When the Regiment left Tent City, France, Cannon Company
went to the Ardennes Forest to wait until called into combat.
Heavy fighting had taken place in the forest when the Germans were pushed
back at the time of the Bulge. This
was the first place the men saw dead Jerries lying around.
Some of the men went out to look over the area and came back with stories
that there were many dead Americans unburied on the next hill.
Immediately, the 1st Sergeant and the Medics went to investigate and to
buy them. When they got to the
area, they found that these many “Americans” were Germans wearing the
American uniform, complete with G.I. socks and gloves.
The distinction between them and the real Americans was the bright red
scarf they wore around their necks. The
men immediately realized the kind of people they were to fight against.
When the 272nd went on line, the Cannon Company relieved the 273rd Cannon
Company. As their gun positions
were almost out of range of the Germans, the C.O. decided to move closer to the
line. The mine platoon had to clear
the area before they moved in to set up their guns; the mail clerk hit a Schu
mine, and three men were wounded. A
minute later, a truck set off another; therefore, the C.O. gave the order to
move back to the old positions until the area was thoroughly cleared of all
mines. The weather became hazy as
they moved back, but the Jerries undoubtedly had the group under observation;
when they were moving into the forward area.
That night, the Krauts laid down a terrific barrage over the
“supposed” cannon position. The
company would have been completely wiped out if they had not moved back to the
While firing on the Siegfried line, Cannon Company had
three different Commanding Officers in four days. Captain Lipsius was C.O., but he was called to Regiment as
S-2; therefore the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Nevins, took his place.
The same night, Lt. Nevins was out looking for new gun positions, when
his jeep hit a mine. He was seriously wounded.
His driver, Pfc. Wilson, and the other officer, Lt. Wentz, were
hospitalized but have returned to the company.
Lt. Nevins was sent to the States. The
present C.O., Captain Syers, took over and he has been with us since then,
bringing the Company through all of its combat.
After giving only harassing fire for the first few days
in combat, the Cannon Company at last got a chance to see how good it could be.
The forward observers – Lt. Martin, Cpl. Garstecki, Pfc. Wright –
were with L Company near Kamberg, when a machine gun Sergeant asked them to put
fire on a few enemy machine gun positions which had been set up during the
night. Within a few minutes, the
gun crews had rounds over the spot, and a direct hit was made.
“Mission Complete” was sent back.
The men of L Company were well pleased with the firing.
While in support of the 1st Battalion in their fierce
struggle for Witzenhausen, the Cannon Company was set up in positions outside
the town. Near the positions was a
barn filled with hay; so a few of the cannoneers, who were lucky enough, caught
a few hours of sleep in the barn. When
morning came, they checked the upper loft and, to their surprise, came upon an
armed Jerry. Things happened fast,
but soon Jerry was their prisoner. Thereafter,
those fellows checked every place they slept.
There had been a lull in firing for a while; the men
were anxious to be assigned a mission. Suddenly,
a fire order came to put a concentration of 200 rounds of heavy explosives on
the town of Heiligenstadt. Two
hundred rounds were out of their casings in no time.
Just when the first round was ready to be fired, the command came,
“Cease firing.” The town had
been declared an open city at the last minute.
“Close station march order” came, and the crews sadly cased the 200
rounds. Tough s___!
It has been said that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day,
but to the Cannon Company, it was rather lucky. On the way to Leipzig on Friday, April 13th, they had a few
close ones. The first thing to
happen was two Jerry planes diving and strafing.
Some came close, but no one was hurt.
Along the way, the road had a sharp curve.
Not knowing this, the convoy stopped, which left the Company’s
maintenance truck in the line of fire. The
Jerries fired. The round hit in
front of the truck.
After the next one hit to the rear of it, the motor
Sergeant quickly pulled his truck out of the convoy, but an Engineer truck
pulled into the same spot. The next
round hit the Engineer truck and set it afire.
The Company was strafed again that night, but as before stated, Friday
the 13th was their lucky day. No
one was hurt.
The fellows were cooking C rations around a fire one day
when suddenly some 150s came pounding in around them. Beans, stew, and hash flew in all directions, and the men hit
the ditch in a hurry. Every time
they started to heat their cans, the shelling started again.
Finally, they gave up and ate what was left of their delicious C rations
When the fellows asked S Sgt “Digga-the-sump” Deciolla for cake while in combat, he gave it to them. He mixed the cake batter with a rammer shaft from one of the cannons. It was swell. Cannon Company has been proud to serve with the other men of the Battle Axe Regiment – a Regiment that has truly proved itself in combat to the highest degree.