Yes, I know: it should be a 48-star flag... The 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, 1943 to 1945

England (Part 2)

WARTON AND BURTONWOOD

It was only a short trip to our first operational sites at Warton, home of a huge bomber repair base where Hq., Able and Baker batteries set up shop; Charley and Dog Batteries had a similar defense mission at Burtonwood a little farther south. Although we owed a great deal of thanks to the 109th for the construction of the area there still remained a great amount of backbreaking, unpleasant work to be done before all the gun, range and motor-pool sections could operate with their greatest efficiency ... not to mention a general beautifying of the rest of the area.

We were just a little excited about this mission for now there was at least a possibility of spotting an enemy aircraft and firing at it, and we felt a little responsibility too -- the fields we were protecting were the largest bomber repair bases in England.

Gracious living was our lot for the next month. We lived in Nissen Huts surrounded by a sea of mud, but it was a great improvement compared to what we had to contend with in our stable at Bellevue. The food, always one of the most important items in the evaluation of a position, was the best we had since we had been in the army and the best we were to eat after that. This was due to no effort of our own but to the fact that we had come under the protective wing of the fabulous Air Corps.

Headquarters was introduced to the manning of its first G. O. R. (Gun Operation Room). Here we were connected to the 9th Fighter Command in Preston who received, and passed down to us alerts from Early Warning posts strategically located throughtout the U.K. Hostile planes were picked up by these Early Warning radars from the moment they left the French Coast. Their exact positions were continually plotted on their huge master boards. Had a plane entered our sector, our G.O.R. would plot its flight till it came within range of our radars and guns. However, because of the effectiveness of this early warning system no enemy plane managed to break through the outer ring of A.A. and fighter craft defenses so that our desire to fire was never fulfilled at this position. Despite the fact that there were no actual raids, the gun crews manned their guns early morning and late evening at action stations to prevent the success of any possible sneak raid.

This was a period of higher education for the battalion. Key men from almost every section attended specialists schools from one end of England to the other. 24-hour passes were issued enabling us to visit Manchester to see our friends there once more, the movie house across the street from Headquarters was open every night with some of the latest shows we had seen in the UK; this too was due to the highest traditions of the Air Corps in whose reflected luxury we basked. There were passes too to the second large city in England we had the opportunity to "take in" -- Blackpool, a resort city on the Irish Sea, which boasted of a long board walk, some rooming houses and a dance hall, and of course the inevitable fish and chips. And so we spent our time at Warton.

Exactly a month after our arrival there we left Warton and headed South.

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leaves Manchester on 4 February 1944 to spend a month at Warton (Hq, A- and B-Batteries) and Burtonwood (C- and D-Batteries). Their mission is to defend the large bomber repair bases there in cooperation with the 9th Fighter Command. Britain's efficient air defenses prevent any enemy planes from reaching their areas, but the 115th enjoys "fabulous" Air Corps chow while adapting to being operational for the first time.
 
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:10:07 PDT
The original text of The Story of the 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, published by the unit in 1945, is in the public domain. So how, you may ask, can I claim that the contents of these web pages are protected by copyright?

The answer is that it is my own transcription of the text and images into electronic format, and compilation into these web pages that is copyrighted. In addition, the web design, art, and annotations, plus all material from my father's personal albums are copyrighted original works. I reserve all rights to how all these materials are used. You may not copy them or store them in any retrieval system without permission.