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Battle Activities Log
172nd Field Artillery Battalion
Colonel John J. Hayes commander of the battalion kept a log of the combat activities of the battalion. He had copies of this log distributed to all the personnel of the unit. This is a word for word copy of that log, although the style has been altered the wording remains the same.
--- William H. Gieske, 172dn FA Bn.
172D FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
UNITED STATES ARMY
SUBJECT: Battle Activities Log.
TO : The officers and men of the battalion.
Attached hereto is the first portion of the "Battalion Combat Log,"covering the period of activity from June 14, 1944 to September 30, 1944.At a later date,activity from October 1, 1944 to an undetermined date will be published and distributed.
The pupose of this publication is to provide every member of the battalion with a concise battle history of the unit. Many incidents that you may consider worthy of being included are missing. I recommend that you include such items on your personal copy, while still fresh in your mind. The value of the log will be more greatly appreciated in the years to come, when you desire to recollect some fact about places visited, dates of engagements, incidents that occured, etc.
It is permissible to send your copy of the Log to your home address for safe-keeping.
I take this oportunity to commend each member of the battalion for the excellent combat record established, for the cheerful and willing attitude on the part of each especially during the last month of trying weather conditions, and join with you in the hope of an early victory.
John J. Hayes
Lt. Col. F.A.
BATTLE ACTIVITIES LOG
172 FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
June 14 - First elements of the battalion landed on Utah Beach and proceeded to de-waterproofing area about 1200 hours.
June 15 -Battery "C" fired first combat rounds from position area East of Etierville (also called Pont Abbe). First mission of battalion was support of 82nd Airborne Division.
June 16 -Continued firing in same position, First battalion concentration fired in combat at 0827 hours. Displaced to new positions just North of St. Sauver by 1900 hours. Fired first allied artillery fire on West coast of Cotenin Peninsula on town of Barneville at 2230 hours.
June 17-18 -Continued firing in same position,
June 19 -Moved to new position West of Bricquebec, Captured twelve enemy prisoners in new area, Now in support 9th Division, Among missions fired were some on the town Cherbourg, thus making the battalion the first American Artillery to fire on Cherbourg.
June 20 -Continued firing in same position,
June 21 -Moved to new position North of Sotte ville. Battalion conti nued to fire.
June 22 -Remained in same position, Remember those first "screaming Meemies". Lt, Donnellan cracked up on a forced landing, but incurred no injury. Air corps bombing Cherbourg. Battalion carried on normal fire missions,
June 23-26 -Battalion remained in same position, Support fires every day during the attack on Cherbourg,
June 27 -Cherbourg surrendered, Battalion moved up to new position at Fottemanville-Hague, to fire on West of Cape.
June 28 -Battalion remain in same position and continued firing.
June 29 -Battalion moved to vicinity of St.Croix de Haue. This is the spot where the famous "Star Shelling" the battalion received occurred.
June 30 -Remained in some position and continued firing until all enemy activity ceased in the evening.
SUMMARY OF JUNE:
16 days of firing
6678 round of ammunition expended.
July 1 - Battalion moved by way of Montebourg, Valegnes, and St.Mere d'Eglise to new position just Southwest of Carentan to support the 83rd Division. Fired registration only.
July 2 - Remained in same position; fired registration fire only.
July 3 - Residue of battalion joined from England. Some very tall stories were told.Battalion is in same position. Continued light firing.
July 4 - 10 - Remained in same position. Supported attack of 83rd Division. Firing each day.1000 rounds fired on July 7th was our heaviest.
July 11 -Moved to new position two miles North of Santenay.
July 12 - 17 - Remained in same position. 4th Division also in sector. Fired supporting missions every day.
July 18 - Same position. Air strip was shelled and two planes were destroyed. Fired support missions.
July 19 - Moved into new position in vicinity of L'Hommet (6 miles Northwest of St. Lo).T/4 Harold Bush of Battery "B' was wounded by shell fragmentation just after arrival, becoming the first battle casualty of the battalion.
July 20- 24 - Remained in same position. No firing occurred. Maintain secrecy of location.
July 25 - Same position. Large aerial bombardment prior to artillery operations in support of the break-through. Fired counter-battery missions on this preparation. Bombing area 4000 yards to our front.
July 26 -Remained in same position. Support firing.
July 27 - Moved to new position West of St. Gihles. Light firing by battalion. Heavy Jerry bombing during the night.
July 28 - Moved to new position just north of Pont Brocard. In support of 2nd Armored Division. Continuous pressure from Jerry elements trying to break through. 183rd Field Artillery Battalion suffered severe casualties to the south of us;Alerted for infantry action. Privates Pierce and Rolfe of Headquarters Battery were wounded in this action. Lt. Febich was wounded while performing observer work in the liaison plane. A really busy day.
July 29 - 30 - Remained in same position. Supporting fires.
July 31 -Moved to new position two miles Northwest of La Girardiere. No firing today.
SUMMARY OF JULY
26 days of firing.
11,107 rounds of ammunition expended.
August 1 Moved to new position in vicinity of Aux Hervey. Machine gun and small arms fire prevalent in new position,
August 2 Remained in same position. No firing.
August 3 -Moved to new position five miles North of Brecy. No firing. No firing
August 4 -Remained in same position. No firing. Enemy artillery shells landing nearby.
August 5 -Moved to new position North of St. Laurent de Cuves. Battalion did heavy firing today.
August 6 - Moved to new position South of La Bois ?brois. No firing.
August 7 - Moved to new position Southwest of Juvigmy Le Terte. Enemy strong point located nearby. Battalion continues heavy firing.
August 8 - Same position. Battalion wrecker had been shelled on this day. Battalion fired missions on enemy tanks.
August 9 - Same position. At l500 hours the battalion was released from action to undergo an ordnance inspection on all small arms, guns, and vehicles.
August 10 - 14 - Remained in same position. Battalion undergoing inspection. Jerry bombs land nearby during the evening of August 12 Five have landed within 100 yards of the battalion command post. No firing.
August 15 - Battalion Ordnance inspection completed. Move to new position 1.5 miles south of Couterne.
August 16 - Moved to new position in St. Marguerite de Carrouges. Captured seven prisoners in new area. Fired 1028 rounds of ammunition during the evening.
August 17 - 23 - No change in battalion position. Battalion continues interdiction firing on roads and along Orne river in support of Falaise Gap Operations on August 17. Fired only one counter-battery mission on August 18.
August 24 Moved to new position two miles North of Chateauneuf En Thymerais. No firing done by battalion.
August 25 Same position. S/Sgt William D. Roy Battery "A", died from natural causes.
August 26 Battalion moved to new position 1000 yards East of Tarfou.
August 27 - 28- Same position. Battalion personnel entertained by Dinah Shore. No firing.
August 29 Battalion moved to new position three miles North of Tour. Two officers and fifty enlisted men placed on Detached Service with Trucking Company, VII Corps. No firing.
August 3O Remained in same position. All batteries went on a two mile road march. No firing.
August 31 - moved to new position one mile South of Lainoi. Distance traveled 75 miles. Battalion holds pay day for enlisted men. No firing.
SUMMARY FOR AUGUST:
11 days of firing.
5110 rounds of ammunition expended.
September 1 - Moved. to new position one mile West of St. Croix, France.
September 2 - Moved to new position three miles Northwest of Bosmont, France.
September 3 -Moved to new position northeast of Papleau, France. Battalion informed that American Advance Troops are now in Belgium.
September 4 - Moved to new position one and one half miles Northeast of Fraire, Belgium, Crossed Begium-France Border at 1900 hours . Enthusiastic Welcome given by the Belgium people. BFI were very much in evidence and had many Jerry prisoners.
September 5 - Remained in same position Battery "C" captured twenty-five prisoners including one officer. Some resistance was met and patrols were sent out. Private Rouse, Battery "C", was killed in this action.
September 6 -Moved to new position one and one half miles southwest of Buzet, Belgium.Service Battery captured twelve prisoners and Battery "C" captured one German Major just prior to movement from Fraire.
September 7 -Moved to new position two miles North of Fosse, Belgium. Battalion temporarily converted into Security Guard for VII Corps.
September 8 - 9 Battalion remained in Same position. Battalion forward Party leaves to locate new bivouac area.
September 10 Battalion left position two miles North of Fosse, Belgium, and arrived in new position in bivouac area in Micheroux, Belgium. Traveled sixty-two miles.
September 11 Battalion remained in same position. Routine Security Guard duties performed.
September 12-13 - No change in positions. Battalion performing Security Guard. Private Rolfe, Headquarters Battery, awarded Purple Heart for wounds received in action against the enemy 1944.
September 14 - 15 - No change in battalion positions. Battalion visited by American Red Cross Doughnut Clubmobile Batteries following a drill schedule modified to suit a lull in combat.
SUMMARY FOR PERIOD 1 SEPT. to 15 SEPT. 1944:
O Days of firing.
O Rounds of ammunition expended.
September 16 Battalion left position at Micheroux, Belgium and arrived into new position at Walheim, Germany. Crossed Belgium-German Border at 1200 hours, Battalion Command post is now set up on German soil after crossing a portion of the Siegfried Line Air Activity prevalent and a few Jerry planes were noticed.
September 17 Fifty-two enlisted men and two officers returned from Detached Service with Provisional Trucking Co. Battalion CP, at Walheim, closed at 1730 hours and unit moved into firing position six kilometers southeast of Aachen, at Kraut-Hausen, Germany. This is our first firing position since. August 18, 1944. Jerry Planes were overhead again and were given a, healthy reception by machine gun and ack-ack fire.
September 18 Batttalion fired missions. small arms fires heard in nearby vicinity, Artillery fire is heavy.
September 19 - Same position. Batteries firing interdiction missions., One enemy 88 shell landed directly on Battery "B" No 2 Gun. Caused slight damage to the piece, no personnel were injured.
September 20 -Same position. Fired interdiction and counter-battery missions. Pvt. Norman R.Simonson Service, Battery, seriously injured when he was thrown off an ammunition truck.
September 21 Same position Fired heavily on enemy flak batteries, some of which were only 8000 yards away.
September 22 Same position. Battalion firing heavily. Enemy shells landing in the vicinity.Pvt.Eugene Parker, Headquarters Battery, killed when hit by enemy shell fragmentation. Pvt. W. J. Hoggett, Btry "B" slightly wounded by enemy shell fragmentation.
September 23 Battery "B" forced to change firing position as enemy shells began to land in the area. Other batteries were shelled slightly. Battalion fired counter-battery missions.
September 24Same positions. Battalion firing counter-battery missions. Enemy shells continue to land in among our battery positions.
September 25 - 26 - Same positions. Enemy shells continue to harass our positions. Battalion firing counter-battery and interdiction missions.
September 27 Remained in same position. Lts. John .T. Donnellan, Hugh Nichols, Harry E. Febich, and Richard R. Guice were awarded the air medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
September 28 Battalion moved into new position near Rotgen, Germany. Service Battery remained at Walheim, Germany and reported that enemy shells were landing within the area. Battalion supporting the 9th Infantry Division.
September 29 Same positions. Fired over 200 rounds during the morning in preparation for an attack. Battalion was complimented for their accurate firing.
September 30 Same position. Fired missions on enemy infantry and counter attacks. Fired 172 rounds in four mission.
Summary for period 16 September to 30 September
14 days of firing.
4296 rounds of ammunition expended.
BATTLE ACTIVITIES LOG
172D FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
1 OCTOBER 1944 THRU 31 OCTOBER 1944
October 1 Battalion remained in positions at Rotgen, Germany. Service Battery at Walheim.Fired counter-battery and interdiction missions.
October 2 No change in position. Battalion remains in support of Ninth Infantry Division. Fired counter-battery, interdiction, and harassing missions throughout the day:
October 3 Headquarters Battery and firing Batteries moved to new positioned at Venwegen, Germany. Service battery remained at Walheim Battalion fired one registration mission in preparation for an attack.
October 4 No change in position. Fired three registration missions in preparation for attack.
October 5 Same position, Fired registration and counter-battery mission; though out the day.Infantry attack is delayed due to adverse weather conditions. Enemy planes were seen overhead.
October 6 Same position. Batteries firing heavily, over 300 rounds expended. Fired 12 preparation missions, 21 interdiction mission, 2 high bursts, and 9 counter-battery missions.
October 7 Same position. Firing continues heavy. Batteries fired TOT missions, counter-battery, interdiction, and registration missions on this date.
October 8 Same position. Firing Batteries expended 1048 rounds of ammunition in support of the Ninth Division's attack. Fired counter-battery, preparation, TOT, interdiction missions and high burst.
October 9 Same position. Firing continues heavy, over 700 rounds expended in firing counter-battery, interdiction, Preparation, and TOT missions.
October 10 Same position. Firing continues heavy, battalion expends ammunition on TOT, counter-battery and interdiction missions. Battalion receives word from Ninth Infantry Division Headquarters that our outfit and one other unit were responsible for stopping enemy artillery from moving up. Battalion personnel learn of surrender ultimatum sent to Aachen.
October 11 Same position. Firing continues heavy. Fire missions on preparation, TOT, counter-battery, interdiction and high bursts missions. Allied air force overhead and much activity takes place. From service battery's position at Walheim, Germany the personnel can see our planes dive bombing Aachen, and great puffs of smoke and fire fill the air.
October 12 -Same position. Enemy planes overhead during the evening hours, some bombs and antipersonnel bombs dropped around Service Battery area. Allied planes continue to bomb targets at Aachen. Batteries firing heavily and complete 22 counter-battery, 8 interdiction, and 1 registration mission.
October 13 -Same position. American bombers overhead. Fired counter-battery missions, missions on enemy troops and one registration mission on this date.
October 14 -Same position. Preparation, counter-battery, and registration missions. American bombers over during the day light hours. Enemy planes overhead at night and several antipersonnel bombs were dropped around Service Battery Area at Walheim. Medics were called upon to assist an Ordnance Evacuation Battalion which had been heavily hit by personnel bombs in vicinity of battalion CP.
October 15 -Same position. Firing is light on this day. Fired only one counter-battery and one harassing mission all day. Allied bombers are seen overhead.
October 16 -Same position. Service Battery shelled by enemy artillery. No casualties.Battalion fired registration, interdiction, and counter-battery missions. First Lieutenant Daniel F.Martini, Battery "A" Reconnaissance Officer, awarded Air Medal. First Lieutenant John J. Donnellan and 1st Lt. Richard R. Guice, Jr. ,awarded Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal.
October 17 -Same position. Enemy shells continue to land in Service Battery's position Battalion fires registration, TOT, Counter-battery, and interdiction missions on this date. Cpl. John W. Walker, HQ. Btry, awarded Silver Star for gallantry in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Dangy, France, on July 28, 1944. Enemy planes are heard during the evening.
October 18 -Same position. Enemy shells continue to harass Service Battery. Fired registration, counter-battery, and interdiction mission. Battalion personnel warned by higher headquarters that 36 enemy bombers are headed in our direction.
October 19 Same position. Service Battery eports that enemy shells continue to land around area. No casualties ae suffered. Fired counter-battery and interdiction missions
October 20 Sme position. Enemy continues to fire shells at Service Battery. area and around the battalion command post at Venwegan, Germany. Fired registration, counter-battery and interdiction missions.
October 21 Same position. Shells continue to land around Service Battery position at Walheim, and around command post at Venwegan. Enemy planes were overhead during the evening hour. Fired registration, counter-battery, and harrasing missions on this date.
October 22 Same position. Continue firing counter-battery and interdiction missions.Service Battery area continues to be shelled and two enlisted men-T/4 Conrad E. Lefebvre Medical Department Detachment and Pvt. Pete W. Kieler, Battery C were killed when a direct hit was scored upon their vehicle as they were preparing to depart from Service Battery area.
October 23 Same position. Servicev Battery continues to be harrased by enemy shells. Fired counter-battery and interdiction missions.
October 24 Same position. Battalion firing heavily, completing counter-battery, harrasing and interdiction missions. Enemy planes overhead during evening hours.
October 25 Same position.Shells continue to land around Service Battery position. Reconnaissance party has selected new positions in the vicinity of Aachen, Germany. Fired counter-battery and interdiction missions.
October 26 Same position. Service Battery left position at Walheim, Germany and moved into position at Kurtscheid, (near Aachen) Germany. Headquarters Battery and firing batteries remain around Venwegan, Germany, and fire interdiction missions.
October 27 Same position. Enemy shellin in Battery B area. Continued firing interdiction and counter-battery missions.
October 28 Battery C moved to a new position at Aachen, Germany-firing for VII Corps. Remainder of Battalion temporarily supporting V Corps troops. Firing registration, interdiction, and TOT missions. Battery C fired approximately 800 rounds during the night.
October 29 Same position. Enemy shells landing around Battalion Command post at Venwegan. Enemy planes and buzz bombs were seen overhead. Fired counter-battery, interdiction, and registration and TOT missions.
October 30 Same position. IG inspection held throughout the battalion, by VII Corps Inspection Team. Batteries fired missions on enemy strong points, TOT, interdiction, and neutral missions on this date.
October 31 Same position. Enemy shells landing around battery positions at Venwegan. Battalion firing heavily.
SUMMARY OF OCTOBER
31 DAYS OF FIRING
10,213 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION EXPENDED
November 1 Same position. Battery "C" and Service Battery at Aachen, Germany. Headquarters, A, and B, Batteries at Venwegen. Fired preparation fires throughout the day. Enemy planes were over Aachen and antipersonnel bombs were dropped in the vicinity of Service Battery.
November 2 Same position. Fired preparation missions. Artillery barrage was heavy on this day.
November 3 Same position.. Batteries received heavy firing missions. Enemy planes were over our battalion command post area and dropped flares. Service Battery reported enemy air activity and anti-personnel bombs were dropped in the street, causing only slight damage to curb stones on road directly in front of quarters.
November 4 Same position. Battalion fired TOT missions on enemy tanks near the town of Schmidt. Those tanks were reported to be moving in for a counter-attack during the night. Ack-ack and machine gun fire filled the sky.
November 5 Same position. Enemy planes were overhead during the early morning hours. Anti-personnel bombs were dropped. Battery "B" suffered 3 casualties when Sgt.Leo E. Proulx, Cpl. Ronaud J. Chandonnet, and Pvt. Samuel C. Rowley, Jr were slightly wounded by shrapnel. Enemy shells also were reported to be landing around the positions at Venwegen.
November 6 Same position. Battalion fired heavily when German Panzer Divisions threw a strong counter-attack toward Schmidt, Germany. Fired 200 rounds on one concentration. Several FW 190's were overhead and one was shot down in the vicinity of Headquarters Battery. 1st Lt. Hugh L. Nichols,Jr, awarded two bronze Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal. Battalion was removed from the censors secret list and received its first rite-up, "Shell Game Champs", in the Somewhere in Europe column of the Stars and Stripes.
November 7 Same position. Battalion continued firing missions throughout the day.
November 8 Battery "C" moved to new position at Venwegen, Germany. Fired missions on enemy tanks, flak guns, and counter-battery missions. Personnel learned results of Presidential Election.
November 9 Same position. Very little firing today. Small arms fire was prevalent around Aachen, Germany where Service Battery is located. Had our first glimpse of snow in this sector.
November 10 Same position. Fired missions on enemy guns and received word that our fire was very effective. Small arms fire around Aachen becomes more intensified.
November 11 Same position. Armistice Day, but there was no lull at the front. Battalion fired its missions and allied planes and enemy robots were seen overhead.
November 12 Same position. Fired TOT counter-battery missions. Inclement weather is interfering with progress. Service Battery was shelled by a roving gun today. One shell landed within 5 yards and to the left of the building occupied by battery personnel. No casualties were sustained but windows were smashed and OD clothing which was on the clothes line was torn to shreds by shrapnel.
November 13 Same position. Little firing today. Inclement weather is keeping air activity down to a minimum. Some robots were seen going overhead.
November 14 Same position. Enemy shells landing around battery positions at Venwegen.Battalion continues fire missions.
November 15 Same position. Battalion fired missions on enemy guns and mortars.
November 16 Same position. Weather has cleared a little. Air activity has increased. Battalion expended 1,344 rounds of ammunition, a new record. during the 24 hour period.
November 17 Same position. Firing continues to be heavy, mostly counter-battery missions. Received good reports on some of our concentrations.
November 18 Same position. Inclement weather again. Battalion fired concentrations on enemy six gun battery. Air observers reported our concentrations were direct hits.Twenty- one enlisted me (surplus) were transferred to Ground Forces Reinforcement System.
November 19 Same position. Battalion fired concentrations on enemy infantry and enemy guns. T/5 Charles T. Powell, Service Battery, presented Soldier's Medal for heroism, not involving actual conflict with the enemy, displayed on 20 September 1944 in the vicinity of Walheim, Germany. Sgt. Leo E. Proulx, Battery "B" awarded Purple Heart for wounds received in action on 5 November 1944.
November 20 Same position. Fired concentrations on enemy counter-attacks for one hour. Also fired a heavy concentration of counter-battery missions.
November 21 Same position. Fired preparation mission in support of 4th Infantry Division.
November 22 Same position. Enemy shells landing around battery positions at Venwegan.Robots were seen overhead, some dropping around Aachen. Batteries fired TOT counter-battery fire.
November 23 Same position. Thanksgiving Day. At 1200 hours, Battery "C" fired our 50,000 round of 4.5 ammunition in combat. This shell was fired at the town of Gey.
November 24 Same position. Firing was light today, mostly TOT missions.
November 25 Same position. Firing was rather heavy today, consisting of counter-battery and interdiction missions. Also fired mission on troop concentrations. Organizational Christmas Cards were distributed to Battalion personnel.
November 26 Same position. Battalion fired concentrations on the towns of Gey, and Bergel.
November 27 Same position. Firing continued on German towns and also some TOT missions.Men were alerted for an approaching Luftwaffe, but no planes were seen.
November 28 Same position. Reconnaissance party left to locate new positions around Stolberg, Germany. Battalion received fire Missions.
November 29 Same position. Fired heavily on enemy flak positions. Allied planes overhead. Batteries preparing for move into new positions.
November 30 Battalion moved into new position in the vicinity of Stolberg, Germany. Service Battery remained at Aachen, Germany. Batteries fired immediately upon arrival into new positions.
SUMMARY FOR NOVEMBER
24 days of firing.
16,389 rounds of ammunition expended.
(This is our heaviest firing month.)
DECEMBER PART ONE
December 1 Battalion remains in position around Stolberg, Germany. Service Battery still around Aachen. Battalion fired heavily, expending a total of 1567 rounds- a new high- mostly on counter-battery and preparation fires. Battalion now in combat 170 days and expended an average of 314 rounds per day.
December 2 No change in position. Light firing by battalion. Buzz bombs were seen flying overhead at night.
December 3 Same position. Another light day for the battalion. Enemy planes were overhead on two different occasions, and a number of them were shot down by the local ack-ack boys.
December 4 Same position. Fired counter- battery and interdiction missions. Enemy planes were overhead again.
December 5 Same position. Firing was light during the daylight hours, but increased at night. Battalion relieved of assignment to 4th Infantry Division and reverted to VII Corps control.
December 6 Same position. Battalion fired on German towns.
December 7 Same position. Fired interdiction missions on bridges and crossroads.
December 8 Same position. Fired counter- battery missions during the day and interdiction missions on roads and bridges at night.
December 9 Same position. Fired interdiction missions on roads and bridges. Enemy shells landing around the area. Battalion received letter of commendation from V Corps Artillery to our Group for support of V Corps elements. Letter was endorsed and signed by Brigadier General Helmick, V Corps Artillery, Major General Gerow, V Corps, Lt. General Hodges, First US Army, Major General Collins, VII Corps, and Colonel Parker of 188 Field Artillery Group.
December 10 Same position. Fired counter-battery missions in preparations for an attack. Also fired several flak battery missions.
December 11 Same position. Fired interdiction missions on bridges and roads, also fired some counter battery missions. Buzz bombs were seen overhead.
December 12 Same position. Fired interdiction missions. Allied planes were seen heading toward the eastern sectors.
December 13 Same position. Fired counter-battery and interdiction missions. Buzz bombs were seen overhead.
December 14 Same position. 1st. Lt. Richard Guice Jr., Btry. B. awarded third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal. Reconnaissance parties departed to pick new firing positions in the vicinity of Hemich, Germany.
December 15 Same position. Very little firing. Battalion preparing for movement to new position.
December 16 Battalion closed its CP at Mausbach and moved to new position around Heistern, Germany. Service personel remained at Aachen, since some of the personnel were rehearsing for a musical comedy (Under Fire) which was to be presented on Christmas Day to troops in the area. Enemy air activity was prevalent during the night.
December 17 No change in position. Battalion learned that German Paratroops were dropped during the early morning hours. Personnel were warned of imminent danger and patrols were formed. Road blocks were set up on all roads within the Battalion areas. Some German parachutes and Equipment were found nearby. Enemy planes were over during the evening and antipersonnel bombs were dropped throughout the area.
December 18 Same position. Battalion learns of German counter-attack around sectors between V and VIII Corps. Patrols are again formed to search for possible paratroops. Enemy planes prevalent both during the day and at night. Much ack-ack was thrown at them.
December 19 Same position. 1st Lt. Karl W. Johnson, Btry A, slightly wounded as a result of enemy action. Battalion continues firing. Personnel learn that German counter-attack is making progress. Personnel alerted again for possible paratroops landing.
December 20 Same position. Firing was light today. Battalion alerted for movement to Belgium.
December 21 Battalion closed its CP at Heistern, Germany, at 1530 hours enroute to Belgium. Crossed German- Belgium border at 1700 hours. March was still in progress at 2400 hours. Under Fire, the musical comedy canceled because of the emergency.
December 22 Personnel were on the move from the previous night, driving in black-out under adverse weather conditions. At 0430 personnel were bivouacked South of Marche, Belgium. Traveled over 90 miles in our first all night movement in combat.
December 23 Battalion moved into firing position around Noiseux, Belgium. Allied planes were overhead throughout the entire day.
December 24 No change in position. Air activity heavy around area. Dog fights were noticed and enemy planes were forced down in the area surrounding our CP. Batteries alerted against paratroops attacks. Received reports that enemy was located just 8000 yards ahead of our guns. 1st. Lt. Harold C. Pritchard, Battery C and T/5 Henry Isaac, Battery C were injured by enemy shell fragmentation while observing fire at the Battalion OP. Pvt Thadeus H. Sowinski, Btry B was injured by shell fragmentation while on duty as a cannoneer.
December 25 Same position. Christmas day. Batteries enjoyed turkey dinners. Battalion fired on enemy troops assemblies through out the night. Allied planes filled the skies all day.
December 26 Same position. Fired heavily during the night. Fired on infantry counter-attack. Enemy planes were overhead during the evening. Received reports that a captured cub plane was flying around the lines. T/5 Lionel St. Pierre, Service Battery, slightly wounded while returning to his battery. 1st Lt. Karl W. Johnson returned to duty from hospital and awarded Purple Heart in the battery area.
December 27 Same position. Fired interdiction fires and some missions on enemy infantry and tanks.
December 28 Same position. Enemy shells began to land in battery areas. Battalion fired TOT and interdiction missions.
December 29-30 Same position. Continued firing. Fired some TOT missions. Enemy shells landing in Battery B area. One enlisted man, Sgt. Joseph F. Dudziak remained on duty after receiving medical treatment.
December 31 Same position. Firing was light throughout the day. Fired TOT missions during the night. Enemy shells continue to harass our positions.
SUMMARY OF DECEMBER
25 days of firing
13,661 rounds of ammunition expended
172D FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
UNITED STATES ARMY
22 May 1945
To: The officers and enlisted men.
1. Attached hereto is the third and final edition of the combat log and a home address list of every member of the unit who served during the combat period. Since it is brief and general, be sure to include your personal experiences by notation under the appropriate dates before mailing it home, so that in the future, by reference to the log will answer many questions that time will obscure in your memory.
2. I will take this opportunity of expressing my own personal appreciation to each of you for the great efforts and hardships you have undergone since last June to make our battalion an outstanding combat unit. General Palmer, VII Corps Artillery Commander informed me two weeks ago, that the 172nd battalion had done an excellent job, and that he desired that all members of the command know how much he enjoyed associating with us and how satisfied he was with the results obtained by the enlisted men and officers in their performance of the job.
3. Our immediate mission has been accomplished-- the defeat of Germany. What lies in the future under the Redeployment Plan is at this time unknown. Possibilities are that the unit may be assigned to combat against the Japanese, may stay in Germany for occupation work, or may be returned to the states. It is inevitable that our present membership will be changed, under any of the above possibilities, when the Redeployment Plan takes effect. Regardless of your ultimate destination, whether back to civilian life or continuing on in the military, carry on with the same devotion in serving our country as you have exhibited in combat. May God bless our future undertakings, may you enjoy fine health and the best of luck.
John J. Hayes
Lt. Col. 172d FA Bn.
1 JANUARY 1945 THRU APRIL 1945
January 1 Battalion moved from Noiseau, Belgium to Clerheid, Belgium. The British were moving into Noiseau as the battalion left. Service Battery moved to Weris, Belgium. The battalion was subjected to scattered shelling in the new area. Between 14th June 1944 and 31st December 1944, the battalion fired an average of 334 rounds per day.
January 2 Same position. Very little firing. Harassing enemy shelling continued, and Private John G. Turley, Battery "A", became our first 1945 battle casualty.
January 3 Same position. Little firing. Enemy shell landed in the vicinity of the position area.The Second Armored Division pushed off this day, early in the morning. PFC Gaspar Barna slightly wounded by flying fragments from enemy artillery.
January 4 Same position, enemy artillery continued active. Battalion fired counter-battery and preparation missions.
January 5 Same position. One gun in Battery "A" exploded during a fire mission. Corporal Edmund W. Kida, the gunner, was instantly killed, and two members of the gun crew were seriously injured. Battalion fired preparation missions for the Second Armored Division.
January 6 Same position, battalion fired interdiction, preparation and counter-battery.
January 7 Same position, battalion fired TOT missions all the night of 6-7 January at 15 minute intervals. In the morning we fired 420 rounds within an hour on a preparation for the Second Armored Division.
January 8 Same position. Battalion fired call missions for an attack by the Second Armored Division on the town of Sauree. Reconnaissance parties went out to select new positions.
January 9 Battalion moved from Clerheid, Belgium to LaFosse, Belgium. Snow and cloudy weather made travel very difficult.
January 10 Same position. Battalion fired missions by forward observer. Ammunition allowance was restricted.
January 11 Same position. Service Battery moved from Wieres to Breeze, Belgium. Several observed missions were fired by the battalion as well as some counter-battery.The weather continued very cloudy and cold.
January 12 Same position. Preparation fires for an attack during the morning hours and later missions on enemy strong points made up the firing for the day. Three enlisted men, Battery "B" were badly burned when a kitchen field range exploded.
January 13 Same position. Reconnaissance for a new position made. Battalion fired in support of an infantry attack. One mission resulted in the surrender of twenty Germans. The weather cleared up to some extent, and allied planes were overhead.
January 14 Battalion moved from LaFosse to Les Tailles, Belgium. Service Battery moved to LaFosse. Mines encountered in this new position, had been laid prior to the fall of snow covering the ground. In Battery "B", Private George Mann was killed, 1st Sgt. David H. Peaslee and Private Emmett Vaughn were wounded when mines were detonated in the area. Battery "C" set off a mine as one of the tracks was pulling into position.
January 15 Same position. Fired on retreating columns of German troops and vehicles.
January 16 Same position. Reconnaissance parties ran into heavy enemy artillery fire near Petite Langlis. All men took to the nearby ditches and escaped injury. Our battalion joined 19 others in firing on the town of Limerle, 1200 rounds were put into the town in a few minutes.
January 17-18 Same position. Very little firing on these days. Weather very bad - cold and windy, with blizzard conditions and a wind velocity of sixty miles per hour.
January 19 Battalion moved from Les Tailles to Mont Le man. Service Battery moved to Les Tailles. There was very little firing.
January 20 Same position. The battalion fired heavily on counter-battery and interdiction missions.
January 21-22 Same position. There was little activity on these days. A 5 volley battalion concentration was fired on enemy artillery. A total of 22 battalions fired on this target.
January 23 Same position. The battalion did very little firing. Billeting parties left for Assesse, Belgium. The battalion is to move to a rest area, since our part in the Battle of the Bulge has been completed.
January 24 The battalion moved to Assesse, Belgium. Service and Headquarters Batteries were billeted in Assesse. Each of the firing batteries was billeted in an individual town nearby. Personnel were quartered in civilian homes, and preparations were made for an ordinance inspection.
January 25 thru 2 Feb. - The battalion remained in the rest area. Cleaning and care of equipment and material took up a large part of the time. Movies and shows were available, and the battalion presented its own musical comedy, "Under Fire" on 2 February at Namur, Belgium. Present for the showing were members of the 12th Army Group. 12 new gun tubes were received. The battalion fired 77,000 rounds with the old tubes. Pilots and air observers were presented with oak-leaf clusters to the air medal by Brigadier General Palmer.
February 3 During the early morning hours, reconnaissance parties left for new positions.About noon, the battalion left Assesse and returned to Germany, spending the night of February 3rd in a coop factory, near Stolberg before returning to the line. No fraternizing from now on ! Civilian laundry will now cost sixty five dollars a bundle.
February 4 The battalion, less Service Battery, moved into firing position at Heistern, Germany. This is the same area we occupied before going to Belgium. Firing batteries were to the north, but in the same location we had at that time. One mission, a high burst registration, was fired.
February 5 Same position. The Battalion did no firing. Ordered on a silent period.
February 6 Same position. Reconnaissance parties went forward. No firing allowed.
February 7 Same position. Battalion fired 136 rounds on German flak batteries during local air attacks on Duren.
February 8 Same position. Enemy shells landed near Battery "A" position. Battalion fired 309 rounds, mostly on enemy flak batteries.
February 9-10 Same position, firing continued light. The weather cleared and our planes were overhead. To support them we, we fired several missions on enemy flak batteries.
February 11 Same position. Light firing. On an observed mission fired on enemy vehicles moving down the main road in Duren, observers reported good results. Enemy planes were overhead, both during the day and at night.
February 12-13 Same position. There was no firing. Enemy planes were overhead despite bad weather.
February 14-15 Same position. Our guns are being calibrated and firing is very light. Enemy air activity reported during the evening hours.
February 16 Same position. Battalion fired one registration mission. Colonel Parker, Group Commander, adjusted the battalion on a school house and secured target hits.
February 17-20 Same position. There was very little firing. Planes, both allied and enemy were overhead on various occasions during this period.
February 21 Same position. Battalion fired interdiction and registration missions, expending 115 rounds of ammunition. Today our firing batteries were split up and made into two six-gun batteries, as an experiment. Enemy planes were overhead during the evening hours and some bombs were dropped in nearby positions. Tonight we really had a 4th of July show as ack-ack was very heavy against enemy planes.
February 22 Same position. Enemy planes were overhead during early daylight hours. Some ME 262 jet-propelled planes were seen. Battalion fired 964 rounds of ammunition on preparation, counter-battery and harassing missions. Major General J. Lawton Collins, VII Corps Commander, visited our CP during the day.
February 23 Same position. Battalion fired heavily in support of the VII Corps attack across the Roer River, expending over 800 rounds in the early morning hours of the attack. For a twelve (12 ) hour period the battalion has fired 2100 rounds of ammunition, an all time high for the battalion. Allied and enemy planes were overhead. The artillery barrage started at 0245 and continued until 0630, in which artillery of two (2) corps, plus divisional artillery took part. The infantry attack started at 0330. The VII Corps artillery fired approximately 4100 rounds during this period.
February 24 Same position. Planes were up all day. Battalion expended 352 rounds of ammunition on assigned missions. Reports indicate attack is progressing well.
February 25 After three weeks at Heistern the battalion moved to Rolsdorf, Germany, approximately 1000 yards from the Roer River. Enemy planes were overhead shortly after our arrival into the new area. Enemy also fired high burst missions on the town. Battalion supported the fires of the 8th infantry division artillery.Battery "C" reported one casualty when Pfc Burness C. Hatley was wounded by an enemy mine. Battalion released from 188th FA Group and attached th the 18th FA Group.
February 26 Same position. Service battery arrived in Rolsdorf. Reconnaissance party left to select new positions across the Roer. Expended 549 rounds of ammunition on several missions, including an enemy counter-attack of infantry and tanks near Blatzkeim and Bergenhausen.
February 27 Battalion moved to Binsfield, south of Duren, Germany. Enemy artillery made a direct hit on battalion survey truck, burning the truck and all equipment on it. Battalion crossed the Roer River at 0740. The city of Duren was just a heap of bricks and other debris. The only roads were paths cleared by bulldozers.Registration and interdiction missions were accomplished.
February 28 Battalion moved to Buir, Germany. Three men from battery "C" were wounded when an enemy mine was encountered in the new position. Fire missions were light.
March 1 Same position. Service Battery moved to Masteirath. Reconnaissance parties were out to locate new positions. Service Battery command car was damaged by shell fragmentation while parked at the position which their reconnaissance party was selecting. Allied and enemy planes were overhead. One enemy plane was downed in the vicinity of Battery "C" area. Expended 395 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
March 2 Battalion moved to Sindorf, Germany. Service Battery moved to Kerpen, Germany. Battery "A" fired our first round on Cologne at 0145. Enemy air activity and artillery fire were reported throughout the area. Expended 446 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
March 3 Same position. Enemy planes were heard during the evening hours. T/5 Lionel N. Dubois, Battery "C" was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action on 28 February 1945. Expended 444 rounds of ammunition on enemy targets.
March 4 Same position. Battalion fired 510 rounds of ammunition on counterbattery and interdiction missions. Reconnaissance parties were out to select new positions.
March 5 Battalion moved to Dansweiler, Germany. Battalion personnel picked up a former Nazi officer wearing civilian clothes. Some interdiction missions were fired across the Rhine. Expended 370 rounds of ammunition on this day, on fire missions.
March 6 Same positions. Reconnaissance parties were out to select new positions. Fired 564 rounds of ammunition on enemy installation targets.
March 7 Battalion moved to Weiden, Germany. Fired 1372 rounds of ammunition, mostly on interdiction missions.
March 8 Service Battery moved to Marsdorf, Germany. Remainder of battalion moved to Junkersdorf, Germany. Battalion firing continued heavy and 317 rounds of ammunition were expended.
March 9 Same position. A forward observer from the 104th Division Artillery made precision adjustment on a German SP gun location across the Rhine. The adjustment was made with our gun at a range of 16,800 yards and an OP range of 7000 yards. The observer reported two (2) target hits and knocked out a German gun. Expended 128 rounds of ammunition on other missions.
March 10 Same position. Battery "B" was placed on temporary duty with 690th MP Battalion for MP duty around Cologne. The other firing batteries expended 239 rounds of ammunition. The six gun battery experiment was suspended. Capt.Hugh Johnson, Jr., was awarded the Croix de Guerre for action in France.
March 11 Same position. Expended 304 rounds of ammunition. Battalion personnel participated in the flag raising ceremonies at Cologne of the VII Corps occupation of the city.
March 12 Same position. Battalion fired 320 rounds of ammunition, mostly on interdiction missions. Pfc Wilbur S. Rolfe, Headquarters Battery, awarded Croix de Guerre for action in France.
March 13 Same position. Battery "B" was returned from temporary duty to firing position.Expended 316 rounds of ammunition.
March 14 Same position. Reconnaissance parties located new positions in the vicinity of Bonn. Battalion was released from assignment to 18th FA Group and attached to 142nd FA Group. Expended 475 rounds of ammunition, mostly on interdiction missions.
March 15 Battalion moved to Bonn. Battalion was released from attachment to 142nd FA Group and attached to 188th FA Group. Expended 535 rounds of ammunition on counterbattery and interdiction missions.
March 16 Same position. 314 rounds of ammunition were expended on preparation, observed, counterbattery, and interdiction missions.
March 17 Same position. 640 rounds of ammunition were expended on preparation, observed, counterbattery, and interdiction.missions.
March 18 Same position. Allied planes were overhead. Battalion fired 340 rounds on counterbattery, observed and interdiction missions.
March 19 Same position, battalion expended 322 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
March 20 Same position. Personnel watched American tanks and infantry moving in from the south on the town of ??el, which is directly across the Rhine from us. Expended 466 rounds of ammunition on interdiction and observed missions.
March 21 Same position. Battalion expended 283 rounds of ammunition. Three men in Service Battery were slightly burned when one of the kitchen stoves exploded. Reconnaissance parties crossed the Rhine at 1340 to locate new positions on the east side.
March 22 Battalion moved to Weise, Germany, and Service Battery to Obercassel. The trip across the Rhine was made over a pontoon bridge, covered by a smoke screen. Battalion is now in direct support of 1st Infantry Division.
March 23 Same position. Pfc S.N.Walters, and Pfc Aros Thibeau, Headquarters Battery, were killed instantly when there wire section vehicle ran over a mine. Pfc Fuson H. Rhymer, HQ Battery, was seriously wounded and died later. Expended 1143 rounds of ammunition. Targets included counterattacks, C.P., and tank assembly areas of the 11th Panzor Division.
March 24 Same position. Battalion fired 1112 rounds of ammunition in support of 1st Infantry Division. Fired on tanks, infantry, and counterattacks. An adjustment mission, on 4 tanks was fired resulting in one direct hit.
March 25 Battalion moved to Zumhof, Germany, and Service Battery to Weise,Germany. Battalion expended 723 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
March 26-27 Same position. Battalion expended 223 rounds of ammunition in the two day period. At 2100, 27 March, the battalion fired a registration observed by night air O.P. Lt. Nichols, and Lt. Guice flew on this experimental mission.
March 28 Battalion moved into Hacksen, Germany, northeast of Altenkirchen, and Service Battery moved to Bucholz. Fire missions were light.
March 29 Same position. The battalion fired 133 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
March 30-31 Battalion on 30 March made a night march to Ober-Rossbach, Germany. Service Battery moved to Muschenbach, Germany. Firing continued to be light. We are now supporting fires of 8th Division.
April 1 Battalion moved to Hainchen, Germany. Easter Sunday services were held throughout the battalion. Battery "C" captured two German soldiers in the new position. Fired 416 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 2 Same position. Battalion released from attachment to VII Corps, attached to XVIII Corps Art. Expended 408 rounds of ammunition. Battery "A" captured four prisoners in this locality.
April 3 Same position. Battalion released from attachment to 188th FA Group and attached to 205th FA Group. Expended 402 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 4 Battalion moved to Herdorf, Germany. Service Battery to Salchendorf, Germany.Battalion now firing into the Ruhr pocket. Expended 161 rounds of ammunition on missions.
April 5 Same position. Battalion expended 400 rounds of ammunition., mostly on interdiction missions.
April 6 Same position. Battalion expended 821 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 7 Battalion moved to Wehbach,Germany. Battery "C" captured two german prisoners during the day. Expended 430 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 8 Same position. Fired 456 rounds on fire missions.
April 9 Service Battery moved to Hilchenbach, Germany. Remainder of battalion had a busy day, changing position twice. First moving to Birkelbach, and later to another position at Heinsbel. Fired 220 rounds of ammunition from those two gun positions. Battalion is now in support of the 86th Infantry Division.
April 10 Battalion moved to Flape, Germany. New area was being shelled by the enemy and four (4) casualties were sustained by our survey crew. Two were seriously wounded and two were slightly wounded. Expended 177 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 11 Same position. Battery "C" captured six (6) prisoners in this area. Expended 257 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 12 Battalion moved to Miederhelden, Germany. Expended 361 rounds of ammunition on fire missions.
April 13 Battalion moved to Ennest, Germany. Battalion learned the news of the presidents death. Received orders that our battalion was to be withdrawn from combat at 2000 hours. Combat expenditure for ten months of combat totaled 97,000 rounds. The final round was fired at 2000 hours by Sgt. Lemire of Battery "A" on the town of Kleinhammer. Battalion relieved from attachment to XVIII Corps and reverted to First Army control.
April 14 Battalion turns in all heavy vehicles, tractors, guns, and signal and engineer equipment and prepares for its new mission as First Army Security Guard.
END OF BATTLE LOG
Biography of William H. Gieske, 172nd F.A. Bn., U.S.A.
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