March 1945

            At 0900 hours on 1 March 1945 the firing batteries and Hq & Hq Btry started moving to previously reconnoitered positions in the vicinity of Wollseifen, Germany. Final elements closed in the new area at approximately 1130 hours. Comunications were completed with subordinate and higher units and the batteries reported ready to fire at 1530 hours. The rear echelon moved up from Eupen, Belgium, to occupy the houses vacated by Headquarters Battery in Konsen. Captain KENNETH V. COON, CO Btry B, and his driver Tec 5 Walter C. Vassar Sr., who had been on DS with V Corps as Liaison Officer returned to duty with the battalion.


            Tec 5 Stewart F. Goodman, Hq Btry, returned from DS with the 17th Signal Operations Bn.  Brigadier General HELMICK, CO V Corps Arty, was a visitor at the Bn CP on this date.  He was inspecting the battalion's new positions.  Pfc James C Geisel, Sv Btry, was promoted to the grade of Tec 5.  Tec 5 Geisel who had but recently been a member of the Bn Supply Section was now in the Sv Btry Kitchen.


            Captain WILSON, Bn Observer, registered the batteries with very good results.  Col. MORAWETZ made a routine inspection of the batteries with a view to improve the camouflage and positions.  Captain MILLER, Bn S-4, was a visitor at the CP to discuss the problem of supply discipline and the care of equipment and material with the battalion commander.  S/Sgt George E. McIntosh , Motor Sargeant from Btry B, were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for metitorious service.


            Several members of the Bn Staff visited the German officer 's school at Ordansburg Vogelsang near Gemund, Germany.  This was reported to be Hitler's "West Point" for the training of officer candidates.  Captain COON Btry B, 1st Lt SELMER K. SATRE, Rcn O of Btry C, S/Sgt James J. Wiggins, Hq Btry and Tec 5 James R. Durham, Sv Btry, left for Paris on 3 day recreation passes.  S/Sgt Charles T. Cunningham, and Cpls Ewald L. Berger and Lee R. Ingals, all of Btry B, were awarded Soldier's Medals for heroic achievement in connection with their efforts during the muzzle burst in their battery in July 1944 near Cerisy-la-Foret.


            The battalion finally received the "watchfob" bulldozer which had been authorized months before.  In Btry C, Pvts Harry M. Adkisson, William H.H. Keltner, Wilbur D. Tipton and Woodrow Wright were promoted to the grade of Private First Class.  Lt TAUTGES, Bn S-2, returned to CP from rear echelon where he had been preparing monthly unit history report.


            The picture "Cover Girl" with Rita Hayworth was shown in Dreiborn to personnel of the battalion.  Much needed tentage was delivered to the CP area by CWO CARL E. HEARN, Bn Asst S-4, in an effort to get all personnel under cover from the weather.  Captain WILBUR I. BURGESS, a former member of the battalion and now S-4 of the 656th FA Bn, which had recently joined our Group, visited the CP to secure supply information and renew old acquaintances.  Pvt. Russell H. Farner, former member of Btry C, was reassigned and joined from the 3d Reenforcement Depot.


            Snow and rain togeather with the fast moving situation accounted for the battalions receiving no fire missions. The Officers of the battalion took this opportunity to inspect the targets in this area which had been fired upon from former positions. The evidences of the accuracy and effectiveness of our fire were very gratifying.


Personnel and vehicles, on DS with V Corps in connection with moving a Corps Ammunition Dump, returned to duty with their respective organizations in the battalion. The battalion was out of range of enemy targets and were awaiting orders to move.


            A battalion reconnaissance party departed at 0830 hours to select a rendeavous area for the battalion pending the stabilization of the front lines. Captain JEPTH S. DAVIS, JR., Bn Motor Officer, was a visitor at the CP on business effecting vehicular maintenance throughout the battalion. M/Sgt Harold A. Isackson. Bn Sergeant Major, and S/Sgt Lawrence W. Barrows, Bn Computer, were awarded the Bronze Star Medal on this date.


            Battalion received orders to disregard occupation of rendesvous area previously reconnitered and to move to the vicinity of Franken, Germany, near the Rhine River. Plans were made to make reconnaissance of these new positions on the following morning.. T/Sgt James K. Gibbs, Bn Personnel Sergeant, Cpl Richard J. Astor, Btry B and Cpl John Pukuen, Btry C, returned to duty after having spent 7 days in England on furlough.


            1st Lt. CHARLES A. GLASSER, JR., Rcn O of Btry B, 14 Sgt Leslie F. Kimible Sv Btry, Cp1 John Harrower Bt.ry B, and Pfc John Guttler, Btry A, departed for England on a 7 day furlough. At 0600 the Battalion Commander with reconnaissance and survey parties left the battalion area to select positions in the area of Franken, Germany. The battalion moved out at 0930 hours and closed in the new area at 1630 hours. Service Battery and the Bn Personnel Section set up the rear echelon in the town of Ahrneiler, Germany. Shortly after arriving in the new area, a 40mm. anti-aircraft shell burst in the Baker Btry area resulting in the fatal wounding of Pfc John G. Pisarick and slightly wounding 1st Sgt Otto C. Beeson.


            At 1645 hours Baker Btry fired the first round in the battalion to be fired on enemy targets east of the Rhine. The heaviest enemy air activity in months was experienced in these positions which were appropriately nicknamed "flak valley". Cpl Jack H. Battle, B.ry B, was slightly injured by falling flak during intensive anti aircraft fire in the area.


            Lt Col MORAWETZ, Bn CO, and M/Sgt Harold A. Isackson, Bn Sergeant Major, were awarded the Croix de Guerre by the Provisional French Government, for their efforts in the liberation of France. Major ROMIG, Bn S-3 was awarded the Bronse Star Medal on this date also, 1st Lt. REX N. FENNER, Bn Liaison Pilot., and CLARENCE T. ENBODY departed for Liege, Belgium, to spend three days at the Rest and Recreation Center for air persomnel. Catholic services were held in the CP area by Chaplain Mc Sween for personnel of the battalion, and a feature length GI newsreel was shown this same day. Captain JOHN W. DICKEY, JR., Asst S-3 was assigned the duty of billeting officer and was heard to remark that "a roof over every head should stand me in good stead"


            A battery commanders meeting was held at the Bn CP the subject of individual protection was stressed in view of the fact that so much anti aircraft fire was being directed over the area. This same day Cpl Ronald C. Meyer , an ammunition corporal in Btry A was mortally wounded by an exploding anti aircraft shell on this date. Corporal Meyer, better known as "Pop", was very popular and well liked throughout the battalion. His passing left en empty spot in the hearts of his comrades.


             1st Sgt Otto C. Beeson, Btry B , was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received on 11 March 1945. On this date a Hq Btry wire crew under Cpl Virgil C. Zeller narrowly escaped injury and possible death when a German 88 mm. shell exploded within 15 feet of them. The fact that the shell landed in a bomb crater prevented their getting anything more than splattered with mud and water. The battalion observers were reporting enemy enemy activity across the Rhine from our newly established OPs.  Col. MORAWETZ and Major PERHAM while on a reconnaissance mission drew small arms fire from an enemy occupied island in the Rhine on this date. No casualties were sustained, however, Pfc Earl D. Coffman, Bn Message Center Clerk, who was a member of the party, reported that when the firing broke out they proceeded to "get lost" but quick. Tec 4 Melvin J. Duvall, Btry A, and Pfcs Edward Brown, Orville E. Guard, Harry L. House, and Erman W. Jones, all of Hq Btry, were placed on DS with the 17th Signal Bn.  Tec 5 Stanley J. Skorney, Btry C, was placed on DS with V Corps to atten a Corps Radio School.


            The battalion maintenance section was busy these days completing maintenance checks on the vehicular equipment of the battalion. They had an ideal place to work where they were set up in the town of Ahrweiler, however, and accomplished such needed repair in record time. The rear echelon personnel were now occupying a house that had formerly been used as a prison for french slave laborers. A crew of these liberated Frenchmen in Franken were being used in the Headquarters Battery kitchen which eliminated the need for KPs from the battery personnel. These laborers were uinder the direction of Pfc Gerald R. Morris and were given their meals in return for their efforts and seemed well satisfied with the bargain.


            Captain CHALES D. VUNCK, CO Hq Btry, and his driver Tec 5 Frank E. James, returned from DS with V Corps where the captain has been acting in the capacity of Liaison Officer between the artillery sections of the V and VIII Corps. Captain FRED E. SEIBERT JR., and his driver Tec 5 Vincent R. Youravich, replaced them in the same capacity. S/Sgt Charles T. Cunningham and Cpls Ewald L. Berger and Lee R. Ingalls, of Btry B, were presented Soldier's Medals by Major General HEUBNER, CO V Corps, at V Corps Headquarters, on this date. Pfc Venton Folds, Btry B, absent sick in hospital, was dropped from assignment to the battalion. Captain RICHARD W. ZEHRING and a crew of five enlisted men were attached to the battalion for rattons only from an Ordnance Ballistics Detachment for the purpose of checking and Calibrating our howitzers.


            Two men, Cpl Merl Dyson, Btry B, and Pfc Frank P. Walker, Btry A, were slightly wounded by shrapnel. Walker was evacuated to hospital but Dyson remained to duty. In these positions the battalion was operating one of its OP's manned exclusively by enlisted men and many of the battalion personnel were getting experience as forward observers at this installation. Colonel JIM DAN HILL, Group CO,, visited with Col. MORAWETZ and Major PERHAM at the CP.  Captain MC SWEEN, Gp Catholic Chaplain, held services in a church in the town of Franken. Major JOSEPH A. CONRAD, former Regimental Surgeon, was a visitor in the battalion on this date. He is now with the 102nd Evacuation Hospital.


            Lt. BEHZHEISER, a former member of the battalion and now with the 99th Division, visited in the area and renewed old acquaintances. Captain ZEHRING and his ordnance crew were dropped from the attachment. Lt. JAMES E. KURTRIGHT, Bn Asst Com O, and three enlisted lien from the battalion departed for Paris to spend three days on recreation passes. Major ROMIG, Bn S-3 made a reconnaissance flight over the enemy target areas with Lt. BRENEMAN, one of the Liaison Pilots.


            Cpl Jack H. Battle and Merl Dyson, both of Btry B, awarded the Purple Heart on this day for wounds received on 12 March. Pvt Charles E. Bowser. Jr., from Smoke Run, Pennsylvania, and a member of Btry B , died in the 12th Field Hospital after a three day illness. The fast moving situation was minimizing the battalion's firing during this period.


            Reconnaissance and survey parties from the batteries want forward to reconnoiter new positions in the vicinity of Eich, Germany. In the afternoon work parties from the several organizations moved to the new positions to prepare them for occupation. Colonel HILL, Gp CO, held a Bn Commanders meeting at our CP to discuss forthcoming operation.


            Headquarters and Baker batteries were moved to the new positions closing in the area at 1500 hours. Able and Charley batteries remained in the old positions and their firing was to be controlled by the fire direction center of the fire direction center of the 200th FA Bn.  The rear echelon moved from Ahrweiler to the town of Burgdohl where they set up in the home of a pro Nazi German. Evidence of his party affiliations were found all over the house.


            Able and Charley batteries moved to the new area and closed in their positions at 1030 hours. All personnel and installations were well housed in the new area. Captain JEPTHA S. DAVIS, JR., Bn Motor Officer, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service. S/Sgt Robert J. Seitg, Mess Sergeant in Hq Btry, and S/Sgt Earl W. Morton, Medical Detachment, departed on pass to Paris for three days.  During the day the battalion took some of the section chiefs in the unit for short flights to the front lines. These flights were more or less for the purpose of orientation but for some it was their first flight.


            Both of the Group Chaplains were in the area making arrangements for church services. Lt. KURTRIGHT returned Paris. Cal. MORAWETZ made a tour of the batteries for the purpose of checking the condition and maintenance of material in the battalion.. Captain MILLER, Bn S-4, and CWO MASSOTH Bn Personel Adjutant, were at the battalion CP to confer with Major PARHAM on matters of Supply and Administration.


            The entire battalion, less the rear echelon, moved across the Rhine to positions in the vicinity of Heimbach, Germany. This was a night march and the river was crossed on a pontoon bridge built by the V Corps Engineers. It was 1370 long and reputed to be the longest tactical bridge of its kind in the world.  Reconnaissance for these new positions was made in the morning and the battalion had closed at 2130 hours. Many liberated French and Russian soldiers were found to be 1iving in these newly occupied towns.


            Captain COON, CO Btry B, and Captain WILSON, Bn Asst S-3, together with Tec 5 Elmer W. Reisch, Captain COON'S driver, departed for ten days TD with the 391st Medium Bomber Group which was located in Paris. Lt Col. ROTH, CO 200th FA Bn, was a visitor at the Bn CP.  Service Battery left their positions at Burgdohl and moved into an abandoned school house in the town of Bendorf' on the west bank of the Rhine and in the near vicinity of the rest of the unit. It was almost like going back to garrison for the Personnel Section.  Each battery clerk had a private desk and everyone was living in houses. Lts., BRENEMAN and FENNER, our Liaison Pilots received their 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal.


            Due to the fast moving armored attack which began early on the morning of the 26th the battalion was already out of range and the guns were march ordered but not moved. The battalion went into a period of no firing and the batteries took this opportunity to give their guns a thorough maintenance check. Lt. PEACH, Ex O of Battery C, remarked that for the first time since entering combat he was able to get all of his cannoneers billeted in houses and that be was finding it rather difficult to get them "house broken".


            In compliance with directive from higher headquarters the battalion was again called upon to furnish personnel and vehicles to form a Provisional Truck Co.  Captain NATHAN LANDES, CO Btry A, was placed in cammand of this detail. Forty-four enlisted men and three officers were placed on TD with V Corps QM and all available 2 1/2 and 7 1/2 ton vehicles were take on this detail. The battery computers who had been on duty with the battalion Fire Direction Center were returned to their batteries on this date. 1st Lt. DALE R. BRENEMAN, JR., Bn Liaison Pilot, and Tec 3 Lester E. (last name unreadable), Section Mechanic, departed for Liege, Beigium, to spend three days at the Rest and Recreation Center.


            The Jewish personnel of the battalion attended services celebrating the Great Sabbath preceding the Passover in Neuweid, Germany, on the banks of the Rhine. This service marked the fist time Jewish services had been held in this synagoue since 1938. For other faiths in the battalion Holy Thursday services were held in the battalion area. The movie "Double Indemnity" with Barbra Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray was shown to battalion pernnmel at the battalion CP.


            Tec 5 Albert J Schmelzer, Hq Btry, was promoted to the grade of Tec 4. let Lt. CLARENCE T. ENBODT, T/Sgt John Shendle and Tec 5 Melvin E. Knapp left for Liege, Belgium, to draw PX rations for the battalion.  Pfc George A. Michaux, Btty A, absent sick in hospital was dropped from assigiment. Lt. Col. MORAWETZ, Bn CO, departed for London where he had been ordered on three days TD on First Army business.  Lt. FRANK R. CRADAT and 23 enlisted men departed on 72 hour passes to Eupen, Belgium.


            Captain MILLER, 1st Lt. TEMPLE and 12 enlisted men departed for Brussels, Belgium, on three day passes.  Chaplain (unreadable) STEIN, the V Corps Jewish chaplain was a battalion visitor on this date.

(5) Cpls Jack H. Battle and Merl Dyson, both of Btry B, awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received on 12 March per GO #5, Hq 997th FA Bn, dtd 20 March 1945.
(6) 1st Lts. DALE R. BRENEMAN, JR. and REX N. FENNER., battalion Liaison Pilots, received the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal, per Sec VII, GO #33, Hq V Corps, dtd 23 March 1945.
1st Lt., FA
Bn Historian