The original battalion was designated the 558th Field Artillery Battalion, then organized and activated on May 10, 1943, under tentative (TDA) Tables of Distribution and Allowances 6-56 with 26 officers, 2 warrant officers, and 436 enlisted men. Under this (TOE) Table of Organization and Equipment, the battalion consisted of an HQs Service Battery and three firing batteries, together with an attached medical section.
On the day of activation, the battalion was assigned to the 2nd Armored Corps, Headquarters in San Jose (California) and stationed at Camp Roberts, California, in East Garrison. The battalion was armed with twelve 155-MM Guns SF, the M-12 which had been just created by ordnance by placing a 155-MM Gun M-1917 GPF (Grande Puissance Filloux) (Hight Power Col Filloux) on the chassis of an M-3 medium tank.
This 155-MM GPF gun was designed during World War I by Col Louis Filloux (French) to meet France’s urgent need for modern heavy artillery and became the standard heavy field gun of the French Army from 1917 until World War II.
It was also adopted by the USA as the M-1917, and a close derivative of it was made in and used by the US as the M-1918 through World War II.
The 155-GPF was also manufactured in the USA from 1917 after the US switched to metric artillery based on French patterns. It was used by the US Army and US Marine Corps as their primary heavy artillery gun under the designation 155-MM Gun M-1917 (French-made) or 155-MM M-1918 (US-made) until 1942 when it was gradually replaced by the 155-MM M-1A1 ‘Long Tom’. US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) such as the 301-FAR (Philippine Army) and the 86-FAR (Philippine Scouts), and also US Coast Artillery units (the 91-CAR and the 92-CAR – Philippine Scouts) used this artillery piece against the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941-42. Some of the guns were originally emplaced in the Panama Mounts on Corregidor, Caballo, and Carabao islands at the entrance of Manila Bay. A number of them were removed from their emplacements and used as roving batteries and gave effective counter-battery fire. The gun was later mounted on an SP (M-12) and saw action in 1944-45. During WW-II, some US-made guns were used for coast defense of the US and allied territories, such as Australia and Bermuda, typically on Panama mountings – circular concrete platforms with a raised center section, with the carriage tires pivoting around the center section and the split trails spread out on rails at the platform’s edge.
By authority of paragraph 6, Special Order 95, HQ AGF (Army Ground Forces), Apr 13 1943 (per authority par 9 Army Regulation 605-145) Maj Mark E. Conway was appointed battalion commander and assumed command on May 10, 1943. The executive officer was Maj William R. Binkly and the S-3 Maj Henry F. Thorne.
Maj Conway had been Executive Officer of the 168-FAG (Field Artillery Group) stationed at Camp Roberts, California, where he had served with distinction. Maj Binkly came from the staff of the 168-FAG and Maj Thorne from the job as S-3 of the 947-FA, both stationed at Camp Roberts. Capt Joseph A. Dupont was appointed first battalion surgeon per paragraph 4, Special Order 92, HQ II Armored Corps. San Jose, California, Apr 14, 1943, from the 6th Motorized Division, Camp San Luis Obispo, California. Eighty-three men, the original enlisted cadre, and the following officers were assigned from the 983-FA by paragraph 1, Special Order 105, HQ II Armored Corps, San Jose, California: Lt William J. Lawless, Lt Bernard August, Lt Stanley B. Bowmar, Lt Herbert M. Shryock.
The following officers were transferred from these respective units to become part of the officer of the cadre: Capt William J. Edwards, 168-FA, Capt Dallas E. Marshall, 983-FA, Lt Myron L. Steffen, 947-FA, Lt Brandon B. Bodell, 983-FA, Lt Ronald D. Klatt, 947-FA all of Camp Roberts, Special Order 116, HQ II Armored Corps, San Jose, California, 11 May 1943. CWO Frederick B. Dunbar was assigned from the 181-FA, Camp Roberts, SO 123, HQ II Armored Corps, 19 May 1943. Lt John B. Price was assigned from the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, paragraph 30 SO 96, HQ FAS, Fort Sill, 22 April 1943.
The following officers were assigned from the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, by SO 97, HQ Ft Sill, Apr 23, 1943: Lt Roy A. Alcini, Lt George R. Brown, Lt Edwin M. Durkin, all from Field Artillery School Executive Course. Lt William H. Dix came from Field Artillery School Survey Course, while the following officers were assigned by paragraph 7, SO 120, Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, May 20, 1943: Lt Gilbert Hahn, Lt Rex A. Hudson, Lt Ralph M. Major, Lt Erwin D. Switzer, Lt Woodrow J. Wilson. Capt John S. Martino was assigned from Field Artillery Reserve Training Center per paragraph 16, SO 122, HQ FARTC, Fort Sill, May 2, 1943, Lt Vern L. Cline (original pilot), Lt L. Mincks (original pilot) were (both) assigned Jul 26, 1943, by paragraph 10 SO 177 HQ FAS Fort Sill. Lt James W. Emerson was assigned from the FAS per paragraph 2, SO 264, HQ AGF, Washington, DC.
Except for 57 men assigned from the 168-FAB Oct 5, 1943, and scattered smaller groups which were excess from the 983rd Field Artillery and the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, the fillers for the battalion were entirely draftees, approximately 300 of whom came from the following reception centers without having had any previous training: Fort Douglas, Utah, Fort Lewis, Washington, Fort MacArthur, California and Presidio of Monterey, California.
The majority of the battalion came from the area of California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. All of them were given basic training by the battalion. The original Table of Organization of the battalion called for a HQs Service Battery, three firing batteries and a Medical section.
On Nov 15, per GO 3, HQ 558-FAB, pursuant to letter, AGF, Oct 11, and instructions in letter, HQ II Armored Corps, Oct 8, Hqs-Service Battery was reorganized as Hqs & Hqs Battery and a separate Service Battery under TOE’s 6-56, 6-127, 6-128 and 6-129 for Battalion, Hqs Battery, the Firing Batteries and Service Battery, respectively. In October, the TOE was changed to reduce the strength of Hqs Battery from 96 to 93. TOE 6-56 was changed again Oct 20, 1944, re-rating several radio operators in Hqs Battery. In Germany, on Apr 28, 1945, provisional Batteries D, E, F were activated for the purpose of administering several POW camps. They were activated per GO 5 HQ 558-FAB from personnel from A, B and C Batteries and over strength personnel authorized per TWX QX-29345, XII Army Group. They were inactivated Jun 2, 1945, per paragraph 1 GO 8 HQ 558-FAB, when their need had passed.
The Medical Section was inactivated Jun 18, 1945, per paragraph 2b, AR 345-400 dated Jan 3, 1945, and was combined with Hqs and Hqs Battery of the Battalion. A shortage of personnel in the Strategic Striking Force in November 1945 made the inactivating of C Battery of the Battalion expedient and that battery was inactivated per letter 32012 GNMC11E 11 Hqs and Hqs Detachment, Special Troops, 4-A, Nov 9, 1945. The remainder of the battalion was inactivated Feb 10, 1946, per paragraph 1 GO 5 11th Hqs and Hqs Detachment, Special Troops, 4-A, Feb 7, 1946, pursuant to authority contained in letter Hqs AGF, Jan 30, 1946. No other permanent changes in organization or transfer were made. However, during combat, batteries, platoons and even all 12 individual sections were detached for short missions to other units of the 3-A. In July 1945, the battalion was issued M-40 guns in place of the M-12 for combat in the Pacific, but no changes were made in the TOE since the battalion never actually used the guns.
The original battery commanders of the battalion under Col Conway (promoted May 28, 1943) were HQs, Capt William J. Lawless & Sgt George F. Michalek; Medic, Capt Joseph A. Dupont; A Btry, Capt William J. Edwards & Sgt Ellis J. McKnight; B Btry, Lt Bernard August & Sgt Robert E. Gray; C Btry, Capt Dallas E. Marshall & Sgt James N. Williamson and Service, (organized Nov 15, 1943), Capt William B. Busch & Sgt Claude B. Rames.
During the training period, Sgt Leslie Kerr and Sgt Edward J. Powers were appointed to replace Williamson and Gray who were reduced. On Jun 10, 1943, Maj Lora E. McDonald was assigned the battalion as Executive Officer in place of Maj Binkly.
When the battalion went into combat in August 1944, Col Conway commanded the battalion which included the EO, Maj McDonald & Sgt Major Yurkus; S-3, Maj Thorne; S-2, Capt Steffen; S-4, Capt Ward; Asst S3, Lt Hahn; Asst S2, Lt Emerson; Hq Btry, Capt Tillinghast & Sgt Kerr; A Btry, Capt Edwards & Sgt Michalek; B Btry; Capt Martino & Sgt Powers; C Btry, Capt Marshall & Sgt Rames; Service Btry, Capt Busch & Sgt McKnight and Medical Officer, Capt Joe H. Hillsman.
The battalion strength on May 10, 1943, was 6 officers and 83 enlisted men. By Dec 31, 1943, the strength, including over strength for training, was 46 commissioned and 525 enlisted. During this period the battalion organized and trained, first in basic training and finally advanced training, passing the Corps tests in Dec 1943. In 1943, the battalion was transferred to 4th Special Troops and assigned to the 204th Group commanded by Col Burnell (III Corps). The battalion remained under control of III Corps until it went overseas at which time it passed to control of the 3-A.
The main object of training was to fit the battalion for assault of fortified positions with the direct laying on strong points and pillboxes as the foremost objective. The field training was conducted in Hunter-Liggett Military Reservation, 15 miles from Camp Roberts; the battalion moved to no other post until it moved to the Port of Embarkation in July 1944. One tragedy marred the training period at Roberts. Pvt Arden E. Pickler was killed when he fell from the M-12 on which he was riding during a field maneuver and was crushed by the track.
One private of A Battery distinguished himself during training by remaining with one gun that threatened to explode when the powder which was carried in the rear of the gun was set afire by the heat of the tank engines operating in the hot climate. He and several other cannoneers were blown into the air, but luckily their fall was broken by trees and they escaped with minor injuries.
During the period Jan 1, 1944, to May 30, 1944, the strength changed from 44 commissioned and 525 enlisted to 33 commissioned and 478 enlisted, a decrease of 11 commissioned (which were all lost in April) and a decrease of 37 enlisted most of whom were lost in March. During this period the training of the battalion was completed and preparations were made for overseas shipment.
The battalion strength, 33 commissioned, 478 enlisted. Net change during the month, decrease 5 commissioned and 16 enlisted by the end of the month. By this date, the battalion was alerted and prepared for overseas shipment and notified to be ready for transfer to the Port of Embarkation.
(1) Advanced Detachment, 1 officer, 1 warrant officer, 1 enlisted man. (4) The battalion was assigned to (3-A), pending arrival in the European Theater of Operations per letter Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, United States Army, subject: Troop Assignment (No 78), Jun 4, 1944. (8) The battalion left Camp Roberts per instructions by the New York Port of Embarkation and entrained for permanent change of station. Distance marched 1st day, 250 miles to Los Angeles, California. (Authority for the move, Letter Order HQs III Corps, Presidio of Monterey, California, Jun 2, 1944.) (9) Douglas, Arizona, marched 625 miles. (10) Liberal, Kansas, marched 650 miles. (11) Bloomington, Illinois, marched 890 miles. (12) Lyons, New York, marched 780 miles. (13) Arrived Camp Shanks, New York at 1045.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 28 commissioned, 462 enlisted. Net change by the end of the month, decrease 1 enlisted.
(1) The 558-FAB left Camp Shanks, embarked on US Army Transport Edmund B. Alexander 2030. (2) US Army Transport Alexander weighed anchor 0230. (12) US Army Transport Alexander drops anchor Mersey River. (13) The battalion disembarked and entrained for destination 2100.
(14) Joined the Advanced Detachment at Moreton Morell, Warwickshire and dissolved the advanced detachment. When the battalion arrived in England, it was assigned under the 3-A to XX Corps and to 193d Field Artillery Group. (Troop Assignment Order No. 51 and Troop Attachment Order 12, Headquarters XX Corps, Jun 17, 1944.) (26) Order received this date attached the battalion to the 182nd Field Artillery Group. (Troop Attachment Order 16, Headquarters XX Corps, Jul 18, 1944.) (31) Battalion attached 33rd Field Artillery Brigade as of 19 July.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 28 commissioned, 461 enlisted. Net change by the end of the month, a decrease of 6 enlisted.
(1) At the beginning of this month, the battalion was preparing for the channel crossing and combat in France. (9) Left Moreton, Morrel in 1945, for permanent change of station; arrived at a staging area 2.3 miles SE of Romsey, Hants in the vicinity of Southampton in 1920 after a march of 235 miles. The weather and road conditions were excellent. One gun was lost due to engine trouble during the march and had to be left behind in an advance Ordnance Shop. (10) Left Romsey, Hants and embarked LST at 1720. The battalion traveled in two Landing. Ship Tanks and one LCT. Hqs Battery and B Battery in LST 294. Charlie, Service, and part of Able in LST 506. Firing Battery of Able in LCT 721.
(12) Battalion disembarked on Utah beach at 1000 and moved to rendezvous area, from where the battalion moved to rendezvous near Bricquebec. The battalion was relieved of attachment to XX Corps and attached to XII Corps, assigned to 182-FAG (Troop Assignment Number A-23, Aug 13, Hqs 3-A and Troop Assignment A-2, Headquarters XII Corps, Aug 15.) The cannoneer who had been left behind in England arrived in the battalion area with his M-12.
(14) The battalion left the rendezvous area near Bricquebec and arrived in the bivouac area 9 1/2 miles east of Le Mans after a road march of 230 miles. The weather was good, but the road conditions were congested. All of the vehicles of the battalion arrived in spite of being on the road 22 hours. (16) The battalion marched from the Le Mans area to the vicinity of la Forêt de Vendôme. Marching 120 miles; the weather and road conditions were good.
(17) The battalion marched to Vendôme to temporary bivouac 3 miles southwest of Cloyes-sur-le-Loir. Battalion detached from the 182-FAG and established the 558-PG (Provisional Group), attaching the 731-FAB. That night the battalion marched 30 miles and went into position 5 miles northwest of Orléans and prepared to support the Combat Team of part of the 7-AD and the 5-ID on the south bank of the Loire River.
The marches that the battalion had already made were a small part of the tremendous sweep of the 3-A out of the Normandy Bridgehead to take Le Mans and then the sweep in three prongs east, one of which passed through Orléans as they turned and swept north towards Paris. The mission of the 558-PG, in support of the 3/137-35-ID and a party of French Maquis under Col O’Neal, a French Maquis officer, was to prevent scattered German units fleeing the 7-A advance, from passing north of the Loire River at Orléans and joining the forces opposing the 3-A. (18-20) No action pending the negotiation for the surrender of the German troops on the south side of the river. (21) Upon failure of Col Wallace, the infantry commander, to secure the surrender of all the units, the battalion opened with its first round in combat at 1345. The provisional group was dissolved and the battalion attached and detached from the 177-FAG and attached to the 404-FAG.
(22) The battalion attached to the XX Corps. (24) With this change in assignment, the mission of the battalion changed and it moved 150 miles over good roads to bivouac 6 miles southwest of Mélun and was assigned to 193-FAG. The battalion was now part of the striking force pushing north towards Paris. (25) Assigned and detached from the 195-FAG and assigned to 5-FAG. (26) Fired an extensive preparation for the crossing of the 7-AD at the Mélun bridgehead across the Seine River. The battalion marched 60 miles and crossed the Seine River at Fontainebleau on ponton bridge. (27) On the morning the battalion marched 80 miles on good roads in good weather to join 5-FAG in the vicinity of Chenoise.
(28) Departed with the Group to follow CCB (7-AD) (XX Corps) north toward Rheims. This phase of the battle was becoming a pursuit and the mission was to keep on the roads and move. Near the town of Le Gault, sniper fire and an M-4 tank disrupted the column’s march. Pfc Joseph D. Donahue distinguished himself by manning a .50 Cal Browning HMG and fired until his ammunition expended. In so doing, he damaged the machine guns of the tank and confused the enemy long enough for a bazooka team to get into a favorable position. One of the guns of A Battery went into position and drove the tank off so that the march could be resumed. Pfc Donahue was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his heroism. The battalion continued the march after this interruption and arrived in the vicinity of Epernay after a march of 120 miles. (28) Went into position 6 miles west of Epernay.
(29) Attached to the 5-FAG in support of CCB 7-AD, the battalion crossed the Marne River at Port Brincon. Word was received that Paris had fallen to the French 11th Armored Division and the objective of the Corps was changed to swing east of Paris towards Verdun. At the town of St Masmes, Maj McDonald won the Bronze Star for organizing a party that captured 73 German prisoners. In the vicinity of this town, the track vehicles ran out of gas after a march of 140 miles without reaching Warmerville, the objective. Gas was not immediately available so the battalion had to remain in the area until Aug 31 at which time the battalion was attached CCR 7-AD. The battalion read with great pride the commendation to the XX Corps Artillery for their part in forcing the crossing at Mélun, sent to Gen Walker by Gen Patton. Cpl Paul H. Smith of C Battery was wounded during the month.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 28 commissioned, 455 enlisted. Net gain by the end of the month, 7 enlisted.
(1) At the beginning of the month, the battalion was in support of CCB 10-AD, one of the pursuit forces that were cutting deeper into eastern France towards the Corps objectives, Verdun, Metz and Frankfurt. (2) Marched to the vicinity St Hilaire, 40 miles. (6) The battalion departed St Hilaire following CCA 7-AD crossing the Meuse River at Verdun. A platoon of tanks was attached to the battalion for protection of CCR. The battalion followed in the rear of CCA changing its course to conform to that of the Combat Command as it moved through or around its objectives. Following a 100 mile march on congested roads, Col Conway, not trusting the unreliable information as to the course of the combat command, towards evening pulled the battalion and the train of the 7-AD which was following us, off the road. The next morning showed us that to have moved into the next town that night would have destroyed the battalion and the division train.
(7) The battalion marched 20 miles to a new position 1/2 mile west of Vionville. The battalion had the mission of general support of the 7-AD and the 5-ID in their crossing of the Moselle River south of Metz. The columns of the 3-A had been delayed so many days by the gas shortage that the Germans had time to prepare some opposition at the Moselle and the operation was more difficult than some of the previous ones. The battalion laid a smokescreen to assist in the crossing. Three roving guns were detached to fire on the Metz bridges. (10) Concrete piercing fuse T-105 (blue mark above) was issued to C Battery for the first time in preparation for direct lay missions.
(11) The mayor of Verdun honored the whole XX Corps for their part in the liberation of the town. (14) The battalion was assigned a mission reinforcing fires of the 90-ID’s Artillery which had moved into the area. (15) The battalion marched 35 miles to a new position southwest of Gorze and assigned to general support of the 7-AD and the 5-ID, though continued rains limited the effective fires with which we could support their attack. (18) The battalion marched 20 miles crossing the Moselle river. Mud, traffic, and urgent missions which forced the battalion to go into position made displacement painfully slow. (19) The whole battalion finally crossed the Moselle. One section from C Battery was attached to the 204th Group for direct lay missions. This gun was commanded by Lt Brandon B. Bodell, who distinguished himself by his gallantry and courage during all these operations.
(20) Lt Bodell’s gun destroyed an 88-MM gun in spite of heavy counter battery. (21) Lt Bodell’s gun scored a hit on the North Fort of Verdun series causing internal explosions and blowing two ventilators from the roof. The second gun commanded by Lt August was assigned on the same mission. (27-28) Sgt Malcolm Jones, Pvt Saxwold and Pvt Scott were wounded during action with Lt August’s gun.
(28) Lt Bodell, Sgt Sanderson, Pvt Hall, and Pvt Vina were all seriously burned when an enemy shell hit the powder at the gun’s emplacement. All four died of wounds later in the hospital and all four received the Bronze Star posthumously for their actions against the Metz forts. Lt Bodell’s loss was one of the greatest the battalion was to suffer for his command ability and calm efficiency in the face of the enemy was an inspiration to all. He seemed to have an uncanny knack of inspiring the men around him.
T/4 Ralph L. Gilliam and Cpl Claude E. Bare distinguished themselves that day and were awarded the Bronze Star. T/4 Gilliam, when an enemy shell struck near his position, fragments of the bursting missile ignited a nearby powder charge and the flames from the burning powder quickly set fire to the clothes of the lieutenant commanding the gun crew. After rolling on the ground in an effort to smother the searing flames, the officer started to run aimlessly about the area, screaming and tearing at his clothes. Instantly, disregarding the enemy bombardment which was continuing in the area, T/4 Gilliam, a radio operator, seized a can of water, raced after the stricken officer, caught him, and helped to extinguish the blaze.
When medical aid arrived, he assisted in evacuating the casualty to a safe position. Cpl Bare, during the same action, when the officer and sergeant were put out of action, with utter disregard for his own safety, braved the fire to assist in the evacuation of the casualties and as a junior non-commissioned officer in charge, aided materially in repairing the damage caused by the barrage.
(30) The battalion displaced to position 1 1/2 miles east of Vittonville after a difficult march through the mud of the Moselle Valley.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 28 commissioned, 462 enlisted. Net change by the end of the month, gained 2 commissioned, 5 enlisted.
(1) At the beginning of the month, the battalion (less one section from B and C Battery) occupied the high ground east of Vittonville overlooking the Seille River Valley, south of Metz. The mission of the battalion was general support of the 5-ID, which held the northern half of the Pagny-lès-Goin bridgehead across the Moselle in a position threatening Metz.
Since the 3-A had about reached the limit of its supplies, our force across the Moselle had only power enough to hold onto the bridgehead. The battalion was also available to the 33rd Brigade for counter battery missions and remained in this position until Oct 31.
During the month, an excellent long base observation system was established from two OPs, one manned by Lt Emerson and S/Sgt Staedtler, the other by Lt Hahn and S/Sgt Wiles. In addition, air observation of a very high order was done by Lt Clyde Edmonds. The battalion fired on a wide variety of targets in the valley using American 155-MM and captured German 150-MM. During this period, aided by our better position on the hills, our battalion alone destroyed or neutralized more than 20 enemy batteries.
(16) Two captured 150-MM howitzers were put into action against the enemy under command of Lt Carl Luft. (18) The battalion mission was modified to support the 95-ID as it relieved the 5-ID in the line. Two Direct Lay Guns, Lt Ralph M. Major, who replaced Lt Bodell, and his section distinguished themselves from Oct 1 to Oct 4 by putting Battery Moselle out of action from a distance of 800 yards, knocking out a gun turret mounting two 150-MM guns. Lt Bernard August, with the other gun, was attached to the 90-ID near Maizière-lès-Metz. He did good work, firing on strong points and pillboxes varying in range from 1200 to 200 yards.
(18) A gun from A Battery and two more guns from B Battery were moved into the area. One of the guns, A Battery’s, was put out of action. Eventually, the whole of B Battery moved into the area. Wounded in action during the month were A Btry, Pvt Root and Pvt Gainey; B Btry, T/4 Chandler, Sgt Depue, Cpl Lupien, T/5 King, Pfc Rifkin, Pvt Dwyer, Cpl Reese and Cpl Aiello; C Btry, T/4 Mumford, T/5 Hicks, Pfc Clemens, Pfc Bryant, Pvt Martinez; Hqs Btry, Pvt Miller. All were working on the direct lay guns except Pvt Miller.
Cpl Raymond Lupien was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic service on Oct 5. Serving in the wire section of his battery, Cpl Lupien repeatedly came under German artillery and small arms fire while servicing the battery communications net.
Seemingly oblivious to the danger, however, he steadfastly persevered in his work both night and day. On the afternoon of Oct 12, the battery wire lines were cut by enemy shell fire and vital communications between the batteries were severed. Cpl Lupien unhesitatingly led his wire section to the break and calmly repaired it under heavy enemy fire. Though wounded, he remained until the break was fixed.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 30 commissioned, 467 enlisted. Net gain during the month, 1 commissioned.
(1) At the beginning of the month, the battalion pulled out of the bridgehead, came back across the Moselle into the town of Pierrepont, 65 miles away. There the battalion was reconditioned to prepare for assaulting pillboxes in support of the CCB 10-AD’s drive in the large attack on Metz and the Metz Forts to be carried out with the 5th, 90th and 95-ID as a part of the November drive. Three sections of B Battery remained in the Maizière area to carry on the direct lay missions.
(7) The battalion marched 80 miles, going up almost through Luxembourg to deceive the Germans during the night, under very adverse conditions, and occupied positions near Himeling in good order. The credit for this march goes to Lt Col Conway, the battalion commander. (8) The battalion, minus B and C Batteries, was assigned the mission supporting the 90-ID and was attached to the 40-FA Group. (11) Battery C, under the command of Maj Henry Thorne, was attached to the 83-ID. (13) The battalion crossed the Moselle at Thionville and went into position in the vicinity of Metrich (Koenigsmacker).
(16) The battalion displaced forward to vicinity of Haut Sierck. The displacement was difficult and time-consuming due to congested traffic and mined roads. A tank set off a mine, just missing Col Conway, and wounding T/5 Thielke, riding in his car. S/Sgt Staedtler was injured by another mine explosion and had to be evacuated. (20) C Battery rejoined the battalion as part of the 5-FA Group. The battalion, less B Battery, marched 45 miles to the vicinity of Ritzing. Due to adverse weather conditions, the battalion was unable to reach its destination but remained in place in the column, arriving at Ritzing on Nov 21.
(23) The battalion, less B Battery, plus Battery A, 274-FAB, attached on Nov 22, displaced to the vicinity of Merschweiller. The battalion assigned direct support 1/358-IR, for combined assault on the Siegfried Line near Borg, Germany. The operation was part of an unsuccessful attack by combined 90-ID and 10-AD on that part of the line. Lt Hahn and T/4 Gilliam were wounded shortly after reporting as forward observer team to the 358-IR. (26) Lt Kepler, replacement as a forward observer, was wounded and evacuated at Oberlueken, Germany.
(29) The battalion, less B Battery, displaced to the vicinity of Manderen, France, 15 miles distance. B Battery detached during the month of November. During the month, B Battery, under the command of Capt Martino, operated with devastating effect in direct lay fire against fortified area still holding out around Metz. The leadership of Capt Martino and 1/Sgt Powers plus the work of gun commanders, Lts August, Alcini, and Major, was continually outstanding.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 31 commissioned, 467 enlisted. Net change by the end of the month, decrease 3 commissioned, 73 enlisted.
During this month, the main action of the battalion was to support the drive of the 5, 90, and 95-IDs in the Saarlautern area, attempting to push and then to enlarge the bridgehead across the Saar River and to breach the line. When the Ardennes offensive came on, the battalion was pulled out with the 5-ID and rushed to the south flank of the bulge to support the 3-CG (Cavalry Group) in the Saar-Moselle triangle. Most of the month, the batteries and the individual sections were detached to other units to do direct lay work. At night a great deal of harassing fires was laid down by the M-12’s which acted as roving guns in the infantry lines at night.
(1) The battalion was in position near Manderen (France) with the mission of supporting the 10-AD. B Battery, under Capt Martino, was in the vicinity of Metz firing on the forts and attached to the 5-ID. On this date, A Battery was attached to the 95-ID and C Battery to the 90-ID. (2) Battalion, less firing batteries, was attached to the 204-FAG to assist in liaison and communications. (3) The battalion crossed into Germany this date. (5) The battalion came under the control of the XII Corps and was attached to the 193-FAG with the assignment as sub-counter-battery headquarters. (16), 5% enlisted men transferred to the Infantry Training Center at Metz. One section of C Battery was ferried across the Saar River on rafts to Dillingen and later was joined by a second. (22) The battalion assigned the mission of support of 3-CG. A & C Batteries revered to battalion control, and the battalion moved from Rammelfangen (Germany) to Evendorff (France).
The strength at the beginning of the month was 28 commissioned and 394 enlisted. The net change by the end of the month was, increase 4 commissioned and 1 enlisted.
(1) The battalion started the month in general support of the 3-CG, which was containing the Ardennes offensive on the south flank. The battalion successfully assisted in this mission until the attack was turned back and then reported to the Saarlautern area and the attempt to force the way through the key to the Siegfried defenses in that area. Battalion headquarters were at Evendorff or at Ritzing in the Saarlautern area all during the month, in an area about 15 miles square and moved around a great deal in this small area, assaulting pillboxes and strong points and firing from the front lines as roving guns during the night.
(2-3) Lt Carl Luft took a direct lay gun forward to assist in the cavalry attack and defense in the Campholz woods. Lt Major, T/5 Mitts and Pfc Cutshaw distinguished themselves here by remaining in position and observing fires on the German position, when the cavalry at one point was forced to withdraw. (7) Gun section from A Battery returned to battalion. (9) Assigned mission of battalion changed to general support of 94-ID. (13) Battalion transferred from 5-FAG to 50-FAG and moved to Villing (France). (14) Roving gun sent from A Battery to support 106-CG. (18) Lts Cline and Gettle were awarded 1st, 2d and 3d Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal for their missions flown in L-4 liaison planes; Lt Edmonds, their observer, awarded 1st Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal. (21) Battery A attached 689-FAB and moved to Manderen. The battalion, less A and C Batteries, attached to 5-FAG. (23) Battery B, 733-FAB, attached to the battalion. Battery C sent one gun section to 359-FAB; Battery A furnished one gun to the 356-FAB of the 94-ID, and destroyed one pillbox. (28) One section, Battery A, supports infantry in the vicinity of Wies. Battery C transferred to the control of the 204-FAG. (29) One section, Battery C, returned to battery. (31) One section, Battery A, crossed the Moselle at Remich (LU), destroyed pillboxes at Thorn (Germany) and returned.
The following men, all of A Battery, received the Bronze Star Medal, S/Sgt Harold E. Means; T/5 William H. Lofquist; T/4 A. J. Bumbalis; Pfc Howard L. Johnson, and the following men of C Battery were wounded during the month, T/5 Howard B. McCoy; T/5 John B. Harvey; T/5 Q. N. Haakonstad and Pvt Julian Enriquez.
One Silver Star was awarded to Lt Ralph M. Major who was assigned to a cavalry platoon which had the mission of assaulting a heavily fortified enemy strong point. A strong enemy counterattack was developing on the platoon’s flank and Lt Major volunteered to go forward and direct artillery fire. Advancing to a point within fifty yards of the German lines, he unhesitatingly called for artillery concentrations to be laid down just ahead of his position. Though the resulting fire brought shells crashing down within a few yards of his position, he courageously and coolly continued to direct his fire until the accurate and devastating barrage had routed the enemy.
T/5 David L. Mitts, a radio operator, accompanied a cavalry force in an assault upon a heavily defended enemy strong point near Borg. Shortly after he had established contact with his artillery batteries, the advancing troops met such an intense concentration of hostile fire that they were forced to withdraw. Determined to procure artillery support, T/5 Mitts disregarding the danger, remained at his post and relayed adjustments, which brought effective fire upon many German gun positions. His actions so reduced the enemy’s fire power that the cavalry attack was resumed and the position taken.
Pfc Clarence E. Cutshaw, a radio operator advanced with forward elements during a cavalry attack upon a strongly defended enemy installation in the Campholz Woods near Borg. When withering automatic weapons, mortar and artillery fire poured down from the position and forced the troops to withdraw, Pfc Cutshaw, realizing the great necessity for maintaining contact with supporting Artillery Batteries, remained behind with his radio and disregarding the danger as shells burst around him, coolly transmitted adjustments and brought effective fire upon hostile gun emplacements, enabling the assault to continue.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 32 officers and 395 enlisted. Net change at the end of the month, decrease 5 officers; increase 29 enlisted. At the beginning of the month the battalion was in position in Ritzing in support of the 94-ID. The big drive on was to push through in the Saar Moselle triangle and get into Trier. Finally, the battalion, supporting the 10-AD, saw that come to pass, and the toughest nut in the Siegfried line was cracked.
(4) B Battery of 733-FAB, which was attached to the battalion, moved to the vicinity of Ritzing. (5) C Battery relieved of attachment to the 204-FAG and attached to XII Corps. (6) A Battery is transferred to the XII Corps and attached to the 80-ID. The greatest blow to the battalion was Lt Col Mark Conway being relieved of command. It was largely his skill as an artilleryman that so placed the batteries that our casualties remained ridiculously low and we performed our missions with great effectiveness. Under his command, the battalion out-marched and out-shot the other battalions in the group, according to the 5-FAG Commander. No man in the battalion could speak too highly of Lt Col Conway, a great artilleryman. Maj George W. Elkins of XX Corps Staff, who had a fine record in the operations section of that staff, is sent to take command of the battalion.
(8-20) A Battery section destroys 5 pillboxes in its operations and once crosses the Oder River at night to accomplish one mission. Cpl Stafford and Pfc Gonzales are wounded during these operations. (10) The new pozit fuse (Proximity Fuse) is explained to the battalion (Photo Above). (17) Cpl Jack Farrington, on duty with one of B Battery’s guns, is severely wounded. (20) The battalion is detached from the 5-FA Group and attached to the 10-AD. B Battery of the 733-FAB is relieved of attached to the 558-FAB. A Battery returns to battalion control.
(21) One section of A Battery attached to 423-FAB moves to vicinity of Dillingen. B Battery, 733-FAB, and B Battery, 736-FAB, are attached to the battalion. (23) Capt Dallas Marshall made Executive Officer in place of Maj McDonald who is evacuated for combat fatigue. Lt James W. Emerson has been acting as Battalion S-3 since the S-3, Maj Thorne, became a casualty in December. (25) One section, B Battery, moved to Saarburg for direct lay mission with the 10-AD. Battalion is attached to the 193-FAG. (28) Another section is sent from B Battery to replace the one there which has motor trouble.
This month the following enlisted men received the Purple Heart, Cpl Jack Farrington, B Battery; T/5 Sylvester Streetman, A Battery; T/4 Dale W. Stevens, Hq Battery while T/4 Henry Kahl of C Battery, won the 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Purple Heart). Bronze Stars were won by Pvt Leroy J. Nessen. B Battery; Pfc Robert R. Freitas, B Battery; Lt Hubert Johnson, A Battery while S/Sgt Harold E. Means of A Battery, won 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Bronze Star)
At the beginning of the month, the strength was 28 commissioned and 424 enlisted. Net increase at the end of the month was 49 enlisted.
At the beginning of the month, the battalion was attached to the 193-FAG, reinforcing the fires of the 10-AD. From Feb 18 on into the beginning of this month, the artillery of the whole area had been concentrating on cleaning out Trier and pounding away with the heaviest artillery barrage in the war. The first part of March the pressure was still on even though Trier fell, and after the second week in March the fighting was over as far as the 558-FAB was concerned. They followed the combat command into Trier and then were assigned to take over POW camps for the rest of the campaign.
(1) The battalion was less C Btry, less two sections each from A and B Batteries, plus B, 773-FAB and B, 736-FAB, attached to the battalion. (2) The battalion moved 20 miles northeast. (3) C Battery returned to battalion control. (4) Battalion attached to the 5-FAG and the 10-AD. (8) Battalion attached to 193-FAG with the secondary mission of general support of the 3-CG. (10) Moved to the vicinity of Trier. (11) B Battery returned to battalion control, and B, 217-AAAB, 90-MM attached to be fired through FDC (Fire Direction Center). In the next few days, four more 90-MM batteries were attached to be fired through FDC, so that the battalion at one time controlled the fires of 12 batteries through its FDC even though they were not all attached.
The 90’s were used to great effect against a Nebelwerfer Battery. The rocketeers were well dug in so that they could get to safety when they heard the 155-MM gun shells coming, but Lt Major, observing from a cub, adjusted four 90-MM batteries on the Nebelwerfer position and laid three volleys into the rocketeers while on their rockets before they would hear them coming. Needless to say, the Nebelwerfers were neutralized.
(13) Two guns, A Battery, attached 26-ID and the 263-FAB. (15) Battalion mission changed to direct support of the 16-CG and to reinforce the fires to the 241-FAB marched 10 miles to vicinity of Irsch, Germany. (20) The battalion marched 20 miles, crossing the Saarlautern Bridge, occupied a position northwest of Saarwellingen. (21) The battalion marched 18 miles and arrived in the vicinity of Kaisen. (23-24) The battalion marched 140 miles, arrived in the vicinity of Hohenöllen, southeast of Idar-Oberstein and was attached to the 193-FAG. (25) The 193-FAG issued the order that the 558-FAB would be responsible in its area for military government to collect all arms. Each battery was assigned an area. (26) The battalion displaced to Sprendlingen east of Bad Kreuznach, a distance of 120 miles
(27) The battalion relieved of assignment to XX Corps and attached to the Provost Marshal, 3-A. Instructions issued that the battalion be withdrawn from combat and put on duty guarding camps for displaced persons. (29) The batteries moved to new locations as follows, HQs & Service to Trier; A Battery to Lebach; B Battery to Baumholder and C Battery to Wittlich. The following Bronze Stars were presented during the month, Pfc William Raley, Medic; S/Sgt Staedtler, Hq; S/Sgt William Jennings, Hq, and Pfc Howard L. Johnson (1st OLC).
Battery B, Pvt Salvador Onate; Sgt Edmond Maloney; T/5 Robert Haas; T/4 Leo Montoya; Cpl Ernst Anderson; T/5 Dewitt Cline; Sgt Malcolm Jones; T/4 Billie B. Knight, and Cpl Charles B. May.
Battery C, Pfc Clinton Smith; Pfc Clifford Fischer; T/4 Henry Kahl; Cpl Dewey Hokins; S/Sgt Eugene Girardi; Sgt Bernard Sackett; Pvt Ellis O. Kelley, and T/4 Euclid K. Knight.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 27 off, 473 EM. Net increase during the month, 1 Officer, 171 EM.
(1) At the beginning of the month, the battalion is assigned, less all attached batteries, to special duty at the 3-A Provost Marshal with the mission of guarding Displaced Persons Camps, HQs and Service Batteries at Trier; A Battery at Lebach and Neunkirchen; B Btry at Baumholder, and C Battery at Wittlich and Bitburg.(10) The battalion placed on temporary duty with XXIII Corps. 15-A. Battalion assembled in Baumholder per orders for movement. (14) The battalion returned to 3-A control. Battalion assigned the general mission to guard Allied POW Camps. Battalion displaced less B Btry, crossed the Rhine River in Mainz, Germany, entered bivouac seven miles east of Frankfurt. (15) Batteries moved to the following locations, HQs and Service Batteries to Eisenach; A Battery to Obersuhl (guard camp of German political prisoners), and C Battery to Ziegenhain to a PW Camp. (16) Capt Shadle in command at Eisenach. Lt Major with a detail to Saalfield to guard records and PW’s. (17) 304th French Truck Company attached to the battalion. (21) B Battery relieved and assembled at Eisenach. (23) Battalion less A and C Batteries assemblies at Eisenach. (24) A Btry remained in Hammelberg. C Btry moved to Bamberg. The rest of the battalion, plus French Truck, moved to Bamberg. (26) C Btry proceeded to Nurnberg to operate a PW Camp. (27) 199 reinforcements arrived to assist in operations. (28) Three provisional batteries formed and commanded as follows, D Btry, 1/Lt Switzer; E Btry, Capt Shadle, and F Btry, Lt Bomar. Capt Edmunds assigned Battery Commander of C Btry. B and Service Batteries remain in Bamberg; F Btry to Nurnberg to join C Btry; E Btry to Hammelberg; A and D Btry to Hersbruck; HQs to Regensberg and a Detachments from HQs at Saalfield and Meiningen.
The provisional batteries were formed with the regular strength of the battalion and the reinforcements. (30) All batteries assumed duties in Allied PW Camps. Batteries A and D have war criminals and civilian internees camps.
Awards for April, Air Medal awarded to Lt McCarthy; 4th 5th, 6th and 7th bronze Oak Leaf Clusters (Air Medal) Lt Gettle; 2nd 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th bronze Oak Leaf Clusters (Air Medal) Capt Clyde B. Edmonds and 4th Oak Leaf Cluster (Air Medal) Lt Vern Cline.
Strength at the beginning of the month, 28 officers, 644 EM. Net increase during the month, 1 Officer, 11 EM. At the beginning of the month, the battalion is assigned to HQ TUSA (3-A) on special duty with the Provost Marshal and attached 195-FAG. The specific duties of this battalion are the receiving, processing, and guarding of released Allied Prisoners of War, and A Battery is guarding civilian internees. The widespread between batteries and parts of batteries has necessitated the forming of provisional D, E, and F Batteries. The locations are as mentioned above. The 304th French Truck Company is attached this organization to furnish necessary transportation for the present mission. (2) Battery E moved to Regensberg. (2) Detachment Hq returned to Regensberg. (6) D Battery transferred to Natternberg; their new mission is guarding a civilian internee camp. (8) A Battery relieved guarding internee camp. (12) B and Sv Btrys arrive Regensberg. (17) Btry B and E displaced to vicinity of Pilsen. (22) Mission of C and F Btrys changed to evacuation. (25) A Btry transferred to Moosberg to open civilian internee camp. (28) 1/Sgt George F. Michalek battlefield promotion to 2d Lt. (30) Maj Walter G. Todd assigned to battalion as S-3. Btry B and E arrive Regensberg from Pilsen. Btry C and F arrive Regensberg from Nurnberg. (31) Btry D arrives Regensberg.
Awards for May, the Bronze Star Medal to the following, T/Sgt Charles A. Lemmon, Hq; Maj Henry F. Thorne, posthumously; Pfc Berta Bidwell, B; 1/Sgt Edward J. Powers, B, and Pvt Walter J. Novak, C. 5th and 6th Oak Leaf Clusters (Air Medal) Lt Vern Cline; 5th and 6th Oak Leaf Clusters (Air Medal) Capt Clyde B. Edmunds; 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Air Medal) Lt Ralph M. Major and 1st and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters (Air Medal) Lt Mortimer C. McCarthy. Purple Heart awarded to Lt James W. Emerson and Cpl Paul M. Smith
Strength at beginning of month, 29 Officers, 633 EM. Net decrease during the month, 1 Officer, 164 EM. (1) At the beginning of the period, the battalion was in a training period. The location of the entire battalion was in Regensberg, Germany. (2) The provisional batteries D, E, and F were inactivated. (18) Order received from 194-FAG for the battalion to proceed to Staging Area Three at Aries just north of Marseille. (19) The battalion ordered to turn in M-12’s to the 317th Ordnance Battalion. M-40’s to be shipped to the battalion at the Port of Embarkation. (27) The battalion left Regensberg; arrived near Ainsbach, 220 miles. 52 enlisted men of the battalion to go by rail. (28) The Battalion left Ainsbach, arrived bivouac area Kaiserlautern. Train party left Regensberg. (29) The battalion arrived Dijon, France – 280 miles. (30) The battalion arrived St Rampert, France – 270 miles. Awards for June, Bronze Star Medal awarded to Pfc Roy O. Brooks, C; Capt William Busch, A; Lt James W. Emerson, Hq, and T/4 John B. Harvey. 8th Oak Leaf Cluster (Air Medal) Lt John L. Gettle and Purple Heart awarded to S/Sgt Charles E. Farnsworth.
Strength at beginning of the month, 28 officers, 469 EM. The net increase during the month, 65 EM. (1) The battalion arrived Aries Staging Area – 150 miles. (2) The train party arrives in the staging area. (25) The battalion relieved assignment XII Army Group and assigned command for Delta Base. During the rest of the month the battalion prepared for overseas shipment.
Strength at beginning of the month, 28 officers, 534 EM. The net decrease during the month, 67 EM. 14 August. We left Aries Staging Area for a permanent change of station. Embarked USS General J. C. Breckinridge, Marseille, 2200. Destination of the battalion – Philippine Islands via Panama Canal. (15) USS Breckinridge weighed anchor at 1400. (17) Passed the Strait of Gibraltar at 0300. (18) Destination of USS Breckinridge changed to the New York Port of Embarkation at 1200. (24) Arrived New York Port of Embarkation at 1200. Arrived Camp Kilmer. N. J., 1630. (26) Organization ordered a permanent change of station to Camp Hood, Texas, per paragraph 39, SO 225, ASF NYPE, Camp Kilmer N. J., 25 August. (27) All officers and men of the battalion departed for 45 days rest and recuperation. An advance party of one officer and one enlisted man sent to Camp Hood.
Strength at beginning of month, 28 officers, 467 EM. No change during the month. Entire battalion on temporary duty for rest and recuperation.
October 1945 Strength at beginning of month, 28 officers, 467 EM. Net change during the month, 7 officer increase; 71 EM decrease. (1) During the month the entire original enlisted strength of the battalion were discharged and separated from the service while on their temporary duty and none of them returned to the battalion. The officers who did return to the battalion were gradually separated or discharged as their points came up. (21) Maj George W. Elkins returned from TDY and assumed command of the battalion. (31) Maj Walter J. Todd assumed command of the battalion in the place of Maj Elkins and Maj Marshall, Executive Officer, who were relieved to be separated from the service. Capt James W. Emerson appointed Executive Officer of battalion and Lt Gilbert Hahn appointed S-3. The battalion was informed that it would remain as a Regular Army unit.
November 1945 Strength at beginning of month, 35 officers, 396 EM. Net decrease during month, 11 officers, 232 EM. (1) More replacements were shipped into the battalion, but officers and enlisted men were being discharged so quickly that the battalion was in a state of constant flux. The command of the batteries was changed so rapidly that it is only of importance as a record. In spite of this, a strenuous effort was made to train the remaining men in the battalion, form a cadre to receive possible fillers in the near future. (10) C Battery commanded at the time by Lt Harvey Kelsey, was inactivated per letter, 320. 2 GNMC11E, 11th Hq & Hq Det Sp Trps, 4th Army, dated 9 November, and the battery was inactivated on that date.
December 1945 Strength at beginning of month, 24 officers, 164 EM. Net decrease during month, 7 officers, 29 EM.
January 1946 Strength at beginning of month, 27 officers, 173 enlisted. Net decrease during the month, 2 officers, 34 enlisted. (4) Lt Col William Y. Frentzel took command of the battalion and preparation was made to train the battalion a new cadre for the possible receiving of Regular Army fillers.
February 1946 Strength at beginning of month, 15 officers, 139 EM. Net decrease during month, 15 officers, 139 EM. (10) The battalion, with Lt Col William Y. Frentzel in command, was inactivated per GO #5, 11th Hq, and all officers and enlisted men remaining in the unit at the time were transferred to other units by order of 11th Hq. The only two remaining members of the original unit were Capt James W. Emerson and 1/Lt Gilbert Hahn.
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