The 463rd came into being on the Anzio beachhead, and its creation calls for an explanation.
In the early part of 1944, Ridgeway's 82nd Airborne Division was in England preparing for the Normandy invasion. At that time, the 82nd had two glider artillery battalions but no parachute artillery. However, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division was still in Italy and had the 376th and the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalions. Ridgeway managed to have C and D Batteries of the 456th (together with the battalion's numerical designation) transferred to England with the 504th. The remainder of the 456th, consisting of its Headquarters along with A and B Batteries, were designated the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. In order to retain its original fire power, additional guns were obtained from the 45th Infantry Division to replace the ones taken by C and D Batteries. These were incorporated into A and B Batteries.
The 463rd was formally created at 1201 hours en 20 February 1944 at a location near the Mussolini Canal and about one half mile southeast of the small town of Borgo Bainsizza. Like the 456th, the 463rd was assigned to the Fifth Army and attached to the VI Corps. Major (later Colonel) Hugh A. Neal, who became Battalion Commander of the 456th about five days after the jump on Sicily, continued as commander of the 463rd.
The Anzio beachhead lasted four months to the day, and during this time it was essentially a defensive pocket on flat ground overlooked by two enemy held mountain masses. All parts of the beachhead were periodically subjected to enemy fire, and survival required burrowing into the ground for protection. The planning for the breakout from the Anzio beachhead called for the VI Corps told rive generally northward through the Velletri gap onto the Valmontone plain where it would cut Highway 6 to Rome. The mission of the Force and its supporting elements was to sweep the corps right flank adjacent to the 3rd Division by capturing Mt. Arrestino and then cutting across the Lepini heights to Artena.
January 27, 1944
FROM: by order of the Secretary of War, signed /s/ R.S. Kessinger
TO: Commanding General, North African Theater of Operations
SUBJECT: Transfer, Constitution and Activation of Parachute Field Artillery Battalions
At the earliest practicable date which you may select, transfer the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (less Batteries C and D) without personnel and equipment, from the North African Theater of Operations to the European Theater of Operations and inform the Commanding General, European Theater of Operations when the unit becomes available to him.
The 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion is constituted, assigned to the North African Theater of Operations, and will be activated less Batteries C and D, at a station you select, concurrently with the transfer directed in paragraph 1, above.
This unit will be organized as a 75mm pack howitzer battalion (less Batteries C & D), in accordance with T/0 6-215, 5 September 1942, and related tables, with an authorized strength of twenty-seven (27) officers, two (2) warrant officers and three hundred fifty-six (356) enlisted men.
The personnel and equipment of the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion retained in the North African Theater of Operations, will bee used in the activation of the new unit.
Equipment a. The new unit is in priority A-l-b-3 for controlled equipment, which will be issued in accordance with letter, Office of The Adjutant General, AG 400 (10 Dec 43) OB-S-GC-M, 17 December 1943, subject: "Distribution of Controlled Items of Equipment".
b. The following tables of equipment dated 1 September 1943, govern the issue of organizational equipment:
Hq & Hq & Serv. Btry, T/E 6-216
Howitzer Btry, T/E 6-217
Medical Detachment, T/E 6-200-M
c. Table of Equipment 21, 10 March 1943, with Changes 1, 2 and 3 governs the issue of clothing and individual equipment not provided for in other tables.
Direct correspondence is authorized.
Reports. a. The date when the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion is transferred to the European Theater of Operations and the 463d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (less Batteries C and D) is activated, will be reported to The Adjutant General without delay.
b. The provisions of paragraphs 11, 12, and. 18, AR 345-800, 1 July 1942, as amended by Changes 2, 3 and 4, will be complied with where applicable.
Obligate the appropriate allotments published in Section VI, Circular No. 129, WD, 1 June 1943, to the extent necessary.
February 11, 1944
FROM: by command of Lt Gen DEVERS, signed A.B. KING, Major, AGD
TO: Commanding General, Fifth Army, APO 464.
Effective 0001 A hours, 20 February 1944, the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (less Batteries C and D) is transferred, without personnel and equipment, from the North African Theater of Operations to the European Theater of Operations.
Concurrently with the above transfer, it is desired that you activate the 463d Parachute Field Artillery battalion. Personnel now assigned to the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (less Batteries C and D) will be utilized, to the fullest extent desirable, in the activation of the 463d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion.
Section III, Circular No. 193, this headquarters, 1943, applies.
a. Activation of this unit is authorized by the War Department.
b. Personnel will be assigned as authorized.
c. Promotions are authorized by this action.
d. Strength of this unit is not chargeable to the overhead allotment of this theater.
Additional personnel required for the activation of this unit will be furnished from sources available to you.
Additional equipment, if required, will be furnished on requisition in the usual manner.
Notification of date and place of activation will be reported to this headquarters without delay. The report will include the specific T/0 & E with dates, under which activation was accomplished. Five (5) copies of the accomplishing orders will be forwarded this headquarters and ten (10) copies forwarded direct to the Commanding General, SOS, NATOUSA.
a. Effective upon activation, the 463d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion is assigned to Fifth Army ands will be serviced by a Machine Records Unit as determined by the Commanding General, Fifth Army.
b. The 463d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion will prepare and forward an initial roster in accordance with AR 345-900.
c. The appropriate data (see paragraph 18, AR 345-800) will be entered in the unit morning report in accordance with Section III, AR 345-¬400, as modified by letter this headquarters, file AG 330.33/100 -8 S, dated 29 July 1943, subject: "Adoption of New Morning Report".