just
knew I had been hit, I wasn't, none had penetrated the lining of my
jacket. Oh! I was mad and I can assure you no one got in that hole
after that unless they had my permission. I decided I would go across
the street a short way from where I was and check to see how many
prisoners we had taken and any information I could pick up from them.
When I got over there there was only 2 or 3. For some reason our front
line troops just wasn't taking prisoners. I understood. From there I
decided to check the hospital we had set up. I sure didn't tarry long
there. The doctors had no way of putting people to sleep and they were
having to operate, amputate, etc. by just holding the man down. It
seemed inhumane, but was very necessary. I think this was the saddest
experience I had in Bastogne. Later that day, Col. Harper had to go
down on the south front to check on some things, while down there the
Regimental Exec. was there and had found a country ham at a farmer's
house. Me being from Mississippi and a farm boy, we cured our meat, so
I could just taste that ham. That old codger was so stingy with that
ham he wouldn't even give me a slice of it. How disappointed can you
be? We returned to Hdqts when we finished what we had come to do there.
That night Charlie visited us again. Now when he came tonight, Col.
Harper, Major Jones, and myself were in Col. Harper's room planning
fires and discussing the situation. There was a double bunk bed in this
room so when we heard the bombs landing we all three dived for under
those beds. Well this was a roll around each of the three of us trying
awful hard to be on the bottom for more protection. When it was over we
crawled out and just stood looking at one another, shaking our heads.
howitzers from Battery C redeployed about 700 yards northwest of
Hemroulle astride road to Champs into direct fire positions from which
to defend against tanks. Howitzers moved into direct fire positions due
to ammunition shortages. The battalion began to redeploy howitzers into
previously prepared direct fire positions from which they could defend
against tanks. This was done because of the changing tactical situation
and also because supplies of high explosive ammunition had dwindled to
the point where they were insufficient to support heavy indirect fire
1st Lt. Jack C. West, forward
observation post 6 Baker, was awarded Bronze Star for his achievements
Dec. 19 to 21.
I had to go out on the west front, on my way I had to
pass our gun positions. I decided I had better get some new radio
batteries as mine were getting weak. Now the radio section was set up
out behind Battalion headquarters. While I was in getting the batteries
I heard two of these black soldiers that had driven the trucks for us
talking. One of them told the other one to do something, he said back
to that one "Do it yourself you s-- -- - -----." The other said back,
"Boy I ain't no s-- -- - -----." That one says back, "I'm a airborne
troop." Now I recognized one of those voices. I went out to check,
sure enough I knew one of them. It was a black boy from home, my age,
use to go fishing with and worked on our farm. My point is "What a
small world even in a place like Bastogne." From here I proceeded to go
on to the front line. I got about as close as I figured safe with my
jeep and hid it in some trees. Walking on to the top of the hill. My
driver had gone with me. Just as we got to the crest of the hill a
group of German soldiers were coming up the other side. We wouldn't
have time to go back down without being seen. This area being heavily
wooded with thick spruce trees and snow about a foot deep, we decided to
crawl in next to the tree and get under the snow. There had been other
footprints around so they might not notice ours. This we did Germans
walked all around that tree and never did discover us. We were getting
air from a hole next to the tree. You would be quite surprised how warm
you can stay as long as no air hits you. We stayed there until dark,
then got out and went back down the hill, expecting our jeep to be gone
but they hadn't found it either. We lost no time getting back to
Our guard had
to dig in a new guard, but moved 100 yards away. Dug pit also on top of
hill to fire direct, in case of last stand. We are surrounded, no
firing, no ammunition, in case of last stand. Had a tent to sleep in,
really slept all night.
"We were bivouacked on a knoll at the edge of pine tree forest
in front of a road leading to the west of our position with the 327
Infantry. At very early dawn, on December 21, 1944, a German recon
outfit with about 8 vehicles, including half-tracks and jeeps came
racing down the road to our front. The infantry held their fire until
the recon outfit was directly to our front and then opened fire with
machine guns, bazookas, grenades, rifles and everything we had. I took
a few shots with my M-16. Every German in the recon outfit was killed
in this action, the Germans didn't have a chance. I believe they were
either on a recon mission or lost!"
supply of rations (220 K-rations & 400 10-1-rations) remained. Shortage
of ammunition was critical and restrictions were placed on fire
missions. Gasoline supply down to one-half day. Remaining 2 guns from
Battery C and 2 guns from Battery A were shifted into anti-tank
positions around Hemroulle. After the enemy demand for surrender, the
order went out for all barracks bags to be piled, ready to be burned.
The cannoneers were oiling their rifles and carbines in case they were
over-run by the enemy.
Cpl. Eugene M. Archer, C Btry, WIA
Lt. William Anderson, B Btry, MIA
T/4 Frank Pfeil, B Btry, MIA
Pvt. Herman Nelson (??), B Btry, MIA
Pvt. Oroland Maser, B Btry, MIA
night. Slept all night long. Things are getting serious around here,
stayed in fox holes around area, expecting a big attack but nothing
happening except the usual attacks.
I do recall
vividly the day I took our battalion's plan for perimeter ground defense
in to Division Artillery Headquarters. When I got there, the first
thing I was greeted with was a comment by Col. Sherburne. He told me
that Gen. McAuliffe had just received a surrender notice from the German
commander. I believe he said it had been delivered by a German major.
Col. Sherburne gave me a copy of it (which unfortunately I have lost).
After reading it, it said that if the division didn't surrender by four
o'clock they would level the town. I think it was then about two
o'clock. After getting the plan checked, I wasted little time
out of the city (Bastogne) and back to the battalion.
That afternoon I
was detached from C Battery to Headquarters Battery along with another C
Battery soldier. We reported to the 1st Sgt. who sent us to a farmhouse
on top of the ridge between Hemroulle and Bastogne. Hidden behind the
farmhouse was a truck containing all the battalion gasoline supply. I
dug a foxhole on the ridge and pulled the first 6 hour shift while the
other man slept. At about midnight the Germans started to shell
Hemroulle. The shells were just clearing the ridge and passed right
over the top of my head and dropped into the village. After the
shelling stopped I decided my 1.5' deep foxhole needed another foot or
so of depth. When that was completed I now laid my blankets out,
climbed in the hole and started to get some sleep. I was just dozing
off when I heard the weird sound of a motor. It was a slow moving
aircraft with a put, put, put sound. As there had been rumors of German
paratroopers and not having ever heard the sound of a V-1 buzz bomb, I
thought this was a troop transport dropping German paratroopers among
us. I sat up in the hole, cocked my Tommy gun and waited. This was my
most terrifying moment during the siege as there were no other soldiers
near me. I sat there trying to see something but never did. So after
about 20 or 30 minutes I laid down again on my back in the foxhole,
pulled my blankets over me and went to sleep. A little while later I
was again awakened by an odd tingling in my face. Again I sat up and
discovered it was snowing.
On the morning of
Dec. 22, I was told to set up a radio back back and since we were not
going to out too long, just take a couple of K rations to hold me over
for the day for we were to go out to register our guns. There were 4 of
us in the forward observation party. Lt. Anderson, Pvt. Nelson, and our
jeep driver who I can only remember as being called Gopher (identified
by Lark A. Erskine as Oroland Maser from Kentucky). He got that
nickname while at Anzio because he always dug one of the deepest
foxholes. We first went to Bn. or Div. HQ for instructions. I don't
know which one it was but I believe it may have been Div. HQ for when
Lt. Anderson came from the building with a map rolled up in his hand, he
said the Germans just delivered an ultimatum for our troops
surrender.... We continued through a town that may have been Bastogne
or Hemroulle. We went through there quickly for it was being heavily
shelled. The next event was when we were stopped by American troops at
a cross road and challenged. We learned then they were on the alert for
Germans posing as American GIs. We then continued on over open country
and at the next point we were stopped by American soldiers at a farm
house and were told there was a German machine gun emplacement ahead.
Anderson asked them why they didn't use the tank destroyer next to the
house to take care of the situation. He was told the crew did not want
to expose themselves to possible anti-tank fire. Anderson decided to
circle around the road block and try to use our Battery to bring fire on
the German gun position. We took off in the jeep again and a short time
later we received burp gun fire from a tree line and at the same time
our jeep bogged down in deep snow. We then ran to a wooded area
nearby. Anderson was first in line, I was second, Nelson third and
Gopher last. I saw Anderson stop at a fire trail or break in the forest
while using his binoculars to look up and down the clearing. He took
several steps into the clearing when we heard "Halt." I had difficulty
seeing what was happening because when we hit the ground the radio back
pack went forward and pushed my helmet over my face and into the snow.
Anderson was still standing and talking to someone. I was praying that
it was our troops and not the enemy. I then heard Anderson say to us
you might as well come out they've got us. When we did come forward I
could see by the number of men in their patrol that he was so right.
This story could go on and on, for the POW experience from the time of
capture to our being liberated by the 47th Bn. 86 Div. is one I'll not
forget.... The last time that I saw Anderson was in a field along side a
road. He had a grapefruit size hole in his thigh caused by the strafing
of our POW column by P47's while we were being marched by the Germans to
the rear. Nelson and Gopher I last saw them at a POW camp XIII A in
Koblenz. The three of us were being separated, since the Germans didn't
want enlisted men together with the NCOs. Both men were in bad
condition because their feet were black from the effects of frost bite.
They were hoping to be returned to the US control by the Red Cross. As
for me, fortunately, the day before going on patrol I changed into my
winter combat suit and snow packs. The other three had not, so their
physical conditions were not good.
Col. Harper was
called to come down to the Battalion on the South, same place where the
Lt. Col. had the ham. I went with him. When we arrived there a German
Major & Capt. had come to our front line with a white flag (PEACE).
They wanted to talk to the commander of the American troops. We
blindfolded them and took them to Division Hdqts. Here they were ushered
into Gen. McAuliffe's office. I did not get to go in with them. They
weren't in there long till Col. Harper returned with them. We loaded
them back in the jeeps and returned where we had picked them up at. At
this time we faced them toward the German lines and removed their
blindfolds. Col. Harper handed the Capt. a note written by Gen.
McAuliffe. The German Capt. was the interpreter, he read the note then
asked what is this word "NUTS". Col. Harper told him it meant "Go to
Hell." Now Col. Harper had hold of the Major and I had hold of the
Capt. Col. Harper motioned for me to kick the Capt. when we turned them
loose. He kicked the Major, so I had no choice but to kick the Capt.
(Not that I didn't want to). The Germans having returned with their
ultimatum being negative and the above, we figured we would be in for an
artillery barrage, we were surprised again it didn't happen.
Aerial re-supplies began at 11:55AM. 463rd had expended all but 9
rounds of high-explosive ammunition and ration supply was exhausted.
Repulsed German attack from the south. The other 2 howitzers from
Battery A, the 4 in Battery B and the 4 in Battery D remained in
indirect fire positions.
Pfc. Frisbie M. Adler, Hq Btry, WIA
officer, 3 enlisted men from Battery B, and 1 from Hq Battery who had
been missing since December 22 were declared MIA.
1st Lt. Donald W. Merriman,
forward observation post 5 Charlie, was awarded Bronze Star for his
achievements Dec. 20-23.
1st Lt. Charles W. Whittington
and 2nd Lt. John W. Frye, forward observation post 4 Baker, were awarded
Bronze Star for their achievements Dec. 23.
463rd had expended all but 9 rounds of high-explosive
ammunition and ration supply was exhausted. Each day as the battalion
commanders met with the division artillery, some of the battalion
commanders would ask, "Cooper have you knocked any tanks out?" His
answer was always, "No, not yet." Aerial re-supplies had been planned
for the previous evening but had been postponed due to the weather. The
large open fields northwest of Bastogne, the sector belonging to the 2nd
Battalion of the 327th and the 463rd PFA, were selected as the drop
zone. Pathfinders jumped at 9:45 AM, giving advance notice that the
supplies were on the way. The battalion was down to only 7 pounds of
artillery ammunition. Battalion vehicles and personnel were assigned to
the pickup. The first flight of 16 planes from the southeast began at
11:55AM. After dropping their bundles, attached to red, yellow, and
blue parachutes, they veered to the northwest. Additional flights came
over at 2:00 and 2:10PM. Before the day was over, 241 planes dropped
144 tons of supplies in 1,446 bundles. There was very little enemy fire
on any part of the pickup field, but several planes were hit by flak.
One of the disabled planes crash landed in a creek bed about 50 yards
from a D battery bun position. As it came in low over the
Bastogne-Hemroulle road from the south, the C-47s tail wheel struck the
back of a truck, spinning it around. Capt. Tofany of D Battery wrote,
"the occupants of the plane came out with their hands in the air yelling
'Kamerad', but were relieved to find they had landed among friends.
Miraculously, no one was seriously injured." By the end of the day, the
battalion had 528 K-rations on hand, along with 250 gallons of
gasoline. Ammunition supply at day's end was HE, 286; WP, 177; and AT,
201. Repulsed German attack from the south.
A great day,
the Lord has been with us. Had an aerial re-supply. Had lots of chutes
dropped, that's ammunition and thru a counter attack, firing all night
long, up all night.
I was thrilled with
the idea of being home for Christmas for the first time in many years.
However, as midnight on December 23rd I received word from Washington to
report back immediately for return to Europe. I flew to Washington the
morning of the 24th and then we waited all day for suitable weather. We
departed, finally, at 10PM on Christmas eve despite the fairly heavy
snow storm. Our route this time was Newfoundland, the Azores and then
to Paris. We then had to motorcade back to Bastogne.
Of course we were
expecting them (aerial resupply) so all of us were out watching for
them. HERE THEY COME, THOSE PCHTS WITH OUR RESUPPLY ARE FALLIN FROM THE
PLANES. WHAT A SIGH OF RELIEF. I felt tears running down my cheeks,
but couldn't help it. Then I looked at some of the other guys and found
out I had company. This made me feel better. The irony of it all was
that we had some guns that didn't have any ammo left and others with one
or two rounds. The Germans didn't know this. The next day if I
remember correctly we received word that the 4th Armored Division was
getting closer and their guns could be heard firing.
On the day of
the first serial resupply I was in a farmhouse on top of the ridge
southwest of Hemroulle. I watched the drop that was made and could see
the troops gathering in the supplies. After the retrieval was made and
the troops had departed I could see a blue parachute with a bundle
attached that had been overlooked. Knowing the blue chutes contained
food, I decided to retrieve it. I brought it back to the farmhouse.
The bundle contained K rations which we divided among the troops and
also gave some to the Belgium family whose house we were in. I gave the
parachute to Madame Simon and asked if she could make some blue scarves
for us troopers. She made about 15 scarves and a dress for me to send
home to my wife Wanda. The dress was kept as a memento throughout the
years. In 1984 when the 101st Assoc. members returned to Holland and
Belgium I went back to the farmhouse with Andre Meurisse to revisit the
family. Madame Simon is now deceased and her daughter Palmyre Georges
is now residing in the family farmhouse. She was a little girl of 12 at
the time and remembered the soldiers occupying her home. We had a very
nice visit with the family and when I left Bastogne I gave the dress to
Andre Meurisse to donate to the museum.
During the resupply mission, one C-47 had been hit by anti-aircraft fire
and the whole tail assembly was engulfed in flames. The plane was
flying on a course from west to east about a half mile south of
Hemroulle. I watched the plane as it approached and saw one, then
another, and the third crew member bail out. Their chutes all opened
without any trouble and they all landed within the perimeter very near A
Battery's gun position. The plane continued on for a few seconds but
was beginning to lose altitude rapidly. Then the fourth crew member
bailed out. He didn't wait for the count of four but pulled it
immediately upon departing the plane. His chute was just beginning to
deploy when the tail assembly of the aircraft broke off and the plane
went straight in exploding upon impact. The crew members chute opened
OK and he came to ground on the hillside just southeast of Hemroulle. I
watched him through binoculars and observed that he just lay in the snow
without moving. Shortly thereafter two troopers went down the hillside
to where he lay. They stood near him for a few minutes. Then one of
the troopers cut his parachute off, bundled it up and both returned to
their positions. I continued to watch the crew member who was still
laying in the snow, but thought he must be dead. Thinking that it was
odd that the troopers didn't carry him back toward their positions,
several of us in the farmhouse were a little upset at the C-47 crew
member being left in the snow and as we were talking about it the
crewman got up out of the snow and started walking toward the direction
the troopers had come from.
Division Chaplain came & celebrated Christmas eve service in a stable
next to CP.
Pfc. Douglas M. Bailey, B Btry, WIA
Pvt. Cecil E. Farmer, B Btry, WIA
Pfc. Donald P. Zafke, B Btry, WIA
1 officer and 3 enlisted men from Battery C
listed as MIA.
Lt. John C. Gill (posthumously) and Pvt. Alfred Pierce awarded Bronze
Star for achievement on Dec. 24.
Division Chaplain came to Hemroulle for a Christmas Eve service. It was
held in a stable. The men sang Silent Night.
I remember going to a barn on Christmas Eve with other
men. A chaplain was there and we had a church service with the familiar
'Silent Night', of course. I was thinking of everyone at home. I had
tears in my eyes, thinking of it all. Had plenty of action all along,
chutes dropped again. Germans bombed our area, no one hurt, I slept
Chaplain came out to our town for a Christmas eve service. We had the
service in a stable. Somehow that service had a distinct significance.
A rather humble setting somewhat reminiscent of an event some 2000 years
previous. I have often thought back on that night and that service.
I had just moved
back to the 4th gun section after spending all night standing in a
foxhole on a snow covered slope out in front of B Battery's Gun
position. When we went out to dig our defense line, Capt. Cole passed
out the last of the rifle ammunition and grenades. We knew were
surrounded by the German Panzer, Parachute and Infantry divisions. We
also knew about the surrender note and demand, so we knew we had to hold
the position. During a fire mission later that morning, a shell
exploded right in front of the gun position, and for some reason there
were only three of us on the gun at that time: Don Zafke, Cecil Farmer,
and myself, and all three of us were wounded. Tom (Doc) Pace, our
Medic, came running across the snow and gave us some help, and patched
us up as best he could, and then a jeep came over to us, and they threw
us in the jeep and took us to the church in Hemroulle that they were
using as a aid station. The wounded were put along the wall. The
Americans on one side and the wounded Germans on the other. This was
only about 150 yards from where we were wounded. They used the
equipment bundles and parachutes that came from the re-supply drop on
the 23rd to cover us. The re-supply drop came just in the nick of time,
as our squad had about 5 rounds of HE (High Explosive) and about 6
rounds of AP (Armored Piercing), and about 3 rounds of WP (White
Phosphorous). The concussion from the exploding shell made my legs
numb, and I felt no pain. After lying on the floor for about a half
hour, I started to get feeling again in my legs and I started to hurt.
They had bandaged up my left leg where the shrapnel went in. My right
foot started to really hurt. I worked my hand down to my boot, and I
could feel that it was all clammy. I called one of the medics over and
they found that I had been hit in the right foot also.
When a shell from
a German gun exploded in front of my gun pit, I was hit in both legs.
Tom Pace dressed and fixed my right leg, but it wasn't until later that
they found my right leg had also been broken. I laid in the 463rd aid
station and in Bastogne for 9 days without X-rays or penicillin. When I
was finally evacuated from Bastogne, gangrene was starting to set in.
A young doctor fresh from the states decided he was going to operate and
saved my leg.
When the Forward
Observer Party was hit with enemy shell the officer was killed and the
other two men in the Observation Party were badly wounded. A. J. Pierce
with tow of his buddies were up in the front lines. Pierce then called
Col. Cooper by phone and asked if he wanted them to come in. Col.
Cooper told Pierce not to come in but to stay put. Then Cooper asked
Pierce who has the most Court Marshalls. Then there was a silence and
discussion among them. Pierce then replied back to Col. Cooper, "I have
sir." So Cooper then told Pierce that he was in charge. Pierce and his
Forward Observation Party later on received a bronze star for this
action at Bastogne.
Ray C. Allen (Col. 401st GIR):
We had seen the Germans building up west of our lines for two days, and
the men knew that Division was expecting the Germans to attack on
Christmas Day. They knew Division believed our area was the most likely
area to be attacked by tanks and Division didn't think our thinly spread
line could hold if we were attacked by tanks. The men felt this could
be their last night together and their last Christmas Eve. Some of them
felt they probably wouldn't live to see the dawn. So they climbed out
of their carefully prepared foxholes, shook hands with one another and
wished each other a Merry Christmas. Then they settled back into their
foxholes and waited. They were getting angry and were ready to bloody
the noses of the Germans who had been tormenting them for five days....
At 10:00PM, the men on the front line could hear panzers arriving near
Flamisoul, a small village about two miles west of our line.
Direction of the Christmas attack
Germans attack at about 3:00AM from the northwest, the vicinity of
Mande-St. Etienne. 18 German Mark IV tanks and supporting infantry
broke through 327th line, 11 tanks and infantry advancing on Hemroulle.
They pulled off the road and stopped 100 yards from Hemroulle (thinking
it was Bastogne?) and remained there for over an hour. At dawn, the
463rd fired (1 howitzer from Battery D and 4 from Battery B were
redeployed into anti-tank/direct fire positions) and the battle lasted
about a half hour, many of the 463rd fighting as infantry. 8 German
tanks were knocked out by howitzers and a 9th captured. 2 tanks escaped
the 463rd but were knocked out by an American armored force. The 7
other German tanks were also taken out before the end of the day. After
the fighting, all howitzers except the 4 guns of Battery C were returned
to indirect fire positions. Col. Cooper had ordered all battalion
papers destroyed with the enemy so close (one other reason was to cover
up all illegal acquisitions by the battalion of trucks and other
equipment and material)
463rd firing at Bastogne
Col. Ray Allen (401st):
communications with Division at Bastogne had been knocked out. Bastogne
was being bombed and shelled by German artillery fire, and other
locations around Bastogne were under simulated attacks. These attacks
prevented Division from putting all of its artillery fire on one
location or sending reinforcements to help a location. These probing
attacks also convinced Division a major attack was coming, but they
didn't know where or when.... Then 18 whitewashed German Mark IV tanks
and a regiment of German infantry reported 700 meters away, moving very
slowly down a hill east of Mande St. Etienne toward the field where 2nd
Platoon of Company A had its outpost. The tanks were the 115th
Panzergrenadier Regiment of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division. They
were accompanied by infantry from two battalions of the 77th
Panzergrenadier Regiment. When the report was called in to Lieutenant
Bowles at his CP, he ran to the outpost and saw the long column of
tanks. The route the tanks were on would take them through the 2nd
Platoon position on the left side of the ridge, then beside his CP and
asked for artillery fire on the tanks.... I was asleep upstairs in my CP
when Bowles called. Major Hershel Angus and Captain Twyman Brouillette
were on the night watch at my CP. Major Angus sent Captain Brouillette
to wake me and ask if I wanted to start firing on the tanks. I said:
"No. That will start the whole front firing." I didn't really know
what I was saying. I was just barely awake. Captain Brouillette went
back downstairs and told Major Angus what I had said. Major Angus
commented: "That doesn't sound like Colonel Allen. He usually shoots at
everything that comes in front of him. Go back up there, stand him on
his feet, then ask him again." As Captain Brouillette started back up
the stairs, I was coming down. He repeated the request for artillery
fire and I told him, "No, tell the men to hold their fire."... The
nighttime attack was definitely to my advantage. The German infantry
was walking five of six abreast in a column. They were grouped and not
spread out like they would have been if they were preparing to attack.
I knew by their formation they didn't know where our front-line postions
were located. But, if we had begun firing, they would have seen our
front-line positions. In fact, if they had just waited until daylight
to attack, they would have seen our positions and we would have been
quickly wiped out.... Just the mention of armor could cause your blood
to freeze, but my men responded automatically and as a unit. The 2nd
Platoon was looking right down the barrel of the German tanks. They
knew that to fight the tanks head-on would just get them killed, so they
simply got out of the way. They just climbed out of their foxholes and
moved to the positions of the 3rd Platoon on the higher ground on their
right flank and let the tanks go through their now vacant line
positions. They knew the tank destroyers and Colonel Cooper's artillery
were behind them, waiting for the tanks.... The column of 60-ton German
tanks began moving into Company A's positions with their flame throwers
blazing. Each tank had 15 or 16 infantrymen, wearing white sheets,
riding on it, and some infantrymen were walking beside the tanks. They
were firing rifles and flame throwers as they came into the 2nd
Platoon's positions. The Germans were probing, trying to find my
front-line positions. As soon as the last tank rolled through 2nd
Platoon's position, about 30 minutes later, the men of the 2nd Platoon
simply climbed out of the 3rd Platoon positions and went back to their
own positions, closing up the front line. No one told them to do it,
they just did it and not one man failed to return to his position. Now
they were behind the tanks and in front of the approaching infantry....
The German infantry were still marching in formation in the field below
the ridge. They were wearing white sheets, screaming and firing their
rifles in the air. In the early pre-dawn light and the heavy fog, they
looked like ghosts floating across the snow-covered field. They didn't
know they were just minutes away from their doom. They were heading to
our well-hidden, machine gun final protective line on the ridge, and my
men were becoming angry as they watched the hundreds of screaming German
infantrymen coming toward them, but they stayed low, waiting for the
Germans to get into range. Their plan was working. The German tanks
were separated from the infantry and the infantry still didn't know
where we were dug in. It was almost dawn and my men, three tank
destroyers, our bazooka teams and Colonel Cooper's 463rd Artillery were
all in position. Waiting. Patiently, quietly waiting.... Then,
suddenly, the front line roared as my men began firing every gun they
had and our machine-gun final protective line went into full effect.
The surprised German infantry was trapped into the flat, open field and
were being cut to pieces by the cross fire from our machine guns....
The four tank destroyers had avoided a direct frontal fight with the
tanks because of the thick armor plating on the front of the German
tanks. When the first shot rang out, the tanks were still in a column
moving toward my CP. Instantly, the four tank destroyers raced into
position behind the tanks and opened fire. Five of the tanks exploded
as their thin, unprotected backsides took direct hits.... C Company was
dug in and they were not going to budge one bit. Someone said they shot
at anything and everything that could be German. Colonel Cooper's 463rd
Artillery was so close to the tanks that they had to level their muzzles
and shoot straight across the ground to hit them. They fired point
blank and said it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Now the tank
column was being bombarded by fire from every direction. The column was
surely staggered. Then, to escape the furious fire that was pounding
them, it split up. Some of the tanks started racing toward Champs, two
miles north, and six of them sped toward my CP near Hemroulle, two miles
west of Bastogne... at about 7:15AM.
Cpl. Rester W. Bryan, Hq Btry, KIA
Pvt. Ollie S. Butts, Hq Btry, KIA
Pfc. John P. Hall, Medical, KIA
Pvt. Richard A. Carroll, A Btry, WIA
T/4 Marlyn W. Havig, Hq Btry, WIA
Cooper awarded Silver Star for gallantry in action Dec. 17-25.
Rester W. Bryan (posthumously) awarded the Bronze Star for Dec. 25.
Germans attack in pre-dawn from the northwest. 18 German Mark IV tanks
and supporting infantry broke through 327th line, 11 tanks and infantry
advancing on Hemroulle. In the early morning hours, Capt. Ardelle Cole
radioed Maj. Victor Garrett, S3, that 4 tanks were lined on the ridge
northwest of Hemroulle. "Do they have muzzle breakers?," Garrett
asked. Cole replied "Yes." Garrett awoke Col. Cooper with the news.
It was determined that 11 German tanks had actually pulled off the road
and had come to a rest about 100 yards to Cole's left and right,
apparently mistaking Hemroulle for Bastogne. Cole could not speak
loudly and asked that headquarters not ring him since the Germans had
gotten out of their tanks and were making coffee. Garrett notified all
of the batteries and guns that had been placed in tank position of the
situation and told to make no noise and show no lights of any kind, but
boresight any of the guns that they had that could see the tanks and
prepare to attack the tanks with machine guns, bazookas, and anything
else that could inflict permanent damage when Garrett gave the command.
The enemy tanks had lined up along the road in a field behind the trees
and were positioned so that the 463rd guns could boresight into the side
of the tanks. The battalion waited about one hour until daylight so
that they could distinguish the muzzle breaker on the guns to make sure
that they were not American. At dawn, Garrett ordered the guns to
direct fire with the command, "the shit hit the fan". As the firing
began, Cooper called the S3 division and told them of the attack. He
didn't tell them the tanks had been sitting idle for an hour before the
463rd struck. The division S3 said, "Cooper are you telling me the
facts, that you are under attack?" "If you don't believe it," Cooper
replied, " look down this way and you will see five spirals of smoke,
which represents 5 tanks burning, no, there are 6 spirals of smoke now
which includes 6 tanks burning."
Destroyed German tank at Hemroulle
German tanks had pulled off the road and stopped 100 yards from
Hemroulle thinking it was Bastogne and remained there for over an hour.
At dawn, the 463rd fired (1 howitzer from Battery D and 4 from Battery B
were redeployed into anti-tank/direct fire positions) and the battle
lasted about a half hour, many of the 463rd fighting as infantry.
Cooper did not know how long his battalion could hold out, but they were
determined to give them hell as long as they could. 8 German tanks were
knocked out by howitzers and a 9th captured. 2 tanks escaped the 463rd
but were knocked out by an American armored force. The 7 other German
tanks were also taken out before the end of the day. After the
fighting, all howitzers except the 4 guns of Battery C were returned to
indirect fire positions. Col. Cooper had ordered all battalion papers
destroyed with the enemy so close (one other reason was an opportunity
to get rid of papers showing questionable acquisitions by the battalion
of trucks and other equipment and material). During the fighting, Cooper
was standing in front of his command post when he noticed on his left
some men carrying a white flag coming out of the woods in the vicinity
of D Battery. It turned out to be Lt. Col. Ray C. Allen, commander of
1st Battalion, 401 GIR, and some of his men who had abandoned their
headquarters near Champs to the Germans. After the fight, Cooper
learned that Gen. McAuliffe and his staff were coming down to visit the
scene of the battle. This news was followed by a call from Bugger
Childress that he had captured an enemy tank. When the shelling
started, the tank crew tried to get into the tank, but the first man was
killed when an American shell hit the turret. The others fled, leaving
the tank to Childress. Cooper drove out to the tank with his driver,
Walter Sckerl. They placed a white undershirt on the tube and Bugger
drove the tank to Cooper's headquarters. Childress' comment to Cooper
when he arrived at the tank was, "Look what I brung you for Christmas,
after the fight, three American fighter aircraft attacked one of the
463rd machine gun positions. Cooper issued orders to shoot them down
because there were only three of them and hundreds of the 463rd. When
the gunners started shooting, the fighters broke off without anyone
being killed or injured.
that afternoon, Pvt. Joe Callahan, a gunner on B Battery, went up to a
tank his crew hit that morning and found two bodies inside and one
"Stopped Cold" - James Dietz
McAuliffe, Col. Sherburne, the artillery battalion commanders of the
other battalions, and several bystanders were taken by Cooper out to the
sight of the shootings. Gen. McAuliffe looked at each tank and
determined which gun had taken the tank out. Around two tanks you could
see the ricochet marks across the snow and see the gun from which the
shot was fired. "I'll give you credit for these two tanks," McAuliffe
stated. Cooper asked him whether these tanks were knocked out and
destroyed or merely disabled. "They're damn sure destroyed and knocked
out." Cooper turned around and told everyone that the General had
announced that the 463rd had knocked out two tanks, as a comeback to his
detractors from the past. The German tanks had been fired on from so
many directions and with such a mixture of fire that it was not possible
to see or say how each tank met its doom. One gun from Battery B
stopped two tanks at a range of 600 yards and then some men ran out from
battery positions and captured the crews.
Cooper later determined that two tanks were burnt up and the ricochet
marks were seen by the General. What the General didn't know was that
these tanks were all standing still and were boresighted from the guns
and the 8 tanks that were on the ground had been hit but had been able
to drive 20 or 30 yards and not be in line with a gun. All the crews
from the tanks had been outside when the shooting started and that all
of the many hits received by the tanks were made by members of the 463rd
as they attacked the German soldiers.
Sherburne returned to his headquarters and wrote a commendation for this
battalion. When the after action report was written, Stuart Seaton, the
executive officer, and Cooper decided that the 463rd had had their day
and therefore reported that the battalion knocked out only two tanks and
captured one as was officially determined by Gen. McAuliffe. Cooper did
not wish to become embroiled in a potential controversy with the General
in reporting that the battalion had actually taken out 8 tanks and
captured 1. The remaining 2 tanks had been seen entering woods to evade
the 463rd fire. Private Fred Shelton, with 4 other men from D Battery,
entered the woods in pursuit of the two tanks, but later found them
German prisoners were kept in a stable next to the Battalion Command
- Germans shelled Hemroulle with thirty 105 caliber rounds.
17:05 - Germans shelled Hemroulle with fifteen
77 caliber rounds.
17:30 - Germans shelled Hemroulle with thirty
five 105 caliber rounds.
Much has been said
and some have written about their Christmas of 1944. I have copies of
many of these episodes; but none of them were written from my view of
Christmas morning, 1944.
the early morning hours of Christmas Day, I was awakened by my S3, Major
Victor E. Garrett, with the information that he was on the line with
Booger Childers and that Booger had informed him that German tanks had
pulled off the road at his dugout position as outpost guard. The tanks
were lined up behind the trees in front of our positions and were
dismounting from the tanks and appeared to be preparing breakfast, that
he was remaining in his position and could hear the Germans talking. He
counted 11 tanks and a number of German soldiers including all of the
Garrett and I discussed the entire situation that the night had been
fairly quiet and nothing had happened up to this time. It was too dark
to see the muzzle breaks on the guns from our positions. We informed
the Booger to set tight, make no efforts to move, which would alert the
German tank groups.
to this day we had used up most of the ammunition in the battalion and
had placed several guns in anti-tank position and they had the major
part of the ammunition available. We knew that General Patton was on
his way and we were certainly not going to make a mistake and fire on
his tanks. We informed Booger that we would not begin shooting until we
could see the muzzle breakers on the German guns.
S# then notified all of the batteries of the situation and cautioned
them as to creating a noisy preparation and not to make any efforts
until we started the shooting with the units in place. We then notified
the guns in anti-tank positions of the situation and told them to be
very careful and not give away their positions but to boresight their
guns and prepare the data for firing at daybreak or as soon as the tanks
began to move. As it turned out the tanks were about 500-600 yards
directly in front of 3 of the 463rd guns in anti-tank position with the
trees behind the tanks. Our idea was to shoot the first tank in the
line and fire 1 shot into each of the other tanks that were within their
view. Then shoot at the tanks as they were moving at will. We waited
until first light and could make out the muzzle breakers of the guns and
gave the command to shoot. All hell broke loose and the soldiers from
the batteries A, B and C with bazookas and machine guns and rifles
entered into the foray. At the moment the fighting started, I called S3
of the division and informed him that we had been attacked and would
hold out as long as possible. I did not tell them that they had been
setting idle for an hour while we prepared the proper reception. The
division S3 said "Cooper are you telling me the facts, that you are
under attack?" To which I replied, "If you don't believe it, look down
this way and you will see 5 spirals of smoke, which represents 5 tanks
burning, no, there are 6 spirals of smoke, which makes 6 tanks
burning." We did not know how long we could hold out, but would give
them hell as long as we could. This battle lasted, probably, 15
minutes, 20 at the most. By this time, I was out in the front of my CP
wondering what was going on around me. Soon afterwards, I noticed a
group of men coming from my Battery D position area; this turned out to
be Col. Allen of the 327th Infantry, who had abandoned their
headquarters. Sometime thereafter I was notified that General McAuliffe
and his party were coming down to view the scene of the battle. About
the same time, the Booger called that he had captured one of the tanks
in good running order. When the firing started, the tank crew tried to
get into the tank, but the tank was hit on the turret and killed the
first man trying to enter. He was laying head down and feet outside the
turret. The rest had abandoned the immediate area and Booger had a
tank. My driver, Walter Sckerl and I drove out to the tank, placed a
white undershirt on the tube, and Booger followed me to my headquarters
and parked the tank as shown on page 555 of the book "Rendezvous with
Destiny" by Leonard Rapport and Arthur Norwood, Jr.
General McAuliffe, Col. Sherburne, and the artillery battalion
commanders of the other battalions and a host of sight-seers arrived and
I took them out to the field and they looked over the mess that had been
left. General McAuliffe would view each tank and say "Which gun knocked
this out?" On two of the tanks you could see the ricochet marks across
the snow and see the gun from which the shot was fired. He said "I give
you credit for these two tanks." I asked him whether these tanks were
knocked out or disabled. He replied, "They're damn sure destroyed and
knocked out." I then turned to the audience surrounding me and the
General and announced that the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
had knocked out and destroyed two tanks that General McAuliffe had just
said; which was my answer to the kidding I had been taking at the hands
of the other battalion commanders, who had asked me each day if the
463rd had knocked out a tank yet. The General further states that the
barrage fire of Cooper's 463rd FA Bn. had dealt in detail with that group
of tanks trying to ride through Hemroulle. The German tanks were fired
on from so many directions and with such mixture of fire that it was not
possible to see how each tank met its doom.
actually happened, as detailed above, and what the General didn't know
was that they were all standing still and were boresighted from the guns
and that 8 tanks were on the ground had been hit but had been able to
move 20 to 30 yards and not be in line with the gun. That all the men
at the beginning of the firing were outside the tanks when the shooting
started. That all of the many hits received by the tanks were made by
the 463rd enlisted men as they attacked the German soldiers.
463rd had 11 tanks in their sights, 8 were knocked out, 1 captured and 2
succeeded in getting away.
Sherburne returned to his headquarters and prepared a written
commendation for this battalion for this section. When the after action
report was made, Stuart Seaton, the executive officer, and I decided
that we had had our day and made a report that we knocked out 2 tanks
and captured 1, as the General had indicated. We did not wish to become
involved, and having to prove to the satisfaction of the General how we
had been able to actually take out all of the tanks. Our after-action
report was made exactly as the General suggested.
my dear friends, is the truth and the whole truth as to the Christmas
Day action in front of the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion.
We knocked out 8 tanks, captured 1, and 2 got away.
later, I met Fred Shelton, who was a private in Battery D and now lives
in Duncan, OK, near me. I asked him what he did on Christmas morning?
He reported that he had been told to take his men, 5 in all, into an
open field and dig in; that 2 tanks were in the trees near them. He
told me that they had 2 rounds of smoke, 1 round of HE as their total
amount of ammunition. We believe that 2 tanks that had been seen going
into those woods were the 2 tanks that got away from us. Upon further
investigation that day the 2 tanks were found abandoned.
The days prior to
Christmas began to pass about like all the others we had been in for the
past year. Each day presented its targets and we fired our missions.
From these positions we fired 6,400 mills (around the total circle).
began to snow and ammo decreased to critical conditions, we organized
our battalion for the possibility of 'stand and fight,' for there were
no other places to go. We posted, dug in out-post guards with telephone
communications to Battalion HQ as well as to the battery they
represented. Our guns were mutually supporting. Banking on the fact
that a tank will attack a gun head on, we had another gun that would
have a side shot at the tank.
had 20 rounds per gun of hollow charge and anti-tank ammo that were
never used or counted in ammo reports except to be used for direct fire.
preparation for the tank attacks we received on Christmas Day had been
planned and set up for several days. Snow had covered the gun
positions. All we had to do was move our gun sections and start
shooting. (The Battered Bastards of Bastogne, pg. 275)
I was awakened by
my S-3, Victor Earl Garrett from the Operations Room across the hall in
the house we were using as our CP.
told me that 11 tanks had moved in on Sgt. "Booger" Childress' 'B'
Battery. Some four tanks had stopped so close to him that he might be
discovered if the soldiers moved around very much. He could hear the
other tankers and they had gotten out of the tanks and were waiting
around. He had to whisper. Snow was about a foot deep all over the
Germans got out of their tanks and made coffee and sat around waiting
for daylight. They did not know that while this was going on, they were
being observed through the tube of a 75mm pack howitzer, which would
soon be loaded with hollow-charge ammo, probably the only such ammo in
the (European) theater and they had parked in front of the only guns
that had the ammo.
told the S-3 to alert all the batteries and for them to stay in their
sacks, except for the CO's and executive officer and gun crews.
Movement in batteries are to be kept to a minimum. No lights. No one
was to fire a round until we gave the order: "Let the shit hit the fan?"
was still dark and as the word got out, our gunners had occupied their
gun pits and other outposts were able to see the tanks, we had a good
view of what we had to do.
will remember how I was greeted for several days by 'How many tanks did
you knock out today?'
now determined to be able to give Elkins and Carmichael a damn good
answer. I was also sure that Patton's tanks were in the vicinity and I
was damn sure we were going to shoot German tanks. I told the S-3 that
we would not shoot until he could see the muzzle brakes on the guns or
the Swastika painted on the tanks. (The Battered Bastards of
Bastogne, pg. 276)
Officers Carmichael and
I picked up my
telephone to Division and reported the attack on the 463rd. "We would
like some help but would stay in contact and not give ground. Our HQ
was being attacked."
"Cooper, are you making this up?" someone asked at Division.
"Hell no - look out your window and you will
see five smoke columns each of a burning tank. No - make that six,
there goes another one!"
will get Task Force Cherry down as soon as possible, out!"
the first 15 minutes we had disabled 8 tanks, hit ten tanks, the one
close to Childress on the turret, killed two inside and one getting
out. Childress called and said he had dragged the man off the track and
got the two dead men out. I told him to sit tight, but put a white
undershirt on the tube and wait for me.
this time, about 45 minutes had passed. Walter Scherl, my driver, and I
drove out and led the tank, driven by Booger down a draw into our HQ
area and parked it outside my CP. I called Headquarters to tell them I
had a present for them. (The Battered Bastards of Bastogne, pg.
Col. Cooper and I
decided that since we'd managed to make all of our own gun batteries
6-gun batteries (not authorized by T.O. & T. E.) we'd fight it out with
direct fire and indirect fire in case of a break-through on our
position. Before the big push, Col. Cooper had told me that I would be
in charge of all decisions when to open direct fire and when to order
all clerks and cooks to man their rifles and grenades and put final
orders into action. Before the big push Col. Cooper, Maj. Seaton and I
had made plans and orders that in case there was a direct German attack
we would dig in four guns per battery for direct fire on the German
tanks... Ever since Sicily we carried extra armor piercing and
phosphorous ammo (as per Col. Cooper's orders). Some say the armor
piercing did the job and some say the phosphorous caught them on
fire.... The reason I was sure the tanks were Mark IV's was muzzle
breakers, as I had been within 100 yards of the one we got in Sicily
when it got me first.
On Christmas Eve
night the Germans broke through our front lines. I had many
intelligence reports all night about the situation.
daylight, Captain Ardelle E. Cole advised me by radio that there were
four tanks line up on a ridge above us. I asked, "Do they have muzzle
brakes?" His reply was, "Yes." (The Battered Bastards of Bastogne,
command post and fire direction center was in Hemroulle, near Bastogne.
We were in a house and the aid station was in a chapel across the road.
On Christmas Day we kept our prisoners in the stable to the left of the
since Sicily, we carried extra armor-piercing and phosphorous ammo (as
per Col. Cooper's orders). Some say the armor-piercing did the job and
some say the phosphorous caught them on fire. (The Battered Bastards
of Bastogne, pg. 283)
I remember Vic
Garrett calling out the howitzers one-by-one into perimeter defense
positions. I believe we had only two or three guns in D Battery still
in indirect fire positions -- the rest of the guns in perimeter defense
This was to be a
memorable day for the 463rd PFA. It started with an all-out German
attack designed to wipe out the "doughnut." Everyone was prepared for
the worst. The barracks bags with our belongings were piled ready to be
burned and the cannoneers were oiling their rifles and carbines in case
we were over-run by the enemy. Gen. McAuliffe had told them "nuts" and
they were going to finish us.
Battery was the only battery in the division firing. Because of our
position, we were the only battery capable of firing anywhere on the
perimeter of the "doughnut." Therefore, all the remaining ammunition in
the division was assigned to us. The other batteries of the 463rd were
deployed in anti-tank positions...
During the aerial re-supply that day, one of the C-47s became disabled
and came across the Hemroulle road very close to the ground. As it
crossed the road, a truck was passing under it and the tail wheel of the
plane caught the back of the truck and spun it around 180 degrees, the
driver finding himself going in the opposite direction. The truck
driver jumped out and ran toward Bastogne, not knowing what happened.
The C-47 landed in a creek bed 50 yards from D Battery. The occupants
of the plane came out with their hands in the air yelling "Kamerad."
They were relieved to find they landed among friends. Miraculously, no
one was seriously injured.
we took care of them and sent them to the rear, the rest of the Air
Force appeared. 3 P-47's circled us and, after a round of tracer was
fired by some trigger-happy antiaircraft gunner up on the hill, they
came at us in a dive formation. I grabbed the phone and told my ack-ack
gunners to fire on them which drove them off. I assume they realized we
were Americans after they got close. We'll never know.
Joseph F. Callahan:
was received about the German tanks, I don't think we used the eye scope
but just fired. And we saw the first tank, but we shot and hit the
second one. We went to the tank that afternoon and there were two
bodies inside it and one body lying outside. (The Battered Bastards
of Bastogne, pg. 277)
called me on the telephone, stating that German tanks had broken through
the infantry and was attacking them. I had spoken of the shortage of
ammo, well we did have some armor piercing ammo. Except for the firing
batteries, not many knew we had this ammo. We had brought it from
Southern France and it had never been reported on any ammo reports. I
knew we had it because Col. Cooper and I had talked about it. So now
with a tank attack direct on the gun position, this ammo was being used
for what it was intended. Some fine examples of bravery was
demonstrated by the members of the firing battery that day or the 463rd
would have been wiped out.
I was on the edge
of an evergreen patch just east of Hemroulle, northwest of B Battery.
Rester Bryan and I were in a foxhole, a machine gun crew of the 401st
GIR (327th GIR) were to our right within arm reach, William Everhart was
in a hole behind us. We had a phone and a radio in our hole wrapped in
blankets. For weapons we had an M1, Tommy gun and other assorted small
arms. Throughout the cold nights we had very little sleep. We would
exchange cigarette buts for lighting cigarettes with the machine gun
crew throughout the night. At 0430 on the morning of Dec. 25th, I was
the only one awake when I spotted a number of white German tanks and
infantry dressed in white approaching our position. I woke the others up
and we began to fire. The tanks, with infantry riding them, passed by
us and we began to hold back the German infantry. My phone was knocked
out so I called back to headquarters on the radio and called for an
artillery strike on our position. The fire was tremendous. We
continued to pin down their infantry with small arms fire. Bryan and I
were both firing when suddenly Bryan stopped. I reached over and found
that he was dead. We continued firing at the infantry for several hours
before they abandoned the advance and fell back. An American tank crew
came up to us a little later and urged us to fall back, but we stayed.
I was in a
slit trench not far behind Joseph Rogan and Rester Bryan's position. I
woke up to the sound of tanks and tank fire to see the approaching
German tanks and infantry. I had a carbine and a 45 and began firing
one until it was out of ammunition and then picked up the other to
fire. The German infantry were only a few yards from us and the small
arms fire was tremendous. Tracers were as thick as I had ever seen
them. A BAR in a hole not too far from me jumped out to run to the
rear. I didn't know if he was bailing out or trying to get more
ammunition. He fell not too far from my hole. I didn't realize until
later that he was dead.
You must remember that
my unit was composed of a group of cocky, arrogant, and confident
paratroopers. When the break through at Bastogne came, we were ordered
to take positions around Bastogne. After digging in we were ordered
again to move to new positions and then ordered to make a perimeter
defense. Now I realized that something was amiss, especially when I
heard a rumor that we were surrounded -- but no worry -- cocky,
arrogant, confident me, we had our supply of ammunition and food and for
the most part they were plentiful. In fact there were wrapped crackers
in my K rations that I disliked, so instead of eating them, I threw them
in a hole with other refuse. Well as the days went by and getting no
resupply, due to being surrounded, and no air drop because of bad
weather, our supplies began to dwindle. I still had my confidence,
arrogance, and cockiness, but I now added on hunger. My eyes kept going
to that refuse hole where I threw those crackers I disliked. I finally
weakened and dug them up. A short time after a delicious meal of soggy
crackers, we were resupplied by air drop and the hunger was erased. To
this day, I find very few crackers that I dislike enough to throw away.
learning that enemy tanks and infantry were approaching our position,
the 1st gun section of B Battery positioned their gun for direct fire.
Several men of the section formed a skirmish line to repel the oncoming
infantry. The 1st section came under heavy enemy small arms and machine
gun fire but was able to repel the attack. Seeing that the sections
direct fire was making hits on the tanks I moved to a forward position
to make a closer contact with the attacking infantry. Men from other
sections were also starting to move forward. After a period of time the
shooting stopped and we began to return to our original positions. A
controversy exists as to the number of tanks destroyed by the battalion,
but I know that on that morning the 1st section got 2 of them.
dawned, and with it a German break thru. In the fog and snow, shadows
of men and tanks. It seemed a dervish dance. Hundreds of thieving
Krauts, the Bosche, after my cognac! Every man in his life has to make
at least one command decision. And so it was with the specter of, at
best barley soup in Bavaria, at worst "Big Cassino". I made mine in the
foggy AM. I shared my hoard. Each precious bottle given away like
worthless words of advice. Plied with 20 bottles of cognac, we were
fearless warriors. Thus Bastogne was saved by 20 bottles of the golden
grape. By afternoon, all pockets were wiped out and it was business as
usual. The skies cleared and the 47's arrived and made the equipment
drop of ammo, food, and medical supplies. In all my five years in the
army, it was the only time I saw the bullies run for the ammo chutes
instead of the chow... To this day I regret my impetuosity, my moment
of fear, and my decision to share my hoard. I'm no Nathan Hale, but
surely my sacrifice was greater than his. He only gave up his life for
his country, whereas I gave up my cognac.
I was a Cpl. of a 50 cal. machine gun with Pfc.
Aloysius Fredericks and a third soldier, a recruit. We covered the
right flank of the B Battery. Snow had kept filling our gun pit of
which we stood 24 hours, everyday. On Christmas Day, at daybreak, I
noticed through a haze, approximately 350 yards, the outline of tanks,
which were located directly in front of my position. I immediately
called the switchboard for a verification if they were our tanks. The
response was negative.
Noticing movement around the tanks, I opened fire. German fire was
returned (white tracers) at my position. The recruit had said "Don't
fire, they may see us." He was so scared, that he left the gun
position, leaving Fredericks and me to keep firing. The barrel got so
hot we had to stop and change it. Fredericks, in his haste, grabbed it
instead of using asbestos gloves. Burns were minor. By the time we
were to re-fire, the tanks moved. I remember that one of the battery's
guns was moved to give direct fire at the tanks. Any action at this
time was out of my view from my position. Later I noted one tank with a
white flag was in motion, coming out to our vicinity. I think it was
"Booger" Childress was supposed to have driven it.
battle, all we could do was lie there and wonder what was going on.
Shell fire broke the windows above us and the glass fell down on us, and
one or two shells came through the roof exploding in the church and re-wounding some already wounded Germans. At one time during the battle,
we could hear a tank running outside the church. When someone opened
the door, I raised up, took a look and saw a German tank. I thought we
had bought the farm. It turned out that it was one of the ones we had
knocked out, and Booger Childers got it running and drove it into our
lines. Heard later that they used it for a road block.
I was in D Battery as a radio operator and forward observer. I
had returned from a F.O. position near Foy Dec. 23 to our position on
the road between Bastogne and Hemroulle right near a C47 that had
crashed in a brook. Early Christmas morning, we were to have our first
hot chow in a while, but before we could get to enjoy it, all hell broke
loose. Kraut infantry that had come through our lines on the tanks were
in our area. Everyone grabbed whatever weapons we could and started
blasting. I can't remember just how long the fight lasted, but the
Germans that weren't killed, pulled back. I remember hearing that one
of the bazooka crews knocked out a small tank near Hemroulle, and that
Booger Childers captured one and drove it to our Headquarters... I
that every man in D Battery was an infantryman that day.
and fox holes for the last ditch defense were dug before the snow
storm. We expected to be overrun and mentally accepted it. The number
of rounds of ammo put into the pit divided by two equals the number of
tanks involved. There were two rounds not used, since the leading tank
in desperation hit the woods and became hung up on large trees. The
number 3rd Pack Howitzer with Wolfenberger, Silvas and Peplowski as a
full gun crew was used. If it wasn't for powerful George Silvas, I
don't know if we could have made it up hill through the soft snow to the
gun pit. It is my contention if more men were used pulling, pushing the
gun up hill would have been disastrous. The Germans would have
a tank instead of moving all tanks and firing (thanks Cole) the giant
scratch marks were everywhere on the fresh snow. Now the howitzer is in
the pit, all ammo is taken out of the case. The bare shells lined up in
perfect order, HE, WF, HE, WF, HE, WF, etc. The barrel is traversed,
extreme left tanks. We wait, knowing to fire now would invite disaster,
powder, snow, smoke a real give away. The enemy infantry action to the
right indicate that a tank swing to the left is inevitable to make a
snow is melting as we kneel this Christmas morning. My knees are wet.
We talk about range and decided that a lead of 2.25 to 2.5 tank lengths
would be just right, also to drop rounds, aim lower so there would be no
over's. The leading tank swerves, others follow just like in the book.
We joke a little, tension broken. We know soon firing will start and
will move like hell. Wolfenberger is gunner, a cool, calm, efficient
and accurate one.
action comes first, last tank first, every shell a hit. One, two, three
tanks on fire, one in the woods.
In the pre-dawn
hours of Dec. 25, Tec 4 Booger Childress, Joe Pimlott & myself were
assigned as supporting infantry. We were laying in an open snow covered
field waiting for dawn as directly to our front tanks were moving
about. When dawn broke, all hell cut loose. After the small arm clean
up & the smoke cleared we advanced forward to a running tank. There was
one German still alive setting with his back to a tree. The prisoner
along with others & the tank was driven back to our lines by Childress,
Pimlott & myself.
I was somewhere
between Hemroulle and Champs in a foxhole near a C-47 that had belly
landed on the snow. The plane had been hit during a resupply operation
a day or two earlier. I was not in a gun section, but we got a message
by phone that the Germans had broken through the defense of the 327th
infantry. I ran across the road to where one of the howitzers was
partially dug in on a small knoll. It must have been somewhere between
7:00 and 7:30 AM and the rumbling of the approaching tanks could be
heard in the semi-darkness. I recall there was more excitement than
fear with the group. We usually never had an opportunity to see the
enemy we were firing at. Three or four tanks were in our immediate
front at about 300 yard distance. There were scattered patches of woods
located within the field. German infantry were following beside and
behind the tanks. It involved direct fire and the gun had to be moved
down the slope slightly to get the tuve depressed sufficiently to get the
tanks in the gun sight. A 30 caliber machine gun fired at the infantry
and we fired with our carbines. When the first tank was hit, the
tankers crawled out and started running for one of the wooded patches.
The man on the 30 caliber usually stopped them before they got into the
cover of the wooded area. The other tanks continued to be fired on and
it soon became obvious they were no longer advancing toward our
position. I remember a number of fellows ran out to the tanks; it was
probably some of the gun crew members since they knew that one of the
tanks that had not been fired upon also sat with the rest. Whether they
were guessing that it had just been abandoned, or found that out after
they got out there, I don't. I do know they drove it back with a great
deal of pride.
Prisoners were rounded up and brought into our area for holding until
consolidated with others. Many were young 15-year old kids. They
wondered why were putting up so much resistance and didn't we know we
were surrounded. Later that morning we had pancakes that had been made
from some flour found in the town of Bastogne.
The Jerries broke through the lines with 30 tanks. Up at day break took
our fox hole positions, we got 4 tanks the whole division got 30 and 200
prisoners really hot here, infantry firing at us.
tank hit a group of trees about 300 yards away. A short while later
while I was in my perimeter fox hole, a tall GI from Tennessee came
along and asked me to go along and check out the tank. I told him I
would cover him, and a few minutes later the tank went by my fox hole
with someone with a stick with a white handkerchief on it. He told me
later that he drove it to Headquarters and gave it to the General, and
said Merry Christmas, here is you present.
There was a road
that ran in a northwest direction from Bastogne. I think on this road
about a mile or two and to the north side of the road sit D Battery.
The Pack Howitzers were facing to the north to northwest. To the right
of the howitzers on a small hill sat a 50 cal. machine gun dug in and
covering the right flank. To the left and to the rear of the howitzers
set another 50 cal. machine gun dug in, also on a hill covering our left
flank. There was trees between the howitzers and the road. There also
was a C-47 that had crashed a few days before setting to the right of
the howitzers. During the battle, word came that tanks were coming up
from the rear. A howitzer was then moved to the left and west of the 50
cal. machine gun and put into position to fire south. Also, the 50 cal.
that was covering the left flank of the company was moved up and to the
left side of the howitzer to fire south. As I remember there were three
tanks and I think they were pulling sleds with troops. As I remember a
Lt. was directing the fire of the howitzer upon the tanks. After a few
rounds the first tank was knocked out. At that time the 50 cal. started
firing and then the howitzers directed their fire on the second and
third. Their were other tanks but they stopped and turned and went back
in the direction they came from. I was a member of that 50 cal. machine
gun crew. Cpl. Freily from Canton, IL was my leader. We also had on
our crew a man named Davenport from Pontiac, MI and a man named
What time we
were not taking cover from incoming artillery, but the snow and cold
weather to put up with my feet almost froze stiff. I still have pains
and burning in the bottom of my feet suffered by the frost-bite I
received. The Belgians gave us a beef and the kitchen crew killed it
and made us fresh steak from it. I never thought I would live through
the Battle, but God was with us. I know we had to ration ammunition and
could only fire when we saw a tank or attacking Germans.
The one thing I remember about Bastogne was when I was zeroed
in at my 50 cal. machine gun position. Three shells came screaming in,
one landing at the edge of my fox hole. I called Joe Stolmeier up and
asked if I could leave the hill. He said stop your fucking complaining
and stay there. Of course he was right as always.
The snow in the
area where we were assigned to was about 3 feet deep. That made our
mission almost impossible. Our Battery Commander was Capt. Ardel E.
Cole would call me on the field phone every morning around 4:30 and say
"Sgt. Smith, I think the Germans will attack this morning and you had
better get up and check the men to make sure they are on the alert." I
would then roll out of a warm sleeping bag and tread my way through the
snow from gun position to gun position to make sure they were alert. I
got tired of those calls, so on Christmas Day, when the call came, I
said to hell with it, I am going to sleep in today. The next thing I
knew everybody seemed to be shooting, but me. Capt. Cole called again
and said "Sgt. Smith, if you are going to get up it had better be now."
I came out of my fox-hole on the run and all I could see was a bunch of
tracer bullets flying from all directions. When you stop to think that
there are three bullets between each tracer, there was a lot of lead
flying around. I made a mad dash for the command post and found Capt.
Cole and Lt. Lyons already there. From the information I was able to
obtain, the Germans had us in a circle and had launched their major
attack. One of our machine-gun crew noticed a bush that appeared to
have grown larger overnight. Just to limber up their guns, they fired
at the bush and it began to move and out came three German tanks. I was
able to locate and identify them through my field glasses and requested
Capt. Cole order our guns to open fire. He said no, they may be our
tanks. I knew from the muzzle break they were German tanks, because our
tanks don't have muzzle breaks. A few seconds later, the tanks fired on
the three of us. Then Capt. Cole elected to order our troops to open
fire. We destroyed three tanks and dispatched a ground crew out and
captured the tanks crew. After the shooting was over, I noticed my
hands had frozen to my field glasses. After I had one of the troops pry
my hands loose, I retrieved my gloves from the fox-hole and started back
to the rear to check on our mess crew. At this time, three of our own
fighter aircraft attacked one of our machine-gun positions. Our
Battalion Commander Cooper, issued orders to shoot them down, because
there were only three of them and hundreds of us. When we started
shooting, they broke off without anyone being killed or injured. I just
happen to be standing in the road watching the fight, when they spotted
me and came after me with their guns blazing. Have you ever seen the
cartoon of the road runner, when he is trying to get going? Well that
is what happened to me. My feet were going 90 miles per hour, but my
body was not moving. After I was able to get some traction, I was off
like a bullet. I don't know how fast I was going, but I out ran those
fighter planes and they fly a couple of hundred miles an hour. I could
hear the bullets smacking the road behind me and then I shifter to high
gear. After I arrived at our mess truck, I found it had come under
attack also. (Dirty pool) All our pots and pans had holes in them and
the mess Sgt. Thomas J. Spivey, was mad as a wet hen. There is one
thing you don't do in the service and that is mess around with the
troops chow. Sgt. Spivey gave a good account of himself, because he
killed one, wounded one and captured several more.
certain others in our section and I were at the OP on Christmas morning
when the German tank attack broke through the infantry lines in front of
our gun positions. After the battle in which our B and A batteries
knocked out three German tanks and captured one intact and killed a few
Germans and captured a number of them we got to the gun position. I
took pictures of the tanks knocked out and the one that was captured. I
was lucky to have plenty of film so I also took pictures of the planes
that resupplied our units with food, ammo, etc and the C-47 (Ain't
Misbehavin) that crashed near our outpost. After Genera Patton's forces
broke through to relieve our Bastogne garrison we were resupplied with
provisions and ammo and we were able to wash, change socks, etc. for the
first time in about 9 days."
C47 airplane Ain't
I was not involved
directly in the big shootout by the 463rd on the morning of December
25. I was back at the base area near one of the gun positions alongside
the Bastogne-Hemroulle road from December 23-25, about 200 yards from
where the action took place. On the evening of December 24, I walked
guard up and down a portion of that frozen road at around 9pm when
Bastogne was bombed; and I was back again at around 4am the next morning
when it was bombed again.
had hidden a pyramidal tent among the trees with a stove inside; and I
was sleeping there at about 6am on Christmas morning. I heard the
rumbling and cannon fire off in the distance, and came out only when
stirred by the local commotion.
What little I saw of the battle was a view
obtained along with others who ran to the top of the adjacent slope.
The highlight of that morning was hot pancakes with sugar.
In the 463rd CP, all
classified documents as well as the M-209 cryptographic machine were
destroyed. By about 0830 hours, enemy infantrymen had approached to
within 200 yards of the CP and were taking it under rifle and machine
gun fire. (The Battered Bastards of Bastogne, pg. 281)The
Germans shelled Hemroulle and vicinity three times during the day -- 30
rounds at 12 noon, 15 rounds at 5:05PM, and another 35 rounds at 5:30PM.
UNOFFICIAL REPORT BY MAJ. SEATON
enemy succeeded in breaking the lines and getting 7 tanks accompanied by
infantry behind them. The infantry, however, closed the gap caused by
this and successfully repelled additional advancing enemy infantry.
These tanks and infantry, however, continued their advance to attack
this battalion's position and the town of Hemroulle. When this serious
threat presented itself one howitzer from D Battery and 4 from B Battery
were ordered into previously prepared anti-tank positions and the
complete battalion defensive plan was ordered into execution. In
conjunction with the supported infantry this battalion fought as
infantry, knocking out 2 tanks and capturing 1 intact. In addition this
battalion killed several of the enemy, captured 24 and by these actions
repelled the attack on Hemroulle.
OFFICIAL REPORT BY COL. COOPER
During the early morning a strong enemy attack developed along line
CHAMPS-FLAMISOUL. The Battalion forward observer Sergeant Joseph F.
Rogan, Jr., adjusting indirect fire in support of 327th Glider Infantry
Regiment, notified the battalion S-3, by radio, that he and his
supported company had been over-run by tanks and that the tanks were
moving in the direction of the firing batteries positions.
Battalion tank defense
plan was ordered into immediate execution. Battalion out-post reported
enemy tanks approaching at approximately 0630 hour in area (530-605 - E
of Hemroulle). These tanks were taken under fire and after exchanging
shots enemy over-ran the northern tank defenses. The strong stand made
at this point halted the tanks; however enemy infantry continued their
attempt to take the town of Hemroulle. During the fire fight in the
battalion's northern sector, at approximately 0730 hours, the western
tank defenses engaged four medium enemy tanks area (529-595 - SE of
Hemroulle), destroying two and damaging one to such an extent that it
withdrew to a hull down position, where it was captured by Battalion Tank
Stalking party consisting of Tec 4 Carson H. Childress, Private August
F. Hazzard, Private William L. Justice, Private John T. Faria, Private
Stanley M. Levendosky, Private Gordon L. Ballenger, Private Joseph W.
Pimlott, under command of 1st Lt. Ross W. Scott.
This same party also
captured two officers and twelve enlisted men on the same patrol.
Sergeant Thomas J. Spivey with Private First Class Charles R. Johnson,
Private Gunther F. Winter and Private Gloden E. Oglesby engaged a German
machine gun with small arms fire killing one and capturing eight
enlisted men who were turned over to the 502nd Parachute Infantry. The
following named men, were actively engaged in firing upon and destroying
two tanks and causing the capture of another:
Cpl. Fred O.
Pvt. Ben C.
Pfc. Alfred Szczerbiak
Sgt. John J.
Sgt. Dee B.
Pvt. Carl K. Noline
Salvatore A. Arcara
Pvt. Paul E.
Pfc. Lewis Warobick
Pvt. Phil R. Kellow
Lawrence A. Allocco
Pfc. John W. Pruden
At approximately 0830 hour as enemy infantry
approached to within 200 yards and took the CP under machine gun and
rifle fire all classified documents and the M209 converter were
At approximately 0900
hour the two tanks on the northern approach were destroyed by anti-tank
personnel and enemy infantry were forced to withdraw, leaving several
dead and wounded.
At 0930 hour the fire
fight was over and Colonel T. L. Sherburne, 101st Division Artillery
Commander was notified and came to the area and after investigating the
action assured himself of the following facts:
The enemy attacked
with tanks and infantry about 0730 from the CHAMPS-FLAMISOUL area,
driving for Bastogne.
Our infantry was able
to hold most of the enemy foot troops but at least seven medium tanks
Warned, you had
posted outposts in the line of advance of those tanks and, as they
appeared and were identified by your lookouts as enemy, your gun
sections opened up at 1000 yards range, despite retaliatory fire.
During this action
your battalion can be officially credited as having:
with AP and WP two medium enemy tanks, proven by line of hits and
ricochet marks in the snow direct from your positions.
Captured in running condition one medium tank, crew having
given up when a round from one of your pieces struck the vehicle
and injured the commander.
HE and MG fire two enemy tank crew members who left the tanks.
fourteen assorted enemy infantry and tank crew members.
was broken by 4th Armored Division.
2nd Lt. John C.
Gill, C Btry, KIA (while calling fire on attacking tank column)
Pvt. Howard L. Hickenlooper, C Btry, KIA (shot in
neck by 50 cal. machine gun on the 25th.
Body laid in church in
Hemroulle, draped by a blanket.)
Pvt. Dale A. Pearo, A Btry, KIA
Cpl. William H. Everhart, Hq Btry, WIA
Lt. Doug Saunders, C Btry, MIA during second
attack on Marvie
Joseph F. Rogan awarded Silver Star for gallantry in action Dec. 25-26.
attacked again at about 0430 but not in the same strength as the day
before. I called for an artillery strike and the attack was stopped.
Joe Rogan and
I decided to take turns sleeping since we had very little sleep during
the past few days. At about 1300 I laid down in my slit trench when a
mortar shell hit a tree above me, burst and rained shrapnel down on me.
I was hit in the right hip. Joe helped me down to a jeep and I was
taken to our battalion hospital in Hemroulle.
getting low, we were bombed last night. I was sleeping and didn't even
awake. Things are looking better around here, armored column breaking
through the circle. Our Air Force was bombing and strafing Jerries all
We joined up with
Gen. Patton's troops and were the first ones to make contact with the
surrounded airborne troops on the evening of December 26th. During the
night of the 26th, I was trying to sleep in a damp, cold cellar at
Bastogne while the Germans bombed the hell out of us. I had rejoined my
old outfit and we fought and slept in the snow, trying to stay warm when
possible in snow filled trenches. Within a week we conclusively
defeated the Germans in that area.
summary, my most vivid memory is the warmth and cheer of a scotch and
soda at the Statler Hilton in Washington on the 24th and the marked
contrast of the cold, damp cellar and the German bombs on the night of
the 26th. How I wished I was back in Washington.
We received word
that Gen. George Patton's tanks had broken through the German lines and
not to shoot any tanks we came across. I went to each gun position and
informed them the Sherman tanks had broken through and not to shoot.
One of our troopers was Spanish and did not understand English very good
and he thought I said German tanks and he was going to shoot the first
tank that came along. Shortly thereafter, we were relieved from combat
and I know one Capt., one Lt. and one Sgt. that was happy about that.
I don't know how
long we laid in the church in Hemroulle before they moved us to the aid
station in Bastogne. There wasn't anything they could do for us their
because the surgical teams that were following the division were cut off
and captured. Also the room that had the whole blood plasma was hit by
a shell that wiped it all out. A building next door to the one we were
in was hit by bomb's and caught fire, killing most of the wounded and a
Belgium nurse that was helping out. The wounded coming in with critical
wounds, like stomach wounds, were just put over by the wall. There was
nothing that could be done for them. There was still quite a bit of
shellfire hitting the town, but after surviving the Sicily jump, Casino
front, Anzio, and the jump into Southern France, and the French Alps, I
thought I was Invincible, Indestructible, and Immortal... At one time
after a bout of shelling, I noticed the Chaplain going down the long
line of wounded lying on the straw covered floor giving everyone the
last rites. When he came to me, he asked if I wanted them administered
to me? I told him I wasn't Catholic. Anyway, he gave me the last rites
and moved onto the next man. At that time things were looking pretty
grim. The only thing I remember having to eat all this time was some
English Taffy that was put in some of the re-supply bundles that were
packed in England. I also heard about this time that James Ragsdale,
who had been in my gun squad, had been wounded and then killed when the
ambulances taking the wounded to the rear were ambushed and shot up.
the 4th Armored Division broke open a road to us, the ambulances were
loaded, and we were off over ice and snow covered roads through the
Ardennes to an evacuation hospital in Thionville, France. Here they
operated on me and took the shrapnel out of legs. I was here a few days
and then we were taken out to an airfield where they were to fly us to
Paris. This was a new tent holding area run by a Chemical Warfare
Battalion. They were over there with all their nasty gasses in case the
Germans used Gas on us. Since the Germans were not using Poison Gas,
they had this outfit running this tent city taking care of helping , and
transporting the wounded coming out of the Bulge fight. We laid in
those freezing tents on stretchers about 4 days. Didn't know which
would come first. Would we freeze to death or starve to death first?
This area was near an airfield and since the weather was too bad to fly
us out, they finally loaded us in ambulances again and took up to a
railway where we were loaded on a hospital train.
finally arrived in Paris where we were unloaded and carried to waiting
ambulances by German prisoners of war. I had a tag around my neck that
had CZ on it. This meant that I was to go to a hospital in the Paris
area. CZ stood for communications zone. The hospitals were full, so
they changed the tag to UK which stood form United Kingdom, so now I was
to be flown to England. They loaded us up on a C-47 that was rigged up
with stretchers. I was put in a top stretcher up where the roof curved
over. I felt like I was in a coffin with the lid half closed. They
flew us to Southern England and I ended up in the 106th General Hospital
operated on me again in England, and then it was just a matter of
letting time and good care do the healing. We had pretty nurses, good
chow, clean sheets, music in the ward, and even a movie once in a
while. Another time I was taken by wheel chair to a USO show at the
hospital. While I was putting up with all this, the Battalion was still
in Belgium enjoying the winter sports! Ha!!!
Finally I was released from the hospital and sent to a replacement
center near Birmingham. Then to Southampton, over to Le Havre, and then
to another replacement center up near the Belgium border. At this time
there was no guarantee that I, or anyone else would be sent back to
their original outfit. They would just ship you to the Airborne unit
that need replacements the most. Needless to say this did not go over
to well and the guys were just taking off from the center as soon as
they found out where their original outfit was.
about to do this, except I had heard the Battalion had left Belgium and
was somewhere in Luxemburg. A few days later I heard that they had
moved back to France, and about that time they changed the policy at the
center, and so you knew you would be sent back to your own outfit. I
rejoined the Battalion at Mourmelon La Grande about a week before we
loaded up and moved into Germany up on the Rhine River by Dusseldorf.
Pfc. Raymond J. Connolly, A Btry, KIA
inspected my gun position and reprimanded me about the position of my
guns (not according to the book). Later that day we reconnoitered a new
gun position and moved. My justification to the General was that my
battery, because of the box formation, could fire 6400 mils ie. on any
point on the perimeter of the 101st territory. As far as I know, no
other battery in the division had such capability. Apparently, this did
not impress the General who had arrived the previous evening from
Washington where he had celebrated Christmas with his family.
column finally broke through last night. We are really getting the
ammunition. Air Force dropped more chutes and gliders. Four of our
transports shot down. Jerries have a concentration of ach, ach at point
of withdrawing troops and our planes are flying right through it, one
smashed up over our position, another a little way off, rest gunned
down. We really had a lot of excitement. Bombed and shelled our area.
Before I had
spoken of how foggy it was and how deep the snow was. Well to add to
this the Germans wore white uniforms and used skis. The white uniforms
made it even harder for us to see them. ...I had to go out on the 2nd
Bn, 327th, we were getting another attack from that direction and I only
had one forward observer with them so he needed some help. By the time
I arrived there the Infantry Bn CO had been killed. I went on past the
Bn Hdqts to a long sloping hill that was very bare of vegetation and set
up OP where I could observe from and see the enemy good. Well there
were several tanks down in the valley before me. I am sure these were a
part of the tank unit that had attacked the 463rd the day before. I
called Major Garrett and told him what I was seeing. So he gave me one
gun to adjust on them. This gun was from B Battery. Now the Germans
had discovered me and my radio operator there so every time we moved
they would fire at us.
Suddenly I glanced around some people were
coming up the hill behind us. I yelled for them to stay down. They
paid no heed, just kept walking. Well this really infuriated me so I
started yelling some real Sunday School words at them. Cpl Scrivner
punching me said sir you better stop talking like that, it is Gen.
Patton. I had been so intent on firing on the tanks I had not tried to
identify them when I had glanced back. But got the word to them to keep
down. Just as they arrived, I had finished my adjustment on the tanks
and was asking for fire for effect. Bn. gave me all they had. I
remember one round went right through the entrance to the tank and
exploded the ammo within. Gen Patton, with his way of speaking said,
"Now by God that is some good firing." We knocked out 2 of them and the
rest moved out, so we had no more trouble with that group of tanks. By
this time the attack on the Bn had subsided and I returned to Bastogne.
Another thing I might point out at this time you could hardly get
through the streets in Bastogne there was so much rubble from the
buildings where the Germans had bombed and fire artillery into the
town. Now having been besieged in Bastogne and the friendly troops
coming to our aid as they were we felt sure we would be pulled out of
the front lines and given a break. But "NO" we were ordered on the
attack to the north of Bastogne. Again it was, as Airborne troops were
and did "Grin and bear it." So we moved out to the north. Had no
trouble till we got to what was called the Noville-Percy road, while we
were in Bastogne the Germans had occupied this area.
before we got to the Noville-Percy road, the Germans began firing
screaming meemies on us. Now this is a rocket type weapon the Germans
had, and when fired it made an awful racked you never knew where it was
going to hit till they were exploding around. Well I jumped in a hole
and set my radio beside it. The radio being on a pack board, which we
carried on our backs. The first volley they fired was off to the right
of me about 3 or 400 yards. The 2nd volley was right on top of us. Now
when this hits the ground and explodes it breaks into large pieces where
other artillery will break into real small pieces. Well one of those
large pieces went right through the receiver of my radio. Sure was glad
I was lying down in that hole. Well this barrage finally stopped and I
sent Sgt. Rogan back to the jeep a few 100 yards behind us to get another
receiver and we proceeded to cross the Noville-Percy road. This
was a very heavily wooded area for about 200 yards on either side of
the road. Here the Germans had been dug in to keep away from
our artillery and the bombs from the air force. They had built
some holes by cross logging them with dirt between the layer of logs
and on top. Had very small entrances. Now being across
the road and near the far edge of the woods where there was open
ground at least 2000 yards, we were to attack across this area.
This is not good, you are so exposed. Just as we began our
jump-off to cross this area the Germans began firing 88mm tank fire
direct on into us. Now back in Italy I had been chased by an
88 one day for about 2000 yards and it had put the fear of God in
me. Therefore I respected this weapon with reverence. At
this point I was carrying the pack board with the radio on it as I
was relieving Sgt Rogan for awhile, if you carry it long it becomes
ONE, EITHER THE 8TH OR 9TH WONDER OF THE WORLD HAPPENED. The Bn CO
dived for one of those good holes the Germans had made with the small
entrances and I followed in right behind him. When the firing stopped
we were getting out of the hole I found. I couldn't go out forward,
opposite to the way I had went in so I turned around and attempted to
exit backward as I had entered. I still couldn't get out. I got
someone to try and pull me out but they couldn't. I had to take that
pack board off me back before I could get out. Now to his day and I
think of it often "how did I ever get in that hole with that pack board
on my back." Only one explanation that I know of "Fear." Well at this
time we were relieved by other troops and never had to cross that open
field. With this I went back to the 463rd and we pulled out of
Bastogne, to await our next assignment.
1st Lt. Scott W. Ross, Hq Btry, WIA
yet, getting plenty of ammunition and 10 and 1 chow. They are bombing 3
Division here, going to make a big push. Heavy mist today, no action
anywhere, can't see anything.
gun knocked out by enemy aircraft.
Pvt. Fisbie M. Addler (Adler), Hq Btry,
last night, right below us, really shakes the area. Heated water, took
a bath, really feels good, washed some dirty clothes.
Pvt. John H. Batzer WIA
Got some mail
in, got quite a few letters. Still bombing and strafing the Jerries
around here. We are slacking off and getting caught up on long lost
sleep. Feeling pretty good. We got some good chow.
night, today everything is camouflaged again. Really cold, on guard,
firing quite a bit. They really threw a barrage at 12 o'clock, but I
didn't get up, too cold for me.
& Hq Btry
T/5 Cyril J. Whisman KIA Btry C
2nd Lt. John W. Frye WIA - LWA Btry C
Pvt. Merle A. Smith WIA -LWA
Pvt. August F. Hazzard WIA -LWA Btry B
Cpl. Paul E. Rhodes, MIA
during the Battle of Bastogne, I had a three-day pass (actually 48
hours) to Paris from January 13 to January 15, 1945. We rode to and
from Paris in the back of an open truck huddled inside our sleeping
bags. My roommate on that occasion was William Kummerer. We returned
the day the battalion moved from Hemroulle to near Foy. Before this
trip, I took my only Bastogne bath, standing nude in the freezing
weather under only a canvas roof, first with one leg in an 18-inch
bucket of water that tapered to about five inches at the bottom and then
with the other. I still have that pass.
T/4 Thomas J. Bradley, Btry C WIA - LWA
2nd Lt. George K. Hope WIA - LWA
Pvt. Harvey J. Lozier WIA - LWA
11/2 KM SW Foy, Belgium
Arrived at 1200 hour.
Cpl. Robert H. Alfred WIA - LWA
Schoenck (pilot) and Lt. Terry (observer) were killed when their L-4 was
shot down while watching enemy tank and infantry movements. They were
hit by a 105mm shell fired by friendly forces when the plane flew into
the path of the shell.
1st Lt. George W. Schoenck KIA
2nd Lt. Jack S. Terry KIA HQ Btry
Laneuville & Wideumont, Belgium
relieved at 1700 hours. Began entrucking in the 112 10-ton and 98
2.5-ton trucks furnished by VIII Corps and the Third Army.
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT BASTOGNE
John Cooper (tape):
reached Bastogne without any maps. When arrived, he went to Col.
Sherbourne's headquarters and asked where he should place his men.
Sherbourne's staff said they didn't know. He looked at their map and
decided to move to Hemroulle.
Stuart Seaton (tape):
arrived in Bastogne, Cooper sent Sgt. Sachiziones?? back to get
additional ammunition. Sachizioness bulled his way back through the
perimeter to get it back. Much of the ammunition was split between
Childress, Gus Hazzard, and Lt. Frye went on patrol when the German
tanks advanced. Hazzard had a bazooka. They came upon a tank that was
still running but had a hole in the turret and was stopped by a tree.
They took the driver out of the tank. Childress drove captured tank
into Hemroulle telling Cooper, "Look what I brung you for Christmas,
Colonel? (Booger had been a jack of all trades. When the Colonel's
watch had stopped, Booger took it and told him he could fix it. Even
though he had fingers as big as most men's wrists, Booger shortened the
spring and brought it back to Cooper running. Booger came home to Cow
Pens, SC and bought a garage. One evening he and several other men went
out drinking. Their car stalled on railroad tracks. With a train
approaching, men abandoned car, but Booger went behind and tried to push
it off the track. Car was pushed off, but train hit and killed Booger.)
They captured many other prisoners. On January 5, Hazzard was a Forward
Observer with Bill Martin for the 401st and 327th calling fire. He was
shot in the left knee and groin. He was in the hospital in England for
3 months. They were going to put him in an infantry unit but he went
AWOL and rejoined the outfit in Bad Reichenhall.
Following battle, 463rd was ordered
to report to the 17th Airborne Division, the unit it was supposed to
join before the unit was temporarily attached to the 101st to go to
Bastogne. Taylor intervened, however, and said that it would damage the
morale of the battalion and division to have the 463rd leave. The 464th
was attached to the 17th while the 463rd remained with the 101st. When
the unit was permanently attached to the 101st, however, it was forced
to give up its vehicles. It had been permitted to have its own
vehicles, mostly stolen, throughout the war since it had been a bastard
battalion, not permanently attached to any division.
One day at Bastogne we
were getting a few rounds dropping on us and the telephone line to
headquarters' division was out. Lt. Melvin Dewar grabbed a ket and
helmet and started out to check and repair the line. A remark was made
as to his bravery in going out into the firing to fix the line. Some
smart guy said, "He is not all that brave. He can't see or hear and
doesn't know they are shelling us.
Claude Smith (tape):
remembers during the ride to Bastogne, there were more soldiers heading
the other way. Smith carried a carbine. Remembers being waist deep in
snow. Captain Cole would call Smith every morning to tell him to
inspect gun positions. On Christmas morning, Cole called to tell him to
check the guns, but this time Smith ignored him. He got a call to get
out because of oncoming enemy troops and tanks. He ran from his foxhole
in the midst of all kinds of fire. Out of 4 tanks approaching his
position, 3 were knocked out by B Battery and one captured. Corporal
Keller on gun 3 was best gunner and most effective. "He could knock the
eye out of a gnat." 3 phosphorous shells shot because were running out
of armored piercing shells.
Jay Karp (tape):
In position for
only a half hour before moved to Hemroulle. They were ordered to dig in
but prepare for perimeter defense in case of breakthrough. On December
24, Christmas eve, they were dug into position. Lt. Lyons came around
with cognac bottle. Hazy the next morning. The first thing to break
the silence was Nick Mullessa's machine gun down below their position on
the left hand side. They looked to see where his tracers were going and
saw enemy tanks heading out of the woods and infantry spread out behind
them. Karp's 1st gun section of B Battery positioned their gun for
direct fire. Several men of the section formed a skirmish line to repel
the oncoming infantry. The enemy was so close that the crews has their
barrels practically level with the ground. The 1st section came under
heavy enemy small arms and machine gun fire was able to repel the
attack. The gun section fired everything they had, even phosphorous
shells. Jay saw one tank coming right up a draw and got him after 4
rounds. No one came out of the tank. Another came, trying to pass the
first. A shell hit it in the treads. Two men came out of the turret.
They popped one with small arms fire. The other tried to get away but a
howitzer round fired at the tank took him out. Another tank was
coming. Another battery or section of B fired at it. After the second
tank had been hit, Jay jumped out of his position and, with his M1,
started going down toward the tanks. By the time he reached the bottom
of the hill the 3rd tank had been taken out. The German infantry did
not make it that far. They had been taken prisoner or retreated. The
snow had been heavy and deep, slowing his progress down the hill.
John Mockabee (tape)
the 463rd camped by an airport. It seemed busy the night of December
17th. About 2:30AM, the 1st Sgt. came in and told John Mockabee and the
other men to pack their B bags and combat bags and put their A bags into
a corner and get out as quickly as possible. They then walked between
tables where men filled their canteens with coffee, a man threw an M1 on
John's shoulder, another a bandoleer of ammunition, another 4 to 6 K
ration kits and donuts. When they pulled into Bastogne that morning,
they were told to dig in. Corporal Fraley, John, Lesperance, and
Davenport were together. Fraley and Davenport began to dig a hole for
the big gun. Fraley told John and Lesperance to dig a slit trench and
then return to help them dig their gun in. John and Lesperance dug a
slit just deep enough to to lie below the surface of the ground and then
returned to finish digging in the big gun while Fraley and Davenport dug
their slit trench. Just then an 88 came across them and hit a barn or
shed near Hemroulle. Another one came in and went in right smack in the
middle of the hole John was digging. A young Mexican member of the unit
took a picture of it. One morning they were watching 4P-47s straffing
northeast of them, up and down and then struck a fuel depot. It blew
up, releasing much black smoke. One came close to the ground right
across their position and then went up into the air. The three others
made a pass and one of them fired on John's position. One of the
plane's bullets hit within an arms reach of his hole and his shell
casings emptied into the hole. John aimed his 50 at the plane but was
ordered not to fire. Later John witnessed the Ain't Misbehavin crash.
Armond Cerone (tape):
On the way to
Bastogne, Armond Cerone saw many men running in the opposite direction.
He remembers American planes coming in straffing. There was a lot of
firing all around them in every direction. Rumors about the Germans
were running rampant. On the gun crew, the corporal was the sight-man
and the cannoneers took turns moving the guns and ammunition. Armond
remembers a dip in the road and a church at Hemroulle where he attended
church services. Christmas morning they were put on alert. A friend,
Hickenlooper(?) from Texas was wiped out by enemy fire on a road.
Armond could see the German tank crews, young men. A shell landed near
him, but did not explode.
On 12/27, General
Taylor inspected Vic Tofany's gun position and reprimanded him about the
position of his guns (not according to the book). Later that day
Tofany's battery reconnoitered a new gun position and moved. Tofany's
justification to the General was that his battery, because of the box
formation, could fire 6400 mils ie. on any point on the perimeter of the
101st territory. As far as he knew, no other battery in the division
had such a capability. Apparently, this did not impress the General who
had arrived the previous evening from Washington where he had celebrated
Christmas with his family.
During the days following their arrival at Camp
Mourmelon, the officers of the 463rd shared meals with the officers of
the other battalions and the 101st Airborne Division artillery. The
officers of these battalions assumed that the 463rd was a bunch of
greenhorns, a new battalion just arrived from the states and not
vets as they were. During one of the meal discussions, the
conversation turned to whether or not a 75mm Pack Howitzer could nock
out a German tank. "We certainly can knock out Mark IV tanks with a 75
Pack Howitzer," Col. Cooper said. An officer from another battalion
responded, "Do not ever say, in your after action reports, that you
knocked out a tank, because General McAuliffe says you might disable,
but you'll never knock out a tank." Questioning their battle
experience, Cooper stated, in a manner of goodwill and jest, "We have
spent more time waiting for our parachutes to open than you guys have
spent in combat since the invasion of Europe."
"At night I and
others slept under pine trees and melted snow to have water to drink.
It was cold as hell! I didn't change my socks or take off my shoes,
except for an hour at a time to give my cold feet some relief, for about
6 days. Lt. Merriman and I went into Bastogne in a jeep borrowed from
the infantry CP to look for food and fresh water. We found a large type
building in the heart of town loaded with wounded GIs lying side by side
covered with GI blankets waiting for medical care! We both were so
moved that we got the hell out of there in a hurry! We drove to our
Battalion HQ and received some rations and a five gallon can of water.
We shared our rations and water with the infantry guys at the OP as they
did with us when they were resupplied."
My sergeant in the
communications section was Charles Keller, who, to my way of looking at
things, was not afraid of anything. Before Bastogne, I recall that on
one occasion, he stuck a foot out of his foxhole during an artillery
bombardment, saying he was looking for a quick trip home. Ernie Porter,
also in the Battery D communications section headed by Sgt. Keller had
this to say about Keller in a 1986 letter to me: "He was probably the
coolest man I ever saw under fire or in tight situations." And I
Bastogne, when he went on forward-observation duty, I usually went with
him. I can recall two instances, both at the same FO post sometime
after December 25. The post was atop a small ridge near what I believe
to be Rolle(y) Chateau, where we slept when not on duty.
get to the observation post, a small rectangular hole with a seat cut
into the earth at either end, one had to make a mad dash to the crest of
the slope and jump into hole because German snipers pinged away daily at
the radio antenna protruding above the hole and reflecting in the
sunlight above the ridge.
on duty at night in this spot with Sgt. Keller, he would creep off into
the darkness to gather rations or whatever he could salvage from several
American tanks located out toward the German lines. I can recall
sitting there alone in the darkness after he had left, listening to the
sound of wagon wheels, animals, and occasionally voices floating in from
the Germans on the crisp, cold air. My major problem was trying to
figure out how I could identify him when he returned. He probably never
knew that the most dangerous thing he did was returning to that hole.
the same location, I was back in a second-floor room in the chateau when
one of those special beef, potatoes, and gravy meals arrived in the food
containers from the CP. It was frozen and the time was short before
others, including Sgt. Keller, would come in for their meal. I had it
thawed and steaming on the Coleman stove near the window, when two
artillery rounds exploded in the courtyard, spraying broken glass across
the floor and into the food. The chow was some of the best we had
received for some time; and I could picture myself the target of
considerable wrath if the others found their "gourmet" meal ruined.
What piece of cloth I used, I cannot remember; but I carefully removed
each chunk of meat and potatoes from the pot and carefully wiped it off
and stacked it on the container lid. When I was down to the gravy, I
poured it into the cloth and wrung it through into another container so
as to filter out any glass. Wiping the original container clean, I
returned the meat, potatoes, and gravy and placed it again on the
burner. The meal was eaten by all with relish and with no knowledge of
what had transpired.
the 463rd began holding reunions in 1979, I set out to find Charles
Keller. I knew he lived lived in Pennsylvania, so I wrote letters off
and on to newspapers throughout that state. Finally, I received a
letter from a county officer saying that within the past month he had
filed a death certificate for a Charles Keller who seemed to fit my
description. He helped me locate Mrs. Keller. I had found the right
man too late. Charles Keller was not my "buddy," and he sometimes made
me more than nervous; but if I had to do it all again, I would be
delighted to have him around.
We pulled into
Bastogne right into the trap. We immediately starting receiving
artillery fire from every direction but it so foggy we could not see
where the fire was coming. We would fire a few rounds of from our
cannons and mortar without knowing if it had any effect. We had several
GI wounded and killed but could not evacuate the wounded because all to
the field hospital was cut off. I lost some good friends and several of
my friends were wounded after we could get them to a field hospital I
did not know if they made it or not. When the sun came out on Christmas
day and with the help of the 4th Armored Division all hell broke loose.
Our cannons and mortar and our machine guns firing at the storm troopers
walking aside the tanks we soon killed or captured them and this was the
turning point of the battle when God gave us a clear day. I never did
receive a scratch but at times I thought I would be killed with all the
enemy artillery fire coming in.
Bastogne for me is not
a clear picture or a set of orderly events, but rather a jumbled mixture
of remembered sights, sounds, situations, and feelings all mixed up
together. The memory of Bastogne is many fragments. It is:
A three-quarter ton truck with lowered tailgate across which are
stacked pairs of stiff and frozen legs protruding from under a canvas
Running alone with labored breath through the foot-deep snow and
frigid air trying to find a broken telephone wire
Trying to talk coherently and calmly over a telephone or radio knowing
that the fellow at the other end realizes that the tremor in your voice
isn't from the cold
Brilliant magnesium flares in the sky flickering shadows across the
snow-covered countryside as Bastogne is bombed on Christmas eve
Walking across a foggy winter landscape on a two-man bazooka patrol
watching for enemy tanks and carefully deciding which way not to go
FO duty along the edge of one or another fir forest looking out across
an open area toward a distant woods from whence comes a muzzle flash, a
sudden whoosh, and a sharp blast in the tree tops, with snow and pine
needles pelting down to the forest floor
A medical supply glider landing in the open near the FO with incoming
mortar fire in the area and being told, along with others, to get it
unloaded and never before or lifting such heavy objects alone or
carrying them to cover with such dispatch
Sleeping on FO in a two-man foxhole with a buddy who wakes you two or
three times a night to ask about the small-arms fire in the distance,
"Doesn't that sound closer to you?"
Bright morning sunlight reflecting off the snow as P-47s thunder over
the edge of the woods just above the trees, or so it seems, with red
blobs of rocket fire spewing out toward the distant forest
Trying to pump pressure into a Coleman stove with fingers stiff from
Listening with hope as the rumble of artillery fire to the south tells
of Patton's advance toward Bastogne
Hearing the drone of those C-47s around noon on December 23, 1944, as
they come over the graveyard at Bastogne and out toward Hemroulle,
cheering and jumping about as if the home team had just won the
pennant. After 50 years, that tingling sensation is still there when
that scene is replayed from newsreel tapes
That wool knit glove on my left hand now marked by the frozen effects
of having been rubbed too many times across my running nose
The first night at
Bastogne the 463rd fired all-night on every bodies sector that needed
fire to stop the German advance. We were the only artillery unit that
had enough ammo and field communications, and a fire direction center,
to fire barrage and collated fire in the 101st defense sector. Where
did we get all the ammunition that we had? This was ammo, we had
carried all over Southern France hid in caves and various places. I
guess much of it had to come from Italy when our trucks came in by boat
after our invasion. One thing can be said about the 463rd Bn., you may
run short sometimes on food but you did not run short on ammo or
something to shoot. This is a compliment to our Bn. officers for the
supply of ammo at all times, for trucks and transportation to move you
back to Bastogne on Christmas Day when the Bn. knocked out the German
tanks by direct fire, this was still our Shining Hour, when we gained
our position and place with the 101st. After all the years since
Bastogne and all the war stories that I have heard at Reunions, and
talking with other vets of combat experiences, there is no doubt in my
mind that the 463rd Prcht FA Bn. was one of the best in the E20 in WWII.
The Battered Bastards of Bastogne
- Brief history of 463rd (pp. 10-11), Colonel Cooper's initial meeting
with McAuliffe (pp. 20-22), Trip to Bastogne (pp. 31-32, 39-40),
Christmas Day attack (pp. 267-271, 275-283), Relief (pp. 314, 328, 331),
Aerial observers (pp. 341-342), 4th Armored arrives (pp. 354).
Jan. 20, 1945 Truck
Arrived at 2PM
20, 1945 Truck
Truck Neufchateau, Belgium
Truck Tintigny, Belgium
Truck Belle Fontaine,
Truck Virton, Belgium
Truck Longuyon, France
Truck Spincourt, France
Truck Etain, France
Truck Fresnes (en Woëvre), France
Truck Vigneulles, France
Truck Gironville, France
Truck Jovy, France*
Truck Gondreville, France*
Truck Nancy, France
Truck Laneuvelotte, France*
Truck Lesley, France*
Truck Bourdonnay, France
Truck Héming, France
Jan. 21, 1945 Truck
Arrived 2200 hours.
Jan. 24, 1945 Truck
Truck Saverne, France
Jan. 24, 1945 Truck
"Both the 463rd and 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalions dragged their guns into position only to close stations and
drag them back again later in the day." (Rendezvous with Destiny)
Jan. 26, 1945 Truck
Arrived 1800 hour. Fired in direct support of 327th.
Received orders to join the 17th Airborne Division, but General Maxwell
Taylor interceded, stating "the 463rd is firmly united with this
Division and any change will result in serious loss of morale and
efficiency both to the Division and to the Battalion."
& Hq Btry
Assisted in support of attack by 79th Division.
Sgt. Clifford Wolfenbarger WIA
Tec 4 Russell Hughes WIA
Pvt. Edward E. Helm WIA
Feb. 12, 1945 Truck
Arrived 2000 hours. Helped repell enemy attack.
Helped repell enemy attack.
John Cooper - Message to men from
John T. Cooper, Jr., Lt. Col., Field Artillery, Commanding Officer:
It is with the greatest satisfaction and
personal pride that I congratulate the men and officers of this
battalion on your splendid achievements of the past year.
One year ago today, during one of the most
fierce counter-attacks by the enemy, you started the 463rd Parachute
Field Artillery Battalion on its road to glorious service and
achievement. During your infancy you were given the task of direct
support artillery, for the "Big Push", that broke the enemy
of our forces at ANZIO. This job, you handled admirably and by your
constant endeavor and aggressive action through MT. ARISTINO, CORI,
COLLE TAFO, ARTENA, COLLE FERRO, VALMONTONE, TOR SAPIENZA, and ROME you
distinguished yourself and made the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery
Battalion a honored member of the Fifth Army.
again distinguished yourself, after your well earned rest at LAKE
ALBANO, by absorbing into your ranks and training two new batteries in
one and one-half (11/2) months and preparing for your leading of the
invasion troops of the Seventh Army into Southern France.
Under adverse conditions but with aggressiveness
for which you have become noted you carried the fight to the enemy in
the ALPS, and again when you pushed onto the FRENCH-ITALIAN border near MENTON and rejoined our friends in NICE.
You enjoyed the BRISTOL, the NEGRESCO, CANNES
and NICE and upon arrival in BASTOGNE you thoroughly enjoyed yourselves
and again distinguished yourselves by destroying by direct fire three
(3) Mk IV Tanks and capturing one in a serviceable condition. You, by
your quick aggressive action, not only distinguished yourself in the
fight but showed such efficiency and spirit that your place among the
best troops of the 101st Airborne Division was assured.
Today, after one year of the toughest fighting
in history, let's pause, and look to the future. This year you will, I
am sure, even surpass the highest expectations of your commanders. Your
will continue your aggressiveness in training or in combat. You will
strive to increase your ability in your respective jobs. Your grand
spirit that has made the 463RD will carry you through the rough spots
ahead, as you realize that the better you make the 463rd the sooner you
will dispose of the enemy and the greater will become the name of the
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion.
Men of the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery
Battalion, I am proud of you, I am proud for you, and I am proud to be
the Battalion Commander of such a unit.
up city police force of 2 officers & 21 enlisted men.
Battalion CP in Bad Reichenhall.
HQ Battery Bad Reichenhall.
Batteries A, C, & D in Bayerisch-Gmain.
Battery B in Bad Reichenhall in Duchess Kaiser Motel
Col. John Cooper and 50 enlisted men transferred to 16th Reinforcement
All men had over 105 points. Maj. Stuart Seaton assumed
enlisted men with over 105 points transferred to Reception Station in
enlisted men and 7 officers transferred to 501st Parachute
Infantry for redeployment to US.
134 enlisted men with less than 85 points who did not
volunteer for Pacific were transferred to 82nd Airborne
June 30, 1945
Bad Reichenhall, Germany
enlisted men received from 17th Airborne Division as
reinforcements. 94 enlisted men, who had fought in both
theaters, with less than 85 points remained with battalion
to go to Pacific.
GENERAL NOTES AFTER BASTOGNE
On night of April 8 and 9, during Battle of Ruhr, C
Battery Observation Post was atop an eight story
concrete warehouse 100 yards from Rhine River and
directly behind the main bridge. Lieutenant and Bruce
Middough were sitting there looking out the window and
other than a flare or two being shot into the air, it
was quiet. The 327th GIR had pushed a combat patrol
across the river. A German airplane appeared, firing
green tracers toward the ground. Red tracers were being
fired into the sky at the plane. The plane crashed
across the river.
About the same time, Middough saw 2 Americans
creeping across a field toward the dike of the Rhine
carrying a long tube. They climbed up the dike and
laying down, pointed the tube across the Rhine with a
sheet of flame jutting from the tube and causing an
explosion across the river. Later Middought discovered
it was Col. Cooper and Maj. Vic Garret testing the new
77mm recoilless rifle.
In late April, the 463rd was heading down the
autobahn. Thousands of German soldiers were surrendering
and heading by truck load west as POWs. C Battery was in
a small village in Bavaria when the communication
section started experimenting with burp guns, potato
mashers as well as driving Mercedes and Volkswagen cars.
The noise from the guns and grenades made the valley
sound like a war zone. Orders were released to stop
firing German guns. At same time communication members
discussed the superiority of the German MG-42 over the
machine gun. To prove it, they put together a 100 foot
long machine gun belt and took a gun up to the 2nd story
window of a farm building. Middough was the loader and
Pvt. A. J. Pierce the gunner. Pierce fired many rounds
into a hillside without the gun seizing. The house was
engulfed in smoke before they quit firing. Sgt. Howard
stormed into the house demanding to know who was firing.
No one would cop out, so Howard said, "o.k. you guys get
your shovels and get out in that field and two men to a
hole start digging a 10x10x10". After about 30 minutes,
one of the guys (Miller) said he was in pretty good with
Cooper, Seaton and Garret and that he would confess. He
confessed and Howard came back over and told them to
fill in the holes. Howard said what made the offense so
serious was that the bullets had cut the electric cord
from the generator to the officer's quarters.
Just prior to a fire mission, Jay Karp noticed a
covered hole about thirty yards from their gun section.
As he and some other men approached, he noticed a canvas
cover over a hole with a light shinning from under it.
They didn't know what they would find as they sneaked up
to the position. They heard, "2 diamonds, 1 club." They
lifted the canvas to find Joe Lyons, D. Nichols, and 2
others playing bridge. A fire mission was called in and
everyone scrambled out of the hole. (Karp tape)
Haggenau was colder than a witches' tit. (Cerone
The Germans were falling back fast, resistance
crumbling. B Battery took over the Grand Hotel in
Buschhausen. Joe Lyons took over the track team after
the war ended. Gray Wolf?? was the miler, Lou Warbuck,
Jay Karp and Bruce Middough ran the 220 and 440. Bruce
Middough was also the broad jumper. (Karp tape)
"After the breakout at Bastogne the 101st was
trucked down to Haggenau, France to hold the line
against German attacks which were never a real threat.
Again I took pictures of our guys doing everything from
bathing at a 5 gallon can of water (Montague with the
sun shinning on his butt) to throwing grenades down
"After Haggenau campaign the battalion was trucked
back to Mourmelon, France as part of the 101st Airborne
Division to receive the President's Unit Citation; the
first Army Division in history to receive this honor for
its stand at Bastogne." (Tony Spagnol)
July 1, 1945
Col. Kenneth L. Booth and 4 other officers, formerly of the
466th PFAB of 17th Airborne joined battalion. Booth
officers and 232 enlisted men from 17th Airborne transferred
to 463rd. 5 officers from 463rd transferred to 17th
July 8, 1945
Relieved in Bad Reichenhall by 431st AAA Battalion.
Relieved the 3rd
Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of security
responsibilities in Saalfelden.
Advance detail of 6 officers & 11 enlisted men left Saalfelden for France.
Advance detail arrived at Joigny, France, taking over installations of
460th PFAB which had been part of 13th Airborne.
460th PFAB in
28 enlisted men sent to 16th Replacement Depot for
Battalion relieved of all security missions by elements of
Battalion divided in 2 for move from Austria to France. Major Seaton
commanded 8 officers & 212 enlisted men who moved by rail. Capt.
Laidlaw commanded 15 officers & 180 enlisted men who traveled by motor..
Aug. 1, 1945
Battalion trained throughout early August for transfer to
enlisted men with less than 85 points & 7 officers with more
than 85 points were transferred to 463rd from the 17th
Airborne. 3 enlisted men with over 85 points were
transferred to 17th Airborne for redeployment & discharge.
Detachment of 1 officer & 55 enlisted men traveled to
Brussels, Belgium for liberty celebration.
Martin Johnson killed in jeep accident near Sens, France.
Buried with military honors near Châlons, France.
officers transferred from battalion to 19th Reinforcement Depot for
officers & 21 enlisted men transferred to 2nd Replacement
Depot for redeployment & discharge.
officers & 73 enlisted men transferred to 75th Infantry
Division for discharge in US.
officer, 1 warrant officer, 49 enlisted men left for 2nd
Replacement Depot for redeployment & discharge.
Nov. 30, 1945 Boat
463rd inactivated in November 30, 1945.
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT RETURN HOME
portion of 463rd which did not have enough points to return to the
United States remained in Germany, some joined the 82nd Airborne and
were stationed in the SS barracks outside of Berlin. Battalion earned:
8 battle stars, 2 bronze assault arrows and the Presidential Citation,
and 2 stars on jump wings. (DB) Only artillery battalion to have a
plaque in 2 theaters.
The army did not
accurately record the correct unit to be discharged with. If you were
walking in line with other guys and they asked you what unit this was,
whatever the first guy said was applied to everyone else in the line.
If the first guy said the 506th, everybody behind him was considered the
Spagnol - "The 463rd was now permanently attached to the 101st Airborne
which was shipped to the Neuss, Germany area to guard against a German
attack in this front. There was very little activity in the area.
Montague and I got dates with two German gals who lived in Neuss when
the battalion bivouacked near the town. I have pictures of the gals; I
wonder what they look like today, 50 years later?
"After the Neuss campaign the Germans began surrendering in very large
numbers. The 463rd was shipped as part of the 101st down southern
Germany and ended the war at Bad Reichenhall, Germany where the
battalion was bivouacked for several weeks.
was among the first to get a 30 day furlough which I at first refused
because we were having a great time visiting near towns etc. Our First
Sergeant Joe Stolmeier thought I was crazy for refusing the furlough and
ordered me to take the furlough and go home after almost two years of
"During my service in the army I requested to be transferred to OCS
officers training for the infantry. I was always told that either my
next outfit will make that decision (before I joined the 82nd Airborne)
or that I was needed in the outfit because of my skills in radio
communications! In retrospect I was disappointed but very lucky because
I survived the war and experienced a very successful career as a
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT HISTORY OF 463RD/456TH
John Cooper & Fred Shelton
the reasons that the 463rd fired more ammunition and fire missions then
other Parachute Field Artillery Battalions and Glider Artillery units,
was that our officer's found out from hard combat experiences, that in
all ammunition dumps in the E20, there was more 75MM ammunition to be
found, then any other types of artillery ammo. So this is one of the
main reasons that the 463rd stayed with the 75MM Pack Howitzer thru
reunion of the 463rd troopers, Jay Karp said to Ted Wingstrom, who was
also from Battery B, "I don't remember ever seeing you do anything for
the war effort." Ted W., with witty sense of humor, said, "I was the
ordinance man in my gun section who beat out the pits and dents in the
shell cases with my little ball pin hammer, so you Bastards could
Cooper relates how the Battalion was needing gun parts for 75MM
howitzers. Cooper had back orders for parts to Army Ordinance, the day
he received the return back orders for parts, Cooper received a letter
from his wife that his brother-in-law, Master Sergeant Ed Vaughn who was
in ordinance was located near Rheims, France. Cooper immediately went
to Rheims, to see brother-in-law Ed Vaughn, with the back order papers
in his pocket. Sgt. Vaughn then called his sergeants and personnel
together, told them they needed to find these gun parts, they were badly
needed. The next day Sgt. Vaughn came to Mourmelon, with the gun parts
for the howitzers. Then two days later the 463rd Battalion moved to the
Bulge and Bastogne with the guns repaired and ready to shoot.
Ammo Rounds Fired by 463rd in World War II:
120,000 - fired on Anzio
Beachhead, and on into the capture of Rome.
3,158 - invasion of Southern France and following the coastline up to
the French and Italian border (Maritime Alps).
15,357 - Barcelonnette (French Alps) 9/1 to 9/30/44 the 463rd was in a
defensive position guarding a pass in the Alps.
12,970 - Barcelonnette 10/1 to 10/30/44 halfway thru the months of Oct.
The Germans launched a late evening attack aimed at securing two
strategic peaks and pass. The 463rd helped to repulse this counter
attack, and fired 5,600 rounds in one night.
4,632 - Southern France in support of FSSF from 11/1 to 11/18. The
463rd was relieved by the 602 Field Artillery Battalion.
7,676 - Bastogne. Dec. 1944 Air re-supply of ammo into Bastogne there
was no account or record of this ammo.
14,072 - Haguenau France (The Bitch Area) Moder and Rhine River - Alsace
Lorraine. 1/4 to 1/31.
7,029 - Haguenau Sector - Keffendorf, France front lines generally along
the Moder River. 2/1 to 2/25/45.
4,943 - Shillingstedt, Germany - 4/3 to 4/17/45. The 463rd expended a
total of 4,943 rounds of ammo. According to reports from the records,
this was the last rounds that was fired by the 463rd closing out the
TOTAL ROUNDS FIRED - 189,837. If add 30,000 rounds for Sicily and
Casino fronts, no records found, total rounds fired is 219,837.
Next to our D-Day
jump into Normandy I remember best the Bastogne deal, and particularly
John Cooper, that rather remarkable C.O.
Wish I could be at the reunion
to remind him of many times as:
When his unit had a party at a French care, took it over. When the
"girls" arrived, 6 war weary nurses and an old battle-axe head nurse,
John stepped forward like a fine host and grabbed her, then everybody up
to the second floor, let's show our 463rd spirit, and over the railing,
down about 15 feet to the bumpy brick floor. And from that start the
party really rollicked up!
When Marlene Dietrich came to look over Max Taylor and incidentally
do her show with the ball players, and at the cocktail-reception for
her, before Bob Sink could beat me I signed her to 'cut the ribbon
opening up our new Officers' Club, then called John and told him that he
was opening up a club, - "take over a cafe for the evening," and he
did. That was a night to remember.
Or when, on Christmas day at Bastogne he called up, he had a
Christmas present for me. But I had to come pick it up. A German tank,
no less, that his doughty battalion had shot out (but still ran) when we
rushed them out to fire direct fire at the tank breakthrough of Steve
Chappius' CP. (No foot Boche got through them.)
Or when we were breaking up and Cooper at his last meal with us,
announced that he was going home, make a parachute jump on Wewoka
(Okla.), get his wife pregnant, and run for Congress.
When I reformed the 101st at Fort Campbell in 1956 I was Dep. G-1, D/A
and was hand-picking all my commanders and G-staff (what a deal, --
Charlie Chase, Harry Kinnard, Bud Rainey, Reuben Tucker, etc. etc.), I
made a search for Cooper for Div. Arty CO -- but he was out, in the VA
Additional KIA 1st Lt. John B. Higdon
CONDENSED CHRONOLOGY OF THE
463rd PARACHUTE FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
Based in large part on a collection of archival documents and other
acquired and provided by Ken Hesler, Battery D, 463rd PFA.
DATE OF ARRIVAL
MODE OF TRAVEL
activated April 28, 1943
as part of 505th Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team on the
Matson liner S.S. Monterey. Trip took 12 days.
456th PFA made their first night jump.
into planes about 2200 hrs July 9 for jump into Sicily.
miles from target due to faulty navigation, high winds, and impaired
Participated in the Battle of Biazza Ridge on July 10/11. Witnessed
the tragic "friendly fire" jump of the 504th.
Harrison B. Harden relieved by Brigadier General Maxwell D. Taylor for
failure to maintain discipline in battalion during the July 24 Battle
of Trapani. Major Hugh Neal assumes command.
batteries enjoyed a show by Bob Hope (or was show the first time the
456th was at Kairouan before Sicily? / Devils in Baggy Pants) before
Batteries C & D flew back across the Mediterranean to Comiso, Sicily.
C & D
C & D
C & D
C & D
A & B
A & B
A & B
A & B
A & B
A & B were on the British run French ship The Vila De Oran.
ship Anson Jones.
First Special Service Force.
assault on Hill 720 (Western spur of Mt. Sammucro) on Christmas Day.
Anzio on January 31, 1944.
C and D and the designation 456th PFA were transferred to the 82nd
Airborne Division in England. Batteries A and B were redesignated the
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion on February 20 (21), 1944 at
a location near the Mussolini Canal, about one halt mile southeast of
around Artena and Valmontone lasted until June 2. On May 31st, Major
Neal was seriously wounded by an 88mm shell and was replaced by Major
John T. Cooper who was the battalion executive officer.
and First Special Service Force spearheaded attack on Rome.
re-equipping and re-training.
for invasion of Southern France. Battalion received 200 replacements
for Batteries C and D on July 13. Batteries C and D activated on July
Cooper commanded half of Headquarters Battery, all of Batteries B and
C, and 3rd and 4th Platoons of Battery D. They were part of Serial 5
and boarded 29 C-47s for invasion of Southern France on August 14.
Stuart M. Seaton commanded half of Headquarters Battery, Battery A.
and 1st and 2nd Platoons of Battery D. They were part of Serial 4 and
boarded 20 C-47s for invasion of Southern France on August 14.
jumped at 0430. Due to navigational error and fog, they landed more
than 12 miles from DZ. Major Cooper severely fractured ankle during
jump and was replaced for two months by Major Seaton.
jumped at 0425. Even though the ground was blanketed by fog and there
was no signal, with the exception of 2 planes, Major Seaton's command
landed within 1,000 yards of DZ. Of the two remaining planes, one
stick landed near St. Raphael and the other near Les Arcs.
rapidly moved into Maritime Alps with the 550th Airborne Infantry to
cut off German escape route into Italy. Also joined by French Colonial
Senegalese Infantry. "Champagne Campaign"
by French Moroccan Goum unit from North Africa.
rejoined the First Special Services Forces.
relieved by the 602nd Field Artillery Battalion.
Temporarily attached to the 101st Airborne Division for administration
Although the 463rd was slated to join the 17th Airborne Division,
Colonel John Cooper requested that the battalion accompany the 101st
to the Ardennes line, General Anthony McAuliffe stated he had no such
orders, but suggested that Cooper talk to Colonel Joseph Harper of the
327th Glider Infantry. Harper accepted Coopers offer of the 463rd's
services which lead to the battalion's first association with the
Screaming Eagles. Departed at 2130 hr. December 18.
arrived in Bastogne at 1100 hr.
463rd arrived at Hemroulle at 1500 hours and set up its Command Post
and Fire Direction Center. Mission was to provide artillery support to
the 327th Glider Infantry west and south of Bastogne.
howitzers from Battery C redeployed into direct fire positions from
which to defend against tanks. Howitzers moved Into direct fire
positions due to ammunition shortages.
re-supplies began. 463rd had expended all but 9 rounds of
high-explosive ammunition and ration supply was nearly exhausted.
Repulsed German attack from the south. The 2 remaining howitzers from
Battery C and 2 from Battery A were deployed in direct fire positions.
The other 2 howitzers from Battery A, the 4 in Battery B and the 4 in
Battery D remained in indirect fire positions.
attack in pre-dawn from the northwest. 18 German Mark IV tanks and
supporting Infantry broke through 327th line, 11 tanks and infantry
advancing on Hemroulle. They pulled off the road and stopped 100 yards
from Hemroulle (thinking it was Bastogne?) and remained there for over
an hour. At dawn, the 463rd fired (1 howitzer from Battery D and 4
from Battery B were redeployed into anti-tank/direct fire positions)
and the battle lasted about a half hour, many of the 463rd fighting as
infantry. 8 German tanks were knocked out by howitzers and a 9th
captured. 2 tanks escaped the 463rd but were knocked out by an
American armored force. The 7 other German tanks were also taken out
before the end of the day. After the fighting, all howitzers except
the 4 guns of Battery C were returned to indirect fire positions.
broken by 4th Armored Division. December 29
knocked out by enemy aircraft.
orders to join the 17th Airborne Division, but General Maxwell Taylor
interceded, stating "the 463rd is firmly united with this Division and
any change will result in serious loss of morale and efficiency both
to the Division and to the Battalion."
Ken Hesler : "Here is a very minor item about Martin’s Chronology
concerning the February 27, 1944, trip from Alsace to Mourmelon.
The notation of that trip says by truck. It was also 'train,' as
that is how I made the trip to Mourmelon with the 502nd and some
377th from Sarrebourg, we trucked to the latter departure point –
i.e. 'Train/Truck.' The material is from the original 'Rendezvous
with Destiny', in the 'Alsace' section on the page noted. Some of
the Battalion would have had to come by truck with guns, kitchen,
'Rendezvous With Destiny', page 695:
The bulk of the 101st returned to
Mourmelon by rail, riding in straw-filled 40-and-8 boxcars; this was
a type of travel which the Division had not yet tried but it was an
immediate hit with the veterans of the trek by truck from Holland
and to and from Bastogne. The 506th left from Saverne on the 25th,
accompanied by the 321st Field Artillery Battalion, part of the 81st
AA Battalion and Company A of the 326th Engineers. On the 27th the
327th and the 502d left from Reding, a station just outside of
Sarrebourg and twenty miles west of Saverne. With them went the 463d
Artillery Battalion and Headquarters Batteries of Division Artillery
and of the 377th Battalion. On the 28th the 501st, 377th, and 907th
Artillery Battalions and the 81st AA Battalion left from Reding.
Other units of the Division returned in truck convoys via
Sarrebourg, Nancy, Toul, and Châlons, the last units clearing Alsace
on March 1.
The trip took about eighteen hours and each trainload as it rolled
into the village of Mourmelon-le-Petit was greeted by the music of
the 502d band.
Division presented the Distinguished Unit Citation on March 15.
Dachau Prison Camp.
destination of 463rd members who had enough points to return to the