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US Army

941st Field Artillery Battalion from March 24, 1944 to September 13, 1944

941st Field Artillery Battalion
From March 24, 1944 to September 13, 1944
 
Documents and photos received from Philip McCarty. 
 
Hello, 

My father, Private Gene R. McCarty, was a US soldier in the "B" Battery of the 941st Field Artillery Battalion during WW II, and was one of your Liberators.

He is since deceased but I have some pictures of his time in Europe, as well as a typed diary of sorts, printed from someone else in the unit, to help keep Names and dates and events in good memory. 
 
I will send you a few items:  the first is a Unit Diary, I don’t know who wrote it or put it together, but I have the original and have scanned it for sending to you and whoever would like to have it. 
 
I have several pictures of my father while in the US Army; almost all are here in Europe.  The first picture is of him in Cologne, but he was not there during battle, it was an outing there.   The most prominent place they were at was:
Exeter, Devon, England (the printed diary says Dorchester, Dorset, also)
Normandy in France (D-day plus 6, 12 June is when they went on shore).
Paris - but only passing through, Dad said he never saw the Eifel Tower.
Malmedy, Belgium.
Monschau, Germany  - Battle of the Bulge.
Remagen, Germany - their unit went over the Rhine there, over a pontoon bridge.
Kassell, Germany.
Bad Hersfeld, Germany.
Bebra, Germany  - Railroad crossing town. (South of Kassell)
Dad was here at war’s end.  Their unit had stopped movement to the East.  Then my Father was sent back to the US, to prepare for deployment to Japan for an invasion, but which never came.  Dad was discharged the beginning of September 1945.
 
Extract from the “ Greasewood Gazette “ 
 Vol.2 N°.17 dated February 10, 1945
 March of Events
 
In a rough sort of way we will attempt to give you a short review of the travels of the 941st Field Artillery from the time of boarding the boat up to and including the date of your entrance into Germany for the first time.  The towns and cities mentioned may not be the exact place you were located but it will be somewhere in that immediate vicinity.  On the last page of this issue there is a map showing the approximate route the unit used to enter in Germany.
- - - - - - - - - - 
March 24, 1944 - - Dawn…today found all men experiencing a somewhat unfamiliar, rolling and tossing feeling.  Under cover of darkness we had left the port of embarkation for a destination unknown.  By nightfall we were well on our way and it took no expert to tell the well and able body men from those who seemed to be making the trip the hard way.
Our trip across was more or less uneventful.  One man, T/4 Alfred Landry, HQ Battery, was operated on by the ship’s surgeon for appendicitis.  The operation was quite successful even though it was done under adverse conditions.  Upon landing Landry was transferred to the hospital and has not been returned to this unit. 
 
April 4, 1944 - - For the past two days members of the unit had been standing on deck enjoying the sights of land and discussing England.  Late in the afternoon on this date the ship docked at Newport.  Men got to see Englishman at home.  From the deck they saw the bobby with his famous dome-like hat and heard the English language used in hate they thought an odd way.  Arrangements were made to land the next day. 
 
 
My father's combat unit.  (Photo P. McCarty)
 
April 5, 1944 - - Early in the morning we disembarked from the boat and immediately boarded a train.  Excitement was high as the men took their seats in railroad cars with compartments instead of the usual rows of seats.  Understanding the British soldier or Red Cross girl, speaking to you for the first hour or so was one of the hardest problems encountered yet.  Late in the afternoon the unit arrived at Dorchester, Dorset, England.  There we were billeted in houses, homes and buildings within the city itself.  That night men get their first taste of English Beer, sweet and hard cider and felt themselves lost in a haze of uniforms wholly unfamiliar to them.  Money began to take on a different value every man exchanging his dollars for pounds and shillings.   
The unit stayed in this quaint old city 12 days acclimating itself to the ways of the English and regaining the land lubbers legs.  During our stay a group of men were sent on DS to learn how drive for tractors, a new type of vehicle to the majority of us. 
 
April 17, 1944 - - The Battalion moved by truck to Bishops Court, Exeter, Devon, England.  Our new position just a few miles from town was a large meadow when we arrived.  By evening tents were set up in neat rows and it began to look like a regular army camp.  Located across the road from us was an ATS (Ack Ack) unit. 
From this date on for three weeks, the time was spent in usual details, cleaning and care of equipment and acquainting ourselves with pieces of new equipment and material.  Passes to town brought the men their first real sight of war.  Whole blocks of buildings leveled and people talking of the horrors of bombing. 
Included in the three weeks training was talks and gun drill on French 75’s, the new 155 Howitzer and practice with 4.5 guns.  Men from each Battery went to a Machine Gun school in Wales, while all men turned in excessive clothing. 
 
May 9, 1944 - - Word was received that our unit had been alerted for departure.  Each man was instructed to further streamline his personal effects and make them as compact as possible.  Restrictions were put on passes and all vehicles were made ready to leave on a short notice.  Tension mounted as the men began to feel that the day of invasion was drawing nearer.
After inspections and other special investigations restrictions on the men were relaxed and peace and freedom seemed to take over again. 
 
June 6, 1944 - - News of the invasion found members of the Battalion packing and preparing for a move.  The area was policed and all men were restricted to camp.
 
June 10, 1944 - - Battalion moved from Bishops Court to a bivouac area near our old station in Dorchester.  There we stayed one day, the whole time of which we were kept within a certain in closure and not allowed to even nod our head to people passing by.
 
McCarty's Ammo (Photo Philip McCarty)
 
June 12, 1944 - - Loaded on LST’s, each man hiding that small bit of fear that crept in his face, with lots of talk, cigarettes and wandering around the deck.  Crossing the English Channel was quiet and without a happening.  First sight of Omaha Beach the next day left the men more determined than ever.  As the beach on D plus 6 was still a mass of barbed wire, twisted rubble, battered and ruined equipment and items of personal equipment left in the wake of assault troops who had passed on.
 
June 13, 1944 - - Lieutenant Eller, Service Battery, was taken to the beach for directions to dewater proofing areas etc., Water was too rough for the entire unit to land. 
 
June 14, 1944 - - We landed on the shores of France and were immediately hurried to areas where we dewater proofed our vehicles and then without delay moved into a firing position, near Planquery, France.  The men needed no urging to dig foxholes or to take proper protection. 
 
June 15, 1944 - - Baker Battery, fired the first round against the enemy.  First real taste of war came to the men as the positions were shelled by German artillery.  From here on out it was up to each man to practice all that he had been taught in the years, and months of training. 
Observation posts were established in the Caumont area as the unit was given the mission of supporting the British in their drive for Caen.  For our fine work on this problem we received a written commendation from the Commander of the English forces.  Our gun positions were strafed at different times by enemy aircraft but so far we had received no casualties.
 
June 20, 1944 - - The ration crew of 4 men from Service Battery (Cpl Day, Pfc Zingalie, Pfc Ryles and Pvt Wilson) failed to return with the rations at the end of the day.  A search was started and produced no results.  They were listed as missing in action.  Months later we were to learn that they were all prisoners of war in Germany.  These men were our first casualties.
 
June 21, 1944 - - During a strafing, Pvt “Bucky” Fosbourgh, Service Battery, was injured by a machine gun bullet, to date he hasn’t been returned.  Firing up to and including this time was done in support of Divisions who were battering for St Lo, Vire and Caen.  Men were living on K Rations and 10 in 1.  Each section preparing its own meal.
 
June 27, 1944 - - Rear echelon joined the unit.  By now the unit was considered battle-wise, and our stay in this one position which finally ended up by being 7 weeks, had taught us many tricks of the Jerries.  Sleeping in foxholes, living in rain had become an everyday occurrence.
 
July 4, 1944 - - Every gun fired one round at noon on this day, marking our small celebration.  From now until the later part of the month there was little activity.  Firing was at a minimum while the men did their best to keep dry.  Natives in the vicinity were daily visitors and the men had the opportunity to taste the famous French cider and Calvados.  Movies were held within the area to take up some of the slack time.
 
July 29, 44 - - Our first move of any distance in liberated territory.  Passing through small villages, greeted by loud yells, waving of arms and kisses of gratitude by the inhabitants.  This move was the beginning of the drive to rid the northern part of France of the Nazi.  Arrived in vicinity of La Veilliere, France late in the afternoon.  From this point on there was a series of moves, all rather short, in and around the vicinity of Vire, St Lo and Caen.  Each new position revealing for the first time the great damage done by guns of both armies.  Weather continued to be nasty with rain and fog being almost a daily hazard.
 
 
 McCarty Artillery Gun (Photo Philip McCarty)
 
August 5, 1944 - - While on reconnaissance for new position in the vicinity of Channerieret (?), France, Lieutenant Colonel Ahern, Battalion commander, Captain Webber, “A” Battery commander and two men from our supporting AAA unit were all injured by an exploding miner.      Set off when one of the men stumbled over a trip wire.  Major Werner took over command of the unit and Captain Oyler, (then 1st Lieutenant) took command of “Abel” Battery.  Battalion continued it fast moves, people turned out in a body to cheer and greet us.  Along the road jubilant Frenchmen would toss flowers, fruits and paper streamers to each passing vehicle.
 
August 12, 1944 - - Moved into the battered town of Vire.  At first glance there seemed to be no houses left untouched, rubbish and wreckage littered the streets and roads, making travel almost impossible.  There were few civilians left in the area, most of them had been evacuated to other places for security reasons. 
 
August 18, 1944 - - The boys had their first night march as the unit moved to an area near Argentan, France.  The route took the entire Battalion near the front of what was then being made as the Falaise Gap.  The sight of all color flares, the sound of bombs and small arms fire caught the men’s’ interest on the later part of the trip.  The next day our guns were helping to close the gap and destroy those unfortunate enough to be trapped.  In this area the unit began to see the strength of the Free French and hear tales of some of the underground work that had taken place.  Natives continued to show their enthusiasm by bringing huge bunches of flowers and baskets full of apples to each position.  French-speaking men began to find out that they had an advantage over the major part of the men. 
 
August 26, 1944 - - Today we made the longest march of any since we landed.  Distance approximately 100 miles, through the north central part of France.  Leaving hedgerow country, apple orchards and through the dusty plains, because for once the weather was clear and warn.  Tension among the men mounted as they realized that they were nearing the great city of Paris.  Great crowds greeted us at each little village along the long.  Every man’s private surplus of “K” ration biscuits and extra candy and cigarettes made their appearance and were distributed as they passed the waving and cheering groups of people.  At night we stopped at Limours, France, practically every man was troubled with his eyes after such a hard trip.  The dust contained a certain lime or other chemical that reacted against these tenders organs.  Most of the unit rested in this area for a few days while 15 trucks, 30 enlisted men and two officers were assigned to carry troops through Paris.  The first Americans in the city in the present war. 
 
August 30, 1944 - - The Battalion passed through Paris enroute to a position just a few short miles east of the city, vicinity of Villevaude, France.  On the trip through Paris 85 road markers were used.  The tremendous ovation received by our convoy from the people will long be remembered.  The streets of this famous city were lined and jammed full of a cheering, screaming and happy mob.  There wasn’t a man in the unit who didn’t throw away his extra supply of rations.  By the time we cleared the city our men were wave-happy, arms ached at the wrist, smudges of lipstick appeared on many faces and the men in our convoy were an excited and happy group. 
Arriving in our new area we were greeted by the sight of the French people taking justice in their own hands and punishing women collaborationists.  These women, who were proven companions of the Germans, were taken before the entire village and there the ceremony of cutting of hair and shaving of heads took place.  By now our travels were a few hours behind the retreating enemy.  One day they would be in a town and the next the Americans would move in. 
 
Pvt Gene R. Mc Carty in Germany (Photo Philip McCarty)
 
September 1, 1944 - - Moved to Versigny, France, in an area around a large vacant Chateau.  The owner had long departed as he was a prisoner of the Germans.  Members of the unit got their first sight of Buzz-bombs.  Moves were more frequent and the average distance was longer. 
 
September 8, 1944 - - We made our first entrance into Belgium, as we moved into a position around Bourseigne Neuve, Belgium.  In this area the Maquis were met for the first time.  Less than an hour before our arrival in this vicinity these free-lance fighters of Belgium had captured the mayor of the city, a pro-Nazi, and removed him from further harm.  Our men were introduced to a new kind of money and the whole unit enjoyed a type of hospitality they had so far not encountered.
 
September 10, 1944 - - Our next position was a vicinity of Beau Plateau, Belgium, an area in and around a large Seminary or school for Priests.  Nearly all men were given souvenirs by these holy men.
 
September 13, 1944 - - Shortly after noon the unit arrived within the German border.  All guns went immediately  into position and started firing.  The sight of Dragon’s teeth, pill boxes and other forms of blockades became a fixed picture in each man’s mind.  Positions were taken up in and around Hemmers (?), Germany.  This unit was among the first to set feet on German soil and the first of its type of gun to fire on the enemy’s homeland.  Heavy restrictions were placed on the few remaining civilians.  New language and money were introduced and all members of the unit looked feverishly for souvenirs.  Non-fraternization was impressed on all men and guards began walking post in pairs.
- - - - - - - - - -
A short summary reveals that the 941st Field Artillery Battalion had been on the continent a total of 97 days, 51 of which it rained sometime during the day or night.  The unit had made 21 moves and covered approximately 600 miles.  Five foreign countries had been entered since our departure from the United States.  The Battalion had suffered no deaths although there were several casualties.  A written commendation was received for the fine work done while supporting the British during their drive for Caen.  A verbal commendation was received from the General in command of the Fourth Infantry Division for our effective work in aiding his troops to break through the enter defenses of the Siegfried Line.
- - - - - - - - - -
The map below shows the approximate route of travel from the time we entered England up to and including our entrance into Germany on September 13, 1944.  Each little circle does not mean a certain city but merely an area where we stopped.  At a later date we will bring the march of events up to the present.
- - - - - - - - - -
 
TO BE CONTINUED
 
Source: Emails received from Philip McCarty and dated June 11, 2014

Received from

Philip McCarty

Son of Pvt Gene R. McCarty

"B" Battery 

941st Field

Artillery Battalion

Campaigns

France, Germany and

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium