143rd AAA Gun Battalion - World War II
My Army 'Book of Memories'


Army 'Book of Memories'

Dad's Journal

James Frank Alban Sr. served in the 143rd AAA Gun Battalion in World War II.

The following information and pictures are taken from a journal of his experiences that he compiled after the war.



July 24 Inducted into the US Army.

August 14 Left home for Camp Lee, Va, Sat. August 14. Arrived Camp Haan, Riverside, Ca, Tuesday August 24 and assigned to Battery D, 143rd AAA Gun Battalion - given the job of mail clerk assigned to the Captain's office as his clerk. Six weeks of basic training. March order on July 12 to Camp Irwin, Barstow, Ca. to fire the 90mm guns. Returned to Camp Haan, November 4. Back to Camp Irwin (the west range) on November 18 to fire the 90s (tent city - six men to a tent)

December 13 Attempt at firing the 90s in the middle of the night near Daggett, Ca, rainy season and the trucks and 90s on wheels got mired down into the mud up to their axels.

December 19 We were moved to Mojave, Ca.

December 24 Back to the west range.


January 20 After spending nine weeks on and near the west Range , Camp Irwin, we returned to Camp Haan on January 20.

February 23 We received orders from the AAA Command at Richmond, Va, assigning us to the 4th Air Force.

March 4 We moved to the Muroc Army Air Field for combined training with the Army Air Force. Left Muroc (via Los Angeles ) on March 11 for a two week furlough and got married on March 18. Visited Dr and Mrs Hunt at Inglewood, Calif on a weekend pass - April 22-23. Went to church with them. Mrs Hunt was (is) the sister to Mr Crane of the B&O Railroad - my boss.

May 2 Everyone who hasn't had a furlough yet, left for home - 340 men and everyone else moved to Camp Irwin and awaited the return of the men.

June 19 We received orders to return to Camp Haan for final inspections and packing to go overseas.

July 15 We marched to the train station under full field pack leaving California and heading for Camp Shanks, NJ. Ten days later (July 25 ) we were aboard the HMS Highland Brigade sailing to England. Crossing the Atlantic took fourteen days. For meals it was either fish or mutton. We had two meals a day. If you wanted to take a shower, you washed in salt water pumped from the ocean.

August 83 Horse Shoes Inn -road A-53 led to Camp Blackshar Moor We arrived at Liverpool, England and went by train to a camp at Blackshaw Moor, Leek, Staffordshire, England. Evening passes to nearby towns - Leek and Hanley.

August 26 We left Blackshaw Moor for South Hampton, our port of embarkation. (Page 12) Due to unloading schedules we disembarked five days later onto Utah Beach, france and reassembled as a battalion near St Marie Eglis. Received orders to proceed to Rennes where we were to be told what our assignment would be. We were attached to the 47th AAA Brigade and ordered to proceed to Paris.

September 6 Arrived in Paris and D Battery set up at Pied Paro Gennervillers. Liberation of Paris was at least two weeks prior to our arrival. Wallace Newman was shot in the leg one dark night while walking guard. We were permitted to receive passes so that we might take in the sights of Paris. The Germans and allies alike had spared Paris but we had seen much devastation on our way. For instance, the town of St Lo had been leveled to the ground.

November 8 We moved to Los Loges Nen Josas in Versaille and it rained and rained and we were mired down into mud.

November 26 We received march order and on November 28 at 12 noon the battalion had set up in positions around Liege, Belgium. Hitler's V-1 bombs were aimed at us, some of which were very close, but none of them a direct hit. I lived in some one's second floor which they had been using as a warehouse. They grew rutabagas to sell. their eleven year old son would would come up and sit with me. I gave him candy bars when I had them. Our 90s shot a German plane down. My BED= 3 rutabaga wooden crates pushed together with a mattress ( the size of a baby crib ) on top. There were about 20 of these mattresses in the warehouse. At least ten other men took shelter in the warehouse.

December 17 Received march order to proceed to vicinity of Aywaillye, Belgium to take part in the 'Battle of the Bulge'.

December 24 Moved back about 15 miles and dug our 90s into a farmer's meadow.

December 25 Christmas dinner with turkey and all the trimmings. ( miracles never cease ) (xmas gifts of cigarettes, soap and a 2lb box of Martha Washington chocolates to my Host family ) I slept in their hay mow. Bombed by German planes - they missed.


January 3 March order to Namur (Champion) Belgium. setting up under the control of the 31st AAA Group (Page 22 ) making my sleeping quarters in the hay mow, became very friendly with the Heylens family, the owner of the house and barn. Our office was set up in what would have been their living room. ( four sons and three daughters )

March 12 March order to Wedgnez, northwest of Verviers, Belgium

March 28 March order to vicinty of Duren, Germany, set up in apple orchard.

April 1 (Easter Sunday ) worshipped our wonderful Risen Christ at a bombed out cathedral in Bonn, using one of the Sunday school rooms that still had a roof over it. RESSURECTION - at the entrance to the cathedral. Easter flowers were blooming among the rubble of the fallen stones.

April 12 President Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Latter Part of April Moved to Worth (15 miles East of Regensberg), Germany, to protect the bridges over the Danube River. We ( the whole battery, lived in the castle )

May 7 Germany surrendered to the allies.

May 16School Received orders to move to Essilngen, Germany to carry out the disarmament program...PFC Ditto killed during disarmament.

Lived in a large high school until July 20, and then was assigned to Headquarters Battery at Kaufbeuren, Germany to work in the Personnel Dept.

I slept in a semi-private room in a large school building ( the same building where I worked ) that I shared with John R Shannon, Battery A.

From One of His Letters

Esslingen, Germany July 21. 1945 My Dear Mother and Dad,

...........for this past week I have been visiting Philip Brown. He is the same old Philip and has not changed a bit in the 27 months that I haven't seen him.

I stayed with him for 2 days and 2 nights. We talked largely about old times and also about our experiences in the army. Natuarlly we are both looking forward toward coming home.

As you probably know he is in a glider Infrantry. They made 2 big pushes at the Bulge of Belgium and also crossing the Rhine. At the Rhine land their glider landed in the wrong place and while they held out for 5 minutes til other glider troops accompanied them 9 out of the 12 of them was wounded and one was killed. Philip was wounded but it was not serious enough to remove him from the battlefield. Nevertheless I think he will receive the 'Purple Heart' for it. All of the fellows in his organization received the 'Presidential Citation'.

He is really fixed up with medals and ribbons. He deserves them though.

"My whole army career seemed to be a rehearsal for LIFE to follow. As well as having friends within the army itself we would make friends with the local town's people (especially in Europe ) and no sooner was the friendship established we were off to another town, leaving our friends. How very MUCH like my relocating from town to town and state to state leaving friends that I had known in the Lord. How many more."

MARCH ORDERS { Very soon the one to HEAVEN'S gate will come. Alleluia for the Cross } Dad's last "MARCH ORDER" came, June 1, 2008HE WAS READY!!