398 Armoured Field Artillery Battalion
On 2 February 1945, the battalion received orders to move north to the vicinity of Maastricht, Holland. At 20.20hrs the same day the march north began. Except for hourly halts and every nine hours, refeuling halts, the march was made in one operation. The Battalion arrived 02.30hrs February 4th at Simpelveld, Holland the new assembly area. The distance was 214 miles.
Simpelveld, Holland was the location of Battalion Headquarters and the billeting area of Headquarters and A. Battery, C. Battery was billited at Trintelen and B. Battery and Service at Hals. The people provied facilities and beds for all personnel making all feel very much at home. The proved to be real hosts by their action in washing clothes, making pastries for the men and taking them to movies and dances. Ice cream was made for the messes by the local diary, materials being provided by the batteries.
The period 4 February to 7 February was devoted to maintenance and cleanup. During this period the white camouflage was removed.
At 8 February 16.40hrs, the battalion moved to an assembly area east of Sittard, Holland, closing in at Bocket, Germany at 21.45hrs.
At 21 February 07.00hrs, the 398th began inflitrating vehicles into the vicinity of Diergaarde, Holland, where it was to be in direct support of CCB in a sector roughly between St Odilienberg and Vlodrop along the west bank of the Roer river. The unit replaced the Britsh 3rd RHA Regiment. The enemy had strong well preapred positions across the rive,r and it maintained patrols on the west bank over which it had good observation and fields of fire. All batteries registered and miscellaneous targets were taken under fire through our observation posts at St Odilienberg, Paarlo and Psoterholt, together with air OPs.
On 23 February 1945 a general attack was made along the west bank of the Roer with the main effort to the south of our sector. In preparation between 02.45hrs and 07.28hrs, 567 rounds wer expended. A well dug in German 20mm Flak gun across the river on a high ridge provided a difficult target for the FO's.
Approx 43 rounds had been fired on it, and at intervals between bursts the krauts would come out of their cover shouting and waving flags at the FO's. Even after a direct hit in continued firing.
During the period 23-27 February the following missions were fired:
Destruction (3x) 61 rounds
Harrasing (20) 457 rounds
Registration (11x) 153
Neutralization (21x) 458
Propaganda (7) 158 rounds
Operations were maintained at St Odilienberg and Paarlo at the rivers edge but since they were accesible to enemy observation and fire of all types, reliefs were effected only at night. The enemy maintained strong patrols at Vlodrop and sent infiltrating patrols across the river at night.
Several commendable incidents occured. Since it was beyond the effective range of the SCR-509, the FO at Paarlo depended entirely upon wire communication. This line was laid under enemy observation and fire, and on 23 February it had been broken four times by directs hits from enemy mortar fire. Splices were made by Lt Sparkman, Communications officer and two members of his crew after each break, under observation by the enemy, while small arms and mortar fire were falling around them.
Remaining under Division Artillery control, the 398th departed from Diergaarde and vincinity at 25 February at 02.00hrs, moving northeast about five miles to St joost, in the CCR sector, by 22.55hrs, the Battalion was in position and ready to fire. There was but slight activity on our part in this sector. A propaganda mission was fired the following day telling the Germans of the futility of thei fight and of their "rights: as POW.
During this period Service Battery was billited at Susteren south along the highway to Sittard. The unit departed from St Joost, Holland at 27 February, 14.30hrs, because the Division was marching southeast to capitalize on a Roer River crossing effected by the 35th Infantry division at Hilfarth, Germany.