December 1944

Map showing where the HQ for the Fifth Field Artillery was located at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.

Launstroff, France, where the HQ for the Fifth Field Artillery was located at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.

Upon reaching the river the bridge was found blown and on the 6th of December the 10th was pulled out of the line. The Group Command POL again withdrew from Germany to Launstroff, France, with its mission changed to direct support of the Cavalry which had relieved the Tankers and held a line generally along the dragons teeth between the Saar and Moselle.

Colonel JOHN E. THEIMER replaced Colonel CONDER as Group Commander on the 12th of December. Twice during December the Group was required to transfer 5% of its Table or Organization strength to the Infantry.

Battle of the Bulge, also called Battle of the Ardennes, (Dec. 16, 1944–Jan. 16, 1945)

When the enemy made his attack in the Ardennes the 274th and 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalions were taken from the Group and for the night 21-22 December the defense of the line between the rivers depended on the Cavalry, one medium artillery battalion (689th) and the 5th Field Artillery Group Headquarters, and Headquarters Battery. However on the 22nd the 284th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm howitzer, truck drawn), the 558th Field Artillery Battalion (155 gun, self-propelled) were attached to the Group, infantry of the 90th Division took over approximately half of the Cavalry sector, and the forces were echeloned in depth to make a formidable defensive system.

Map showing defensive position of the Fifth Field Artillery Group Dec. 21-22, 1944

Map showing defensive position of the Fifth Field Artillery Group during the beginning week of the Battle of the Bulge.

The Group retained its mission with the Cavalry and so moved its Command Post to Kirsch, where it remained until the 3rd of February 1945. While here the mission was changed to general support in the zone of the 94th Infantry Division when that Division relieved the 90th and took over in the zone of the Cavalry, the Cavalry being shifted to the right flank, on the 8th of January. An elaborate defensive plan was made with two delaying positions and the final defensive position in the Maginot Line. Routes were reconnoitered, Observation Posts selected and surveyed in, and positions prepared.

On the 27th of December P47 fighters committed hostile acts. and dropped bombs on the battery position of B Battery 733rd Field Artillery Battalion. They were engaged by our ground defenses and one was shot down. The pilot, an American Major, read his map incorrectly for the front lines had not changed in that sector in over a month.

P-47 in flight

A USAAF Republic P-47D-22-RE Thunderbolt (s/n 42-25969) in flight.

After the Hun lost his initiative in the north, the 94th engaged in limited objective attacks. To prevent a major breakthrough the Germans brought the 11th Panzer Division into the line. Attrition on the material of this division was very high. All the air sections of the Group cooperated in an original patrol from the first faint light of dawn until the last sometimes later glimmer at dusk, so effectively that approximately forty of the sixty-five tanks originally brought in by the Germans were known to have been destroyed. The weapons primarily used by the air observers for these tank missions was the 155mm howitzer of the 689th Field Artillery Battalion.

Somewhere in Liberated Europe

somewhere in Europe, from the collection of William J. Wiltz. Photo courtesy Mike Wiltz

somewhere in Europe, from the collection of William J. Wiltz. Photo courtesy Mike Wiltz

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