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

Germany (Part 4)

Map reconnaissance decided us to choose a small town of . . .

. . . HOHENPOLDING as the RC. There the Battalion would stop while the advance party went on to Group to receive our mission.

That May 3rd wasn't a Sunday, nor was it raining, but the biting winds matched the misery of the usual "moving-day" rain. After a long cold trek we finally met up with a few ancient farm houses and a barn or two that called themselves Hohenpolding. "Thank the Lord this is only temporary", was the general comment. "Suppose we had to stay here!" Of course you know what happened. We stayed, and stayed. Higher Headquarters had changed objectives and areas of the Armies under them. We had been pinched out. No mission. Wait. We quartered where we could, which wasn't very much nor very good. But by "Arous-mitting" some Jerries we found indoor lodging and settled down to washing clothes, writing letters, and keeping our ears glued to the radios for the word that our war was fini. First came the preliminary peace moves, then a number of conflicting reports for the next day or so. And then the war was officially over. We didn't cheer, we didn't tear the town apart, there were no three-day benders. We were glad in a quiet way, like when you come home after a hard day's work, you've finished your dinner, and you walk into the living-room and stretch out in the comfortable arm-chair with a great deep sigh of relief. The war was over; where, and when, were we going home?

Higher Brass decided that we should go to . . .

They started it, we finished it in Germany.

. . . KULMBACH; our celebration of V-E Day consisted of a long convoy north under clear skies and warm weather. We bivouaced that night by the side of the Autobahn, continuing on our way to Kulmbach the following morning. AA was a thing of the past now that peace was with us so it was not surprising to us when we learned our mission at Kulmbach ... Security Guard for a large portion of the surrounding Bavarian Plain. We were there to preserve and protect this hard won peace, to gather in the loose ends of the German Army, to collect arms and materiel, to help quarter and feed Displaced Persons.

Now that hostilities were over we were like people posessed. The one driving thought to the exclusion of all else was in capital letters -- WHEN WOULD WE GO HOME. Then came the point system announcement, and a deflation of hopes. 85 was the critical score and most of us in the Battalion after all the stretching and counting were over wound up with 67 or 68 points. Baker Battery, having received an additional Battle Star for their work in the AA Defense around London were a happier crew with 72 and 73 points per man. Our Higher-ups did nothing to help us for from that day on the Stars and Stripes was filled with the most conflicting, confusing and bewildering series of promises, prognostications, rumors and official releases that were ever conceived to confound a man.

Our mission in Kulmbach was a temporary one, to police the territory until larger units could be assigned and moved to the area. The 14th Armored Division appeared one morning with orders to take over from us and later that day we were told to get on the road once more; to stop at . . .

S.S. barracks at Berchtesgaden, remodeled by the U.S. Air Corps.

. . . ABENSBERG for three days on our way further south. It didn't bother us much to bivouac in the fields the night of May 17th after our warm and comfortable barracks at Kulmbach for a soldier learns to accept the temporary with an eye and a hope for the future. It rained that night covering Able Battery's position with inches of water; the wind threatened and succeeded in collapsing a number of tents. Days came and weeks went. We stayed. Inspecting Officers got in our hair, training schedules had to be drawn up and were promptly ignored, convoy discipline reappeared, reveille, retreat, parades ... spit and polish .And the war was over? The road between Hopperville and Gettysberg got rougher and dustier and on we lingered. Time was shoved along playing softball and vollyball, swimming, fishing, track meets, movies (the silent type) in our area, movies in Regensburg, trips to Dachau and trying to catch the hourly rumour on the much discussed, highly publicised but little felt point system. We organized a drum and bugle corps for parades. All at once things began to happen. A Dog Battery man with 123 points got his orders to leave for home "through Channels" towards a possible discharge. The Third and Seventh Armies were declared "Armies of Occupation" and we began to sweat it out all over again. There were those who felt it was better to remain here than to have to take on the Japs, those who felt they'd rather go to the Pacific if it meant a furlough at home first, those who didn't care anymore. A change of higher headquarters began and we were told that we were to occupy an area down near the Bavarian Alps with Lake frontage on the Chiem-See. Out went the reconnaissance party, but even before it could get back our orders had changed, "Sit tight where you are!" Poop from Group placed us in Category IV (back to the states for deactivation). By now we were too wary to cheer. We knew what the score was. They hadn't said when, and we were in for the duration and six months!

But even the Army moves and the day finally arrived when we were forced, yes, forced to turn in the 90's, the noisy and rough riding cats, the machine guns and the ammo. They had stood by us for such a long time ... we had babied them, humored them, fired and cleaned them so many times ... but when we left them we dropped them like a live grenade for we were headed for France, 400 miles nearer those Ports of Embarkation pointed towards that Lovely Lady in New York Harbor and HOME.

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... leaves Scheinfeld and Castle Schwarzenberg on 3 May 1945 for an overnight stop in Hohenpolding that became 5 days as missions changed in the last days of the war in Europe. The war ends 7 May 1945, but the men of the 115th celebrate only with a 2 day convoy to Kulmbach, where they are assigned Security Guard duty. This lasts until 17 May when they head further south after being relieved by the 14th Armored Division.

The 115th bivouacs in a field near Abensberg on their way south. But what was supposed to be a 3-day halt, turns into weeks and weeks of waiting for what would come next. Would they stay in Germany as part of the occupying forces? Would they go to the Pacific? What was the "point system" and how did it work. Eventually the 115th is returned to the USA for deactivation. The exact date of their departure in unclear to me, but I do know that my father, with some other officers of the 115th, finally leaves Le Havre for the USA on 30 October 1945, nearly 6 months after V-E Day.
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:11:00 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.