England

Beginning the first part of November all equipment, except organizational, was turned in. This included the dismantling of “The Palace”, our Command Post truck, which with continuous improvement, had become quite a modern office. On the l4th and l5th the Group moved to a staging area near Palermo, boarded the AORANGI on the l7th, and sailed for the United Kingdom on the l8th. The 5th Field Artillery Group docked and disembarked at Glasgow, Scotland, on the 9th of December and arrived by train in the Banbury / Bloxham area on the 10th. The luxury that confronted the men upon arrival at their billets was quite unexpected. Straw mattresses on beds in heated houses and huts with running water and showers readily available was a long step from living in the field in the mud, rain, and muck to which they were accustomed with no shelter other than pyramidal or pup tents. Malaria, jaundice, and the periodic epidemics of dysentery had taken their toll on the health and welfare of the men.

The seven months spent in England were without doubt the most enjoyable spent overseas because of lenient pass policy, frequent parties and dances, and moving pictures with individual seats but without the usual wait for changing reels. The romancing here resulted in five marriages in the Group Headquarters Battery.

On the 1Oth of January the 87th Armored Field Artillery battalion joined the Group, having just arrived from the States. This battalion was assisted in its preparation for combat by lectures delivered to them by the veteran officers of the Group. The Group and Battalion Commanders were called on to give numerous combat experience lectures to many of the new unit in the United Kingdom.

During March the 58th, 62nd, 65th, and 87th Armored Field Artillery Battalions were relieved from the Group and, were attached to Divisions for assault training for the landing on D Day. The 83rd, 695th, 696th Armored Field Artillery Battalions were attached to the Group during this period and on l4 March the entire Group was assigned to the newly formed Third United States Army under the command of General PATTON. These battalions, new from the United States were well trained battalions and under the direction of the Group Commander with field exercises, and service practice became outstanding, as was later shown in combat.

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