Africa and Italy
I crossed the Atlantic in the Matson liner, S.S. Monterey in
March or April (10 days), with the USS Texas with us for
protection. We went to North Africa.
I was a buck sergeant in the Test Battery when it moved into
the 456th PFAB. After we went from Africa to Italy, we were
assigned to the First Special Service Force as its artillery in
Italy. General Clark was stuck. The First Special Service Force
went up the rear of the mountain and got in close with the Pack
When daylight came, we direct fired on the German site,
making a two-mile hole in the German line. Clark & Ridgway
(England) both wanted 456th support, so the battalion was split,
half to England and half to stay with Clark in Italy -- C & D
and half of HQ went to England. All the equipment was supposed
Under direct orders, A & B acquired C battery’s equipment,
including their guns. A & B had 6 guns each. I remember firing
thousands of rounds in 24-hours over a three-day period with no
A side note: The guns got hot and when the barrel got red,
you needed to change it. If it got white, the whole thing blew
Our group was the first troops into Rome. After Rome,
Batteries C & D were re-constituted.
The operation Anvil-Dragoon in Southern France
in August 1944
We made a night jump into Le Muy, Southern France. "A"
battery hit the drop zone with half of HQ. The jump was very
high because of the mountains. A lot of the battalion ended up
We took the town of Le Muy, removing a road block and
allowing the 1st Division, an Oklahoma National Guard unit, to
Later, at Mourmelon, Sgt Hambright (known as “Hambone”)
hooked up the radio. The 99th is one-half wiped out and the
division on the right is half wiped out. "A" battery had been at
Mourmelon only six days. We loaded up the trucks (not enough
trucks to load all the ammo. We always got lots of ammo.)
We made our way to a supply run and took the trucks from the
supply division. Then, we took these to the ammo dump and loaded
them to the hilt.
We joined the 101st late. When we got to Bastogne, we learned
the 101st only had some 100 rounds each.
I remember we never saw any civilians. We did notice white
sheets hanging out the windows of apartments as we drove by.
We took positions at Hemroulle. Two days before the attack, I
had been out all night going gun pit to gun pit checking on the
men, “Keep your feet warm, lose the feet lose the man.” I
remember getting to the end of the line at the fifth gun (we
lost one gun coming off the mountain in a truck accident). I was
out at the far end past the last guns on the north side of road.
About 3 a.m., I took a nap at a pile of rocks in the snow.
When I woke up, I saw a tall man in a black leather coat to his
ankles coming up the road from the “B” battery area. I think it
was a German officer looking over the road. I got up behind him
and followed him. Several men took aim, but I waved them down,
wanting the officer to bring in their tanks so the guns could
finish them. (I never really knew who this was.)
I remember seeing the 463rd Battalion CP and the church
across the road used as an Aid Station on Christmas Day, but did
not go in.
Side note: The aid station was hit on the 24th it re-wounded the
German soldiers but not the Americans.
The CP for A battery was a house on the east edge of town on
the north side of the road. The guns were emplaced in staggered
positions on the north side of the highway spread over a ¼ mile,
dug in and camouflaged. On the 25th (or day before) they moved
two gun to fire at the tanks. (Corporal Gooch ran the first gun)
We did not sleep in a personal tent in Bastogne, no tents for
anyone in a battery. Their CP was this farm house with a small
stall for animals in the back. The men on the line tried to get
into the barn when they could to warm up.
When the battle for Bastogne was over, there was a pass if
you wanted it. We came out on trucks, so we could go to Paris or
other towns in France. I did not want to go. I went on with my
equipment at the rest camp to clean up the equipment.
End of the War
When the war ended in Europe in early May 1945, there was not
much talk of going to the Pacific. The battalion could go to
Berlin or you needed 82 points to go home. I had 132. I have
memories of a psychologist calling me in and testing me by
making a bang behind my back.
I jumped up and dropped him. The psychologist put me straight
away on a flight to England for a week of rest. When I got back,
my men had moved on. I was made Sergeant Major of the 502nd.
From there, I went to Camp Lucky Strike where I learned of the
bombs dropped on Japan.
Looking back: What or which scene grabbed me the most ...? I
think about Sicily where I learned so much. There was so much
death. If you kill the infantry, the tanks will stop. If the
tanks stop, you can kill them too.
If I could do it all over ... what would I change? I would
say: "Never do it again!"
I met some members of the 463rd at reunions after the war, in
the 1990s. My wife and I went to several reunions.
Mr. Stolmeier, thank you very much for this