Monday, October 4, 2010

Military Monday - Part 2 History of the 666th AAA: Movement Orders and a "Chance at the Japs"

As I noted in Part 1, 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 next edition as they leave home and have their first taste of combat.

Movement Orders and a "Chance at the Japs"
"'Movement Orders, Shipment 5198', October 6, 1943, the following organizations will part on or about October 11, 1943, by rail, from Fort Bliss, Texas to Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia so as to arrive there daylight hours on October 23, 1943. 666th AAA MG Btry (Sep) (Airborne) Shipment No. 5198-R. Clothing (summer and winter) and individual equipment as prescribed in T/E 21, March 10, 1943, as amended, will be taken, except that the items listed below are authorized as indicated: Blankets, wool, OD (2 only per individual); Canteens will be aluminum, stainless steel or plastic. The following additional items will also be taken: Covers, mattress (1 per individual); Organizational T/E equipment will accompany troops. Total of dependents and authorized household goods at Government expense will be governed by the provisions of Sec. VI, WD Cir No. 261, 1942 and WD Bull. No. 27, 1942. Rations for estimated travel time of three (3) days, plus one (1) day extra in accordance with current instructions, will be carried."
 "The battery left Fort Bliss, Texas Monday night October 11, 1943, by train and arrived at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia Friday morning October 15, 1943. We boarded the Andrew Furuseth, a liberty ship, at Newport News, Virginia Saturday morning October 25, 1943, and departed for our overseas destination. Thursday night November 11, 1943, we passed the Rock of Gibraltar and arrived in Oran, Algeria, in North Africa, Friday afternoon November 12, 1943. We boarded the TSS Aronda, a British ship, at Oran, Algeria, Monday morning January 10, 1944, and passed through the Suez Canal Monday, January 17, 1944."
"We arrived in Bombay, India Tuesday afternoon February 1, 1944, Friday morning February 4, 1944, we left Bombay, India by train and Monday, February 7, 1944, we got off the train, crossed the Yangtze River by ferry and boarded another river by ferry and boarded another by train. Friday afternoon February 11, 1944, we got a lot of our back mail at Jorhat, India and Saturday morning, February 12, 1944, we arrived Ledo, Assam in India, our destination. Our APO was 689, and we were attached to the 10th Air Force."
 [Note: they received their orders on October 6, 1943...left Fort Bliss, Texas on October 11, 1943, and reached their destination in India on February 2, 1944!]
"The entire battery was set up in an area overlooking the evacuation air field. After the camp was duly organized, the second and third platoons started work on their positions around the air field. The engineer troops hauled the necessary filling to build up the eight positions. During the last week in February this preliminary work was complete. Then the final work on the positions was started. During this period the first platoon, which was awaiting the construction of towers around the railroad yards was employed in work around the campsite and with some of the squads who were building their positions. The weather for this period was clear and warm. Morale was excellent."
"The eight gun positions around the air strip were completed by the men, the mounds sodded and a removable camouflage top in the form of a basha roof erected over the pits. Each position had adequate drainage pipes of bamboo or metal installed from the outset. During the month engineers constructed three towers around the railhead and the men hauled up sandbags to complete the positions. Lastly the camouflage was constructed. The other squad of the first platoon was located on a hill overlooking the railhead, and since it was impossible to reach by truck the squad members hauled materials by hand to complete the revetment."
"Plenty of recreational facilities have been available and a dayroom has been set up. A baseball team was organized and several games played with local teams. Outside the battery area there are adequate facilities available for reading and writing, a canteen, restaurant and movies. Morale was excellent."
"On March 27, 1944, with the sounding of the 'Red Alert' the men were ready and eager for a chance at the Japs. Enemy planes had been reported in the area, and the sounds of an aerial battle were heard in the distance. The sky was overcast and prevented them from seeing anything that took place. However, at one time a plane was heard approaching the area in a dive. All guns were trained in the direction of the sound and everything was set in case it should have been an enemy plane. As it burst through the clouds it was identified as a P-51, and the hopes for action vanished. The plane leveled off and headed into the northwest, later on followed by several other planes to the south."

1 comment:

  1. question do you have any information of a CPL Maney Gordon Purschwitz serial number 33730600 served with this unit or possibly connect me with someone whom might know? Joe