997th Field Artillery Battalion
APC 230, U.S. Army

30 June 1944

SUBJECT:Unit History (20 June to 30 June 1944, incl.)

TO:Historical Section, Army War College, Washington, D.C.
(Thru CG, V Corps)
      a. Original Unit
             (1) Designation – 997th FA Bn
             (2) Date of organization – 1 March 1943
             (3) Place of organization – Ft. Ord, California
             (4) Authority for organization – Sec 1, GO #16, Hq II Armd Corps, San Jose, California, dtd 16
               Feb 1943
             (5) Sources from which personnel were obtained – 2d Bn 195th FA Regt and Med Det 195th FA

      b. Changes in organization
             (1) Attached directly to 190th FA Group 27 June 1944, per VOCG V Corps.

      c. Strength, commissioned and enlisted
             (1) At beginning of period – 26 O, 2 WO, 575 EM
             (2) At end of period – 26 O, 2 WO, 627 EM

      d. Stations of unit or parts thereof
             (1) Departed Fawley, Hants, to board LSTs for channel crossing 25 June 1944
             (2) Upon arrival in France preceeded to positions in vicinity of Cerisy-la-Foret.

      e.    Operations

            On 20 June 1944, at 0145 hours, the Bn CO received verbal orders from the RTC that the Bn was to move to the Marshalling Area B-1, in the vicinity of Southampton, England, without delay.  Orders, as issued,  provided for the departure of Captain GEORGE L. WILSON, Asst Bn S-3, for Exeter to pick up the written orders; for the heavy column, under EVERTT A. ROMIG, Bn S-3, to move at 1300 yhours; for the light column under Major W.W. PERHAM, Bn Ex Officer, to move at 1400 hours and to receive orders by messenger enroute; for the light column to double the heavy column at a scheduled halt following the battalion SOP; and for a reception party to be sent forward.

                        The move to the Marshalling Area proceeded without notable incident; the advanced party arriving at 2030 hours, the light column at 2230 hours and the battalion closed its assigned area at 0500 hours on 21 June 1944.  However, while the move to the Marshalling Area was but a routine march, the speed and efficiency with which the battalion evacuated their camp at Oakhampton was an accomplishment for which the received the personal commendation of the battalion commander.

                        The activities pertinent to embarkation continued under the direction of the area authorities;the battalion meanwhile preparing for shipment via LCT and awaiting movement orders.Shortly after 0600 hours on 24 June a robot plane flew over the area and crashed in an open field some distance away.  Needless to say, this being the battalion’s first taste of the enemy’s “secret weapon”, the “flying bomb” was the chief topic of conversation at breakfast that morning.  The general concensus of opinion was that this new weapon of the Germans was of but slight importance.  However, the fallacy of this opion was to be realized later.

                        At 0200 hours on 25 June 1944, orders were received to move to the embarkation point at 0745 hours.With these orders came the information that LSTs were to be furnished rather than LCTs as was expected.  This necessitated the complete rearrangement of the loading of the Btry and elements of Hq, B and Service batteries.On LST 287 with Major PERHAM in command and the balance of the battalion (less small increments of the firing batteries and the battalion maintenance section, who preceeded on a British LCT) on LST 528, with Lt. Col. MORAWETZ in command.  LST 287 moved out into the harbor that evening preparatory to joining the convoy for a night crossing of the channel.  LST 528 and the British LCT did likewise a short time later.Somewhere enroute, however, LST 528 joined the wrong convoy by mistake and was thereby delayed in arriving at the beach head.

                        On the evening of 26 June, LST 287 made a poor approach to the beach and was forced to make a second attempt on the high tide the following morning.By noon of the 27 June, the personnel and equipment of LST 287 had been unloaded and moved to Transit Area D-19 where initial stages of dewaterproofing were begun.  At 1400 hours Col. JIM DAN HILL CO 190TH fa Group, to which we had been attached upon arrival in France arrived in the area and issued orders for the movement of the unit to a rendezvous area in the vicinity of Cerisy-la-Foret, some 10 or 12 kilometers distant.This march took the organization through Trevieres and davastation of war on the continent.The allied naval batteries covering D-Day invasion had completely demolished most of this town and the effectiveness of their fire was very evident.

                        Upon arrival at the rendezvous area, each organization was guided into its respective position and the first digging-in and camouflaging activities under actual combat conditions was begun.  At long last, THIS WAS IT.It wasn’t until about 1000 hours on 28 June that the personnel from LST 528 joined the initial elements near Cerisy-la-Foret.They had been delayed nearly 12 hours in unloading.At this time it was learned that one of the Macks belonging to C Btry and loaded with ammunition had been lost while being unloaded from the British LCT.  It was beyond being salvaged at the time but it was later learned that the engineers finally succeeded in salvaging it.While their craft was anchored off the beach, many of the men mistook the occasional dynamite blasts set off by the engineers in clearing the harbor for enemy artillery fire.  They were quickly reassured by the crew members that such was not the case.

                        The activity of the troops on the beach and in the harbor, together with the evidence of the work of the army engineers, gave the battalion a clear picture of the efficiency and ingenuity of the great army of which they were soon to become a very active part.

                        The next few days were spent in improving the camouflaging of equipment and living quarters of personnel throughout the battalion.Several officers from higher headquarters had visited us since our arrival but nothing in the way of orders to prepare for action had as yet been received.On 28 June the battalion received 50 replacement from the 16th, 17th, and 18th Replacement Depots respectively and on the next day two more were received.  Of these replacements Hq Btry received 9, Service Btry 8, A Btry 12, B Btry 13, and C Btry 10.The battalion received its first taste of serial warfare on the evening of 30 June when several enemy planes engaged some allied fighters in combat directly over a part of our area.Rumor had it that several of the German ME 109s were shot down but only one was confirmed insofar as the battalion was concerned and it fell not a great distance from our area.The battalion was paid in French francs on the last day of the month and the period closed without further incident of note.

      f.    Officer Personel and asgmts

                BN STAFF

            Bn CO – Lt. Colonel FRANCIS E. MORAWETZ
            Bn Ex O – Major W.W. PERHAM
            Bn S-3 – Major EVERETT A. ROMIG
            Bn Asst S-3 – Captain GEORGE L. WILSON
            Bn S-2 – Captain VINCENT de P. HAGAN
            Bn Asst S-2 – 1st Lt. ROBERT M. TAUTGES
            Bn Pers Adj – CWO LEONARD A. MASSOTH


            CO & Bn Com O – Captain NATHAN LANDES
            Liaison Pilot – 1st Lt. DALE R. BRENEMAN, JR.
            Liaison Pilot – 1st Lt. REX N. FENNER
            Asst Bn Com O – 2nd Lt. JAMES E. KURTRIGHT
            Mtr Officer – 2nd Lt. ARTHUR TEMPLE

                BATTERY A

            CO – Captain CHARLES D. VUNCK
            Ex O – 1st Lt. RONALD M. FISHBACK
            Rcn O – 1st Lt. FRANK R. ORADAT, JR.
            Mtr Officer – 2nd Lt EARLE S. WRIGHT

                BATTERY B

            CO – Captain KENNETH V. COON
            Ex O – 1st Lt. WILLIAM G. RLOF
            Rcn O – 2nd Lt. CHARLES A GLASSER, JR.
            Mtr Officer – 2nd Lt. GEORGE J. OBLANDER

                BATTERY C

            CO – Captain FRED E. SEIBERT, JR.
            Ex O – 1st Lt. WILLIAM G PEACH
            Rcn O – 2nd Lt. CLARENCE T. ENBODY
            Mtr Officer – 1st Lt. SELMER K. SATRE

                MEDICAL DETACHMENT

            CO & Bn Surgeon – Captain LOUIS A BREFFEILH

      g.    Losses in action; officers and men – NONE
      h.    Members distinguishing themselves in action – NONE
      i.    Photographs – NONE

                                          Vincent De P. HAGAN
                                          Captain, FA
                                          Bn Historian