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

The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg

UNDER a protecting cloak of rain, snow and fog, Gen. Rundstedt launched his "now or never" counterattack. His Army, magnificently equipped and composed of crack troops, smashed through our thin lines north of Prum and Echternach, inflicting heavy casualties and capturing much equipment. December 16th was a bad day for the United States Army.

With characteristic intelligence and decision, the General Staff ordered the entire Third Army into the breached lines. It was a move of stupendous proportions, but within 48 hours the advance elements of the Third Army appeared on the scene and the Germans slowed down considerably, stalled, then began to retreat.

We were a part of this "stupendous" move. On December 22nd our battalion was ordered to move to Luxembourg City where we were to protect the city, Radio Luxembourg and an airship from enemy air attack. From Sarreguemines to Luxembourg a distance of 120 miles over icy roads! It was quite a trip. The first despair was gone, we were eager to "get back at" the Germans and our truck drivers drove with their feet down to floorboards. It was bitterly cold. The roads were jampacked with Third Army vehicles and we felt a surge of pride. It was good to be in the Third.

All day and far into the night we travelled, covering a hundred miles the first day. Less than twenty miles from Luxembourg we bivouaced in snow covered fields. During the night Jerry came over and we watched the flak bursts in a starry sky. It promised action and that was OK with us. A vehicle which had become detached from our convoy straggled in and reported that they had been strafed. Nobody hurt. We shivered the night through.

In the morning the powerful roar of our cats and trucks filled the cold clear air and we thundered out onto the highway. By 12 noon all batteries were in the process of digging in their guns. We would be ready for them when they came over after nightfall.

In all our travels we had never experienced anything like Luxembourg. It was a beautiful city, relatively untouched by war. Its people were friendly, clean, well dressed and, best of all, many could speak English. It was the closest thing to the States we'd seen. If ever we felt like "protecting" this was it.

That first night lived up to our expectations. Soon after dusk they came. In the GOR the AAAIS operator went nuts trying to plot the courses of enemy planes. They came in from all directions, singly and in groups. Our radars picked up targets, the intricate machinery of our guns began humming and following the invisible enemy. Then we opened up. Luxembourg trembled from the concussions of our HE shells and Jerry tracers crisscrossed madly and 40 mm pecked at him. They retreated without damaging a single installation.

The next morning, claims began pouring into the CP. It had been a profitable evening. By the end of the week we had put in claims for 7 Cat I's and 7 Cat II's.

In the previous article we talked of the incongruities of war. This was even more extraordinary. We were in the "Battle of the Bulge", the bitterest campaign of the war. However we were also in Luxembourg, enjoying such hospitality as we had never imagined. Many boys who were not on duty Xmas eve were wined and dined in the homes of the good people of Luxembourg. And when we had a pass there were any number of movie houses, cafes, night clubs a fellow could visit. It was incredible.

New Quad-mounted, 50 Cal. machine-gun, power operated turret.
New Quad-mounted, 50 Cal. machine-gun, power operated turret.

By the end of December the Germans were finished. The weather had cleared and our Air Force came out in strength. Slowly our boys pushed them back. Jerry was desperate and tried a number of desperate stunts which at best could only delay us. For instance, they had a cute way of sending over P-47's with enemy markings hoping no doubt to surprise and perplex us and maybe drop a bomb on a billion gallons of gasoline before any one got wise, It never worked. On January 4th another manifestation of this desperation was evidenced. A few mysterious projectiles exploded in Baker Battery's area slightly wounding one man. At first we decided that they were small V-bombs but later decided that they were rockets. Once one of these shells plummeted into the city proper a few blocks away from Headquarters Battery. If that was meant to strike terror and confusion in our hearts it failed. Both soldiers and civilians went about their "business-as-usual". We were finally issued the rest of our M-51, quadruple mount 50 cal. machine guns -- a pretty weapon, deadly effective against strafing planes.

For 47 days and 47 nights we lived among the people of Luxembourg. We became their friends and they ours. When the morning of the 13th of February arrived we had to say goodbye. It was a sad goodbye. Nobody wanted to leave, but Luxembourg was out of danger, the lines were far away and we were required elsewhere. "C'est la guerre." Our next position was at a place called Consdorf, some 25 miles from Luxembourg. The trip was uneventful. A few batteries set up positions around Echternach, a much war-torn town, one of the first that had been hit by the Krauts in the Bulge. (It was never captured.) Only one incident occurred while we were there that bears telling. A D Battery man was killed by an enemy mine. Somehow our engineers had missed it, one of those unfortunate things that are almost unavoidable during war.

By this time the Germans had been pushed back to the line they had held previous to December 16th. Meantime we had been gearing up for a drive of our own. The amazing capture of the Remagen Bridge intact by the First Army was only the beginning of what developed into a complete rout of the German Armies. By the middle of March the whole Army was racing deep into Germany. They went so fast that in many cases captured towns were without occupying forces.

The situation was somewhat remedied by the formation of what was called "Security Guards". On March 9th, D Battery was called by the XII Corps to serve in that capacity. On the 17th, we received march order and on that day the German populace had their first look at the 115th as it roared deep into their Deutschland.

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... responds with the rest of the Third Army to the German counter-offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge. Their mission: the air defense of Radio Luxembourg and Luxembourg City. After a two-day journey, they are in action on 24 December 1944. Some heavy action ensues: "By the end of the week we had put in claims for 7 Cat I's and 7 Cat II's."

On 13 Feb 1945 the unit moves to the area of Echternach until entering Germany on 17 March. Starting 9 March, D Battery is detached to serve as Security Guards in Germany.
 
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:11:18 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.