artillery

Sep

6

1944

A miserable day on the Le Havre front line

A camouflaged 155mm gun of 53 Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery firing during the barrage of Caen.

At 0630 we set off for the O.P. still in the pelting rain, and eventually after scrounging a little breakfast from the infantry manned it about 0830 with an infantry platoon as local protection. Prior to this I went up with the B.C. before daylight proper. By then I was of course quite drenched. We had to leave the carrier about 1/2 a mile back and carry phones, remote control etc. up to the O.P. ourselves.

Aug

17

1944

A shattered city – ‘Festung St Malo’ – surrenders

Soldiers of the 83rd Division probe the outskirts of St Malo on the 9th August.

Then a curious thing happened. An elderly German, a naval cook, broke ranks and ran up and embraced a young American soldier. The German was lucky not to be shot and the guards lowered their guns just in time. But no one interfered when the U.S. soldier put his arms round the German. They were father and son. The German spoke good American slang and was allowed to stay out of the ranks and act as interpreter. He had been 14 years in American, he said, and went back to Germany just before the outbreak of war

Aug

10

1944

Attempt to resupply Hill 314 by air and shell

A US 105mm M3 Howitzer in action in Normandy 1944.

In the meantime, the S-3 of the 230th Field Artillery Battalion had an idea to relieve the situation. Ten rounds of M-84 (base ejection HC smoke)) ammunition were opened, and the smoke canisters and base ejection charge removed. The rounds were then filled with medical supplies, bandages, dressings, sulfanilamide and morphine syrettes.

Aug

7

1944

US artillery holds German counter-attack at Mortain

A battery of 105mm guns from the US 84th Field Artillery Bn firing from positions on the edge of a Normandy field.

At approximately 1000 hours, the enemy dumped everything in the book in the line of artillery and mortar fire on our positions, and K and E Companies received a bombing and a strafing attack. The enemy infantry, with some armor, followed the artillery preparation closely. Our own artillery was called on and was very effective in breaking up the attack.

Aug

3

1944

Normandy – a close encounter with Panzers

Sexton self-propelled gun moving up towards Escoville during Operation 'Goodwood', 18 July 1944.

We decided that the Sexton belonged to the Leicester Yeomanry of the Guards Armoured Division, who were known to be somewhere out on our left flank. For reasons that have always escaped both of us, Lieutenant John Alford and myself either volunteered, or were ordered, to investigate this situation, with a view to rendering some assistance to the wounded.

Jul

19

1944

Last stand of the Wehrmacht in St Lo

A young German soldier surrenders as the US Army approaches St Lo.

Question or statement I didn’t know, either way it struck us both. I held him until he died. The whole event only took a few moments. Willi’s last words may have been the trigger for Kalb’s next action. He took off his helmet and placed it over Willi’s face, then broke off the bottom of Willi’s identity disc. He took this, his watch, medals, wedding ring and the pictures of his family and wrapped it all in his handkerchief, which he thrust down the front of his trousers. No one would look here. He placed his battered cap on his head and told us to do the same.

Jul

5

1944

Japanese Americans hammer Germans in Italy

Americans of Japanese ancestry of the 100th Infantry Battalion, rest on a street in Leghorn, Italy, after a gruelling Fifth Army advance, which terminated with the fall of this important seaport. (19 July 1944)

In the ordinary projectile, you would fire, and it hit the ground, impacting on the ground, and bursting. So you almost have to have a direct hit on the person. People can get hurt with shrapnels and all that, but by that time, the Germans are all in foxholes. So as long as they’re in the foxhole, unless you have a direct hit above, in the foxhole, there’s no casualty by the Germans.

Jun

28

1944

Another day in the destruction of Army Group Centre

An image used in Soviet post war propaganda to illustrate the 'fight to the death' when Russia was on the back foot - but actually taken in the summer of 1944 when they on the offensive.

As it approached the highway, the column deployed into a human wave and rushed forward. From our position, the left flank of the German line of advancing men was about 1,200 meters away. We opened fire on the Germans, not permitting them to turn in our direction. The Germans were packed so tightly together, and in such a mass, that it was simply impossible to miss.When our command found out that a German column was attempting to break out here, they rushed an antitank battery to our support. Twelve cannons unlimbered before the column and began to fire at it over open sights.

Jun

22

1944

Operation Bagration – the Red Army begins its revenge

'Fusilier' infantry  and Panther tank in action somewhere in Russia,1944,

Visiting our main line of resistance, Hauptmann Muller and I found an 8.8cm Army anti-tank gun, commanding the road to Lowsha from a clearing in the woods, on which the Russians were bringing up tanks. A T-54 passed by; one shot, and it was in flames. The second followed straight behind it. The next shot hit it, it stopped and from the turret an oil-smeared figure twisted itself out. A third tank came up and drove slowly past its comrades. The number one gunner of our anti-tank gun watched with a tense expression and once again pressed the firing button. Once again the shot scored a direct hit and from the tank the whole turret blew into the air.

Jun

8

1944

Follow up waves arrive on the Normandy beachhead

General Sir Bernard Montgomery passes German POWs while being driven along a road in a jeep, shortly after arriving in Normandy, 8 June 1944.

Among things I noted coming ashore were the lovely fields of wild flowers enclosed by barbed wire and the grim skull and crossbones sign of the word ‘MINEN’ — MINES …a wonderful bunch of huge red poppies growing alongside some white peonies … the dusty roads which made one’s jeep throw up a dust wake like a destroyer.