The 158th Field Artillery Battalion served in combat in WW II and when it was inducted into federal service on 16 September 1940, it was under the command of Colonel Grover C. Wamsley.
Home stations of the regiment on the date of induction were as follows: Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Clinton, Oklahoma. Service Battery (Less Band) at Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Band at Perry, Oklahoma. Medical Detachment at Yale, Oklahoma. First Battalion Headquarters Battery and Combat Train at Clinton, Oklahoma. Battery “A” at Woodward, Oklahoma, Battery “B” at Anadarko, Oklahoma, and Battery “C” at Perry, Oklahoma. Second Battalion Headquarters Battery and Combat Train at Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Battery “D” at Weatherford, Oklahoma, Battery “E” at Mesa, Arizona, and Battery “F” at Duncan, Oklahoma. The firing batteries of the battalion were armed with 75-mm howitzers. Battery “A”, which had been located for many years at Roswell, New Mexico, was transferred to Woodward, Oklahoma, a short time before induction. Following a brief stay at their home stations after induction, the division assembled at Fort Sill, OK., and began its training with all units being brought up to authorized personnel and equipment strength.
In early 1941, the 45th Infantry Division moved from Fort Sill, OK, to Camp Barkeley, near Abilene, Texas. The camp was in its final stage of construction and consisted of frame buildings for mess halls, headquarters and warehouse buildings. The troops were housed in pyramidal tents placed on concrete pads.
On 11 February 1942 the division was reorganized and changed from a square division to a new type infantry division that was triangular in concept. A square division was a designation given to the way military divisions were once organized, in this case the 45th Infantry Divisions’ main fighting force was composed of four regimental elements; the 157th, 158th, 179th and 180th Infantry Regiments. Because two regiments were bound together to form a brigade, the 157th and 158th Infantry Regiments formed the 89th Infantry Brigade and the 179th and 180th Infantry Regiments formed the 90th Infantry Brigade. On an organizational chart and if the entire division were formed up in the field, the two brigades of two regiments would typically form a square, hence the name. The square division also had an artillery brigade of three artillery regiments. The 45th Infantry Division had the 70th Field Artillery Brigade which consisted of the 158th, 160th, and the 189th Field Artillery Regiments. A triangular division has its main fighting force organized into three regiments which were more smaller and versatile. The 45th Infantry Division maneuver forces were now based around the 157th, 179th, and 180th Infantry Regiments. There was no longer an artillery brigade but rather a “DivArty” or Division Artillery consisting of four artillery battalions and now assigned to the division were the 158th, 160th, 171st, and 189th Field Artillery Battalions. After the reorganization LTC Russell Dwight Funk was appointed as the Battalion Commander where he commanded throughout World war II, from 11 February to 1 June 1945.
As a result of this change in organization, the First Battalion, Medical Detachment and Band of the 158th Field Artillery Regiment, became the 158th Field Artillery Battalion in the Division Artillery of the reorganized 45th Infantry Division. The 158th Field Artillery armament had been changed to 105-mm towed howitzers by this time. The Second Battalion, 158th Field Artillery Regiment, was separated from the 45th Infantry Division and became the 207th Field Artillery Battalion. This separate battalion served in Panama, Canal Zone and later served in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), where in 1944 it was changed from a 105mm Howitzer Battalion to an 8-inch Howitzer, Tractor-Drawn Battalion. It was inactivated 16 November 1945 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
The 158th Field Artillery Battalion went through several change of stations, including moves to Fort Devens, Mass., in April 1942; then to Pine Camp, NY in November 1942; to Camp Pickett, VA in January 1943, and finally they moved with the rest of the 45th Infantry Division to Camp Patrick Henry, VA, for preparation to depart the United States for destination unknown. As a member of the 157th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), the battalion was trained to provide close support artillery fire for the infantry when and as needed through artillery forward observer teams located with the leading elements of the infantry.
The U.S. Navy ships were combat loaded at Hampton Roads, VA. The convoy of naval transports with the 45th Infantry Division on board departed the United States on June 8, 1943. The destination proved to be Oran, North Africa, where personnel went ashore for a brief period of time. Training exercises were conducted including the off loading of personnel and equipment from ships into landing craft in practice for the amphibious invasion, which was just a few days ahead. On 5 July 1943, the convoy departed Oran, North Africa as a part of the Seventh U.S. Army, under command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., with destination unknown, but all personnel were now reading “The Soldier’s Guide to Sicily.”
The division was under II Corps, commanded by Major General Omar N. Bradley. On board ship, live ammunition was issued and everyone knew this was for real and they could expect their own fire to be answered by enemy fire. The 157th RCT was assigned a landing sector near Scoglitti, on the southern shore of Sicily. Despite very rough weather and high seas, most of the landings were successful and the 157th RCT moved inland. By nightfall most of its initial objectives had been secured. During the days that followed, heavy fighting continued in a general movement of the division to the north toward the Palermo-Messina Highway on the north coast of Sicily. After reaching the Palermo-Messina north coastal road, the division advance to the east toward Messina. High above the coast road to Messina and east of the Tusa River is Hill 335. This hill mass actually consists of five peaks, each of which was manned by enemy infantry with emplaced artillery and mortars. The German high command had ordered this area held at all costs as it blocked the way to Messina. The enemy’s comprehensive observation of the road and coast together with textbook fields of fire mad the reduction of this hill mass an awesome task. The 157th Infantry Regiment supported by the 158th Field Artillery Battalion was given the objective of Hill 335. The action began on 26 July with the crossing of the Tusa River completed on the 28th. Our infantry suffered its heaviest casualties in combat up to that time during the 29th and 30th when it gained the objective in the face of a murderous defense. This fight came to be known throughout the division as “Bloody Ridge.” It was the toughest fight of the Sicilian Campaign for the soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division. On 31 July the 45th Infantry Division in its entirety was relieved by the 3rd Infantry Division and the 45th moved to rear areas for a well-deserved rest. During the rest of the Sicilian Campaign, the 45th assumed responsibility for defense of coastal road in its sector, with the exception of the 157th RCT. That organization was attached to II Corps for an amphibious operation behind enemy lines. On August 15th the 157th was combat loaded on to LST’s and LCI’s and moved during the night to the vicinity of Falcone. It landed but did not see any action except for a part of the 1st Battalion when it entered the outskirts of Messina with the 3rd Division. On 14 August 1943, the 157th RCT moved to assigned positions to make the final assault on Messina, Sicily. However, the battle for Sicily by then was over, as most of the German and Italian combat units had escaped across the Messina Straits to the Italian mainland.
The 158th Field Artillery Battalion, commanded by Lt Col Russell D. Funk, while stationed at Camp Pickett, Virginia, received orders attaching it to the 157th Regimental Combat Team as the normal supporting artillery and to prepare to move to a port of embarkation upon order.
The following attachments were made to expedite combat loading on transports in anticipation of an amphibious landing operation: “A” Btry to the 1st Bn 157th Infantry on the USS Carroll “B” Btry to the 2nd Bn 157th Inf on the USS Jefferson “C” Btry to the 3rd Bn 157th Inf on USS Biddle Hq & Service Batteries were loaded on the Regimental Ship USS Anthony. A small group of drivers with vehicles were loaded on the USS Procyon. Battalion Liaison Officers with sections were assigned to the 2nd and 3rd Bns. The Bn Cmdr, Bn S-2 and S-3 were with the Regtl Comd Group on the 1st Bn ship USS Carroll which was also the flag ship for the transdivision. The Bn Executive was Troop Cmdr of the Regtl ship, USS Anthony; directed the loading of the USS Anthony and USS Procyon and was responsible for the Battalion getting such a large number of vehicles loaded on transdivision ships. The above five ships made up the transdivision. Approximately 70% of the equipment was loaded on these ships. The balance was loaded on Liberty ships which followed the convoy several days later.
The following tables show the loads of each battery by ships:
The Regimental Combat Team was ordered to entrain on May 22 and 23; destination, Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia. It stayed there in a staging area for final inspections and complete equipping of all units. Each man in the battalion was encouraged to suscribe for the maximun amount of life insurance authorized. Final check disclosed that 95% of the personnel had at least $10,000 life insurance before embarking. On June 3 the entire division commenced a rail movement to Hampton Roads, New Port News, Virginia, and the RCT embarked on the previously named transports. Prior to leaving Camp Pickett, Virginia, all vehicles had been sent to the Morrison area for waterproofing. They were loaded on the transports a few days before the troops arrived for embarking. After sailing up the bay to the rendevous area, the RCT ships waited several days for the entire division to assemble. When the convoy was complete, it sailed forth on June 8, 1943. Since the maps of Sicily were not available to the troops during the three-week trip, training aboard ship was limited to rountine drills, physical exercises, orientation classes, and the care and cleaning of arms and equipment. The trip across the Atlantic was uneventful, with only an occasional submarine threat. The convoy arrived in the port of Oran, Algeria (North Africa) on June 23, 1943, where all personnel remained on board ship for two days. On June 25, a practice landing exercise (Camberwill) was staged, in which everyone went ashore in landing craft. Only a very small amount of equipment from each transport was taken at that time. After landing, personnel marched into bivouac area in the vicinity of St. Leu, Algeria.
They stay in North Africa on land lasted only five days, during which time a physical conditioning program was set up. Hikes and swims predominated. While the troops were on land, many key officers and men returned to the ships, and plans for the invasion of Sicily got under way. All troops were returned to the ships July 1. Maps were issued, tentative positions chosen, visibility vharts prepared, photos studied, 31 days’ prearranged codes mimeographed, road junctions and hills remembered, template origins assigned, and so forth. Everyone knew that the time for the “Pay Run” had arrived, when on July 5, the convoy sailed eastward on the Mediterranean along the coast of North Africa. After making zig-zag moves the ships headed due north toward the island of Siciliy, arriving in the transport area about midnight of July 9. Here the “works” began, with Navy destroyers and cruisers firing in an attempt to neutralize organized beach resistance. The personnell of the USS Carroll and USS Jefferson commenced disembarking from the assault ships into landing craft at 0030B, July 10. The sea was rough and unloading slow, which caused considerable delay in the actual landing of the assault waves. The first wave landed on the beach at about 0430B, near PUNTA BRACCETA, 6 miles southeast of SCOGLITTI. Boats coming in too close to the point Yellow Beach No. 2 struck rocks and several capsized. No deaths resulted, but several men were injured and evacuated to the ship. Very little resistance was encountered on any of the three beaches, Green 2, Yellow 2, and Blue 2. Forward Observers, other than Naval Gunfire Spotters and liaison sections, “A” and “B” Batteries, landed on beaches Yellow 2 and Green 2, respectively. At 0730B, Headquarters and Service Batteries commenced a shuttle landing on Yellow Beach No. 2. At the same time, on Green Beach 2, “C” Btry began to land. Heavy sands and no roads made it difficult to clear the beaches of vehicles. All howitzer batteries went into position on or near the beach. “A” Btry, in direct support of the 1st Bn, pushed inland and supported the attack on S. CROCE CAMERINA. Stiff resistance was met on the outskirts of town which revealed the enemy had prepared an all-around defense with pillboxes, wire and road blocks. Roads were constructed and artillery pieces from all batteries were moved into position. Naval gunfire conducted by Lt Gordon L. Kinley was instrumental in silencing a 75-mm coastal battery. Additional naval gunfire was called for and proved very effective on targets in the town. Pillboxes and blockades were pierced and enemy fire silenced as 105-mm howitzer and 37-mm antitank guns from the AT platoon blasted away at them. S. CROCE CAMERINA fell into allied hands when the 1st Bn, 157th Infantry marched into town before nightfall of D-day.
Next morning, with all units reorganized, the drive on COMISO Airport began. The 1st Bn 157th Infantry, with “A” Btry attached, marched on RAGUSA to gain contact with the Canadian First Division, they reached RAGUSA, but had to withdraw after the Canadians began shelling the town. Contact was made at 1600B with the Canadians. The 2nd Bn in reserve, “B” and “C” Batteries were moved well forward to support the attack, occupying positions about 2500 yds SE of COMISO. The Bn Command Post moved up to a position 2000 yds ESE of COMISO and 500 yds south of the COMISO-RAGUSA highway. Bn and btry observation posts were located on a high hill 500 yds west of the BN CP. These OPs furnished excellent observation on the town of COMISO and COMISO airport. At 1300B, July 11, our observers spotted some activity around the airport. Several targets of opportunity were taken under fire, including three of a 3-gun each 88-mm battery which had been firing very effectively on our infantry as they advanced toward the airport. Several fires were started which later proved to be stores of ammunition and gasoline. The 3rd Bn 157th Infantry moved into the airport at 1600B from the east, with the 3rd bn, 179th Infantry advancing from the south. Battery positions and OPs were strafed by enemy planes twice during the afternoon, and one flight came over about 2230B. That afternoon Division Artillery ordered “X” Btry, which was organized in North Africa, commanded by Lt Ira S. Hayes, with four 105mm self-propelled howitzers, immediately to VITTORIA by route of the VITTORIA-COMISO road. At that time “X” btry had not landed. An officer of the 753rd Tank bn reported the btry had been unloaded at Point “A” in North Africa and would probably land in Sicily on D plus 4 day. At 2300B “B” Btry reported that seven planes had dropped approximately 100 paratroopers near their position; that the Btry’s members had fired on the planes and parachutes. One paratrooper, upon landing, charged toward a battery patrol, was wounded and identified as an American from the 82nd Airborne Divisions. Patrols were then sent out by the btry calling to the paratroopers so that further incidents of this nature might be avoided. At approximately 2400B a message from the CP of the 157th Inf was received stating that friendly paratroopers would land at 2300B. The 2nd Bn moved by truck at about 2200B July 11 north to the high ground south of CHIARAMONTE together with forward observers and a liaison section. They met no opposition, and at 1036B July 12, occupied the town. During the morning of July 12, the 1st Bn moved west to the junction of the highway leading to CHIARAMONTE and “A” Btry was displaced four miles west of RAGUSA (606143). At 0920B July 12, the battalion area was strafed for ten minutes by German fighter planes. Reconnaissance was made during the afternoon for positions south of CHIARAMONTE, with the 3rd Bn moving during that time to the west outskirts of the town. At 2045B orders were issued for displacement, and at 2320B the Bn CP was established one mile SE of CHIARAMONTE (635251), with the batteries in position as follows: A”-638243, “B”-643235, “C”-645241 and all OP’s on the hill at 6428. At 0150B July 13, the 157th Infantry received orders to advance at 0600B with the 1st Bn moving toward MONTEROSSO and the 3rd Bn toward LICODIA, with the 2nd Bn in reserve at CHIARAMONTE. The forward observer with the 1st Bn asked for a 5-minute concentration on the hill south of MONTEROSSO. This concentration was cut to two minutes as the message was not received in time to lift the fire by 1115B with a 5-minute concentration. Three Italians came out of caves and dugouts and surrendered to the advancing infantry. White flags were seen flying in the town, and by 1710B MONTEROSSO was officially under Allied control. The infantry marched on to the north, advancing about three miles, when the enemy showered them with artillery fire from a direct-fire weapon. “A” Btry opened fire on the gun position and after a few volleys silenced the enemy guns. The infantry went into an assembly area, and “A” Btry displaced forward to a position south of MONTEROSSO (690311). At 2000B the Bn CP moved to the vicinity of the railroad station on the southeast edge of MONTEROSSO (691314). “B” and “C” batteries displaced at 1200B and 1400B respectively to positions (“B”-585334, “C”-579344) north of CHIARAMONTE to give support to the 3rd Bn as it advanced on LICODIA. Little resistance was encountered until patrols were sent into the town. Many snipers sent rifle and machine gun bullets whistling at them. A half-track anti-tank company was attacked by a flame thrower, which resulted in the death of several infantry men. The 3rd Bn moved into town at dusk and secured it for the night.
The morning of July 14 found the regiment on a 12,000 yard front with the Canadians marching on VIZZINI through MONTEROSSO. This forced the 1st Bn to cut sharply to the left across country to join the 3rd Bn northeast of LICODIA. All motors had to return and go by way of CHIARAMONTE to the vicinity of LICODIA to support the action of the regiment at 0830B. “A” Btry displaced to a position about 2 miles south of LICODIA (612387). During their displacement, Captain Breeding, LNO with the 1st Bn requested fire to neutralize an enemy 88-mm battery. Capt Miller received the message as he passed through CHIARAMONTE. Immediately he pulled to the side of the road and stopped in a position where he could maintain good communication. The Bn Executive, who passed on his way to reconnoiter for forward positions, suggested that Div Arty be contacted to request a fire mission from the 155-mm gun battery, “Long Toms”. This was done and Capt Miller acted as a relay station between Div Arty and the forward observers. The fire was very effective and silenced the enemy battery. At 1125B the Bn CP was established 3 miles S. of LICODIA (605387). As “A” Btry was pulled into position, a messenger met the Bn Exec with a message for him to report immediately to the Colonel on the north edge of LICODIA. The town was being pounded with artillery fire from an enemy battery. Upon arriving, the Bn Exec found the Colonel’s radio had ceased to operate and that he needed communications with the batteries in order to conduct fire on the enemy battery. The Bn Cmdr orders to establish communications with him and the batteries; then immediately advanced on foot to the top of a high hill which was also receiving artillery fire and there relayed commands by voice through five infantry men who were placed along the trail on the rear slope of the hill between the Bn Cmdr and the radio set to the batteries. His conduct of fire not only silenced the enemy battery, but neutralized several machine gun nests that had opened fire on him as he approached the top of the hill. “A” Btry was released to Lt Nelson, FO with the 1st Bn who kept it incessantly busy on targets of opportunity in support of the 1st Bn. “C” Btry displaced forward (591389) and joined in the last stages of the heated action north of LICODIA. By this time the 3rd Bn 157th Infantry had pushed to the outskirts of GRAMICHELE, but were soon ordered to withdraw and organize ground south of Highway 124, while the 1st Bn was ordered to make a coordinated attack with the Canadians on VIZZINI. Plans were made and artillery support fires prepared. During the withdrawal of the 3rd Bn, Lt Charles K. Fetzer Jr, FO and his party passed through the battalion thinking the 2nd Bn was relieving it. He soon encountered machine gun fire from very close range, several slugs hitting him in the hand. Their vehicle was brought to a stop and the party dispersed. Lt Fetzer hid in an old mule shed and after dark managed to get away and return to his battery. S/Sgt Robert Shipman, T/4 Bernard Griffith and PFC Arthur Fowler are still missing in action, presumably captured. The Germans surrounded the vehicle, removed the radio and left in a hurry. T/5 Athey pulled himself to his vehicle and drove it back to the CP of the 1st Bn, met Capt Breeding, related his story and was then taken to an aid station to have his wounds dressed. He died the following day. The Canadians were assigned the mission of taking GRAMICHELE and as they moved across our front, we were pinched out of this sector the following morning.
We remained in position and expected a two-day rest, but this presumption proved to be wrong as we received orders to move to MAZZARINO and to support the 1st Division, reinforcing their Div Arty fires. At 2330B July 15, “Close Station, March Order” was given and the battalion was on the road to MAZZARINO to occupy positions 2.5 miles SE of the town. (Bn CP at 171522, “A”-170524, “B”-168532 and “C” 165530). Arriving at 0700B July 16, liaison and communications were immediately established with the 1st Div Arty, batteries were registered, OPs established, but no fire missions were fired. The Liberty ships loaded with our vehicles and equipment arrived in port and were scheduled to be unloaded on the morning of July 15. The Bn Motor Officer, Lt Kelley, went to GELA with the drivers assigned to the vehicles on the Liberty ships and assisted in unloading and de-waterproofing the vehicles. These additional vehicles simplified transportation and supply as several of our vehicles had been abandoned. By 1800 July 16, the 157th Infantry had moved into rendezvous one mile northeast of RIESI. The Division had been assigned a sector between the 1st Div and the 3rd Div. The 157th Infantry, being the only regiment in the sector, led the attack toward PIETROPERZIA. At 20130B the Bn Exec with all Btry Cmdrs went on reconnaissance for new positions to support the attack on PIETROPERZIA by dawn July 16 and was in position and ready to fire by 0410B July 17 six miles south of PIETROPERZIA. (Bn CP at 119647, “A”-115545, “B”-110543, “C”-117552). No resistance was encountered, but a large bridge had been blown. The Bn Cmdr on reconnaissance found a by-pass and ordered “A” Btry to displace forward. First experience with mines was encountered as the lead gun started to pull off the road into position and hit a Teller mine with its right front wheel. Lt Rufus Wactor, Btry exec, riding on the fender, received the full charge of the mine. He was seriously injured and died an hour later. Two enlisted men in the truck were also injured, but not seriously. This made a total of one officer and one EM killed in action. The remaining batteries were ordered to displace to positions previously reconnoitered, but before they could get into position, the Bn Exec had selected positions one mile west of PIETROPERZIA, hence they continued to advance positions in front of the infantry, (BN CP at 112690, “A”-114685, “B”-110679, “C”-102686) and all OPs on a hill 2.5 km west of PIETROPERZIA. All batteries were registered on a common base point. Before daylight, July 18, “Funk’s Flying Artillery” was “on the go” again as the Bn Exec went forward with btry commanders and selected positions just west of CALTANISETTA. Very little resistance was encountered in this “prize” town, the largest in the interior. The Bn moved into position at 0800B. (Bn CP at 038751, “A”-046776, “B”-044331, “C”-044754).
Like many others, this position was short lived, and before all batteries were in position and ready to fire, “B” Btry was ordered to displace forward and the other batteries to follow on order. “B” and “C” Batteries moved into position before noon (“B”-058792, “C”-058798) and “A” Btry had just dropped trails in its new position north of the railroad when orders were received to move the entire battalion forward. Information had been received that the 1st Div had priority on the road, which necessitated moving on to S. CATERINA. On the outskirts of S. CATERINA the enemy opened up on our column with heavy artillery fire. All batteries immediately went into position and answered the singing enemy shells with 105’s. The infantry remained held up just north of the town and the artillery duel continued until after dark. Lt Kilcollins, FO with “C” Btry was granted permission to take his party and establish a forward OP. This party advanced well into the rear of enemy front lines, captured several prisoners, conducted fire on enemy OPs, a gun btry and a troop assembly area. They went by foot, carrying all their equipment, remained all day July 19 and returned early on the morning of July 20, narrowly escaping capture. Members of the party were awarded the Silver Star for this meritorious service. The morning of July 19 the artillery duel again got under way with heavy shelling on both sides. “A” Btry was forced to withdraw to a more defilade position. The infantry failed to move forward until afternoon and then only to the high ground north of S. CATERINA. Most of the enemy artillery fire had been silenced by that time. Known damage to the enemy from our artillery fire was at least 6 self-propelled 88-mm artillery pieces knocked out and several trucks and tanks set on fire. At 1600B the Div ordered the 180th Inf to relieve the 157th and the 158th to reinforce the fires of the 171st FA Bn until they were out of range. At 0640B July 21, the Bn, still reinforcing the fires of the 171st FA, displaced to new positions 2.5 miles west of VALLELUNGA (Bn CP at 801991, “A”- 815991, “B”-810992, “C”-808988). Natives reported enemy troops in that vicinity but little resistance was encountered. On July 22 at 1000B the 157th Infantry was ordered to relieve the 179th Inf that night. The 158th FA Bn moved forward and went into position in the vicinity of CALTOVUTURO with the Bn CP four miles NE of the town (Bn CP-872147, “A”-872152, “B”-870148, “C”-900128). At 2100B the 157th Infantry passed through the 179th Infantry and march on to CERDA. At 0510B July 23 all batteries were displacing forward and went into positions as follows: Bn CP, “A” and “C” Btries 3 miles south of CERDA and “B” Btry two miles north of CERDA. Heavy resistance was encountered between CERDA and the north coast. Artillery and machine gun fire, demolitions and mines greeted the infantry as they advanced on the CERDA railway station. Our artillery went into action and silenced the enemy fire. The 2nd Bn 157th Inf moved to the left to contact the 2nd Div near TERMINI. The 1st Bn cut to the right and up the coast with CAMPOFELICE their objective. By 1600 our artillery was in position three miles west of CAMPOFELICE ready to support the attack (Bn CP-832297, “A”-828294, “B”-852298, “C”-828289). The tank company was finally put into action and given the mission of driving the enemy out of CAMPOFELICE. Liaison with the tank commander and the artillery was established. Several artillery missions were fired upon enemy self-propelled weapons and two towed guns (149-mm) which were defending the town. The town surrendered about 1800B and the infantry pushed forward during the night. Before daylight July 24, “A” and “C” Batteries displaced to positions just east of CEFALU (“A”-040369, “C”-030369). At 0910B the Bn CP was established just south of CEFALU (019372) but was soon moved forward one mile east of CEFALU (050359). Heavy enemy artillery and machine gun fire and blown bridges between CEFALU and CASTELBUON held our infantry from advancing. Numerous artillery missions were fired on enemy installations including railroad artillery and ammunition dumps and trains. The 157th Infantry advanced to the high ground southwest of CASTELBUON and was relieved by the 180th Inf during the night. Another midnight move found the battalion on July 25 occupying positions in the vicinity of the CERDA railway station. (Bn CP at 813274, “A”-819268, “B”- 818278, “C”-828255). Here the battalion remained until the night of July 27 on coastal defense.
At 0800B July 28 all batteries were in position six miles west of SAN STEFANO (Bn CP-152351, “A”-220340, “B”-175345, “C”-204340) for action as the 157th Infantry relieved the 180th Infantry just west of COSTEL di TUSA. “A” Btry received heavy shelling during the morning and was forced to displace to an alternate position east of COSTEL di TUSA (228339). During the heavy shelling, a shell hit the battery ammunition dump, set fire to the canvas covering the ammunition, and several bags of powder. Lt Corwin V. Edwards, Btry Exec, with T/5 Clarence E. Shaul, Pfc Herbert Hendren and Pvt Francis F. Dillon ran from their foxholes and extinguished the fire. No doubt a great deal of government property was saved by this heroic act. The Germans were well dug in on the hill east of COSTEL di TUSA which commanded the observation of the country along the river and ridges to its west. MOTTA was located on the Southern end of the hill about three kilometers inland. During the afternoon the Germans counter-attacked, but were repulsed by artillery fire. Artillery positions were continually under fire from the enemy, well defiladed east of SAN STEFANO . Requests were sent for air observation, but the Cub was used for reconnaissance missions and conduct fire on enemy batteries. One plane crashed at sea shortly after taking off. Lt Charles J. Kessmeier and S/Sgt James C. DePury swam out 1,000 yards to rescue the pilot and observer who had cleared themselves of the plane. They used empty water cans on the suggestion of Pfc Frank B. Garratt for life preservers and were able to accomplish the rescue without any casualties. On July 29 additional artillery was moved up in general support. At 1600B the Bn CP moved into position 1/4 mi SE of COSTEL di TUSA (221340) and “B” Btry displaced forward 1/4 mi SE COSTEL di TUSA (223332). Counter-attacks and artillery duels continued throughout the day. Plans for a coordinated attack were made at 1600B by the artillery and infantry battalion commanders. This called for a 30-minute concentration of 3 Bn’s of artillery on a German strong point 800 yards wide and 400 yards deep near the crest of the ridge 500 yards north of MOTTA. This concentration was cut to a 15-minute preparation fired at 1815B. The infantry immediately advanced and secured MOTTA and the high ground north to the coast. Thus Bloody Ridge fell to the Allies. The infantry took up positions (defensive) and held for the night. By 0715B July 31, the 2nd Bn of the 157th Infantry had occupied SAN STEFANO. Here they organized their position and held while the 3rd Div relieved the 45th. The artillery remained in place, established liaison with the 3rd Div Arty and was ready to give artillery support until artillery Bns of the 3rd Div could be moved forward into positions. At 1815B Aug 1, complete relief had been accomplished and the battalion moved into bivouac area five miles east of TERMINI-IMMERESE. It remained in bivouac and rest area until Aug. 15th.
On Aug 13, plans were in the mill which ordered the 157th RCT to make another amphibious landing. After two days of planning and constant changing it was decided that the combat team would load out at two points. All personnel loaded on LCTs at TERMINI-IMMERESE and all vehicles at SAN STEFANO. All three firing batteries and a CP group was loaded on LCTs July 15. July 15 the convoy chugged out of port about 1200B headed east with a determined mission of landing troops behind the German lines on a beach 15 miles west of MESSINA. Again at 2400B the plan was changed as the 3rd Div had advanced too rapidly and all ships beached at 0200B July 16 on a beach behind the American lines. Batteries went into position north of the main highway west of Point MILAZZO (Bn CP-020501, “A”-020500, “B”-024502, “C”-016501). No missions were fired from these positions. At 0800B August 19, the battalion returned to a new bivouac area six miles west of Termini (661338). here it settled down for additional training and re-equipping in preparation for a larger operation. During the entire operation Service Battery was constantly on the alert. There was no time that elements of this battalion were in need of ammunition or supplies. Motor sections kept all vehicles in excellent operating condition as was brought out during Army and Div Ordnance inspections. The Bn S-4, Motor Officer and Service Battery are to be commended for the excellent performance of duty.
Leaving Sicily on 8 September 1943 aboard LST’s and LCI’s, the 157th RCT was enroute to Salerno, Italy, when news came on the radio that the Italian government had surrendered. However, the celebration was short-lived when it was realized that the Germany Army had not surrendered at this point. The division was now a part of the Fifth U.S. Army under the command of Lieutenant General Mark Clark. On September 1943, the first assault waves of the 36th Infantry Division, engaged in its first combat, landed on the beaches near Salerno, Italy, and encountered intense tank and artillery fire. The 157th Infantry Regiment, accompanied by the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, landed on D + 1 and passed through the 36th Infantry Division to extend the beachhead.
German resistance increased daily with all factors of terrain and observation favoring the enemy. Five days after the initial landing, ferocity of the German counterattacks increased to an extent that brought doubts about the beachhead being held. At this time, Major General Troy H. Middleton, Commanding General of the Division, sounded the cry that turned the tide.
“Put food and ammunition behind the 45th – we’re going to stay here.” The German back was broken in their attempt to destroy the beachhead. Accompanied by the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions, the 45th Infantry Division moved inland against the retreating enemy as the cold and rain of the Italian winter set in. Also the height of the mountains defended by the Germans increased.
September 1 and 2 found the 158th Field Artillery Battalion bivouacked in the vicinity of TRABIA, SICILY, resting, refurbishing arms and equipment and training. Old members of the Battalion and recently arrived replacements were given instructions in their specialist duties and physically hardened by foot marches and physical recreation, the latter principally swimming.
September 3 the Division Commander called a conference of Regimental and separate Battalion Commanders to acquaint them with plans for the invasion of Italy, as part of the VI Corps of the Fifth Army. Initial plans called for the attachment of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, among other units, to the 157th Infantry, as a Combat Team. Water transport consisting of four LSTs and twenty or twenty-one LCIs, less necessary LCIs to completely load the 179th RCT. The 157th RCT to load in anticipation of landing on the mainland on D-day. Detailed plans of the 157th RCT called for the transport of the bulk of this Battalion, Battalion Headquarters; Battery “A“ and Battery “C” to accompany the Regimental Headquarters, the 1st Battalion and the 3rd Battalion on the first lift. Battery “B“ with the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry and the remainder of this Battalion to load so as to land with the second lift, D + 5.
Batteries “A“ and “C“ submit detailed loading plans on September 4. Battery “B“ and Service Battery were alerted on September 5, to prepare them to load with first lift so as to land on D-day. Surplus baggage and personnel were to arrive on lift No.2.
On September 6, plans for loading and passenger lists , were completed by Battery Commanders and submitted to this Headquarters. These plans contemplated the transport of the Anti-Tank Platoon with Service Battery on the Second lift.
Plans for the loading of the Anti-Tank Platoon were changed to include it in the first lift, September 7. Vehicles included in the first lift of “A“ and “C” Batteries were serialized. It was decided that Major Huber, Battalion Executive Officer would accompany Lt Col Russell D. Funk, the Commanding Officer and Captain Cleverdon, S-2 with the Command group of the RCT on the 1st Battalion LST; Major Ford, S-3 would accompany Liaison Officer No. 1, Captain Hayes with the LCI of the 1st Battalion, and the Ass’t S-3, Captain Scheefers would accompany Liaison Officer No. 3, Captain Wright, with the LCI of the 3rd Battalion. Lieutenant Welby, special duty to Headquarters as assistant to the S-2 would go with the Command group. The Survey Officer, Lieutenant Robertson and his section was to cross with the remainder of Headquarters Battery, aboard the LCI of the 1st Battalion. Maps were received at the Headquarters Building of Division and there sorted and addressed to officers of the Battalion in care of the ship to which each was assigned, and left in the custody of the S-2 of the 120th Engineers, at the building, for delivery, prior to departure that night, to the proper ship; the S-2 was not permitted to deliver them to members of the Battalion prior to their boarding the ships.
At 1430 the 158th received information that: 3rd Battalion and Battery “C” would begin loading at 1500, followed by 1st Battalion with Battery “A” and the Command group, and the Regiment would receive one less LST. Plans were hastily revised and the loading plan was changed to omit the A-T Platoon, reduce the number vehicles of Headquarters Battery that were included in the first lift and take Battery “B”, reduced, with Headquarters Battery.
At 2000 the vehicles of the Regimental Command group were lined up for serialization. It was discovered at 2100 that the plan of Regiment provided for one less 2 1/2 ton truck for Headquarters Battery than was agreed upon at the conference between the Battalion Commander and Executive and the Commander and Staff members of the 157th Regiment at 1430. Arrangements were made for the redistribution of loads; then the Battalion Commander with the remainder of the Battalion Command group hurriedly drove for the docks at 2200, there to be greeted with the rumor that, win, lose or draw, the fleet would close ramps and weigh anchor at 2400. It was self-evident that the prescribed ammunition loads would not be aboard many of the craft prior to that hour, and this had to be accomplished before the materiel could be stowed away.
Amid the confusion gender by the blackout, rumors and the paucity of quay area the Battalion Commander and his staff and Battery Officers checked the arrival and disposition of materiel, troops and maps and found all craft of the RCT loaded according to the finally changed plans at 0350, 8 September 1943. The convoy set sail at 0420 from the harbor of TERMINI, SICILY.
The ship’s officers took pains to see that the officers and men of the Army were made as comfortable as the heat and cramped quarters of the ship would permit. This solicitous attitude was common throughout the fleet. The remainder of the 8th of September was uneventful until mid-afternoon. At 1517 German planes loosed six-100 lb bombs at the right flank of the convoy; damage was not apparent. Our convoy joined with another convoy at 1600. A German reconnaissance plane was sighted flying over the convoy at about 25,000 ft, it remained until 1800. At 1845 a message was intercepted on the ship’s radio that ITALY accepted Allied terms of unconditional surrender. This intelligence stilled all other topics of conversation until, at 2130, German bombers appeared in force over the northwest portion of our convoy, dropping 21 parachute flares and an unknown number of bombs. This action ceased at 2230. Damage unknown.
Our part of the convoy arrived in the transport area, 5 miles West of AGROPOLI, ITALY at 0400B, 9 September, 1943. At 0432B, enemy planes returned to the convoy, dropping many flares and bombs. Anti-aircraft fire was heavy. The din lasted until 0500. Most of the soldiers gazed on ITALY’S shores for the first time at 0435. Enemy planes reappeared at 0750; they were met by heavy flak.
At 1530 a Major Reynolds arrived on board and directed the Regimental Commander to support a Raider’s party who had attempted to subdue the Island of VENTOTENE. Lieutenant Kinley and Sergeant Joyce, equipped with an SCR 610 radio, left the ship with Major Reynolds at 1540 to return to the ship of the 3rd Battalion, join Lieutenant Bernstein and Lieutenant Kilcollins and proceed with assisting party to the island, there to support their action with naval gunfire.
The assisting party consisted, besides the above named artillery officers and enlisted details, of one squad each; 81-mm mortars, heavy machine gun, riflemen, and chemical mortar, and a detail of aid men. These boarded the Destroyer U.S.S. Knight and were landed on the Island of VENTOTENE. The raiding party of one company of the 82nd Airborne Division had taken the garrison prisoners by the time the assisting party landed, 2103. Our party returned the prisoners to the Knight at 2400, leaving the 82nd to garrison the island. All of the assisting party returned to the LST of the 3rd Battalion at about 1400, Sept. 10. They were landed with the rest of the 3rd Battalion about 1400, Sept. 11.
The night of 9-10 Sept. was marked by another bombing attack. Word was received by the RCT Commander that a boat would be sent alongside from the Division Commander’s ship to carry him to that ship for a conference. The long awaited boat never arrived. The following day brought no hint as to our probable employment until about 1430 word was received that we would land. Still no orders as to our disposition and employment had been received. The ship was brought to the beach, pontoons were extended to the open ramp and debarkation commenced about 1530. The Battalion Commander, Executive, and S-2 set off afoot, reported to the Regimental Commander, who told them to place the artillery in an assembly area in the vicinity of the assembly area of the Regiment. The Executive remained at the beach to supervise the unloading while the other two set off for the designated area. They climbed aboard a 2 1/2 ton truck and proceeded to the RJ at N861110, where the Battalion Commander dismounted to direct the battalion to turn, ordering the S-2 to select the assembly area and dispose the batteries as they arrived. The CP was established at 1700B at N875113, by the S-2, who met battery representatives there and directed them to their positions, instructing them to emplace pieces for probable firing in a northeasterly direction, in as much as nothing was known of the dispositions of either enemy or friendly forces.
All batteries were in position by 1900B and by 2000B all of the staff except the S-3 had arrived at the CP. The Battalion Commander repaired to Division Headquarters and returned at 2320B with the information that the front lines (36th Infantry Division) were established 1500 yards short of ALTAVILLA. Lieutenant Edwards and 2nd Lieutenant Davis of Battery “A” were on an LST with a portion of 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry. Their craft beached about 1600 so that the vehicles of the Battery, four guns and their prime movers, and two ammunition trucks made their way to the beach by traveling only a few feet of shallow water. Lieutenant Edwards proceeded to the highway and enroute one gun left the road without his knowledge, causing a traffic jam. An MP directed 3 following pieces and “C” Battery’s trucks by another route on which these became lost. Lieutenant Mayne was found by Captain Scheefers and placed on the proper route with his battery and the three pieces of Battery “A”.
Battery “B” was transported to Italy on an LST upon which was also a portion of “Q” Battalion and the RCT Command Group and 1st Battalion. The ship, as previously stated, beached so that a completely dry landing was made. Captain Hubbert, Battery Commander, and Lieutenant Van Ness, Executive officer, accompanied the Reconnaissance officer, and the Assistant Executive Officer accompanied the Battery to the assembly area. No untoward events were experienced, the way being marked by Division Military Police and the one critical turn marked by the Battalion Commander.
Battery “C”, on LST 409 was landed at the beach dry. Lieutenant Mayne, Battery Executive Officer, the only officer with his battery, upon learning that they would leave the ship over a pontoon bridge from ramp to shore, had the personnel remove water-proofing from motors. No orders were given him as to his disposition on land; he pulled his battery off the beach and onto highway 18, where he met three pieces of Battery “A” . He took them under his wing and received instructions from the assistant S-3 who was on the same ship, to continue up the highway north to where he would meet the Battalion Commander. The ship beached at 1600, the Battery commenced unloading at 1630 and by 1635 all of its material aboard, four pieces with prime movers and four ammunition trucks, were on land. The assistant S-3, after verifying that all vehicles of Batteries “A” and “C” had got on the right road, came to the CP.
Captain Miller, Commanding Battery “A”, and the liaison officer to the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, Captain Hayes, and the S-3, Major Ford, accompanied the infantry Battalion Commander on an LCI. This craft landed at about 1000, Sept. 11, the orders of the Division Commander prohibiting their landing the day before when the Regimental Command Group and firing batteries landed. Captain Hayes accompanied the 1st Battalion to an assembly area which they left to assume positions upon orders of the Regimental Commander. Major Ford and Captain Miller proceeded to the CP of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion by hailing a ride. Major Ford returned to the beach to guide the remainder of the Headquarters Battery to the C.P.
Captain Breeding, liaison officer with the 2nd Battalion, crossed on an LCI with “Q” Battalion of the RCT in company with the remainder of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery and an ammunition detail from Service Battery. The craft landed the personnel in about five feet of water, 75 yards from shore. A few losses of personal equipment and small arms were experienced, no lives were lost. They were met by a representative of the 157th who guided them to a portion of the beach about 2 1/2 miles north to a point where they should have landed. From this point they followed the 1st Battalion to the Regimental Assembly Area. Captain Breeding then reported, upon orders of our Battalion Commander, to the CP of the 157th Infantry.
First Lieutenant Kelley, Battalion Motor Officer, with a motor maintenance detail traveled on an LST in company with the 189th Field Artillery Battalion and landed Sept. 10, 1943, reporting to the CP at 1100. Warrant Officer Hayes, Assistant Battalion Supply Officer, landed with the Infantry, 11 Sept. 1943, reporting to the CP at about 1200.
Captain Wright, Liaison Officer, with 3rd Battalion, crossed in company with its Commanding Officer on an LCI. The craft was beached at about 1000 Sept. 11, in accordance with Division orders. He accompanied the Battalion Commander inland to where they took up positions. Captain Harley, commanding Battery “C” was on an LST with part of the 3rd Battalion and Cannon Co. He landed at about 1000 Sept. 11, and proceeded to the artillery CP.
The 157th Infantry, less 2nd Battalion, and the few troops that accompanied the Command Group, landed during the day, 11 Sept., and took up positions north of the River SELE astride the northeast-southwest road from Highway 18 to PERSANO; 1st Battalion on the right. The 3rd Battalion was to hold and aid the 2nd Battalion, 36th Combat Engineer in protecting the left flank. The latter unit was in position on a line from the aforementioned cross road and the railroad line west of the highway. Lieutenant Kinley and Second Lieutenant Bernstein were sent as liaison officer and forward observer respectively, to the Engineer Battalion. The 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry began an advance along the road in a northeasterly direction. The disposition of troops left the 158th on the extreme right flank, separated from its supported infantry by a river without a crossing for wheeled vehicles, relying for protection from the right upon the troops of the 36th Infantry Division. This Division was reported to have had troops (a battalion) in the “V” of land above the confluence of the SELE and CALORE rivers, but that they had been overrun and were thought to have been cut off. Directly north of the Battalion area the only known bar to an enemy attack was the SELE river, without bridges or fords at this point. At 1545 Lieutenant Dalton, Forward Observer with 1st Battalion reported that their advance elements, across the· CALORE, had received an attack from enemy tanks and were returning to western side of river. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 20; Battery “B”, 22; Battalion Total, 42.
September 12 began with reconnaissance to find crossings over the SELE River to the East and North in order to pursue the enemy in either of those directions. Later in the day one gun of each battery was taken to positions north of the SELE for registration. The 1st Battalion held a line along the CALORE from the road south and west, and the crossing over the SELE was provided; thus it was deemed advisable to choose positions that would be more directly protected by our infantry. Registration was accomplished, and the S-3, with a skeleton fire direction group moved to this area to install a new CP.
An attack by enemy tanks repulsed our tanks and infantry and the enemy’ s direct fire was landing in the positions occupied by our new CP and single gun positions. The S-3 ordered these guns, the survey section and the fire direction detail to return to the old positions; this was accomplished just in time to avoid being left in no man’s land.
Naval gunfire was placed in the area by Lieutenant Kinley, who, though still with the 36th Engineers, had good observation, three missions being fired; advance of the enemy was halted. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 538; Battery “B”, 673, Battery “C”, 763; Battalion total, 1974.
September 13 was to be the Red Letter Day for our forces during the Battle of Salerno. Mid-forenoon saw the advance of our infantry, this the enemy soon stopped, and by mid-afternoon enemy initiative noticeably increased. The Assistant S-3, from the observation plane, first discovered the concentration of enemy armor. This was punctuated with the receipt of enemy artillery fire in the vicinity of Battery “A”. Enemy actions became definitely oppressive; 189th gun positions near by ours, were attacked by foot troops at 1830. Artillerymen not immediately needed at the gun positions were placed in front of battery positions on the bank of the SELE and at the flanks and rear, to provide, with rifles and machine guns, for close-in defense of these positions. Enemy artillery found our range and from about 2000B, through the rest of the night, fired upon our gun positions and CP in an intermittent fashion, forcing Battery “B”, 189th Field Artillery Battalion immediately to the rear of our Battery “A” to disperse. Reconnaissance for alternate positions was carried out during this night.
The 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry was placed in position on the right and front of this Battalion position along the SELE River to stem the attack. This Battalion was placed in its direct support. Two guns of Battery “A” were emplaced to closely support this Battalion of the 179th and the anti-aircraft mounts of the 106th AAA were distributed to the right and rear to further the all-around protection of the positions. This Battalion fired continuously all night on areas that had been observed during the day by all observers, both terrestrial and aerial. During the afternoon two planes were employed simultaneously and fire observed by these observers and ground observers was directed by the fire direction center, employing the fire of four battalions of artillery almost continuously. The airplanes were flown from a landing field about 100 yards distant from the CP. Five aerial observers were employed this day; the Battalion Commander, Assistant S-3, Lieutenant Kilcollins, Lieutenant Welby and Second Lieutenant Collins.
During the night and early morning, information was received that the enemy’s tanks had broken through the infantry and artillery positions of the 36th Division. This seemed to be confirmed when we observed the 155th FA Battalion and the 132nd FA Battalion moving west along the road by our CP, from positions previously occupied on our right (East).
Dawn of 14 September found the Battalion prepared to displace to alternate locations. The CP was moved to a spot with concealment and better cover, not far from the spot occupied for four days. Enemy high bursts found the range to the new CP and verified the ranges to the guns; this was followed by a telling fusillade on all positions that killed and injured cannoneers in both Batteries “B” and “C” and destroyed one gun of “B”. At 0817B, a report from our Liaison Officer with 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry on our front and right flank, to the effect that enemy tanks had been reported crossing the SELE river on the right and were headed for our positions, tipped the scales of decision in favor of displacing to the previously reconnoitered positions. The move was hastily made; riflemen and machine gunners out posting the positions were retrieved, and all were in the new positions by 0855B. Reports from the 157th Infantry added to our growing belief that perhaps our tenure on the peninsula was not to be permanent after all. By 1500B reports assumed a more sanguinary tenor. The terrain had been closely scrutinized by observers on the ground and in our observation plane and the possible avenues of approach, assembly areas and known installations of the enemy fired upon and/or placed on the firing chart. This laid the foundation for the stiff schedule for interdictory and harassing fires poured on the enemy during the night of 13 thru 14 September. Rounds fired on 13 Sept and 14 Sept are as follows: Battery “A”, 820; Battery “B”, 2100; Battery “C”, 1565; Battalion total, 4485.
At 0240B, 15 September, fire was adjusted on one enemy tank by moonlight, shifting from base point registration of previous afternoon, tank was dispersed. Following the break of day numerous missions were fired on call from Forward Observers and Liaison Officers with the infantry. Two enemy bombing attacks were made of targets near our positions; they caused no damage to us. The air OP fired on targets of opportunity that presented themselves only to the air observer because the low, flat and well covered terrain hid them from the view of all terrestrial OPs. This in spite of heavy small arms fire at planes.
Reports of Infantry patrol activities disclosed that the enemy is well dug in at PERSANO and in the vicinity of the tobacco warehouse (N873168). Alternate positions are reconnoitered by Battalion Commander. The enemy, employing self-propelled artillery shells infantry positions and critical terrain features sporadically throughout the day. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 738; Battery “B”, 818; Battery “C”, 725; Battalion total, 2281.
September 16 saw enemy shelling of the positions of our infantry increasing as well as bridges and other points on our road net. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 501; Battery “B”, 393; Battery “C”, 415; Battalion total, 1309.
September 17 was marked by more missions fired by air OP and ground observers on targets of opportunity and fire on previously known enemy installations. One observer, manning a static OP reported that twice during the day he lifted our fire so that the enemy could recover their dead and wounded and again when a German burial party, ostentatiously displayed their lack of arms and their shovels, dug graves and buried the dead. We received orders from Headquarters, Division Artillery, to remain in our positions for the night. The Assistant S-3, with Royal Navy and Marine Officers, fired naval fire on ALTAVILLA, in support of the 36th Infantry Division. September 17 found the enemy fire on roads and water points within the Division area of sufficient intensity to necessitate drawing water only during the hours of darkness. Continued fired was placed on enemy positions. Extreme efforts had to be made by plane and ground observers to locate the enemy pieces from which fire came to our area. One OP was again established in the area of the 36th Division on the hill at N9112. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 483; Battery “B”, 455; Battery “C”, 424; Battalion total, 1362. The ammunition fired during the hectic period 12 thru 17 September inclusive is as follows: Battery “A”, 3080; Battery “B”, 4439, Battery “C”, 3892; Battalion total, 11,411.
September 18 found our forces in contact with the British on our left. Advanced positions to the east were reconnoitered as we received word that patrols from our infantry found the way clear and at 2400, with the S-3 and skeleton fire direction personnel, moved into the CP from which he retreated in the face of an enemy attack during the afternoon of 12 September, and the new position was occupied. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 72; Battery “B”, 129; Battery “C”, 121; Battalion total, 322.
September 19 found the 2nd Battalion 157th Infantry passing through the 1st Battalion and our forces were able to advance. Reconnaissance was conducted and new positions, before EBOLI, were occupied about 1400 by the advance CP group. Reconnaissance was instituted at once, for new, advanced positions. Here, in a clear, running brook, as many of the officers and men of the Battalion as could find time, bathed themselves for the first time in several days.
At 0535B, September 20, the Battalion CP and firing batteries moved into new positions East of EBOLI, these had been selected the previous afternoon. The situation at this time was what is commonly known as fast-moving, necessitating immediate reconnaissance for new positions; Battalion Commander and Battery Commanders leave CP at 0635, after a hurried breakfast to choose new positions. During the previous night and this day, we began to believe that we had the enemy on the run; land–mines were being laid by the enemy and he left a trail of blown bridges. Word was received that the 180th Infantry would pass through the lines of the 157th, that we would be responsible for tactical security as long as they remained in our area, and that then we would obtain “about two days rest”.
At 1200B, the Battalion moved to new locations and Liaison Officers and forward observers were called in. Mail was received and letters written, shaving and bathing was the order of the day. Plans were soon changed, the Battalion Commander left for reconnaissance of new area at 1655B, returned and at 1900 left with Battery Commanders for selection of position areas. Word from the 157th Infantry came that the 45th Reconnaissance Troop had finally made contact with the British Eighth Army; cause for mild rejoicing.
September 21 the Battalion moved into position at 0300B to reinforce the fires of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 24; Battery “B”, 25; Battery “C”, 22; Battalion total 71.
September 22 saw the Battalion in direct support of the 157th Infantry when the Battalion Commander and Battery Commanders started out at 0400 to choose new positions. These were occupied at 0705. This day enemy bombers attacked positions just as men were forming with mess kits in the “Present” position; Battery “B” received some near misses that were intended, it was believed, for a Bailey Bridge with which the Engineers had spanned the ruined arch of a native one. A message that enemy paratroops could be expected to land this night brought everyone to the alert, none did. In the early evening farther positions were selected. Rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 28; Battery “B”, 45; Battery “C”, 31; Battalion total, 104.
At 230400 Batteries “A” and “B” moved to new positions, leaving Battery “C”and the 189th Field Artillery Battalion to fire missions. At 1130 Battery “C” leapfrogged these to an advanced position, closely followed by Battery “A” and the mobile FDC, the 189th again helping to cover the advance. Battery “B” was moved to an advanced position, followed by the remainder of the CP at 1400. During this move three Me 109’s bombed the 189th area at a time when the rear CP was near their position, and the road. The column was strafed; the lead vehicle stopped to unload the occupants, causing all following vehicles to jam the narrow, winding mountain road. Discussion of the problem of passive measures of protection following the reporting of the incident led most members to the conclusion that continued progress down the highway would obviate jamming of following vehicles and lessen the danger of damage. Battery “A” leapfrogged the Battalion to a new position at 1500B and at 1815B the Battalion and Battery Commanders leave for further reconnaissance. The evening was spent planning fires preparatory to an early attack next day. Rounds fire this day by: Battery “A”, 240; Battery “B”, 167; Battery “C”, 189; Battalion total, 596.
Another warning to be on the alert for enemy paratroops was received at 240239. At 0400 Headquarters, “A”, and “C” Batteries moved to new positions, followed by Battery “B” at 1130. More mines were found this day, proof that the enemy was still on the run.
Battery “B” moved to advanced position at 1800 and reconnaissance was begun for positions for the remainder of the Battalion. Rounds fired this day by: Battery “A”, 169; Battery “B”, 105; Battery “C”, 144; Battalion total, 418.
At 0555 September 25 the Battalion was established in new positions North of VALVA, ITALY. At 1305 another position area was selected and at 1547 one piece of Battery “A” was brought forward for registration but the positions were known to be poor ones; upon further reconnaissance more advance positions but affording better defilade beyond the river were occupied. During this day, as in the case of the proceedings several days, the enemy accurately interdicted bridges and other critical points along the roads, causing delays in movements and stoppages of work on the by-passes around the blown bridges, as well as numerous casualties. At 2155 new positions were occupied. The most interesting event of the day was the suspected formation by the enemy for a counter-attack. This occurred when our advancing infantry approached Highway No. # 7, thus threatening the route of escape of the enemy. The Germans opened fire with machine guns emplaced on the ride, along which runs the highway, and at the same time their vehicles carrying troops appeared upon the road. These troops debouched along the ridge causing the advanced elements of our forces to fall back, surrendering, as they did so, the high ground. The enemy then proceeded up this route unseen in the gathering dusk. At 2400 it was reported by our Liaison Officer with the 157th that “counter-attack has not, materialized”. Lieutenant Kilcollins, assigned to man a static observation post, had moved forward with the leading elements of the infantry in order that he might occupy, at the earliest possible moment, the high ground of the ridge toward which they were advancing and was in such a forward position that he under went direct machine gun fire as he brought the fire of this Battalion and the 189th Field Artillery Battalion to bear on the positions of the enemy, causing them to silence this fire. Rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 66; Battery “B”, 129; Battery “C”, 20; Battalion total, 215.
September 26, 1943, at 0200B time was changed from 0200B to 0100A. At about 0600 Allied Air Force was scheduled to bomb enemy troops at Cross· Roads of Highways 7 and 91, and West along Highway 7. Bombing done as scheduled but fell short of target and many fell among our troops (157th Inf). Examination of the road net and terrain subsequently gives rise to the opinion that the pilots mistook their course and bombed from the cross roads South, thus cutting across the enemy’s lines and into our lines. Troops sustained few minor injured and two or three damaged vehicles: The 157th Infantry was scheduled to hold present positions and protect the right flank, manning road blocks, and patrolling to assure the protection, as the 34th Division passed through their lines. This meant baths for the men and officers, letter writing, and the washing and cleaning of clothing and equipment. No sooner said than done.
September 28 found the Battalion on the move again, this time to another area closer to the front, the rest was to continue for the 157th Infantry, but we were to directly support the 2nd Battalion 180th Infantry from positions initially in the CASTEL FRANCI area. Positions were reconnoitered by the Battalion Executive together with the Battery Commanders.
0720, 29 September found us in the location selected the previous day. Batteries were registered but no missions were fired. Later orders were received that on the following day we would revert to the role of reinforcing the fires of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion.
September 30, pay line was only activity, there being no fires called for. So ends the month of September, 1943. We continued in direct support of the 3rd Battalion, 180th Infantry.
It was the practice of this Battalion to bring the survey officer, and generally his section, forward as soon as positions areas were selected in order that a position area survey could be started at once. If batteries were to move after dark a registering piece of each battery was taken forward and registered from new positions in as many cases as practicable. Thus were the target area and position area tied together. It is with a deep feeling of gratification that reports of interrogations of prisoners of war captured in the zone in front of our supported regiment attest to the fact that our artillery fire was demoralizing accurate.
October 1, 1943 found the 158th Field Artillery Battalion in the same position occupied on Sept. 30, 1943, namely, Battery “A” 923598; Battery “B” 922592; Battery “C” 915593. We were in direct support of the 3rd Battalion, 180th Infantry. At 1700 Battalion Commander returned from Headquarters Division Artillery with a Field Order telling us to remain in direct support of the 3rd Battalion until they were out of range and that later we would move up in behind of the 157th Infantry, after helping shuttle them, to positions behind the 171st Field Artillery Battalion. The Division objective was BENEVENTO. Trucks were dispatched to shuttle infantry and officers manning static OP’s. Lieutenant Van Ness, Lieutenant Mayne were ordered to move with assault companies, 3rd Battalion, 180th Infantry, when they moved at dark. Later, after the forward observers mentioned above moved out with companies, reports were received that the enemy had blown bridges and laid mines. A third officer, Lieutenant Edwards, occupied a static OP.
Oct. 2 was uneventful. We moved that day to positions in rear of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion and reinforced them, sending a liaison officer to that unit and recalling the liaison officer and forward observers from the 180th Infantry.
Oct. 3 brought us a long move into positions in vicinity of BENEVENTO, occupied by troops of the 34th Infantry Division. The 34th Division Artillery were to reinforce the 45th Division Artillery until the latter division passed out of range. Liaison was established at once with the Headquarters 34th Division Artillery, in addition to the liaison and forward observing officers sent to our supported infantry. CP and battery areas were shelled intermittently during the day.
The advance up the valley of the CALORE, beyond BENEVENTO, was to begin at 0300, 4th October, but did not get underway until the afternoon. Reconnaissance for positions was started at 0800 and at 1120 Battery “C” moved. Further reconnaissance at 1030 led to the occupation of a new position by Battery “A” at 1500. Battery “B” occupied its new position at 1715. This Battalion was reinforced by the 171st Field Artillery Battalion and the 189th Field Artillery Battalion. Forward CP established at 1715 and remainder of CP moved up at 2100. Battery “A” only was registered in the gathering darkness. Passage through the lines of the 34th Infantry Division was then complete; plans were made to move out at dawn. Request was made by the 157th Infantry for interdictory fires; these were beyond our range of all the Division Artillery, including the 36th Field Artillery (attached 155-mm guns). 45th Division Artillery removes all Battalions air OP’s to control of their headquarters.
Oct. 5 was heralded by artillery fire on Battery “A” at 0430; no damage was recorded. At dawn a dense fog enveloped everything, it was near mid-afternoon before visibility permitted the registration of Batteries “B” and “C”. Battery “C’ was moved to a position beyond BENEVENTO at 0655. Reports from our observers and from civilians told of increasing enemy activity, both vehicular movement, the preparing of positions, and artillery fire on our lines. Two static observation posts were established, in addition to the forward observers with the leading elements of the infantry. Stiff resistance encountered at hill in vicinity 6389. The infantry pulled back and we heavily shelled the area. At 1145 the Battalion Commander with Commanders of Headquarters and “B” Batteries start reconnoitering for new positions. At many places enemy tanks attempted to hinder our advance. The only positive identifications of vehicles made were of Mark IV tanks. Lieutenant Van Ness and party were brought under enemy machine gun and 20-mm fire while making an attempt to obtain observation, resulting in the loss of two men, one killed and one wounded, and his radio, later recovered, undamaged. Battery “B” moved to new position beyond BENEVENTO, followed by Battery “A”. The CP was moved to a position beyond BENEVENTO, one mile NE at 1815. During the day many enemy gun positions were located in the vicinity of PONTE, FRAGNETO L’ABATE, and GUARDIA. It was observed that most of these were flat trajectory weapons, and that they moved frequently; thus it was assumed they were tanks and self propelled guns. Further contact with the British was reported. Five missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: Battery “A” 127; Battery “B” 14; Battery “C” 61; Total, 202.
The early morning of Oct. 6 began with enemy artillery shelling our lines; one half of the shells being reported as duds. This continued throughout the day, the enemy thus hindering the repair of bridges along the BENEVENTO – PONTE road. Plans were made to maintain contact with enemy in spite of his efforts to delay our forces. These plans anticipated the enemy’s employment of the CAMPOLARRO – PONTE, and PIEDIMONTE – PONTE road nets as escape routes as he held us at bay behind the destroyed bridges. They included using the 180th Infantry on the northeast front, PESCOLAMAZZA to FRAGNETO L’ABATE, relieving the 1st Bn, 157th Infantry there, sending this Battalion, reinforced with a platoon of 179th Infantry to FRAGNETO MONFORLE. The 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry was to swing to the left, crossing the CALORE, and turning north, approach to the CALORE again in the vicinity of PONTE, sending patrols to secure the towns of VITULANO, TORRECUSCA, and PAUPISI, and find crossing over the river to the North. The 2nd Battalion was to remain in positions in front of the demolitions. Forward Observers were sent along the BENEVENTO – PONTE road with all front line elements. Batteries “A” and “C” were moved forward separately to positions along this road, both in positions by 1115. Many reports of enemy vehicular traffic along roads to our front were received during the day; most of this traffic was moving to the enemy’s rear. More reports from civilians flowed in, the general tone of these reports being that few Germans were left in towns immediately in front of us; most of their forces left in the area consisted of scattered machine gun posts, the guns emplaced in pairs, and self propelled artillery, and that there appeared to be no foot troops among their forces. Information was received at 1100 that during the night the boundary between our forces and the British Eight Army had been moved to the left to include the road PIETRELCINI – CAMPOLATTARI, exclusive of the latter town. Vehicles, believed to be British, were observed in the vicinity of this road. The Luftwaffe became active this day, bombing the positions of our reinforcing artillery, the 178th. The positions of Battery “A” was shelled heavily, aw were the position’s of the 189th Field Artillery Battalion nearby. Twenty-one missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 362; “B” Battery 341; “C” Battery 209; Total 912.
A preparation of 289 rounds was fired at 0615 Oct 7 in front of the 1st Bn. in the vicinity of FRAGNETO MONFORLE. The 3rd Battalion succeeded in finding a passage across the river, while the 2nd Bn. dispatched a patrol to PONTE. Heavy Artillery fire fell on the roads and battery positions this day from the enemy’s vantage points on the high ground in the vicinity of CASADUNI and GAURDIA. Smoke signals were reported emanating from a house on the slope of a hill at 592874, the reports said that shortly after these signals were seen artillery fire would fall on positions of our batteries and batteries of the 189th. The Infantry sent a patrol toward the house; later fire on our positions ceased and no more smoke was seen to come from the house. Increased mining on the part of the enemy was observed. About midnight plans were made to move the 157th Infantry so as to allow the 179th Infantry to relieve them.
Oct. 8 opened with the firing of interdictory fires in the vicinity of LORENZO and GUARDIA. The advance CP was established at 0800. At about this time the farewell rounds to this area was fired by the Germans, on the same positions and bridges previously interdicted, five of them, air bursts, bursting not too far from the forward CP. More reports of bridges being demolished far beyond our front line. The Division Artillery reported that in a cemetery near a church in the vicinity of CASADUNI a battery of four enemy guns are reported firing. Observers are unable to identify this spot. Lieutenant Robertson, survey officer, and Captain Crowder, Liaison Officer to our unit from the 189th Field Artillery Battalion are sent to hill in front of CP to locate, and if successful, to fire on the target. They locate and fire upon the battery, causing one vehicle at that position to burn. Our infantry reached its objective at about 1400 and we prepared to reinforce the fires of the 160th Field Artillery Battalion, (in direct support of the 179th Infantry, who were passing through the 157th Infantry) until fires requested were out of range. Then we would rest; the 157th going into rest at once. Capt. Scheefers, Asst. S-3 was dispatched to the 160th as liaison officer.
At 1645 a report was received from the 157th that 12 of 17 rounds of 15cm landing in the vicinity of their CP were duds. At this juncture it should be noted that a large portion of 15cm falling on them did not explode, which led our S-2, Captain Cleverdon, to visit the shelled area where the dud was found, instead of being duds, the shells had entered the earth, traveled four to six feet in a generally horizontal plane and then burst, blowing holes in the surface of approximately twelve inches in diameter. This day a prisoner of war states that the Germans had received orders to abstain from firing on Allied Artillery Observation planes, saying that it was explained to them that the planes did them no direct harm and that the ground fire revealed German positions. 4 missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 52 rounds; “B” Battery 130 rounds; “C” Battery 68 rounds; Totals: 250.
Oct. 9 found the 179th completing the passage of lines. Our Observers and Liaison Officer to the Regiment, were called in, everybody preparing for a two or three day rest; we were now out of range. Battery “A” was moved to a better position for the rest and the cleaning of clothing and equipment, the steady rains of the past week having made its position unpleasant. The enemy continued to shell the foremost units of the 157th Infantry. Civilian’s reports continued to locate enemy arms in the vicinity of GUARDIA and LORENZELLO. The enemy continued to lay mines and booby traps. Six enemy planes bombed 155-mm rifle positions to our rear and strafed in our vicinity.
Sunday, Oct 10, was devoted to worship and washing. The enemy was reported to be moving west to the vicinity of CERRETO.
Oct. 11 brought reports that the enemy placed artillery on the resting 157th throughout the night and that a house was suspected of being the hiding place of artillery spotters. A patrol was sent to investigate; no report from patrol received.
Oct. 12 found the 180th Infantry, who had passed through the 179th Infantry expecting a counter-attack. The 3rd Battalion 157th Infantry was attached to the 180th as a reinforcements. Two and one half hours later the counter-attack was reported repulsed, that the enemy forces making it employed two reduced companies. The 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry was scheduled to pass through the 180th at dark to continue the pursuit. The activity of this Battalion was confined to hauling 9 trucks loaded with ammunition to the 27th Armored Artillery Battalion.
Oct. 13 found us preparing to resume action. The Battalion Commander went forward on reconnaissance and later ordered the Battalion Executive and Battery Commanders forward at 1635A. At 1640A orders were received to send one piece of Battery “A” forward for registration and for the survey officer and party to accompany it. Wire was being laid at 1645A. The Battalion received march order at 2015A and commenced the move to the new positions to support the 157th Infantry. The new positions were occupied at 2345A in the vicinity of the Grand Hotel, southwest of CASTEL VENERE. A static OP was established at 2300A.
Oct. 14 had hardly begun when reports began sifting in that the enemy was employing Nedelwerfen; the first of a log series of like reports. We were reinforced by the 171st Field Artillery Battalion and the 189th Field Artillery Battalions. Our Infantry advanced rapidly this day, sending back numerous reports of tanks and mortars, the 3rd Battalion having crossed the RIVER TITERNO by 1945A. Enemy air activity was markedly stronger; as evidenced by their bombing of the bridge before FAICCHIO with 22 ME 109’s. More reports were received this day of mines and booby traps; the road from CASTEL VENERE south was mined; the buildings in and around that town were mined and booby trapped, and the area at 3792, recently occupied by the enemy, was mined on the banks of a gully. The movement of enemy armored vehicles along the north south road an the western side of the TITERNO from FAICCHIO south was evident after dark. During the day a second static OP was established on the high ground overlooking the river. 12 missions were fired this day: Number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 78 rounds; “B” Battery 219 rounds; “C” Battery 74 rounds; Total: 371.
The 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry planned to drive the enemy to FAICCHIO and secure the blown bridge south of that town at 0600A of 15 October, requesting six five minute concentrations of our artillery fire in preparation. Further conference by our Liaison Officer resulted in firing four of these. At 0634A the Battalion and Battery Commanders left on reconnaissance for new positions northwest of SAN SALVATORE. The movement was covered by the 189th and 171st Field Artillery Battalions; the occupation was complete by 1000A. The enemy again interdicted roads and blowing bridges all day, and fired Nebelwerfen on infantry positions; short range fire from tanks or self propelled guns fell on our tanks that were in rendezvous near our Battery “G’s” position. The Luftwaffe bombed an assemblage of our tanks near the position of Battery “B”. Strong anti-aircraft fire felled a known two FockeWulfe. The 178th Field Artillery was placed in reinforcement, the 171st being relieved to direct support of the 180th Infantry, who were to go into line on the left of the 157th. Our Infantry took bridge but failed to get FAICCHIO. An assault upon FAICCHIO was planned for the following morning, the Commander of the 157th Infantry requested, and had fired, a heavy concentration of smoke, and delay and quick fused HE in preparation at 2030A for 15 minutes. This preparation was participated in by the Battalion and the 160th, 178th, and 109th Field Artillery Battalion’s, the fire being conducted by ourselves. 180 rounds of 105-mm ammunition and 300 rounds of 155-mm ammunition was fired. Twenty seven missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 113; “B” Battery 112; “C” Battery 71; Total: 296.
October 16 saw the first attempt to capture FAICCHIO fail, withering automatic fire drove our forces out. The 3rd Battalion having crossed the TITERNO below the town, was to advance upon it from the rear while the 1st Battalion held the SALVATORE FIACCHIO road and secured the blown bridge. Tanks and Tank destroyers were to cross the river and accompany the infantry to the town. A crossing was found and to screen their passage over the stream we fired smoke in front of them, pouring 302 rounds of smoke in the area in the forty minutes between 0810 to 0850. Later, at 1048A, a lone American Paratrooper coming to the infantry CP was reported that there was no enemy in the town. The 3rd Battalion manned road blocks and sent a patrol to the town as the 2nd Bn. now west of the TITERNO, passed through their positions to begin its march on GIOIA. During the afternoon two enemy tanks concealed in haystacks were discovered and neutralized. During the night noises indicated their tanks were recovered. No report by infantry outposts of this noise was made so that fire could be placed on the vehicles. Many enemy vehicles were observed in cemetery at H362001. These were fired on repeatedly causing them to move each time. More interdiction fires were fired during the night. Reports from civilians were received that the Germans had poisoned wells in GIOIA. 13 missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 386; “B” Battery 692; “C” Battery 361 rounds; Total 1439.
On Oct. 17 the 2nd Battalion 157th Infantry and the 180th Infantry began their coordinated advance up the right side of the RIVER VOLTURNO. Demolitions made it difficult to retain contact with the enemy, thus tanks, employed as roving guns, impeded the progress of our engineers in their attempts to effect repairs and construct by-passes along the route. The Battalion Commander ordered Battery Commanders and the Survey Officer forward at 1005A for selection of new sites. March Order came at 1255A and at 1315A the new CP was occupied. Continued reports of receiving mortar fire emanated from our Infantry. Our forward observers reported considerable vehicular activity in the enemy’s rear. 14 missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 217 rounds; “B” Battery 95 rounds; “C” Battery 230 rounds; Total 542.
Plans were made to accelerate the advance on the 18th and to take the high ground beyond AUDUNI. It was necessary to take the high ground at CALVISI this was well defended. Thirty six rounds of smoke were fired to cover the advance of the infantry up this slope to the town; results were excellent and the infantry succeeded. The enemy bitterly defended his positions during the day, counter-attacking several times and heavily shelling our troops. The heaviest fighting occurred at the cemetery at H342014. During the afternoon two officers of G-2, Allied Headquarters appeared with a request that we fire propaganda leaflets for them into enemy territory. One battery was provided with the ammunition and the G-2 representatives accompanied by the Battalion Commander and the S-2 set out for one of the OP’s. The leaflets were fired behind POTITO. Many reports were received from civilians of mine fields in the towns of CURPI, CALVISI, and GIOIA. During the evening heavy traffic was heard in the vicinity of POTITO. Plans were laid to relieve the pinned down 2nd Battalion, whose front extended from the cemetery at 342014 on the left to CALVISI on the right. A request from the 3rd Battalion for an artillery preparation prior to their attack was refused unless detailed plans of the battalion were made known to this Headquarters. No preparation was fired. 19 missions were fired this day; number of rounds expended were as follows: “A” Battery 178 rounds; “B” Battery 111 rounds; “C” Battery 142 rounds; Total 431.
Oct. 19 found the infantry advancing. Several prisoners were taken, some of them walking into our lines bearing the pamphlets fired the previous day; all of these stated that the enemy had retreated to positions behind PIEDMONTE D’ALIFE. Demolitions were observed to be continuous in the vicinity of that town during the forenoon. Our forces continued to advance and by 1831A were reported at the Division objective, PIEDMONTE D’ALIFE. Reconnaissance was made for forward positions. 1 mission was fired this day; number of rounds expended as follows; “A” Battery 120 rounds; “B” Battery 119 rounds; “C” Battery 93 rounds; Total 332.
At 0500, Oct. 20 we closed stations and moved to new positions; these were occupied at 0700. Reports from natives told us the enemy was retreating to ISSERNIA leaving small forces at CAPRIATI, and SAN ANGELO D’LIFE. The 157th Infantry was placed in an assembly area to rest, and the 158th FA was given the mission of reinforcing the 34th Division Artillery together with the rest of the 45th Division Artillery. All forward observers and liaison officers were called in; one static OP was installed. The Battalion began its rest, limited because of our reinforcing mission. During the remainder of the 20th, all day the 21st, and the greater portion of the 22nd activity, both friendly and enemy could be observed. No fires were called for at 1600A. Oct. 22 we were relieved of our reinforcing; rest then became our chief aim.
From the 23rd to the 28th of Oct. inclusive time was spent in cleaning equipment and ourselves, resupplying ourselves, shortage reports, issuing clothing, and writing reports.
Oct. 29 was spent as were the preceding few days, except that we furnish trucks to transport 179th Infantry from a rear assembly area to a forward one. A conference was called for Oct. 30 at Division Headquarters to which the Battalion Commander and the Executive Officer repaired, leaving the CP at 1300. This meeting started the rumor to end all rumors. The field order for our further employment was received Oct. 31. The Battalion Commander and the Executive reconnoitered the areas into which we shall move.
In November 1943, “Hitler’s Winter Line” overlooking the Volturno River was encountered. Transporting supplies to forward units by mule, the division launched a final push against the enemy on November 7, 1943, and the Germans withdrew to prepared positions and continued to pound Allied forces with steady artillery fire.
November opened with this Battalion under orders to return to action with the rest of the Division. The 158th would be in general support and reinforce the fires of the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. We were to select positions after the 171st Field Artillery and the 160th Field Artillery Battalions had selected their positions, and move after they had moved. The artillery of the VI Corps was to fire an impressive and smothering preparation as the prelude to an assault upon German positions at an hour and day to be announced. Detailed schedules were issued calling, in part, for this Battalion to fire the last ten minutes and to be prepared to fire the last twenty minutes of the preparation. At first all movement except for a minimum number of reconnaissance vehicles was prohibited and registration could be done by one piece only, and that from an alternate position. Later this restriction was lifted.
The Battalion and Battery Commanders and the Battalion Executive started on reconnaissance for positions at 0700A; returned at 1130A and led the Battalion from the bivouac area near S. POTITO beginning at 1515A. The tiresome march to the new area, vicinity of PRATELLA, was made without incident. It was later reported that the Battalion and Battery Commanders were strafed by the Luffwaffe while they waited the arrival of the Battalion to the new positions. The new CP was established at 1900A, the firing batteries arriving shortly after this. The Battalion Commander made arrangements with the 160th Field Artillery Battalion to send a liaison officer to that unit the following morning. No firing was done this day.
Lt Kinley left our CP at 0845A, 2 November as Liaison Officer to the 160th. Reports of extensive demolitions of enemy were received during the day and progress of our forces was slow. At 1645A the Battalion Commander left for reconnaissance accompanied by the Battery Commanders. At 1730A orders were received to move forward at 2000A. The route was one of many detours calling for slow and careful driving; delays were frequent, therefore it was 2330A by the time the new CP was established, and 0140 the following morning by the time all units had cleared into their new areas.The only firing done this day was the registration of the batteries. Division orders came to move across the VOLTURNO river and seize high ground on the opposite side.
Nov 3 was ushered in by visible evidence of fighting on MT. ALTO immediately opposite our positions at FORMICOLA MASTRATI; dawn found us watching the heavy shelling of that hill by our neighboring forces. More demolitions were reported during the forenoon and in the afternoon enemy tanks were encountered in the flats near VENAFRO. At this same point enemy infantry in sufficient numbers to delay our forces were met. Arrangements with Captain Emerson, Commanding Officer of Co “B”, 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion for the employment of his Company in reinforcement of our fires during the preparation that was still to be fired, and in defense of the area, in addition to his primary mission of Anti-tank defense, were made. The 160th moved to forward positions under cover of darkness leaving this Battalion to fire all missions that might be called for during the night, inasmuch as they were not registered. Registration was the only firing done November 3.
The early reports of Nov 4 indicated that the Germans were retiring from the valley into the hills beyond VENAFRO. Allied planes bombed VENAFRO at the same time that the 160th was firing on targets in that area; two bombs fell on our infantry’s lines before the town. At 0945A a report was received that patrols of “E” Co, 179th Infantry were in VENAFRO. Battery “C” was moved to a new position following a reconnaissance begun at 0840A by the Battalion Commander. Occupation completed at 1250, the remainder of the Battalion then moved to new positions in the vicinity of CAPRIATI STATION at 1800A. Registration on two base points were completed during the day, but no registration could be accomplished from the new positions; thus no missions were assigned us for the night. During the day the 4th Rangers were reported to have reached VALLECUPA, thus cutting the road from S. PIETRO to VENAFRO. Other reports told of the retreat of the enemy to FILIGNANO from POZZILLI. No missions fired except the registrations.
At 0700A, 5 Nov our Liaison Officer to the 160th Field Artillery Battalion reported that seven enemy tanks were trapped in the VALLECUPA-VENAFRO road by the advance of the Rangers and the 179th Infantry. A company of infantry was sent to capture them. Other tanks were reported trapped but none were captured. This fact gave rise to the suspicion that our maps did not accurately depict all roads to our front. Enemy artillery was observed in increasing numbers as our forces neared the hills, and our old friends, the six-barreled mortars, were reported in one location. Mines were encountered in increasing numbers: Lt Etheridge, Anti Aircraft Platoon Commander attached to our Battery “C” was killed by a mine as he and the Battery Commander, Captain Hurley, were selecting a battery position. Mine sweepers were sent forward and the proposed area was swept, and Battery “C” moved into the swept area at 1900A. The 160th, whom we still reinforced, did not deem the situation stabilized enough to warrant moving; the left flank of the 179th was exposed and this regiment could not advance sufficiently to overrun ground from which the enemy observed our action. Orders were received at 2115A to reinforce the fires of the 171st Field artillery Battalion as well as the 160th and remain in general support. A liaison officer was dispatched to the 171st at 2150A. One mission was fired this day. Number of rounds fired by: Battery “A”, 60; Battery “B”, 2; Total, 62.
We established 2 static observation posts early in the day of Nov 6, assigning one a sector left of VENAFRO and the other a sector right of VENAFRO. These were prompted in part by the inability of the two direct support battalions to locate and neutralize the sources of the steadily mounting enemy artillery fire harassing us and interrupting movement on the roads. Our patrols had previously joined patrols of the 34th Infantry Division in POZZILLI and by 1438A the 179th Infantry was reported to have invested that place. This was evidence that the enemy would oppose our advance on the left; enemy infantry advanced on our lines in the vicinity of CEPAGNA. The enemy was not to be pursued too rapidly. Evidence of this attitude was found in the numerous mine fields in the roads, around possible by-passes, at blown bridges, and in possible position areas. Many of these mines were wooden mines armed with the plastic detonator; our mine detectors failed to locate them. Battery “C’s” position, having been thoroughly swept prior to its occupation by the battery, was thought to be safe. Later , a 2 1/2 T wrecker from Service Battery, upon coming to the position to haul away the destroyed 1/4 ton that had met with the accident the day before, ran over another mine and was disabled. Where upon a further sweeping of the area, was made, instructions being given to use two men to each detector as listeners, but even this failed and when the Ordnance wrecker arrived at the position to remove both vehicles it, too, was damaged by another mine. With all of this trouble only one officer was killed and one man slightly wounded in this series of accidents. The 160th moved into new positions forward at 1735A, our Battalion covering their displacement. During this day we were more active, firing on call from the 160th as well as on missions observed by our own static observation posts; use was made of Batteries “A” and “B”, the position of Battery “C” being so exposed to enemy observation as to limit its firing to cases of urgency. Fifteen missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired were as follows: Battery “A”, 272; Battery “B”, 330; Battery “C”, 181; Total 783.
Sunday, Nov 7, opened with reports from our OP’s that the enemy continued to interdict roads from positions to the West and North. Warning was received that we would revert to direct support of the 157th Infantry who were to be sent into the lines sometimes during the night, and, having passed through the positions of the 179th, would continue the advance to the Northwest. Apparently all hope of establishing contact with a strong German line that would warrant the planned artillery preparation had been abandoned-pursuit must still be the watchword. The Battalion Commander left at 0735A for Headquarters 45th Division Artillery to learn the plan for our employment and to make a subsequent reconnaissance. At 1202A, Battery Commanders were ordered to meet the Battalion Commander in VENAFRO and to bring with them mine detectors and sweeping details. Forward observers and liaison officers were alerted to ready them to accompany our infantry when the latter moved out. A new static observation post was manned, the two old ones abandoned and the battalion moved out to the forward positions south of POZZILLI at 1700A; our displacement was covered by the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. Rains and early darkness prohibited registration. Our new CP area was known to be well covered with mines; movement was restricted until daylight the following day. Seven missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired were as follows: Battery “A”, 96; Battery “B”, 137; Battery “C”, 126; Total 359.
Forward Observers were assigned and joined the assault companies and at 08 0415A November reported that they were starting to pack across country. Visibility was poor; the first reports began coming in at 0735A. A civilian reported enemy guns and dug in foot troops and tanks. Two static observation posts were established. Tanks, half tracks and personnel were fired on during the day. Reports were received that the infantry engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the hills above POZZILLI. Nine rounds of propaganda pamphlet “Peace -Freedom -Bread” were fired on selected targets in the vicinity of which we had observed personnel. Personnel to protect our static observation posts were requested of the infantry and granted. At 2110A a report was received that the 3rd Bn, 179th Infantry, on the right of the 157th Infantry, had met stiff resistance and been pushed back and disorganized. Reinforcements were sent and that area became quiet. The Germans laid down vicious harassing fires on VENAFRO, POZZILLI, and the by-passes on the roads in the Division area. The Engineers reported that the building in POZZILLI were mined and booby-trapped, as were the road and trails leading to our front. Nine missions were fired this day. We fired the following number of rounds: Battery “A”, 81; Battery “B”, 28; Battery “C”, 46; Total 155.
Nov 9 brought orders that the 45th Division would dig in and await the advance of the 34th Division, on our right flank, who were to our rear. During the morning an Italian, interrogated by the 157th Infantry gave a report of enemy installations in front of us, in our zone of advance. A typical German Command Post installation with the attendant dumps, in particular, became a fruitful target, this intelligence having enabled our observers to recognize the camouflaged position for what it was. Great difficulty was encountered these days in locating targets and positions accurately; the map of the area (161 IV) was an uncorrected and uncolored sheet that did not depict the roads and trails with sufficient clarity to permit proper orientation in this desolate hill terrain, devoid, as it is of land marks. Reports were recurrent of the enemy’s pouring in fresh troops to hold the mountain passes against our advance. Identifications of prisoners of war bore out the warnings from higher headquarters. The fresh troops were of the 26th Panzer Division and the 305th Infantry Division. Native reports also told that the enemy was employing pack artillery to go in positions before us. Observation was difficult to maintain; the enemy, possessing as he did, the vantage points from which he could look down upon our observers. One static observer was able to fire along the ACQUAFONDALA-POZZILLI road and at positions not immediately in front of our lines, but by 1500A the enemy had so infilled between our lines, that, to protect themselves, both static observers withdrew; for the night, to more secure locations. Three rounds of “FRONTPOST” and 4 rounds of “PEACE-FREEDOM-BREAD”, propaganda leaflets, were fired, on targets previously fired on with shell.
Our lines in spite of the infiltration of small enemy patrols, held. We fired eight missions this day. Rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 196; Battery “B”, 147; Battery “C”, 48; Total 391.
The static observation posts pushed out early on November 10. Increased enemy activity was encountered early in the morning. Our lines received heavier small arms and machine gun fire, and a bitter fight ensued for possession of Mt. CROCE, an action that was to continue into the next day. Increased activity was observed behind the enemy’s lines, providing profitable targets for our Battalion. In addition to shelling with 15-cm the positions of our neighboring units, the Germans continued to bomb and strafe them, coming perilously close to our firing battery locations. A detachment of the 1st Rangers were sent to aid in the mopping up on MT. CROCE, but were forced to retire. A report from a prisoner of war stated that the enemy intended to take MT. CROCE. Batteries were ordered to dig in so as to provide over head cover. During the day unit identifications pointed to elements of three divisions on our front; the 3rd, 26th and the 305th. Plans were laid to push our linen farther west on the morrow. Propaganda leaflets were again fired; two rounds of “FRONT POST”, and 2 rounds of “PEACE-FREEDOM-BREAD” upon areas in which the enemy was known to be. Total missions fired this day were eleven. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 647; Battery “B”, 351; Battery “C”, 0; Total 998.
The advance of the 157th began 11 0630A November met resistance at about 0730A and called for, and received, a heavy concentration of our fire, adjusted by our Forward Observer with Company “C”, Lt. Dalton. Numerous missions were fired this day, observed by the static observer and the forward observer. MT. CROCE was reported taken by our forces and by 2154A the infantry was reported to be within 50 yards of the first of the three hills that were this days objectives. The enemy fiercely resisted the advance of our forces. Prisoners of War taken this day, as on previous days, bore none of the pamphlets fired on their lines during the previous three days. An attempt to establish a static observation post on MT. CROCE met with failure; the infantry had not secured the upper slopes. Nineteen missions were fired. Battery “A” fired 307 rounds; Battery “B” 263; Battery “C”273; Total, 843.
November 12 begun with the proposed advance of the 3rd Bn., 157th north from POZZILLI toward ACQUAFONDATA simultaneously with the advance of 2nd Bn., 179th toward FILIGNANO; the 1st Bn., 179th reported that they had secured Hill 769. The possession of this hill was deemed necessary for the protection of the 3rd Bn., 157th. The Liaison Officer and two forward observers assigned to accompany the 3rd Bn. joined it at 0530A. Shortly afternoon it was reported that Company “C” 157th had arrived at its first objective. Also was reported the fact that the enemy counterattacked our forces on MT. CROCE but were driven off. The Germans were fighting hard to hold every inch of their lines; they poured small arms, mortar, and artillery fire on the advancing 3rd Bn and forestalled their attempt to get Hill 640. To add to Company “A’s” troubles the 179th Infantry had not secured Hill 769. Our static observer received his share of artillery fire but this was ineffective. Both the static observer and the forward observers adjusted fire on the many targets offered by an active enemy. Twenty six missions were fired. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 751; Battery “B”, 487; Battery “C”, 487; Total, 1725.
Cheering news was received at 1301 20 November; the units on the right flank of the Division had secured COLLE and MONTAQUILA, thus bringing their front lines more nearly abreast of ours. The 179th was still reported to hold Hill 769 and plans were made for Company “L” 157th to take Hill 640 and for “K” Company to take Hill 460. The 1st Bn., 157th Infantry was to be relieved, the 2nd Bn., taking over their positions. Arrangements were made to send out new forward observers and parties and a new liaison officer. To relieve the observers then on duty it was necessary to call Lt. Bolon of Service Battery to take one forward OP party. This officer was discovered to be too ill for duty, and 1st Sergeant Miller, of Battery “A” was given this duty. Our observers fired numerous missions this day. Observers monitored the radio firing channel and thus kept abreast of the situation on all sides, and to further their perception of enemy installations reported, locations of enemy positions within our sector, as contained in the G-2 Periodic Report and the VI Corps Artillery Information Letter, were broadcast to these observers. As in the past, this dissemination of information bore fruit, increasing the number of missions that would have been fired had each observer had to rely on his own scrutiny of his sector for his targets. The first intimation that all was not well with the 3rd Bn came when the radio of the forward observer with “L” Company Lt. Merchant, broadcast, in an unrecognized voice, a request that we send a new forward observing party and medical personnel. The Battalion Surgeon and a party were readied while attempts were made to learn more of the situation up front. It was discovered that the enemy had met and roughly handled Company “L”. The Battalion planned to relieve Company “L” after dark with Company “K”. During this time our static observer fired on more troops advancing up the reverse slope of Hill 640, but, the harm had been done. The remnants of Company “L” descended from Hill 460; patrols were to be sent to recover the wounded and dead and this high point was to be abandoned for the time being. No additional forward observer was sent as Lt. Block, was assigned with the Battalion’s leading elements. At 2115A we received word that the 157th had perfected their plan for retrieving wounded and determining what strength were the forces occupying the hill; Raiders were to go to Hills 460 and 470 following an artillery preparation of five minutes. Our “B” Battery, still in an exposed position, was called out, and aid was granted by the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. Two of their batteries and two of ours were to fire 180 rounds. One indication of further enemy retreat; the OP observed a bridge at 010252 was blown. Twenty-six missions were fired again this day. Rounds fired: Battery “A”, 532; Battery “B”, 302; Battery “C”, 928; Total, 1762.
Sunday, 14 November began with the preparation as planned, at 0330A. Progress of the patrol was reported by one of our static observers who said that small arms fire could be seen on Hill 460. The patrol returned, bringing casualties, and reporting the enemy was there. A later report from the 179th Infantry told of abandoning Hill 739; our hopes for adequate observation were dashed. The static observer on the right of our sector, having been given the task of following the 179th Infantry in order to get a position on Hill 769, was driven by rifle and machine gun fire, leaving his observing equipment hidden in brush surrounding the site. We were left with one static OP. Prisoners of War this day said, upon interrogation, that they had no knowledge of expected enemy counter-attacks, that their forces were well supplied with ammunition but that they had not received water and food for two days. They ascribed this failure of supply to the bridges they had demolished and the effectiveness of our interdictory fire. We fired twenty-eight missions this day. Rounds fired: Battery “A”, 319; Battery “B”, 0; Battery “C”, 257; Total, 576.
Nov 15 brought more warnings of suspected counter-attacks. Prisoners gave statements to interrogators that were conflicting in their import; the enemy was pulling back because they were not prepared to hold against such overwhelming odds; that they were reinforcements. Orders reiterated the Division Intelligence SOP to the effect that numbers of troops and vehicles that composed artillery targets would be accurately reported, also that any body of enemy troops of 60 or more in number would be reported to Division as a “flash” warning. The Battalion Commander attended a conference at 45th Division Artillery at which he received the gist of a field order later received from Division. The Division was to man a defensive lines; barrages, normal and emergency, were to be determined in conjunction with the infantry plans; this Battalion was to remain in direct support of the 157th Infantry, to be reinforced by the 160th Field Artillery Battalion and Company “C” of the 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Emergency barrages were to be approved by Division Artillery. The 160th, 189th, and the 645th laid lateral lines to us, and the latter sent a Liaison Officer and detail. Arrangements were made to register this company the following day. Infantry patrolling was active, their reports were negative. Rain fell ceaselessly this day, resulting in few missions being fired. A total of 16 missions were fired. Rounds fired numbered: Battery “A”, 168; Battery “B”, 18; Battery “C”, 98; Total, 284.
Nov 16 brought us information that the enemy was entirely engaged in defending his positions. One of his patrols penetrated our lines and was discovered in POZZILLI, enemy observation posts were discovered and fired upon by our observers, as were enemy guns, the Germans had dispossessed the native population of VITICUSO and ACQUAFONDATA; and our lines received machine gun, small arms, and mortar fire. The enemy artillery shelled forward and rear areas spasmodically throughout the day. A lone round of German shell fire fell in our Battery “A’s” position, killing one enlisted man, wounding two others (all gun sentries), and disabling one howitzer. The Commanding Officer, 157th Infantry requested fire during the night on the village of CONCACASALE, the vicinity from which the fires came that harassed his lines. The 36th Field Artillery fired between 100 and 125 rounds upon that place during the night. We also fired on VITICUSO in accordance with the Corps plan to shell that town. Our observers fired ten missions this day. We fired the following number of rounds: Battery “A”, 184; Battery “B”, 51; Battery “C”, 106; Total, 341.
Nov 17 was ushered in by enemy shell fire on our front lines. Enemy patrols were reported to be active on all fronts; they encountered all our outposts. Patrols of our infantry were met by machine gun fire. Our observers started firing as soon as the morning mist cleared the hills in front of them. The enemy was found in ravines, on observation posts, gun positions, and in the many dwellings and huts dotting the hillsides in front of us. Our observers indefatigable searched them out with our fire, renewing the fire when they reappeared in these places. The enemy artillery gave us some of our own medicine; Battery “B” was shelled at 1610, 34 rounds landing in the vicinity of the Battery. One enlisted man was killed and the Battery Executive was injured by the pile of exploding ammunition, the ammunition having been struck by one of the enemy rounds. One vehicle was disabled. The Battalion Commander and Battery “B’s” Commander went forward to select a position well beyond POZZILLI. The Battalion fired 28 missions this day. Number of rounds fired this day were as follows: Battery “A”, 132; Battery “B”, 138; Battery “C”, 162; Total, 432.
On Nov 18, the Battalion Commander and the Commanding Officer of Battery “B” went for further reconnaissance for a position for that Battery. Information was gained of more enemy installations; these, in addition to yesterdays targets, were fired on many times. Our observers watched the Germans digging in and laying mines and placing trip wires. The enemy heavily shelled the POZZILLI and VENAFRO areas. Forty-seven missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired this day were: Battery “A”, 422; Battery “B”,32; Battery “C”, 367; Total, 821.
Nov 19 passed in much the same manner as the previous day. Areas found during the previous days’ observations to harbor the enemy again proved to be productive targets, though not to such an extent. Division Artillery denied our request to move Battery “B” to the forward position, giving the reason that the proposed site was too far forward. Two prisoners taken by the 157th Infantry bore pamphlets of the kind we had fired a few days before. This day sixteen missions were fired. Number of rounds were fired as follows: Battery “A”, 346; Battery “B”, 8; Battery “C”, 365; Total, 719.
The enemy, becoming wary, had so concealed his movements under the cover of darkness, and in the deep ravines that traveled the area behind his lines, that Nov 20 found us with very few targets. Information, tending to collaborate earlier reports, was given by escapees from German and Italian prisoner of war camps, to the effect that the Germans had driven the civilian population from the towns of ACQUAFONDATA and VITICUSO. Reports also told that our harassing fire on the POZZILLI-CASALA road was effective. Our main difficulty was in locating and silencing enemy artillery. Reports from natives and our own observations led us to believe that the greater portion of this fire came from self-propelled vehicles that were driven to previously surveyed positions, fired on interdicting missions and displaced as soon as fire was placed in their vicinity. Many of these guns were known to approach close to our lines. Large caliber guns (15-cm) were still firing upon us from the vicinity of ACQUAFONDATA. Brilliant flashes, silhouetting the hills to our front, unaccompanied by the roar of an explosion were first observed during the early evening of Nov 20. This day also there began a series of attacks upon those of our troops who held MT. CROCE. The attack was repelled. Only nine missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 126; Battery “B”, 0; Battery “C”, 307; Total, 433.
Sunday, Nov 21, began with reports from our infantry that their patrols found nothing during their night’s activity. There were reports from civilians that told of the removal of civilians from the town of CASALE; also reports from civilians of gun positions in front of us. These guns were well defilade from all points of observation along our front and were believed the cause of much of our trouble; the almost ceaseless fire felling in the forward and rear areas of the Division this day was estimated to be from close-in guns. Other, larger calibre artillery, was thought to be located in the vicinity of CASALE, by the sound of the gun reports; this fire also fell heavily on VENAFRO. The report from the native of the civilian evacuation of CASALE was a “Go Ahead” signal to us; Corps and our Division Artillery fired unobserved fire in that area. As in the case of unobserved fires previously placed on ACQUAFONDATA, enemy shelling was interrupted during the fire, whether actual damage was done him or not. Sixteen missions were fired this day. We fired the following number of rounds: Battery “A”, 334; Battery “B”, 66; Battery “C”, 342; Total, 742.
Nov 22, in the early morning, reports came in from patrols of the 157th Infantry, saying that the enemy was engaged during the night in digging in along the POZZILLI-ACQUAFONDATA road; they also uncovered listening posts of the Germans, and two gun positions. Few missions were fired this day. 12 in number. Number of rounds follow: Battery “A”, 222; Battery “B”, 125; Battery “C”, 128; Total, 475.
The events of Nov 23 were a repetitious of the previous day’s. Our observers fired on enemy installations all through the day. The enemy again attacked the 1st Ranger Battalion, on our left, whose mission was to hold MT. CROCE. The Rangers held, and later reported they believed the enemy was preparing to attack in our zone the next day. We fired seven rounds of propaganda shells this day on targets previously fired with “H.E.” Eleven missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 171; Battery “B”, 86; Battery “C”, 122; Total, 479.
On Nov 24 the 157th Infantry patrols reported that they heard enemy vehicular activity in CONCACASALE. This was believed to be the site of some of the shorter ranged guns that had been firing in our areas. None of the observation posts included this place in their visible areas. A further attempt was made to better our observation when the Battalion Commander went forward to establish another observation post from which we could scan the valley of LA RAVA. The enemy artillery was extremely active this day. Their shells began falling in our vicinity at 0300, landing near our CP, the only damage to our wire lines. Later in the day (1615A) 40 rounds of 88mm landed on Battery “B”. Shortly after this 75mm, believed to be from a howitzer, fell on the CP, landing on the steep hillside that had given us an unwarranted sense of security. Neither shelling caused damage or casualties. The POZZILLI and VENAFRO areas were again shelled heavily. Our observers fired on enemy installations and troops; and on one target, an active CP,one platoon of Company “C”, 645th Tank Destroyers, placed interdictory fire every hour. Our observers reported effect each time this mission was fired. Four rounds of pamphlets were shot on two locations that contained German troops. Fourteen missions were fired this day. Battery “A” fired 407 rounds; Battery “B”, 89; Battery “C”, 149; Total rounds fired, 645.
We started Nov 25 by firing in conjunction with the rest of Division Artillery and the 34th Division Artillery, at the request of the 34th Division on three enemy mortar positions in the sector of the 34th at 0100. This fire was repeated at 0700. More activity was observed at the enemy CP upon which the Tank Destroyers fired Nov 24, so they were again instructed to interdict this area. Good results were reported. Our observers reported and fired on profitable targets. A native reported heavy traffic on the DEMANTO-CASALE-ACQUAFONDATA road and said that this traffic included self-propelled guns. Fifteen missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 548; Battery “B”, 125; Battery “C”, 807, Total, 1480.
On Nov 26 we fired on enemy mortars, guns, and personnel with good effect. Four rounds of pamphlets were fired into areas known to contain enemy troops. The enemy fired into our areas during the day more viciously than on the previous day. 30 or more enemy rounds fell in the POZZILLI area and 50 rounds fell on Battery “B”, disabling 5 trucks, destroying one quadrant sight, and burning five propaganda shells. We fired on schedule during the night upon Corps orders, 360 rounds on four enemy mortar positions during the night, and in addition, fired 250 rounds harassing fire on seven known enemy positions. Missions fired this date totaled 14. Number of rounds fired were as follows: Battery “A”, 319; Battery “B”, 68,; Battery “C”, 414; Total, 801. At 0423 Nov 27 two distinct flashes were seen from the CP. They appeared to be in enemy territory and, since no explosions were heard, were thought to be demolitions in the distance. Observation after daylight did not bear out this conclusion, enemy activity was everywhere. Our observers fired on guns, machine guns, mortars, and personnel all day. A CP and a dump were also among German installations upon which we fired. The 1st Ranger Battalion received another counter-attack during the afternoon; this was withstood. Battery “B” moved to a previously selected position north of POZZILLI to avoid the frequent accurate enemy. Twenty-six missions were fired this day. Battery “A” fired 376 rounds; Battery “B”, No rounds; Battery “C”, 588 rounds; Total rounds, 964.
On Nov 28 our ammunition officer reported that our Service Battery was shelled during the night; that of the 30 rounds that fell in the area only two burst. A similar report was received from our Liaison Officer with the 157th Infantry of the shelling of the infantry area. The Division Field Order was received giving us the plan for the advance that was to commence the next day. Our days of comparative in activity promised to draw to a close. Our Battalion was to support the 157th Infantry as usual. Division ordered more extensive patrolling; this, we hoped, would bring to light more positive locations of the many enemy artillery positions we were sure existed in front of us. One disadvantage occurred to us in this instance; the operation of friendly patrols restricted our schedule of harassing fires. Those, we felt, did keep the enemy awake even though they inflicted no widespread destruction. Our observers fired fewer missions this day, twelve, to be exact. Eight rounds of propaganda were fired. Number of rounds fired this day were as follows: Battery “A”, 500; Battery “B”, 107; Battery “C”, 348; Total, 955.
The first report by our Liaison Officer with the assault battalion of the 157th Infantry on Nov 29 informed us that Hills 460 and 470, their initial objective, had been taken without opposition. A later report saying that only Hill 460 was taken came in. The infantry on the right, the 179th, were to bypass Hill 769, a stumbling block encountered during our previous attempts to advance, to take Hills 640 and 970. This was to prove our stumbling block this day; our observers reported frequently that they could see the enemy on the southern slope of this hill but, until late in the afternoon clearance was not to be had. Then our observer adjusted this Battalion, the 160th and the 189th Field Artillery Battalion on this area containing some 200 Germans, with good effect. These, we felt sure, impeded the progress of our infantry. Many profitable targets were fired, the most profitable shooting being on a group of some 60 enemy infantrymen. This mission was re–fired several times, when they would emerge from shelter points along the road. Three rounds of propaganda were fired. Ten missions were fired this day. Ammunition fired this day: Battery “A”, 650; Battery “B”, 202; Battery “C”, 377; Total, 1229.
We greeted Nov 30 by trying to get clearance to fire on Hill 769, with no more success than we had the day before, in spite of the fact that our observers reported positive identification of German forces there and no sign of our own. Visible signs of enemy activity were less than the previous day, as evidenced by the fact that our observers only fired six missions. The weather was a contributing factor, fog and mist obscuring the hillsides during the morning. Repeated attempts to obtain permission to fire on the enemy on Hill 769 resulted in permission being granted too late in the gathering dusk to attempt an adjustment. Division Headquarters ordered propaganda leaflets fired over the town of CONCACASALE. A high burst adjustment was impossible because, at this time, a hot skirmish between the 1st Rangers and the enemy, in which smoke was employed, so blotted out the vision of our observer that a high burst adjustment could not be made. This smoke drifted Northeast and brought to an untimely end our observation for the day. Enemy artillery positions, 75-mm howitzers, and self-propelled routes were reported by a patrol of the 45th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop. The enemy’s artillery, which had remained fairly quiet in our areas during the day, renewed its activity late in the evening. In the vicinity of the Command Post, 32 rounds fell during a period of about an hour. Six missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 55; Battery “B”, 8; Battery “C”, 411; Total, 474.
We adopted a plan on about Nov 10, when the situation became static, to consider our forward observers as static observers and relieve them every third day, in the same manner as we relieved parties manning static OP’s. We required each firing battery to organize a fourth observation party; every battery officer except the Battery Commander was to be used in turn to man these observation posts. When some of these officers became ill or were injured, as did happen, junior officers assigned to Service Battery and Headquarters Battery were used to head the parties of the incapacitated officers. Three non-commissioned officers who were being groomed for commissions; 1st Sgt John Eldon Miller and S/Sgt John A Laubhan of Battery “A”, and Tech Sgt William T Morton, Headquarters Battery, were utilized as observers during this period. Their performance was excellent. This plan permitted the frequent relief of parties that they might return from the rain swept hills, where supplies were to be had only by pack train, and go into VENAFRO for a hot bath and dry clothing. Each battery was assigned one OP to man and all took turns at the Battalion OP.The resultant familiarity with the terrain as viewed from their respective OP’s paid dividends to the Fire Direction Center by facilitating identification of terrain features and previously-fired concentrations.
November faded into December, and Thunderbird forces moved slowly northward until on 9 January 1944 the 45th Infantry Division was relieved from combat and moved to a rest area.
December 1 began much as the previous days had began; the enemy was shelling from an undetermined position. Request by Headquarters , 45th Division Artillery to pick up and report his flashes; as usual no flashes could be discerned. The German artillery man’s use of truly flash-less powder, or flash hiders, or superior defilade, or some combination of these advantages made the task of observing the front for his gun flashes a profitless one. Later in the morning we received a report that our infantry were on neither of the two hills that comprised their initial objective; they were at a knoll to the Northeast of Hill 460. The infantry requested our fire on this hill. Patrols reported that the enemy was digging in before us. Our observers watched the enemy employ ambulances and stretcher bearers during mid-forenoon; a prisoner of war reported our fire of the night before had caused casualties. Difficulty was again experienced in obtaining clearance to fire on profitable targets to our North. Missions were fired on enemy mortars and houses sheltering troops. Three rounds of “FRONTPOST” and three rounds propaganda were fired. We also registered the 938th Field Artillery Battalion on our Base Point. We were given the objectives and routes of the infantry’s patrols for the night of December 1-2, and planned our harassing fires for the period with the help of our liaison officers to the infantry battalions. We fired ten missions. Number of rounds fired are as follows: Battery “A”, 214; Battery “B”, 376; Battery “C”, 134; Total, 724.
Everything was quiet from midnight until 0607 December 2, when 18 rounds enemy fire landed in the vicinity of t he Command Post, two fell near the kitchen. The 189th Field Artillery Battalion, out neighbor unit, suffered two casualties; ourselves none. Our infantry’s patrols returned with prisoners from a new unit on our front; the 44th Infantry Division. These bore tidings that our shelling was effective. Our observers reported, and conducted fire on, frequent enemy infantry activity around houses and on mortars, and one OP. Word was received that our allowance of ammunition was to be reduced to 50 rounds per piece per day, but that the allotment of 3 inch ammunition to the 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion was unlimited. We adjusted the fire of Company “C” on one of this day’s productive targets in preparation for the harassing fire to be delivered the following night. We established an observation post atop MT CROCE this day in order that we might acquire observation of a greater distance. The enemy placed forty two shells in the vicinity of the Command Post during the afternoon and night. Ten missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 375; Battery “B”, 231; Battery “C”, 64; Total, 670.
As far as we were concerned the enemy artillery started the new day, December 3, by firing 5 rounds in the vicinity of the Command Post. No harm was done. Patrols returned, bearing the information that all the hill-tops on our front were occupied by the enemy. The infantry reported their sectors to be quiet; our observers saw little, a ceaseless rain masking their view. Positions of enemy artillery, gleaned from aerial photographs, were given them, but to no avail. The enemy apparently had the same trouble, except for two rounds at about 1900A, the early morning shelling was all our vicinity received. This Battalion scheduled 50 rounds of interdictory fires for ourselves and 792 rounds for the Tank Destroyer Company for the night. Three missions were fired this day: Battery “A” fired 56 rounds; Battery “B”, 320; Battery “C”, 135; Total, 511.
The dawn of Saturday, December 4, was almost hidden by the rain. Poor visibility made the conduct of observed fire impossible. The 179th Infantry, on our right, started a planned movement forward and during this maneuver ran into enemy resistance that seemed to overlap into the sector of the 157th Infantry; at about the same time that the 179th was pushed off of Hill 750 by the Germans the front of Company “K”, 157th Infantry became active. The latter received mortar and machine gun fire to such an extent that our observer in that area, Lieutenant Van Ness, was forced to retire to an observing position in rear of the one he occupied. Lieutenant Van Ness placed fire on areas previously fired on that were known to have contained mortars and machine guns and, although this fire was unobserved did silence the enemy’s fire. We received a report at 1415 hrs. that the local enemy activity in front of “K” Company had ceased. It was later learned that the 179th regained Hill 750 and was preparing to push forward this night to Hills 640 and 970. Six missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 149; Battery “B”, 1.53; Battery “C”, 55; Total, 357.
Infantry patrols having been changed to listening posts on account of the rain for the night 4 – 5th December, there were only negative reports Dec. 5. The rain had ceased by dawn and visibility thus improved. The Germans actively defended their positions, delaying the advance of the 179th and harassing the 3d Battalion, 157th during the entire day. The enemy paid little attention to the 1st Battalion, 157th this day; no artillery fire falling on their lines. The Division Commander ordered all artillery to fire on an area in which, it was believed, the enemy was forming to counter-attack the 179th; this Battalion fired 50 rounds on this mission. The counter-attack did not develop. No report was received of any advance of the 179th this day. A prisoner of war collaborated the statements of two prisoners of the preceding day when he told us that the enemy troops received the same news of the German home-front as that contained in the “FRONTPOST”. Visibility was much improved this day except, in the case of our observation post atop MT CROCE, low clouds and ground haze obscured the view from this point. Fifteen rounds of propaganda were fired this day and, as on previous occasions, brought down fire on our area during the early evening; eighteen rounds of 105-mm fell in the vicinity of the CP. We were informed of patrols for the night and requested to fire smoke to cover their movements, which we did. During the day sixteen missions were fired. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 234; Battery “B”, 112; Battery “C”, 79; Total, 425.
The enemy began December 6 firing 25 rounds into the POZZILLI area, some of them too close to the CP for comfort. The 179th began their advance this day, capturing prisoners and a 6-barreled rocket mortar. Our 157th received heavy mortar fire daring the day. The possession of Hill 769 was disputed, the enemy as well as ourselves, firing on it. Larger groups of enemy infantry were observed than heretofore seen; these, in addition to mortars, were covered with fire by our observers. Five rounds of propaganda were fired at a known enemy location. Over 100 rounds of enemy shell fire landed in the Battalion area from 0900 hours until midnight. The weather, during the morning was misty, but during the afternoon the clouds rose and visibility was much improved. Patrolling activities for the night were reported and harassing fires arranged on six points upon which we had previously fired. Smoke was again fired to screen the infantry patrols. Ten missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 222; Battery “B”, 121; Battery “C”, 62; Total, 405.
Ten minutes after midnight, December 7, our observer fired on enemy mortars that had been shelling on infantry; this silenced the mortars. Patrols returned early that the 1st Battalion, 157th sent out, reporting guns at a known location, and also reporting the enemy mortars upon which we fired, saying that our fire fell near these weapons. Patrols from the 3d Battalion, 157th reported that houses on Hill 460 were booby-trapped, and the area was mined. The enemy artillery was active again this day; thirty-five rounds of their shells fell in the vicinity of the Command Post during the day. They began at 0405A and the last fell about 1930A; all came from the direction of CASALE and, as usual, the flashes and smoke from their guns remained unseen. Allied air forces bombed and strafed CONCASALE. Our observer on MT CROCE was notified and told to report the effect of this action. He reported that the town was covered. Another observer reported this day that, as on the previous day, the enemy was observed using ambulances, mule-drawn and man drawn carts, and stretcher bearers on the CASALE-POZZILLI road in the vicinity of DEMANIO. Red Cross flags and brassards were always an ostentatious part of the processions; this activity was so frequent that our suspicions were excited and instructions were given to watch these parties closely to detect, if possible, their employment of the Red Cross as a subterfuge. Having been previously instructed to fire on these parties, fire was placed on them and on the areas where they were seen to come from. Our observers continued to observe and fire on mortar and machine gun positions, and troop concentrations with good effect. We also fired four missions in the sector of the 179th Infantry upon the request of the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. Two rounds of propaganda were fired on known enemy locations. The 157th requested us to have an observation plane in the air at 1400A, to stay over the area until 1430A, to locate the 88mm that had been firing on their 3d Battalion during that period of the day for the past several days. Arrangements were successful; the plane was in the air at the appointed time but because of mist and ground haze they were unable to observe at the time the gun was firing. This day was not designed for the conduct of artillery fire; rain squalls and low-hanging clouds prevailed until mid-afternoon when the rain ceased and visibility became fair. Eleven missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 173; Battery “B”, 61; Battery “C”, 354; Total, 588.
The early hours of December 8 (0355A) found us firing on enemy mortars. This day there began a series of reports from our observers of processions of civilians behind the enemy lines, moving toward the rear. They appeared to be unguarded and unarmed. Further observation determined that they carried the usual bundles on their heads; this removed our suspicions that they were Germans in disguise. Patrols dispatched by the 157th Infantry returned; one patrol, sent out for the express purpose of capturing prisoners, lost one man, prisoner to the enemy. We marked VITICUSO with green smoke so that the air forces could bomb that town. The enemy shelled POZZILLI from a new position this day, the shells coming from a “Y” azimuth of 4900 mils and in accordance with their practice of the last few days the enemy shelled our CP at 1730A. This time the fire was more accurate as well as heavier; four men of the 106th AAA were wounded. Two of them seriously, and two trucks damaged by the fusillade of fifty-two 15-cm shells that fell in the immediate vicinity of the fire direction center. The forenoon was rainy, visibility was poor, but during the afternoon the weather cleared and visibility improved. Ten missions were fired this day; targets fired included personnel in the vicinity of buildings and enemy mortars. Number of rounds fired: Battery A”, 218; Battery “B”, 168; Battery “C”, 58; Total, 444.
December 9 was a dull, cloudy day; visibility was only fair. Our air force bombed ACQUAFONDATA and VITICUSO. We watched our planes shuttle to and fro over our lines as we dug our CP tents and slit-trenches deeper, praying that they would blast the enemy battery that shelled us the night before. The enemy drove our troops back down Hill 470 when they attempted to take it during the night. Plans were made during the day for the laying of harassing fires on Hill 470, and fire was adjusted on that point. A preparation was to be placed on the hill and lifted to a supply route in back of the hill when our infantry reached the hilltop this night in another attempt to take the hill. Toward evening patrolling plans were given us and our plans made for harassing fire during the night. We fired 200 rounds on seven points. The assault on Hill 470 began as planned, our Battalion and the infantry’s mortars laying a heavy barrage of some 1000 rounds on the site. Conflicting reports were received of the success and failure of the venture. All that was gained in the end was a firmer hold on Hill 460. Our infantry invested the objective but on its reverse slope met the enemy, who , after the lifting of our fire to permit the advance of our troops, rushed from their dugouts to their emplacements and successfully defended their ground. Six missions were fired this day and three rounds of propaganda were fired on the enemy at known locations. Battery “A” fired 43 rounds; Battery “B”, 111; Battery “C”, 237; Total, 391.
During the early hours of December 10 we fired a false preparation on points of our own choice upon orders of Division Artillery in addition to the previously prepared interdictory fires. More reports were received of Italian civilians moving to the enemy’s rear. Upon appeal to Division Artillery to determine status and occupation of these people, instructions were received to fire on them if they were observed carrying supplies to the German lines.. Little activity took place in front of us. Our air forces bombed CASALE. Warning was received that the enemy had sent four monks into our areas to lay mines, a search was made but at night no report was received that they had been found. The enemy poured some thirty-six rounds into the POZZILLI area during the day. They fired two and three round bursts on scattered points across our front, harassing our infantry, but, doing little damage. One prisoner of war taken this day told that the leaflets from some of our propaganda shells were torn by the action of the shell. This news was passed on. Preparation was made to fire the medium artillery (the 189th) on Hill 470 , employing delay fuse to crush the dug in enemy. Only patrols were to be sent out tonight . This day the ammunition allowance of the 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion was reduced to 18 rounds per gun per day. Only one observed mission was fired this day . Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 294; Battery “B”, 280; Battery “C”, 164; Total, 738.
We received on December 11 reports from patrols of the 157th Infantry that our fire and the fire of the 189th Field Artillery Battalion directed at Hill 470 had been effective; no live enemy contacted, only arms and legs were found. Other patrols found he enemy dug in on Hill 770. A report also was received that the enemy emplaced their artillery in the ruins of buildings and out-buildings within towns . Our bombers attacked VITICCUSO twice and ACQUAFONDATA once; we marked VITICUSO both times with violet smoke to guide the fliers to the target. The enemy fired 37 rounds on the POZZILLI area, this day, same falling in the CP area. No damage was done. Our liaison officers sent us the infantry’s plan for patrolling during the night. We planned to fire, on five areas known to contain enemy installations using 100 rounds. The 179th reported that they took Hill 769 this day. Visibility was good during the day, but in spite of this only two observed missions are fired. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”‘, 102 ; Battery “B”, 82; Battery “C”, 280; Total, 464.
December 12 began cloudy and rainy, visibility was poor. Patrols reported enemy activity on MT. FIALLA and in CONCACASALS. The enemy in CONCACASLE had converted a church into a strong point; machine guns were set up in the tower of the building and also surrounding it. The 160th Field Artillery Battalion moved this day and in preparation for this one of our batteries was registered on one of their emergency barrages to support them during the displacement. The enemy artillery was active, shelling the front lines throughout the active day; 30 rounds fell in the POZZILLI area. Our allowance of ammunition was reduced to 30 rounds per gun per day for the period; December 11 to December 20, both inclusive. The ammunition we had on hand Dec 10 was to be included in this allowance, the effect of the order being to permit us to fire some 7000 rounds during the period. Plans to take Hill 470 were made known to us; we fired for 15 minutes, following 15 minute mortar fire, on that hill in preparation for the undertaking. The weather cleared in the afternoon and visibility improved, permitting increased activity on the part of our observers; seven missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 119, Battery “B”, 186; Battery “C”, 91; Total: 396.
December 13 we received a report of the enemy’s position on Hill 470. Upon the cessation of our fire a patrol went there and received small arms and machine gun fire; the patrol withdrew. A larger patrol went to that same hill, ran into small arms and machine-gun fire that drove them back to Hill 460. The enemy artillery was not as active this day; only six rounds fell in the POZZILLI area. We believed that the work of our Air Force the previous day caused the enemy to move from positions he had occupied to new ones; probably some of his material had been destroyed. Plans were made to take Hill 470 again this night; the plan was more elaborate, for artillery fire to begin at 2300 following the fire by mortars and Cannon Company. Fire was to be lifted upon the firing of a red star cluster. The infantry were to attempt to cut the path of reinforcements at the rear of the hill at the time the frontal attack was to be made. No interdictory fires were to be fired this night. The Battalion Executive attended a conference at the Command Post, 157th Infantry called for the purpose of laying plans for the coming attack. Also, we received the field orders of both the Division and Division Artillery. These plans called for a coordinated attack by the entire VI Corps. Boundaries were altered, the 157th was given Hill 640, formerly an objective of the 179th, as well as Hills 470 and 831. The final plan provided that the 1st Battalion 157th would take Hills 470, 640, 680 and 831. The 2nd Battalion would be prepared to occupy Hills 850 and 770 if necessary, to protect the left of the 1st Battalion, moving to the West to the ground between those two last named hills. D-day and H-h0ur were designated as 0630A, December 15. We began to formulate our plans for the support of this attack; first things come first, therefore we began by hoarding our limited supply of ammunition. Only interdictory fires specifically requested by the infantry would be fired, the firing of smoke would be limited to initial rounds to conserve this precious ammunition, and targets consisting of but a few men of the enemy would draw fire from only one of our batteries in fire for effect. Dull sunlight permitted good observation; more profitable targets were brought under fire, including personnel, mortars, and machine guns. Total missions fired this day, six. Number of rounds fired; Battery “A”, 271; Battery “B”, 49; Battery “C”, 89; Total, 409.
The force whose mission it was to take Hill 470 failed in their attempt; sometime was spent in determining their whereabouts on December 14th. Later reports indicated that the enemy withstood the shell and mortar fire, their positions on the reverse slope of the hill were deep and heavily covered. We alerted forward observing parties in anticipation of the action to begin on the morrow. The 171st sent a liaison officer to us, and through him we registered this battalion. Twenty rounds of especially prepared pamphlet directed to the 44th German Division was delivered to us; those we fired into areas known to contain units of this Division. The enemy artillery busied itself firing on our infantry; no fire was received in the vicinity of our CP. During the evening crews were picked to man the Fire Direction Center well before H-hour, and all batteries were warned to man their pieces a half-hour before this time. Cloudless skies provided our observers with excellent visibility this day. Eight missions were fired. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 58; Battery “B”, 74; Battery “C”, 177; Total, 309.
December 15, the day of the attack, dawned clear and breezy. The infantry units moved out to the assault on time. We placed smoke on Hill 1010 at H-hour; this was difficult to maintain because of the wind, resulting in our consuming most of our limited supply of it. The Battalion Commander went forward to the Battalion OP, arriving there before H-hour, where he could look down upon the terrain that constituted our main forces main effort. We had another observer on Hill 1025, MT. CROCE, and the 171st had two excellent OP’s on the forward slope of a saddle between MT. CORNO and MT. CROCE. The observers on our left had an excellent view of the Valleys and hill through which the 2nd Bn, 157th had to traverse to perform its mission of protecting the 1st Bn 157th. Thus observation proved a boon to the 157th as well as ourselves this day. The observers on the right , particularly the Battalion Commander and Lt. Bolon on Hill 675, conducted fire on targets of opportunity that remained hidden from the infantry and our forward observers accompanied them. The observers on the left, including those of the 171st; also rendered the same service. These missions were broadcast by radio and telephone to the forward observers and liaison officers as they were fired, this keeping our supported unit informed of the enemy’s strength and intentions. Other observations of importance to our infantry, such as; the concealment of 20 enemy in a draw behind their lines, the establishment of a machine gun position and the concealed advance of 200 enemy from CONCACASALE toward that area in the sector of the 2nd Bn, were disseminated to our forward observers and liaison officers. We were unable to fire on some of these profitable targets because of the intermingling of our troops and the enemy. By dusk our forces had taken Hill 640, and were well up the slope of 850 and MT. FIALLA. Patrol activity was made known to us, as were the intentions of the 2nd Battalion to continue to the summits of the two hills, the slopes of which they occupied. A warning came from Division Artillery to avoid interdicting the CASALE- POZZILLI road , this, together with the patrolling by the 157th, made interdictory fire risky; we decided to forego harassing the enemy. The evening was spent arranging new defensive fires. Twenty-two missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 164; Battery “B”, 329; Battery “C”, 312; Total, 805.
December 16 was cloudy and slightly hazy; observation was only fair. The tactical situation was as nearly obscured. During he day our observers saw, reported for the purpose of warning our infantry, and fired on enemy troops on Hills 640 and 470. Our forces variously reported that they held Hill 470 and that they did not, and they were on and off the summit of Hill 640. In the meantime our forces on the left were having their troubles, having received a counter attack at 0320 hours and under the cover of a smoke screen laid down by us and the chemical mortars, Companies “E” and “G” withdrew from Hill 850 and MT. FIALLA and returned to the vicinity of their original positions on Hill 759. Our observer with Company “G”, Staff Sergeant Laubhan, gave us warning at 0320 that the enemy counter attack was developing; he cautioned us that our infantry might be forced to withdraw, requesting us to be prepared to conceal the movement with smoke on Hills 850, 831, and 680. We fired in defense of the infantry, and, as to the enemy succeeded in fighting through our fire, at 0330 hours the observer called for the smoke screen that enabled this harassed unit to retire from the slopes. Again, at 1050 hours, we received warning of a counter attack, this time directed against Company “E” on MT. FILLA. Our Liaison Officer with the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry, Captain Wright, received word of this threat and requested us to prepare t o fortify the fires of the chemical mortars in their efforts to veil the withdrawal of our forces. Our consumption of smoke shell was strictly controlled by Division Artillery; they gave us permission to use fifteen to twenty rounds for this purpose. It was ascertained from our Liaison Officer, that the mortars were not producing a sufficient screen and where the smoke was needed most. We arranged with him the time of laying the screen so that the infantry would be prepared to take full advantage of the meager allowance and fired it in battery volleys, delegating the delivery to the 171st. It was fired at 1130 hours . Company “E” began arriving at Hill 759 at 1205 hours. The enemy, as well as ourselves, shelled Hills 640 and 470.We marked CASALE at 1000 hours and at 1400 hours with orange smoke to guide aircraft to their bombing targets; the afternoon bombing was apparently directed on Hill 470, rather than on CASALE; to our horror; this settled the point as to who held that place when our infantry gleefully reported that all but one of the bombs landed on Hill 470, causing the enemy many casualties. Another attempt was made at about 1600 hours to take Hill 470; again the tanks were to precede the infantry, as the surprise of this maneuver the day before resulted in the surrender of 24 of the enemy. This attack failed and by 2130 hours our forward observer with Company “C” reported t hat we could safely fire harassing fire on the reverse slope of the hill. We fired eleven missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 185; Battery “B”, 162; Battery “C”, 406; Total, 753. 15 rounds of propaganda were fired on Hill 850.
The early morning of December 17 was quiet, reports of small arms fire to the right front of the position of our combat teams lines indicated that the 179th was still in contact with the enemy. Later in the day this unit occupied Hill 720, thus helping us secure our right flank. A report that indicated the enemy was relinquishing his claim to the area east of CASALE was welcomed this forenoon; the CASALE-ACQUAFONDATA road was blown out at 999271. Civilians made reports that the enemy’s artillery was emplaced in the vicinity of VALLEROTONDA. Patrols of the left-flank units found enemy on FIALLA, but a wounded German left on the lower slopes of that hill was heard crying during the night and early morning. The right flank units sent a patrol to Hill 470 and sent a tank up the CASALE-POZZILLI road; the latter to search the sides of Hills 831 and 470, and the houses at the base point that constituted a refuge for enemy snipers. One of our observers, Lieutenant Kilcollins, on Hill 640 observed the activities of the tank and, spying caves to the right of the road, advised us to have the commander of the tank to turn its turret to that direction and fire into the enemy hidden therein. This we did, through our liaison with the 157th; gratifying results were reported. This day was reported that the enemy was entirely driven from Hill 640. Allied Air forces drew no “AA” fire on the sortie up the LARAVA Valley. The Commanding General, 45th Division Artillery, ordered all observers to be on the alert for indications of withdrawal of the enemy and to report them immediately, especially in the area of 012270. Our infantry sent patrols to Hills 009268 and 003279, the former to stay at that position. Lieutenant Kilcollins accompanied this patrol. These patrols would help us secure terrain nearer our final objective. A patrol followed by a platoon of Company “A” occupied Hill 470; this was to be the final occupation of that coveted spot. The force on the left flank were to send a patrol to Hill 770. The enemy artillery and mortars were busy all this day; their mortar positions become our principal targets. Thirty-eight rounds of enemy shell fire landed in the POZZILLI area during the day . Six missions were fired during the day, among them 10 rounds of pamphlets were placed on target following the fire for effect. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 68; Battery “B”, 72; Battery “C”, 84; Total, 224.
Patrols returned early December 18; they found enemy on Hill 831, but none on 680. The infantry made known their plans to us to send forces to take Hill 831; the force to be supported by tanks who were to blast the enemy out of their holes with direct fire. They would invest Hills 680 and 831. The patrol to Hill 560, accompanied by our observer, reached and occupied the point. The 2nd Battalion, on the left, were to start out in the mid afternoon to occupy Hills 770, 850, and 831 an hour after the 1st Battalion jumped off. By midnight we received reports that the advance elements of the 2nd Battalion was well up onto Hill 831; no opposition was met. Number of missions fired this day, two. Battery “A” fired 38 rounds; Battery “B”, none; Battery “C”, 17; total 55.
Sunday, December 19 was our lucky day though it can not be described as a day of rest. As early as 0220 hours sanguine reports from the front lines began to flow into our Command Post. The 2nd Battalion invested Hill 770 shortly after midnight and at 0802 hours we received the report that they had occupied Hill 850. The leading elements of the 1st Battalion, reported our two forward observers who were with them, gained the top of Hill 831, at 0315 hours. Four prisoners captured during the early morning stated their unit, on MT. CAVALLO, had been assigned the mission of fighting a weak delaying action; they stated further that they gave up because of hunger. Their veracity was proved; one fainted of hunger and exposure, and our forces were within 200 yards of the summit of MT. CAVALLO at 1405 hours. They attained the highest ground in a short while and prepared, as did the 2nd Battalion, to patrol to their front during the night. We acquired their plans, and based on them and the ample enemy information reported by our observers throughout the day, planned our harassing fires for the night. New defensive fires were also arranged. Happy reports came to us of the successful advance of the units on our right; the 180th Infantry, having passed through the 179th Infantry, had attained positions on the heights due north of the front lines of our combat team. The weather was clear and aided our observers in their endeavors to support the advance of our infantry; they conducted fire on an enemy group of infantry and on an enemy observation post, the only enemy activity seen. The enemy artillery did not shell our positions this day, nor was the shelling of our Infantry more than half-halfhearted. Two missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, None; Battery “B”, 46; Battery “C”, 9; Total, 55.
December 20 proved to be a dull day for the artillery; reports of German positions and activities were our only transactions. Patrols reported contact with the enemy before VITICUSO, a captured map showed pill-boxes along road west of that town, and aerial photographs revealed machine gun positions east of the town. A former officer of the Italian Army, slipped through the German lines, gave us detailed report of artillery positions north and northwest of VITICUSO; one of these gun positions was reported by Sound and Flash as an artillery location. We fired, upon instructions from Division Artillery upon these photo locations at 1515 hour s and again at 1750 hours. Patrol plans were given us along with a request for harassing fires for the night. The enemy shelled POZZILLI with 15 cm this night, using delay fuses that allowed the shells to penetrate so deeply into the rain soaked earth that they merely stirred the surface of the ground when they burst, our report of them at the time called them duds. Visibility ranged from fair during the greater part of the day too poor by 1400 hours when rain commenced falling. We fired seven missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 28; Battery “B”, 25; Battery “C”, 138; Total, 191.
December 21 we learned that our infantry’s patrols were unsuccessful in establishing positive contact with the enemy, as were the patrols of the 180th Infantry, on our right. During the morning the 180th received a counter attack; this was quelled. At about the same time, 1150 hours our combat team received orders to clear off Hill 990; we fired a 15 minute preparation at their request to assist them. We ceased this fire at the request of our forward observer who was with the infantry near the spot; the fire was falling too close to our forces. He adjusted our fire to better advantage. We fired as part of a six battalion shoot on a target selected by Division Artillery at 1430 hours and at 1700 hours. The patrol plan was received and harassing fires planned for the ensuing night. The enemy artillery was confined to the shelling of our infantry’s lines, no shell fire falling in our position areas. Six missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 174; Battery “B”, 206; Battery “C”, 48; Total, 428.
Our first activity December 22 was to fire a requested 15 minute preparation on Hill 990 to enable Company “B” to occupy this piece of ground, yesterday’s attempt having failed. We followed this fire with interdiction of the knoll behind the objective for the further protection of our infantry. The venture was doomed; within ten minutes one of our front-line observers requested fire to the left of the last-named point; the forming of a counter attack was suspected. At the same time quiescence was reported in the front of the 180th by that unit. “B” Company had reached the spur of Hill 990 at 1026 hours and were proceeding up the hill when the suspected counter attack materialized. Our observer who had reported the formation of the attack conducted the fire in the defense of our troops who retired from the slopes and fell back of our front lines, there to lick their wounds. The loss of our men in this abortive attack was not entirely without recompense; our forces captured fourteen prisoners. Patrols were arranged for the night, and, based on this information we arranged our harassing fires. During the day, in spite of driving rains and cloud banks that obscured the mountain tops, we fired on an enemy bivouac area in addition to the observed fires in support of the infantry action. The 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery fired 30 rounds in one hour thirty five minutes, daytime interdiction on VITICUSO while we fired on a trail behind Hill 990 at the rate of one round every ten minutes to harass traffic reported passing these points. Four observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 472; Battery “B”, 63; Battery “C”, 40; Total, 575.
December 23 was confined, as far as we were concerned, to registering the 1st Battalion 178th Field Artillery and the 160th Field Artillery Battalion on one base point and ourselves on another. A prisoner reported that enemy installations were west of VITICUSO. Patrols were arranged for the night as were our interdictory fires. Rain and low hanging clouds may account for the inactivity of our observers. One mission was fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 59; Battery “B”, 38; Battery “C”, 283; Total, 380.
We began December 24 by firing a Division Artillery Concentration at 0705 hours. Our infantry initiated a new method of patrolling December 24; daylight patrols. Two were set out this day; one to Hill 1040 and the other to Hill 990. This plan paid dividends; the location of the defenders of Hill 990 was discovered. Hill 1040 was invested by a platoon upon the strength of a report of the patrol to the point. We sent an observer with this platoon, who had been stationed on Hill 650, relying on the two OP’s of the 171st in the saddle between MT. CROCE and MT. CORNO to observe the exposed left flank of our infantry. Enemy artillery was active this day all across the front of our infantry; enemy fire drove one of our observers to discontinue adjusting on an enemy observation post while he sought and found another OP. Christmas Eve the CP area received its first shelling in several days. Our guns firing interdiction during the night, blasted the rumor that Christmas Day would be a day of peace. New normal and emergency barrages were planned this day. Two missions were fired. Number of rounds fired as follows; Battery “A”, 18; Battery “B”, 267; Battery “C”, 16; Total, 301.
Christmas Day was a quiet one. The infantry relieved their 1st Battalion, bringing the 3rd Battalion into the lines. We fired two volleys on three concentrations selected by Division Artillery at 1155 hours, befogging the observation of one of our forward observers who was firing on an enemy OP. Fire was resumed on the OP with good effect. A British escapee told our infantry that enemy troops still occupied ACQUAFONDATA, that they were engaged in blasting operations in the vicinity of VALLE ROTONDA and between S. ELLA and the hill mass north of there, and they had dammed up the river CASSINO to flood the lowlands there. Patrols reported dead pack mules on a trail at a point were we had repeatedly fired interdictory fires; signs of occupation of Hill 1130 were also reported. These observations together with reports from the patrols of the units on our right, led us to believe that the enemy was out posting on the hill masses east of VITICUSO, his defensive line along MT. MAJO – Hill 1146 – MT. MOLINO. We fired six missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 305; Battery “B”, 80; Battery “C”, 105; Total, 490.
We hailed the break of day of December 26 with fire on three Division Artillery concentrations. Our infantry dispatched daytime patrols to the front, and to the left flank to contact units from there at MT. FIALLA. The latter patrol failed to make contact but did find the hill unoccupied except for abandoned machine gun nests and two dead Germans. The first patrol saw evidence of the enemy occupation of Hill 1130, and sign of recent German occupation of Hill 960. Civilians and patrols of the 180th emphasized previous reports of strong enemy positions on Hill 1335 and MT. MOLINO. The enemy infantry did not show any force to our patrols, though they did to patrols on our right flank. The German artillery fired sporadically on MT CAVALLO, employing, it appeared by the character of their fire, observation. Again the 157th resorted to local security patrols for the night. We fired interdiction on four points. Five rounds of “FRONTPOST” were fired, impact burst, on each of the four concentrations. The firing of impact burst of propaganda shell was necessary because known enemy installations were beyond and out of reach of fuse-time range. Two missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired; Battery “A”, 46; Battery “B”, 34; Battery “C”, 250; Total, 330.
We fired Division Artillery concentrations on three points at 0703 hours, on December 27th. The infantry sent their usual daylight patrols to Hill 1060 but were apparently unsuccessful; we fired on Hills 1060 and 990 before 1500 hours at the request of the infantry to enable their patrol to get through to those places after that hour. We learned that the enemy still occupied Hill 1130, but that 990 was not now occupied. The infantry sent a reinforced platoon to take up positions on that hill at dark. We instructed an observer to go there the following morning and set up an OP there, if in his judgment, he would improve his observation. Enemy shell fire was more frequent this day than on the previous several days, but just as sporadic. Increased cloudiness this day was no bar to the improvement of our record of the day before; we fired five observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired; Battery “A”, 132; Battery “B”, 324; Battery “C”, 134; Total, 590.
We fired another Division Artillery concentration on the morning of December 28th, this time at 0730 hours. The infantry dispatched patrols to its front and left flank, thus forcing us to employ extreme caution in conducting even observed fires during the day. At times it had been necessary to withhold a fire mission called for by an observer until we could clear it through our Battalion Liaison Officer; today was no exception. Our observer made the trip to Hill 990, reported no better observation from that point than he had on MT CAVALLO, and returned to his former location. The patrol did report occupied machine gun nests and positions on Hill 1130; we fired unobserved fire on these, the report having come to us after dark. Four rounds of FRONTPOST were delivered to these positions. Visibility ranged from fair to good this day. We fired five missions. During the night we fired harassing fires on three known positions, including the machine gun nests. Number of rounds fired; Battery “A”, 270; Battery “B”, 69; Battery “C”, 88; Total, 427.
We fired a Division Artillery concentration at 0703 hours December 29. The usual daytime patrols were sent out by our infantry. These later returned with reports that the enemy still occupied Hill 1060 and that the dugout on Hill 1130 were bloodstained; the latter was cheering evidence that our fires there had not been in vain. The only enemy activity was the frequent shelling of our front lines; and the location of probable enemy observation posts, that may have been there had not been in vain. The only enemy activity was the frequent shelling that may have been the source of our trouble. A high overcast did not hamper the vision of our observers; fire was placed on these points. We registered two batteries on a check point in the sector of the 180th Infantry whom, it was rumored, we were to be prepared to support in an attack on the morrow. We gladly received the information that all restrictions on ammunition had been lifted. News of the Infantry’s patrolling activities for the night was received where upon we planned our interdictory fires; five locations were chosen upon which we would fire, 200 rounds of “HE” and 20 rounds of “FRONTPOST”. Later, upon a request from one of our observers, we discontinued fire on one of the points; fire was falling dangerously close to our lines. We received the Division Artillery annex to the Division Field Order No. 16; the 180th was to take the high ground MT ROTOND and MT RAIMO Hill 960, attack to start at 300630A December 43; the 171st Field Artillery Battalion, less Battery “A”, would be in direct support, reinforced by the 160th and 189th; the 158th and 1st Bn 178th F.A. to remain in direct support and reinforcing of the 157th Infantry, on our left; we were to have Company “C”, 645th TD Battalion, less one platoon to the 160th, in reinforcement. Elaborate fires in support of the 180th were assigned us. Plans were made and the batteries alerted for the big day. The 157th were to send a platoon to each two Hills 1130 and 1060 at H Hour as a diverting force; if these hills were not occupied by the enemy our forces were to hold them. Five missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 140; Battery “B”, 155, Battery “C”, 351; Total 646.
December 30 was a clear brilliant day; visibility was excellent. We began the attack with the preparation planned the preceding day. Patrols of our infantry started out on the appointed hour; one of them got lost and reports that it had reached its objective, Hill 1130, proved later to be erroneous. The other patrol met no resistance and gained Hill 1060. The 180th met slight resistance to begin with; our efforts, it seemed, would come to a successful end. The enemy placed mortar fire and desultory fire on our forces, small arms and machine gun fire on the 180th. Enemy artillery fired blistering interdiction on the POZILLI – CASALE road. About mid-afternoon the 180th reported they were suffering mortar and artillery fire on their lines; along with this report went the information that they were on MT. ROTONDA, MT. RAIMO, and well up on the slopes of MT. MOLINO and Hill 960N. The enemy made a show of strength with a counter attack at about 1000 hours; this was reported repulsed by Division Artillery fire laid down on our previously prepared points. During the afternoon our forces withdrew from their near summit positions on Hill 960 and MT. MOLINO but held their own on ROTONDA and RAIMO. We were requested to place fire on the Hill 960 and MT. MOLINO from 1810 hours to 2200 hours, which we did. Security patrols were local this night; this came with the report that our infantry would retain their hold on Hill 1060. During the evening plans for harassing fires were made and cleared by the infantry. We fired one observed mission this day, in addition to these called for by the 171st. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 344; Battery “B”, 496; Battery “C”, 105; 945.
December 31 found us firing the scheduled fires for the 171st, the same as the previous morning. The local patrols of the infantry in front of us during the night saw and heard nothing, patrols of the day were sent to VITICUSO and the VITICUSO – ACQUAFONDATA road, and contact the unit on our left flank. These patrols left early in the morning, the “I” and “R” patrol to VITICUSO returned with the report that the town was empty but that there were troops about 1000 yards north of the town along the road. The 180th clung to their positions atop MTS. ROTONDA and RAIMO but gave up their tenuous hold of MOLINO and Hill 960N. The enemy shelled our front lines heavily this day and also placed a few well directed rounds into the infantry’s rear areas, in the vicinity of Hill 470, knocking out and anti-aircraft gun atop that hill. We fired on Hill 960 during the entire day, firing at the rate of 30 second intervals until 1530 hours when the rate was decreased to 2 batteries 2 volleys every hour. The infantry scheduled local security patrols and one ambush patrol to our left flank. Defensive fires remained the same except that, upon a request of one of the infantry battalion commanders, we established four previously fired concentrations as additional defensive fires. Harassing forces were placed on four points for the night. The day was one of ceaseless rain, beginning at 0930 hours. Visibility in the hills where our observers were located, snow fell instead of rain. Visibility was poor all day. Two observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 851; Battery “B”, 503; Battery “C”, 632; Total 1986.
In the static warfare now in progress the constant and well defined positions of our front lines called to mind as never before, in the days of continuously changing lines and rapidly shifting gun positions, what we had always suspected. The fire of our battalion, of even a single battery, could not safety be placed close to our front lines. Scrupulous vigilance on the part of our battery executive officers dispelled a growing suspicion that the high incidence of seemingly erratic rounds were due to errors by the gun crews. The enormity of the dispersion at mid-ranges and the disparity between pieces brought about a decision to calibrate the individual pieces of the battalion. Care was taken to select one powder lot for the tedious process; the single gun position used and the three impact areas chosen were located by photo restitution, being selected so as to employ charges No. 2, 4, and 6. The process was begun in November and the report completed in December. Copies are attached. Guns were reassigned to batteries on the basis of the calibration in order that nearly alike guns would be together.
New Year’s Day was quiet; the shelling just at midnight was the enemy’s only artillery action in the rear areas. The day was miserable; a blustery wind of 2.5 miles an hour drove snow into the eyes of the observers up in the hills, the valleys were rain swept. The poor visibility probably accounts for much of the inactivity on our part. We fired 15 rounds of propaganda leaflets, a special New Year’s edition, on locations known to contain enemy troops. Harassing fires were placed on known enemy locations. Patrol plans were given us and we planned harassing fires for the night; 200 rounds were fired. No observed missions were fired this day. Battery “A” fired 71 rounds; Battery “B”, 270; Battery “C”, 223; Total, 564.
Our principal activity on January 2 was the relief of observers who had spent New Year’s Day on the mountain tops. The weather was cold, but clear; good visibility resulted in the firing of two observed missions: one on enemy personnel; the other on a pack mule train that proved to be an excellent target for several shoots on succeeding days. Patrols made contact with scattered enemy but again turned in the report that VITICUSO was unoccupied. We fired on Division Artillery concentrations on enemy mortar position and also on an enemy mortar position in the sector of the 180th Infantry, at the request of the 171st. Interdictions for the night were on four points, 50 rounds on one point for the 171st. Number of rounds fired this day; Battery “A”, 323; Battery “B”, 20; Battery “C”, 52; Total 395. The Battalion Commander left for SORRENTO to enjoy a seven day rest there. Major Huber assumed command of the Battalion.
January 3 began rather hazy; this the sun dispelled about 1000 and after that visibility was good. The good visibility worked to our disadvantage as well as our advantage; enemy artillery fire fell on our front lines the entire day. Two rounds fell near the CP; no damage resulted. Our infantry sent daylight patrols to Hills 1130 and 1060; prisoners were taken in the vicinity of Hill 1020 who told of the German positions on Hill 1130, and also of their relief of the preceding unit. Our observers reported seeing the enemy relieving units on our front, replacing the troops in position with personnel clad in white clothing. Our observers fired on these troops, inflicting many casualties. The pack trail proved an expensive installation for the Germans this day. Their pack trains and relieving troops were caught here and tortured by our blistering fire; mules and men could be seen struck and it was discovered that we struck a pile of ammunition. Eighteen observed missions were fired this day: the best shooting we had had in some time. We fired harassing fired during the night on four points of Division Artillery’s choice and three of our own for a total of 425 rounds. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 299; Battery “B”, 494; Battery “C”, 390; Total 1183. The party of French Artillery officers came this day to arrange the details of their relief of our unit. They were given the situation and taken for a tour of our gun positions. This day,also, there arrived three officers and a party of enlisted men from the 913th Field Artillery Battalion of the American 88th Infantry Division; they were to observe the operations of the Battalion.
January 4th was cold and cloudy. The Battalion Commander took the French officers and the American observers to the infantry’s CP and the OP’s. The infantry arranged patrols for the day; these patrols received heavy fire from the vicinity of MT. ARCALONE and Hill 1147; the patrol to VITICUSO received enemy shellfire when they got to the town. Later in the morning the 1st Special Service Forces, on our left, moved forward; our observers and the OP’s of the infantry reported seeing their patrols on Hill 1027, taking prisoners to the rear. Enemy artillery fire on our lines was heavy. We got the report from the 180th that prisoners of war confirmed our observer’s report of the hits on the ammunition and personnel on the trail beyond MT. MOLINO. We fired on orders of Division Artillery on installations shown on aerial photographs. During the afternoon our forces contacted the Special Service Forces on Hill 1027; our left flank was now closed. We prepared to abandon our OP on Hill 850. Our observers fired fourteen missions this day. We fired interdiction on two points of our own choice the ensuing night, gave the 1st Battalion 178th FA one point to interdict; the mule pack trail; and suggested one point for the 171st; we fired on two locations given us by Division Artillery and marked Hill 1145 with smoke every half-hour for an infantry patrol. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 409; Battery “B”, 651; Battery “C”, 204; Total 1264.
Our first activity on January 5th was to dispatch 2 officers and 22 enlisted men to the rest camp in NAPLES. We fired a Division Artillery concentration at a place believed to contain enemy troops. We received a report of our infantry’s patrols through our Liaison Officer with the regiment that indicated the Germans were leaving these particular hills to us; stocks of teller mines and barbed wire were found in VITICUSO, and in the vicinity of the town unoccupied emplacements were found. No tracks were seen in the snow covering the area. The unit on our left, the Special Service Forces, were scheduled to advance this day to take the hill mass 1021. Contact patrols were sent to this flank, reporting the intervening ground clear of enemy and the accomplishment by the Force of its mission. The day was cloudy, visibility was poor; only two rounds of enemy shell fire was reported. Only five observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 108; Battery “B”, 291; Battery “C”, 301; Total 700.
January 6th began quietly; the enemy fired four rounds of artillery on our infantry at 0630A. Our forces and the Special Service Forces spent the day patrolling to the front: VITICUSO was again found void of enemy, more material being discovered there; MT. MAJO was discovered to contain enemy mortars and observation posts; and to our right the ground from MT. ROTONDO to EL CASINO was reported clear of enemy. It was learned that the Special Service Forces would jump off at 2000 hours to take MT. MAJO and Hill 1005. No patrols were planned for the night. We fired interdictory fire on two points selected by Division Artillery. Lack of enemy and poor visibility ( repeated snow flurries occurred throughout the day) conspired to allow us but one observed mission this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 269; Battery “B”, 143; Battery “C”, 144; Total, 556.
January 7th was to prove more eventful than the previous several days. The 157th Infantry sent a strong patrol to Hill 1130. This patrol would hold the hill for the relieving French forces; we sent our Forward observer with half of his party to accompany them. The remainder of his party would relieve him at the end of twelve hours at the same time that the infantry patrol would obtain relief. The 157th also sent a force against Hill 1239 to divert the enemy’s attention while the Special Service Force continued their advance up Hill 1005 and MT. MAJO. The latter reached their objective but not without receiving small arms, mortar, and artillery fire; some of the small arms fire came from the vicinity of VITICUSO, previously reported unoccupied by the enemy. Enemy artillery was active on our positions, too, this day; eighteen rounds of enemy artillery fell in our area, wounding one of the newly arrived Frenchmen who was at the command post. This day we registered the French artillery who had come into position to relieve us. A further omen of prospective relief was the dispatching of a quartering party to the town of AMOROSI, ITALY, there to lay out our bivouac area. In spite of good visibility and heightened enemy activity we fired no observed missions on this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 80; Battery “B”, 144; Battery “C”, 199; Total, 423.
January 8th brought us misfortune; the enemy began the day by firing nine rounds of artillery into the POZZILLI area, killing one of “B” Battery’s men and wounding two others. It was thought for awhile that the 157th would send one company to MT. MAJO to help the Special Service Forces; arrangements were made to send an observer with them. Late in the afternoon this plan was dropped. Plans were made to recall our observers and Liaison Officers when the French relieved our infantry. Plans were made, in conjunction with the French, to fire our remaining rounds as harassing missions upon our relief, having previously transferred to them all of our ammunition except twenty rounds per piece. The shoot was arranged and completed at 2130 hours. This day our supply of maps and aerial photos of the area were given the French. Orders were issued for the motor march to AMOROSI that was to take place the following day. The enemy saluted our last day in the lines with fifteen rounds at midnight. We fired no observed missions this day. It was arranged that the S-3, Captain Scheefers, would remain with the French to assist them in the setting up of their firing chart and their survey and registrations. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 60; Battery “B”, 260; Battery “C”, 60; Total, 380.
January 9th, the great day, was here. The Battalion commenced the move at 0830 hours. The trip, over mountain roads in various states of repair was uneventful. We closed into our area at 1220A and began the task of making ourselves as comfortable as possible; a privilege that we believed 121 days in combat had earned us. The villager’s opened their doors to us and gave the officers of the Staff and Headquarters Battery rooms in their dwellings; other battery officers, their batteries located outside of the town, fared not so well in that they sheltered themselves with pyramidal tents. Thus began what was rumored to be a three weeks rest.
January 10, 11, and 12 were permitted us to clean our arms and equipment and take inventory. Thursday, January 13 we began our training; our aim was to acquaint three men with the duties of every position. Division Artillery conducted a calibration shoot for the three light battalions. Training schedules for the period are attached. Our Ass’t S-3, Captain Miller, did duty with the 3rd Infantry Division as an umpire during their amphibious exercises near NAPLES. The Battalion Executive won a well earned rest in the rest camp at SORRENTO, the Battalion Commander having returned to duty from the camp the day after we arrived in the AMOROSI area. Captain Miller returned to duty with us, having suffered a swim in the chill waters of the BAY of NAPLES when the amphibious 2 1/2 ton on which he was a passenger capsized. He was rescued and brought to an LST on which he stayed while his driver, together with other drivers and their umpire passengers, returned to the Division. He was finally landed and, after discovering that there would be a delay in obtaining transportation resorted to the American custom of hitch-hiking back to his unit, where he arrived January 20th.
January 21 began as another day in rest area but this soon changed; We received alert orders at 1215A. The Battalion Commander and Staff Conference was held at 1300A. Captain Breeding, TQM, was ordered to CASERTA to report to the Division TQM to arrange the loading of the Battalion. He was ordered to return to his unit upon arrival there, being told that loading would be handled by Battalion Combat Team. The Assistant S-3 was ordered to report to the 157th Infantry to aid them in determining the requirements of this Battalion. The Battalion Commander and S-3 were to attend the conference at Division Artillery Headquarters at 1400A. There they learned that the 45th Division, less the 179th and 180th Combat teams, would load for an amphibious landing; that we would load by regimental combat team; that we would take all of our transport, carrying our basic load of ammunition to the port; and that we would be prepared to move to the CASA PUZZANO area by noon, January 22. We arranged to leave our store-able baggage near AMOROSI, turned in tent-age, and put together our disassembled trucks, working most of the night. Each firing battery was ordered to take one 284 radio, the air section would carry one 284 radio, and the Headquarters Battery was ordered to carry two 284′ s. This provision was made in the event that we would be given Naval Gunfire Support. The ground crew of the air section prepared to accompany the motor column, the pilots flying the planes to the NAPLES area.
We busied. ourselves January 23, 1944 making loading lists in anticipation of loading on LST’s and LCI’s. The quartering party was alerted to be ready to move by 0645A, January 24.
The command post was closed 241620A January, 1944; batteries moving to CASAPUZZANO in the order “A”, “B”, “C”, Headquarters, and Service Batteries. We marched, without halt, to our bivouac area, a bare, flat, sand plain that is devoted to the raising of grain. We took pains to damage as little as possible of the newly sown grain. The new command post was established at 1835A the same day.
January 25 found us receptive to rumors that we would remain in this damp and unprotected spot no more that 48 hours. The Battalion Commander and Staff made plans to keep the troops occupied in the event that our stay here was longer, however; a route for a foot march was selected for the afternoon hike, and an exhaustive search of the terrain was conducted to find an area in which to fire our recently issued M-6 rocket launcher. The liaison officers and forward observers who were to accompany the infantry reported to their respective infantry units upon the return from the march. Word came that we would move to the embarkation points the next day. We made arrangements to assemble our vehicles at the various assembly points for serialization by 0700A the next day. An early breakfast was ordered; the battalion bedded down for a short night.
Headquarters, “A”, “C”, and part of Service Batteries moved out of their positions about 0645A, January 26, for their respective assembly areas, leaving Battery “B” and the remainder of Service Battery to be serialized at the positions occupied in the bivouac area. By 1500A the batteries, within the Combat Team columns, had cleared the assembly areas and were on the march for the NISIDA embarkation ares. All elements of the Battalion had cleared into the NISIDA area by 1800A, where we settled down for another night on land.
January 27 was spent chiefly in waiting; word was received to load the first group of Battery “A” in the afternoon and this group left for the dock at 1745A. This group finished loading at 2000A, staying at the dock for the night. Loading tables are attached.
January 28 the remainder of the battalion, with their respective combat team members, loaded and set sail. The trip to ANZIO, our destination, was uneventful. Everyone took advantage of the hot showers aboard the LST’s, taking a hot bath and a change of clothing.
The entire combat team, except one LST bearing part of Battery “C”, arrived at ANZIO, ITALY, January 29th. Battery “A’s” first group docked at 0700A, unloaded and arrived at the Battalion assembly area at 0900A; the second group of Battery “A” docked at 0300A, unloaded by 0500A, and traveled to the assembly area with the first group. Battery “B” traveling in one group, docked at 0940A, unloaded by 1030A, and reached the assembly area by 1120A. The ship carrying the 1st group of Battery “C” arrived at the dock at 0900; the battery reached the assembly area by 1200A. Headquarters Battery was unloaded at 1000A and was in the assembly area by 1200A. The second group of Battery “C” failed to arrive this day. The forward observers arrived during the day with the foot troops to which they were assigned and were called in to their batteries. The Battalion Commander, as soon as he ascertained that the battalion was on land and gathered together, reported to Headquarters VI Corps, Headquarters of the Division Artillery and the Division not having been established at this time. He returned at 1400A with the general situation and our mission. We were to directly support the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment (British) and the 509th Parachute Battalion. These units were between the U.S. 3rd Division and the British 1st Division; these two units to hold while the 1st and 3rd Divisions attack.
The liaison officers and forward observers were selected to accompany these two units and the former dispatched. Captain Wright, normally Liaison Officer to the 157th Infantry, was retained in that role even though the regiment was to serve as Corps reserve; thus communications would be maintained against the hour when they would be committed. and we would return to their support. The Battalion Executive and the five Battery Commanders left to select positions from which to support the two front line units. The Battalion Commander and S-2 left to visit the 157th, 509th and VI Corps Command posts in order to learn more of the disposition of our forces. The Battalion Commander at once received a radio message to report to VI Corps; there he received information that the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment (British) would push forward with the 1st British Division while the 509th Parachute Battalion would hold in their present positions. We were required to be able to fire this same evening from our new positions. This information was received about 1530A. The Battalion Commander rushed back to the command post, ordered one piece of each battery readied to go forward on call from the Battalion Executive to be registered by an observer of the 160th FA BN. who were still in position in the sector of the 509th, and left to visit the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the 509th Parachute Battalion. The observers previously ordered to the command post reported where they were briefed by the S-2. We received instructions at 1830A from the G-3, Division, to select positions for the 189th Field Artillery Battalion and Headquarters 45th Division Artillery. We did not, at this hour, even have positions for ourselves; it was decided to bring these units into our assembly area inasmuch as we would have vacated it by the time they were expected, 2200A. The Battalion Commander returned to say that positions very difficult to occupy had been selected and that we could not register this night. The Executive returned to take guides forward to the new positions and to cover the route to them. Lt. Lindsey was dispatched with guides to meet the 189th at the dock at ANZIO and guide those units to our area. The Battalion began the march to the new positions at 2115A, in the order “A”, “B”, “C”, Headquarters, and Service. Aircraft were heard overhead at about that time and shortly afterward flares were dropped over the harbor. Battery “A” had got onto the exit road and was closely followed by Headquarters Battery; Battery’s “A” and “B” were to enter the exit road from their assembly area at a point beyond Battery “A’s” entry; they were awaiting the passage of Battery “A”, still in their areas. The column halted as the light from the flares bathed the area and vehicles in a faint glow; the cry went up to abandon vehicles and disperse. This the men began to do when a bomb struck the area near the exit road, falling among the parked and loaded vehicles of Battery “B”. Three more bombs fell in rapid succession; two of them were observed to burst at some distance from the Battalion; another was a dud. Aid men and medical officers came from the 120th Medical Battalion and 157th Infantry in answer to our radio appeals for help; a proper dividend for having left our Liaison Officer with Regimental Headquarters; he relayed the radio message to the Medical Detachments and Battalion. These aided our Battalion Surgeon in caring for the wounded and transporting them to the clearing station. The air raid started at 2105A and was over at 2235A: the enemy planes left the harbor area and the flares burned out, leaving us the protection of darkness. The S-3, Captain Scheefers, led the column to the new position. Debris blocked an exit for Battery “C”, the remains of Battery “B” were engaged in collecting themselves and accounting for the dead and injured, and quenching fires caused by the bomb; eight enlisted men were killed, 27 enlisted men and one officer were wounded of Battery “B”, of men and officers of other batteries who were in the vicinity at the time one enlisted man was killed and two enlisted men and two officers wounded. Six trucks were disabled, including three prime movers; other equipment including aiming circles, radios, and telephones were destroyed. None of the howitzers was injured. The remaining transport carried the uninjured to the new bivouac area of Service Battery where they rested. The Battalion Commander, having returned to the scene of the bombing at 2345A, ordered the movement of this unit to Service Battery, the placing of guards about the area, the commencement of salvage work at daybreak, a further search for casualties and stragglers in the morning, and the displacement of the guns to the new positions. No missions fired.
It is questioned whether the German pilot or pilots saw our vehicles in the light of the flares or whether he simply jettisoned his bombs conveniently far from the barrage of flak over the harbor, or whether, in the confusion of battle, he took our vehicles for water craft. No other bombs fell near our area.
All of the known wounded were cared for and evacuated by 0400 hours, Jan 30, 1944. Service Battery furnished Battery “B” trucks to move their stalled guns and by 0800 hours this battery was in position, ready to fire. Men from other batteries were placed on Special Duty with this unit to function in places formerly occupied by the wounded and killed. Our observers were in position with the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the 509th Parachute Battalion by daylight. The exact positions of the elements these units were obtained and the progress of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment ascertained. The terrain occupied by the Battalion was flat, covered with scattered groves of trees, planted in neat rows. These furnished excellent concealment from the air and the regulation of traffic into the positions enabled us to a void observation; thus we escaped shellfire and bombing the two days we were there. All the while the enemy shelled a wooded area to our left, front, and interdicted the surrounding roads. Personnel and guns were dug-in in anticipation of a shelling we were sure the woods would attract. The 509th were to attack to gain a limited objective; we were warned by our liaison and prepared to support them. This was to take place at 1500A. About the same time we received word that we should prepare to support the 36th Combat Engineers who were manning defensive positions along the MOLETTA river from our present positions. The S-3 made attempts to secure a base point registration in the Engineers sector but failed; the minimum range line prohibited this. The 1st Reconnaissance Regiment was halted in its advance by mine fields and sniping at 989354. This allowed us to remain in our present location and support the three units. We sent an liaison officer to the 36th Engineers, also a Naval Shore Fire Control party to work with a United States Destroyer that was to furnish Naval fire support. The 41st Field Artillery (British) were to remain in place and leave their observers out to furnish artillery support until we could replace them. We were to move to the coastal sector on the morrow at which time the 157th Infantry were to take over the lines of the 36th Engineers. The Battalion Commander and the Executive made a reconnaissance for positions in the new area. During the day the remainder of Battery “C” debarked and joined the Battery in its position. We received word at 2215A that we were relieved of our role of direct support of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the 509th Parachute Battalion. We went ahead with our plans for the interdiction of points in front of those two units during the night and calculated normal barrages for their defense. During this day we fired ten observed missions. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 105; Battery “B”, 7; Battery “C”, 173; Total, 285.
January 31st found us still supporting the 1st Reconnaissance and the 509th Parachute Battalion. Our observers were busy firing missions and giving us reports on the activities of our own forces and he Germans. The enemy had hastily set up focus of resistance around buildings that dotted the plain in front of us. They sniped at our forces from these vantage points and took refuge behind their solid masonry walls when we shelled their mortar and machine-gun positions. It seemed as though each of these miniature fortresses that stood bar to our progress would have to be stormed and reduced if we were to advance. Some of these targets were out of range of our guns; they were passed on to VI Corps Artillery and fired by 155-mm rifles, our observers conducting the fire. We were undecided as to whether to move to a more advanced position. The discussion of the problems involved by the Commander and the Staff was under way: if we moved forward to better support the British and Paratroopers there was the possibility that we would not be able to shift to the positions necessary to support the 36th Engineers or the 157th, who were rumored to be displacing them; nor would we be in as good a position to lay down defensive fires if called upon to fire them. The Division Artillery Executive visited the CP at this time and settled the discussion by telling us to prepare to defend the original beachhead from our present positions, supporting the British and Paratroopers until they were out of range, and to establish static observation posts. We were prepared for this, having dug in the first day in this area. We received regular reports from our liaison officer with the 36th, indicating that they were receiving adequate support from the artillery in their sector and from our Naval Spotter, Lieutenant Kilcollins. The 509th was moved to the right, their place being taken by the Loyals Battalion (British). Captain Hayes, the Liaison Officer, and one observer were to accompany the 509th. We later were told to remain in support of the Loyals, leaving the support of the former unit to other artillery; we ordered Captain Hayes and his observer to return to their former position and establish contact with the Loyals. We received word from our Liaison Officer to the 157th Infantry that they would replace the 36th Engineers on the morrow to defend the Beachhead, that we would move into positions 5000 yards in rear of the Beachhead line, the 141st Field Artillery Battalion would reinforce our fires and would take over the direct support of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the Loyals when we moved. We shortly received orders from Division Artillery that the 189th Field Artillery Battalion would directly support the 157th from positions in the vicinity of F8125 until we took up new positions in the same general locality, that this unit would then reinforce our fires, and that we would send a liaison officer and observers to the 3rd Battalion, 180th Infantry, who were to assume defensive positions on the left flank of the 3rd Division, and to remain in support of that unit until replaced by the 171st Field Artillery Battalion the following day. We established normal barrages and selected emergency concentrations as requested by the Commanding Officer of the Reconnaissance Regiment. The Assistant S-3 was selected to serve as the liaison officer to the 180th Infantry’s battalion; we already had four liaison officers to the various units. The Battalion Commander ordered the Liaison Officer to the 36th Engineers to report to the 189th in the same capacity upon the relief of the Engineers; our Liaison Officer to the 157th, Captain Wright, would still be with them and the 189th, as direct support artillery, would supply the observers. Arrangements were made to brief the observers to the 180th on the following morning. We fired ten observed missions this day. The following number of rounds were fired: Battery “A”, 241; Battery “B”, 284; Battery “C” , 200; Total 725. Thus ended the month.
February began with plans for the registration of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion and the 141st Field Artillery Battalion and our removal to positions on the coast for the direct support of the 157th Infantry. We dispatched this day the Assistant S-3, Captain Miller, with two Forward Observing Officers to the 1st Battalion 180th Infantry whom we were directly supporting. These parties returned in the afternoon, having been relieved by the 171st who were registered by 1600 hours. The Battalion Executive and Battery Commanders went to the new area in the forenoon and selected positions for the batteries. The 141st was registered this afternoon and we moved this night to our new positions. Arrangements were made for the relief of our liaison and observer parties with the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the Loyals Regiment and these reported to the 157th Infantry upon their relief. Missions were fired on advancing enemy troops, artillery positions, and dug-in enemy this day. Our Lieutenant Kilcollins, working with the 36th Engineers as Shore Fire Control Officer for the Navy also fired on enemy installations in front of the Engineers. Twelve observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 112; Battery “B”, 236; Battery “C”, 233; Total, 581.
February 2nd found the last elements of Battery “B” in positions on the coast behind the 157th who were moving in this night also. The 189th had maintained their observers and liaison with the 157th during our move. They also sent a liaison officer to our command post, this officer was at our new position by the time we arrived. Our first job after the break of day was to register. This we did and assumed the role of direct support artillery; the 189th then reinforced our fires. That this sector was to be an active one was evident from the first. We were not in position but a few hours before we learned from our infantry that the enemy was engaged in bridge building to the front. The enemy anti-aircraft fire was noted to be heavier this day. The enemy artillery shelled our front lines and during the night their patrols had been active. This day two U. S. Naval Liaison Officers reported to us; they were to work for us, using two U. S. Ships when the sea permitted their use and the need for them arose. As further support there was also present a British Naval Liaison Party and two British Forward Observing Officers. We supplemented the British installations by sending a Naval Shore Fire Control Party under Lieutenant Davis to an observation post operated by one of the FOO’s. This arrangement gave us direct communication with the British OP and two observers, one on the right flank of our zone and one on the left, who could engage targets with either nation’s vessels or with land artillery. Almost no limit existed to the steel we could pour onto enemy positions. This day our Service Battery was moved into our area in rear of the firing batteries. Thirty observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 300; Battery “B”, 369; Battery “C”, 246; Total, 915.
Throughout the early morning hours of February 3rd our infantry’s patrols and our observers noticed the signs of an active and numerous enemy; lights, vehicular noises, flares, and small arms fire all across our front. The break of day saw us begin an active day of firing; enemy troop concentrations, vehicles; observation posts, supply installations, and gun positions were among the targets fired upon. Lieutenant Kilcollins, the Naval Shore Fire Control with the U. S. Navy fired three missions, using H. M. S. Phoebe; our ships did not come off the coast this day. During the last mission the British cruiser had to abandon the mission, she had become a target for enemy shore batteries that our observer was unable to locate. This day we surveyed the observation posts of our Two Naval observers, Lieutenant Kilcollins and Lieutenant Davis. These posts served us as static observation posts and they were on either flank of our zone; this accurate location would enable us to use them as flash bases. This we did as long as we were in these positions. Division Artillery’s acknowledgment that VI Corps used our locations for several counter battery shoots repaid us for our pains. We received the information that we could use the 976th Field Artillery Battalion, a 155 rifle unit, to fire missions beyond the range of our pieces, and our two reinforcing medium battalions gave rise to the question as to whether they were also reinforcing us. Several telephone calls later we were apprised by Division Artillery that this unit would not reinforce us but that we could call them directly for fire: on targets beyond our range. Patrol plans were obtained from the infantry and defensive and harassing fires arranged for the night. We ordered our forward observers to maintain a watch all night; the two with each infantry battalion dividing the night between themselves in accordance with the instructions of each pair’s respective liaison officer. Thus the zone of each battalion would have one forward observer and one static observer on watch throughout the night. Forty-five observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired; Battery “A”, 491; Battery “B”, 827; Battery “C”, 963; Total: 2281.
February 4th was just 15 minutes old when we received a report that the enemy had broken through on the right flank of the 157th; between the British and our forces. This information confirmed reports received previously that they would attempt an attack. The action took place in the British lines and was later reported repulsed. We were keyed up for some hard fighting; Division Artillery ordered us to have on hand at all times a three-days supply of water, food, and ammunition. The Battalion Commander ordered the Air OP to keep a plane in the air during the entire day to observe in time, and combat, the suspected attack. The 189th and ourselves also selected and wired in local observation posts adjacent to each firing battery to be used in case the enemy drove back our front lines. A report from VI Corps warned us of two concentrations of enemy armor, one north of the “Factory” and the other in the vicinity of ARDEA. We alerted our observers and prepared for the worst. We had the addition of two armored artillery battalions for reinforcing missions, the 27th and the 91st. A liaison officer was sent us to represent both battalions. The enemy was active; our targets this day included troops digging in, command posts and supply installations; many of the targets were located at the several houses to our front. Lieutenant Kilcollins fired the US Naval vessel, and Lieutenant Davis fired the Cruiser H.M.S. Urchin on two observed targets; the American ship then fired on enemy personnel, the fire being conducted from the ship. We fired two “Bingo”, time-on-target, missions on the village of ARDEA. In each case our Battalion, the 189th, 938th,and the Urchin engaged the target; a total of 108 rounds for the field artillery and one minute of rapid fire by the ship each time. Our observers conducted twenty-five observed missions this day. We fired the following number of rounds: Battery “A”, 461; Battery “B”, 273; Battery “C”, 300; Total, 1034.
February 5th saw the enemy moving forward in an aggressive and threatening manner; he was wary of our observed artillery fire, as was evidenced by the way in which he moved forward in scattered groups and single vehicles. Further report of enemy concentrations to our front, in the ARDEA area, were received. Our attitude was one of watchful waiting; we surveyed our alternate gun positions this day and completed the wiring to our close-in battery OP’ s. We also selected and surveyed a roving gun position. from which to interdict during the nights. The Infantry and Engineers laid mines in front of their positions. We received information that the 3rd Division had received an attack from a German force consisting of one regiment supported by tanks, driving the 3rd back to the intermediate defense line. Our targets today were as varied as on the preceding days. Our observers conducted fire on twenty-one observed missions. We fired on four known enemy installations with time-on-target methods; to which method the name “Bingo” had been given. We placed the fire of three field artillery battalions and two armored battalions on these positions; a total of 72 guns. An observer of one of the battalions reported that they covered the target area. One US Navy destroyer, the TRIPPE, and one British destroyer, URCHIN, were at our disposal this day. The URCHIN fired on two missions for Lieutenant Davis. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 185; Battery “B”, 380; Battery “C”, 565; Total, 1130.
The early reports of February 6th were more cheering than those of previous days; the 3rd Division reported that they had stopped the enemy’s thrust and would restore their lines during the day. Our infantry reported no action on their front. The destroyer TRIPPE returned to the coast; Lieutenant Kilcollins attempted to destroy a tower, similar to the one he was in, that the enemy used as an observation post. The mission was incomplete; the ship was brought under the fire of undiscovered shore batteries and was forced to steam out of range. During the day we registered some 90-mm anti-aircraft on our base point for possible use in our sector and registered the roving gun on the base point and check point. The enemy artillery consisted of tanks; these were dug in and camouflaged. They harassed our front line troops continuously. No shell fire disturbed our units; the fire in the rear areas was in the towns of ANZIO and NETTUNO and on service installations in their neighborhood. Plans were made for the harassment of the enemy during the night; our roving gun would fire the interdictory fires assigned our Battalion, six points in all. The 91st AFA was given seven points to interdict. The enemy remained active during the night; our infantry’s patrols found them digging in, and our observers’ reports indicated there must have been a constant pyrotechnic display. Tanks and small arms fire were heard all night. Twenty-one observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 533; Battery “B”, 174; Battery “C”, 218; Total 925. Two missions, one incomplete were fired by the Naval vessel.
February 7th came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. During the early morning hours clashes between our patrols and the enemy were reported. No serious results were observed. Normal activity of the enemy continued; scattered groups of the enemy, machine gun positions, and mortars disclosed themselves to our observers. Enemy artillery became unusually active at dusk, firing on our front lines across the entire front; this proved to be the preparation for an attack later in the night. Our infantry’s attempts to take prisoners during previous nights failed, a plan was arranged where by our forces would enter the enemy’s lines behind and inside of a three-sided box barrage, take prisoners from the elements thus cut off and return. The 91st were to furnish the right wall of fire, the 27th the left wall, and the 189th and 158th the rear wall; this barrage to take place at 0255A February 8th. Two “Bingo” missions, one on the right wall and one on the left wall at 0250 hours were to precede the action. The adjustment for the box barrage was completed in the afternoon. Reconnaissance was made for and positions selected from which to fire direct fire on enemy armor. At 2115 hours the attack, of which the artillery fire spoke, came. It came against the 2nd Battalion of the 157th and spread over into the sector of the British on the right. The news came from Lieutenant Bolon’s OP with a call for fire on three points. The fire of this Battalion was placed on these locations, reinforced by one battery each of the 189th and the 27th. Continuous fire was laid down until 2142 hours. At the same time other batteries of the 189th engaged an enemy battery and a mortar position. At 2150 hours continuous fire was again placed on the three avenues of approach; this fire was discontinued at 2230 hours. At 2245 hours continuous fire of two of our batteries was placed on two points in front of the 2nd Battalion, but closer in. This fire was stopped at 0255 hours at one point of the action, 2230 hours the infantry reported that our fire was falling short; we ceased fire at their request, insisting through the medium of our Liaison Officer that such was not the case. The fire that was reported falling “short” continued to fall in that sense for fully two minutes thereafter. Lieutenant Bolon was ordered from his OP by the Commander, 2d Battalion; the enemy later occupied his former position. The day ended with the 189th attacking enemy mortars. Our observers fired thirty-four observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 295; Battery “B”, 682; Battery “C”, 624; Total 1601.
We learned on February 8th that the British received an attack along their entire front; they gave ground as did our force. They still retained their hold on the “Factory”. The British were to make an attempt to regain the ground lost on their left flank while we mopped up the enemy behind our lines. At the same time Company “L” completed their withdrawal to a better position. We fired continuous fire at the rate of one round every two minutes with our Battalion and the 27th to cover their withdrawal and reorganization. This fire was maintained for one hour and three minutes. Our box barrage was called off; the infantry had bigger fish to fry. The Navy furnished us cruisers instead of destroyers; an attempt was made to destroy the shore guns that attacked them. The mission was not reported accomplished. The British regained part of their lost ground but Company “L” did not move up to re-occupy its former position; contact patrols to the British failed to reach them. Plans were made during the evening to use our airplane to adjust the fire of a British Cruiser on VI Corps counter-battery missions. We also furnished Corps Artillery with five enemy locations for the Corps’ shoot on the morrow. We made plans to shoot harassing fire by the time-an-target method; five points were chosen and arrangements were made to fire the five battalions on them. In addition, twelve targets were selected for interdiction. We fired twenty-five observed missions during the day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 1848; Battery “B”, 2334; Battery “C”, 885; Total, 5067.
February 9th was a busy day. An active and careless enemy presented many targets to our observers. The airplane shoot with the Navy failed to transpire; the wind was too high to permit an artillery plane to leave the ground. The British made an attempt to regain the “Factory” which we discovered they had last. This failed when six of our tanks were lost in the attempt. Among the targets fired upon by one of our observers, Lieutenant Robinson, was a group of enemy in foxholes in a swale; when he would place our fire on them they, would leave their hole to run for a house, while they were so exposed our infantrymen nearby would cut them down with .50 caliber machine guns. This tactic was repeated. Staff Sergeant Laubhan, who relieved Lieutenant Davis as Naval Shore Fire Spotter with the British Navy, fired four observed missions with the ship this day. Our observers fired twenty-five observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 416; Battery “B”, 579; Battery “C”,483; Total, 1478.
February 10th was a poor day for our observers; mist and rain obscured visibility for ground and air observer alike. Another Air OP-Navy shoot had to be called off because of high wind. During the day enemy aircraft shot down an artillery liaison plane of an unknown unit. The 36th Combat Engineers were to assume the positions of the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry, putting two battalions in place of the Infantry’s one. We were to support them; thus we had to utilize Captain Breeding, the Communications Officer, as Liaison Officer to the Regimental Command Post so that the three regular liaison officers could remain with battalions; one with the 1st Battalion, 157th, and one with each battalion of the Engineers. We planned interdictory fires on nine points, utilizing three of the five battalions available, and “Bingos” on five locations known to contain enemy. On the “Bingos” all five of the battalions were used. Night bombing by the Luftwaffe had become the practice; as a consequence we ordered our batteries to cease fire when German planes were overhead unless the mission was urgent. This day we fired seventeen observed missions. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A” 217; Battery “B”, 173; Battery “C”, 203; Total: 593.
February 11th was quiet. Enemy was observed moving about on our front, but not in the same numbers as on preceding days. He placed more artillery fire on our lines this day; the fire was of heavier caliber than usual. We received word that the 179th Infantry would attempt to take the “Factory”; their attempt failed. They were to try again during the night. Lieutenant Miller, our Forward Observer with the 1st Battalion, now on the right flank, was accustomed to leaving his observation post at dark, returning to it at daybreak. The Germans invariably visited the house wherein he was established during the night. This day it was necessary to place fire on troops in front of the house to enable him to return to it. We received word that the 91st and 27th would not be able to fire any but observed fire for us henceforth; their ammunition allotment would not permit the firing of unobserved fire. Our expenditure of ammunition, too, was curtailed. It was this pressure that caused us to reduce our program of night harassing fires to one battalion volley on “Bingos” and employ only the roving gun for interdiction., Three points were chosen for interdiction and five locations upon which to fire “Bingos” ; the latter were fired with 189th and ourselves. We fired twenty-four observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 187; Battery “B”, 129; Battery “C”, 263; Total, 578.
The enemy remained active during the night of February 11-12, and continued his activity during the day. Snipers wounded Lieutenant Miller about 1000 hours. We were informed that he would have to remain at his observation post until dark; it would be impossible to get stretcher bearers to his advanced position. Nevertheless, we arranged to have bearers go on call to his position if we would cover their advance and withdrawal with smoke. The enemy also sent daylight patrols into the lines of the 36th Engineers and took five prisoners; two of them from a .50 caliber machine gun nest. We received orders that the 76th Field Regiment (British) would be brought into our area to directly support the 36th; that the 189th would be relieved of their reinforcing role with us, as would the 938th; that we would directly support only the 157th Infantry; that we could expect normal supporting fires from the 938th; and that we could withdraw our liaison officers and observers from the Engineers as soon as the 67th was ready to support that unit. The 67th moved in this day and registered. They sent observers and liaison officers to the 36th; we relieved most of our parties. We left our Liaison Officer with regimental headquarters until the following day, as well as one observer who was kept in place to orient a British observer who got in position after dark. We assumed as emergency barrages the former normal barrages in front of the 36th; this arrangement was by agreement reached between the British and ourselves. We placed smoke in front of Lieutenant Miller’s OP from 1350 hours to 1505 hours at which time he had been brought back to the infantry CP. The rest of his party returned at the same time; the house had become untenable. Shortly after the house was cleared the enemy placed direct fire on it and destroyed it. Lieutenant Miller died shortly after reaching the CP. A fierce air raid took place during the evening, hampering our schedule of harassing fires besides scaring us to death. We learned that the enemy used white flares to mark his front lines for the raiders. This conclusion was borne out by other observations for when German artillery fire fell on his lines white flares were also employed. Fifteen places behind enemy lines were harassed during the night. We fired twenty-eight observed missions during the day. Battery “A”, fired 265 rounds; Battery “B”, 348; Battery “C”, 230; Total, 843.
February 13th was relatively quiet; the action during the night resolved itself into one against the British on our right. The British believed that the enemy heard their trucks moving some infantry forces toward the front, thought the noise meant a coming attack, and grabbed the bull by the horns by themselves attacking. The enemy were driven off. The enemy’s artillery lessened this day. We called in our Naval Shore Fire Control Officer from the left position when the British relieved us of the support of the 36th Engineers. He was on a one hour notice to return to his position. Our observation plane was driven to the ground in the forenoon; the Messerschmitt that attacked the air observer followed him in his evasive tactics to within fifty feet of the ground and stayed on his tail until he was attacked in turn by the platoon of the Battery “A” 106th AAA that was attached to our Battery “C”. The German was brought down; there was some doubt as to who fired the decisive shot at the Hun, the anti-aircraft gunners or the men of Battery “C”. Arrangements were made to fire two U.S. Cruisers on the morrow; using the observation post on the left. The observer was alerted to man the OP the following morning. Warning orders came from Division Artillery to be prepared to move to positions east of the VIA ANTIATINA and north of the 25 Northing; the 157th Infantry might move to the right of’ the 179th Infantry whose left flank was anchored on the VIA ANTIATINA. The few targets a quiet enemy presented to us were capable of being adjusted upon, thanks to clear skies. Twenty-two observed missions were fired. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 191; Battery “B”, 89; Battery “C”, 296; Total, 576.
February 14th was a quiet day; the enemy shelling the front lines of the 1st Battalion during the early morning hours was the only report of enemy artillery received. The 157th sent us a copy of their field order showing that they would take up positions between the British 56th Division, who were to relieve them, and the 179th Infantry. Our sector would thus fall on the left of the North-South highway, as the VIA ANTIATINA was called. The Battalion Commander, having been warned of the change in the plan, made a preliminary reconnaissance for positions to the rear of the lines of the 157th. He returned with the report that the only position area was a poor one; pioneer work would have to be done to enable the vehicles to enter their area. He ordered battery commanders to leave with him early the following morning. The Infantry were to be relieved the night of February 14-15; we were to move the night of February 15. The 2nd Battalion would relieve the lines held by the Gordans one company of the Kings Scottish Light Infantry, and the 504th Parachute Battalion; a large order. Twenty-five observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 91; Battery “B”, 298; Battery “C”, 145; Total, 534.
The relief of the 1st Battalion was completed about 0350 hours, February 15th. Our observers and liaison officer returned to us upon their relief by British observers and liaison officer. It was decided in view of the difficulties the occupation of the new positions presented to move during daylight by infiltration marching. The registering pieces of the three batteries were dispatched at 1135 hours. The Battalion Executive led them; he was to radio us to dispatch the remainder of the Battalion upon the successful entrance of these vehicles. At 1635 hours we received a message that the position selected could not be occupied; that Batteries “B” and “C” would occupy the alternate positions that would now be in rear of the 56th Division’s lines; and ordering the S-2 to select positions in the same general area for Headquarters and “A” Batteries. This change in plans was made with the approval of the Division Artillery Commander. The pieces were started forward to “B” and “C” while the S-2, accompanied by the Executive of Battery “A” and the 1st Sergeant of Headquarters Battery, the only ones in authority with their respective units; went forward to find positions and post guides before dark. The Survey Section was taken along to begin the survey of “A’s” position. The positions were selected and occupied in between enemy bombing raids. Captain Hubbert, Liaison Officer to the 2nd Battalion, had made a preliminary reconnaissance of the new area with the Infantry Battalion Commander; this day he established the Battalion static observation post and made tentative selections of two forward observation posts. He met the forward observers in the evening and arranged their contacts with the infantry companies. The Battalion Commander made arrangements to establish liaison with the 19th Field Regiment (RA) inasmuch as they refused to maintain observers in the zone of the 157th during this night. It was necessary to establish liaison in order that our observers could obtain fire from their batteries; we were not registered in these new positions. The S-3 served as Liaison Officer this night. Three observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 106; Battery “B”, 0; Battery “C”, 0; Total, 106.
February 16th was to prove to be a red-letter day in the annals of the 157th and 179th. Our first notice that the enemy was to begin his drive to push us into the sea was a notice at 0635 hours from Captain Scheefers that an attack was starting. We were not registered. Lieutenant Carmichael was established in an observation post at the “Ration Farm”, a group of houses in a hollow square at F831311. He was in the only position in the area of Company “E” from which he could observe both sides of the North-South road. Company “E’s” mission was to straddle this road and maintain contact with the 179th. Lieutenant Robinson was established in the westernmost of a row of three houses at 85403095 as Forward observer with Company ”G” who took up a position atop a ridge. Below and on the reverse slope of this ridge was a cavern containing six tunnel entrances; Headquarters Company and the Command post of the 2nd Battalion was set up in the cavern. Company “F”, broken into platoons, occupied high rough on the South side of the ravine that ran in a Southwesterly direction from the “Ration Farm” past the mouths of the cave to their South. Three minutes after the warning from Captain Scheefers, Lieutenant Carmichael called for fire to repel a counterattack. He adjusted the fire; it was continuous fire from 0638 hours to 0730 hours. The remainder of the day was so filled with missions that it was impossible to glean enough information from the observers to even learn of the difficulties that beset them. The Germans attack was a coordinated one; infantry and tanks thrust down the VIA ANTIATINA while infantry used infiltration to the west of the road, advancing on “G” Company from the Northwest and thrusting themselves at the “Ration Farm” from the Northeast. The Luftwaffe supported this action with bombing and strafing missions, and by driving artillery observation planes to the ground. Direct fire of tanks and small arms fire drove Lieutenant Carmichael from his position at the “Ration Farm”; he roamed the front all the rest of the day hunting an observation post. He was driven from all places until he finally occupied the center house of the group of three at 85403095, the house adjacent to the one being used by Lieutenant Robinson. Lieutenant Robinson had his troubles. He observed the capture of six of our infantrymen at dawn at a point near his OP. He and his party retired from the house and took cover in a nearby ravine. From this sheltered spot he watched more of our soldiers capture the captors and liberate their comrades. Thereupon he returned to the house and resumed observing and conducting fire although he was the target of a heavy volume of small arms fire. Captain Scheefers was replaced as Liaison Officer to the 19th FR by Captain Hayes in order that he might return and resume his duties as S-3. We finally registered our
batteries in the afternoon between missions. We were in a ticklish spot; the center of our area was roughly some 3000 yards to the rear of the front lines of the 56th Division, and the only means of egress lay in the zone of the 36th Combat Engineers. With none of front line units did we have liaison. The enemy’s intense shelling of both forward and rear areas made it impossible to maintain wire communications with our supported infantry, the units whose zones we occupied, or Divisional Artillery. Alternate positions were quickly chosen and stock piles of 2500 rounds of ammunition at each battery were ordered by the Battalion Commander. Inasmuch as we were unable to get sufficient information of the front lines because of the limitations of radio the Battalion Commander ordered the Fire Direction Center to fire every mission requested by a forward observer. The 3rd Battalion, 157th was placed in line astride the road at the underpass (F863286). We sent a Liaison Officer and two Forward Observers to this Battalion. Orders were received in the afternoon to keep 2500 rounds at each battery position; the order defined the Beachhead Line and constituted it the final defensive line. We were required to furnish the Division Artillery with the defensive fire plan. This day we fired twenty-seven observed missions. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 941; Battery “B”, 597; Battery “C”, 911; Total. 2449.
February 17 began as a continuation of the 16th. The enemy continued to attack and at 0015 hours we received a call to fire continuous fire on an avenue of their approach. The enemy forces, about two companies strong, approached the 2nd Battalion from the Northwest and the Northeast; each column numbered about one company. The force from the Northwest engaged Company “G” who denied their passage. The group from the Northeast, having formed at the “Ration Farm”, approached the cave by way of the ravine that led behind Company ”E”. The Headquarters Company fought the force at the mouths of the cavern. Captain Hubbert brought our fire down to the very entrances to the cavern at one time. He adjusted fire, aided by the forward observers and two Officers of the infantry, so as to sweep the ravine. They used some smoke shells mixed with the HE to give them illumination of the enemy and permit them to adjust the fire. The enemy was driven off at great cost to himself. The 19th FR, the 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery, and the 189th reinforced our fires. In spite of the constant fire of the 189th, 19th, and ourselves the enemy pressed his attack during the remainder of the day and managed to infiltrate his tanks behind the positions of the 2nd Battalion and, by the fire and confusion their very presence engendered, forced the retirement of Company “E” to the Southwest where the remnants took up positions abreast of Company “G”; the 179th at the same time withdrawing under pressure on their front. Three tanks attacked the row of three houses two of which were occupied by Lieutenants Carmichael and Robinson. The adjusted fire on them and during the adjustment three rounds in quick succession from the tanks blew the side from the room that he was observing from; the plaster and rock covered observer retired to an adjoining room and through the door and breach in the outer wall, completed his mission by forcing the tanks to withdraw. Plans were laid for and attack by the 3rd Battalion to enable them to move up and fire in the gap between the 2nd Battalion and the 179th Infantry. We requested details of the plan of our Liaison Officer with the 157th, offering to fire a fifteen-minute preparation at whatever time the infantry specified. We were given the 938th Field Artillery Battalion as a reinforcing battalion. This unit sent us a liaison officer in the afternoon. We planned our harassing fires, consisting of time-on-target fires an known enemy concentrations for the night. We were the beneficiary of an informal liaison arrangement peculiar to this situation that served us in good stead several times during this seven day period. February 16 to February 22: Lieutenant VanNess, Liaison Officer to the 3rd Battalion, 157th, had near him an liaison officer of the 189th; thus Lieutenant VanNess could, and did, call upon the 189th for supporting fires. We fired forty-two observed missions this day. Number of’ rounds fired: Battery “A”, 2483; Battery “B”, 2717; Battery “C”, 2404; Total, 7604.
February 18th was another busy day. The attack against the 2nd Battalion afforded ample opportunity to demonstrate their courage and tenacity; they repulsed small local attacks from every direction of the compass throughout the day, and they withstood the direct fire of tanks that worked their way into the areas between the 3rd Battalion to their rear, and the 179th on their right. The 3rd Battalion received an attack beginning at about 1600 hours this day. Infantry, supported by tanks and assault guns, advanced down the North-South road and by 1915 hours had gained the underpass at F863286. There our infantrymen engaged their forces in hand-to-hand fighting. The enemy retired shortly before 2200 hours. We understood later that a “Tiger” tank that had gained the underpass was destroyed by the tank destroyers, thus taking the fight out of the enemy. Lieutenant Ballinger, a Forward Observer with the 3rd Battalion, was wounded by a shell fragment the night before; Staff Sergeant Laubhan was sent to take his place early this day. Staff Sergeant Laubhan, having previously volunteered to establish himself atop the underpass, constantly under enemy interdiction, to bring an enemy tank that was harassing Company “I” under fire, was still at his observation post when the attack against the 3rd Battalion started. He spied the approach of the force, adjusted fire on this body, and kept them under fire until he was forced to flee. The Mark VI tank that took up a position under the overpass drew the fire of our tank destroyers; our fire, added to the already heavy volume of enemy small arms and artillery fire that he was suffering, was too much for him. He later destroyed his radio when he was pinned down by small arms fire and could carry it no farther as he was on his way back to the Infantry Command post. We also learned this day that Lieutenant Goodman, our static observer, from whom we had had no word since the afternoon of the 17th, was forced to abandon his observation post by two enemy tanks that circled to the West of his position and took his installation under fire. Their fire rendered his radio inoperative. He returned to Battery “A” after having spent the night with the British. Lieutenant Robinson moved during the night of February 17-18, to the center house of the three; he joined forces with Lieutenant Carmichael there, where both parties remained until the close of the action. Lieutenant Carmichael was wounded this night by shell fragments. The Division Artillery ordered us, this day, to prepare positions from which to support the defense of the Reserve Line. Our area was to be roughly 4000 yards east of the VIA ANTIATINA and 2000 yards south of the overpass PADIGLIONE road. This afternoon we established a new static observation post in this area (F869268) in anticipation of the proposed needed support. This OP offered the advantage of giving us observation on the east of the North-South road. We were still depending on radio for our contact with liaison officers and observers; it was still impossible to maintain wire lines. The constant shelling day and night and the bombing at night took our lines out within ten minutes after they were laid. The Division Artillery abandoned its line to us this day. We fired thirty-three observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 2835; Battery “B”, 2334; Battery “C”, 2051; Total, 7220.
We began February 19th by reading a field order giving the particulars of an effort to stem the tide of Southbound Germans. In short, one force called “H” was to move northwest from the road junction south of PADIGLIONE, secure the stream crossing at F886306 and secure the streamline from there west for 1 kilometer, mopping up enemy forces south of this line. The attack to begin at 0600 hours this day. The other force, “T”, to be ready to attack on order of Corps from vicinity F840278 to seize and hold stream from left flank of “H” Force to North-South road. Our mission was to interdict North-South road, continually during night and be prepared to support the defense of the Final Defensive Line, the mission of the 45th Division. We re-arranged our fires for the night; the 938th would place 100 rounds on the main road junction north of the “Factory” at F877342 while we fired 10 rounds per hour at F865326, a secondary road junction south of the “Factory”. The enemy gave us no peace this day; they continued their efforts against the overpass and the infiltrating tactics on the left and rear of the 2nd Battalion. As on previous days, this advance was retarded and their formations broken up by fire adjusted on them and fired continuously until they would leave the area. We inflicted many casualties on the Germans with this fire, as the testimony of two of our men who later were captured and escaped bore out. Lieutenant Carmichael was evacuated this night; it was impossible to enter or leave during daylight, the OP that he and Lieutenant Robinson occupied. The enforced neglect of his wound was responsible for the amputation of his leg. The Chief of his party, Corporal Willsey, Battery “A”, took charge of the party and continued to observe and adjust fire. The enemy surprised us this day by marching a column of some 200 of their troops down the North-South road in close formation, shortly after noon. They were captured, lock, stock, and barrel. It is reported that upon interrogation they stated they were told the allied foot troops had retreated to the beach, leaving only a few artillery pieces to cover their withdrawal and embarkation; that they could simply march in and take the land. They found out this was far from the truth. We received our first positive report that indicated the enemy might be abusing the rules of war; one of our observers reported that when he adjusted fire on a group of enemy infantry and a troop carrier with men in the vehicle dismounted and displaying a Red Cross flag. This day We succeeded in establishing wire communication with our liaison officers with the 157th Regimental Command Post, 19th Field Regiment, 3rd Battalion and our static observer. Now we could learn more and sooner, of the situation on our front and flanks. Interdictory fires were planned for only one point for the 938th and ourselves; we felt that with so many possible avenues of approach that were available to the enemy it would be better to conserve our ammunition for the continuous fires that our observers were capable of adjusting and that we felt sure the aggressive enemy would force them to employ. As a final precaution we had Lieutenant VanNess adjust us on the North-South road for defense of the 3rd Battalion. The number of observed missions this day were thirty-two. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 2393; Battery “B”, 1661; Battery “C”, 2083; Total 6137.
The Luftwaffe ushered in February 20th with an air raid that lasted 30 minutes. Anti-personnel and fragmentation bombs came close to Batteries “B” and “C”; no damage was done. Soon we had reports of enemy vehicular activity on North-South road. Our observers adjusted fire at points along the road near their positions and stilled some of the movement. Small groups of enemy formed or exposed themselves at places that were now familiar and well shot-in. Enemy artillery or tanks that had placed a few rounds and high bursts near our positions on previous days without damage to us placed between 100 and 150 well directed rounds at our Command post and nearby Battery “A”. The fire was 88 caliber and air bursts for the most part. The personnel of both batteries were dug in. Three casualties were suffered when a graze struck the edge of a foxhole in Battery “A’s” area. The men were not seriously injured; their foxhole was covered with fiber shell containers filled with earth. Later in the day the units on our right received an attack following an artillery preparation of an hour. The 2nd Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry took up positions to the left and forward of Company “K” in an attempt to clear the ground between the 3rd and 2nd Battalions and thus break the ring of Germans that surrounded the 2nd Battalion. We sent Technical Sergeant Morton, who was with the 3rd Battalion as a forward observer, to this unit to serve as Liaison Officer or Forward Observer, as they wished. The 27th and 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalions were directly supporting the 6th and had liaison officers with them. The presence of our observer there permitted them to call on us for additional fire if the need arose. This day plans were conceived for the relief of the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry. It was at first rumored that the relief would take place this night but that was soon spiked. Interdictory fires were planned for two points; one for the 938th and the other for ourselves. In addition to these fires targets that presented themselves during the night were taken under fire. Twenty-four observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 536; Battery “B”, 727; Battery “C”, 1547; Total, 2810.
February 21st began quietly enough; there was nothing unusual in the movement of the enemy tanks. Our observers fired on them during the dark hours. The Battalion Commander and the Executive left the command post to select positions in the vicinity of the ARMELLINO woods. It was to here that we where to displace upon the relief of the 157th Infantry; we were to reinforce the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. There was given us quite an area from which to choose positions; the Commander took part of the area and the Executive took the remainder in order that they could cover ground, make a selection, and meet the Battery Commanders to complete the reconnaissance by nightfall. The Battery Commanders and the Survey Officer left to meet the Commander in the new area at noon. The enemy gave us less trouble but fewer targets this day. He shelled the vicinity of the command post and Battery “A” again; few sought refuge in their foxholes; his rounds being well over in range. The Germans became active at 1745 hours. We received a call from Captain Hubbert to place fire on enemy infantry. Another attack on the cave had begun. Again the Germans advanced in two forces; the right one approaching the cavern from the ravine that leads Southwest from the “Ration Farm” , the left one approaching Company “G” from the Northwest by way of a draw. Captain Hubbert adjusted the fire, aided by Lieutenant Robinson and observers of the Infantry, in order to sweep the ravine from the mouth of the cave to the “Ration Farm”. Fire had to be placed at the entrances to the tunnels to drive off the attacking forces. Again continuous fire was employed; the observers adjusting it as the situation demanded. The enemy retired about 2000 hours, having suffered many casualties. Soon after the “Cease Fire” on the attack the enemy bombers made their raid on our lines. Battery “B” was exposed to some near misses; no damage was done them. Harassing fires were planned and put into execution. Thirteen observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 228; Battery “B”, 459; Battery “C”, 469; Total, 1156.
February 22nd and help came to the 2nd Battalion at about the same time, the Queens arrived shortly after midnight. They had had to fight their way to the position of the 2nd and in so doing used much of the ammunition that each man carried and also had their ammunition train destroyed. Short of ammunition as they were it was unthinkable to leave them surrounded by enemy, slim as would be the prospects of resupplying themselves. The 2nd had to remain with them to augment their fire power. Thus it was planned that the 2nd would retire the following night. Lieutenant Robinson, unaware of the details of the relief that was scheduled, eluded. the watch of the enemy that surrounded his post in the darkness of the night of February 21-22nd, and make his way to the Command post of Company “F” in order that he might talk with Captain Hubbert by telephone. He returned to the two parties at the observation post, having been told of the plan to relieve everyone the following night, and in entering the house aroused one of the Germans standing at the walls. This soldier tossed a grenade into the window through which the observer passed. This action started a grenade and small arms fight that lasted the remainder of the night. As dawn broke the enemy returned to cover and from then on contented themselves with sniping furiously at the occupants of the house. It was necessary for members of the tiny garrison to snipe in return to enable one of their party to observer and conduct fire. Lieutenant Robinson was killed by a sniper at about 1030 February 22nd. Sergeant Shomaker, Battery “C”, the chief of his party took charge of the party. He was later able to adjust fire on the troops and drive them farther from the house. The British artillery that was to support the Queens, the 113th Field Regiment and 78th Field Regiment, did most of the firing this day. They had been informed of our Liaison with the 19th (Br) in order that our fire could be made available to them. We fired on enemy flak while our bombers bombed behind German lines. Eleven observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 736; Battery “B”, 276, Battery “C”, 457; Total, 1463.
The Headquarters and firing batteries sent details to the new positions this day to prepare dug-in command posts, gun pits, and personnel shelters. It had been told us that this area, closely packed with artillery, was a target for nightly air attacks and considerable shelling. We were preparing for the worst. The arrangement for the retirement of the 2nd Battalion imaged the encirclement of the command post by the enemy. A patrol was arranged to come forward to secure the escape route of the Battalion Headquarters and Company “G”, the latter having gone to the caverns when the Queens arrived. The Commander of the 2nd Battalion ordered the group at the observation post to send one man at dusk to the vicinity of the east house of the three houses, determine if the patrol had arrived and inform Battalion Headquarters by means of the artillery radio. Staff Sergeant Shomaker volunteered to take his way to the patrol and give those in the house a signal so that they could furnish the Battalion the required information. He left the house at dusk, avoided the enemy, made contact with the patrol, and gave the signal. Only three men of the patrol had succeeded in reaching the area; he remained, with an infantry soldier who left the house with him, to aid in guarding the way until a British patrol assumed responsibility for safeguarding the route. Staff Sergeant Shomaker then joined Company “F” and returned with the Infantry. February 23, at 0130 hours, the remnants of the Battalion, some 160 men and officers, left the area and began the march to safety an rest. They soon encountered machine gun and small arms fire on the way back to the main lines and became separated in the darkness and confusion of trying to elude the enemy and further losses were suffered. Two attempts were made to deliver the beleagured observation post; both of these failed. Further attempts were forestalled by the Regiments orders that the main party would depart at midnight, February 22-23, notwithstanding the predicament of the observers. Private Carter, driver of Captain Hubbert’s liaison party, was left at the Cavern with a detail of drivers and property guards to bring the vehicles out when the British were to have made secure a road to the cave. The liaison party was divided in the darkness and straggled into the lines that morning and the following one. The British had no further need of us, our supported infantry having left; we began a daylight move to the new area. One piece of each battery and the S-3’s radio car led the way, followed by the remainder of the vehicles of the battalion. The move was made using the infiltration method of marching. We added a variation by dispatching the light vehicles so that they would march among the heavy ones. Two heart rending appeals were received from Corporal Willsey, now in charge of the two observer parties, for help. This was followed shortly by the announcement that he was destroying his radio. Our Liaison Officer to the 19th Field Regiment, Captain Hayes, reported to the 160th Field Artillery Battalion as our representative there. The two Battalion Liaison Officers and the forward observers with the 3rd Battalion returned to us for a needed rest; shave and bath. Captain Wright remained with the Regimental Headquarters, 157th Infantry, who were in reserve positions. The batteries arrived in the new positions after noon and were registered on the base point by the Static Observer, Lieutenant Davis. An observer of the 160th FA adjusted us on our normal barrages. Harassing fires on eight points were assigned us for the night; these were to consume 200 rounds. We were assigned one time-on-target mission. No observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 32; Battery “B”, 21; Battery “C”, 112; Total, 165.
February 24 was as uneventful as life should be for a reinforcing battalion. Our Battery “B” was shelled this day, a pile of ammunition was set afire; no other damage incurred. We learned, and bemoaned the fact, that the British had lost the cave the 2nd Battalion fought so hard to retain and in which defense we fired so many rounds of ammunition. We speculated upon the fortunes of Private Carter and Corporal Willsey and his party. No word was received of them. We received instructions from Division Artillery to place a greater volume of fire on targets in the future. The Battalion Commander selected a site for an observation post on the right of our zone to be manned in addition to the one already occupied. No observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 2; Battery “B”, 219; Battery “C”, 25; Total, 246.
February 25th was another quiet day. The 179th occupying the front lines, confined itself to patrolling and attempting to frustrate the patrol activities of the enemy. The enemy placed two heavy caliber artillery shells in “C” Battery’s position without harm to the personnel or material. We dispatched an observer to occupy the new observation post. This OP was surveyed in. These two observation posts gave us many reports of gun flashes and pyrotechnics in enemy territory. We fired four observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 217; Battery “B”, 7; Battery “C”, 27; Total 251.
Early February 26th we received a report from our Liaison Officer with the 160th that our patrols had observed enemy tanks on the “Dead-End” road (F863298 – F890297). Our Liaison Officer with the 157th sent us news that the British had broken up, with artillery fire a small-scale attack pointing down the North-South road. The 160th instructed us to fire two harassing missions three times each during the day. Interdictions were arranged on four points for the night. We also fired on Division Artillery’s order on three locations during the early evening. More guns flashes were reported by the OP during the night; they were at a great range. No observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 8; Battery “B”, 11; Battery “C”, 172; Total, 191.
The enemy was more active February 27th, than on the preceding few days. He used smoke screens in the British front, west of the VIA ANTIATINA, and in the sector of the 180th Infantry, adjoining the 179th on the right, to hide the movement of his armor. We fired pamphlets at Division Artillery’s order in the sector of the 180th where were identified our old friends, the Poles and the Czechs of the 71st Panzer Grenadier Regiment. We also fired on tanks and troop concentrations at the request of Division Artillery and the 160th. We re-registered on the base point. One observed mission was fired: this was incomplete because of early morning haze. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 211; Battery “B”, 329; Battery “C”, 142; Total, 682.
February 28th started in much the same fashion that the preceding day began. The British received an attack that at first seemed serious. Later reports disclosed that the enemy infiltrated across a 500 yard front but were later driven out and mopped up. Division Artillery sent a report that a German radio message had been intercepted that indicated they would heavily shell our area about 1230 hours. The prediction was true; Batteries “A”, “B” and “C” received shellfire that wounded two men and killed one. The shelling lasted about an hour. The same guns, close in, judging by the sound, would fire a few rounds at one location, shift to successive locations, and then fire again on the first one. The effect was a thorough harassment of the entire area. We were assigned to fire on VI Corps counter-battery shoots, T.O.T. methods, on six locations from 1335 hours to 1400 hours. Later, we were assigned sixteen locations upon which to place a total of 700 rounds of harassing fire from 1800 hours until 0600 hours February 29th. Our observers spent another evening vainly trying to locate the close gun or guns that harassed our infantry and firing batteries. Five observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 279; Battery “B”, 126; Battery “C”, 80; Total, 485.
The enemy’s artillery became active early on the morning February 29th, at the same time that the 180th Infantry received an attack. Our installations received a two-hour concentrated attack with artillery fire. Shortly after daybreak the German attack moved to the right; here they engaged the 509th Paratroopers. This unit, attached to the 3rd Division, received an attack that disorganized one company and drove them back about 800 yards. Here they held, aided by the 30th Infantry on their left, who made an attack. The Division Headquarters expected this to be the prelude to a more serious attempt to reduce the beachhead. We learned at 1930 hours that the 3rd Division had been forced to pull back about 1000 yards. A report was also received of the presence of 100 tanks in the vicinity of CISTERNIA. The Paratroopers planned to attack at 1800 hours to stop the enemy’s drive. At the behest of Division Artillery we fired on enemy troop concentrations the protection of the 180th twice during the day. The Paratrooper’s drive was successful; they restored their line while the attack continued against the 2nd Battalion, 15th Infantry. Our observers reported many flashes and flares; the Germans turned the heavens into a holiday sky. Four observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 357; Battery “B”, 221; Battery “C”, 531; Total, 1109.
March 1st found us still performing a reinforcing mission for the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. We had two static observation posts; one near the left of the sector of the 179th Infantry and . one about a kilometer to the right of their boundary. These positions surveyed and served us as flash bases at night as well as observation posts. These posts produced a number of targets during the daylight hours as well as many observations of gun flashes during the night. Orders came to us during this day that we would be prepared to support the 157th Infantry when, and if, they were taken from VI Corps Reserve and committed. These orders informed us that we would reconnoiter for positions in the right center of the Beachhead, in the zone of the 3rd Infantry Division. Attempts to learn if we were attached to the 1st Armored Division (U. S.), whose Commanding General was responsible for the Corps reserves were unavailing. The Battalion Commander made a reconnaissance early in the forenoon of this day and found an area that afforded positions for two batteries. Our status was undetermined at noon; as a consequence we were not required to send a representative to the conference of the 1st Armored Artillery, held shortly after noon. Later in the day we learned that the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, would occupy the reserve positions assigned to it for the final defense of the Beachhead Line and that we would directly support that Battalion, in addition to our role as reinforcing artillery to the 160th. This information first came to us from the Commander of the 157th, saying that the Division Commander had told him that we would establish liaison with that Battalion. This additional mission assignment was later confirmed by a telephone call from Division Artillery. We made the necessary arrangements to furnish liaison to this Battalion and determined to leave the right static observer in position as one of the forward observers to this unit. Another forward observer was alerted to report to Captain Hayes, Liaison Officer to the 1st Battalion, to remain with him and share the burden of manning the observation post with the other observer. Thus two observers would be available in case the need for them arose. The enemy was active this day; the 3rd Division received an attack comprised of infantry and tanks that was repulsed. The 509th Parachute Battalion succeeded in regaining ground lost to the Germans. the previous day. We also welcomed the news that 200 of the enemy came to our lines under a white flag. Our fire was mainly harassing fires at the request of the 160th and the Division Artillery. Poor visibility left our observers with little to do except report flashes and flares. Five (5) observed missions were fired. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 90; Battery “B”, 242; Battery “C”, 84; Total, 416.
March 2nd differed from the previous day in that the day dawned bright and clear. A heavy mist covered the rain-soaked earth, hampering the observation from our OP’s during the forenoon. The enemy remained peacefully disposed on our front, except that during the afternoon the forward area of our zone was heavily shelled for about one hour. Later in the day we received word that the 3rd Division withstood another attack from approximately one company of infantry supported by six or eight tanks. By midnight we had received information that the enemy was driven back with two tanks less than he had when he started the attack. Our Private Carter, the member of Captain Hubbert’s party to the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry who had been listed as missing in action, it being presumed he was captured when the Germans took the cave, reported for duty. He told an enthralling story of capture, prisoner-of-war-camps, and escape. We learned from him that he saw no large concentrations of the enemy to the rear of their front lines and this side of ROME. He told us of their obvious and confessed fear of our artillery fire; of the rations of bread, ersatz coffee for breakfast, and stew for lunch that left our soldiers hungry; and the considerate treatment the captives received. He told us that he was led away over the area previously covered by our artillery fire; that most all of the many dead he saw met death as a result of shell fire. He cheered us when he told of the middle-aged and striplings who peopled the behind-the-line installations. Our observers fired three (3) missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 361; Battery “B”, 377; Battery “C”, 296; Total, 1034.
Early of the forenoon of March 3rd, we received the report that the patrols of the 179th Infantry, on our front, had contacted the enemy on the “dead-end road”, (863297-890296). From the Special Service Forces came the report that on the extreme right of the Beachhead there was much vehicular activity; a portent of action to come on that flank. This conclusion was borne out by the statement of a prisoner captured by the 3rd Infantry Division. The 7th Infantry of that Division, brushed off a light skirmish this day. Another prisoner, a deserter, reported that the Germans planned to interdict the main roads during the afternoon; the fire was supposed to be intense. The statement of this prisoner was not attested to by the fire received in our areas; only the normal interdiction of the “overpass” (863286) and the “ANZIO EXPRESS”, the large caliber shells that harassed the towns of ANZIO and NETTUNO and the service elements in their vicinity. We alerted our observers so that they would be quick to locate the enemy artillery positions. The report of Private Carter, to the effect that the railroad bed was “solid with dug-in Germans” bore fruit; this feature was dive-bombed and strafed twice during the day and bombed by medium bombers. The British reported that upon their attack of a house occupied by enemy troops the Germans appealed to British sportsmanship, asking for relief so that their casualties could be removed. The British replied by placing artillery fire on the place. The enemy and the weather conspired to eliminate our observation this day; rain and haze forced us to cancel the only two observed missions from ground observers on artillery positions, and two Cubs were forced down by enemy planes. Number of rounds fired; Battery “A”, 84; Battery “B”, 77; Battery “C”, 160; Total, 321.
March 4th was another quiet day on our part of the front; vehicular movement was observed in the vicinity of the “Factory” (F8931). The enemy artillery lightly shelled the lines of the 179th Infantry at intervals during the day. We were warned that a deserter informed higher headquarters that heavy interdictory fire would be placed on roads in our areas during the afternoon; this intelligence proved to be false. In the evening we received word that the 3rd Division was engaged in withstanding another attack. The force of the attack moved to the left and apparently spent itself about 2300A hours. We fired on orders of Division Artillery upon enemy installations using time-on-target method. We fired 184 rounds on three concentrations as harassing fires during the day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 114; Battery “B”, 161; Battery “C”, 120; Total, 395.
We began March 5th by firing in support of the 179th, who were busily engaged at 0015A hours repelling a probing thrust of the enemy. The minor engagement was broken off shortly there after. The remainder of the night was spent receiving the many reports of gun flashes that our observers sent us. Continued, by light, enemy activity was reported to be to the front of the Special Service Forces, on the right flank of the Beachhead. Another report of saturated interdiction to be of the road net in our area came to naught. Our observers continued to report that the enemy artillery in front of us was concentrated in the “Factory” area; yet they were seldom able to see the flashes, and never saw the guns themselves. The enemy attempted to infiltrate through the lines of the British during the late afternoon but were not successful. About 2300A hours the enemy engaged our forces between the 180th Infantry and the 179th Infantry; this force, first thought to be a sizable one, was repulsed with little effort. Our forces completed mine fields so that now our mine field joined with the British. We fired, at the request of Division Artillery, five (5) T.O.T. missions; at the request of the 160th we fired four missions in defense of the 179th. 120 rounds harassing fire were placed on two points at the direction of the 160th. Eight observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 289, Battery “B”, 236; Battery “C”, 259, Total, 784.
We had a report from Division Artillery at 0525A hours March 6th that prisoners of war captured by the 179th told of German plans to attack us with the aim of getting to our wire lines and disrupting communications. This was to prepare the way for an attack in earnest. The prisoners reported that our artillery fire scattered their forces, repelling even the preliminary attack. One of the prisoners was a Frenchman. The enemy artillery continued firing on forward positions and on ANZIO and NETTUNO; our observers reported that some of this fire came from positions upon which our Corps Artillery had placed counter battery fire. Small units of the enemy were observed during tbe day and taken under fire. After dark this day the enemy spread alarms by means of their liberal use of flares. We registered on a check point near the right boundary of the 179th so that we would be in position to support the 171st Field Artillery Battalion if the need arose. We had received orders this day that we would revert to a general support role when the 6th Armored Infantry relieved the 179th; this relief was to take place the following day. We fired six T.O.T. missions this day. Thirteen (13) observed missions were fired. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 335; Battery “B”, 326; Battery “C”, 344; Total, 1005.
Another one of our men, Private Clyde Shelton, who was captured by the Germans returned to us this day. He had been a member of Lieutenant Robinson’s forward observer party, serving with the ill-fated 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry during the period February 16th to 22nd, inclusive. He told much the same story of poor and insufficient food, courteous treatment, and heavy losses sustained by the Germans during their attacks in that period. He corroborated Private Carter’s tale of low enemy morale and their inadequate security measures. His story affirmed our belief that the missing members of Lieutenant Robinson’s and Lieutenant Carmichael’s parties were safe and unharmed and that they were prisoners of the Germans. The enemy greeted the new day, March 7th, by heavily shelling the Battalion area. Light caliber artillery was employed; no damage was done. Again at 0227A hours we were shelled. Forward areas were shelled throughout the day and, commencing at about 1700A hours, began shelling along the entire front; the observation posts of every artillery battalion of the 45th Division was shelled with mixed caliber artillery for a period of about three (3) hours. Our observers were able to adjust fire on more of the enemy’s artillery positions this day. We did fire on an assembly point in company with three other battalions from whence German patrols were dispatched. We fired no observed missions during the day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 72; Battery “B”, 164; Battery “C”, 66; Total, 302. We made arrangements to revert to the general support mission on the morrow; our Liaison Officer to the 160th was advised to return to the battalion CP when the 6th Armored Infantry completed the relief of the 179th.
March 8th was marked by encounters between enemy patrols and our infantry. We received a report that there was heavy enemy motor traffic between VITTORE and CISTERNIA during the day. A bombing mission was arranged to attack the movement. The enemy artillery again shelled forward areas, shelling our left observation post. No damage was sustained. We received word from the Commander, 45th Division Artillery that plans were afoot for an attack. The British were to push up and secure the road junction of the VIA ANTIATINA and the “Dead-End” road (863286); the 45th Division would then attack in the direction of the “Factory” from PADIGLIONE. He ordered us to select a position for one battery in the vicinity of the creek at F8826. A reconnaissance was made; it was found that the proposed area was unsuitable for a position. Further reconnaissance led to the selection of a site in the woods, in the same area as our first command post, at F890251. We received orders to limit our expenditure of ammunition to 60 rounds per gun per day. This allowance was not cumulative and was not to include ammunition fired on missions ordered by VI Corps. We fired one (1) observed mission this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 352; Battery “B”, 94; Battery “C”, 63; Total, 509.
March 9th was spent registering our batteries on emergency barrages selected by the 171st Field Artillery Battalion to better fulfill our mission as general support artillery, and attempting to silence enemy guns. The enemy artillery gave us ample opportunity to discover his positions; he harassed our batteries at intervals during the entire day. As if the enemy’s efforts weren’t enough a premature burst of a shell fired by Battery “C”, 36th Field Artillery injured a man in our Battery “C”. We fired four (4) missions for Division Artillery and 40 rounds of interdiction on each of two locations assigned by the 171st. We fired three (3) observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 117; Battery “B”, 255; Battery “C”, 197; Total, 569.
Our observers saw and reported many flares and gun flashes, beginning with the early morning and all through the day of March 10th. Many of these locations our observers were able to the under fire; others were out of range. We fired three observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 197; Battery “B”, 306; Battery “C”, 186; Total, 689. In addition to the above missions we fired 200 rounds on five (5) points selected by Division Artillery.
Battery “C” moved this day to the forward position previously selected and a reconnaissance was made to select a position forward for Battery “B”. Enemy vehicular and foot troop activity appeared to increase in the vicinity of the “Factory” March 11th. Our observers brought our fire on them with gratifying results. We also fired on enemy guns. Division Artillery assigned us eight (8) points that we fired twice during the day; also we were given four (4) locations of enemy infantry that we fired at dusk. We fired no observed missions this day. We fired the following number of rounds this day: Battery “A”, 226; Battery “B”, 259; Battery “C”, 233; Total, 718. The enemy this day again shelled our area, placing rounds in the position of Battery “B”. Later in the day, 2045A hours, they suffered some near misses at the hands of the “Luftwaffe”; no damage was done. We learned this day that Italian pilots and planes were among the enemy raiders that struck at the Beachhead the previous night.
On March 12, shortly after midnight, an observer of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion adjusted our fire on enemy mortars and self-propelled guns with good effect. We fired harassing fire, unobserved, on four (4) locations in the late afternoon. This was our only activity of the day. We received orders to reinforce the 171st, and to establish liaison with them on the morrow. This we would be able to do from our present positions. Two (2) observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 165; Battery “B”, 163; Battery “C”, 55; Total, 383.
March 13th began quietly; it was 0920A hours before our observers began reporting the enemy’s activity to our front. A more active enemy provided us with a greater number of targets this day. The German artillery become active again at 1800A hours, and from that time our front lines and the Battalion area were shelled intermittently until dawn the following day. The British made an effort during the night of March 13th-14th to secure the line of departure for the coming attack. This attack had been tentatively set for the 15th. We learned that it had been postponed until March 17th. Our forces, the 157th and 180th, were to attack on the day following the British attack. We were to directly support the 157th. As reinforcing artillery there were to be allowed us the: 24th Field Regiment ( British), 78th Field Regiment (British), 141st Field Artillery Battalion, 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, one Battery of the 80th Field Regiment, and the Cannon Company, 157th Infantry. These units were armed respectively as follows; 24 M7′ s (105-mm), 24-25 pounders, 12-155-mm Howitzer M-1, 18-M7′ s (105-mm), 8 -5.5 guns, 2 -M7′ s (105-mm) and 6 – 75-mm self propelled. The total number of pieces, including our guns, was 106. The 2 – M7’s of the Cannon Company were to be attached to our Battery “A” to make that Battery a six gun battery. The sector of the 157th was broken down into zones each of which contained concentrations; these were to be fired successively. The Infantry Battalion Commander would call for the raising of these fires, whereupon the batteries firing these concentrations would place their fire on advanced concentrations. The location of these concentrations would be contained in the plan of supporting fires that was to issue from Division Artillery the following day. The day ended with enemy air raids and shelling. We fired eight (8) observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 132; Battery “B”, 98; Battery “C”, 50; Total, 280.
The enemy shells continued to fall on our installations during the early hours of March 14th. Our left observation post was so heavily shelled that the British artillery observer located in the same house departed. Battery “B” was shelled, one shell striking the gun pit of the First Section, killing one man and seriously wounding another; an ammunition pile was fired. The piece was battered but still usable. Small groups of’ enemy provided our observers and those of the 171st with good shooting this clear, sunny day. The Germans were seen leading away sixty (60) of the Yorkshire Dragoons during the day. Our forces gave them a further lesson that two could play that game; one of their number told us that the Herman Goering Panzer Division had been withdrawn and sent to Southern France. The Luftwaffe struck our area in a surprise dawn attack. One bomb struck near an anti-aircraft half-track emplaced in the Headquarters Battery area, seriously wounding one man. We suffered no damage to material. We fired, in addition to our observed missions, one TOT at the order of Division Artillery. Ten (10) observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 272; Battery “B”, 78; Battery “C”, 195; Total, 545.
Our observers began March 15 with reports of flares and gun flashes. The German artillery continued active this day. Our left observation received frequent, accurate shelling throughout the period, as did the road between 905202 and the “Dairy”. This road was to be a portion of the jump-off line for the prepared attack. Toward night enemy troops, tanks, and self-propelled guns were observed and taken under fire by an observer of the 171st; we participated in the fire. Our observers fired two (2) observed missions this day; a total of three (3) observed missions were fired. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 28; Battery “B”, 186; Battery “C”, 153; Total, 367.
The Cannon Company, 157th Infantry emplaced their two 105-mm self-propelled guns at the position of Battery “A” to whom they were to be attached for the comtemplated attack. The six (6) 75-mm self-propelled guns were emplaced in separate positions and registered; they were to be treated as a fourth battery. The Cannon Company sent us a computer who became a part of our fire direction Center crew. Toward evening we noticed the cloud of protective haze diffessing across the area; this was part of a scheme to cover the entire Beachhead with an anti-aircraft screen. The vicinity of ANZIO was blanketed in a thick fog of smoke; this phenomenon gave rise to a quickly-circulated rumor that two new divisions were debarking at ANZIO port to reinforce us. To this welcome news was added the radio news that CASSINO had been bombed heavily and our forces were pressing an attack of that stubbornly-held point.
March 16th began with a false alarm from the 3rd Division. A heavy artillery preparation preceded enemy foot movement in front of the 30th Infantry. A call to the 41st Field Artillery Battalion, their supporting artillery, resulted in a call to the 45th Division Artillery. Our guns were laid and loaded when we received word that the force confronting the 30th was merely a combat patrol. Enemy aircraft raided our lines and the port area at dawn; no damage was done. This day we relieved our two observers, sending two non-commissioned officers to each OP as the relief. These NCO’s were chosen for their known qualities of command and leadership, their technical knowledge, and experience; these men were to become our new Battlefield Appointments, if they measured up, when the opportunity to commission them arose. We fired eleven (11) observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 309; Battery “B”, 162; Battery “C”, 189; Total, 660. In addition to the observed missions we engaged in one T. O. T. mission, and fired four (4) rounds of propaganda on known enemy locations at the request of Division Artillery. During the evening our observers reported numerous flares within the German lines and many gun flashes. They also reported, to our gratification, the setting of two fires in the vicinity of known enemy artillery locations by Allied Artillery.
March 17th began as the preceding days; enemy shell fire and flashes and flares during the early morning hours. The Luftwaffe bombed and straffed our front line units during the early morning hours. The liaison officers from our reinforcing organizations reported during the day; the 141st Field Artillery Battalion, and the 24th and 78th Field Regiments. These units were registered and the liaison officers returned to their units, and were to report back to us on D-Day. The Fire Direction Center and S-2 personnel spent the day completing maps and mosaics of aerial photographs that were to be furnished the observers and liaison officers for use in the attack. These maps and photos were prepared to show house numbers, and the location of preparatory fires and successive concentrations that were scheduled for the support of the infantry advance. Later in the day the Battalion Commander sent us word to halt work on these charts plans; plans had been changed. We learned that the schedule of supporting fires had been simplified, the British units were not to reinforce our fires; substitution therefor of the 68th and 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalions having been made and the 157th and 180th would attack on D-Day at the same time that the British began their attack. D-Day was established as March 19th, 1944. Work was begun anew on the charts. The enemy forces were active this day, furnishing our observers with good shooting. We were able to answer their calls for fire in spite of a further reduction in our ammunition allotment to only 30 rounds per piece a day. We fired eight observed missions this day. We were requested to fire night harassing fires on seven locations, 20 rounds each point. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 92; Battery “B”, 142; Battery “C”; 117; Number Total, 351.
March 18th began with an air attack. The “Jerry” missed our positions; one hour and forty minutes later the “all clear” was announced. The enemy kept our observers busy the remainder of the night reporting pyrotechnics. At 0710A hours our airplanes bombed the “Factory” area; again at 0735A hours and at 0810A hours the North -South road in the vicinity was bombed. This air activity was reported by our observers as being effective. It had salutary effect on the enemy; their motor movements this day were by thinly scattered or single vehicles, moving at a fast pace. They offered us no shooting this day. Enemy artillery heavily shelled the PADIGLIONE area. We continued our plans and preparations for the attack on the morrow. Maps and photos were assembled for the observers and liaison officers; houses were numbered on the photos and the fire plans were placed on the maps. The photos were assembled into mosaics and backed with outmodeled 1/20,000 grid sheets that we had carried all the way from the States. They were gridded accordingly to the map. A meeting of liaison officers and observers was held; the details of the attack were discussed, the maps and photo mosaics were presented them, and the enemy installations were made known. The observers repaired to the flying field and were taken. for a short flight over the front in our Cubs to acquaint them with the terrain. Two observers were to serve with each of the three battalions as forward observers and three others were to establish static observations posts. The observers and liaison parties had departed for their respective stations When, at 1850A hours, we received word that the “Centipede Plan” was cancelled. We recalled our observers and instructed our already established static observers to remain in place. The 171st assigned us harassing fires at the rate of one round per hour during the night; also five (5) T. O. T. missions were set for the night. We fired three (3) observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 17; Battery “B”, 120; Battery “C”, 18; Total, 155.
The Germans began March 19th by shelling our positions more viciously than ever before. Shortly this fire was repeated and later Battery “A” received fire. By daylight the front lines had begun to received shellfire; this continued throughout the day. Our observers were able to discover and fire on but few of the enemy’s artillery positions. During the day the liaison officers from the reinforcing units took their leave of us, there being no need of them and returned to their units. Three (3) “Time-on-Target” missions were fired during the evening. We fired the following number of rounds this day: Battery “A”, 150; Battery “B”, 95; Battery “C”, 48; Total, 293.
We received word just after midnight, March 19th – 20th that we were to fire a T.O.T. at 0200A hours in front of the 180th Infantry; hostile movement was evident on their front. The remainder of the night was uneventful. At dawn German aircraft raided our area; no damage was done to our Battalion. The enemy became quiet during the remainder of the day; personnel milling around houses presented few targets for our observers. During the evening we fired T. O. T.’s on five (5) hostile locations. Our observers observed fire on four (4) missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Eattery “A”, 106; Battery “B”, 206; Battery “C”, 204; Total, 521.
March 21st was more confusing than eventful. We learned that the 157th Infantry would relieve the 30th Infantry on this night and the ensuing one. The 171st Field Artillery Battalion would directly support them and we would remain in a reinforcing role. Later in the day the plans were changed and we assigned the mission of direct support of the 157th. The Battalion Commander made a hurried reconnaissance of our future position area, discovering that the 41st Field Artillery Battalion supporting the 30th Infantry, occupied the only feasible positions in this area of treeless knolls and logs. An agreement was reached to occupy the positions of the Command post, and Batteries “B” and “C” when they were vacated on the night of March 22nd. Captains Wright and Hayes, Liaison Officers to the Regiment and the 1st Battalion respectively, left our command post after their short stay and returned to the infantry. The opposing artillery shelled our Headquarters and “A” Batteries during the night; only one man was slightly injured in spite of the rapid surprise fire; we were learning how the objects of our fires must feel. We fired fifteen (15) rounds of propaganda this day on locations known to contain opposing troops. Only three (3) observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired as follows: Battery “A”, 139; Battery “B”, 68; Battery “C”, 52; Total, 259.
March 22nd was moving day; advanced parties were sent to the new positions to dig in the personnel that would occupy them about dusk. The lack of cover and defilade necessitated the bringing of a minimum of vehicles and personnel to the new location; it was decided to establish an advanced command post with one shift of the fire direction and S-2 personnel, leaving the remainder of the Headquarters in their present positions until a rearward location affording better concealment could be selected. The 171st assumed direct support of the 157th during the period of our displacement; we kept our liaison officers with them during this period. Captain Evans, 41st Field Artillery Battalion, remained as Liaison Officer with us during the night and until we were registered, the following day. The movement began at dusk and by dawn all batteries were laid and ready to fire. The 1st Battalion, 157th relieved one battalion of the 30th Infantry this same night. We detailed two forward observers to accompany their front line companies, instructing them to dig in near the leading elements of the company in order that they would be prepared to conduct defensive fires upon call from the infantrymen, even if this meant selecting a site not most favorable for observation. We fired two (2) observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 68; Battery “B”, 46; Battery “C”, 6; Total, 120.
March 23rd was spent almost entirely in registering the Battalion on the base point and selecting and adjusting our batteries on their normal barrages. In the early morning word was received that the 141st Field Artillery Battalion would reinforce our fires with two of their batteries; the reinforcement to encompass counter-battery and emergency missions only. Later in the morning we were told that Company “C”, 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion would furnish us unlimited reinforcement. A liaison officer arrived in the afternoon announcing that he represented the 141st and the 634th Field Artillery Battalions; both 155-mm Howitzer, M1. A call to 45th Division Artillery unveiled the fact that both medium battalions would place two batteries each at our disposal for counter-battery work and in event of an emergency. We designated emergency concentrations rather than assign them normal barrages, in accordance with their wishes. This night the 3rd Battalion was scheduled to take up positions to the right of the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, relieving the remainder of the 30th Infantry. Our liaison officer to the 171st was sent to the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry upon the completion of our registration and two observers were alerted to accompany the unit into the lines. The same instructions were issued as in the case of the observers with the 1st Battalion; readiness to support the infantry in case of a hostile threat was placed above the normal considerations in selecting an artillery OP. We fired two (2) “Bingo” (T.O.T.) missions at the request of Division Artillery during the day; only two (2) observed missions against enemy targets were conducted. In between these missions, adjustments, and registrations we completed our digging in at the batteries and the command post. We fired fired 216 rounds as follows: Battery “A”, 71; Battery “B”, 40; Battery “C”, 105.
The 3rd Bn 157th completed the occupation of the lines of the 30th Infantry immediately after midnight, March 24th. The relief was made without hostile interference. Our liaison officer apprised us of their locations. We received from the 30th, via our liaison officer the enemy installations known to them. We learned that the 2nd Battalion, 157th would relieve the 180th Infantry, in position to the left of the 1st Battalion, 157th, during the evening. We would occupy one of the observation posts manned by an observer of the 171st; another observer would be placed to his north and right. Again the principle of close contact with the front-line companies guided our selection of observation posts. The enemy shelled our infantry at frequent intervals during the entire day, continuing to mass the fire of two or more apparently separated pieces. Their positions were well concealed, searching for them was a discouraging process. We received further reinforcement in the form of the Cannon Company, 157th. They would preform this function in addition to their normal role. They were registered and their positions surveyed; normal barrages were assigned them. They sent a Computer to our fire direction center. This day also, the 171st, released of the direct support of the resting 180th, became another reinforcing unit. They did not send us a liaison officer; their command post was some two hundred yards removed from ours. During the night the 3rd Battalion suffered an attack, beginning about 2018A hours, that lasted for about an hour. We fired the Tank Destroyers and Cannon Company in the defense against this action. The engagement resulted in Company “L” relinquishing i ts positions in the Cemetery (F948327). We vied with the Air Forces for the credit of breaking up the attack; during the action our planes dropped illuminating flares according to previously announced plans and the light from these was thought to have discouraged the attackers. We fired two (2) observed missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 47; Battery “B”, 39; Battery “C”, 93; Total, 169.
March 25th witnessed the quickening of the pace of our opposing artillery; our lines were repeatedly shelled throughout the period; all reports indicated that their artillery positions were centered north of the “Factory”. Our observers attempted to locate them but their efforts met with little success, probably partly attributable to the heavy ground haze. A static observation post was established this day; we manned it initially vath Staff Sergeant Meyers of our Battery “C”, an experienced NCO whom we were grooming for Battlefield promotion. We fired “Bingo” missions on three (3) points during the early morning. We fired seven (7) points of interdiction during the night. Eleven (11) observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 242; Battery “B”, 314; Battery “C”, 120; Total, 676.
The patrols that returned early of the morning of March 26th reported frequent encounters with the enemy; Germans occupied houses to our front, and the ravines that crossed the plain. Enemy artillery was active this day; positions of our infantry were shelled the whole day long. Their mortars, too, were active. The increased enemy activity resulted in more productive work on the part of our observers; eighteen (18) observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 60; Battery “B”, 254; Battery “C”, 69; Total, 383.
Patrol plans were reported to us for the night and fire on one point in support of the patrols was arranged. Harassing fires were developed for the nights fire. Patrols returned during the early hours of March 27th with tales of an active, alert, and numerous enemy to our front. We fired, at the request of the infantry, on locations reported by these patrols. The Germans continued to mass their artillery on our lines; this day our Battery “A” received eight (8) rounds of shellfire; the first our positions had received. This day, too, the enemy was active along our entire front, providing us with twenty-seven (27) observed missions. We also fired a “Bingo” for Division Artillery. Targets included enemy guns, tanks, mortars and machine guns and troops. During the first hours of darkness hostile infantry created a furore by their digging arousing our forces to call for normal barrage. This fire was later changed to a greater range and was reported effective. We fired harassing fire on six (6) hostile locations during the night. We fired 566 rounds during the period, distributed as follows: Battery “A”, 192; Battery “B”, 271; Battery “C”, 103.
We fired a “Bingo” mission at 0115A hours to begin the day of March 28th. We fired on numerous targets that the active enemy presented us; guns, personnel, and houses. These last caused us constant trouble. They served as forts for the hostile infantry, observations posts and hiding places for tanks and self-propelled guns. Our guns proved inadequate to the task of reducing these strong points. We learned that a unit armed with eight-inch howitzers was now in position; their principal role was to be the destruction of these buildings. An observer was sent to us whom we were to locate in a suitable observation post so that he could adjust the fire of his battalion on these houses. We guided him to one of our forward observation posts from where he could see the prescribed places. This day the Germans fired on a 1/4 ton displaying a Red Cross flag that was dispatched to carry wounded from our lines. Our observers substantiated the claims of the infantry that the mortar fire placed on this vehicle was observed fire. Our observers conducted fire on twenty-four (24) missions this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 125, Battery “B”, 165; Battery “C”, 86; Total, 376.
March 29th was another day of constant shelling by hostile artillery. The same characteristic of massed fire obtained in the smaller calibers. The fire of 150-mm or 170-mm artillery continued from single pieces. A less active enemy, otherwise, or poor visibility, reduced the number of observed missions to only fourteen (14). One of the oddest of missions was the conducting of fire on an observer who had established himself in a tree. Our observer reported that either he was blown out of the tree or he fell out; ten rounds were expended on this target. We fired one T.O.T. mission upon orders from Division Artillery. Interdiction for the night included seven (7) points known to contain enemy. Number of rounds fired this day: Battery “A”, 161; Battery “B”, 111; Battery “C”, 85, Total, 357.
March 30th began with reports of flares and gun flashes. The day was uneventful enough; the same shelling and enemy activity prevailed. Hostile artillery drove one chemical mortar battalion to shift their positons. This fire still came from the area to the north of the “Factory”. At 2120A hours Battery “C” received three (3) high bursts close to their position. Later in the night at 2146A hours, 2220A hours, and 2245A hours this Battery received over 150 rounds of 88-mm and 105-mm shells. Examination of the spoil led us to conclude that the smaller gun was some 500 mils removed from the larger, one was measured at the battery. Dug in positions proved their worth; the sole casualty occurred when a dug out was directly hit with a 105-mm. These tricks of the Germans effectively confused our observers on numerous occasions. Infantry reported that activity on their front made them suspect that the opposing infantry was busy effecting a relief at that time. Two (2) T.O.T. missions were fired this day. During the night interdictory fires were placed on two (2) points, and on one location fire was placed to cover the withdrawal of a combat patrol. The last mission was fired on call by signal flare. Twenty-four (24) observed missions were fired this day. Number of rounds fired: Battery “A”, 91; Battery “B”, 233; Battery “C”, 60; Total, 384.
March 31st saw the continuation of German shell fire on our front lines; the 171st also received vicious shellings during the greater part of the afternoon. We made greater efforts to silence this devastating and demoralizing fire; T.O.T.’s were fired on five (5) hostile battery positions in addition to the observed missions that were fired on gun positions. Also received was our second report of the employment of Six-barreled mortars. In spite of poor visibility this day our observers fired twenty-five (25) missions; these targets included guns, mortars, machine-guns, and personnel. Harassing fires were placed on five points during the night. Number of rounds fired this day, as follows: Battery “A”, 195; Battery “B”, 180; Battery “C”, 88; Total, 963.
As the month opened; Captain Wright was Liaison Officer with 157th Infantry, Captain Hayes with the 1st Battalion, Captain Hubbert with the 2nd Battalion and Lt. Van Ness with the 3rd Battalion 157th Infantry. We were in direct support of that infantry regiment, and our fires were being reinforced by the 171st F.A. Bn.; Cannon Company, 157th Infantry, Company “C”, 645th T.D. Bn.; 141st F.A. Bn. and the 634th F.A. Bn. Two (2) forward observers were with the 1st Battalion, two (2) with the 2nd; and one (1) with the 3rd Battalion, with the Cannon Company, 157th Infantry furnishing a second observer with the 3rd Battalion. Also “A” and “C” Batteries each established a static OP, which were surveyed in so as to form a short flash base. All the batteries were re-registered on the base point during the morning, from their positions 2000 to 2500 yards southwest of CAMPOMORTE. Normal and emergency barrages were registered on during the afternoon. Two (2) T.O.T.’s for DivArty were fired upon. The Air O.P. reported the wind to be too strong to go up so: Cubs remained on terra firma. Visibility was only fair, a slight haze being the impediment anyway. The enemy artillery on the front lines was heavy enough to induce DivArty to lift the ammunition restriction for the night and 750 rounds interdiction were to be fired by the battalion and supporting artillery. Just before midnight the Luftwaffe came over and sprinkled some AP bombs nearby. A total of 19 missions were fired, on tanks, machine guns, mortars, personnel and in registration. “A” Battery fired 99 rounds, “B” Battery fired 150, and “C” Battery 45 rounds.
April the second (2nd) was Palm Sunday, and we delivered propaganda at seven enemy addresses, one round each. In the afternoon the Division Commander presented Silver Stars to five (5) officers and seven (7) men and an oak leaf cluster on the Silver Star to one officer at the DivArty CP. The targets for this day were personnel, mortars, guns, and machine guns on which “A” Battery used 218 rounds, “B” Battery 222 rounds and “C” Battery 62 rounds.
The 3rd of April, 1944 will ever be a red-letter day to the Battalion S-2, Captain Cleverdon, for this morning he left for the United States on rotation. Earlier in the morning Sgt. Taylor on “A” Battery’s O.P., reported finally seeing the glow from the gun and the phosphorescent trail from the shell which had become popularly referred to as the “Anzio Express” because of its sound and destination. “B” Battery fired the nights’ interdictions totaling 135 rounds on 5 houses. The total rounds fired for the day were: 215 for “A” Battery, 281 for “B” and 163 rounds by Battery “C”.
From 0200B till daylight, on the morning of April 4th, “B” Battery fired two (2) concentrations and interdiction on the now famous cemetery at 94863262. All night interdictions were fired in these battery positions by “B” Battery, because of the poor flash defilade present at the other two positions. DivArty called for five (5) T.O.T.s between 1100B and 1125B on 2 and 3 gun battery positions. Five (5) more were called for from 2010B to 2026B; and again at 2115B, one more. The area around the CP received 182 rounds of light caliber “incoming mail” from 2115B to 2152B. The visibility was quite restricted by a haze ranging from slight to medium all day. “A” Battery’s total for the day was 67 rounds, “B” Battery’s 269 rounds, and 69 rounds for “C” Battery.
Wednesday, April 5th, dawned partly cloudy with limited visibility and remained so all day. The day was relatively quiet in the battalion area. Targets this day were O.P.’s, dug in personnel, tanks, mortars, interdiction and seven (7) T.O.T.s. Total Ammo fired: “A” Battery 138 rounds, “B” Battery 110 and “C”‘ Battery 69.
April 6th began with a ground haze in the morning. but the visibility became clear enough in the afternoon that the forward observers were able to run the gamut in observed targets (i.e. 1 machine gun, 4 mortars, 1 O.P., 1 on the cemetery at 94863262, 1 on personnel, 1 at a tank and 5 T.O.T.s, including one on the cemetery, which Lt. Cobb reported as pulverizing it.) This last T.O.T. was effected by 48 light guns and 40 mediums, 2 volleys each. All in all, the battalion fired the following: 87 rounds by “A” Battery, 215 rounds by “B” Battery and “C” Battery 114 rounds.
Again on the 7th, a haze impaired (tho did not prevent) observation all day. Even so, after, the day beginning with 50 rounds of shell fire landing in the C.P. area between 0100B and 0210B, a tank, a machine gun, an artillery piece and a couple of mortars were shot at by our observed fire. During the day 6 T.O.T.s were participated in by the battalion, and 100 rounds of interdiction were called for and delivered during the night, making totals for the period: 107 rounds by “A” Battery, 313 rounds by “B” Battery and 50 rounds for “C” Battery. A red alert was sounded at 2045B.
On Saturday, the 8th of April, the haze greatly impeded visibility all day. However the Heinie threw 215 rounds around the headquarters area and a couple rounds in “B” Battery’s area, all light to medium variety, mostly before daylight. We shot at 1 gun, 2 mortars, 2 O.P. s and 4 personnel targets (the last one tried to be covered by a smoke screen). 11 T.O.T.s were fired during the day and 110 rounds of interdiction during the night. Daily aggregates were 224 rounds for “A” Battery, 104 for “B” Battery and 69 for “C” Battery.
Easter, April 9th brought light showers, limiting visibility again. However observers were able to adjust the battalion on a tank, a personnel target, one of vehicles and three mortar targets. Only one T.O.T. but 11 harassing concentrations were fired. These totals were recorded: “A” Battery 138 rounds, “B” Battery 144 rounds and 97 rounds for “C” Battery.
Warm weather, clear skies and good visibility were all in evidence during April 10th, and the number of observed targets of machine guns and personnel increased noticeably. To offset that natural advantage (or for some other reason) the enemy threw about a dozen rounds of smoke behind “A” Battery, in the area where several O.P.s were visible to the Krauts. At 1600B, orders were received from DivArty, changing the 171st F.A. Bn’s. mission from reinforcing our fires to general support and reinforcing our fires. Then in the evening word was received from DivArty of the plan to shoot with increased tempo from 2000B to 2015B and from 2245B to 2300B, in order to draw fire from enemy batteries, making target during the following 2 one hour periods for bombing and strafing by the air corps. These latter two periods, naturally, were to be “silent periods” for all allied artillery. Totals of ammunition expended during the day were: by Battery “A” 177 rounds, by “B” Battery 68 and 48 rounds by “C” Battery.
At 0530B, on the morning of the 11th “A” Battery received a little “incoming mail”. Other than that the two main events during the day were: the division artillery commanding general’s visit to the C.P., when he informed us the plan for the 30th Infantry to relieve the 157th Infantry, beginning the night of April 12th. The other bit of news was that the bombing program scheduled again for the night was called off. “Too smokey” for the mission. Most of the targets during the day which included light showers, were of local personnel and strong point concentrations. “A” Battery expended 171 rounds for the period, “B” Battery 216 rounds and “C” Battery 107 rounds.
Again on the 12th of April, division artillery announced the on-off-again bombing plan is on again tonight, but this time no artillery preparation will be made. Evidently it was carried out, but the krauts synchronized their air raid too perfectly with ours. Shortly afternoon “A” Battery’s kitchen area received 21 enemy shells. No casualties however. The 17 concentrations during the day included T.O.T .s, personnel and mortars. Totals were: “A” Battery 154 rounds, “B” Battery 182 rounds and “C” Battery 161. Also on this day, the battalion O.P. #l (9262725837) received the first shelling, whlich was to be repeated often on these woods the next week. Also the Luftwaffe bombed the area during the night in the air raid.
Mortars led in furnishing targets on the 13th, there being 7 of such concentrations. The day was cool, partly cloudy with limited visibility. Only 2 T.O.T.s were fired. During the early morning we had a short air raid, and bombs or shells which landed at the same time, knocked out two “A” Battery trucks temporarily. Then during the night 10 minutes of continuous fire was placed in front of 2nd Battalion 157th Infantry, to stop a small attack. The “quiet period” was called off for the night. “A” Battery’s total for the day was 212 rounds, “B” Battery’s was 212 and “C” Battery’s 245 rounds.
On the 14th of April, the first of our forward observers and liaison officers to the infantry returned, the infantry battalion on the right having been relieved by the 3rd Division unit. 2 no-fire periods were announced by DivArty and then changed to 2300B-2400B. TOT’s led the types of concentrations, being 5 in number. Ammo expended during the day was: 179 rounds by “A” Battery, 486 rounds by “B” Battery and 123 rounds by “C” Battery.
On the 15th, the liaison officer with the 1st Bn. 157th Infantry and his forward observers, returned, these particular units having been relieved. OP #1 was shelled three times during the period; O.P. #2 (9262725837) was manned and designated as the only one to be maintained while the division was in rest. 6 T.O.T.s, and 5 tanks, 2 mortars, 1 gun and 1 vehicle targets were fired. The visibility became good in the afternoon. “A” Battery fired 291 rounds, “B” Battery fired 159 rounds and “C” Battery 150 rounds.
The relief of the 157th Infantry was completed on the 16th and the two remaining liaison officers and the forward observers with the 2nd Battalion returned. “B” Battery area was shelled at 0100B, and “A” Battery received some more at 2130B. Ground mist in the morning, plus the reduced number of observers in observers in position, reduced the number of observed targets to one. 4 harassing targets and the same number of TOTs summed up the firing for the day. “A” Battery’s total was 128 rounds and ”B” Battery’s was 61 rounds and “C”s was 110.
By virtue of F.O. #18, 45th Infantry Division Artillery, dated 14 April, 1944, this battalion was in general support and reinforcing the fire of the 41st F.A. Bn. (3rd Inf. Div.) from April 17 to April 30, inclusive. During this period the OP at 9262725837 was manned by the forward observers, each taking a 2-day shift. A number of schools for observers and computers were held both by the battalion commanders and battery officers.
“A” Battery on the 17th, had 3 trucks knocked out by about 75 rounds coming in about sunrise.
On the 19th the battalion executive returned from the rear echelon, where he had been supervising the turn-in of all surplus clothing and equipment in storage. The battalion S-3 went to DivArty on special duty as acting DivArty S-3.
On April 20th, “C” Battery, at an instruction period at a temporary O.P. set up in the battery area, fired on an enemy vehicle, setting it on fire.
Shortly after 0100B, the 21st of April, Tedesci threw about 35 rounds into the C.P. Area; about 88-mm caliber. At 1945, the battalion joined in a nine (9) battalion concentration to counter an enemy attack in front of 2nd Battalion 30th Infantry.
The 45th Infantry DivArty commanding general on April 22nd ordered the battalion commander and the commander of the 160th F. A. Bn. to reconnoiter (1) the area just north of CAMPOMORTO within range of the F38 X grid line and (2) the area of 9429, both areas to be reconnoitered for preparation of a C.P. and 1 battery installations by one battalion, and the other 2 battery installations by the other battalion; all 4 installations to be occupied by one battalion. At about 2200B, “A” and “B” Batteries fired 30 minutes of continuous fire on an enemy attack upon the 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry. During the period “C” Battery received over 30 rounds of 170-mm counter-battery fire.
“B” Battery was shelled by about 65 rounds of light caliber shells about daylight the morning of the 23rd.
On the morning of the 25th, a plan beginning with harassing of an area roughly 1 km. square following by a box-barrage around the same area; closed away our lines for 2 minutes. Propaganda was broadcast for 8 minutes by means of a loudspeaker, and during the succeeding 18 minutes a rolling barrage was fired beginning in the same form as the box barrage, with the closed side moving in 100 yard bounds through the box toward our lines. This was followed by another announcement over the public address system. And just before an attack through the area by our infantry a “bullet” concentration was fired at a point in the center of the line at the last range fired in the rolling barrage. This bullet consisted of concentrating 2 rounds per gun in all of the approximately 10 battalions participating in the plan, known as “Mr. Green”. Our battalion’s part was a 300 yard section of the west side of the “box” plus the “bullet”. The “box” part began at 0409B. Three TOT’S including 5 volleys of smoke and continuous fire for 35 minutes followed the plan.
On Wednesday, April 26th, the battalion S-3 returned from special duty with Division Artillery.
Field Order No. 19, 45th Infantry DivArty, dated 27th April, 1944, was received the same day, and there under the battalion’s mission was changed to general support and reinforcing the fires of the 171st F. A. Bn., effective the night of April 30th – May 1st, when commander of 180th Infantry assumes command of the sector (F925 line to F964 line, both approximately). Battalion was directed to establish a flash base, which was done the same day, using the existing OP #2 as the left end and establishing OP #3 (9529825977) as the right end.
“C” Battery area was shelled by 170-mm gun around 0800B, on the 28th; no casualties.
The Battalion Commander and the Battalion Executive made reconnaissances for battery positions in the areas. northwest and northeast of CAMPOMORTO on the 27th and the 29th of April.
On the 29th, “B” and “C” Batteries completed registration on the normal barrages as designated by the 171st F.A. Bn. The Liaison Officer to the 157th Infantry Regiment and the one to the 3rd Battalion were alerted, and they reported to their respective posts, although the entire regiment remained in division reserve. The flash base was tested and out of four targets fired on, adjustment was obtained with an average of 3 rounds each.
On the 30th, “A” Battery completed its registration on their normal barrage. During the evening, the 171st F.A. Bn. notified us that there would be no firing short of the 32 line between the 94 and 96 line. The tour on the static OP’s was extended to 4 days each, the forward observers taking their turns.
The totals of rounds fired by battery, for the period April 17th to 30th, inclusive, are as follows:
The month of May opened with the battalion in general support of the division and reinforcing the fires of the 171st F.A. Bn. Captain Wright was liaison officer with 157th Infantry and Lt. Robertson on an OP at 954260 and Sgt. Taylor at 929256. The CP was at 930243, “A” Battery at 928254, “B” Battery at 927249, and “C” Battery at 932246. During the first day of the month Lt. Mayne was sent to the 157th Infantry Cannon Company, which was attached to the battalion, as artillery adviser, six (6) TOT’s were fired for DivArty during the night. “A” Battery’s total expended ammunition for the day was 207 rounds, “B” Battery’s total was 98 rounds and “C” battery’s 203 rounds.
During the 2nd May, the two static O.P.’s picked up flashes from 14 enemy guns. OP #2 was shelled three times during the day. “A” battery’s first section had its gun knocked out and about 300 rounds of ammo burned up when the area was shelled shortly before midnight. Totals for the day were: 195 rounds for “A” Battery, 84 rounds for “B” Battery and 66 rounds for “C” Battery.
Shortly after midnight on the morning of the 3rd May, “A” Battery’s position received about 31 rounds of enemy shellfire. During the day the battalion was called upon by the 171st F.A. Bn to fire to fire on only three (3) observed targets. Totals of rounds fired were: 186 rounds for “A” Battery, 254 rounds for “B” Battery and 64 rounds for “C” Battery.
Shortly afternoon of the 4th May, the Heinie received 15 rounds of pamphlets containing statements made by PW’s, 7 TOT’s and 5 points of interdicton were called for during the night. For the day, “A” Battery fired 131 rounds, “B” Battery 316 rounds, and “C” Battery 166 rounds.
On the night of the fifth the 157th Infantry began its relief of the 179th, one battalion per night, with 3rd battalion first, so during the day all targets were still those observed by 171st F.A. Bn’s F.O.’s as the visibility was fair to poor, the number of missions was small, however, “A” Battery shot 125 rounds, “B” Battery 168 rounds and “C” Battery 72 rounds.
About 0330 on the morning of the 6th May, 1st Bn. 179th Infantry reported an enemy attack on them, and “B” Battery fired continuous fire for slightly over an hour. Then during the evening what men could be spared began digging in the proposed positions along the banks of the Mussolini Canal, just south of CAMPOMORTO. This was the first move in preparation for the “big push”. The targets were still all being adjusted by the 171st observers, who caused the following totals: 222 rounds for “A” Battery, 512 rounds for “B” Battery and 159 rounds for “C” Battery.
So far as the battalion is concerned, the most singular event of May 7th was the news that Lt. Goodman was hit by a mortar shell near miss, which resulted in the loss of one leg and a compound fracture of the other. He had been a forward observer who liked his job. The C.P. received a light shelling shortly after midnight. The ammunition for the day totaled: 268 rounds for “A” Battery, 208 rounds for “B” Battery and 148 rounds for “C” Battery. The battalion’s mission changed to that of direct support of 157th Infantry during the night.
The two static OP’s were abandoned at dawn on the 8th, and sergeant Wilhelm, who had been at the right position, brought in a photo and the characteristics of the enemy gun which had been popularly referred to as the “Anzio-Express”, because of its unusual destination and the sound of its passing. He had contacted an Italian ex-soldier who had served on the gun crew of a weapon of the same type. LNO’s from the 189th F.A. Bn., the 160th F.A. Bn., and the 27th Armored F.A. Bn., who were reinforcing our fires reported in this morning. 13 points of harassing were fired by this and the reinforcing battalions during the night. On this day, the order was received starting the shifting of the infantry battalions (and regiments) for the “big push”, which was still referred to as “D-Day” but which couldn’t occur (under this plan) before the morning of May 14th. “A” Battery shot 223 rounds this date, “B” Battery 243 rounds and “C” Battery 88 rounds.
Col. Myers became commanding general of the 45th Division Artillery on the 9th May. A number of mortar targets were fired upon, as was also a Nebelwerfer behind a house in the 2nd Battalion 157th Infantry sector. DivArty ordered one piece per battery to be moved to the new area along the Mussolini Canal during the night of the 11-12th, to be registered the 12th May. The enemy pointed two powerful searchlights toward Anzio during their air raid about 2230B. The east one was on COLLI LAZIALE, the other to the north west, near the coast. The totals for the day (including 15 rounds of propaganda) were: 440 rounds for “A” Battery, 389 rounds for “B” Battery and 372 rounds for “C” Battery.
The 10th of May was not singular, the usual targets of personnel, mortars and vehicles, not a particularly sizable number of each. The total rounds expended were 535 rounds for “A” Battery, 803 rounds for “B” Battery and 509 rounds for “C” Battery.
Shortly after midnight on the 11th of May, 12 rounds of light caliber shells lit in “B” Battery’s position. Covers, protective and shields, gas, eye were issued. Orders of the day by General Alexander and Lt. Gen. Clark were changed from TOP SECRET to full distribution at 1600. These orders proclaimed that the first blow of the second front would be struck in Italy. “BBC” radio later carried the communique that the “Southern Front” had begun its push at 2200B hours. At 2230B the first of a number of 15 minute continuous fire periods by nearly all the artillery of the Corps, was begun. During the following days, these periods were placed at different hours; at sort of diversionary measure. Our total ammunition expended for the day was: 259 rounds for “A” Battery, 298 rounds for “B” Battery and 217 rounds for “C” Battery.
At 0034B on the 12th of May the battalion’s became that of reinforcing the fire of the 160th F.A. bn. At 1830B Lt. Kilcollins, Executive of “C” Battery, at a private O.P. set up about 30 yards from his executive’s post, observed and adjusted fire upon an enemy battery; such was the terrain of the Anzio Beachhead. Orders were received from division at 2300B placing the battalion back in direct support of the 157th Infantry as of noon the next day. Total rounds shot for the day were: for “A” Battery 122, for “B” Battery 252, and for “C” Battery 120. Also on this day the positions along Mussolini Canal were finally ready for occupancy.
The 15 minute continuous fire period on the 13th occurred at 0500B. About noon the battalion was notified of an unauthorized French news correspondent on the loose on the beachhead, but we didn’t see him. At 1500B Fire Plan “Buffalo” was received. That was to be our opening wedge, though then it was just another “plan”, several of which had already arrived, each contemplating an operation in a different direction. The total ammo expended for the day was: 154 rounds for “A” Battery, 115 rounds for “B” Battery and 182 rounds for “C” Battery.
Mother’s Day, May the 14th was marked by the first inspection of the battalion by the new division artillery commander. It took all morning. One lone round of light caliber landed in “A” Battery’s position from the north. No damage. The battalion still shot periodically on the point which had been a cemetery (948326) ( CEMETER DI CARANO), but which by now was only a pile of grey dust and stones. “A” Battery shot 225 rounds, “B” Battery 190 during this period and “C” Battery 203.
The observers saw 3 sets of enemy medical men around and near the cemetery on the 15th of May, which fact encouraged the gunners that even the dug in and tenacious “supermen” were getting some of their own bitter medicine. The gunners from “A” Battery put out 208 rounds during the day, those from “B” put out 190 rounds and “C” Battery’s men shot off 168 rounds.
The 16th of May was uneventful except for a spot visit by the division commander. The only observed target during the day was adjusted by the air O.P. Total ammunition expended was: 172 by “A” Battery, 155 by “B”Battery, and 191 by “C” Battery.
The 15 minute Corps “Shoot” was eliminated altogether for the 17th of May; more confusion for the enemy (we hope). The three sergeant forward observers with 2nd Battalion 157th Infantry was relieved by three officers during the night. During the day of continued dry, dusty weather, “A” Battery shot 226 rounds, “B” Battery 211 rounds of ammunition, and “C” Battery 140 rounds.
The whole battalion forward area; all batteries; was shelled at 0900B hours on the 18th of May. Short duration and no casualties. At 1500B Fire Plan “Buffalo” was received from DivArty. Eight T.O.T.’s were shot on order of Div. Arty. , five points were harassed during the evening and night, and the total number of rounds expended were: 126 by “A” Battery, 132 by “B”Battery, and 132 by “C” Battery.
Again on the 19th of May, this time shortly before noon, six to eight rounds of 170-mm artillery fell in the battalion area, “C” battery being singled out for the attention this time. No casualties. The types of observed targets became wide in variety, despite the inter-personnel and dugouts furnished targets for the observers. At 2100B, “A” and “C” Batteries were ordered to move one piece each to the new prepared positions north of CAMPOMORTO during the night. Total ammo used up by the battalion during the day was: 390 rounds by “A” Battery, 487 by “B”Battery, and 361 rounds by “C” Battery.
During the “noon hour” the enemy served “A” Battery with eight rounds of light caliber ammunition, but no one was hurt. (Dumb Waiter!) Two pillboxes were adjusted upon by the battalion observers. In the evening the general plan took on a wider aspect, when ENS. Dahlberg reported to the C.P., as Naval Liaison Officer, representing a navel reinforcement of at least two American cruisers. Again at 1815B, “A” Battery received two rounds of light caliber, at what appeared to be the top of a zone by one gun, each round dropping about 200 yards in range until Total not known. well out of the area. The battalion’s totals for the day were: 239 rounds by “A” Battery, 262 by “B”Battery, and 299 by “C” Battery.
Again on Sunday, the 21st May, Jerry lightly harassed the battalion area, dropping two rounds of light to medium caliber in the vicinity of the C.P. At 1030B, from a sound azimuth of 6150/. The air corps put on a show, bombing just north of VELLETRI at 1420B. Targets of personnel and mortars (3 targets each) were fired on by the battalion, through our observers, one of whom also reported four sets of enemy gun flashes ranging from one to eight flashes at each point, all between 5500/ and north from his position in a house southeast of CARANO. “A” Battery shot 68 rounds during the period, “B” Battery 362 rounds and “C” Battery 141, all this including 15 rounds of “Front Post” fired at 15 different points clear across the sector.
On the 22nd May, the Naval Liaison Officer was recalled, since the range of the ships did not include all of the infantry’s first objective (under Plan “Buffalo”) and none of their second. The morale had been lifted by his presence, for the battalion had seen the effects of naval gun fire on SAN CAMERINA, Sicily. The liaison officer with the artillery on the left 171st F.A. Bn. Was to remain, since the cruisers would be located off the west left beach. A liaison officer was sent to the 125th F.A. Bn. “D-Day” was set for the 23rd May, and the battalion moved into the prepared positions north of CAMPOMORTO along and in the banks of Mussolini Canal, all installations being completed by 2330B. The 3rd Battalion 157th Infantry was in the line now, and forward observers and liaison officer had been out with them for 4 days. Liaison Officers to the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 157th Infantry, and four forward observers with the same two battalions and one with the 191st Tank Bn. Were sent out during the night. The total ammo used during the day was: 208 rounds by “A” Battery, 140 rounds by “B” Battery and 90 rounds by “C” Battery.
Shortly after midnight, on the 23rd May, liaison officers from 191st Tank Battalion, 19th F. Regt. (Br.), 27th Armd. F.A. Bn. and the 938th F.A. Bn. Checked into the C.P. This battalion began its participation in Plan “Buffalo” at 0545B; “H” minus 45 minutes; a preparation for 30 minutes at 2 rounds per gun per minute. The subsequent part of the plan consisted of zones of concentrations, certain ones of which were assigned to this battalion, each zone being letters consecutively and was fired upon at the rate of one round per gun every two minutes. Fire was continued upon concentrations of a particular zone until the forward observers in the sector called for it to be raised to the next lettered zone. The whole area, from the jump-off line to the objective was covered by these zones of concentrations. The lettering began with “L”, and the battalion was firing on “R” by 0845B. 3rd Battalion 157th Infantry (the right and leading battalion of the regiment) had reached its objective by 1300B. At 1405B the enemy tank counter attack was first sighted coming southeast, south of and generally parallel to, the railroad track running from CAMPO LEONE to CISTERNIE. Twenty-eight were reported at one time. Two of the forward observers were forced to pull back temporarily. The battalion and 938th F.A. Bn. Fired 2 rounds per gun per minute, the counterattack being reported broken up by 1513B and remainder of tanks reported withdrawing at 1619B. One of the forward observers with the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry was replaced by the forward observer with 191st Tank Battalion, complete with tank. All objectives assigned to the 157th Infantry were taken (and sometimes retaken) and were occupied during the night. The battalion commander made a new assignment of 6 forward observers (2 officers and 4 sergeants) two with each infantry battalion of the regiment. The two with the reserve battalion were to set up static OP’s in their area. Lt. Veach was to go back to the tank battalion and Lt. Mayne to continue to maintain his battalion static O.P. Total ammunition expended by the battalion during the day was: 1347 rounds by “A” Battery, 1401 rounds by “B” Battery and 1580 by “C” Battery.
Shortly before 0300B, the morning of the 24th May, a single round just cleared the dike forming the south bank of the Mussolini Canal, and ignited the ammunition in one of “B” Battery’s gun pits. Ultimately the gun and over 1,000 rounds of ammo were destroyed. The 1st Armored Division set up a PW collecting station around the battalion aid station which in turn was just west of the road north from CAMPOMORTO against the south dike of Mussolini Canal. Some 2,000 PW’s were processed there in about 48 hours. Several targets of single or several enemy tanks were fired upon, as were several of personnel and mortars. In the afternoon DivArty ordered that the area of 9630 (about 1,700 yards forward) be reconnoitered for new positions, then, at the battalion commander’s request, the area was changed to 9732, and one piece was ordered to occupy same during the night. At the request of the 180th Infantry (through the 171st F.A. Bn.) the battalion fired 3 rounds per gun per minute for 26 minutes, cut to 2 rounds per minutes for6 minutes, raised to 3 rounds again for 15 minutes, cut again to 2 rounds per gun per minute for 26 minutes. Then it was lowered to 1 round per gun per minute for 3 minutes, raised to 2 rounds per gun per minute for 9 minutes and re lowered to 1 round per gun per minute for 20 minutes. During the same period the British (19th Field Regiment) was firing defensive fires for 157th Infantry at the rate of 2 rounds per gun per minute. At 2345B DivArty suspended the order to move the one piece forward. The 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry sent 4 overlays that many plans to combat counter attacks on their position, The total ammunition expended during the day was by battery: “A” Battery 611 rounds, “B” Battery 540 rounds, “C” Battery 865 rounds.
A few minutes past midnight, the 25th May, DivArty again ordered the one piece to move to the new position before daylight, the remainder of the battalion that night. At 0215B the report came Infantry was estimated at a company and a half of infantrymen and “tanks”.the 171st F.A. Bn. That the strength of the enemy counter attacks upon 180th Infantry was estimated at a company and a half of infantry men and “tanks”. The battalion static OP was abandoned at daylight. At 1415B came the first indication of an enemy withdrawal, when the 180th Infantry reported sent out a strong patrol and found a recently abandoned C.P. (with papers still turning), but no enemy. The Anzio beachhead was announced to have ceased to exist officially at 1010b when elements of two reconnaissance units met. One round of enemy artillery landed in “B” Battery’s area, injuring one man. By 1415B the single piece which had moved forward from ‘C’ battery had been registered on the existing base point and on a check point by the air OP’s adjustment. Five personnel targets, ten TOT’s (ordered by DivArty) and seven tank targets were fired during the afternoon and evening. All in all “A” Battery fired 1239 rounds during the day, “B” Battery fired 846 rounds and “C” Battery expended 1424 rounds during the period.
By daylight on the 26th May, the battalion had completed its move to the new location to the northeast and just short (South) of the railroad from CISTERNA to CAMPO LEONE. Liaison officers from 151st F.A. Bn. And 171st F.A. Bn. Reported to the CP during the morning. Their organizations were now reinforcing our fires. At 1045B the battalion began firing a 15 minute preparation of a fire plan to support the advance of the division’s infantry. The remainder of the plan consisting of 100 yard belts or zones of concentrations, certain numbers of which had been assigned to this battalion. Each zone again was lettered consecutively beginning with “B” and was fired at 1 round per minute. By 1230B, the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry had reached its first phase line in zone “H”. The no-fire line was set at zone “O” at 1424B and the rate of fire was cut to 1 round every 2 minutes, at 1518B. “Cease Firing” on the plan was given at 1550B, and close in harassing fire begun. Continuous fire (at 1 round per gun per minute) was fired by the battalion at and near the “dairy barn” (928363-928365) for 21 minutes at 1755B. Eleven points for harassing were set for the night, and from DivArty came the announcement of “H-Hour” for the next morning to be 0615B, with a preparation beginning at H-15. Total ammunition spent this forth day of the attack was: 1524 rounds for “A” Battery, 1427 rounds for “B” Battery, and 1438 rounds for “C” Battery.
Shortly after midnight of the 27th May, the liaison officer from the 160th F.A. Bn. Who began reinforcing the fires of the battalion, reported in. From DivArty came the word that for the preparation each battery would fire 2 rounds per gun per minute for five minutes on each of 3 separate concentrations and that the 160th F.A. Bn. Would do likewise, making 18 points to be covered by the two battalions. Execution of the previous day’s fire plan was resumed after the preparation beginning with zone “J”. At 1350B word came that the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry was to pass through the 2nd Battalion during the afternoon, and a hurry-up call was sent for two new forward observers to go with it. Since the “pool” of observers had been in a rear echelon with Service Battery and had not completely moved back up with their respective batteries, the observers who were already out with the 2nd Battalion had to catch the relieving battalion as it went through and stay on until night, when the new observers could be notified and could reach there. During the afternoon, the liaison officer from the 191st Tank Battalion was recalled. The battalion commander reconnoitered for positions in the 9235 and 9236 areas without finding anything suitable. DivArty ordered the battalion to stay in its then present positions that night anyway. Ammunition expended during the day totaled: 1657 by “A” Battery, 1164 for “B” Battery, and 1523 by “C” Battery.
After daylight the morning of the 28th May, the liaison officers from the 189th F.A. Bn. And the 69th F.A. Bn. Which now was to reinforce the fires of the battalion checked in. The LNO from the 19th Fd. Regt. British checked out. Preparation was fired at the request of the 157th Infantry from 0640B to 0656B, hen Zone “U” was begun. At 0800B the Battalion Commander left on reconnaissance and “C” Battery was given “March Order” at 1045B, to move to 930364; they were registered on the base point by 1300B. A skeleton staff of personnel moved to the proposed CP, northeast of the “dairy barn” (935368), around noon, and that area was shelled with about 30 rounds at 1710B. None of the battalion’s men were hurt, but there were a number of casualties among the infantrymen in the area. The remainder of the battalion was moved up during the afternoon and registration completed at 2000B, the Assistant S-3 was sent to 1st Armored Division Artillery to act as liaison officer until another officer could be sent. Continuous fire was delivered by “A” and “C” Batteries upon 893384 at Lt. Mayne’s request for 20 minutes, then by “C” and two batteries of the 189th F.A. Bn. for 10 minutes, then one battery of 189th for a short time more. The liaison officer to the 45th Cav. Recon. Troop was recalled during the night. The batteries’ totals for the day were: “A” Battery 1106 rounds; “B” Battery 514 rounds and “C” Battery 692 rounds.
The Plan of Battle from Division at 0300B on the 29th May put the 157th into Division reserve, and this battalion’s mission became that of reinforcing the 68th F.A. Bn. Who in turn was in direct support of the Combat Command “B” of the 1st Armored Division. “H-Hour” was set at 0530B, and a 30 minute preparation of 2 rounds per gun per minute using mostly fuze M-54 on 6 concentrations was called for. The liaison officer 151st F.A. Bn. Was recalled as of “H-Hour”. The liaison officer from 69th F.A. Bn. Leaves at “H-Hour” as does the one from 27th Armored F.A. Bn. The 160th F.A. Bn., reported that they were moving at 0805B and asked us to take their fires ad interum (their mission was reinforcing 27th F.A. Bn. Armored). From the mouth of the cave in which the CP was located, one had an unobstructed view of the mountain, COLLI LAZIALE and the town of LANUVIA, both of which were still in enemy hands. Totals for the day were: 787 for “A” Battery, 713 for “B” Battery and 1019 from “C” Battery. There were no harassing fires assigned to the battalion for the night since the 1st Armored Division was advancing beyond our maximum range line.
At 1300B on the 30th May the Battalion Commander and the battery commanders went forward to the CAMPO LEONE area (3838) for reconnaissance of the positions already approved by DivArty. The battalion surgeon brought an enemy military map (Truppenkarten) back from the proposed new area. Several of the areas recently occupied by the battalion had concentration numbers on it. The battalion began reinforcing the fires of the 160th F.A. Bn. during the day and maintained liaison with them. Total firing for the day were: 864 rounds for “A” battery, 606 rounds for “B” Battery and 535 rounds by “C” Battery. On this day also, in order to give the forward observers a rest, “A” Battery’s Commander and “C” Battery’s Executive were sent out as forward observers with the 1st Battalion 157th Infantry.
Continuous fire was called for by our forward observer with the 1st Battalion at 0743B on the 31st. “B” Battery fired a 1 round per gun per minute, then was doubled upon request at 0837B. “A” Battery was placed upon another point at the same rate at 0900B, but both were stopped at 0924B. During the day the liaison officers with and from adjacent units sent in numerous SITREPS and kept the situation map “fresh” clear across the Corps front. The total number of rounds fired for the day were: for “A” Battery 1308, for “B” Battery 1509, and for “C” Battery 1096 rounds.
The month of June began with our battalion reinforcing the fires of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion. The C.P. was located at 936369; “A” Battery at 935364; “B” Battery at 931364; and “C” Battery at 930362, all these locations being 4 1/2 miles S/East of CAMPOLEONE. Capt. Wright was L.N.O. with the 157th Infantry Regiment. Captain Hayes, Captain Hubbert, and Lt. Cobb were liaison 0ff’icer’s with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the 157th Infantry respectively. Lt. Olson was the observer on the Static O.P. at CAMPOLEONE at 862397 and Sgt. Laubhan on a like OP at 860401. This was the day set by Division to start an attack on our ultimate objective. At 0055B we received a plan of attack from Division with ROME as the objective: The attack was to be astride the ALBANO-ANZIO road with the 179th on the left flank and the 180th on the right side of the road, and the 157th protecting the left flank. The attack was started at 0530B preceded by preparations of Artillery Fire. In the meantime laison Officer’s from the 19th British Field Regiment. and the 645th T. D. had reported to our CP; also Lt. Merchant had gone to the 171st F. A. Bn as L.N.O. The attack progressed rapidy, already at 0825B we were informed that the 180th Infantry was 300 yards behind the “O” line phase which was from 865408 to 877425 a line extending S and SW about 2 1/2 miles SW of LANUVIO, and continuing to advance without meeting much resistance. However the enemy did not remain passive long, because at 1815B he unleashed a counter attack in front of our sector and spread into the 34th Division sector. Yet their efforts were in vain, after vicious fighting the counter attack was stopped and our forces again started advancing, meeting (2) more small counter attacks which again were quickly stopped. At 1935B Division informed us that the 157th Infantry would displace to approximately three miles North of CISTERNIA DE LITTORIA (0038) grid line, that we would not move or support them, and that the 180th would take over the 157th Infantry lines. All in all the cannoneers had a busy day, firing not only the preparations demanded in their reinforcing role but also firing on numerous targets of opportunity, including tanks, machine guns, mortars and enemy personnel that were picked up by our observers. The total ammunition expended this day was : “A” Battery 1171 rounds, “B” Battery 1400 rounds, and “C” Battery 1467 rounds. Total: 4038 rounds.
At 0100B June 2 the 2nd Battalion, 180th Infantry completed their relief of the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, shortly after that, our 2nd Battalion was attacking one mile south of GANZANO (905442) and the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry at about 1/2 mile east of LAKE NEMI (935463) being directly supported by the 131st Field Artillery Battalion. The 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry had the mission of passing thru the 2nd Battalion as soon as possible. In the meantime the 131st had furnished our Infantry with observers and Captain Hubbert had gone to the 131st as L.N.O. As was true on the previous day our Infantry kept advancing and at 1400B the Battalion Commander and the Battalion Executive went on reconnaissance for new positions. On different ocassions during the day we had reports of prisoners being taken who said that they had suffered heavy losses, in one case our artillery fire caused 120 casualties among a battalion of 200 men. They also said that they were afraid to fire on us for fear of receiving return fire. It appeared as though the enemy’s defenses had definitely cracked, since there was only one counter attack and that one a small scale in front of “A” Company of the 179th Infantry; and progress seemed more rapid, the zone preparations laid down by our artillery were constantly being raised, farther ahead of our advancing troops. Four new officers came to our Battalion on this day: Lt. Wolf, Lt. Marshall, Lt. Gabrysch, and Lt. Porter. In view of these rapid changes the Battalion Commander ordered Lt. Cobb to report to the 3rd Battalion 157th Infantry as L.N.O., Lt. Mayne with the 2nd Battalion and Captain Hayes with the 1st Battalion 157th Infantry. Lt. Gabrysch, Lt. Wolf, Sgt. Schomaker and Sgt. Taylor were ordered to go out as Forward Observer’s and Captain Hubbert was to remain as liaison with the 131st Field Artillery Battalion. The front lines of the 157th Infantry now ran generally from 936437 – 935435 – 935445 running from SW to NE about 1 1/2 miles South of LAKE NEMI. Todays fire missions consisted of preparations for the attack, zone fires as the troops advanced; T.O.T.’s and defensive fires. Only “one observed mission” was attempted, and it had to be discontinued because smoke hampered visibility in spite of the clear day. The total ammunition expended by each battery this day was as follows: “A” Battery 612 rounds, “B” Battery 1101 rounds, “C” Battery 1619 rounds. Total: 3332 rounds.
June 3rd was the start of “The Great Migration Toward Rome”; all troops seemed to be advancing rapidly. At 0735B our Battalion received an overlay and F.O. #16 from Headquarters 157th Infantry showing the disposition and objectives of friendly troops, our objective being one mile south of GANZANO (905442); and at 1015B our 3rd Battalion was at the objective, the 1st Battalion about 1/2 mile east of there. We also had reports of friendly troops in LANUVIO, GANZANO, ROCCO D’POPA (N.E. To LAKE ALBANO) and that the 3rd Division was 4 miles north of VALMONTONE. At 1100B Colonel Myers, the Division Artillery Commanding Officer paid our Battalion C.P. A short visit. At 1218B our Infantry had reached their objective and were on the road junction 2 1/2 miles SW of GANZANO, so that called for reconnaissance for a new position by the Battalion Commander and the Battalion Executive. At 1403B the Battalion was ordered by Division to reinforce the fires of the 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. Lt. Merchant was directed to report to them as Liaison Officer. At 1801B DivArty informed us that the 157th Infantry would revert to Division Control when they crossed the 875 Easting Grid Line; our Battalion would then be in direct support of the 157th Infantry. At 2025B our Regiment L.N.O. Captain Wright reported the 157th Regiment moving to 2 miles south of ALBANO LAZIALE (875442). The succession of moves had started. Not many missions were fired today; most of them were on targets of opportunity picked by our observers and a few missions at the request of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion. The number of rounds fired by each battery were as follows: “A” Battery 726 rounds; “B” Battery 515 rounds; “C” Battery 847 rounds. Total of 2088 rounds for the 3rd day of June.
Sunday, June 4th, was a day of movement, the Battalion moving three times and firing not a round. The Division main axis of advance was designated as generally parallel to RR (Railroad) and North West from Road Junction 5 miles West of GANZANO (8314444) the 180th Combat Team to lead. At 1150B Sergeant Taylor, Forward Observer with “C” Company of 157th Infantry reported that tanks and infantry were so far ahead that firing was impossible. Lt. Merchant was ordered to report to 160th as L.N.O. Lt. Veach left for the 171st Field Artillery Battalion with a mobile task force. The Battalion moved at 1630B to the new position 5 miles west of GANZANO: C.P. At 828445, “A” Battery at 833446; “B” Battery at 823444; “C” Battery at 827432. The Battalion moved at 2005B to new positions 1/2 mile South of FALCOGNANA (802514). Then moved again at 2300B, established CP in new position at VALLERANELLO (740552) at 2400B. The battalion did its part in policing up stragglers of the routed enemy troops, capturing a P.W. at each of its last two positions. No rounds were fired during the day.
At 0030B on Monday, June 5th, DivArty ordered the Battalion to establish liaison with their CP; Lt. Fetzer was ordered to report as L.N.O. Lt. Merchant was ordered to establish a static OP on the south side of the TIBER RIVER, about 5 miles south of ROME at 69-57. The situation was now moving so rapidly that the 157th was moved by trucks to its rendevous areas. The Battalion moved at 2030B across the TIBER, arriving in their new positions at 2200B approximately 5 miles West of ROME. CP at 651609, “A” 652599, “B” 649607, “C” 654607. No rounds fired this day.
Tuesday, June 6th, was relatively inactive day; “C” Battery moved early in the morning to a new position 2 miles North of the previously vacated location. The 189th Field Artillery Battalion took over the role of reinforcing our fires. Lt. Porter and Sgt. Laubhan, Forward Observers, were ordered in. No rounds were fired this day by the 158th Field Artillery Battalion. During the morning of Wednesday, June 7th, the 157th moved again into a rendezvous area 4 1/2 miles North West of ROME (6369). New plans from DivArty revealed that the 45th Division was to follow the 36th Division in the attack on CIVITAVECCHIA. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion, reinforced by the 938th Field Artillery Battalion, to follow in direct support of the 157th Infantry, followed in turn by the 180th Infantry. The Battalion moved at 1405B into a rendezvous area 6 miles due west of ROME (6264). Battalion C.P. Was established at 628646 at 1520B. The Battalion remaining in march order. The 938th Field Artillery Battalion was relieved of reinforcing the fires of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion; the 189th Field Artillery Battalion taking over. The 157th Infantry moved again at 1732B into a rendezvous area 7 miles Northwest of ROME (6070), and our two remaining Forward Observer’s, Lts. Olson and Marshall, returned to their batteries. No rounds were fired this day.
On Thursday, June 8, it became apparent that the rendezvous area at 6264 was to become a rest area, and so it proved to be. The Battalion was in rest in this position until June 21st, during this time the Battalion was given ample opportunity to visit ROME, which had previously been declared off limits. On Thursday, June 15th it was announced that the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry and all attached personnel who took part in the “Battle of the Caves”, in February had been cited. Our LNO and observers who had been with the 2nd Battalion at that time were included in the citation and were decorated at a regimental review and ceremony.
At 1000B on Wednesday, June 21st, the Battalion began a 209 mile road march to a training area at 769293, 7 miles East of SALERNO near the town of FAIANO. The Battalion arrived in the new area at 2255B. From this day until the end of the month the Battalion was engaged in a training program, including physical conditioning, road marches, care and repair of equipment with special emphasis on Motor maintenance, service practice to include direct firing and small arms training.
July 1st still found the battalion in the training area seven (7) miles East of SALERNO, near FIAINO ( 76-29). The first three days of July were uneventful, the time being spent on care and cleaning of equipment, vehicle maintenance, road marches, and conditioning of personnel.
On the 4th, 5th, and 6th of the month of July the firing batteries were engaged in an amphibious problem involving loading our 105-mm howitzers on “dukws”, firing off these “dukws” while in water and on land.
The maneuver was favored by a calm sea and the result of artillery operating off “dukws” proved highly satisfactory although no great degree of accuracy was achieved while firing off the “dukws” while they were in the water.
Routine training schedules were again followed on the 7th through the 10th.
On the 11th the firing batteries were engaged in landing operations on the shores of the GULF of SALERNO in conjunction with the 157th Infantry Regiment. The battalion supplied liaison parties to each of the infantry battalions. These operations consisted of loading and landing with no tactical situation involved.
On the 12th this maneuver was again repeated. The firing batteries, with a skeleton group from the C.P. section put to sea again on the evening of the 12th on the third and last landing operation, moving off shore 2000 yards at 1900B to await the landing on the following morning. This was an R.C.T. exercise. At 1800B the remainder of the battali0n not taking part in the amphibious problem left for a Rest and Recreation Camp, South of PAESTUM near AGROPOLI, arriving at 2030B.
On the morning of the 13th the landing operations were completed; the participating groups then joined the rest of the battalion at the Rest Camp. On the morning of the 12th the battalion was notified by DivArty that for the sake of security the 158th Field Artillery Battalion would be known as Unit “51” until further orders; and that all unit designations would be removed from vehicles and clothing.
The battalion remained in rest until the 16th, moving out at 2040B for a new training area North of Naples, 8 miles from BAGNOLI (055562), arriving at 0130B on the 17th.
For the remainder of the month the battalion followed a training schedule emphasizing conditioning of personnel, waterproofing of vehicles, vehicle maintenance, specialist training, and care and cleaning of equipment. During this period the “Security” restrictions were lifted; the unit designations were repainted on vehicles, and the battalion resumed its normal insignia and
On the 26th a battalion parade was held at which General Eagles, Division Commander, presented medals to the deserving members of the battalion. On July 30th the 158th and 160th Field Artillery Battalion’s held a Memorial service in the battalion area commemorating our fallen comrades. Highlight of the Service was an address by Colonel Meyers, Division Artillery Commander.
– – – – – – – – – – ANZIO – – – – – – – –
The 3rd Infantry Division established a beachhead on 21 January 1944 against light resistance and was followed ashore by the 45th Infantry Division. Soon thereafter German armor, infantry and air began an all-out effort to drive the Americans into the sea, but after the fury of the German attack was spent, the Americans still held the beachhead. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion took heavy shelling from the Germans guns, exceeded in intensity only by the volume of our own fire. The “Battle of the Caves” on the Anzio beachhead marked a high point of ferocity in the battalion’s record of combat in World War II. The Anzio beachhead, a triangular parcel of land extending 20 miles along the coast and at one point penetrating inland 15 miles, was completely under enemy observation. Supply units, through under continuous observation and fire, maintained a steady flow of food and ammunition to the Thunderbirds. During March the Germans continued the constant pressure on the compact area. A breakthrough by the Fifth Army in Southern Italy at Cassino had endangered the left flank of the Germans opposing the Anzio beachhead. On 23 May 1944, the 45th Infantry Division as part of a general advance against fierce German opposition made contact with the southern forces of the Fifth Army and opened the road to Rome. Rome fell on 4 June 1944 and the Germans withdrew rapidly to the Arno River and later to the Gothic Line. In mid-June, the division was relieved from the pursuit of the Germans and moved to the Naples area to begin preparations for another amphibious landing, this time on the coast of Southern France.
In the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site at Nettuno, Italy there are headstones of 7,861 of American military war dead. The majority of these individuals died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943) and the heavy fighting northward; in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944); and in air and naval support in the regions.
Soldiers of the 158th Field Artillery interred there are as follows:
The invasion of Southern France was intended to aid the Allied advances from the Normandy invasion in Northern France. The 45th Infantry Division with the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions, all then under the Seventh U.S. Army, left the Naples area of Italy and on 15 August 1944 secured a landing on the coast of Southern France against light resistance. The division moved inland rapidly from one objective to another. The light resistance continued after the landing and by mid-September 1944 the 45th Infantry Division had crossed the Durrance River and occupied the city of Grenoble. A total of 318 miles were traveled inland in the push of the 45th into central France, flanked by the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions.
As the month opened, the battalion was in position southwest of AMERIEU-EN-BUGEY with the mission of reinforcing the fires of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion. Liaison officers from the unit were with each of the battalions and the regiment of the 157th Infantry and the liaison officers from the 171st FA BN was with this battalion. During the day, in expectation of the commitment of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 157th Infantry, the three forward observers working with those battalions were sent to move with their respective companies and a static observation post was manned by another observer. Just before 2300B, the battalion was put on the alert by a call from Division Artillery with the civilian report that one hundred enemy had infiltrated to just behind the command post. Nothing substantiated or materialized from this report. The weather was warm with showers. Ammunition expended: A Battery 68 rounds, “B” Battery 356 rounds, “C” Battery 16 rounds.
On the Second; a liaison officer from the 976th Field Artillery Battalion (155 rifle) reported in just before midnight. Three non-commissioned officers left for the United States on rotation. The battalion moved about 5 1/2 miles northeast around 0915B, all elements, except Service Battery moving at the same time. Liaison officer from the 189th FA Bn (155 howitzer) came to the command post just following the move. We sent liaison to the direct support artillery with the Third Division Infantry on our left flank and to 160th FA Bn. At 1630B, “B” and “C” Batteries moved again, this time to an area approximately 5 miles farther to the north, Command Post moving at 2000B to a point 1/2 mile south of ROSSETTES, (30-23). Just before midnight the battalion received a directive from Division Artillery forbidding firing on a ammunition dump at 24-33 unless necessary. Again poor visibility, due partially to scattered precipitation, held the ammunition used to 24 rounds by “A” Battery, 81 rounds by “B” Battery and 280 rounds by “C” Battery.
At 0930B, on the 3rd, four rounds of light enemy shellfire landed in the CP area. No damage done. “C” Battery moved in the early afternoon 4 ½ miles to the northwest. Liaison officer from 171st FA Bn (105-howitzer) checked into the CP. By now the details of the ammo dump were learned and further that it was prepared for demolition, which were set off during the night. The number of rounds fired during the day were; “A” Battery 0, “B” Battery 681, and “C” Battery 321.
At 1000B, on the 4th all batteries were given “close station; march order” and moved to a rendezvous area 6 km south of BOURG (2634) where they stayed until 1800B and then started on a road march to a division assembly area. In order for more details of the situation and plans to be ascertained, the battalion (moving with the 157th Infantry Regiment) halted in an intermediate assembly area just 4 miles north of BOURG, for 3 ½ hours and then moving on to the vicinity of MANTRY, about 35 miles to the northeast. Ammo used during the period was: “A” Battery none, “B” Battery 13 rounds, and “C” Battery 59 rounds.
Seven trucks were furnished on the morning of the 5th to “shuttle” infantrymen. Though the guns ere in position, no firing was done either on this or the following day. The battalion moved at 2030B on the 6th to a point 43 miles farther to the northeast, to the vicinity of COTE-BRUNE (0158), and given the mission of reinforcing the fires of the 171st FA Bn. At 0600B the next morning (the 7th), “A”, “B” and Hq. Batteries moved to a point 2 km southeast of BAUME-DAME (0568). The battalion reentered the fight on this day, the observers finding mortars, tanks and personnel at which to shoot, Ammunition expended: “A” Battery 145 rounds, “B” Battery 67 rounds, and “C” Battery none.
In the evening of the 8th, “C” Battery, which had been left behind to cover the road blocks set up by the 157th Infantry, rejoined the battalion. “A” Battery was ordered to move at 0600A of the next day to the vicinity of a point 7 kms southeast, in order better to support 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, Ammunition expended: “A” Battery 50 rounds, B” Battery 91 rounds and “C” Battery none.
At 0910B on the 9th, the battalion was ordered to remain in position to cover 1st Battalion road blocks, but plans were changed at 2200B, and all the battery commanders were alerted to go on reconnaissance at 0300B on the 10th. Total ammunition expended: “A” Battery, none; “B” Battery, 107 rounds; and “C” Battery 49 rounds.
On the 10th, the DOUBS RIVER was crossed at BAUM-LES-DAMES, and the battalion went into position approximately one kilometer northwest of CLERVAL (1376). All batteries were registered on a base point by the air OP by 0830B. Liaison officer from the 160th FA Bn (105-how) reported into the command post. Word came that the 938th FA Bn (155 how) and 976th FA Bn (155 rifles) would reinforce our fires. Battalion moved to the vicinity of UZELLE (0980) around 1900B in the evening. “A” Battery shot 127 rounds, “B” Battery 247 and “C” Battery 273.
On the 11th, “A” Battery was displaced forward at 1800B and was registered by 1845B and the day ended clear and cool with “A” Battery having fired 239 rounds, “B” Battery 635 and “C” Battery 495.
On the 12th “B” Battery, 189th FA Bn (155-how) was made available for reinforcement on call, and the liaison from that unit came to this CP. Numerous targets of personnel and vehicles were adjusted on by the observers, and totals for the day were: 354 rounds by “A”, 838 by “B” and 691 by “C”.
Several targets of horse-drawn artillery were seen on the 13th as were personnel in as much as company strength. All in all the following ammunition was expended during the day: 200 rounds by “A” Battery, 201 by “B” Battery and 54 rounds by “C” Battery.
The battalion received its August pay on this date. A 15 minute preparation on two points was fired at 0855B on the morning of the 14th in support of “C” Company, 157th Infantry jump off. A number of guns, tanks and personnel were fired upon during the day, and “A” Battery’s total was 204 rounds, “B” being 141 and “C”’s 247 rounds.
The numbers of targets on the 15th decreased somewhat though not in variety, and the ammunition totals ran thusly: 171 rounds for “A” Battery, 23 for “B” Battery and 31 for “C”.
The infantry only did vigorous patrolling on the 16th; in fact the normal barrages did not change at all from the day before. Expenditure of ammunition by battery was “A”-80 rounds, “B”-57 rounds and “C”-61 rounds. Two TOTs directed by Divisional Artillery were fired during the evening.
Just after midnight on the morning of the 17th, another Division Artillery TOT was fired, covering a 200 yard zone. The time unit was changed from “B” to “A” at 0300B. Three more TOTs were ordered of the battalion during the day. Information of relief of the 157th Infantry and plan for move to assembly area in vicinity of BOUGNAN (8306) were received in the evening. The day was marked by rain and poor visibility, “A” Battery’s total was 106 rounds, “B” Battery’s 61 and “C” Battery’s 52 rounds.
The battalion executive left for BOUGNAN on the morning of the 18th as advance agent in reconnoitering and selecting a position for the battalion in its anticipated move. The French (who were to relieve the division) artillery began moving into the sector, though the battalion with the direct support mission did not appear, only the general support battalion came over to be orientated and ask for our maps (all of which was turned over upon our relief to the 3rd D.I.A. (French) HQ. “A” Battery’s total was 59 rounds, and “B” and “C” Batteries none. All observers were ordered to their batteries when the respective infantry companies they were with were relieved.
On the 19th, the only target appearing was a short column of armor moving across the front. “A”’s total was 119 rounds, “B”’s 139 and “C” none.
The static OP was abandoned on the 20th and, after a radio silence imposed by Division upon departure (and set by battalion at 1000A., the battalion began a 65 km road march at noon, arriving in an assembly area at VAUVILLERS (8131) at 1500A. Leaving Service Battery there, the battalion moved again and into position at 1830A in an area 3 kms south of BAINS-LES-BAINS (9238) at 0100A, the liaison officer with 157th Infantry Regiment brought the plan of the infantry, showing a swing in an arc around to come in north of EPINAL from the west; and that the 171st FA Bn (105 How) and 17th FA Bn (155 How) were to reinforce the fires of the battalion beginning the next day. On the 21st at 0730A the battalion (less “B” Battery) moved to an area 8 miles west of EPINAL (9458). “B” Battery at 1230A moved to rejoin the battalion area. Then “C” Battery displaced forward (east) approximately 6,000 meters at 1625A, and “A” Battery at 1745A and “B” at 1830A moved to same general area. The Command Post followed at 1920A and set up in the village of GIGNEY (960598). The battalion only fired 17 rounds all day; 4 by “A” Battery and 13 by “C”.
The liaison officer from 17th FA Bn (155 How) reported to the battalion on the morning of the 22nd. All the gun batteries were registered on check point No. 1 by 1440A. Shortly thereafter, to meet quite a bit of personnel activity, two batteries were registered on two roads and kept layed there most of the day. Service Battery moved up to ST MENIL (900494) during the day. “A”’s ammo was 61 rounds, “B”’s 20 and “C”’s 55. From 0615A to 0630A a preparation on four points was fired for the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry jump off. A static OP was still being maintained, being jumped forward as the infantry advanced, and on this day another was set up. At supper time two men from 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Service Company brought six German soldiers to the CP who had surrendered to them along the road about ½ mile southeast of this battalion’s CP. They turned out to be all BERLINERS and who had seemingly turned in only because of hunger. They were searched for weapons and sent to the infantry interrogation team. About a half hour later, two representatives of the gendarmerie of THAON (0262) reported into the CP and offered detailed information as to enemy activity and bridge conditions in that town and offered any further assistance possible. Parenthetically, this village was situated on the west bank of the MOSELLE RIVER and had been by-passed by the infantry, who had proceeded northeasterly to cross the river; running in a north-south direction at CHATEL-SUR-MOSELLE (0069), and south along the east side, leaving THAON in the triangle on the west bank. At 1900A, Headquarters Battery wiremen found the telephone line from “A” Battery cut, and a Frenchman told them that two Germans in civilian clothes had done it and escaped at his approach. Further investigation revealed nothing further. After a day of intermittent showers, “A”’s ammunition total was 547 rounds, “B”’s 710 rounds and “C”’s 566 rounds.
The preparation scheduled for 0630A on the 24th was postponed a half hour. Lt. Olson, forward observer with “K” Company, 157th Infantry and one member of his party, were hit at 0900A and evacuated and the liaison officer with 3rd Battalion, moved the observer with the reserve (“L”) company to “K” Company to take over Olson’s mission and party. Frequent personnel targets brought the days totals to 818 rounds for “A” Battery, 662 for “B” Battery and 526 rounds for “C” Battery.
On the 25th, the battalion commander took the battery commanders on a reconnaissance at 0900A, the new positions were surveyed in by 1145A, and the battalion had completed its move by 1730A, one battery completing its move before another started. The infantry began an advance in a column of battalions toward RAMBERVILLERS (1872), now for the first time since crossing the MOSELLE RIVER being back in its sector inside (south of) the VI Corps boundary. And the battery commanders were alerted to go on reconnaissance at 0900A the next day. “A” Battery: 700 rounds for the day, “B” Battery: 524 rounds, “C” Battery: 329 rounds.
The 26th was another cool rainy day, as had been the previous four. By 1150A, “A” Battery was in position, having moved north approximately 10 km to CHATEL, crossed the MOSELLE RIVER and back south along the opposite (east) bank to 0860 area near DIGNONVILLE. The battalion had completed its move by 1645A. One of the targets reported by an observer during the afternoon was an “88 stuck in a ditch”. “A” Battery fired 230 rounds that day, “B” Battery 43 and “C” 185 rounds.
Again at 0900A the battery commanders were ordered on reconnaissance on the 27th, with “C” Battery to be ready to move at 1000A; also the mobile CP (half of the FDC and S-2 personnel and the assistant s-3). The move was to PADOUX area (1063 to 1365) and was completed by 1800A, one battery at a time, “A” Battery remaining in the old position, it having been the foremost battery. Ammo totals: “A” Battery: 237 rounds, “B” Battery: 23 rounds and “C” Battery: 65 rounds.
At 0900A on the 28th, “A” Battery was in its new position, again in the front position of the battalion, at 160664. The day was a light one so far as artillery fire was concerned, and well it might be, for word was received from Division Artillery that no more 105 mm ammo could be drawn until 301800A September 1944; further: that the battalion ammo supply must not fall below “basic load” (which the Division Artillery Commanding General then defined as 3,000 rounds). “A”’s total was 6 rounds, “B”’s: 168 rounds and 12 rounds for “C” Battery.
On the 29th, the XV Corps, part of the 3rd Army, and on our left (north) composed partially of the 2nd French Armored Division and the 79th American Infantry Division, was attached or assigned to the 7th Army. “A” Battery: 303 rounds, “B” Battery: 303 rounds, “C” Battery: 310 rounds.
The last day of September saw two preparations, one ten minutes long at 0724A and one participated in by seven batteries from six to fifteen minutes in duration, depending on the point forward. Enemy vehicular activity, batteries and mortars and Nebelwerfers (adjusted on by the battalion commander) composed the bulk of targets for the day. The static observer moved his OP to the church steeple; the highest point in RAMBERVILLERS (183725). Liaison was sent to the 117th Cav Rcn Sqdn which was working in and through the 157th Infantry sector. One platoon of destroyers of “C” Company, 645th TD Bn were attached to the battalion during the evening, to be moved into position near RAMBERVILLERS the next day. Reconnaissance had been made for positions south of that town for the whole battalion. Day’s ammo totals were: by “A” Battery: 530 rounds, 195 rounds by “B” Battery and 542 rounds by “C” Battery.
Turning to the east toward the German homeland, the division had to cross the strongly defended Moselle River, an important German defense before the Siegfried line. The 157th, 179th, and 180th RCT’s were committed to the assault of the river and after a bitter 3 day battle the 120th Engineer Battalion bridged the river. Once across the Moselle River, the division pushed rapidly into the foothills of the Vosges Mountains with terrain and weather conditions reminiscent of the preceding winter in Italy. The slowly retreating enemy consistently held the higher ground as the division carried the fight ever closer to the German homeland. The enemy delaying action in the Vosges Mountains allowed them sufficient time to prepare defenses along the Muerthe and Montagne Rivers. The entire force of the division was necessary to overcome bitter enemy resistance at these river lines. By 23 October 1944, the Montagne River crossing was completed and the Vosges Mountain defenses had fallen. The battle for the Vosges was second only to the Anzio campaign in fierceness and, although less well known, of comparable importance as the last major mountain barrier on the Thunderbird route into the Fatherland. The 45th Infantry Division Artillery remained on the line in support of the 44th Infantry Division as the 45th Infantry Division moved into reserve on 1 November 1944. The 45th Infantry Division had then spent 540 days in Europe and had been in combat for 353 days of that time.
At the opening of the month of October, the battalion CP was in the village of PADOUX, FRANCE (135654), “A” and “C” Batteries were just west of BULT (159664 and 155668 respectively) and “B” Battery in the southern outskirts of RAMBERVILLERS (182719) and reinforcing the battalion fires were: the 17th FA Bn (155-mm howitzer) and one platoon of “C” Co, 645th TD Bn, Capt Wright, Capt Hubbert and Lt Mayne were the liaison officers to the 157th Infantry Regiment, 1st, 2n and 3rd Battalions respectively, and Lts Wolf, Schomaker, and Robertson were the forward observers with the 1st Bn, Lts Hedge, Taylor and Laubhan with the 2n Bn and Lts Veach, Gabrysch and Willhelm with the 3rd Bn. One static OP, manned by Lt Cobb, was in place in the church tower in RAMBERVILLERS (183725), while Lt Merchant acted as the battalion liaison officer to the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance. Both reinforcing battalions had liaison officers at the CP. About 1500A, Lt Gabrysch became ill and was replaced by Lt Wilhelm who in turn was replaced by Sgt Colby, who was moved from chief of Lt Laubhan’s party. At dusk, “A” Battery displaced to 192710, about 1 km southeast of RAMBERSVILLERS. When it was in place, “C” Battery moved to about 500 yards northwest of it (189714), the CP moving at the same time to 194715 into an abandoned German barracks area. (Before the month was over, this area, which was approximately 300 yards by 150 yards, was to be occupied also by two companies of Engineers with all their equipment, and a Headquarters Company of a Medical Battalion). Following a policy of the battalion, the “forward CP” (composed of the assistant S-3, the Operations Sgt, three computers and a Journal clerk) moved to the new CP location at the same time the first battery displaced forward and acted as FDC for it and the other batteries as they arrived. The old CP closed as the third party moved. Total ammunition for the day was: “A” Battery, 182 rounds, “B” Battery, 35 rounds and “C” Battery, 171 rounds.
A preparation of 3 rounds per gun per minute for 10 minutes was fired on three points by the battalion at 0850A on the 2nd of October. The 17th FA Bn (155 mm howitzer) fired the same preparation at the rate of one round per gun per minute. All these preparations were on village of JEANMENIL (223713), but it was found to be “untenable” by the 2n Bn, 157th Infantry when they approached it during the forenoon. The weather temperature dropped to freezing during the night. Totals for the day’s ammunition were: 229 rounds for “A” Battery, 243 rounds by “B” Battery and 118 rounds by “C” Battery.
Just before noon on the 3rd, all three batteries were registered on new base points by the air OP. Twenty rounds of light-medium enemy artillery shell-fire landed in the vicinity of “B” Battery about 1500A, a number of them being duds; no casualties. Division Artillery again instituted the telephonic report, by type, of all missions fired by the battalion as of 1800A. For the day, “A” Battery’s total was 105 rounds, “B” Battery’s 108 rounds and “C” Battery’s 148 rounds.
Four TOTs were fired by the battalion on October 4th. Service Battery was located at this time in EPINAL, France, a distance of approximately 15 miles southwest of the remainder of the battalion, the supply units of the Division being located also in the same town. The weather was misty-to-rainy all day, and the total ammunition expenditure was: 38 rounds by “A” Battery, 58 by “B” Battery and 44 rounds by “C” Battery.
“A” Battery’s fire into JEANMENIL (225712) started on October 5th. The totals for the day were: 40 rounds for “A” Battery, 93 rounds for “B” Battery and 61 rounds for “C” Battery.
On the 6th of October, one suit of winter underwear was issued to each man, and the “B” type of rations issued included fresh beef and butter. Capt Tompkins, the rotation replacement for Capt Cleverdon relieved Lt Laubhan as Forward Observer with “G” Co, 157th Infantry. Seventeen (17) rounds of “Frontbrief” (propaganda news sheet) were fired on 8 points. The poor visibility and cold weather resulted in holding the total ammunition to: “A” Battery, 88 rounds, “B” Battery, 86 rounds, “C” Battery, 125 rounds.
After noon on the 7th of October, two counterattack plans were received from the infantry regiment. Lt Wolf, forward observer with “A” Co, came back in, leaving Corporal Nighly in charge of the party, the company being in the reserve at that time. “A” Battery’s total was 28 rounds, “B” Battery’s 66 rounds and “C” Battery’s 42 rounds.
At 1015A on October 8th, the Cannon Company, 157th Infantry, which was being fired through our FDC, fired a smoke screen to cover the recovery of a disabled tank. One hundred seventy-five (175) rounds were spent in harassing during the night; it was all assigned to be fired by the 636 TD Bn, which had moved into the 645th TD Bn positions. This battalion’s totals were: “A” Battery, 0 rounds, “B” Battery, 3 rounds and “C” Battery 3 rounds.
Eleven (11) points were hit with TOTs during the 9th, but the reinforcing and adjacent units were assigned to all of them. These consisted of the 191st Tank Bn, 83rd Chemical Bn, Cannon Co, 157th Infantry and the 636th TD Bn, and the battalion fired “nary a round” all day. A flash base was established, the left end being at the static OP and the right end at 199707, 2500 yards away.
Major Huber, the Battalion Executive, left on October 10th for temporary duty in the United States (“the old country”), in effect, a form of 30-day leave at home, and two enlisted men left on rotation also. Four hundred five (405) overcoats (approximately 70%) were issued to the battalion. An enemy aircraft dropped flares along the front about 2100A, and although the attached “ack-ack” (106th AAA (AW) Bn) had recently received reports of similar action always preceding night bombing on the northern fronts, recently, nothing further resulted here. Again the battalion’s day’s total was zero.
The liaison officer with the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance was changed on the 11th, Sgt Gilliland relieving Lt Merchant, who in turn relieved Lt Kelly as battalion motor officer. Lt Kelly was assigned as S-2. Capt Tompkins replaced Lt Lindsey as 1st Bn, 157th Infantry liaison officer. There was no harassing during the night; in fact the only round fired by the battalion during the 24-hour period was by “A” Battery on a registration which was never completed.
Orders were received to store chemical warfare equipment the Division rear echelon on the 12th. The assault guns (105-mm) of the 191st Tank Bn went into position and were registered on the battalion’s base point. Fifteen (15) rounds of enemy shell-fire fell in the vicinity of the CP about 1500A. The totals for the day were: 8 rounds by “A” Battery, 8 rounds by “B” Battery and 68 rounds by “C” Battery.
On Friday the 13th of October, one pair of trousers, herringbone twill were issued per man. Lt Cobb abandoned the static OP in the church tower and moved to the right end of the flash base. This base had yielded nothing so far, both observers not having ever been able to observe the same flash. No rounds were fired during the day.
Seventeen (17) TOTs (targets of time) were fired on October 14th, using all the reinforcing artillery and our battalion together on most of the points. Nebelwerfers were one of the targets during the day whose totals ran: “A” Battery, 90 rounds, “B” Battery, 70 rounds, and “C” Battery, 52 rounds.
On about the 15th, the patrol reports of the special unit attached to the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance; called “Proust Patrols”; began to help in the selection of points for TOTs and harassing fires. The chemical warfare equipment was turned in for storage that day and an exchange of overcoats (small for large sizes) was made with the Quartermaster dump. “A” Battery’s total was 65 rounds, “B” Battery’s 150 rounds and “C” Battery’s, 64 rounds.
On the 16th of October, a 10-minute period of continuous fire was shot on eight (8) points. The infantry concentrated small arms fire at the same time. The chemical mortars were also controlled by the infantry, but the 72nd AAA Bn (90-mm) was added to the artillery group. This was the second consecutive day that the concentrated harassing period was executed, and the enemy’s retaliatory fire almost doubled that of the previous day. The visibility during the day was poor. Still, “A” Battery expended 40 rounds of ammunition, “B” Battery, 20 rounds and “C” Battery, 20 rounds.
Again on the 17th of October, the 10-minute harassing fire was done, this time at 0800 instead of 1830A, as previously, with the resulting small arms fire again increasing. On a reported Schutzstaffel unit CP, we requested fire by the 8-inch howitzers, adjusted by their air OP resulting in 4 direct hits. Div Arty set the ammunition allowances for the battalion at 300 rounds for the 24-hour period beginning at 1800A. Total ammunition expended during the day was: “A” Battery, 76 rounds, “B” Battery, 72 rounds and “C” Battery, 39 rounds.
The static OP in the church steeple in RAMBERSVILLERS was again manned on the 18th, not this time as an end of a flash base. “A” Battery shot 24 rounds, “B” Battery, 23 and “C” Battery, 23 rounds.
On October 19th, another of the 10-minute periods of continuous fire was had on six (6) points at 105-1100A. Propaganda (“Frontbrief”) was fired on ten points, three rounds each. One suit of wool underwear and one pair of wool gloves per man were issued. About the middle of the afternoon, several reports of rocket-fire landing were received, and a TOT was fired and the 17th FA Bn (155-mm how.) was adjusted on the location reported. During the night again it was reported that the enemy was marking his front line with flares and that a plane dropped a flare, but nothing locally resulted. Totals for the day’s firing were: “A” Battery, 40 rounds, “B” Battery, 40 rounds, and “C” Battery, 70 rounds.
On the 20th, three (3) rounds of enemy shell-fire landed in the vicinity of “A” Battery and five (5) rounds in the vicinity of the CP, all light caliber. The 90-mm anti-aircraft battalion was assigned eight (8) points on which to harass, 25 rounds each. Eleven (11) points were picked and “Frontbrief” delivered. Total rounds of all kinds of ammunition: 29 by “A” Battery, 29 by “B” Battery and 31 by “C” Battery.
Ten (10) rounds of estimated medium artillery landed several hundred yards south of the CP at 0730A on the 21st of October. Four (4) points were harassed with 50 rounds of tank fire on each, and TOTs were placed on five (5) points by the tanks, tank-destroyers, chemical mortars, 155-mm howitzers and this battalion. Enemy activity was heard just after dark, north of BRU at 224736 and an additional 50 rounds were placed on it during the night by the tank-destroyers. This battalion’s totals for the day were: 76 rounds by “A” Battery, 63 rounds by “B” Battery and 86 rounds by “C” Battery.
On the 22nd, Div Arty reported that our bombers would be over the area every half hour during the day and requested targets from us, but the limited visibility afforded the observers prevented that. Seven (7) points were hit with TOTs during the late afternoon, and eight (8) rounds of propaganda were disposed of. When the 3rd Battalion, 36th Engineers relieved the 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry, the liaison officer and Forward Observers were ordered to remain in position until the relief was completed and new unit’s observers were sent out. Visibility was poor, due partly to the scattered showers. Still, the battalion shot 40 rounds through “A” Battery, 86 rounds through “B” Battery and 44 rounds through “C” Battery.
On the 23rd of October, the infantry regiment began to slip laterally to the right, trading places with the 36th Engineers, in preparation for a push east of AUTREY (221688). Eight (8) rounds of propaganda were fired in the afternoon. The battalion commander received the field order at Div Arty, giving ST. DIE (V4166) as the Corps objective, and the Division to cross the clearing to the FORST D’HOUSSERAS and then advance to the northeast. Four (4) points were harassed by the tank-destroyers with 40 rounds each, and five (5) early morning TOTs were fired. Totals were: “A” Battery, 40 rounds, “B” Battery, 47 rounds and “C” Battery 38 rounds. The situation became much, however, that the first (southernmost) three TOTs were called off by the liaison officer. “H” Hour at 0915A was set at 0930A. Seven more TOTs were fired from 1320A to 1335A. The Battalion Commander took the Battery Commanders and one piece from “C” Battery forward on reconnaissance in the vicinity of HOUSSERAS (240685) at 1600A. Registration was not possible. The remainder of the battalion moved up and all installations were complete and ammunition moved up before daylight. The day’s totals: “A” Battery, 400, “B” Battery, 250, and “C” Battery 391.
The liaison from the 160th and 189th Field Artillery Battalions (Sgt Bundy and Sgt Warner, respectively) reported to the CP on the 27th of October. Eight (8) TOTs were fired from 1415A to 1546A and four (4) more from 1604A to 1640A. The ammunition allotment from Div Arty for the following day was: 158 rounds M48, 272 rounds of M54 and 23 rounds of WP. The day’s totals of ammunition fired were: “A” Battery 172 rounds, “B” Battery 107 rounds and “C” Battery 89 rounds.
On October 28th, the battalion received 35 rounds of propaganda addressed to the French people, which was to be shot into a town immediately prior to an attack on it. At 0920A, a 10-min preparation was fired by “A” and “C” Batteries at 2 rounds per gun per minute in front of the 2nd Bn, 157th Infantry. Three (3) rounds of enemy mortar fire landed in the vicinity of the CP, knocking out the 3/4 ton C & R vehicle containing the Fire-Direction radio. The same day, Lt Schomaker and one more man of his party were injured by mortar fire and Lt Dalton replaced him. Lt Keely relieved Lt Fetzer because of illness. Eleven (11) points were harassed during the night by “C” Battery and the 72nd AAA Bn. Totals: “A” Battery, 0 rounds, “B” Battery, 81 rounds, and “C” Battery 0 rounds.
Sgt Oilliland was sent to the 171st FA Bn on the 29th as our liaison and their liaison checked out. Thirty-five (35) rounds of the German newspaper were fired on five points, and five rounds of the “surrender leaflet” were fired on as many points. Nine points were harassed during the night. Totals again were: 240 rounds by “A” Battery, 135 rounds by “B” Battery and 561 rounds by “C” Battery. The fire plan for the 30th consisted of a 5-minute preparation (3 rounds per gun per minute) an three points by the battalion, followed by a 200-yard zone fired by one battery, followed by eight (8) TOTs, the last five being on the same point at 71 minutes, 84 minutes, 31 minutes, 2 hours and 40 minutes, and 2 hour 16 minute intervals. The battalion used up this much ammunition: “A” Battery, 442 rounds, “B” Battery, 300 rounds and “C” Battery 224 rounds.
The following changes in assignment were made, because the forward observers needed a rest badly and relief was still just a rumor. Lt Cobb replaced Lt Lindsey as Liaison Officer with the 1st Bn, who in turn replaced Lt Robertson as Forward Observer. The three Battery Executives, the Ammunition Officer and the liaision with the 171st FA Bn were sent out to relieve Lts, Keely, Taylor, Laubhan and Wilhelm. Before the changeover was made, Lts Kelley and Keely were wounded and Lt Wilhelm had to remain out. “A” Battery found a booby-trapped road block just in front of their position. The fire plan for Halloween day consisted of a 5-minute preparation on nine (9) points (one battery on each) from 0755A to 0800A, followed by continuous fire (1 round per gun for 2 minutes) on three (3) points to be lifted to three other points on call, and the 189th FA Bn (155-mm how.) harassing three other points. One mackinaw was issued to all the drivers. Two TOTs late at night were fired with two more early the next morning planned. “A” Battery’s day’s total was 271 rounds, “B” Battery’s 460 rounds and “C” Battery’s total 314 rounds.
The 45th moved into combat again after a 22-day rest period; this time against enemy forces holding the Colmar Pocket in the French Maginot line. Areas of resistance in the fortifications of the line were methodically reduced as the division moved ever closer to German soil. On 13 December 1944, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion fired its first artillery fire onto German soil.
The month of November opened with the battalion in position near HOUSSERAS , FRANCE (24-68) in support of the 157th Infantry and reinforcing the 171st Field Artillery Battalion. The 17th Field Artillery Battalion and 938th Field Artillery Battalion, both 155 M-1 howitzers, were reinforcing our fires. During the afternoon of the 1st the battalion displaced to the vicinity of 26-69, as the infantry moved East towards their objective. On the 6th the 2nd Battalion 157th Infantry was relieved by the 399th Infantry, the 3rd Battalion on the 7th and the 1st on the 8th, our forward observers and liaison officers remaining with the relieving units for 24 hours after the relief. The Battalion Executive had supervised the preparation of billets near BAINS-le-BAINS for the battalion to move into a rest area with the remainder of the Division, but on the 8th we received word that we would move the 10th to new positions East of LUNEVILLE, attached to the 44th Division. This battalion moved into position near EMBERMENIL attached to the ”Clayton Group”, and participated in the 13 hour preparation fired by the Corps and Division Artillery in support of the 44th Division attack the morning of the 13th, remaining until the morning of the 17th when we were relieved of the attachment to the 44th Division. During the five (5) day period with the “Clayton Group” the battalion fired 3634 rounds, all observed fires, all of which firing could have been handled by the organic artillery of the division, since the ammunition allowance for the attack was not sufficient to justify the amount of artillery involved. On the 17th the battalion moved into a “rest” area near LUNEVILLE, and commenced the work of getting vehicles and equipment back into condition after their 93 days of continuous service. The rest period ended on the 24th when the Regimental Combat Team moved to the vicinity of LANGATTE (44-18) attached to the 44th Division with the mission of protecting the left flank of the division, Corps and Army, moving again the 25th to GROUPTHAL (66-24) attached to the 217th Field Artillery Battalion. The combat team was released from the 44th Division the 27th and the battalion moved to positions near NEUWILLER (75-25), back under 45th DivArty control. The 693rd Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm truck drawn) was attached to us, in position near DOSSENHEIM (74-22). On the 23rd we displaced to INGWILLER (8l-30) , the 693rd leap frogging to BISCHOLTZ (85-320 the 29th, and us moving to MULHAUSEN (86-31) the following day. When the Division was relieved by the 100th Division near HOUSSERAS the 8th of November, our Forward observer and liaison parties accompanied the 157th Infantry to their rest area near BAINS-le-BAINS, so that this personnel was able to get a much needed rest though the battalion functioned quite short handed during its attachment to the 44th Division Artillery. Also, by running our own battalion rest center at Service Battery’s position, some of the other howitzer and headquarters battery personnel were furnished a period of rest and relaxation.
The battalion was in position around INGWILLER (8130) on December 1st, in direct support of the 157th Infantry on the left flank of the Division and of the Corps, having the 693rd Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm howitzer) and the 938th Field Artillery battalion reinforcing. The infantry encountered only moderate resistance as they advanced East, but we were afforded many targets in the form of tanks, personnel and mortars. The batteries were moved one at a time to the vicinity of MULHAUSEN (8631) during the afternoon, with the 693rd Field Artillery Battalion in position to the Northwest facing toward the left flank. Saturday, December 2nd, the 499th Armored Field Artillery Battalion moved in near MULHAUSEN, reinforcing our fires, as the 693rd moved out of the Division sector. The infantry moved through ZINSWILLER (8935) the morning of December 3rd, the 1st and 3rd battalions in the assault met stiff resistance East of the town and ended the day along the ridge about 1,000 yards to the East. The battalion moved to ZINSWILLER (8935) the afternoon of the 4th, the infantry ending the day just short of NIEDERBRONN. The 59th Armored Field Artillery Battalion moved in to the vicinity of ZINSWILLER on the 5th reinforcing us, with the 499th A.F.A. being relieved from us on the 6th. The 3rd Battalion, 179th Infantry was given the mission of protecting the left flank of the Division on the 7th with the 59th A.F.A. furnishing observers and fire support in addition to helping us. The infantry having had considerable trouble on the 5th, 6th, and 7th a preparation was fired on NIEDERBRONN the morning of the 8th, but only moderate advance was made during the day, so again on the 9th 10 minutes of fire was put down by us and the 59th, the infantry advancing to the high ground West of JAEGERTHAL (9641) during the day. Battery “C” was moved the afternoon of the 10th and the remainder of the battalion the morning of the 11th to the vicinity of NIEDERBRONN, the 59th A .F.A. moving up to the same neighborhood during the afternoon, as the infantry ended the day East of NEHWILLER (9740), with part of “G” Company in the North end of LANGENSOULTZBACH (9841), as the 180th Infantry moved toward the town from the South. We moved to NEHWILLER the morning of the 12th, with the troops moving through LANGENSOULTZBACH during the clay , though they encountered heavy going past the town and we and the 171st had considerable difficulty in clearing missions on troops East of the town, due to t he staggered positions of the companies. We fired our first rounds into Germany at 1801A on the town of HIRSCHTHAL (0149). The infantry moved through MATTSTALL the morning of the 13th, so we moved “C” Battery and a mobile C.P. the night of the 13th, the remainder of the battalion the morning of the 14th to the vicinity of La VERRERIE (0043), on the “MAGINOT LINE“. In this position the 157th Cannon Company was attached to us by the Regiment, the 75 howitzers being tied in as a 4th firing battery and the 2 each 105’s attached to “C” Battery. The 59th moved to the vicinity of MATTSTALL with one battery remaining at NEHWILLER covering the JAEGERTHAL pass . We displaced to WINGEN (0547) the 16th, and tied the 191st Tank Battalion assault guns (6 each 105 mm howitzers) in to our fire, as the 157th changed direction to the North, and ended the day North of NOTHWEILER, butted against the “Siegfried Line”, the Regimental sector covering some 15,000 meters to the West. The morning of the 18th “C” Company entered BUNDENTHAL (0555), followed by “G” Company during the afternoon, only to get cut off by fire from pill boxes SW and SE of the town. Several night patrol attempts to reach them were unsuccessful, until the night of the 23rd when they were withdrawn during a 30 minute concentration fired by our battalion. During the period December 17th to the 26th the infantry maintained only patrol activity and our firing consisted mainly of precision adjustments of 8 inch and 155 howitzers by our observers on concrete pillboxes. A self propelled 155 gun was assigned by Corps to the sector, also, and was successful in scoring several hits on the four or five pillboxes they engaged with direct fire. On the 26th the regimental right boundary was shifted to the left, the 180th Infantry relieving our 1st Battalion, which shifted to the vicinity of HIRSCHTHAL (0149) and the 3rd Battalion moving to the high ground South of NIEDERSTEINBACH (9847), advancing during the day to the North of WENGELSBACH (9850), where “I” Company was counterattacked the morning of the 28th at 0045A. We fired continuous fire with our battalion, the 59th and one battery of the 938th F. A. Bn. until 0530A when the sector had quieted down. We moved during the day back to our positions near LA VERRERIER, fanning the batteries in four (4) directions as the 157th defensive line ran from DAMBACH (9244) to SCHONAU (0005), and spent the last days of the month firing from this position. The loss of officers during the month worked a serious handicap in our efforts to furnish sufficient observers to cover the wide front and flank. Ten (10) officers and one non-com observer were evacuated to the hospital during the month , so that the S-2, S-4 and “A” Battery C. O. were used as Battalion liaison officers, leaving only one officer with each of the 5 batteries and the Battalion C. O. and Executive at the Headquarters, and all effort s to obtain replacement officers being to no avail. This condition, possibly due to a general shortage in the theater, could have been alleviated by the transfer from units not in direct support of infantry, but no apparent attempt was made by higher headquarters to do so. A restriction of 3000 rounds of ammunition on hand within the battalion was imposed by the Corps during the month , an amount entirely inadequate for the proper fire support to the infantry in the event of an attack . This order was altered to allow the battalion to maintain a supply capable of being moved without shuttling, which allowed us to increase our stock to 3,600 by figuring a heavy overload on the vehicles. Some articles of cold weather clothing were issued, but as usual, forward observer parties did not receive the same priority as the infantry riflemen, though it is quite evident that their need is exactly the same.
The 158th Field Artillery Battalion, in direct support of the 157th Infantry Regiment, with Cannon Company attached to the artillery battalion by regimental order, was in position in the LA VERRERRIE (005437) – DISTELDORF (006455) area. Fires of our battalion were being reinforced by the 938th Field Artillery Battalion (155-mm), the 499th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm), and the 191st Tank Battalion.
Early in the morning hours of New Year’s Day, and still under the cover of darkness, a strong enemy attack, estimated as of at least two company strength, struck the 2nd Battalion of the 157th. The brunt of the assault fell in the DAMBACH sector, and enemy troops were reported to be in use of the DAMBACH – NEUHOFFEN access road network. The battalion laid down heavy fires along all stages of this route of approach to the positions of the infantry. In late afternoon, the enemy withdrew and, momentarily, our infantry lost contact with the German’s forward elements in the DAMBACH sector.
During the night of January 2nd, in conformity with Division orders for a general withdrawal from positions immediately adjacent to the SIEGFRIED LINE, the battalion, and attachments, displaced rearward into the NIEDERBRONN – REISHSHOFFEN area (9938). The infantry took up new positions, organized for defense, generally along the line of the WOERTH – LEMBACH roadway.
Briefly then, the story of the whole of the first week of the new year is the tale of continuing enemy probings and attacks, in strengths varying from patrols to battalions, directed against the PHILIPPSBOURG – DAMBACH area, with the enemy reportedly massing for each new test in the vicinity of NEUHOFFEN and utilizing the road networks streaming southward from that communications center. Attacks against elements of the 274th Infantry Regiment, operating on the immediate left (or west) of the 157th Infantry were particularly strong, and there was a series of bitter struggles before control of PHILIPPSBOURG could be claimed definitely by our forces.
On January 7th, Corps warned of the possibilities of an impending attack against that sector along which our troops were deployed, estimates of the possible enemy force to be employed ranging upward to two full divisions. Massive defensive fire programs were arranged, registrations obtained by us on all key and vital road intersections, assembly points, known enemy installations, and during the whole of our stay in NIEDERBRONN, the enemy continued to probe, by reconnaissance in force and assault, the strength of our forces and their hold on the DAMBACH – PHILIPPSBOURG sector. The expected full-scale attack of the enemy came not to pass.
During the second week of the month, emphasis was placed on liaison between adjacent infantry and artillery teams, for in the DAMBACH sector, generally, were elements of the 274th, 275th, 276th, 157th, and 315th Infantry Regiments, and all of their supporting weapons. This battalion maintained liaison from or to the 274th Infantry Regiment and one of its battalions, the 275th Infantry Regiment and one of its battalions, the 157th Infantry Regiment and all three of its battalions, the 499th Field Artillery Battalion, and the 938th Field Artillery Battalion. Operating as integral portions of this battalion were Cannon Company of the 157th, and the assault guns of the 191st Tank Battalion. Such liaising permitted the massing not only of fires against threatened avenues of enemy assault, but of information, both friendly and unfriendly, along the whole of the PHILIPPSBOURG – LEMBACH line. Further, purely in the artillery sense, it minimized the overlapping of fires and the time element necessary to obtain clearance for fires in front of the various infantry elements. So close was the cooperation between the artillery units and the infantry that, on occasion, observers from the cannon companies of the 247th and 157th were employed in order to give our own numerically few observers much needed respite.
Still, in the second week of the month, there were indications that the enemy still possessed capacity for attack, and he continued his probings of the defensive line occupied by our own troops. Activity along the NEUHOFFEN road continued almost undiminished in spite of the heavy concentrations of fire directed against the road networks of that town.
On 13 January, this battalion exchanged positions with the 93rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion. This meant moving from our NIEDERBRONN sector. The firing batteries, Cannon Company of the 157th, and the assault guns of the 191st Tank Battalion, were emplaced in the vicinity of ROTHBACH (8434) and the battalion command post established in MULHAUSEN (8631). Cannon Companies of the 274th and 275th Infantry Regiments, the tanks and assault guns of the 781st Tank Battalion continued to remain in NIEDERBRONN and were tied into the fire direction of the 93rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion.
Constant reports of enemy activity north and northeast of LICHTENBERG (8338) and REIPERSWILLER (8038) culminated in a full scale enemy attack, January 14, in the vicinity of 815398. The battalion undertook a particularly heavy firing schedule as our liaison officers with the infantry reported the possibility of a break through of our third battalion’s positions. This was the first stage in a developing action which, at times, was to recall not-too-fond memories of the mid-February activities on the Anzio beach-head.
“Enemy activity at 812401”. “Enemy activity at 808403”. “Enemy guns firing into ROTHBACH”. These were the trumpets which sounded the dawn of January 16. “K” Company was strongly hit by the enemy in mid-afternoon. At 1600A hours, liaison officers reported that “K” and “I” Companies had been surrounded. This announcement, following on the heels of word from our observer with “I” Company that men and ammunition were needed at once, emphasized the growing enemy power in the area immediately east of REIPERSWILLER. Elements of this battalion began at once an almost day long program of continuous fire in an attempt to relieve the pressure applied by the enemy against our infantry. Finally, at 1730A, came word that the enemy assault had withered. Reports of enemy activity southwest out of BAERENTHAL continued.
On 17th January, the 1st Battalion of the 157th, planned an attack to relieve the pressure against the 3rd Battalion, an attack which had for its purpose control of the road junction and road network at 8539. This purpose was not achieved. The enemy continued his infiltration of the positions of the 3rd Battalion. The situation was not clarified by reports, from observers and liaison parties, of enemy between “E” and “G” of the 2nd Battalion, and between “B” and the units adjacent to it. Another frontal assault was begun by the Germans against the 3rd Battalion, an attack employing an estimated full battalion of enemy infantry. Coincident with this new attack, enemy artillery began a shelling of the whole of the REIPERTSWILLER area, and worse, as each new attack against the 3rd Battalion was dispersed, another one would form in its place. At 1400A hours, “G” and “K” Companies were again assaulted. By 1420A hours the enemy was reported to have succeeded in an infiltration which placed him behind “G” Company and athwart that unit’s lines of communication and supply. One of our artillery observers reported that enemy troops were assembling at 821383, and again the battalion increased its fires in an attempt to force the dissolution of this gathering. Liaison reported that the gap between “E” and “G” Companies was to be filled with personnel from the Regimental Anti-Tank Company, yet still the enemy continued his efforts at infiltration. In an effort to reduce both the infiltration and its already held gains, the Regiment formed a composite company from personnel of the Regimental Headquarters Company, the Intelligence & Reconnaissance (I & R) Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, and commandeered clerks, drivers, cooks, which was to attempt to open the supply roads to the positions of the 3rd Battalion. This composite company made contact with the enemy at 813387. At 2000A hours, we were informed by the Regiment that “F” Company and the 3rd Battalion were cut off from the rest of our troops and that tanks and other infantry units were already trying to regain control of the supply roads which led into these positions for which the German was making, and had made, such great and long continued efforts.
The Regimental Commander, in the early morning of January 18, made a formal request of the artillery battalion commander for a rolling barrage, at the rate of one round per gun per minute of one battalion, to be lifted on the call of the infantry battalion commander, to support an attack of the 1st Battalion to the northeast to gain control of the road net at 8539. A telephonic correspondence between the artillery battalion commander, the divisional artillery commander, and the regimental commander resulted in the announcement that all which could be promised the regimental commander was the whole of the Divisional Artillery ammunition allowance of 1,080 rounds, which, in the light of his formal request, would give him the support for which he asked for a ninety minute period only. Additional ammunition was not available save in the event of a counter-attack. On this day alone the battalion fired some 2,505 rounds. The 1st Battalion jumped off in its attack, and at 0740A hours the Germans began an attack of his own, again the main effort being directed against “E” Company and the 3rd Battalion. At 0930A this enemy assault was still being made. The 179th Infantry dispatched two companies to the assistance of the 157th and it was hoped that by the use of these two companies a line might be restored between “E” and “G” Companies. Corps fired a heavy counter-battery program which helped greatly to reduce the massive weight of enemy artillery fires falling in the 3rd Battalion area. But still the Germans pressed home his attack. By mid-afternoon “A” and “F” Companies had also been assaulted by the enemy. Troops for this latest attack were reported to be assembling in the vicinity of 823386. Fires were directed by us against this new threat and its source. Our liaison officer to the 1st Battalion reported that wire lines of that battalion had repeatedly been cut. Still more infiltration was reported between “F” Company of the 157th and “G” Company of the 179th, one of the companies sent to the aid of the hard-pressed 157th. At 1627A hours “K” and “I” Companies shared the brunt of another heavy enemy attack. Enemy artillery literally dumped rounds on REIPERTSWILLER and the road junction at 817372, the rounds being numbered by hundreds.
Enemy attacks against the 3rd Battalion were resumed at 0745A hours, 19 January. At 1120A, “I” Company was hit again with the Germans coming in from the north. At 1300A, we received our first even hopeful word, the liaison officer of the 157th Regimental Headquarters reported that “E” Company, 157th, had tied in with “F” Company of the 179th. But this was but momentary relief. The enemy artillery, taking a leaf from our own earlier notebooks, began now to deliver himself of sizable and repeated “Time on Targets” (TOT’s) on the road junction at 818373 and on the towns of LICHTENBERG, REIPERTSWILLER, and PICARDY. The liaison officer with 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry, sent word to us at 1540A hours that the Battalion had been unable to get any supplies or reinforcements to “I”, “E”, and “L” Companies of that battalion, and that those companies had informed the battalion they could not much longer hold out against the determined and continuing assaults of the Germans.
Plans were made for a battalion of the 411th Infantry, such battalion to be attached to the 157th, to attack in a northerly direction to relieve the pressure against the 3rd Battalion and to make contact with those beleaguered companies which had so long and so often withstood the full force of the German attacks. This attack by the 411th began early in the morning of the 20th January. But, at 0700A hours, and again at 0800A hours, the Germans hit the 3rd Battalion. “F” Company of the 179th and “E” and “F” Companies of the 411th were stopped by enemy mortars and heavy artillery in their drives to the north. Regiment had planned to attempt a dropping of supplies to 3rd Battalion by airplane if ground attacks should continue to fail to clear communications and supply lines, and this battalion undertook to register smoke-time to mark the drop site. Poor visibility and extremely bad flying weather made the dropping of supplies impracticable on January 20th. “E” Company, 157th , attempted to break out, by assault, from the trap which the Germans had closed on it, but the company failed to crash the enemy circle. At 1741A hours, Regiment sent word that two (2) men had returned from “I” Company. These two men informed the Regiment that after “I” Company had, in its turn, made an attempt to attack to the rear and re-establish contact with the main body of the regimental forces, but had failed suffering heavy casualties, that the company had been ordered to break into small groups and make individual breaks for the security of our own lines. These two men were the only personnel to return to regimental control from the whole of the trapped 3rd Battalion. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion suffered its own casualties in this grievous loss of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry. Three officer-observers, one non-commissioned officer observer, and four observer parties were reported missing in action. One officer and party from Cannon Company, who had been employed by the battalion, were also listed as missing in action. Late the evening of January 20th, the battalion moved into positions in the vicinity of WIMMENAU (7653).
The 157th Infantry was relieved on January 21, and relieved of our direct support mission and placed in a reinforcing role for the fires of the 160th Field Artillery Battalion and the 171st Field Artillery Battalion, the 158th displaced again to WINGEN (7435) with two batteries moving the night of the 21st and the others on the morning of the 22nd.
Hope was given up for the return of any other personnel which had been entrapped with the 3rd Battalion. The last contact which battalion fire direction center had directly with any of these observers was a message of 1437A hours, 20 January, but one of our liaison officers (2nd Battalion) was in receipt of a message from our “E” Company Observer at 2010A hours, the 20th. Of no avail were the efforts made by all other stations in the battalion net to communicate with that observer. It is presumed that his radio receiver batteries had at last given out, and even though our sets could hear and read his calls, the observer was unable to understand our messages, even those of our other most forward sets.
January 23rd, this battalion was relieved of its reinforcement of the fires of the 160th Field Artillery Battalion, and was placed in direct support of the 274th Infantry Regiment, which mission lasted but twenty four hours.
The last days of the month were days of reinforcement of the fires of the 171st Field Artillery Battalion, the 216th Field Artillery Battalion, in direct support of the 320th Infantry which had relieved the 274th and the 160th Field Artillery Battalion, when the 179th Infantry in turn relieved the 320th Infantry.
The first eleven days of the month were spent in specialist training, repair and cleaning of equipment and in training for a river crossing on DUKW’s, all in a rear area east of CHARMES, France. The Battalion Executive and the Assistant S-3 returned on March 8th from “Temporary Duty in the U.S.” (having been away approximately five months in that status).
A “quartering party”, consisting of the Battalion Executive and the battery commanders, left on the morning of the 11th for reconnaissance in the vicinity of WEISVILLER (5853), and the battalion moved out at noon on the 12th of March.
The 44th Infantry Division Artillery was attached to the battalion as it reentered action. The infantry regiment arrived in an assembly area on March 14th. Also on that day one gun per battalion was registered on a base point.
The attack was set for the March 15th. The fire plan covered the period “H” to “H +/- 43 minutes” and used all artillery available to the battalion. During the afternoon, a smoke screen was laid in front of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, by the medium reinforcing battalion; also a 10 minute preparation with all artillery available was fired on NIEDERGAILBACH (6159) at 1900 to help the 2nd Battalion take it.
On March 16th the battalion moved to the vicinity of OBERGAILBACH (624579).
A 30 minute preparation of a battalion of artillery fired from 1230-1300 on March 18th in front of the 1st Battalion. As the infantry started through the SEIGFRIED LINE, they received a noticeable increase of enemy artillery fire. This called for an intense counter-battery program by the 45th Division Artillery and attached units, which evidently neutralized much of the enemy artillery.
The famous SIEGFRIED LINE at the point where the battalion passed through consisted of a belt of “dragon’s teeth” (3 rows staggered, of concrete pyramids about 3 feet high), behind which were two anti-tank ditches, each 8 feet deep and 12 feet wide at the top (the first being about 100 yards behind the dragons teeth, the second another 100 yards).
On every knoll and especially through all patches of woods were concrete pill-boxes, so situated that each one was supported by fire from one or more of the others. For every three to six boxes, there was a key or central box, which contained a switchboard and which, when eliminated, seemed to render the subordinate boxes more vulnerable. Natural camouflage on the pill boxes was good and seemed to be several years old. The dragon’s teeth were painted a dull green, but their existence being restricted to open ground, made such camouflage unnecessary. The anti-tank ditches also showed up well on the aerial photos. The line was manned at about half or third strength, and with what seemed to be rather poor troops (lack of either morale or training; not ammunition). The line itself was only about 500 yards in depth, though pillboxes in secondary positions dotted the knolls and rises for miles. All of these latter ones appeared to have been unoccupied for months, as most of them were padlocked and the hinges and locks rusty.
The 157th Infantry Regiment was completely through the shell of “Festung Deutschland” in less than one day. A 30 minute preparation was fired by seven artillery battalions from 0600 to 0630 on March 19th. The enemy counter attacked immediately afterwards, however a period of continuous fire by the artillery aided materially in stopping it. Ten “Time on Targets” (TOTs) were fired, using 5 battalions on strategic points from 0945A to 1500A. Lieutenant Grabow our forward observer with “F” Company, was wounded in the leg by mortar fire. His evacuation late in the afternoon made it necessary to send Lieutenant Foster to “F” Company and Lieutenant Linder to “G” Company. Eight “Time on Targets” (TOTs) were fired during the night, of which nearly 50 percent with Pozit Fuze.
On March 20 word came from DivArty of an imminent break through being indicated, and if such happened all reinforcing artillery would revert to DivArty control. The break through came in the morning and organized resistance decreased rapidly. By 1545 battalions of the 44th Division Artillery were no longer needed and reverted to their division control. During the afternoon the firing batteries moved, one at a time, to the outskirts of ZWEIBRUCKEN (7272). In order to maintain communications to all units in the extended line, the air observation post often acted as radio relay station between the forward and rear Command Posts. Lieutenant Lindsey was burned during an explosion, and Captain Finkle (the Commanding Officer) replaced him as Liaison Officer with the 1st Battalion.
The break through becoming more evident, on March 21st, the battalion again pushed out one battery (“A”) and the mobile command post at 0700 on March 21st to follow close behind the infantry which was motorized. Shortly after the force started, the air Observation Post spotted an enemy retreating column a mile long, and requested fire. “A” Battery immediately went into position just off the road. The air observer adjusted the battery, whose fire accounted for the destruction of twenty vehicles and guns, many horses and personnel.
The remainder of the battalion began a 2-stage road march on the 22nd, picking up “A” Battery enroute and arrived in an assembly area in ALSENBORN (1399) at 1700.
Remained there all day March 23rd and moved early on the 24th to OSTHOFEN, to support the regiment patrolling the west bank of the Rhine River. The batteries again begin to “police up” Prisoners of War (POWs) in their new battery areas.
“Fire Plan Rhine” was received from Division Artillery on March 25th, and the battalion was scheduled to be the first reinforcing artillery across the Rhine, movement to be on DUKWs. The plan for the crossing was: for the organic light direct support artillery battalion to cross the river immediately behind the infantry, while direct support for the crossing was given by another battalion on the near shore, using a radio set on the organic battalion’s frequency. Then the organic battalion would resume direct support as soon as it was in position on the far shore.
The battalion (skeletonized) cross the Rhine River and set up in the vicinity of ROHRHEIM (5324) at 1700A on March 26th.
The remainder of the battalion including the prime movers (DUKWs, which had been used previously), wire trucks, kitchens, supply trucks, and additional personnel, moved across the river and joined the forward unit at 0730B on March 27th. The whole battalion displaced at the vicinity of OBER RAMSTADT (720375). All guns were prepared to be able to shift from 800 mils to 2400 mils.
Two moves were made on March 28th, one to the vicinity of GROSS ZIMMER (7842) and the second to 2 kilometers west of ASCHAFFENBURG.
On the morning of March 29th a ten minute preparation was fired at the rate of 3 rounds per gun per minute, in support of the 1st Battalion’s jump off southeast of ASCHAFFENBURG. Here Lieutenant Green was wounded and evacuated shortly before noon.
A Prisoner of War reported during the night of the 29-30th that the burghermeister of ASCHAFFENBURG was the resistance leader of the town and that his house was well fortified.
By March 31st it became apparent that a determined stand was going to be made inside the town of ASCHAFFENBURG, so together with the tactical air support group, we began a systematic destruction of the town, with 400 rounds per battalion for the 5 battalions in our group to be fired on selected points in town after 1400 on that day, as a “starter”. Then beginning at 2100A, another 400 rounds per battalion were expended by four battalions on “Time on Targets” and harassing fire; also 120 rounds were fired by the 6 each 105-mm assault guns of the 191st Tank Battalion on the same type of missions. A 155-mm self-propelled gun M-12, with 100 rounds of ammunition, was assigned to work under this battalion’s direction on the 1st of April, in knocking down all buildings along the river with direct fire.
The rapid advance from the SIEGFRIED across the Rhine to the Main River caused a heavy drain on our ammunition and supply trucks and personnel, who had to make long shuttle trips back to the Army supply points. They are commended in their performance of these duties in keeping the battalion well supplied at all times.
Deserting the defense of the COLMAR, the enemy rapidly withdrew to the steel and concrete fortifications of the Siegfried Line, which the Germans used to full advantage. After several days of fighting, the division had only penetrated 1700 yards into the famed line. By the end of December 1944 opposing forces had taken up fixed positions. Crack German SS troops now opposed the 45th Infantry Division and resistance increased. The Germans employed artillery of all calibers up to 280-mm in a desperate assault against the 157th Infantry Regiment and the 158th Field Artillery Battalion in a wooded area near MOUTERHOUSE in the heaviest engagement since ANZIO. Of the five encircled companies of the 157th Infantry, few men were successful in getting out. During this time in one 90-minute period, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion fired 1,080 rounds in a fight for its life against tremendous odds. The Germans repeatedly tried to extend their forces in an effort to break through the Thunderbird sector. By holding firm, the 45th Infantry Division cost the Germans their last chance to stave off defeat by destroying or weakening the best units of the German Army. As the 45th Infantry Division crossed the Siegfried Line, the stronghold of Germany crumbled. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion continued to support all elements of the division in the battles of ASCHAFFENBURG, NUREMBERG and MUNICH. The 158th spent VE Day with the division in the occupation of the city of MUNICH. Since D-Day in Sicily the 158th Field Artillery howitzers had fired 307,115 rounds of ammunition in support of their infantry brothers in 511 days of combat. A few months after VE Day, the 45th Infantry Division debarked at New York City and boarded trains for Camp Bowie, Texas, where the division was inactivated on 24 November 1945.
After WW II Shortly after the 45th Infantry Division was inactivated at Camp Bowie, Texas, efforts were begun to reorganize it as the 45th Infantry Division of the National Guard, for the first time to be located entirely in Oklahoma. In the fore-front of this effort was Lieutenant General Raymond S. McLain, then of the Regular Army, but formerly commander of the 70th Field Artillery Brigade and its successor Division Artillery. The General’s concept, supported by both Oklahoma Governors Robert S. Kerr and Roy J. Turner, was to fill command and staff positions of the reorganized division with officers and NCO’s who had been seasoned in combat with the division during action in Europe, or those who had served in combat with other organizations. By early Spring of 1946, initial steps had been taken to place this concept in effect. By Labor Day 1946, Battery “B”, 158th Field Artillery Battalion, with home station at Anadarko, was the last battery to be organized in the Battalion. The battalion was Federally recognized on 27 September 1946 as an element of the 45th Infantry Division with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Duncan; Batteries “A”, “B”, and “C” located at Chickasha, Anadarko, and Weatherford, respectively, and Service Battery at Minco, all in Oklahoma. LTC Paul E. Scheefers, the Battalion S-3 in World War II, was placed in command. Major Charles W. Cleverdon, the Battalion S-2 from the Spring of 1942 until April, 1944, was assigned as battalion executive officer. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion followed the criteria and examples set by Lieutenant General McLain and Major General James C. Styron, division commander, in the recruitment and selection of battery officers and noncommissioned officers to fill the key positions within each unit. Filling ranks to the required maintenance strength became first priority. By the time of the first summer field training period in August 1947, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion had accomplished this goal and had received the major pieces of equipment such as prime movers, 105 mm howitzers and reconnaissance and utility vehicles. Individual, squad and section training occupied all of the batteries’ time during the armory training periods. Emphasis was placed on first echelon maintenance of equipment. Field training during two weeks in August enabled the battalion to put into practice the conduct of artillery fire and the attendant service of the piece that had filled many an evening drill period. The overland movements from home stations to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma were tests of the efficiency of driver training programs pursued during home station drill periods. On 15 November 1947 Major Charles W. Cleverdon succeeded to the command of the battalion and was promoted to LTC on 1 January 1948. Headquarters Battery was moved to Chickasha and “A” Battery moved to Duncan. In August, 1950, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion was alerted as a part of the 45th Infantry Division, for induction into Federal Service for the Korean Conflict.