399 Armoured Field Artillery Battalion
2 February 1945, we finally halted at 19.15hrs the following day in Groot Welsden some 8 mlies east of Maastricht, February 8th is a day our organization ought well remember for on this day we entered Germany. On 20th February, the Battalion congregated at Selsten for the move north to Montfort.
Beginning at 22.30hrs shells, fell in the area. Both the calibre and the number of rounds are unknown. No damage was done though some shells fell quite close. The Battalion, for the first time, moved on masse to the various callers in the area.
On 21 February at 07.00hrs we took off for Montfort, Each Battery sent its half-tracks and wheeled vehicles up separatey, being followed later by the M07s under S-3 Captain Oliver.
C Battery brought one of its guns up inot position early. Survey Battery proceeded to Susteren, Holland. Beginning at 13.00hrs, with Captain Salisbury acting as observer in an airplane of the 691st Field Artillery.
Eariler in the morning, Lieutenant Weldon laid a wire line from our CP at St Odilienberg back to our CP at Montfort. It was laid from the back of a tank because the roads were impassable to wheeled vehicles and were quite close to enemy outposts.
Some shell fire was experienced about 300yards to the right flank of this tank. At this OP, Captain Hardison later supervised registration of C Battery gun on a 3rd check point, a church in Melick, Germany.
Lieutenants Weldon and Elstman were also present at the OP at this time, the former to check his wire and the lateer to learn the location of the OP.
The problem was interrupted by shells fire, a mild way of saying these FO's enjoyed a nasty proximity to some nasty explosions. In the evening, Lt Weldon brought a "Weasel" up from Div arty for use in maintaining our wire tonight and tomorrow.
During the evening of 22 february, all BC's and observers were oriented in preparation for what was shortly to follow.
On February 23, at 02.45hrs, we commenced firing support of an attack by the XIII Corps.
We shelled known enemy installations in the vicinity of Blerick, north and east of us. We fired bn volley's controlled by the S-3, until 03.40hrs. Thereafter and until 07.30hrs the batteries controlled their own firing on a time schedule furnsihed by our S-3.
H.hour was 03.30hrs, when units of the XIII and XIX Corps jumped off.
At 04.20hrs we received word of initial progress. Captain Salisbury registered the 809 TD Bn and registered our bn on the 3 check points previously mentioned.
Lts Velinder, Johnson and Colacino departed for the OP at 08.30hrs shoot at enemy targets as opportunity might appear. All firing on this day is to be on command of Dv Arty.
On 24 February between 15.30hrs and 15.32hrs, B Battery suffered direct counter battery fire about 300yards from our CP to the extend of 5 rounds of light calibre shells.
B.Battery: This day after the barrage was a said day for the Battery. It was on this day that we found out that all the Germans on the other side of the lines weren't all dead. Just after we had finished eating out dinner and were sitting around the tanks just doing nothing, there came a high pitch whistle through the air. Never before had any man heard the incoming sounds of shells, but no one had to tell anybody to hit the dirt, theyre coming in. That was the first incoming mail we ever had. The first round hit the hill just behind the gun sections, the second round hit a direct hit on the barn roof where four gun sections were billeted, and the third round landed in the street of town, taking our first boy from the battery. T/5 John F.McCall of Wichita, Kansas was killed instantly while moving a half-track to aid another track that was stuck. The next round landed on the hill wounded Pfc Edward.L Alunno of San Jose, California and the next round gave ear and face wounds to Pfc Keith E. Mixter of Lansing, Mich.
The same round that wounded Mixter landed directly on the roof top of the hut built by the maintenance section. They had just finished building their shelter and went inside for an inspection of the roof, when bang, in come the round right on top of the roof. The shrapnel from this round pierced the half track parked next to the shelter and when the smoke cleared and the dust settled the track looked like a flour sifter. Pfc Ernest Clemence done a great job on the wounded Pfc Alunno.
After this experience of counterbattery firing th battery was moved to an alternate position nearer the outskirts of town.
25 February was a comparatively uneventful day. We shot a couple of registration points, shot at a tank and, unfortunately, missed and also shot at 6 infantrymen in Blerick.
On 26th February from 05.45hrs to 06.00hrs, we laid down artillery fire in support of attack by the 58th Infantry and indirect support of the 7th A.I.B which was in reserve. Thereafter during the day, we fired various further missions. In the afternoon we became in name that we actually were all afternoon; a unit firing to reinforce the fires of the 405 Armd FA Battalion. F Lt Esra was pinned down all afternoon by Artillery fire.
At 12.40hrs on 28 February, we left Montfort with fair weather and moved to Arsbeck Germany.