The Story of the 95th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
of the 5th Armored Division

To our comrades who fell on the field of battle.

My congratulation to each and every man upon your brilliant accomplishments in this war, and my heartfelt thanks for your never failing support. Command of the 95th Armored Field Artillery I considered a great privilege; service in it, along with you, was a great honor.

James W. McNeer
Lt. Col. FA

We provide this introduction purely for the benefit of those who may at some future time find this book in a place of state in some dentist’s waiting room or in the official archives of a veteran organization that is valiantly struggling for members. The people about whom it is written, the members of the 95th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, don’t need an introduction to these pages anymore than they need an introduction to their parents, or the old gang around the local equivalent of the Stork Club. The might need an explanation and that is impossible to provide. The damn thing just got written for no particular reason. Or maybe for no reason that was particular. It really doesn’t make any difference; it doesn’t make any sense either, but why  should we worry about that not?

If some portions of the story don’t measure up to the standards of pure recollection the reader will just have to write that off to poetic license. The errors were probably caused because we couldn’t remember what did happen, or because the pages of the unit journal were shuffled for that month, or because somebody used the overlay provided with the field orders to light their cigar, or because--well, think of your own reason, we can’t do everything.


A Battalion Is Born

The 95th Field Artillery (Armored) was born on 1 January 1942 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. It became the 95th Armored Field Artillery Battalion the next day, because somebody had cut the original order wrong, and they fixed up our title with change number one to Special Order number one using twice as much memograph paper to get us started as was originally planned.

We were composed of a conglomerate group of assorted characters, from the 58th and 65th Field Artillery Battalions, the Armored Force Replacement Training Center, Fort Sill, Fort Bragg and probably a few itinerant individuals who just couldn't find any place to go and figured they needed a place to sleep more than anything else. Our first home was approximately a half acre of the mud puddle laughingly termed the “tent camp” at Fort Knox, Kentucky, while our motor park could be differentiated from the camp primarily by the fact that the mud was six inches deeper and a lot stickier.

The first two months of our existence were  characterized by a flurry of trying to find out  who was who, and the morning reports read like the passenger list on the Queen Mary, what with people going to, and coming from, schools, leaves, furloughs, AWOL's and the host of other details that popped up daily.

We started to learn how to be soldiers at Fort Knox, sweeping the mud off the streets in the morning and tramping it back on again in the afternoon. We marched and saluted and read Life magazine to see what our equipment would look like when we did get it, but most of all we got a good head start on learning how to be comfortably uncomfortable, looking a great deal more like soldiers at the end of the two months than we did at the be- ginning. The war wasn't going our way then, and we shared the national apprehension relative to our ability to catch up to our enemies, who had been in the business long before us.

At the end of February we entrained for California and Camp Cooke to complete our organization and training and to be in position to defend the west coast an the event of attack. We took off with less than a third of our T/O personnel, two kitchen trucks, two motorcycles and a 1/2 ton command car. Still we were an Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and if we didn't have any guns we could still muster up a complement of expert tobacco chewers, whose accuracy was undisputed. If we couldn't shoot  ‘em we could spit on 'em, and we were willing to try.

We didn't know, and we cared less, what was in store for us, simply because the idea of leaving the infamous "Tent City" appealed to us, and we figured that Camp Cooke couldn't he worse. We had a lot to learn.

Utopia in the West

Camp Cooke was a picture of paradise to us compared to the tent city we had left behind at Fort Knox. It was brand Spanking new and not really completed when we arrived, and we were the first inmates of the barracks. Those balmy ocean breezes, and the California sunshine were a great treat after the cold winter at Fort Knox, and we all changed our wearing apparel to suit the climate. It wasn't necessary to wear wool OD's over our "long  Johns" anymore, suntans with overcoats, being sufficient to combat the ninety mile winds that blew in from the sea.

It was at Camp Cooke that we really plunged into our military training with a will.  In less than six weeks our progress was amazing-- we planted grass anti geraniums everywhere, we built gravel walks and picket fences, we made a garden in the desert and drew thirty O3 Springfield rifles for training.

However, we soon began to draw our equipment faster, and the Selective Service obligingly filled our cadre to full strength. We started to faintly resemble 3 soldierly unit. For twelve weeks we sweated through the basic training schedule while at the same time we kept an eye peeled on the Pacific Ocean for signs of an approaching enemy. Our first realization that there was a war going on came when a Japanese submarine managed to get in close enough to shell Santa Barbara one evening in March. The inclement brought the: war a little closer to us and we doubled our' vigor on the watch towards the West. We kept a battery in firing position on the beach every night and continued to train, train, train. At the end of the twelve week program we found our training paid dividends when the battalion was judged first in the division in their training tests. The awards surprised us just about as much as anyone, but it gave us a lot of needed confidence, too. We felt ready for the next phase--Desert Maneuvers

The Desert Scene

The Mojave Desert in California was a place of mystery in the summer of 1942. Rommel and the British were playing hide and seek across the wastes of North Africa, and we felt that with a little practice we could take right off after them. But that isn't what happened.
Late in July we arrived at our initial maneuver assembly area near Freda, California a friendly little town of two Indians, two gas pumps, and a hot dog stand, carrying our version of full field equipment for the desert, water bags, "kepi’s" for our helmet liners, and innumerable types of sun-proof vitamin pills designed to give us vigor under the most grueling conditions. The next few weeks we "acclimatized" ourselves to the terrific temperatures, a process in which we lay on our backs in what shade we could find most of the day. Wonderful - these maneuvers.

After we became acclimated to hle desert heat, the tempo of the exercises gained momentum, and soon maneuver problems started in earnest. We chased one another over the Chocolate Mountains, through the Iron Mountain Pass, and from Blythe to Needles and Needles to Desert Center all summer. By November we could throw the tracks off a halftrack and pry them back on again in record time. Our skill at not getting lost in the trackless wastes had increased a hundred fold, and we had painted the towns of Blythe, Needles, and Los Angeles a very brilliant red during the rest periods between problems. In the meantime American Forces had landed in North Africa and Montgomery was busy chasing Rommel back to Tunisia. We guessed that the troops already overseas would have made the Sahara an American sand pile long before we could possibly put our newly acquired desert "know how" into actual practice. They did, and back we went to Camp Cooke to await the future.

The Return of the Prodigals

Our second stay at Camp Cooke presaged a period of training for speed. We turned in our old' T-19's and drew our new M-7's. Next  came a flurry of experimentation and practice  in fast shooting. We practically lived on the combat ranges and did the best we could to duplicate actual battle conditions with live ammunition. Our simulation reached a new high for the observation parties who discovered what it was like to'be under shell fire. Our speed also picked up, and we reached a point at which we could occupy a position and fire the first round within thirty seconds of the initial call for fire. The period during which we developed this state of proficiency was one of considerable excitement to the civilian population of Lompoc and the passengers on the Southern Pacific Railroad, who evidently didn't relish the idea of running the gauntlet every day. However no damage was done and our training progressed rapidly.

Our grass and geraniums had flourished in the lushness of California fog, and while during our earlier stay at Cooke we had fought to plant the stuff, now we had to fight to prevent it from growing all over our walks and into our barracks. One can grow anything in California.

The tide of the war was rapidly turning in  favor of the Allies now, and we shared the general feeling of anticipation for the big show.  When would it start and what would our role.  be? At last we got our movement orders. We were off--to Tennessee Maneuvers, and the miseries to follow.

The Tennessee Campaigns

The move to the Tennessee Maneuver area was accomplished by train. We turned in our vehicles in California and were to draw new equipment in Tennessee. We entrained at Camp Cooke wearing our "Sunday go to meetin"' uniforms slightly the worse for the

Our new station was quite a change from sunny California. Arriving in early March, in the midst of the last snow storm of the year, and groping our way to our maneuver assembly area in the middle of the night, we discovered that we were to bivouac in a reasonably accurate facimile of a swamp. But, where there is a will there is a way, so we built. platforms for our tents, bridging the streams that crisscrossed the camp site to make ourselves as comfortable as possible, and awaited our new equipment and start of the first problem.

Maneuvers were old stuff to us now. The only changes~ we found from the desert were the substitution of pouring rain for burning sun, wooded hills and valleys for sandy wastes. and Nashville for Los Angeles. Tennessee moved us a good deal farther along the road to the real thing. We maneuvered rapidly and learned to follow our maps, march at night and live in the mud instead of sand. We also became adept at foraging somewhat to the consternation of the local inhabitants, but chicken and fried eggs made a good snack after a long and dusty road march, and no doubt the local economy was not too greatly upset. Our ability to live and keep our vehicles in good shape in the field developed to an amazing degree, a fact that proved invaluable to us when we eventually reached the theater of operations.

The four months in Tennessee left us again in the speculative stage. The question we all asked was "where do we go from here"? The war in Europe was confined to Italy and the South Pacific hardly looked like the plausible disposition for an Armored Field Artillery Battalion. In June our question was answered -- we were to go to Pine Camp, and so we did with all our martial train.

The Pine Camp Episode

After the dust, mud and restrictions of the Tennessee Maneuvers we expected a general relaxation at Pine Camp. Furloughs, passes and leaves in unlimited quantities would have been a pleasure, but we headed right into a ninety day intense training program complete with ten percent pass quota. The days were full of road marches, target practice and RSOP's. The nights were full of PX's, Service Clubs, Movies, Watertown, Carthage and a little sleep, except when we went on overnight problems. We trained to meet the standards
of the War Department Combat tests and wondered when we'd take them and sail for who knew where?

Summer passed into fall and Pine Camp  began to live up to its reputation as the coldest  of Army Posts. It became increasingly difficult  to stay warm and stay in uniform at the same  time. Then came happy news -- we were to  be equipped with brand new winter clothing,  ponchos, pile jackets, shoe pacs -- the whole  works. Great was our rejoicing when the: outfits were issued, down to special sleeping bags, built on the order of straight jackets. We tried them all on to be sure they fit, and then turned them back in and continued our training.

The tension of "sweating out" overseas orders became increasingly acute. We were sharp, or at least we thought we were. "Bring on the tests and we're ready to go -- after we get those furloughs", of course was every man's exclamation. In November the orders arrived. We started to operate under instructions for overseas shipment. POM was our guide and Indiantown Gap was to be our first leg on the course across the Atlantic. No one told us all this, but we were used to not being told.

We Discover Pennsylvania

We loaded up on the now familiar troop train at Pine Camp and chugged off for Indiantown Gap late in November. It proved itself colder than Pine Camp, only with more snow. The buildings were older, and there weren't as many of them as in our previous camp. At any rate we weren't allotted as many as we wanted, but we managed on the accommodations we had. We still hadn't taken our final examinations yet -- the Combat Tests, consequently we went hack into more rehearsing, combat style. There wasn't much space to
throw the shells, having a range that looked like a tennis court but, ever using great caution, we kept the rounds out of Harrisburg. Our shooting improved day by day and we lost only one round in the whole period. If anyone ever finds it we'd like to have it back for a memento, although we strongly suspect it went clean over the mountain and chances of anyone finding that one are almost nil.

As the end of the year approached the tempo of activity increased and we preceded to take shots for what seemed every ailment known to medical science. Our "dog tags" had to be checked and rechecked over and over again. Shortly afterwards we moved out and sailed through the combat tests with a record score. At last we had time for furloughs, or perhaps we were doing a little wishful thinking. Anyway, we discovered that we were to assist in the Infantry and Tank tests and the old cancellation stamp appeared on a lot of  long anticipated furlough certificates. But we all squeezed under the wire, finally, and in the midst of all the going and coming we packed up our household equipment, turned in our vehicles, took one last look around to see if we had forgotten anything, and entrained for a secret destination.

We spent our last few days at Indiantown confined to camp and hadn't been able to talk the taxi-cab drivers in Harrisburg, so we really didn't know where we were going except that it would be a Port of Embarkation.

Prelude to the Voyage

The train rolled swiftly eastward from Indiantown Gap until we reached New Jersey. Late in the afternoon we, passed through the gates of what was to be Our last post in the United States -- Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Here we readied ourselves for the ocean voyage ahead of us, and were subjected to a  program of processing, which made every man a virtual prisoner in his respective bunk, so he  would be available within a moment's notice to undergo any tests that might occur. Our entire stay at Camp Kilmer was one big showdown  inspection. Everything we owned was scrutinized for serviceability with an eye to replace  any item found worn out. We turned in clothing and equipment day and night and in between inspections to sort of relieve the monotony. We practiced abandon ship drills, went through gas chambers, and stood our final physical examinations. All of us had both arms legs and could walk, so no one had trouble with the physical. There is no truth to the report that there was an ambulance following us as we marched along to the medical building for everyone made it, anyway.

We had only been at Kilmer one day when the wall of military censorship cut us off from the outside world. No one was allowed to leave the post, no mail was sent out, and no telephone  calls could he made. The moment for embarkation was so near some of us got seasick just thinking about it. Three days later we lined up with all of our gear strapped on our backs and loaded on the train for the dock. We shuttled across the bay on a ferry boat, gazed longingly at the Statue of Liberty, and before we knew it were aboard ship, safely tucked away deep in the hold.
The Atlantic

Our ship was the Edmund B. Alexander, a converted passenger liner. It was a good ship, at least it didn't leak anywhere and no one had to sleep on deck. Each of us had his individual stateroom hanging from the wall deep down in  the stuffy hold with about two cubic feet of air for personal use. If we had been drenched with olive oil we could have passed for sardines in any delicatessen in the country.

However, there was lots of room on deck, and the long climb up the companionway from the hold to reach it provided a good bit of exercise. It wasn't too bad - much better than swimming.

The first day at sea had varying effects on us. Some of us turned very pale, some turned a delicate shade of blue, while "violent green" was a very popular complexion. The chow line was very short that day, but standing room at the rail was hard to find. However, as the day wore on we gradually recovered our color, and  by nightfall had decided that we were going to live through this ordeal after all.

Our convoy was seemingly spread all over  the ocean as far as the eye could see. We later found that it-was the largest convoy of the war. Day after day we watched our sister ships toss and roll their way to England, for we were now certain that we were headed for that jolly isle. We fell out for boat and abandon ship drill regularly until one sunny morning a dim shape resembling land appeared on the horizon. We lined the rails as the ship drew closer to Ireland skirting its shores, and sailed down the west coast of England to deposit us safely at Liverpool. We had crossed the Atlantic without sighting a submarine or an enemy airplane, a fact that made none of us sorry.

Perham Downs

We got our first taste of war, or more correctly, the horrible results of it when we saw the ruined waterfront sections of Liverpool as our ship eased its way into the pier. Everywhere was devastation and the ruins of buildings. If we ever felt like fighting before we felt a hundred times more so now, witnessing for the first time the work of our enemy. Scarcely had we lined up on the dock when we were taken on an eerie march, through the deserted streets of Liverpool to the train that was waiting to whisk us away to our destination. Once aboard the typical English cars we were treated to a cup of hot coffee served to us by the Red Cross girls whose smiles improved our spirits a great deal. Their presence brought a touch of home to us.

Over the beautiful English heaths we sped taking in all the countryside, particularly noting the severe use of the land, for every available foot was producing food for this country at war. After riding all that night and far into the next afternoon we reached our destination, Perham Downs, Wiltshire, where  we were billeted in the barracks of the Royal Tank Corps.

The training of course started again and we set to our task of that old deal, the Drill Schedule. The climate was terrible and not a few of us remarked that Tennessee and the Desert had had their definite good points. Dampness and mist were the passwords, and it was a 24 hour job trying to heat up a huge building, built to accommodate fifty people with one infinitesimal apology for a fire-place that lay embedded in the wall. All in all we froze. The stay in Perharn Downs was un- spectacular, heightened only by a few passes to Piccadilly Square, or rather London. We weren't excited about the place and we welcomed the news that we were going down to the coast on another mission.

H. M. S. Raleigh

We mounted our trusty 6x6's and set forth again for the South of England and Plymouth, where a job of the utmost importance was awaiting us. This assignment was by no means an intriguing one for it consisted of acting in the capacity of Service Troops to give a helping hand to the boys who were to crack open Hitler’s fortress on D-day. Our first temporary stop was at the H. M. S. Raleigh, a former Naval Training Center, and we waited here for a few days preparatory to our new duties. The battalion was split up, each battery going to a different camp all in the same general vicinity, where the invading troops would be serviced and made ready for the big assault. The idea of turning to permanent K. P. was not at all to our liking, but we turned to and did the best we could with the equipment placed at our disposal. The job turned out to be a constant battle to provide the facilities we thought invasion troops should have.

Once we were settled down to this novel routine we took a look at Plymouth and found it presented quite a number of things to do on pass. A part of the city had been blasted away by the Luftwaffe, due principally to its nearness to the English Channel, but enough of the pubs and theaters remained to occupy what leisure we had. There were also almost enough ATS girls and WRENS to help us along. All in all, we spent our time between doing K.P., pulling guard, or slipping off to Plymouth or to the quaint Cornish Villages, where life was simple hut pleasant. Everything went well and we felt that the boys who left us to embark on the greatest and most dangerous task of their lives took a part of us along with them, for with them went our good wishes and the prayers for their safety.


With the announcement of D-day on June 6th we were released from our onerous tasks as cooks and kitchen police, and moved back to the Salisbury Plain where we bivouacked in the open field to add the finishing touches to our training. The camp was as close to the open country as it could be in England, wide plains being everywhere. The only village near us was Tilshead, a small British Army community that added little to our recreational facilities.

Before we could start our training in earnest we had to draw our equipment from depots scattered all over the country, a job that lasted until we left the area for the channel crossing.

The camp was alive with rumors of our impending movement to France, any one of which was as reliable as the other. All information was top secret. The Intelligence Department had little to fear from us however, as we didn't know from day to day when we would be ordered to move out.

The training schedule made its weekly appearance with a decided emphasis on physical conditioning which translated itself into a daily routine of calisthenics and twenty mile road marches. In spite of our designation as armored troops we covered a goodly portion of southern England on foot. The marching toughened us up, however, a fact that paid us dividends later.

As time wore on we followed the news of the Battle of Normandy and "sweated" out our movement orders. The maintenance crews worked day and night with their welding torches to modify our vehicles for our purpose.

Finally we began to draw and load full allotments of ammunition. The rumors spread like wildfire. Just as we were beginning to wonder if we were going to get into the war at all we struck camp and rolled off to the marshalling area at Southampton to cross the channel.


After waiting patiently for hours to take our assigned place in the convoy, we finally jumped on our vehicles and rolled out of Tilshead. On the way down to the coast we took another look at the fresh English countryside, wondering if our destination, France, would resemble it. Upon arrival at Southampton we were destined to remain here much longer than we expected, for we had forgotten that the tremendous job of loading the vehicles onto the boat still had to be done. We watched with interest as the massive cranes hoisted vehicle after vehicle, tank after tank in to the hold of the vessel. And everyone felt a bit uneasy seeing the huge tanks dangling crazily from a cable that groaned in protest. But everything proceeded smoothly, and darkness found all our armored vehicles safe within the ship, ready to sail. Shortly afterwards we boarded the ship and with everything in readiness, it quietly slipped away from the pier. The trip itself was uneventful for us, but our Service Battery, which had gone on ahead on another vessel had its first taste of enemy action when a German plane swooped low over the deck and strafed it. This incident brought the stark reality of war home to us, and we were determined not to let that challenge go unanswered. But, with the exception of the above, we all passed safely over the channel, despite the fact that our first mate turned out to be an addict of the bottle. and we had misgivings of his ability to handle his job. He was quite a character, and there were some of us who feared that his unsteady behavior might have a disastrous effect on the course of the ship and that we  might find ourselves in Africa, instead of France. Our fears were dispelled when we finally sighted the coast of France. Shortly after arriving we landed on Utah Beach; floating to shore on barges, and headed for our first tactical position, St. Sauveur le Vicornte.


Preparation for Rattle at St. Saveur Le Vicomte

Our bivouac at St. Saveur was a portion of the early Normandy battlefield. We pitched our tents amidst the grim reminders of the first battle that foretold of our own task to come. The hushed fox holes and now silent hedgerow machine gun nests dotted the area. Enemy potato masher grenades, scattered remnants of German uniforms, and the hulks of abandoned vehicles added their share to the battle scarred landscape. Even an occasional Prisoner of War was picked up in the area and the battle line lay just ahead.

While waiting for our first commitment to battle we busied ourselves with last minute preparations. We built additional baggage racks for our vehicles, picked up the last few odds end ends of equipment, and tried to strip down  to essential items for combat.

The stripping process moved smoothly down to the point at which we were to turn in our duffle bags. Here we went through the most amazing series of orders and cancellations we had yet to receive. We packed and unpacked the things so often the contents began to wear out. Just as we were about to lose our minds  with the above situation, Field Order No. 1 was issued and we discovered we had six hours to take the road with the balance of the division,  and move to the vicinity of Lassay, France. The duffle bags went out with a rush and we  packed up ready to move out to the great adventure. At midnight, the battery of anti-aircraft artillery that was to fight with us the rest of the war joined our column and we left St. Saveur le Vicomte, bound for combat.

"Vive L' Amerique"

None of us will ever forget our first night's march to meet the enemy. We knew little of the situation. What little information we had indicated that the American Army had broken the German line at Coutances. We were to exploit the breakthrough and our column rolled on through the dark and dust gaining speed as the night bore down on us. Never in all our days of training had we had a march like this one. Visibility was zero. The darkness of the night and dust left us under a black cloud through which the winking blackout light of the leading vehicle peeked sparingly. On and on we went, and in spite of the dark and the terrific pace we managed to end up all together the next morning at our destination, only to find that we had to continue onward again. The breakthrough was clear; we were to drive into the German rear, and speed was again the watch word.

Three days after we had moved from St. Saveur le Vicomte, and had reached Avranches. we paused to get our breath and await further news of the situation. It was at this point that we came under nightly strafing attacks from what the daily press insisted was the "vanished Luftwaffe". Our "ack ack", however had shot three of the attackers down while we suffered no casualties.

We left the vicinity of Avranches on the sixth of August, with our mission still to drive into the German rear and at last we felt we were going to accomplish what we set forth to do. As we moved west, we found the characteristics of the countryside completely changed. Gone were the hedgerows to be replaced by open fields. Gone were the demolished and deserted Norman villages to be replaced by red roofed French towns thronged with wildly cheering Frenchmen -- -- and Frenchwomen. "Ooh la la", who can forget those mademoiselles?

We rolled on through village after village, and the war lost its somber note. The French sun smiled on us all day, and the French people greeted us with flowers, apples, tomatoes, wine. champagne and a beautiful beverage we thought was cognac. We later discovered it was triple distilled dynamite or something strongly resembling it.

The column rolled merrily on through Vitre and out the other side, when suddenly we were jolted back to earth with a thud. Our forces had hit a strong point and we realized that we were locked with an enemy who had only been evident previously by the wrecks of vehicles that had been strewn along the roads. The resistance was quickly overcome however, and we did not find it necessary to fire.

We moved on again, still driving deeper into enemy territory, although we still found the route of march lined with cheering and waving French who continued to shower us with flowers and wine. We reciprocated by passing out cigarettes and chocolate bars as long as they lasted. The medics found it necessary to explain that being hit in the eye with a flying tomato tossed by celebrating Frenchmen did not constitute a battle wound.

Our heroic march of liberation was finally brought up at St. Aignaur,  when after four days of constant marching we crossed sabers with the ninth Panzer Division. Here we discovered what spearheading really meant. The Germans proved to be determined foes, and in no time at all we found them all around us, or at least we had reports to indicate there were pockets of them to the front, the rear, and to the flanks. We fired our first rounds at St. Aignaur and we shot them in every conceivable fashion, including direct fire with time burst at an Infantry attack that attempted to infiltrate our area. We received a real baptism of fire, and came out distinctly victors over the pride of the German Panzer Corps.

From St. Aignaur the route of march swung northward and we raced to join the Canadians who were reported driving south toward us. Again we met the crowds of wild and enthusiastic French, who by this time were innocently holding us back by their tumultuous greetings. On we drove through Sees, Contilly, Bleves, to Le Mesle where again we overran the Germans who tried to halt our impending junction with our allies. Again we used direct fire against infantrymen who charged our positions, annihilating them.

Our confidence had increased with every mile. Victory was in the air. The ringing shouts of the French will never be forgotten. "Time's a wastin", the battle cry of the campaign, was on every man's lips. Our halts were only long enough to gas up and push on past Sees through Essai and into Nonant le Pin, where we closed the southern pincer of what turned out to be the Falaise Gap.

After two days at Nonant we turned eastward again -- Our mission? On to Paris, the goal of every division and the heart of every Frenchman.

The wild rat race was on again. We rolled swiftly on through Marmoville, Nauville, Courtomer, repeating the same now familiar pattern of overrunning or by-passing anything that got in our way. As we passed Tuboeuf we had news of an enemy armored concentration at Laigle. The leading elements of the tanks and infantry swept by them on the south, but the Germans tried to stop the advance and struck our column as we followed the leading elements. The battalion was split, and C Battery found itself facing an ambush of German armor and infantry, and forced to fight a tank battle  at close range. The contest raged for three hours and the ambush was destroyed, but not before we had lost an M-7, one of our anti- aircraft vehicles, and all of C Battery's one-quarter ton trucks. One entire gun crew was lost. It was the hardest blow the enemy had struck, but we quickly recovered and moved swiftly on towards Paris.

Word came down that we were to allow the French to make the initial entry into their own capital, therefore our advance was diverted north, and we reached the Seine River near Mantes-Gassicourt, ready to assist the French if necessary.

Through Paris and on to Belgium

We assumed firing positions at the very gates of Paris for several days contenting ourselves with shooting at the Germans across the river until our orders to move on through the capital arrived. We displaced forward on the 30th of August and passed through St. Germain into the city proper, to be greeted by the wildly acclaiming population.

Paris overwhelmed us in true French style. As we marched down the Champs Elysees our column was overrun with the joyous men, women and children of the metropolis, all of whom attempted to kiss us, or shake our hands in thanksgiving. Ahead of us we could see the Arc de Triomphe decked out in the flags of all the nations, while the Eiffel Tower pointed its finger to the sky in the distance. However the gifts of eggs, tomatoes, potatoes and wine that had been presented us in the farm districts were not to be seen in Paris.

Our advance remained unchecked, and now the names of the French towns began to have a familiar ring. We were approaching the Compeigne Forest -- the scene of the last Armistice.

At Compeigne we hit trouble again. The remnants of the retreating Germans had taken refuge in the woods. It was difficult for armor to weed them out, so we literally saturated the area with shells, while the doughboys rounded up the strays. The job held us up for two days however, longer than we cared to stay in one position.

Finally we were able to cross the Oise River and push on to the Belgian border. Ammunition and gasoline were beginning to be the problem now, because our advance had been so rapid that it necessitated leaving supply dumps far behind. The ammunition and gas trains were forced to travel for hundreds of miles to keep us amply supplied. Yet we managed to keep going even though the "K" ration had grown about as popular as a case of
 hives, and "C" rations were used only as a last  resort.

On the 3rd of September we completed the  entire march across France from Normandy to  Belgium, and found that the only difference in the greetings of the Belgians was the color of the flags. The same cheers, the same kisses, the same language and best of all the same eggs.

After crossing into Belgium at Conde we all expected to drive on to Brussels, but our orders: were changed and we turned about and headed back to drive the faltering Germans from the Duchy of Luxembourg.

We Liberate a Duchy

Luxembourg presented a new and different type of welcome to the liberating troops. Their joy was probably as great as that of the French and Belgians, but there was a touch of conservatism that tempered their display of emotion. The streets were hung with American and Luxembourgian flags and lined with smiling and waving people, but the demonstration lacked the unfettered spirit that had characterized the French outbursts.

The Germans realized we were getting closer to the Fatherland than they had ever dreamed possible, and accordingly their delaying actions became more frequent and violent. However the weather remained in our favor, the sun shone continuously and our columns fanned out over the countryside with the Air Corps hovering overhead ready to give us assistance on call.

The enemy began using his own artillery in heavier concentrations, realizing the seriousness of this situation. Up to this time counter- battery fire had been of little consequence to us, but now we found every shell being returned  with interest. Fortunately we suffered no casualties as a result of these renewed efforts, but the "88" outranged our "105" and we seldom were able to silence the enemy without moving in dangerously close to his positions. The P-47's above us were our guardian angels in these situations and by staying in direct contact with them we formed an artillery-air corp team that was unbeatable.

Within a period of two days the entire Duchy of Luxembourg had  been cleared of Germans, and we had taken positions facing the Siegfried Line opposite Wallendorf. On the 13th of September the 95th Field Artillery Battalion fired its initial rounds on German soil. The next few days we duelled sporadically with the German Artillery, neither side seriously affecting the other.


The first break in the Siegfried Line occurred after we joined with several medium artillery battalions in heavily shelling the approaches at Wallendorf. The Infantry and Tanks moved forward and crept up the, precipitous road that led over the Our River and up the steep cliffs on the far side, into Germany itself. We followed cautiously behind them anti found ourselves in the Reich on the 15th of September. We were now playing the part of conquerors, not liberators.

The "West Wall", which the Germans hall flaunted before the eyes of the world as impregnable, was breached, and we felt that the end was near. At least it seemed imminent and nothing could stop us on the road to Berlin -- or so we thought. Our columns penetrated swiftly to a depth of fifteen miles when we were ordered to halt and consolidate our positions. It was here that the enemy decided to stop and fight. Slowly he built up a new wall of encirclement and every day found more artillery pouring down on us, with the ferocity of tile counter-attack increasing in volume. Confusion was everywhere, and it was not unusual to see our three batteries firing in the same number of directions. To make matters worse our main supply route was being infiltrated time and time again by enemy Infantry, and the ammunition trains overcame tremendous obstacles carrying our desperately needed shells.

The Germans kept pushing in closer and closer until on the 19th of September his artillery concentrations reached such a peak in severity that we were forced to fall back to our alternate area. This temporary withdrawal gave us no respite however, and we were compelled to turn our guns away from the enemy artillery batteries and train them on the tanks and infantry that were attempting to outflank the entire penetration by overrunning our positions.

The battle increased in intensity, but in spite of the fury of the German attack we held until we were ordered to withdraw to the west bank of the "Our". There were no allied troops available to reinforce us, but we had accomplished our mission by diverting the German strength to the point of our penetration allowing the high command to direct the main effort of the allied attack elsewhere. We retraced our steps through Wallendorf and reoccupied our old positions to resume harassing the Germans. Our experiences under fire had showed our ability to stand adversity as well as success although many of our friends were no longer with us.

The tenacity of the German defense at Wallendorf proved that they were not yet ready to give up a lost cause and that our hopes of an early termination of the war in Europe had been premature. The gay optimism of the French campaigns gave way to a new realization that now that we were at the gates of Germany we would be faced with a foe determined to protect every foot of his home soil.

The Hurtgen Forest

After the sweep of liberation across France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, the war settled down to a dogged fight for yards instead of miles, against a foe who had apparently rejuvenated himself. The armored spearheads of which we had been a part were held to limited objective attacks, and we fought from stabilized positions rather than changing from day to day, or hour to hour as we had in the past. We shifted generally northward from week to week firing into the now strongly garrisoned Siegfried Line. Late in November we entered the bloodiest battle of the war -- the Hurtgen Forest.

Everything about Hurtgen was difficult and miserable. The forest itself was so thick that we were forced to hack clearings in it to emplace our guns. The roads were merely dirt paths which quickly turned into rivers of mud, and the weather was uniformly cold and wet. Each day found us either drenched to the skin  or covered with snow. The winter nights were sheer misery for all of us and we had no shelter from the elements other than our shelter-halfs and make shift log huts. Every round of ammunition had to be carried into the position area  and during the twenty-five days in which we occupied the same positions we fired an average  of two thousand rounds a day. It was a back- breaking period for all of us, especially for the gun crews, who labored incessantly to keep the hot barrels in action.

Throughout the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest the troops to whom we had been providing direct support fought their way doggedly into the towns of Kleinhau, Brandenburg, and Beregstein, all of which were fanatically defended by the enemy. The casualties to our supported troops were extremely heavy and included all of our Forward Observer tanks.

In spite of the adverse weather affecting flying conditions the area was kept under constant observation by our Cub airplanes, which flew in the rain and snow to direct our fire on the enemy.

The Battle of the Hurtgen Forest is not one that any of us is likely to forget. It was a harrowing experience in its entirety, and the best that can he said of it is, “It's Over".

The Bulge

After the completion of the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, we anticipated a rest period, but  we soon found out otherwise. Orders came to  proceed south to the vicinity of Rotgen, Germany to support the proposed attack on the Roer River Dams. It was a relief to be out of  the forest, although the new area was also a  quagmire necessitating a great deal of pushing, hauling, digging and winching to get our twenty-five ton M-7's into position.

We waited in readiness for the expected attack firing a few harassing rounds and interdictions until, on the night of December 16th, the Luftwaffe made an appearance overhead and suddenly dropped parachutists in our midst. We immediately went into action, killing or capturing those who were unfortunate enough to drop in our immediate vicinity, and setting up a tight defense against any who might have landed nearby. As dawn broke, information of the overall situation filtered down and we learned that Von Rundstedt had launched an armored counter-offensive against our inadequately held defenses in the Ardennes. Our lines had been broken and the Germans were heading rapidly towards the Meuse River to encircle our rear.

We were ordered to fall back and occupy new positions in the vicinity of Eupen, Belgium  to protect the road blocks that were established  to prevent the German armor from swinging north. This march compelled us to make a night  occupation in preparation for firing at dawn, the time of the expected German drive. The attack did not develop, however, and after the first few days of tension we relaxed somewhat and concentrated on apprehending the German agents who had been infiltrating our installations and attempting to sabotage defenses and headquarters in the rear areas.

The Ardennes offensive brought new onslaughts from the German air force. Our ack ack gunners began to average one plane a day until the initial impetus of the German attack wore off and tile "Bulge” was eliminated by an allied "pincer" movement from the north and south.

The Roer Crossing

As the Ardennes Campaign drew to a close the allied effort turned again to crossing the Roer River, and we moved northward to support the planned assault. Spring was in the air although it did little towards improving the weather conditions under which we fought. Old General Mud had almost complete control of the battlefield, while the melting snow combined with the spring rains to swell the Roer to flood level. We learned that the Germans controlled the dams up river and the destruction of them would send a roaring flood down on us, completely inundating wide areas and rendering the proposed crossing impossible.

For this assault on the, Roer we dug in at Ederen, Germany and again tugged and hauled our heavy M-7's into place only 1500 yards front the front lines. Camouflaging ourselves, we sat back and waited for the orders that would send our barrage against the enemy, preparatory to the crossing. Finally they arrived on the 23rd of February and at 2:45 in the morning, we joined in the most intensive and concentrated artillery barrage fired during the entire war. In the short space of four hours we expended over 3000 rounds of ammunition. On our left and right flanks other artillery battalions joined in the serenade of death preceding the operation "Grenade”. The entire sky was filled by the crimson flashes of thousands of guns. The east bank of the Roer became one black mass of dust and burning buildings.

The crossing was successful and the assault elements quickly moved beyond our range. We ceased fire and waited for our turn to cross in support of the armor that would exploit the breakthrough. That time was not long arriving, for soon we were to cross the Roer under the cover of darkness and move up behind the tanks and armored infantry, ready to dash on to the Rhine.

The Roer to the Rhine

The open fields that spread across Germany from the Roer to the Rhine looked like superb armored terrain. But, when our vehicles began to sink in the soft, yielding ground we discovered how mistaken we were. Vehicles bogged down completely as soon as they left the roads. We were restricted in our power to maneuver, and the selection of firing positions proved a great deal more difficult than we had anticipated. It all added up to the same type of pushing and hauling we had run into at Hurtgen and Rotgen. Muscle was again substituted for machinery.

The Germans took advantage of our terrain difficulties and fought skillfully, slowing our advance to a mere walk, until we found a vulnerable point in their defenses northwest of Munchen-Gladbach. With a sudden sweep the tanks broke into the clear and raced to the Rhine at Orsoy. Throughout this offensive the Germans attempted to stem the armored drive with their emplaced dual purpose flak guns. Our job was to neutralize them, allowing the tanks to proceed forward. To do this, it necessitated occupation of positions almost in the front lines`to overcome the German superiority in gun range. Fortunately the speed of our advance was of such great momentum that they were unable to fully capitalize on this great advantage.

As our columns drove on Orsoy we took positions at Eick, where we blocked the German retreat across the Rhine by shelling them unmercilessly. However, though the Germans could no longer cross the river, we were faced with the same obstacles. Then came the astounding news of the American Bridgehead at Remagen. We swung to new sites on the Rhine at Lank-Latum while the rest of our division went into a static position to prepare for the general crossing of the river that was soon to come.

At Lank-Latum we pulled our guns as close as possible up to the buildings of the town and settled down to as weird an existence as we had yet experienced. We shelled the Germans on the east bank of the Rhine and they in turn shelled us. We remained in the same positions for three weeks, firing in volume enough to keep the Boche guessing as to where the next assault would strike. They, in turn, poured harassing fire back at us in frantic attempts to  drive us off. We became subterranean dwellers, and lived in the cellars of the houses to avoid the deadly rain of the shell bursts. We welcomed our relief from that assignment joyously, and lost no time in moving out to join the rest of the Division, in what was to be the last campaign of the war.



The plans for the final assault in Hitler’s Germany were extremely ambitious, Our first objective was Hannover, which appeared to be deep within the German lines from our positions west of the Rhine. Our' paratroopers had already dropped behind the enemy lines at Wesel and were rapidly expanding the bridgehead while we waited for the jump off signal. The Engineers had thrown two heavy pontoon bridges across the river near Wesel and on the 30th of March, the battalion rolled over the bridge ready to provide close support to the armored columns that were pursuing the enemy into the heart of Germany.

The contrast between the breakthrough in Germany and the one in France was as distinct as night and day. In France the population had greeted us wildly, but here in Germany the ruins of what had been towns and villages were all that bid us welcome. But there remained the weary, bedraggled slave labores, who had managed to stay behind when their German masters fled. They tried to greet us cheerfully, but for the most part were too exhausted to do more than wave pitifully and smile their thanksgiving.

The sight of these victims of aggression gave us all a deep feeling of revulsion towards the perpetrators of these atrocities. It was hard to realize that we were really witnessing results of "Nazi Culture".

Our first day's march carried us from the Rhine to the Ems-Canal, where we were to assemble preparatory to moving over the canal  towards Munster and Hannover. Unfortunately we found our assembly area still in enemy hands and we were forced to fight our way into it, a routine which was by this time not new to us. The fight over, we were ready to move out and exploit the breakthrough.

To the Weser

On the morning of April 1st, the battalion: in support of Combat Command R began its drive to the Weser River. Crossing the treadway bridge built the night before over the Dortmund-Ems Canal near Senden, in typical breakthrough "rat race" fashion, we raced 40 miles before dark. Off again the next morning we crossed the Ems Canal, and swung east towards the Weser. We were confronted by armed roadblocks manned with bazookamen which halted the column' periodically, but the enemy was disorganized;by the speed of our  advance and his futile efforts failed miserably  to slow our drive. The large city of Herford lay ahead of the command, and at its outskirts we ran into anti-tank guns. We went into position and our guns broke their silence of several clays, and succeeded in neutralizing the enemy pieces. All night long we fired heavy concentrations into the city, started fires, and led the  Germans to believe the city was to be entered in the morning. Instead, we split up into two columns, encircled the city, isolating it and  moved on towards the river hoping by some  lucky chance to catch some bridge intact. Suddenly high velocity fire began landing between the columns. The German artillery firing on  us was detected by our forward observers--  10 88's. The battalion began firing at once, pounding the positions with everything we had. We began using time fire and our tankers moved in buttoned up, followed by the infantry. The net result was the destruction or capture of ten 88's, and the death or surrender of all the personnel. It was the perfect illustration of teamwork and the effectiveness of our artillery support. On we raced then to the river, only to have a bridge blown up in our faces as we approached. Our cub reported a bridge near Rinteln still intact; therefore the command dispatched a party to attempt negotiation for the surrender of the town and the bridge.

Unfortunately, before the talks could be completed the bridge was blown by order of the German High Command with our envoys still behind their lines. When the enemy refused to return our party an ultimatum was delivered to the effect that unless they were released by 10 O'clock the next morning we would destroy the town completely. A half hour before the deadline we fired several "persuader" concentrations a few thousand yards away and they proved effective. Our envoys were returned on time. We had reached the Weser, but the bridges had been blown.

To the Elbe

On the afternoon of April 8th we crossed the Weser at the Pied Piper's famous town of Hameln. We were reenforced by the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion who stayed  with us to the Elbe. Just before dark the  column encountered some 500 SS troops near Springe. Together with the Air Corps we leveled the town. Thoroughly demoralized, the enemy gave up by the hundreds, completely dazed by the deadly accuracy of our fire. We continued on through the night, halting within  range of Hannover and the next morning took off again to isolate that famous city. All went well until all hell broke loose near Rethen when Hannover's thick defensive ring of flak guns opened up on us from all directions. Traversing our guns almost 300 degrees, we fired one thousand rounds in three hours, destroying or neutralizing up to ten batteries, with our Recon troops acting as emergency forward observers. The enemy fire caused us  only slight casualties despite direct hits on our CP, and some of our armored vehicles. We then joined our southern column and headed for Peine and the Autobahn with our mission  to cut off Hannover with a greater arc. This we accomplished so rapidly that we caught several tanks and truckloads of infantry totally by surprise. Peine surrendered and the next morning we were off again, the Elbe River objective now appearing more and more attainable. Time and again we pulled off the road, softened up the town ahead with fire, and then moved on. Gifhorn was the next to fall and here we split up into two task forces one supported by us: the other by our sister unit, the 695th Field Artillery. Our column headed due east liberating thousands of inmates of a concentration camp. Who can forget those men in the striped prison uniforms trying to smile at us, but too weak and emaciated to do so.

The prisoners were coming in in droves that night, and the problem of taking care of them bothered us more than the dangerous roadblocks that we were maintaining on all sides. We quickly solved the immediate job of sending the hundreds of men to the rear who were constantly streaming in and we received orders to proceed to our next objective  - the Elbe River. The familiar rat race was on again and we sped along the road intent upon our mission. Successfully reaching our assigned positions, we learned that the bridge had been entirely demolished. But we had done our job -- We were on the banks of The Elbe.

Division von Clausewitz

Having taken up positions by infiltration within fifteen hundred yards of the Elbe opposite Havesberg, we thought we were preparing to cross and head for Berlin. It reminded one of our typical missions. Instead, we were called upon to turn about, swing north and drive again to the Elbe to smash a strong force of the enemy known as Task Force Clausewitz. which was seriously harassing our rear lines. After waiting a few days at Salzwedel and firing at scattered groups of armored vehicles and just soldiers hiding out in nearby woods, we took off for Luchow. Here we ran into Anti-tank guns and Nebelwerfers. Using both ground and air observation, however, we pounded them incessantly until they were completely destroyed. Moving carefully through the hastily assigned roads, we pushed through to Luchow which was unconditionally surrendered to us. On we went toward Zadrau when again the column was stopped by 88's, Nebelwerfer fire, and fanatical Hitler Jugend troops. We went into position and fired continuously for two straight hours, alternating our use of White Phosphorous and high explosive, thus causing fires in Zadrau and Heide. Our air observers picked up the column of Nehelwerfers and called for our fire which annihilated them. Next they discovered the camouflaged 88's and demolished six of them, with their prime movers and entire crews. When the column moved through Zadrau and Heitle our supported units radioed their- thanks for our accurate fire, and when we passed through we saw for ourselves the devastating effects of our firing. Our final objective, Dannenberg, was now in sight, and we halted for the night at its outskirts. We rested little that night, laying down barrages into the town, and neutralizing more Nebelwerfers including their ammunition trucks. The next morning we went into Dannenberg and turned our guns again toward targets across the Elbe. The Ferry site near Domitz and many enemy gull batteries were constantly under our continuous pounding.

For the record, we had reached the Elbe Our next mission? -- Everyone wondered what our next disposition would be.

Wait for the Russians

The fighting was over for the Division, but not yet for its artillery. On April 26th we left CCR and joined Division Artillery under XIII Corps control. March order came and off we went to our new position beyond Arendsee in the small Elbe River town of Gr. Wanzer. The Russians were approaching, and all we were allowed to fire was initial registration. Service Battery set up a rest center on the See anti the deer hunters had a~field day. Then on May 2nd at dusk the news arrived -- The Russians were on the other side of the Elbe. German civilians were throwing themselves into the river, trying to get to our side. Officers and men went down to the river, crossed in rowboats and joyfully greeted our Russian Allies. The long awaited link-up had been made.

V-E Day

We had met the Russians. It looked like the war was over but again life in the army proved unpredictable. The division was alerted for another mission, and we were again attached to CCR. We moved to Wesendorf, were billeted in comfortable quarters and awaited further instructions. The division was attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps in the 2nd British Army, and it appeared highly probable that, so assigned, we would cross the Elbe. Speculation was rampant, and Denmark loomed up as our new field for liberation.

We were standing by for march order, at the same time watching the thousands of PW's stream by in their own vehicles voluntarily heading for our enclosures. There appeared to be many more thousands of enemy troops than of our own, but fortunately they were unarmed. More important, the spirit of resistance had long since died within them. It resembled the breakthrough but we knew it was the desperate exodus of their armies from the Russian areas.

Every news bulletin gave promising predictions as to when the unconditional surrender would actually come. Then on May 7th orders came to cease all offensive operations, and VE day was to be proclaimed twenty-four hours later. That joyous hour, so exultantly received throughout the world, came and went for us with little excitement. We played ball and pursued our normal duties, but deep down inside we all felt a sense of relief, joy, and profound happiness. We reminisced a great deal on that momentous day; our thoughts were of those who were no longer with us to see this joyful hour, and we wondered what the future held for us.

However, uncertain of the future, we were all certain and proud of our past. The 95th Armored Field Artillery Battalion had had its share of trials and tribulations. But through it all the battalion had done its job well, hall never failed in its mission, and had emerged from the war proud of its achievements.