143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 12
However, we did not get to stay in England long enough to really get to know the people, for on the 26th of August, we left Blackshaw Moor for the Port of Embarkation in South Hampton.
The convoy took twenty-four hours over the narrow, winding roads and you'll remember our relief at reaching our destination. From here we moved by many different vessels, across the Channel, to an assembly area in the vicinity of Utah Beach.
The trip over from England to the Beach was a short distance, but in some cases, took up to five days due to unloading schedules. It was not uninteresting because here we saw signs of the historic events that started with D-Day.
All around us could be seen sunken hulls and wrecked craft and from the crews we heard many stories of the events of D-Day and those few weeks following. Occasional explosions from land mines could still be heard coming from the beach.
At the assembly area, near St. Marie Eglise, we completed the testing and servicing of our equipment, some of which had been picked up just prior to embarkation. Here we received orders to proceed to Rennes and report to the 50th AAA Brigade to await orders.
There, after a perfect day's bivouac, we were attached to the 47th Brigade and instructed to proceed to Paris to become part of the antiaircraft defenses of the city. The movement from Rennes to Paris showed us the increasing signs of war and the retreating German Army.
The road-sides were littered with burned-vehicles and here it was that we saw demolished towns. It was a sobering experience which only the thought of Paris could alleviate.
We arrived in Paris on September 6th, and were finally set up on our first tactical mission. You remember the reception which our convoy received as it proceeded through the streets of Paris. Cries of "Vive les Americaines!", and beaucoup "hellos!" sprang from everywhere in this hysterically happy city. To many Parisiennes we were the first American, soldiers that they had ever seen.
No longer was the Battalion together as a Unit. We were broken up into batteries and each battery set to work to improve its position and living quarters.
The results of our hard work showed very quickly and soon each battery was living comfortably in improvised shelters with all the conveniences of home. Able Battery set up in the suburbs of Nanterre, Baker Battery in the busy Port de Clichy, Charlie in St. Denis and Dog Battery at Pied, Parc, Gennervilliers while Queen moved in to the Ecole de Boeuf, Asnieres.
Here we were in Paris and we got to know the places we had read about Montmatre, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Cathedral de Notre Dame, Quartier Latin, Tour Eiffel, Le Metro, the wide tree-lined boulevards, such as the Champs Elysee, the beautiful well-dressed mademoiselles, the many bicycles, the night clubs, such as Follies Bergere, Lido, and the Moulin Rouge.