The History of the 95th Chemical Mortar BnCharles H. Orr & Donald K. McKee, editors
From the COFor the past seventeen months I have had the privilege and pleasure of being your commanding officer. Now as I am about to leave you, I think back over that period and am imbued with a spirit of pride unequaled in my career.
Your achievements have been many. Your loyalty and devotion to duty above question. Your abilities and their application have been superior. In fact, I believe you to be the best soldiers in the best army in the world.
Thanks for all you have done for your country, your battalion and for me personally. I sincerely hope that it will not be long until each of you can turn to your homes and loved ones. I also hope that I shall have the privilege of seeing each and everyone of you at some future date.
My very best wishes for your success in the pursuance of your peace time occupation.
Earl L. Shepherd, Lt. Colonel, CWS, Commanding
ForewordO.K., fellows, here it is. This is the history of the Battalion and, as such, of each and every one of us from the time we were activated until we deactivated. Due to the lack of manpower and also the lack of your presence here at the last, we had to leave out some things that we would have liked to have included. We hope, as the years wear on and memories begin to mellow, that this book will be a reminder of your experiences and those of your buddies, and will help you to recall many a pleasant interlude.
We owe many thanks to those who made the publication of this history possible, and to all the contributors of facts and pictures. Mostly, however, we thank you, and you, and you... who, because of your presence and actions, made us what we were.
Charles H. Orr, 1st Lt, CWS, and Donald K. McKee, T/Sgt, CWS
Camp Shelby, Mississippi, 15 November 1945
by 1st Lt Charles H. OrrTo the world at large, 1 Apr 1944 didn't have too much significance, but to a small group of 5 officers and 83 enlisted men at Camp Polk, Louisiana, and later to a host of others, it signalized our birthday. The foundling was healthy from the start, and everyone pitched in and helped it grow. Little did we realize on that early spring day the friendships we would make, and the dent we would carve into history.
First things coming first, the first soldiers began setting up the orderly rooms, mess sergeants began opening the mess halls, and the personnel section began to function like it should. At first desks, typewriters and vehicles were just things to be dreamed about, but gradually, as equipment was drawn and as fillers came in, we slowly assumed the atmosphere of an outfit.
Our CO, Lt Col Shepherd, arrived on 27 April and took over the battalion from Capt Little who, until then, had been in command. After an initial burst of speeches such as accompany all units when they are activated, words gave way to intensive action, and we moved headlong into the business of training for our primary mission.
First we took a Recruit Training Program to prepare us on all basic military subjects. During this period, the battalion still had not become a unit in the true sense of the word, even though the framework of the organization was there.
We took road marches, bivouacked out overnight, did a little firing with the mortar, qualified in individual arms, learned map reading, field sanitation, and a great deal of other things which the G.I. should know when he gets into battle.
Then, without a faltering step, we moved into our Unit Training Program, when we began to operate as platoons, companies and battalion. We worked with the "goon gun" until we knew it like the backs of our hands. At first we had the old M2 sight, which was good, but still not as good as the new M59 which we received later.
After completing the Unit Training Program, we moved out into the field for 21 days of practical exercises. Those were mighty cold nights out there on Peason, and more than once we stayed up until all hours of the night in the base camp, sitting around a bonfire and swapping yarns with one another. We really lived, ate and breathed the mortar during that period. We fired thousands of rounds of ammunition on simulated problems, giving the gun crews, ammunition handlers, communications men and supply men practice in performing their jobs.
While out on Peason Range, we were visited by Capt. Burford who had just recently returned from Italy where he had been a company commander in one of our battalions over there. In a little fireside chat with some of the officers and non-coms, he gave us some of the dope on how his outfit had operated under combat conditions. However, he cautioned us not to expect to meet the same situations when we finally got overseas, because in war no two situations are ever alike.
On the Peason "maneuvers," we took our UTP tests. Jeepers, all those hills that we climbed and pulled those carts over; and remember the way the CNB we fired on the dawn shoot blew back on us and caused our eyes to water. We worked like the devil and did a darn good job of it. One of the umpires told some of the men that he had never seen as accurate a demonstration of registration and coming onto a target as he had seen that day.
Of course, we made mistakes out there too. When the day finally rolled around for us to come in out of the field, we all heaved a sigh of relief, believing that field work was behind us for awhile now, at least until we got "over there."
But the Army had other plans and, on the morning of 19 October, bright and early (it was still dark if you remember) we once again took leave of Camp Polk and set out for we knew not what at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. By noon we had reached Shreveport, and the local gendarmerie escorted us through the town with sirens screaming. It seems like everyone there came out to look and wave. Their faces all asked the incredulous question, "Where did all those jeeps come from?" And so on down the road to Texarkana where we pitched our lil pup tents in the big field outside of town and took off to see what it had to offer.
Next morning, again bright and early (it seems like we were always starting somewhere bright and early) we took to the open road, finally reaching our destination, Camp Chaffee. We went out on the reservation and there were shown our bivouac area. After we had unloaded all of our equipment, we dispersed the jeeps and pitched our tents and camouflaged.
Col Shepherd reported to Gen Pierce for instructions, and the next morning away we went, maneuver bound. Actually the next day was spent in preparation for the maneuvers, and on Sunday we moved out for the first problem. That first long ride over those dusty roads was a thing to remember. We thought that we would never get that stuff out of our systems.
The first week we fought a battle from the area between the Devil's Backbone ridge and Potato Hill toward the camp, coming back in on the weekend to our previous bivouac spot for a little rest and cleanup work. And we must admit we and our equipment really needed a cleanup job.
The following week brought two problems, the first ending on Thursday when the forces to which we were attached crossed the final phase line ahead of schedule, and the next problem which began the following morning around the vicinity of Potato Hill.
After that one was over, remembering that long dash we took straight down the road into the teeth of our opposition, we retired to our bivouac area to prepare for the return to Polk. That night we were able to get into camp and take showers for the first time in many days. Bathing out of steel helmets is all right, provided you don't have to do it too often for too long a stretch at a time.
The things we remember about those weeks on maneuver were the good times we may have missed at Fort Smith, Arkansas: those ice-cold swims in Engineers Lake, and being awakened in the wee small hours of the morning with the statement, "Let's go! We're moving out!" Those and many more are the memories we carried away.
On 6 November, we left Camp Chaffee and rode down the highways to Texarkana, where once again we pitched our tents in the open field and went to town. Next day at about 1630 hours, we finally reached home, dragged ourselves to our barracks and sighed with relief. Everyone was thinking about furloughs and leaves, and, soon after we returned, those furloughs and leaves began to come through. The first group left about 11 November and the second group 1 December.
We could tell that big things were brewing because all of a sudden our priority began to go up, and things which we hadn't been able to get before began coming in very easily. Official-looking papers began arriving at headquarters and every time we turned around someone was looking over our shoulders inspecting what we were about to do.
One morning we all woke up and found that our designation and organization had been changed. Under the old table of organization, we had four weapons companies and a headquarters detachment serving battalion headquarters. Under the new setup, we lost one weapons company, and gained a headquarters company in which were centralized all supply and service functions for the unit. Our new name was the 95th Chemical Mortar Battalion. Now everyone could see by looking at our title that we were a weapons outfit, not "gas" troops. All this took place on 14 Nov 1944.
Finally things began to pop, and on 15 Nov we received our readiness orders which told the CO to have the unit ready to move to a port of embarkation, which would be designated later, at a time which would be set by the port commander. The readiness date for the personnel attending the equipment was 1 Jan 1945; for packing and crating, 17 Dec 1944; the advance party must be ready to leave for the POE on 18 Dec, and we were assigned the code designation of 9011-M. During Nov 1944, we gained 51 enlisted men and lost 19 enlisted men and 4 officers, making our T/O strength correct.
On 21 Dec, the advance party left, bound for an east coast POE and an overseas destination. This party consisted of the battalion executive, Capt Williams, the adjutant, Lt Arnold, and T/4 Havely as clerk and driver.
At the last minute, Fourth Army decided that we needed to become more proficient in field artillery methods, so a series of intensive classes on that subject were begun, the officers attending classes in the morning and evenings, and teaching in the afternoon. We passed through those classes pretty fast and completed the course on that wet, rainy day out on the Leesville range, when the only guy who stayed dry was the little man who wasn't there.
Christmas Day, 1944. How we all wondered where we would be when the next one rolled around. Everyone had a jolly old time of it, however, with plenty of turkey and all that goes with it to make a merry day. During December, our outfit finished all the extra jobs of packing, crating and listing equipment, and we began having a series of showdown inspections to determine the serviceability of our clothing and equipment. Also during this month, we gained 75 men and 2 officers, and lost 60 men and 4 officers. With the end of December, we arrived at the decision that we were ready to fight.
Off we went! On the morning of 10 Jan, the first half of the battalion, consisting of Hq & Hq Co and A Co, climbed aboard a troop train and rolled out of Leesville and its environs for the last time. The second half of the battalion, composed of the Med Det and B & C Cos, entrained that afternoon and departed.
Train number one followed a central and northerly route, going through Shreveport, St Louis, Chicago, and finally up through Massachusetts to Camp Myles Standish, which was the staging area. The second train took an easterly route, through Atlanta, Washington, New York and so on up to Standish.
Just as soon as we arrived at our destination, we began to see efficiency as we had never seen it before. Everything was planned, right down to the last second. There was never a moment that we were not engaged in something. We began to get shots and equipment which we hadn't received before. We received our final medical screening, and a few of us sent wires to our folks or got telephone calls through. In those days, Standish was somewhat of a hush-hush place and we weren't allowed to mention anything about it. There also, our mail was first censored.
To some of us, the weather in Myles Standish was not out of the ordinary, but to others of us, those from the South and the West, the snow we saw there was more than we had ever seen in our lives. We arrived on Saturday, 13 Jan. The loading party, composed of 11 officers, left for the ship on Wednesday morning, 17 Jan. The main body entrained and went into Boston the next morning. By about 2:30 or 3:00 that afternoon, the last of us had come aboard and everyone began to get acquainted with their quarters-to-be for the next eleven days.
All of a sudden, about five that afternoon, we felt a strange rumbling under our feet, and those of us who were on deck noticed that the dock seemed to be moving away from us. At last we were on our way. We all asked ourselves as we saw the land begin to fade away, "Is this trip really necessary?" It must have been though, because they didn't turn around and go back.
It was sort of hard that first night getting used to the movement of the ship, since most of us wanted to swing when we should have swayed. Consequently, a few of us made hurried trips to the most convenient "head" to dispose of what chow we had consumed. The next 11 days were a maze of things. PC orders going in and coming back, abandon ship drills, gas mask inspections, quarters inspections, quizzes put on by special services, and of course the inevitable scuttle-butt about our possible destination.
No one knew where we were headed, but everyone had an idea. Almost every man you met would tell you that a friend of his heard from another friend, who got it straight from the fireman, who heard the captain's steward telling the ship's purser that the captain had said to his first mate that we were heading for such and such a place.
At last, one afternoon, we heard someone sing out that land had been sighted. That old ship must have lurched with all of us running out to get a place by the rail to see the land come up over the horizon. The first night in European waters, we docked off Portsmouth, England; and, in the wee small hours of the morning, we set sail across the English Channel for France.
About 11:00 a.m. we raised Le Havre. As we pulled into the once luxurious harbor, we had our first real view of what the war had done to Europe. Instead of being jubilant at the prospects of getting on dry land again, we were all a little awed by the sight that greeted our eyes. Block after block of buildings were razed to the ground, and what had once been magnificent dock facilities were nothing but twisted steel girders and rubble.
About 5:30 p.m. on 29 Jan, we finally set foot on foreign soil via LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle & Personnel). There we were shepherded into "cattle trucks" and, at about 7:30 that night, having gazed our last at the U.S.S. Argentina, we set off for our new destination. Even at that point, we had not been told where we were going.
That must have been just about the coldest any of us ever got, because we arrived in France on the tail of a very severe snow storm, and it was really cold. As we passed through the various small towns between Le Havre and our destination, the civilians all came out to wave and shout at us. It was then that we received our introduction to the "cigarette pour papa" routine.
There were a great number of halts and, when we finally reached there ("there" being Camp Lucky Strike) it was almost 4:00 a.m. we were all glad to see the familiar faces of our advanced party.
They had been on the ball about drawing equipment, so the company supply sergeants were called upon to begin functioning. We each drew a cot and GI sleeping bag, heading for the tents which had been assigned to us. Late the next morning, a few of us struggled out of bed into the chilled air to take a look around at our new settings.
That afternoon we drew stoves and were shown where we could go for chow. About two days later, we received the money which we had turned in for exchange, getting French invasion currency. Those 100 and 500 franc notes were really pretty but we all thought they were kind of flimsy.
To make things a little more interesting, we had to move to new areas twice in a week , finally getting into the area which was to be ours until we had to move into combat. When we first got there, about all we did was draw what new equipment we could, open all of our TAT and try to keep warm.
Gradually things became organized and we began to get a PX ration and mail. Mess halls were set up and put into operation, and we started doing a little refresher training in our work on the mortars. There was one class which took us over to the Engineer Mine School which was held in a beautiful old French chateau overlooking the Channel at Sassetot.
At first we were able to get passes and vehicles to go as far as Rouen, France, which was quite a fair-sized place in comparison to the small villages around the camp, but later the passes and vehicles were limited to Yvetot, St Valery and Fecamp. At Fecamp we all visited the Benedictine plant and there were very few of us who didn't get at least one of the small souvenir bottles of that sweet liqueur.
All of us were watching the Stars and Stripes every day with an avid interest now, trying to figure out where they would assign us when we were actually put into the line. During this period, we were assigned to the Fifteenth Army, which was a secret outfit, not know by the enemy.
About the first of March, we began to get calls to go get our vehicles, and convoys were organized to Cherbourg, Liege and Lille. Those were swell trips, but none of us could forget the business which was behind all of this. We began to get restive, and we all felt that there was something in the air.
Then the fateful day came and, on 25 Mar, we were relieved from assignment to the Fifteenth Army and assigned to the First Army, under the command of Gen Hodges. That night everything was a mass of feverish preparation. All the junk we had accumulated had to be disposed of and we kept only what we felt was essential.
Very early the next morning, the final details came down. Everyone was awakened and we started moving. The equipment was loaded on the vehicles and we were issued our basic ammunition load. At noon that day, the first serial of our convoy left Lucky Strike headed east toward the front. That night we arrived at Cambrai, France. After gassing up, we bivouacked for the night, and set out the next morning at 11:00 for the front again.
Our convoy high balled completely across Belgium in a matter of hours and at 11:55 p.m. we crossed the border into Germany and rode through Aachen which had so recently figured in the news of the world. We were amazed at the destruction visited on the town, and at the lack of people moving around. Also, we began to have a few apprehensions about the dark woods bordering the roads, because at that time we had heard that remnants of the German Wehrmacht were still around and that they didn't hesitate to snipe away at careless convoys.
The weather was pretty chilly and we were plagued by intermittent showers all that night, arriving at our final destination, Kommern, Germany, at about 5:30 a.m. There we established a camp of sorts in the "apple orchard." Kommern was located a little north and west of Duren and Bonn. That afternoon, Col Cunon, chief chemical officer of the First Army, and Col Gerhard, who was to replace him in a matter of days, officially welcomed us into the First Army. Our money was collected and turned in for exchange into German invasion currency, and our first pay day in Germany rolled around on 2 Apr.
While we were in the orchard, rumors were rife as to where in the First Army we would be used. On Easter Sunday, a great number of us attended the Easter Mass at the little Parish Church, and we were surprised that the German people looked on our attending church with amazement. Apparently they had been told that we would persecute them for their religious observances. Perhaps they got a practical lesson in democracy that day.
On 3 Apr, our combat assignment finally arrived and we spent most of the night preparing for movement up to the combat front. The battalion was attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps, which had the mission of closing the Ruhr pocket from the south, formed when the First Army made its long drive across central Germany.
Wed, 4 Apr: The battalion began moving out of Kommern with C Co taking the lead at 0730, headed for the CP of the 8th Inf Div, located at Haiger, arriving there at 1500. The platoons were immediately attached to infantry battalions, the first and third going to the 2nd Bn, 121st Rgmt, and the second going to the 2nd Bn, 13th Rgmt. All platoons went right to work. The first and third executed a night occupation of positions at Netphen, Germany, on what was probably one of the blackest nights ever. The second platoon succeeded in being largely instrumental in repelling four counter-attacks in Siegen within its first hour in combat. Charlie Company has the distinction of firing the first round for the "square Niner Five" in combat.
Hq&Hq Co pulled out at 0820 headed for XVIII Airborne Corps Hq, which was then at Dillenberg, arriving at approximately 1500. All companies crossed the Rhine at Konigswinter, over the tread way bridge called euphemistically "Charlie" bridge.
At Corps Hq, Hq&Hq Co was billeted and, for the first time, could hear the guns rumbling and an occasional burst of small arms fire. Before they even got settled down, the ammunition sections left for the front, the first ammo section going to support A Co, the second to B, the third to C. Yes, this was it.
Able and Baker Companies left Kommern just a few minutes apart at 1030, both heading for Eichelhardt, where they were to rendezvous with the 78th Inf Div. Both companies bivouacked out that night a little distance apart, setting up security and waiting for the final word on their attachment to the 78th to come through. Baker Co pitched tents for the last time that night.
Thu, 5 Apr: The battalion was now really in action, Hq&Hq Co ammo sections having established moving dumps behind the weapons companies, Able Co changing its attachment from the 78th Inf Div to the 8th, Baker and Charlie Cos hustling into battle with the enemy, and supply bringing up reserve ammo.
Able Co learned late in the morning that they were not to be attached to the 78th and that they were to report to the CG of the 8th for duty. They left Eichelhardt at 1745 and, after a dark blackout drive, replete with rain and sleet, arrived at Haiger at 2045. Company Hq was attached to the 28th Rgmt, and the three platoons were initially attached to the 121st Rgmt.
Baker Co moved into Betzdorf at about 1445, being attached to Diploma, the code name of the 310th Rgmt, following which the platoons were parceled out to the three battalions. The first platoon joined the 1st Bn at Freusberg, moving in front of the artillery for the first time. The company suffered its first casualties when PFC Stolpa and Sgt Wrenn were wounded after an enemy shell landed between the first and second guns of the first platoon.
The second platoon went into Katzwinkle, where the platoon exec was sniped at while laying the platoon in. The third platoon went to Betzdorf, joining the 3rd Bn and preparing for an attack which was to take off the next morning. The platoon leader went forward with the infantry battalion CO to make a reconnaissance, going approximately 300 yards behind the enemy's lines.
Charlie Co Hq was reattached to the 3rd Bn, 13th Rgmt, and moved to Siegen in the afternoon. The company fired a total of eight missions this day, and the second platoon reported that its men will probably not forget the move across the town of Siegen on the darkest night in history. Driving blackout, bumper to bumper, a man on each hood, it was impossible to see the jeep in front. Arriving at the new position as the artillery barrage for the XVIII Airborne Corps jump-off started, a little wondering was in order.
Fri, 6 Apr: The motor section of Hq&Hq Co decided to conserve rubber and were seen traveling on two wheels instead of four. T/5 Marsh and Lt Lynch could be seen trying to start their cycles throughout the day. Another guy thought he traveled a greater distance on his bike. Still located at Dillenberg.
The night before, and well on into the following morning, vehicles of Able Co platoons were arriving at their destinations, having been split apart then by a fast-moving convoy under blackout conditions. Co CP was at Feudengen, the first platoon at Schameder, the second and third out in some Godforsaken field, gosh only knows where. The second platoon had a very nice, high hill in front of them, but discovered later that that was all; the infantry had withdrawn, leaving them in a big bubble, vulnerable as hell.
At 0300, the FO party of the second platoon of Baker Co, consisting of Lt Moore, Cpl Ager and PFC Garfinkle, reported to the Easy Co CP. The jump-off was scheduled for 0500, but the "cats" were delayed and it didn't get going until 0700. It was rainy as the devil and foggy to boot.
At 0500, Fox Co had been attacked by Jerry and, using map data, the second fired a 130-round HE mission, with the infantry observing; it broke up the counter-attack but brought in some counter-battery fire. At 1500 at Driedenberg, the FO party narrowly escaped annihilation when Easy Co was cut in two by German direct fire from concealed tanks or SP guns. One TD and one jeep were put out of commission. The third platoon caught its first dose of artillery in the campaign.
Charlie Co remained fairly stable, firing 11 missions and expending 288 rounds. All missions were in support of the infantry and drew a moderate amount of counter-battery.
Sat, 7 Apr: Baker Co fired a total of nine missions, expending 81 rounds of HE and 38 rounds of WP. PFC McKinnan, operating a radio for the first platoon, had the antenna shot off his SCR-300 by a burp gun while crossing the valley at Fishbacher butte. The third platoon fired its first mission, 35 rounds onto a camouflaged 88, using map data and FO method. Charlie Co fired two missions to neutralize an enemy-held town. The front was quiet for Able Co, and Hq&Hq Co was still in Dillenberg.
Sun, 8 Apr: Able Co was relieved from the 8th Inf Div and attached to the 86th, being reattached to the 342nd Rgmt. The third platoon fired upon the town of Allenbach with very effective results. The FO party of Baker 2 was in position during the night at Langenbach. Fired a WP mission on Hill 390 during the night to clear if for assault on the morning of the 8th. Also fired by sound at enemy tanks which were heard in the woods near town. At approximately 1000, fired on Germans in a fire break on Hill 338 east of Plittershager. The OP was established in an abandoned mine west of Freidenberg after Easy Co had taken Hill 369. The sniper fire was pretty rough at the time.
Charlie Co Hq and its first and second platoons were attached to the 1st Bn, 13th Rgmt, and the third platoon was attached to the 1st Bn, 121st Rgmt. All platoons were firing harassing missions. While firing on the town of Toupbach, a short distance out of Siegen, Charlie Co's second platoon got its first German tank. As the company moved into town the following day, Lt Sullivan's jeep was parked near the knocked-out tank and direct hit from enemy artillery caused the jeep and trailer to be destroyed by fire.
Mon, 9 Apr: Hq&Hq Co left Dillenberg and rolled over to Siegen, where the communications section accomplished its first skilled mission by raiding a wine cellar. That night it was clear and the guards could see the flash of our artillery. The first and second platoons of Able Co rolled into Wurdinghausen at almost the same time and set up to fire some missions for the 342nd Rgmt. The two platoons knocked out a tank and two 88s, but brought counter-battery fire which landed pretty close to the positions. The third platoon left Erndtebruck and went to Vormwald where it set up and captured three prisoners.
At about 1000, Lt Staff, leader of Baker Co's third platoon, and a small group of infantrymen fought their way back into our lines after having been cut off in a forward OP on the 7th. Staff had continued to direct fire of the mortars and artillery, obtaining excellent results, as long as his batteries lasted. The first and second platoons fired a few missions, but the front was generally quiet.
At times when things are SNAFU, things turn out better than you expect. There was the day near Kreuztal when PFC Sterling laid his loaded carbine in the jeep without the safety on. In the process of taking off his field jacket, he threw his cartridge belt in the jeep and fired the carbine, wounding himself in the shoulder. Thinking that it was caused by a sniper, a 50-caliber machine gun sprayed the woods to the right flank of Charlie Co's second platoon. Two prisoners came out of the woods with flags waving, another was wounded and one killed by the fire.
Tue, 10 Apr: Able Co's first platoon had a very close call when a minor counter-attack developed around the CP of an infantry battalion at Altenhunden, all the men having to root for cover under a blaze of small arms fire. A disabled TD finally disrupted the attack by firing several belts of 50-caliber incendiaries into the woods around the CP.
Later on that same day, the second platoon was picked up by an enemy FO at Bilstein, who brought fire to bear on them and the troops assembled in the town several times, until an air mission was obtained to knock out the trouble makers. The second moved on into Kirchveischeid, which had been a target for a bombing attack that morning. About all that was left standing was a small group of buildings on the outskirts of town. The third platoon went into Ober Veischede, firing two missions and knocking out a gun emplacement, killing the crew which was manning it.
Col Shepherd came up to visit Baker Co while the company CP was at Friesenhagen. En route to one of the platoons, a sniper tee'd off on Capt Isch and the colonel, and kind of spoiled the view for awhile.
Baker Co's second platoon fired seven missions on enemy troops and installations, with the FO reporting very good results. The third platoon was detailed to assist the second in support of the 2nd Bn, 310th Rgmt. Charlie Co's first and second platoons were not called on to fire any missions, but followed along behind the rapidly advancing infantry, while the third platoon fired a 60-round HE mission on enemy troops in the open. Results: perfect.
Wed, 11 Apr: The advanced detachment of Hq&Hq Co left Siegen and went into Olpe, preparatory to Corps Hq moving there. Able Co's third platoon caught a German infantry company apparently doing close order drill in an open field and, after dropping in 89 rounds of HE, the FO reported that the results were excellent.
The first platoon was pinned down by heavy fire for an hour while following an advancing infantry column, but later on firing three missions on an enemy-held town. The second platoon fired screening missions on two enemy-held OPs all morning, running out of ammunition once, and having enemy fire brought down almost immediately after the smoke began to thin around the OPs. The second set up in one of the towns on which it had fired a burning mission the night before, and the results were most effective.
In Baker Co, Lt Rogers and his radio operator, MacKinnan, were blown out of the house they were using as an OP while firing on Bergneustadt. Several men received wounds that afternoon when the platoon column was shelled en route to Lantenbach. Baker Co's first platoon fired a mission on an enemy-held ridge, results unknown, but 12 prisoners were captured in the vicinity and evacuated. Very few missions were called from Charlie Co and the platoons generally were following the advancing infantry columns.
Thu, 12 Apr: The remainder of Hq&Hq Co moved into Olpe with Corps Hq. Able Co's first platoon moved from Dunschede to Landermert, where it set up and fired on Plettenberg at a range of 5,100 yards, results unknown. Col Shepherd and Col Gerhard, chemical officer of First Army, visited Able Co's second platoon at Lichtringhausen, watching while a burning mission was fired. Baker Co had a fairly quiet day, with the platoons following the advancing infantry.
Fri, 13 Apr: The Battalion CP moved from Olpe to Kierspe Bahnhof, again billeting with Corps Hq. Able Co's first platoon was moving in the direction of Plettenberg when the column was delayed and halted on the open road. At approximately 1000, a barrage from German heavy mortars fell, wounding several men and killing two when a round landed in a ditch where some of the men had taken cover. The platoon medic, PFC Jones, ran to the wounded men, rendering them first aid, but was killed very soon by another barrage which fell, catching him on the pavement. A third barrage landed soon afterwards but caused no casualties.
The first and third platoons were detailed to a task force in the vicinity of Brugge, and proceeded with the infantry columns from there. The second platoon, en route to Warbollen and points north, was pinned down on the road for three hours. A mission was fired from the roadside and the results were very good.
Charlie Co's second platoon fired one mission of ten rounds on an enemy troop concentration and captured five prisoners. The third platoon will not forget one SS trooper they saw. Lt Hiner came up with, "We still have our first SS trooper to take alive." All the third platoon knew the trooper was bound to be the first taken alive because he was the first they had seen.
Sat, 14 Apr: Able Co's first and third platoons were still on their task force and Co Hq could not contact them. However, later reports revealed the capture of Lt Quattlebaum and his party by the Germans in the vicinity of Muhlen-Rahmede. Sgt Betz of the third platoon was mortally wounded this day by a tank which some civilians had indicated to the platoon in the woods nearby.
The second platoon set up in Rarin to fire on the hills over Eveking very early in the morning. A column of infantry had just vacated the town, and another column was coming in, when the fog lifted and fire from German self-propelled guns began shelling the position at almost point-blank range. The town consisted of only three buildings. When everyone that could had taken cover, 81mm mortars began lobbing shells at the SP until it was knocked out.
A little later in the afternoon at Eveking, when the second platoon was set up on a hill over the town, a heavy machine gun mounted in a defiladed position was playing havoc with the infantry column. Brig Gen Pope, assistant division commander, happened to be back with the platoon leader and infantry battalion commander, and asked the platoon to fire on the auto sniper.
The platoon executive helped set up one of the mortars, laying directly on the target. The first round was way over, so the range was corrected. The second was just over, and the third landed directly on the target. Gen Pope watched the whole operation, and his only comment was, "That's the kind of shooting we like to see."
Lt Neuman of Baker Co was wounded by shrapnel, and Lt Pilcher came in as his replacement. On going into position, the first platoon captured 81 prisoners. Included in the bag was a bunch of German officers.
In Charlie Co's second platoon, this story came forth. Even in the hottest spots and in the gravest situations, the American soldier can laugh, an attitude which makes the American Army what it is. While firing a mission outside of Gevelsberg, enemy mortar fire came in and wounded four men. While T/5 Clasen was administering first aid, Grover Moore, one of those wounded, said: "I don't mind getting my hand cut up, but it ruined my new gloves and I had a hell of a time swiping them."
Sun, 15 Apr: Hq&Hq Co left Kierspe Bahnhof and proceeded to Huckeswagen, where they set up in some houses and an abandoned machine shop. The second platoon left Eveking in the morning and went to Brunnscheid, where Able Co would have made quite a mess of the town of Muhlen-Rahmede except for the fact that the FO was cut off from the platoon and the radios refused to give. Later that afternoon, they arrived at Muhlen-Rahmede and, after into a position, were told that the Ruhr pocket had been closed. All companies were directed to suspend actions and await further orders.
Mon, 16 Apr: All platoons of Able Co moved into Ludenscheid preparatory to returning to Battalion control at Huckeswagen. In Baker Co, an enemy ammunition truck burned near the first platoon position without causing any casualties. All platoons of Charlie Co remained in their positions awaiting further orders.
Tue, 17 Apr: Able Co moved from Augustonthal and Ludenscheid to Huckeswagen, where it billeted a short distance from the Battalion CP. Baker Co moved to Wermelskirchen from Laaken and vicinity. Charlie Co remained at Milspe. The entire battalion was attached to the 97th Inf Div and was assigned routine police and security duties in and around Huckeswagen.
Wed, 18 Apr: Baker Co moved from Wermelskirchen to Radervormwald, and Charlie Co came into Huckeswagen. No change of duties.
Thu, 19 Apr: Charlie Co left Huckeswagen and proceeded to Dahlerau, where it was located for routine security details.
Fri, 20 Apr: The entire battalion was relieved from 97th Div and attached to the 28th Rgmt of the 8th Div. Lt Gardner and 12 men of Hq Co were searching an area for German soldiers and snipers when Lt Gardner was hit by small arms fire. Medical attention was rushed to him, but he died that afternoon from the effects of the wound. Able Co's second platoon moved from Huckeswagen to a resort hotel at Thalsperre. All companies and Bn Hq were assisting in the setting up of the military government for the area.
Sat & Sun, 21-22 Apr: All companies made a canvas of their areas to determine the number of displaced personnel in the battalion area. Routine police and security details were made by patrols operating from the various Cps.
Mon, 23 Apr: The Battalion was relieved from assignment to the First Army and reassigned to the Third Army, III Corps, and attached to the 86th Inf Div at Neustadt. The battalion convoy left Huckeswagen at 0530, each company following and forming a serial. The convoy was strafed en route by "Bed Check Charlie" and a few men were wounded. The last of the vehicles were in the bivouac area, a large airfield outside Neustadt, by 0500 the next morning.
Tue, 24 Apr: Hq&Hq Co left Neustadt and proceeded to Massenbach where it was billeted with III Corps Hq. Able Co was attached to the 341st Rgmt, left Neustadt and proceeded toward Massenbach, bivouacking outside the town that night. Baker and Charlie Cos also proceeded toward Massenbach for their troop attachments.
Wed, 25 Apr: The Bn CP moved from Massenbach to Rothenstein, following the moves of III Corps. Able Co Hq was attached to the 341st Rgmt, the first platoon attached to the 2nd Bn, second platoon to the 3rd Bn, and the third platoon to the 1st Bn. The company left Massenbach in the early morning and, after arriving at Pfahldorf, the platoons moved into positions vacated by the 90th Cml Mortar Bn. The third platoon fired one smoke mission, drawing counter-battery fire from the Germans.
Baker Co's first, second and third platoons were attached to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Bns of the 342nd Rgmt at Weifenburg. Charlie Co's first, second and third platoons were attached to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Bns of the 343rd Rgmt at Sappenfeld.
Thu, 26 Apr: Just as Hq moved into houses for the night, after waiting for them to be vacated, Maj Williams called a formation and announced that Hq had been given the job of policing Eichstadt, a town just passed. Ammunition and communications sections went there and formed a guard for a Nazi prison camp containing 15,000 allied POWs. Able Co Hq and the three platoons moved along behind infantry columns, firing a few missions as they were called for by the infantry commanders.
Baker Co's first platoon fired 35 rounds of smoke to cover the initial attempts to cross the Danube River. At 1930, Baker's second platoon went into position at Ingoldstadt to cover the infantry crossing of the Danube. The first round was fired at 2045, and a total of three missions were fired. Baker's third platoon was also in Ingoldstadt to support the crossing, and received heavy artillery fire in the position.
Fri, 27 Apr: Hq, with the exception of a small detachment, was relieved of its guard duty at Eichstadt. Baker Co's second, third and first platoons crossed the Danube in that order. Charlie Co's first platoon fired its first mission in the Bavarian battle, firing mixed HE and WP on enemy infantry.
Sat, 28 Apr: The Bn CP moved from Eitensheim to Ingoldstadt, arriving at 0900. All Able Co platoons were following infantry columns, with the doughboys loaded on jeeps and trailers. At 0600, Baker Co's second platoon, in position in the woods, fired approximately 50 rounds of HE and WP on Konigsfeld to cover the infantry assault on Fahlenbach. A tree burst from an enemy shell inflicted some casualties on an 81mm mortar crew a short distance from the position of the second platoon.
The Blue Danube will not remain a place of beauty in the minds of the men of 95G. After crossing on the pontoon bridge at Ingoldstadt, Charlie Co was held up. Enemy fire from all weapons (rifles, burp guns, and armor-piercing shells from 88s) was coming down the river.
As the branches of trees were clipped off above the head of PFC Charles Talbert by burp gun fire, he decided crawling in a hole was in order. After the fire slowed, Talbert tried to come out of the trench through the same hole he had gone in. It was "no soap" because the hole was too small, so back into the trench and out another way was the route for Talbert.
Sun, 29 Apr: Able Co's second platoon fired a mission on Attenkirchen and was rewarded by breaking the doors of a warehouse full of eggs destined for the Wehrmacht. Later on in the evening, after being driven out of position once by artillery fire, the second fired a mission in support of an assault boat crossing of the Isar River in the vicinity of Windham. Charlie Co's first and second platoons fired four missions on enemy-held installations, getting very favorable results.
Mon, 30 Apr: Bn CP and Hq&Hq Co came into Freising from Ingoldstadt. All platoons of Able Co crossed the Isar at Freising late in the evening, rejoining the battalions they were supporting early the next morning.
Baker Co's second platoon crossed the Amper River. While waiting at Ober Zolling for the engineers to build a bridge, Lt Moore, Sgt Curcio, Cpl Ager and PFC Johnson of that platoon attempted to reconnoiter Zolling, which had not been taken by our troops. While in the town, they were fired on by machine guns from some tanks but managed to get out without injury.
Baker Co's third platoon relieved the first platoon in the line but, due to the rapid advance of the infantry, it was not necessary to set up and fire. The platoon leap frogged from one position to another as it followed the infantry forward.
While out as radio operator on a FO party, Cpl Bob Sowa, Charlie Co, was on the bank of the Mittel Isar Canal when a rolling barrage by 88s came in. All personnel on the bank scattered for cover. After the barrage, Cpl Sowa revealed his place of safety, hanging under the reinforced concrete of the blown bridge, about ten yards from his original position.
Tue, 1 May: The FO part of Baker Co's second platoon was in support of the 1st Bn, 342nd Rgmt, which crossed the Isar in assault boats. Near the Mittel Isar Canal, Cpl Ager, PFC Johnson and PFC Magruder captured 18 Hungarians in a house that had been designated for the platoon FDC. The platoon moved into position 1000 yards west of Eitting and Mittel Isar Canal. Snipers were very active, and the platoon was unable to give fire on the town due to the presence of friendly troops of another battalion that had managed to take a few buildings.
Wed, 2 May: All companies were close in behind infantry columns, which were moving almost unopposed through southeastern Bavaria. A few troops from units on our right flank began to come through.
Thu, 3 May: Battalion had moved into Langenpreising and occupied quarters there. The Bn was relieved from the 86th Div and attached to III Corps, the 20th Armored Div having cut off the right flank of Corps after crossing the Isar. Able Co was at Wartenburg, Baker at Langenpreising, and Charlie at Zustorf.
Fri, 4 May: The Bn was ordered into quarters for a rest period and minor police and security details. All companies remained in the same areas.
Sat, 5 May: Able Co left Wartenburg, the second and third platoons going to Schwaig, the first platoon and Co Hq to Attaching, for police and security duties. Baker Co left Langenpreising and came to Freising for police duties.
After retiring from the line, having been assigned to areas which we were supposed to patrol and police, we leaned back and waited for the war to end, which it did, unofficially on 7 May and officially on the 8th.
The evening of the 8th, we received notice that a move was pending. On the 9th we loaded up, bid goodbye to Freising and vicinity, and headed for the fabulous city of Nurnberg, so-called birth place of the Nazi Party. There we finally settled down under the wing of III Corps, in and around Nurnberg. Hq&Hq Co was located at Reichelsdorf, Able Co at Maiach, Baker at Stein, and Charlie at Eibach.
On 13 May, Col Shepherd announced that we had been alerted for redeployment and movement from III Corps within 30 days. On 14 May we again consolidated the Bn out on the parade ground between Stein and Furth. We set up a regular battalion camp with pyramidal tents for quarters. It was a wonderful sight too to see Old Glory flying from the flag pole on the hill above Bn Hq. While here, we got rid of all excess equipment and captured enemy material, and began preparing for our return trip to the States and possibly the Pacific.
Remember the field day we had on 26 May at the Nurnberger Platz, when the entrants from all the companies tried their athletic skills? Charlie Co won that and didn't have to stand reveille for a week. On 2 Jun, at a formal review and competitive drill in which Able Co carried off the honors, Col Shepherd was presented wit a Bronze Star for the combat action of the battalion.
On 14 Jun, we left Nurnberg and headed west again, for the coast of France and home. That night we bivouacked on the autobahn outside Mannheim, Germany. The next night we halted at Soissons, France. Do you remember all the people who came out and tried to bargain with us there?
We had never seen so many mortar battalions at one place before. Finally, on 16 Jun, after a long day's trip, we arrived back at Lucky Strike which we had left only a scant three months before. There, the next morning, we turned in all but four of our vehicles. Then began the long period of waiting for water transportation back to the States.
On 21 Jun, Battalion formation was held, at which time Col Shepherd presented the Silver Star to one man, and the Bronze Star to 14 others. On 29 Jun, we left Lucky Strike at 0330, arrived at Le Havre at 0700 and, after a 2-hour wait, boarded the U.S.S. Wakefield at 0900. The next morning at 0400 our ship sailed and we were on our way home at last.
On 6 Jul, we arrived in Boston and debarked at 1600 at the Commonwealth Pier. As we came into the harbor, we were greeted by a large tug bearing a band, members of the Red Cross, and the first bevy of American girls we had seen in almost six months. We went by train from Boston to Camp Myles Standish. The next day, groups of men, broken down by the reception station nearest to their home, began to depart for 30-day leaves and furloughs.
The reassembly of the battalion took place at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where we were to take our redeployment training. On 14 Aug, the first rumors about the peace with Japan began to come through. On the 20th, we were informed that it was official and that the peace would probably be signed the first week in September.
On 3 Sep, Col Shepherd called the battalion together and told us that our alert for shipment to the Pacific had been canceled. On the 14th, he once again called us together and bid us goodbye. He had been assigned to Washington preparatory to going to the Pacific on a special mission. On that date, Maj Richard C. Williams took over as CO and has guided us ever since.
At present, the battalion is expecting orders to inactivate at any time, but they have not yet arrived. Practically all of us are absent on furlough or have returned to civilian life via the separation center.
We aren't an old outfit as years go, but we certainly grew up fast in action. We will all remember with a great deal of fondness the acquaintances we made. To us it is sad to hear the command, "Rounds Away. Cease Fire. March Order!"
...Even in war, there are some funny incidents along the way...
Let's don't get nosey, Bub!During the fighting around Siegen, Germany, the Nazis counter-attached constantly. The front was fluid and our mortar men were constantly running into enemy lines. One evening at nightfall, Lt Jurgensen was returning to his mortar position from a forward OP where he had been directing fire. Suddenly there was a shout: "Halte! Wer ist da?" He had run into a German sentry and was being challenged. "What the hell do you care?" yelled back Jurgensen in his best German - and kept right on going.
Wrestling matchThe convoy went around the bend of the road, and all hell broke loose. The Germans opened up with mortars, 88s and machine guns. Lts Pierpont and Sullivan left their jeep and dashed for cover into a nearby house. It was pitch black inside. Pam! Pam! Pam! And a sheet of flame lit up the darkness, but only for a second. Both of them hit the floor. For a moment, complete silence. Then the sound of movement and a voice broke the stillness: "Pierpont, you can't go under this chair with me on your back, you'll have to go around."
Inquiry?In his jeep, Lt Hiner was following a column of American tanks towards the front. The tanks suddenly rolled to a stop, but Lt Hiner kept right on going. About 150 yards up the road past the tanks, he stopped too. It was early morning and as usual the fog was so thick you could stir it with a spoon. He thought for a minute, then turned around and went back to the lead tank. "Hey," he yelled to the driver, "what did you guys stop for?"
"Why," came the answer, "there's a German 88 about 150 yards up the road pointed right at us."
Squashed but missingAt Huckeswagen, Germany, the Polish Lager was off limits. Be that as it may, T/5 Casimir Avisa liked the place and made some friends down there. One day the company commander, Capt Baldo, learning that Avisa was absent and having it on good authority that he was down at the Lager, decided to pull a raid. Picking up several headquarters men bearing carbines, he set out for the Lager, posting guards at all the entrances before he entered.
Inside, Hitler's slave laborers were quiet. The girls were sitting on a big bed in the center of the room, sewing, mending clothes, and chatting, without any concern at his entry. Over in the corner of the room, an old man was mending his boots. Another man was leaning out the window. Capt Baldo began his search immediately. He looked in closets, under beds, up on the rafters, even looking under the bed on which the girls were sitting. He knew that Avisa was there but just couldn't find him, so finally he departed.
Soon after, the gentleman at the window returned to the middle of the room and laughed. The girls laughed too and got up from the bed. One of them pulled back the covers and there was Casimir J. The girls had been sitting on him.
Jumping Jerries!In the woods of Huckeswagen, Germany, truck driver Fred Watkins and Mess Sgt Ray Coulter were searching for German soldiers. Watkins carried the only weapon, an M-1.
"Look over there, Fred," whispered Coulter, "someone's over there!" Watkins looked but saw nothing.
"There they are, Fred, over there! Look!" Watkins scanned the surrounding woods. "I can't see anything," he said.
"Well, you're the one with the rifle," Coulter reminded him, "so keep looking."
"OK, Coulter, you keep your eyes on them too, and I'll do the best I can." Both men got into a nearby ditch and Watkins laid his rifle in the direction Coulter had indicated.
"There they are!" suddenly cried Coulter again. Fred looked, and something came bounding over the brush. It was three very large rabbits.
Photo finishDuring the last days of the battle for Germany, Lt Hiner was being driven up to the front in his jeep. Up the road he heard firing, so the jeep stopped and Lt Hiner and his driver jumped for cover. Just then a bullet crashed through the windshield and the seat he had just vacated.
What?In the last days of the push in southern Germany, the enemy retreat was so rapid that Bn Hq often got ahead of the weapons companies in the fast movement of the rear echelons forward. One afternoon when the Hq convoy stopped, Sgt Claude Roberts bounced out and, addressing a major standing by an abandoned machine gun emplacement on the side of the road, inquired, "Sir, how far is it to the front?"
"Just a hundred yards down this road," replied the major, and returned to inspecting the position.
These are some of the things we did in battle,
but the luck of the Irish was with us.
Artillery barrageIt was 13 April and Able Co's second platoon was part of the task force of the 343rd Inf Rgmt, 86th Inf Div, approaching Warbollen on the way to an objective deeper in the Ruhr pocket. The platoon was in convoy directly behind the 2nd Bn of the 343rd, the assault troops of the task force, who were to be supported by our mortars. En route to Warbollen, the Germans ambushed the column.
The regimental CO's jeep, which was leading the convoy, was knocked off the road by direct artillery fire, wounding the CO and his S-3. From the front, 88s and 20mm AA guns, supported by heavy machine guns, opened up on the trucks. Light and heavy machine guns caught the column from the rear. Everyone left the vehicles and took cover, selecting targets and firing as they could.
The platoon leader, Lt Chestochowski was called to the head of the column, leaving Lt Orr in charge. Maj Baumer, the Bn CO, called by radio: "Mortars," he said, "we can't reach our artillery, and we've got to put some fire out there on those 88s. Can you give us some stuff?"
Lt Orr said that he would do his best, and the Bn CO agreed to adjust the fire from his position by radio. Sgt Williams, PFC Chandler and PFC Zilian set up one of the mortars. With no instruments but the sight, they aimed it by reckoning. One round away, a correction of deflection by the Bn CO, then 16 rounds of HE as fast as they could be dropped. That was all. Cease fire.
Soon afterwards, Lt Chestochowski returned. The men asked him how things were at the head of the column. "Boy," he commented, "you should have seen the pretty artillery barrage that came in up there. It knocked out a battery of 88s. The way is all clear now." The men in the platoon smiled, loaded the goon gun back into the trailer, and got ready to move forward. Not until several days later did the platoon leader know it was the 4.2s that did the job.
Nazi concentration camp"Get all available men ready to leave immediately for Eichstadt, and tell them to take grenades." That order rang sharp and clear through the crisp, early spring night. Something big was up.
After we had passed through Eichstadt, which had just been captured, and entered Eitensheim, a few miles beyond, the Eitensheim civilians told us that SS troopers had ordered them to keep off the streets that night because they were going to retake the town. Had the SS troops attacked Eichstadt instead, knowing that the Eitensheim civilians would tell us of their warning?
Many fantastic yet plausible thoughts ran through our minds as we gathered up our weapons and rushed to save Eichstadt. On the outskirts of the town, our convoy stopped and the reconnaissance party went in to look things over. The silence was deafening. A civilian car pulled up to a building on our left and a large sliding door opened, emitting a faint glow from a partly-covered lantern. The car pulled in and a woman got out, swallowed up in the darkness of the rapidly closing door.
Thoughts became more fantastic and more numerous. Our spines tingled, but whether it was from the cold or excitement, no one took time to decide. Were we being watched? Did the Germans have an ambush set up? Two tiny blackout lights struggled through the inky blackness and came to a halt. Our recon party had returned. Now we would know.
"The captain in charge thinks that there will be trouble from Russian prisoners escaping from a Nazi prison camp here." Thinks! Is that all? Disgust and disappointment could be heard rippling from one man to another. Now we were definitely shaking from the cold. We entered the town and pulled our vehicles around a fountain in the center of the public square, keeping them dispersed, just in case.
Again there was silence, cigarettes were cupped, and strained faces peered toward the ominous clouds covering an out-of-place moon. Such a beautiful sky didn't belong over this war town, yet out of this sky came a lone German plane, "Bed Check Charlie." He was on the loose and prowling around. After circling several times, however, he left without firing a shot.
A roving patrol was established in town and a group of men under Lt Howard was sent to the prison camp to keep the prisoners from jumping the fence, and thus prevent their swarming over the highway and blocking the Eichstadt supply route to the front.
April 27 dawned cold, as usual. I (Lt Pierpont) was sent to the prison camp to relieve Lt Howard. Sgts McKee and Stoyer were the NCOs in charge. There were about 22 captured British officers there, with Lt Col J. S. Trendell the ranking man. Capt "Peter" Lord Clifton and Lt G. H. Beazley, two of the British officers, were the ones to break the news to me that I was in charge of the camp and responsible for 15,000 men.
You can well imagine my plight, a 2nd Lt in charge of 15,000 men, 22 of whom could understand me, at times. They found my Texas drawl harder to fathom than Russian. However, "Peter" and "Gill" (Lt Beazley) acted as interpreters, both being able to speak German and French. The Russian interpreter could speak German and Polish, so we passed information from one nationality to another until the grapevine was completed.
This was no easy job, as we had 14 nationalities represented: Allied soldiers captured by the Nazis from Greece, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, England, New Zealand, Canada, Dakar (Africa), Crete and Rumania.
I was told that I was known to the "League of Nations" as "Colonel" on down. (I sure hated to leave and become a 2nd Lt again. I was rather enjoying having colonels, majors and captains take orders, even if they were foreigners.) This was the first time that I got a personal view of what goes on in a German prison camp.
There were many more adventures there but, finally, as all men must in the Army, we had to move on, and I left there with many things in my mind which in calmer days I would not have believed possible.
The biggest rat-race in the worldFrom thumb tacks to big trucks, from shoe laces to field ranges, bullets to bazookas, the battalion supply branch always saw to it that the men ate well, slept comfortably, dressed warmly, and were well armed. Just like any big business, there are tricks to the supply service. You have to have a lot on the ball, and the welfare and interest of your outfit at heart,
There are times, especially overseas, when items could not be obtained in the usual manner, but the men of battalion supply always found a way and produced. Accuracy and speed were the bywords of their operation. Under the guidance of Capt Baldo and MSgt Yovanovich, nine men kept our outfit the best supplied unit in the Army. Stein, Weinstein, Nolan, Phillips, Blecher, Fidler, Athas and Cappadona are the crew who made a success of the supply mission of the 95th.
Overseas, from day to day, no one knows what he'll be called on to do next. The supply clerks, Weinstein and Nolan, were ration breakdown men one day and typists the next. When Stein wasn't working on clothing and equipment, there were reports to be made up. Blecher was bugler, ammo handler at the front and, at one time, drove for the CO; but anyone will tell you that he did his share of the work.
Fidler and Phillips did a little of everything in spite of their being in ammo sections. No better man could have been found for ration breakdown than Sgt Cappadona, who got food when other units couldn't get it. Long journeys were no handicap in food procurement, and many thanks should go to Athas, who was the truck driver.
Probably the outstanding feat of S-4, to which the crew look in wonder, was how all the TAT and IOI was gathered together at Camp Lucky Strike in France. With Yovanovich directing operations, these men sweated and strained in cold and wet weather, ankle deep in mud, day and night, all over France, reassembling the bulky, weighty freight which was the equipment we needed to carry out our mission.
Battalion supply can never be accused of shirking duty or laying down on the job. Why? Ask Yovanovich: "In this racket, you just don't have the time. It's like taking a punch at your mother-in-law." We guys in supply don't mean to take any credit away from the weapons companies, but we just wanted to blow our own horn so that you would know we were there too.
ArsenalSpeaking of luck, there was the story about the afternoon that Capt Williams, Capt Gafney and PFC James Brown went off capturing Germans. Capt Gafney had left his CP in Hagen and told 1st Sgt Dixon to wait there until his return from Bn CP at Kierspe-Bahnhof.
Capt Williams, with Brown driving him, went back to Hagen with Capt Gafney. On arriving there, they found that Lt Col Kargar, 8th Div chemical officer, had come around and ordered 1st Sgt Dixon to displace the Charlie Co CP forward. That was about 1400, so Williams and Gafney spent the rest of the afternoon looking for Gafney's CP.
They finally discovered that Sgt Dixon had moved up to Milspe, but nobody seemed to know what road he had taken. After looking at a map, our dauntless and somewhat PO'd captains chose a road that seemed to be as good as any, on the presumption that it had already been cleared. However, after driving about five miles and seeing no GIs, ration cans or boxes, they began to have serious misgivings.
A little further on, they went around a curve in the road and found a couple of Jerries who promptly threw up their hands and surrendered. Since they had no pistols, they were searched and sent on down the road. A bit further, Brown and the officers came upon three more Germans and were then convinced they were conquering a previously unconquered section of Germany. Capt Williams' G-2 section (Capt Gafney understood a bit of German) learned by interrogation of the POWs that there were quite a lot more Germans a kilometer up the road in a hydroelectric plant.
Still in quest of a good pistol, the conquering three drove on to the power plant, pulled up and, since they were armed to the teeth (an M-1, a carbine, and a .45 pistol), investigated the place.
It surrendered to the attack without a shot being fired. Out came a battalion CO, his staff and what amounted to his Hq Co, about 60 men in all, of an engineering construction battalion.
The haul consisted of five pistols (poor Brown got only one), so it was decided to discontinue the penetration of enemy territory, herd the POWs in, and resume looking for Capt Gafney's CP.
You can perhaps guess how surprised Capt Williams was two days later to learn from Lt Stinchecum, who had gone over to that same power plant looking for a pistol to liberate (he never did get one), that the place was full of German rifles, ammunition, panzerfaust and machine guns. Why the Germans didn't put up a fight has never been determined.
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