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US Army

The 187th Field Artillery Battalion

 The 187th Field Artillery Battalion
 
Our unit the 187th Field Artillery Battalion was a 155mm Howitzer unit.  We are what is called a Bastard unit, because we are not in a Division but are considered Corp Artillery. 
 
When a Division needs support on an attack or to stop one we are thrown in to help.  We have supported some 18th Divisions during the war in Europe.  Supporting the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach, we fought all the way to Czechoslovakia, 1150 miles. Five Battle Stars and the Arrowhead.  Our memories of the Battle of the Bulge were, being in the Hurtgen Forest area and then to the Bulge area. 
 
On the morning of December 16 strong German attacks on Kesternich were fired on and no ground was lost.  Our Battalion continued to fire in support of the 78th Infantry Division defense of the area during the 17, 18 and 19 of December 1944 and in spite of heavy German attacks there were no substantial change in the line.   On December 20 we used the T76 Posit Fuse for the first time.  This fuse on our shells allowed the shell to burst in the air above the enemy troops similar to time fire, this without any settings to be made on the fuse. 
 
On December 21 after a night of usual missions our Battalion started a displacement at 0930 moving about 50 miles to Basse-Bodeux, Belgium.  We were then supporting the 505th Airborne Regiment, who was holding the river crossing at Trois-Ponts.  I can’t forget as we were advancing forward to new firing positions when we came to positions held by our 82nd Airborne Troops.  They were holding a defensive position along a road lined on both sides with large pine trees.  They were placing charges on the trees to detonate them if the Germans overran their position.  As we approached their eyes lit up and large smiles on their faces, they looked as if we saved the day for them.  They had a 37mm gun pointed down the road, which could not stop a horse coming at them or a German tank. 
 
We yelled at them to not blow the charges on the trees if we had to retreat back to other positions.  We advanced a few miles to a small Belgium town and started to put our guns in firing position and got our foxhole dug.  During the night the German artillery had our position spotted and hit our battery with 50 rounds of shell fire.  Thank God we had our foxholes dug, no deaths, only equipment damage. 
 
In the morning we had a surprise visitor, General James Gavin, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division came to see our guns in action.  What a surprise – He saw the shell holes on the night before shelling and he immediately ordered us to pull back a few hundred yards to new positions.  Since the Germans had us pinpointed we may get another barrage from them. 
 
During the period December 21 to 25 we had many support and observed missions that were fired.  The enemy made many attempts to cross the river as many as four in a day and these were fired on and successfully repulsed. 
 
The 82nd Airborne Troops said that they were more successful in the Bulge than the 101st Airborne Division because they never let the Germans surround them. 
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle February 2012
By Cpl John R SUDYK

 

187th Field Artillery Battalion

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium