Monday, September 27, 2010

Military Monday - Part I: History of the 666th AAA Machine Gun Battery A/B

My husband's grandfather served in Burma during WWII.  I am lucky enough to have a copy of a history of his experience. This history was written by Warren M. Knight.  Papa said that one of the men in his unit (I believe it was Knight) kept a journal...another had a camera - neither of which were allowed.  But thankfully for genealogist and historians, they did!  Enjoy this first edition on training.

666th AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) Machine Gun Battery A/B (Airborne) History from December 19, 1942, to July 14, 1950
"The 666th Headquarters was at Logan Heights, Fort Bliss, Texas, which was then about 12 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas.  The majority of the enlisted men got to the battery on March 5, 1943. The battery consisted of a total of 90 men, 5 officers, and 85 enlisted men.  There were 52 men from Florida and the rest were from the northern and western states. The battery had three platoons with four gun squads to each platoon.  Each squad had five men including a squad leader and each squad had a .50 cal. water-cooler machine gun."
"In the course of the battery’s airborne training, many road marches were made to condition the men for the twenty-five mile hike into the desert. From April 1, 1943, through the month of May, the battery made two weekly marches in various terrains which averaged ten miles in length. The weather conditions were usually very good until May, when the heat increased greatly. On May 10, 1943, the battery made a forward march of nine miles in fifty-five minutes. Of the fifty-four men and two officers who started the hike only eighteen men and the officers finished as a group. Fifteen more made the march in an added ten minutes, the balance straggling in. Weather was hot and clear. Terrain was level desert road."  
"On July 2, 1943, the battery made its long awaited 25 mile road march. We departed camp at 1830 hours carrying full field packs and marched for the first nine miles before a short break was taken. At the end of the next six miles, a hour break was taken, during which the men were allowed to purchase light refreshments. The return march was begun at 2330 hours, and the battery reached camp around 0400 hours. All the men and the four officers finished the march with the exception of two enlisted men. The morale was very high, most of the men singing and joking up until the last five or six miles. The weather was cool and the sky overcast. Roads were wet and muddy." 
"September 28, 1943, the battery joined the 50th AA Group for a tactical maneuver, traveling 23 miles by truck convoy. A defense of a landing strip was set up with all positions dug in and well camouflaged under desert conditions. All needed measures against gas attack were taken. Camouflage was effected and sanitation measures were taken. On September 30, 1943, the battery marched, with full field packs over sandy desert roads in the full heat of the day, the distance of 21 miles to Biggs Field, Texas where an AA defense was organized. On October 1, 1943, the battery marched from Biggs Field, Texas to Fort Bliss, Texas, a distance of 4 miles. Weather for entire period was clear and hot. Morale was high."
"Papa" - William Locke

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