World War II Historical Summary




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 European Theater. 


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 fire missions.  

(As of September, 2002, all are deceased with the exception of Stuart Seaton.)

Officer and 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.  

After the 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 October 14.

The 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.

The mountain 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.


In 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.


During most 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.

Unlike some 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 center.


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 Christmas morning.  

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 our area."


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.




Feb. 24, 1942 Washington

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)


March, 1942 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 S.)

April 17, 1942 Fort Benning, Georgia

4 officers/112 enlisted men of Parachute Test Battery became first qualified parachute artillerymen under command of:

  • 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:

  Top sleigh & cradle

Bottom sleigh

Front trail

Rear trail



Breech block

Aiming circle

Range finder

246 lbs. (when packed)
260 lbs.
260 lbs.
181 lbs.
200 lbs.
264 lbs.
188 lbs.
15 lbs. (packed w/bottom sleigh)

The Pack 75


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)


Parachute Training:

A Stage:

  • 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).

B Stage:

  • Mornings - 4 hours of exercise (calisthenics, running, etc.)
  • 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.

C Stage:

  • Mornings - 4 hours of exercise (calisthenics, running, etc.)
  • Afternoons- Packing Shed

D Stage:

  • 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.  456th under:

  • 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
  • .50-cal machinegun
  • 37mm anti-tank gun
  • 2.36" Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher
  • .30-cal Carbine
  • .45-cal Pistol


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 4:00PM.

April 29, 1943 Staten Island

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)



     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 shipped overseas.

     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 officers.

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.

Fred Shelton:

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 shells in.

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 tough walking.

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 weeks maneuvers.

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 the service.

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.


Joe Stolmeier:

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 happy GI.

May 10, 1943     Boat Casablanca, Morocco
Arrived 2:30PM.  Marched 5 miles East of Casablanca, arriving at 7:00PM at Camp Marshall Leoty.


May 14, 1943     Truck/Train Fez, Morocco
Left Camp Marshall Leoty at 7:30AM and arrive 8 miles East of Fez at 7:45PM.


May 15, 1943     Truck/Train Oujda, Morocco
Left 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 Oujda, Morocco
Passed 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 Oujda, Morocco
Night jump tactical with equipment. 


June 14, 1943 Oujda, Morocco
Night jump combat problem.


June 15, 1943 Oujda, Morocco
Paid in full.


June 16, 1943  Oujda, Morocco
Doug Bailey:

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 Oujda, Morocco

Gus Hazzard:

Stu Seaton walked their asses off on night problems, 4 points to find in dark.

Doug Bailey:

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 Oujda, Morocco

Doug Bailey:

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.

Doug Bailey:

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 9:00PM.

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.


      456th command:

      Lt. Col. Harrison Harden - CO

      Maj. Hugh Neal - XO

      Capt. Stuart H. Seaton - A Battery

      Harris - B Battery

      Capt. Victor E. Garrett - Headquarters Battery


Colonel Hugh Neal

Major Stuart Seaton


Doug Bailey:

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 B-Btry.

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.

Gus Hazzard:

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)
Major 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 Ragusa, Sicily
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 fight.

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.

Doug Bailey:

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 & Hand

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 Dirillo)


Pillbox at Biazza Ridge in 1943

Pillbox today (2005)



July 11, 1943   La Croce, Sicily
HQ, B, & 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.

Jay Karp:

We pulled into wooded area, dug in, sent out patrols, tried to make radio contact.

Doug Bailey:

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
HQ, B, & 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.


Gus Hazzard:

pinned down from July 12 to 15th without support.



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 Biazza Ridge
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.


Doug Bailey:

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 deloused.

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.)  (pg. 98)



Sgt. Anthony W. Sholonis (C) KIA - Jumped into sea

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.


Doug Bailey:

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
Doug Bailey

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
Doug Bailey:

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.

Gus Hazzard:

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.

Doug Bailey

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 forward.

July 18, 1943 Monte Allegro
Major Neal and Lt. Lewellan reconnoitered vicinity.

Doug Bailey

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.

Doug Bailey

Cleaned bazooka and rifle, moved again toward the front.  More bridges blown out.  Moved at night.  Now in orchard.  Dug slit trench.


Tec 4 Cyril D. Schreiner (A) LWA


July 20, 1943     Truck Comiso, Sicily
Gus Hazzard

We moved up the coast toward Trapani, knocking out pill boxes along the coast.


Cpl. James M. Bishop (A) WIA - FS - Metatarsal

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.


Doug Bailey:

Still in orchard, found well.  Best drinking water since I left the states.  Took whores bath out of helmet.  Ate some grapes and cleaned rifle.


July 23, 1943     Truck/March Castelvetrano, Sicily
Departed Santa Margherita area at 12:00PM and arrived at firing position 1 mile East of Trapani at 5:00PM.


Doug Bailey

Still at Orchard, had gun drill.  Cleaned bazooka.  Laying around waiting to go someplace.

July 23, 1943 1 mile east of Trapani
Enemy 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.


Doug Bailey:

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 Sciacca, Sicily
July 24, 1943     March/Truck Trapani, Sicily
Doug Bailey:

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
Battle 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.


Doug Bailey:

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 Eria, Sicily
Doug Bailey:

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
Off 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 road.


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 1943.
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 never satisfied.

August 1943      Truck Castelvetrano, Sicily
Doug Bailey

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.



Total casualties:

  O's EM
Dead 2 8
Missing 0 3
Wounded not evacuated 1 0
Wounded 3 24
Total 6 35


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 trouble.

Joe Stolmeier

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 themselves in.
Remembers beautiful moonlit night accentuating 3 ancient columns.
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 formation.


Aug. 20, 1943     Air Kairouan, Tunisia
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 bases.

Doug Bailey

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.

Train                     Sousse, Tunisia

Batteries C & D


Train                     Tunis, Tunisia

Batteries C & D


Truck                    Matfur, Tunisia

Batteries C & D


Truck                    Bizerte, Tunisia

Batteries C & D


Aug. 23, 1943 Kairouan, Tunisia
Doug Bailey

Batteries A & B.  Bob Hope Show with Jerry Colona & Francis Langford??

Aug. 28, 1943     Truck  Bizerte, Tunisia
Batteries A & B


Doug Bailey

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.

Gus Hazzard

trained for amphibious landing, camping on the beach.

Sept. 5, 1943
Jay Karp

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   Comiso, Sicily
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.


Doug Bailey

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
Gus Hazzard:

504 took off for jump in Italy.

Sept. 13, 1943

Gus Hazzard:

505 took off for jump in Italy.

Oct. 12, 1943
Doug Bailey:

American pilot flying captured ME 109 killed at field near here while landing.  Raining today.

Oct. 13, 1943
Doug Bailey:

- O--- got on a crying drunk, and had the whole battery in hysterics.  Going out to fire tomorrow.

Oct. 14, 1943
Doug Bailey:

Went out and fired the 75s.

Oct. 22, 1943
Doug Bailey:

Squadron of B17s from bases in North Africa landed at airport here.  They are going on a mission deep in Austria.


Oct. 25, 1943  Comiso, Sicily
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.


Doug Bailey

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 Comiso, Sicily
Gus Hazzard - Batteries A & B packed for England (rumor)


Nov. 5, 1943
Gus Hazzard - Loaded box cars in Comiso.


Nov. 7, 1943   Train Modica, Sicily
Departed from Comiso Airfield by vehicle at 8:30PM.  Arrived Comiso Station at 10:00PM.


Gus Hazzard:

Batteries A & B - Rainy


Train                     Noto, Sicily

Batteries A & B

Train                     Siracusa, Sicily

Batteries A & B


Nov. 8, 1943   Train Augusta, Sicily
Arrived British Transient Camp 5 miles outside of Augusta at 4:00PM.
Batteries A & B.  Camped with British troops.


Nov. 9, 1943   Boat Augusta, Sicily
Departed Transient Camp by foot at 7:00AM and arrived at Augusta quay at 9:00AM.  Boarded ship S.S. Villa De Oran.


Gus Hazzard

Walked five miles to dock and boarded British run French ship The Villa De Oran

Doug Bailey

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 Bizerte.

Nov. 13, 1943 Boat
Arrived Algiers at 6:00PM
Nov. 14, 1943 Boat Algiers, Algeria
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
Doug Bailey

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 the 505.

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 Bizerte, Tunisia
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.


Doug Bailey

Now on Liberty ship "Anson Jones" headed for Naples I think?  Bunch of British engineers on board.

Nov. 26, 1943
Doug Bailey

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 tonight.


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 the side.

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 Augusta, Sicily
Arrived in Augusta at 11:00AM.  Stayed in harbor over night inside sub nets.


Doug Bailey

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 Augusta, Sicily
Left 11:00AM.  Passed through Messina straits at 12AM.
Nov. 28, 1943    Boat Algiers, Algeria
Batteries C & D boarded British ship "Franconia" for British Isles.
Nov. 30, 1943    Boat Naples, Italy
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 Bagnoli, Italy
Doug Bailey:

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. 1943           Truck Caserta, Italy
Dec. 1, 1943
Doug Bailey

Christmas package from home.

Dec. 5, 1943
Doug Bailey

Went into Naples without pass.  Pretty interesting place.  On guard tonight.

Dec. 8, 1943
Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey

Advanced detail left this morning for someplace.

Dec. 13, 1943
Departed Bagnoli by vehicle by echelon starting at 6:00AM.


Doug Bailey:

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
Closed 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 Venafro, Italy
Doug Bailey:

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 up again.

Dec. 22, 1943     Truck Ceppagna, Italy
Departed Santa Maria area by vehicle at 4:00PM.  Arrived in position at Ceppagna at 7:00PM.


Doug Bailey:

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)
John Cooper:

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.

Doug Bailey:

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
Joined in assault on Hill 720 (Western spur of Mt. Sammucro) on Christmas Day.

Doug Bailey:

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 Team.

Dec. 28, 1943


T/5 Daniel Torrieri WIA


Jan. 3, 1944

Doug Bailey:

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 road.

Jan. 4, 1944
Doug Bailey:

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 frozen stiff.

Jan. 5, 1944
Doug Bailey:

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
Doug Bailey:

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 7:30PM. 
Arrived in position area 1/2 mile East of San Vittore at 9:30PM.



Pvt. Wendell D. Gillman WIA - LW - Leg


Jan. 8, 1944
Doug Bailey:

German planes overhead nearly all day.  Moving up tonight.



Pfc. John Rimm DOW


Jan. 9, 1944

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey

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 horrible screech.

Jan. 13, 1944


Pvt. Francis Kane WIA - SFW - Back


Doug Bailey

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.


Doug Bailey:

Fired all night.  Heard that Rezor from HQ had foot blown off by German mine while laying wire.



Pvt. Nicholas Rezor WIA - foot blown off


Jan. 17, 1944     Truck Cassino, Italy

Finally relieved after months of rain, snow, and mountains.  Water-filled foxholes and gun pits.


Doug Bailey:

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 Santa Maria, Italy
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.

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey:

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 - Nose


Jan. 25, 1944

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey

All dug in at new position.  Doing most of our firing at night. 
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 2:30PM. 
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 at 6:00PM.
Loaded on LCT's and LCI's and left for Anzio on January 31, 1944.

Doug Bailey:

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 are going.


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)

Spent a 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)

"During the 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. 

(Smith tape)


August Hazzard (tape)

On Hill 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 Italy.

Tony Spagnol

"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."

Doug Bailey:

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).


Doug Bailey:

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.


John Cooper

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.

Doug Bailey

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 Anzio

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

Doug Bailey:

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


Doug Bailey

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

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey:

Got rained out of hole.  Pitched tent.  Ammo cases floating down ditch.

Feb. 12, 1944

Doug Bailey

Germans dive bombing harbor.

Feb. 13, 1944

Doug Bailey

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

Doug Bailey

Took shower back at the beachhead.  I think its safer up on the front.


1st Lt. Orval K. Sheppard WIA - LW - Arm


Feb. 16, 1944 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy

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.

John Cooper:

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.

Doug Bailey:

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 close by.

Feb. 17, 1944

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey:

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

Doug Bailey

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 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy

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."


  Officers Enlisted
Hq 17 97
A 4 99
B 4 104
Med 2 9
TOTAL 27 309

Doug Bailey:

German shells landing close.  German bombers came over in the evening and dropped radio controlled rocket bombs at ships in the harbor.

Feb. 21, 1944

Doug Bailey:

Same old stuff.  Enemy planes over so low could have thrown rocks at em.  Saw one go down about 2 blocks from our position.

Feb. 22, 1944 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy

Doug Bailey:

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 being strafed.

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.



Pfc. Warren J. Willcox WIA - LW - Scalp, Fractured Teeth

S/Sgt. Charles E. Green MIA


  Officers Enlisted
Hq 16 109
A 3 100
B 3 104
Med 2 8
TOTAL 24 321


March 1, 1944 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy

John Cooper:

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

Gus Hazzard:

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

4 additional howitzers obtained.  Battalion now has 2 six-howitzer batteries.


Pfc. Lark A. Erskine WIA

March 29, 1944

Pvt. Richard M. Sullivan WIA

March 31, 1944 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy

Monthly Report - During month, battalion fired 13,000 rounds, destroying 3 tanks, 5 vehicles, 4 mortars, 10 dugouts, 2 pill boxes, 7 gun positions. 
Targets were: Personnel - 149; guns - 33; and tanks & SP's - 18.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq 16 143
A 4 77
B 3 78
Med 2 9
TOTAL 25 307


April 1944 Borgo Piave

Area to the southwest.

Doug Bailey:

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 Borgo Piave

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
Gus Hazzard:

Beer ration (2 cups)

April 30, 1944 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy

Monthly Report:

Fired approximately 13,270 rounds on following using ground & air OPs: Personnel 108; Guns/Mortar/MG 10; Tanks/SP 11; Vehicles 10.

Targets disabled, destroyed or neutralized: 8 tanks, 3 SPs, 3 machine guns, 2 mortars, 1 dugout, 4 gun positions.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq 16 167
A 5 79
B 4 86
Med 2 9
TOTAL 27 341


May 2, 1944 Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Gus Hazzard:

Right flank moved over canal.

May 4, 1944  

3rd Provisional Pack Battery attached for operational control.


May 8, 1944   Borgo Bainsizza, Italy
Gus Hazzard:

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 16.
May 20, 1944

Assigned mission of reinforcing 156th Field Regiment.

S/Sgt. Reed R. Satterstrom WIA - LW - Face


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



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 down.

463rd Code Name - KEYNOTE.  When reporting would say:


Unit Composition:

  • 4 gun crews/battery before Anzio
  • 6 gun crews/battery after Anzio

Tony Spagnol:

"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.
"As 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."

Doug Bailey:

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.
After 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.
An 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.
To 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 getting closer.
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.
On another occasion, "Red Beard" Lyons made a moonlight patrol into the depths of no-man's land, a muddy plateau near the canal.
Hours 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 spot.
"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 another barrage."
The 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 party."
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 mission.

Jay Karp:

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 see it.

Ridgway's Paratroopers, Clay Blair

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)


May 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.


Gus Hazzard:

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 16 tanks.

(1SSF 216/219) - Arrived 3 miles southeast of Cisterna at 8PM.

1/Lt. William W. Biggs WIA - LW - Buttocks

May 24, 1944 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

May 25, 1944 3 miles East Cisterna di Latina, Italy

155th & 938th FAB relieved from reinforcing fire and 39th FAB placed in general support.

May 26, 1944     Truck 2 miles West Cori, Italy
Arriving 9AM.  Took Highway 6 road to Rome.
May 27, 1944     Truck Colle Tafo, Italy

Arrived 5AM


Cpl. Billy J. Lester WIA

May 28, 1944 Colle Tafo, Italy

2 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


May 29, 1944  

1/Lt. Henry L. Smithers WIA - LW - Hand
Cpl. James Schwartz WIA - KW - Arm


May 30, 1944 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 also. 
The 463rd was credited with opening the hole that let the infantry through.

1/ Lt. James K. Rozen WIA
1/Lt. William W. Biggs WIA - LW - Leg

May 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

Monthly Report
Fired 41,245 rounds of ammunition on following targets:
personnel 70; 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.

Targets disabled or neutralized: 16 tanks; 7 vehicles; 7 SPs; 14 machine guns; 5 mortars; 28 gun postions.

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.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq 14 169
A 5 77
B 4 88
Med 2 7
TOTAL 25 341


June 1, 1944      Truck 2 Km SW Artena, Italy

Fighting around Artena and Valmontone lasted until June 2


June 2, 1944      Truck 2 Km SW Artena, Italy

1.5 miles west at 4PM.

John Cooper:

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.

June 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.

June 3, 1944 Tor Sapienza, Italy
Arrived at 12AM
June 3, 1944 11/2 miles West Colonna, Italy
Arrived 6:00AM
June 4, 1944 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. (Hazzard)

John Cooper:

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.

June 5, 1944 Tor Sapienza, Italy

John Cooper:

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.

Arrived 4:00PM


June 6, 1944     Truck Rome, Italy

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.

John Cooper:

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.

Total casualties:

  Officers Enlisted
MIA 0 1
Non Battle 0 2
Wounded 10 38
Killed 3 1
Died of Wounds 0 1



  Officers Enlisted
Hq 13 170
A 4 76
B 4 86
Med 2 7
TOTAL 23 341

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 little resistance.

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 rounds/minute.

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.

Hargus Haywood:

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 training.

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.


June 7, 1944      Truck Lake Albano, Italy (Pope's summer retreat)
Arrived 6PM.  Sent for re-equipping and re-training.
June 16, 1944

Col. Thomas E. de Shazo, 6th Field Artillery Group, Commendation to the 463rd PFAB:

I 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.

June 22, 1944

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.
2.  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.

June 23, 1944 Lake Albano, Italy
Pope Pious XII appeared and gave silver medals to nine out of ten of the boys.  (Hazzard)
July 5, 1944

Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark's Letter of Farewell to the 463rd PFAB:

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 effectively.
2.  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 infantry.
3.  I 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.
4.  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

Sincerely yours,

Mark W. Clark

Lieutenant General, U.S. Army.


July 9, 1944 Lake Albano, Italy
Big party celebrating invasion of Sicily.  (Hazzard)
July 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") - Tennessee
[#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) - Georgia
[#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 York
[#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 York

[#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 Battalion.  Missions:

  1. To fire in direct support of the 509th PIB
  2. To assist by fire the capture of Le Muy by the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade
  3. To prevent by fire the movement of all enemy forces within allocated sector of responsibility
  4. To be able to fire on Le Muy
  5. To aid by fire the advance of Seaborne Troops
  6. To reinforce on call the fires of the 460th PFAB and the 64th Light Battery.


Tactical Mission for Subordinate Units:

  1. Headquarters Battery 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 for CP.
  2. "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.
  3. "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.
  4. "C" Battery, after landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into position on South side of DZ.
  5. "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.

Bob Bolen & Gus Hazzard started running their own bar.   Best customer Ray White.   (Hazzard)


Truck     Civitavecchia, Italy

Truck     Tarquininia, Italy


Aug. 11, 1944    Truck Grosseto, Italy

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 14.


Aug. 11, 1944    Truck Follonica, Italy

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.


Aug. 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.  3 actions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Aug. 15, 1944    Air Le Muy, France

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.

Vic Tofany

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 on."

Aug. 15, 1944

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

Aug. 16, 1944 Le Muy, France

The batteries under Seaton fired a total of 62 rounds during the 15th and 16th in support of the 509th's attack on Le Muy.


Aug. 16, 1944 San Tropez

At 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

Aug. 17, 1944    Truck 3.5 miles southwest Le Muy, France

463rd 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



Ordnance carried:

Crew served weapons:

  • Four 75mm howitzers/battery
  • Eight rocket launchers by Headquarters Battery
  • Fourteen rocket launchers by "D" Battery
  • Two heavy machine guns by Headquarters Battery
  • Two heavy machine guns by "A", "B", and "C" Batteries
  • Eleven heavy machine guns by "D" Battery


Equipment carried on persons:

  • Hung, worn or sewed: Tags, identification, w/tape, drawers, woolen undershirt, woolen socks, light wool suit, parachute (padded w/suspenders), steel helmet, M-1
  • Coat knife pocket: Parachute or PX knife
  • Left Chest pocket: Notebook, watches, 1 pencil, toilet paper (48 sheets), 1 bottle Halizone tablets, toothbrush, map, 1 bottle mosquito repellent
  • Right Coat pocket: 2 fragmentation grenades, 1 cotton drawers
  • Left Coat pocket: Colored and smoke grenades (6 yellow/battery), 1 cotton undershirt
  • 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" rations
  • 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, parachute
  • 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.

Radio Communication
      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

Wire Communication

      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 responsibility

      5.  Btrys. will establish wire communication with their OP's

Assembly Signals

      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 the Alps.

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 things.

Hargus Haywood:

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.

Doug Bailey:

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.
Just 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.
We 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.
The 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.
When 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.
When 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.)
I 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.
We 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 flag. 
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.

Joe Stolmeier

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.

Pvt. 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 action.
"They 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."
"They pointed out the houses where the garrison for this point was staying," reported Pfc. Harold True, of Buffalo, Iowa.
"Me 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."

Cpl. 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 these years.

"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."

"Then 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."

"This 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."....

Operation Dragoon
"At the 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 serious injury.
"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. 449)

Aug. 18, 1944 Le Muy, France
Aug. 20, 1944    Truck Théoule-sur-Mer, France

Arrived 11AM.

Strength of command:

  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 11 61
A 5 85
B 6 86
C 5 84
D 5 94
TOTAL 32 410


Aug. 21, 1944 Théoule-sur-Mer, France

Pvt. Thomas M. Shaw WIA
Pvt. Warren L. Snead WIA
Pfc. Edward M. Spath WIA
Pvt. Thomas J. Wolf WIA

Aug. 23, 1944    Truck  La Napoule, France

Arrived 5:30PM

Pvt. John P. Hay KIA (buried at Draguignan Cemetery)
Pfc. George P. Ruell KIA (buried at Draguignan Cemetery)
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

Aug. 24, 1944    Truck La Napoule, France
Aug. 25, 1944    Truck Antibes, France

Arrived 10AM



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, Buttocks

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


Aug. 27, 1944

Cpl. Edward Kalinowski MIA

Aug. 28, 1944    Truck  3 Km East Antibes, France
Arrived 11AM
Aug. 30, 1944    Truck Castellane, France
Aug. 30, 1944    Truck Frejus, France
Aug. 30, 1944    Truck Barcelonnette, France

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.


Aug. 30, 1944    Truck  10 Kilometers west of St. Andres

Headquarters Battery and Batteries B and C arrived at 7:30PM.


Aug. 31, 1944 Jausiers, France

Monthly Report - Fired approximately 3,158 rounds on: Personnel - 27; Machine gun & gun positions - 6; Observation posts - 1.  Targets disabled, destroyed: 3 machine guns; 3 gun positions; 2 strongpoints.  Casualties: 5 enlisted men killed; 2 officers & 56 enlisted men wounded & injured.

Battalion united at 7:50PM.  Set up position at 12,750 ft. at French fort.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 19 156
A 5 84
B 6 80
C 5 81
D 5 81
TOTAL 41 482

(7 Os & 96 EM joined Hq from rear echelon)


Sept. 8, 1944 Casne de Restefond, France
Battery A moved into this position
Sept. 18, 1944 Jausiers, France

A 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.


Sept. 20, 1944 Jausiers, France
Reinforced by one platoon of French 105mm Howitzers for 3 days.
Sept. 26, 1944 Jausiers, France


2nd Lt. Robert F. Anderson WIA

1st Lt. William F. Biggs WIA

Pvt. Jose F. Rodriguez WIA

1st 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 Cuguret. 
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 1400 hours.


Sept. 30, 1944 Jausiers, France

Monthly Report - Fired 15,357 rounds on: Personnel - 32; Observation Posts - 20; Gun positions & Machine guns - 28; Mortars - 15.  Targets disabled, destroyed, neutralized: 1 dugout; 3 pack trains, 1 pill box.  Fired on 41 enemy patrols.  Casualties: 1 officer, 2 enlisted men wounded.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 16 193
A 5 101
B 5 97
C 5 97
D 4 100
TOTAL 35 588


Oct. 10, 1944 Jausiers, France

Two 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 later.


T/5 James J. Hawkins WIA - SFW - Buttocks

Oct. 12, 1944 Jausiers, France

3 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.


Oct. 14, 1944 Barcelonnette, France
Col. Cooper returns to battalion.
Oct. 15, 1944  

Cpl. Lloyd C. Hood WIA - SFW - Leg

Oct. 16, 1944 Barcelonnette, France

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.
Lt. 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.


Oct. 22, 1944     Truck 2 KM NW Menton (St. Agnes), France

The 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.



John Cooper

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 rest.

Claude Smith/Jay Karp (tapes)

#1 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.

Jay Karp

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)

rejoined D 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)

When he 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.

Tony Spagnol

"We were shipped to the mountain area near Barcelonnette and 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."

Doug Bailey:

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 mountain troops.
It 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.
B 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.
Just 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.
At 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.
We 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

Fred Shelton

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.

Oct. 24, 1944     Truck 2 KM NW Menton (St. Agnes), France
Batteries A and D arrived at 1800 hour.
Oct. 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 casualties.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 15 186
A 5 95
B 5 99
C 4 102
D 2 99
TOTAL 35 596


Nov. 1944 French/Italian Border

Gave support to last push by First Special Services Forces. (1SSF 295)


Nov. 18, 1944    Truck Gattiers, France (just northwest of Nice)

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 81 casualties.

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.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 17 186
A 5 98
B 4 97
C 5 104
D 6 100
Met Det 2 15
TOTAL 39 602


Truck     Antibes, France

463rd en route to Mourmelon.

Train     Toulon, France

Train     Marseilles, France

Train     Avignon, France

Train     Valenca (Valence), France

Train     Lyon, France

Train     Macon, France

Train     Dijon, France

Train     Chaumont, France

Train     Saint Dizier, France

Train     Châlons, France


Dec. 12, 1944     Train Reims, France
Dec. 12, 1944     Train Mourmelon, France

Arrived 2:30PM.  Temporarily attached to the 101st Airborne Division for administration and rations. 
A drinking spree for everyone.  (Smith tape) (Hazzard tape)



The 463rd Wasn’t AWOL After All (By Ken Hesler)


Ken McAuliffe, 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.


Activated in 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 Division. 


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 Fort Mourmelon to await the arrival of the 17th.


But the Battle of the Bulge intervened.  On December 16, 1944, the same date that the Germans counterattacked across the borders of Luxembourg and Belgium,  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 7:33 p.m. December 16, 1944, and was received at Eisenhower’s headquarters at Versailles, France, at 2:24 a.m. 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 right."


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 near future.  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 bivouac area Mourmelon, France, to the vicinity of Bastogne."


 As a historical note, the 463rd was attached to the 101st just before Bastogne 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.



John Cooper:

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.

Battalion Officers:

            Commander:  Lt. Col. John T. Cooper, Jr.

            Executive Officer/S-1:  Major Stuart Seaton

            S-3:  Major Victor E. Garrett

            S-4: Capt. John F. Keester

            Surgeon:  John S. Moore

            Battery A:  Capt. William H. Gerhold

            Battery B:  Capt. Ardelle E. Cole

            Battery C:  Capt. Roman W. Maire

            Battery D:  Victor J. Tofany


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.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 20 168
A 5 92
B 4 89
C 5 97
D 5 93
Met Det 2 14
TOTAL 40 553


2 enlisted men returned from hospital and 2 from confinement.  Took about 1,500 rounds of ammunition.

Tony Spagnol

"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 Bastogne."

Dec. 18, 1944     Truck Suippes, France

Joe Lyons:

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.

Don Martin:

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.

Vic Tofany:

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.

Ken Hesler:

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."
We 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 Mazagran, France
Dec. 18, 1944     Truck Vouziers, France
Dec. 18, 1944     Truck Sedan, France
Dec. 19, 1944     Truck Bouillon, Belgium
Dec. 19, 1944     Truck Marche, Belgium
Dec. 19, 1944     Truck 1 KM SW Flamisoul, Belgium
Arrived 9AM
Dec. 19, 1944     Truck Bastogne, Belgium
463rd 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 Bastogne.
Dec. 19, 1944     Truck Hemroulle

463rd 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.


Battery Positions:

  • C:  500 yards slightly to the northeast of Hemroulle
  • A:  350 yards southwest of Hemroulle on right side of road leading to Bastogne
  • 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 (buildings left)


The 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.



Rolle(y) - 2,000 yards Marvie - 6,000 yards
Champs - 3,000 yards Remoifosse - 7,000 yards
Longchamps - 4,000 yards Assenois - 7,000 yards
Recogne - 5,000 yards Senonchamps - 4,000 yards
Noville - 7,500 yards Mande St. Etienne - 3,500 yards
Bizory - 6,000 yards Flamisoul - 4,500 yards
Mageret - 7,000 yards Flamierge - 7,000 yards
Neffe - 6,000 yards  


Dec. 20, 1944 Hemroulle

The 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 gunshot

Pvt. James G. Ragsdale, B Btry, WIA by shell fire


Gordon Bernhardt

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.

Tom White

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 Washington.

Don Martin

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.

Dec. 21  Hemroulle, Belgium

2 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 missions.
1st Lt. Jack C. West, forward observation post 6 Baker, was awarded Bronze Star for his achievements Dec. 19 to 21.

Donald Martin:

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 Headquarters.

Gordon Bernhardt

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.

Tony Spagnol

"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!"


Dec. 22 Hemroulle

1 day 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


Gordon Bernhardt

Snowing all 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.

Stuart Seaton

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 getting out of the city (Bastogne) and back to the battalion.

Bruce Middough:

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.

Frank Pfeil

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.

Donald Martin

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.


Dec. 23 Hemroulle, Belgium

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


1 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.


John Cooper:

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.

Gordon Bernhardt:

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.

Tom White:

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.

Donald Martin:

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.

Bruce Middough:

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.

Dec. 24


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.

2nd 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.


Gordon Bernhard:

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 through it.

Stuart Seaton:

The Division 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.

Douglas Bailey:

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.

Cecil Farmer:

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.

Fred Shelton:

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.

Dec. 25 Hemroulle, Belgium


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):

My 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


Col. Cooper awarded Silver Star for gallantry in action Dec. 17-25.

Cpl. 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

The 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, Colonel!"

Soon 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. Later 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 laying outside.

"Stopped Cold" - James Dietz

Gen. 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.

Col. 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 abandoned.

German prisoners were kept in a stable next to the Battalion Command Post.

12:00 - 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.


John Cooper:

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.

In 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 tank crews. Major 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.
Prior 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.

The 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.

What 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.

The 463rd had 11 tanks in their sights, 8 were knocked out, 1 captured and 2 succeeded in getting away.
Col. 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.

That, 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.

Years 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.

John Cooper:

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).
As it 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.
We 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.
The 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)

John Cooper:

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.
He 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 place.
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.
I 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?"
As it 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.
You will remember how I was greeted for several days by 'How many tanks did you knock out today?'
I was 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 Cooper

John Cooper:

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!"
"We will get Task Force Cherry down as soon as possible, out!"
In 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.
By 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. 280)

Vic Garrett:

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.

Vic Garrett:

On Christmas Eve night the Germans broke through our front lines.  I had many intelligence reports all night about the situation.
About 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, pg. 276)
Our 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 CP.
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 Battered Bastards of Bastogne, pg. 283)

Stuart Seaton:

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 positions.

Vic Tofany:

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.
D 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.
After 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:

When word 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)

Donald Martin:

Major Garrett 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.

Joseph Rogan:

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.

William Everhart:

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.

Jay Karp:

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.
Upon 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.

Joe Lyons:

Christmas morning 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.

Nicholas Bellezza

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.

Douglas Bailey

During the 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.

Ernie Poter

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 know that every man in D Battery was an infantryman that day.

Walter Peplowski

The gun-pit 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 spotted? 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 fire team.
The 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.
The action comes first, last tank first, every shell a hit.  One, two, three tanks on fire, one in the woods.

Gus Hazzard

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.

Merle McMorrow

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.

Gordon Bernhardt

Christmas - 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.
One 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.

John Mockabee

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 Lesperence.

Hargus Haywood

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.

Jim Schwartz

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.

Claude Smith

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.

Tony Spagnol:

"Lt. Merriman, 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 Misbehavin

Ken Hesler:

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.
We 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.

Ken Hesler:

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.


The 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.



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:



2nd Section

Sgt. Raymond F. Gooch

Cpl. Fred O. Walter

Pvt. Ben C. Cope

Pfc. Alfred Szczerbiak

Pvt. Joseph G. Miller

3rd Section

Sgt. John J. Barrett

Cpl Clarence J. Blomberg

Pfc. Roger W. Fuhrman

Pfc. James R. Bryant

Pvt. Harris A. Bradshaw


1st Section

Sgt. Dee B. Nichols

Cpl. August P. Chrusciel

Pfc. Julius D. Karp

Pvt. Roland Arsenault

Pvt. Enrique L. Castro

Pvt. Carl K. Noline

3rd Section

Sgt. Clifford Wolfinbarger

Pfc. Stanley G. Dalrymple

Pfc. Walter J. Peplowski

Pvt. Donald J. Gallipeau

Pfc. Salvatore A. Arcara

Pvt. Paul E. Buckle

Pvt. George E. Silvas

Pvt. Harold L. German

Pfc. Lewis Warobick

4th Section

Sgt. William D. Wood

Pvt. Phil R. Kellow

Pvt. Eugene S. Olivant

Pvt. Robert F. Sackett

Pvt. James Bowersox


3rd Section

Sgt. Russell O. Derflinger

Cpl. Vilah W. Kyte

Pfc. Lawrence A. Allocco

Pfc. Lonzo D. Barnes

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 destroyed.

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:

  1. The enemy attacked with tanks and infantry about 0730 from the CHAMPS-FLAMISOUL area, driving for Bastogne.
  2. Our infantry was able to hold most of the enemy foot troops but at least seven medium tanks broke through.
  3. 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.
  4. During this action your battalion can be officially credited as having:
  1. Destroyed with AP and WP two medium enemy tanks, proven by line of hits and ricochet marks in the snow direct from your positions.
  2. 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.
  3. Killed with HE and MG fire two enemy tank crew members who left the tanks.
  4. Captured fourteen assorted enemy infantry and tank crew members.


Dec. 26 Hemroulle, Belgium

Siege 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


Sgt. Joseph F. Rogan  awarded Silver Star for gallantry in action Dec. 25-26.


Joseph Rogan:

The Germans 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.

William Everhart:

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.

Gordon Bernhardt:

Supplies 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 day.

Tom White:

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. In 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.

Claude Smith:

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.

Douglas Bailey:

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.
When 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.
We 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 near Bournemouth.
They 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.
I 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.


Dec. 27 Hemroulle


Pfc. Raymond J. Connolly, A Btry, KIA


Vic Tofany:

General Taylor 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.

Gordon Bernhardt:

Our armored 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.

Donald Martin

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.

Just 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 pretty heavy.

NOW 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.

Dec. 28 Hemroulle


1st Lt. Scott W. Ross, Hq Btry, WIA


Gordon Bernhardt

Coldest night 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.

Dec. 29 Hemroulle, Belgium

One gun knocked out by enemy aircraft.



Pvt. Fisbie M. Addler (Adler), Hq Btry, KIA


Gordon Bernhardt:

Bombing here last night, right below us, really shakes the area.  Heated water, took a bath, really feels good, washed some dirty clothes.

Dec. 30 Hemroulle


Pvt. John H. Batzer WIA


Gordon Bernhardt

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.

Dec. 31 Hemroulle

Monthly Report - Fired over 360 degrees sector 7,676 rounds on: Personnel - 68; OPs - 5; Gun positions & Machine guns - 9; Mortars - 23; Tanks - 45; Half-tracks - 8.



Pvt. Louis Gonsalves WIA


Gordon Bernhardt

Snowed all 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.

  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 19 160
A 5 87
B 3 83
C 3 91
D 5 92
Met Det 2 14
TOTAL 37 527


Jan. 1, 1945  


T/5 Cyril J. Whisman KIA Btry C


Jan. 4, 1945  


2nd Lt. John W. Frye WIA - LWA Btry C

Pvt. Merle A. Smith WIA -LWA Btry C


Jan. 5, 1945  


Pvt. August F. Hazzard WIA -LWA Btry B

Jan. 13, 1945  


Cpl. Paul E. Rhodes, MIA Btry D


Ken Hesler:

Strangely enough, 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.


Jan. 14, 1945  


T/4 Thomas J. Bradley, Btry C WIA - LWA Btry C

2nd Lt. George K. Hope WIA - LWA Btry D

Pvt. Harvey J. Lozier WIA - LWA Btry D


Jan. 15, 1945 11/2 KM SW Foy, Belgium

Arrived at 1200 hour.



Cpl. Robert H. Alfred WIA - LWA Btry D


Jan. 16, 1945 Recogne, Belgium


Lt. 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 HQ Btry

2nd Lt. Jack S. Terry KIA HQ Btry


Jan. 17, 1945 Laneuville & Wideumont, Belgium

463rd 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.



John Cooper (tape):

Battalion 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):

Once they 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 various battalions.

Cooper/Hazzard (tapes):

Booger 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.

John Cooper:

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):

Smith 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)

At Mourmelon, 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.

Vic Tofany:

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.

John Cooper (interview):

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."

Tony Spagnol

"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."

Ken Hesler:

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 completely concur.
At 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.
To 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.
While 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.
At 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.
After 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.

Hargus Haywood

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.

Ken Hesler:

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 covering

  • 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 the cold

  • 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

Fred Shelton:

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 into battle.
Now 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 Sibret, Belgium
Arrived at 2PM
Jan. 20, 1945  Truck Drulingen, Lorraine

Arrived at 11PM



   Truck     Neufchateau, Belgium

   Truck     Tintigny, Belgium

   Truck     Belle Fontaine, Belgium*

   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 Lixheim, France
Arrived 2200 hours.
Jan. 24, 1945  Truck Sarrebourg, France

   Truck     Saverne, France

Jan. 24, 1945  Truck Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, France

"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  Keffendorf, France
Arrived 1800 hour.  Fired in direct support of 327th.
Jan. 31, 1945 Keffendorf, France

Monthly Report - Fired 14,072 rounds on: Personnel - 100; Strongpoint - 3; Tanks - 44; Mortars - 12; GPs -7; OPs - 2; Halftracks - 6; MG's - 8; SPs - 2.

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."

  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 18 159
A 4 88
B 3 82
C 4 88
D 3 87
Met Det 2 13
TOTAL 33 517


Feb. 1, 1945  

Assisted in support of attack by 79th Division.

Feb. 7, 1945  


Sgt. Clifford Wolfenbarger WIA

Tec 4 Russell Hughes WIA

Pvt. Edward E. Helm WIA

Feb. 12, 1945  Truck Wintershouse, France
Arrived 2000 hours.  Helped repell enemy attack.


Feb. 18, 1945  
Helped repell enemy attack.


Feb. 20, 1945  

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 encirclement 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.

You, 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.



The original letter.
Courtesy Ms. Whittaker


Monthly Report
Fired 7,029 rounds on: Personnel - 136; GPs - 9; Mortars - 45; MG's - 42; Vehicles - 16; Armor - 16; Ammunition dumps - 1; OPs - 1.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 17 160
A 4 85
B 4 84
C 4 91
D 4 88
Met Det 2 13
TOTAL 35 521


Feb. 28, 1945 Wintershouse, France


   Truck     Toul, France

   Truck     Ligny (-en-Barrois), France

   Truck     Châlons, France

March 1, 1945     Truck Mourmelon, France
101st Division presented the Distinguished Unit Citation on March 15.
April 2, 1945   Truck Souais, France


   Truck     Masagren (Mazagran), France

   Truck     Vouziers, France

   Truck     Sedan, France

   Truck     Bouillon, Belgium

   Truck     Marche, Belgium

   Truck     Liege, Belgium

   Truck     Aachen, Germany

   Truck     Linniel (Linnich), Germany*

   Truck     Erkelenz, Germany

April 3, 1945 Buschhausen, Germany (Rose Pocket)
Battle from April 3 to April 17
April 3, 1945   Truck Neuss, Germany
Arrived 1600 hours
April 15, 1945 Neuss, Germany


Pfc. Frank A. Giglio WIA

April 17, 1945 Neuss, Germany
Monthly Report

Fired 4,943 rounds on: Personnel - 107; Armor - 2; Registration - 50; Machine Gun - 26; Counterbattery - 2; Self Propelled - 3; Vehicles - 10; Misc. - 26.


  Officers Enlisted
Hq & Hq Btry 18 96
A 4 116
B 4 114
C 5 117
D 4 66
Met Det 1 13
TOTAL 36 522


   Truck     Cologne, Germany

   Truck     Bonn, Germany

   Truck     (Bad) Godesberg, Germany

   Truck     Limberg (Limburg), Germany

   Truck     Wiesbaden, Germany

   Truck     Darmstadt, Germany

   Truck     Dieberg, Germany

   Truck     Walldürn, Germany

   Truck     Dörzbach, Germany

   Truck     Hall, Germany

   Truck     Gmund, Germany

   Truck     Goppingen, Germany

   Truck     Geislingen, Germany

   Truck     Ulm, Germany

April 28, 1945 Truck Memmingen, Germany
May 1, 1945 Schillingstadt, Germany
May 1, 1945 Schwabsoien, Germany
Arrived 2300 hours.
May 2, 1945 Starnberg, Germany
Arrived at 1900 hours.
May 4, 1945 Thalham, Germany
Arrived at 2000 hours.
Truck Landsberg, Germany
Liberated Dachau Prison Camp.


   Truck     Weilheim, Germany

   Truck     Bad Tölz, Germany

   Truck     Miesbach, Germany

May 11, 1945  Truck Bad Reichenhall, Germany
Set 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

June 6, 1945 
Lt. Col. John Cooper and 50 enlisted men transferred to 16th Reinforcement Depot.
All men had over 105 points.  Maj. Stuart Seaton assumed command. 
June 13, 1945
6 enlisted men with over 105 points transferred to Reception Station in States.
June 25, 1945
279 enlisted men and 7 officers transferred to 501st Parachute Infantry for redeployment to US.
June 27, 1945
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
199 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. Haggenau was colder than a witches' tit. (Cerone tape)
  6. 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)
  7. "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 rabbit holes.
  8. "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 Bad Reichenhall
Lt. Col. Kenneth L. Booth and 4 other officers, formerly of the 466th PFAB of 17th Airborne joined battalion.  Booth assumed command.
July 3, 1945  
5 officers and 232 enlisted men from 17th Airborne transferred to 463rd.  5 officers from 463rd transferred to 17th Airborne.
July 8, 1945 Saalfelden, Austria
Relieved in Bad Reichenhall by 431st AAA Battalion. 
Relieved the 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of security responsibilities in Saalfelden. 
July 21, 1945  
Advance detail of 6 officers & 11 enlisted men left Saalfelden for France.
July 23, 1945  

Advance detail arrived at Joigny, France, taking over installations of 460th PFAB which had been part of 13th Airborne.

460th PFAB in Southern France


July 25, 1945  
28 enlisted men sent to 16th Replacement Depot for redeployment.
July 28, 1945  
Battalion relieved of all security missions by elements of 42nd Division.
July 30, 1945  
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 Joigny, France
Battalion trained throughout early August for transfer to Pacific.
Aug. 19, 1945  
103 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.
Sept. 1, 1945  
CWO Martin Johnson killed in jeep accident near Sens, France.  Buried with military honors near Châlons, France.
Sept. 2, 1945  
9 officers transferred from battalion to 19th Reinforcement Depot for redeployment.
Oct. 9, 1945  
3 officers & 21 enlisted men transferred to 2nd Replacement Depot for redeployment & discharge.
Oct. 10, 1945  
10 officers & 73 enlisted men transferred to 75th Infantry Division for discharge in US.
Oct. 20, 1945  
1 officer, 1 warrant officer, 49 enlisted men left for 2nd Replacement Depot for redeployment & discharge.
Nov. 30, 1945    Boat USA

463rd inactivated in November 30, 1945.


That 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.


Jay Karp

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 506th.
Tony 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.
"I 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 continuous combat.
"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 civilian."



John Cooper & Fred Shelton
One of 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 WWII.

At a 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 shoot."

Col 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 war.
  • TOTAL ROUNDS FIRED - 189,837.  If add 30,000 rounds for Sicily and Casino fronts, no records found, total rounds fired is 219,837.

Tom Sherburne:

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 Hospital development.


Additional KIA     1st Lt. John B. Higdon





By Marty Graham.
Based in large part on a collection of archival documents and other materials,
acquired and provided by Ken Hesler, Battery D, 463rd PFA.




Sep 24, 1942   Fort Bragg,
North Carolina
456th PFA activated April 28, 1943
    Staten Island

Left USA as part of 505th Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team on the Matson liner S.S. Monterey. Trip took 12 days.

May 10, 1943 Boat Casablanca, Morocco  
May 12, 1943 Rail Road Fez, Morocco  
May 12, 1943 Rail Road Oujda, Morocco

Most of 456th PFA made their first night jump.

June 24, 1943 Air Kairouan, Tunisia

Climbed into planes about 2200 hrs July 9 for jump into Sicily.

July 9, 1943 Air Gela, Sicily

Parachuted miles from target due to faulty navigation, high winds, and impaired visibility.

July 10, 1943 March Manna Di Ragusa, Sicily  
July 10, 1943 Truck Ragusa, Sicily  
July 10, 1943 Truck Vittoria, Sicily

Participated in the Battle of Biazza Ridge on July 10/11. Witnessed the tragic "friendly fire" jump of the 504th.

July 1943 Truck Comiso, Sicily  
July 1943 Truck Santa Margherita,
July 1943 Truck/March Agrigento, Sicily  
July 1943 Truck/March Castelvetrano, Sicily  
July 24, 1943 March/Truck Trapani, Sicily  
August 3rd    

Colonel 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.

August 1943 Truck Castelvetrano, Sicily  
August 19, 1943 Air Kairouan, Tunisia

All 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.

  Rail Road Sousse, Tunisia Batteries C & D
  Rail Road Tunis, Tunisia Batteries C & D
  Truck Matfur, Tunisia Batteries C & D
  Truck Bizerte, Tunisia Batteries C & D
August 1943 Air Comiso, Sicily Batteries A & B
  Rail Road Modica, Sicily Batteries A & B
  Rail Road Noto, Sicily Batteries A & B
  Rail Road Siracusa, Sicily Batteries A & B
  Rail Road Augusta, Sicily Batteries A & B
  Boat Algiers, Algeria

Batteries A & B were on the British run French ship The Vila De Oran.

October 1943 Rail Road Bizerte, Tunisia Batteries reunited.
December 1943 Boat Augusta/Syracuse, Sicily Liberty ship Anson Jones.
December 1943 Boat Naples, Italy  
December 1943 March Bagnoli, Italy  
December 1943 Truck Caserta, Italy  
December 1943 Truck Santa Maria, Italy

Joined the First Special Service Force.

December 2l, 1943 Truck Venafro, Italy

Joined in assault on Hill 720 (Western spur of Mt. Sammucro) on Christmas Day.

December 1443 Truck San Pietro, Italy  
December 1943 Truck San Vittore, Italy  
January 1944 Truck Cassino, Italy  
January 1944 Truck Santa Maria, Italy  
January 1944 Truck Pozzuoli, Italy Left for Anzio on January 31, 1944.
Feb. 1, 1944 Boat Anzio, Italy

Batteries 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 Borgo Bainsizza.

  Truck Vittoria, Italy  
May 23, 1944 Truck Cisterna, Italy  
May 26, 1944 Truck Cori, Italy  
May 27, 1944   Artena, Italy

Fighting 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.

June 2, 1944 Truck Valmontone, Italy  
  Truck Collefero, Italy  
June 4, 1944 Truck Rome, Italy

463rd PFA and First Special Service Force spearheaded attack on Rome.

June 6, 1944 Truck Albano. Italy Sent for re-equipping and re-training.
July 15, 1944 Truck Lido Di Roma, Italy

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.

  Truck Civitavecchia, Italy  
  Truck Tarquininia, Italy  
August 11, 1944 Truck Grosseto, Italy

Major 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.

August 11, 1944 Truck Florence, Italy

Major 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.

August 15, 1944 Air Saint Tropez, France

Serial 5 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.

August 15, 1944 Air Le Muy, France

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.

August 17, 1944 Truck Le Muy, France 463rd PFA reunites.
August 1944 Truck Antibes, France  
August 1944 Truck Grasse, France  
August 1944 Truck Castellane, France  
August 1944 Truck Ferris, France  
August 30, 1944 Truck Barcelonnette, France

463rd 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"

  Truck Jausiers, France  
  Truck Barcelonnette, France

Relieved by French Moroccan Goum unit from North Africa.

October 22, 1944 Truck Grasse, France

463rd rejoined the First Special Services Forces.

  Truck Antibes, France  
  Truck Nice, France  
  Truck Monte Carlo, France  
  Truck Menton, France  
    St. Agnes, France  
  Truck Nice, France

463rd relieved by the 602nd Field Artillery Battalion.

Nov. 18, 1944 Truck Gattiers, France  
  Truck Antibes, France  
  Rail Road Toulon, France  
  Rail Road Marseilles, France  
  Rail Road Avignon, France  
  Rail Road Valenca (Valence),
  Rail Road Lyon, France  
  Rail Road Macon, France  
  Rail Road Dijon, France  
  Rail Road Chaumont, France  
  Rail Road Saint Dizier, France  
  Rail Road Châlons, France  
Dec. 12, 1944 Rail Road Reims, France  
Dec. 12. 1944 Rail Road Mourmelon, France

Temporarily attached to the 101st Airborne Division for administration and rations.
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.

Dec. 18, 1944 Truck Suippes, France  
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck Mazagran, France  
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck Vouziers, France  
Dec. 18, 1944 Truck Sedan, France  
Dec. 18/19, 1944 Truck Bouillon, Belgium  
Dec. 18/19, 1944 Truck Marche, Belgium  
Dec. 19, 1944 Truck Bastogne, Belgium

463rd 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.

December 21   Hemroulle, Belgium

2 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.

December 23   Hemroulle, Belgium

Aerial 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.

December 25   Hemroulle, Belgium

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. 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.

December 26   Hemroulle, Belgium

Siege was broken by 4th Armored Division. December 29

    Hemroulle, Belgium

One gun knocked out by enemy aircraft.

January 17, 1945   Sibret, Belgium 463rd relieved.
January 1945 Truck Neufchateau, Belgium  
  Truck Tintigny, Belgium  
  Truck Belle Fontaine, Belgium  
  Truck Virton, Belgium  
  Truck Longuyon, France  
  Truck Spincourt, France  
  Truck Etain, France  
  Truck Fresnes, France  
  Truck Vigneulles, France  
  Truck Gironville, France  
  Truck Jovy, France  
  Truck Conneville, France  
  Truck Gondreville, France  
  Truck Nancy, France  
  Truck Laneuvelotte, France  
  Truck Lesley, France  
  Truck Bourdonnay, France  
  Truck Heming, France  
January 24, 1945 Truck Sarrebourg, France  
  Truck Saverne, France  
January 27, 1945 Truck Keffendorf, France  
January 31, 1945 Truck Haguenau, France

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."

February 27, 1945   Truck/Train Nancy, France 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, trucks, etc."
  Truck/Train Toul, France
  Truck/Train Ligny, France
  Truck/Train Châlons, France

'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.

March 1, 1945 Truck Mourmelon, France

101st Division presented the Distinguished Unit Citation on March 15.

April 2, 1945 Truck Souais, France  
  Truck Masagren (Mazagran),
  Truck Vouziers, France  
  Truck Sedan, France  
  Truck Bouillon, Belgium  
  Truck Marche, Belgium  
  Truck Liege, Belgium  
  Truck Aachen, Germany  
  Truck Linniel (Linnich),
  Truck Erkelenz, Germany  
April 3, 1945   Buschhausen, Germany  
  Truck Neuss, Germany  
  Truck Cologne, Germany  
  Truck Bonn, Germany  
  Truck Godesberg, Germany  
  Truck Limberg (Limburg), Germany  
  Truck Wiesbaden, Germany  
  Truck Darmstadt, Germany  
  Truck Dieberg, Germany  
  Truck Walldum, Germany  
  Truck Dörzbach, Germany  
  Truck Hall, Germany  
  Truck Gmund, Germany  
  Truck Goppingen, Germany  
  Truck Geislingen, Germany  
  Truck Ulm, Germany  
April 28, 1945 Truck Memmingen, Germany  
May 1945 Truck Landsberg, Germany Liberated Dachau Prison Camp.
  Truck Weilheim, Germany  
  Truck Bad Tölz, Germany  
  Truck Miesbach, Germany  
  Truck Bad Reichenhall,
June 1945   Bayer, Germany  
June 1945   Saalfelden, Austria  
  Rail Road Marseilles, France

The destination of 463rd members who had enough points to return to the states.

August 1, 1945 Train Joigny, France  
  Boat USA

463rd inactivated in November 30, 1945.