143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 18
All batteries were in March Order but when the recon party returned, the orders were changed and we returned to our original positions.
We were uneasy and everything was too quiet. Then it broke loose. Word came down that the batteries were to March order, leaving as soon as possible on an anti-mechanized mission south of Liege.
Reconnaisance parties left in thirty minutes an were on their way to meet the Commanding Officer of the 11th AAA Group that would give us our battalion mission.
The members of the recon party remember the atmosphere of that hotel room at Aywaille when we learned that the whole German front was erupting in a major counter offensive. The battalion had been given four important road nets that were to be held at all costs regardless of men and material.
With a constant feeling of apprehension, the party made a hasty reconnaisance so that the main column with the guns would be met within a space of three to four hours later.
Battery "A" had the farthest to go, moving down highway M-15 past Werbomont to Mannhey , and then turning East to the crossroads at Snamont. They were able to set up in their assigned positions, meeting no enemy oposition.
Baker battery was assigned the defense of the road at Habiemont, just East of Werbomont. The recon party from Baker battery, consisting of Captain Browne, Capobianco, Rankin and Sproat, proceeded on the basis of these orders.
The main column of Baker continued to the battery report center at Werbomont and, Upon finding that its recon party had been cut off by a blown bridge, moved into its emergency assembly area and was later picked up by the battalion recon party going to the battalion CP.
Immediate recon was made for new positions since the original map positions were without doubt in the hands of the enemy. The guns set up abreast, beside the road leading West to Werbomont.
Later, when John Sproat managed to come back through the German lines, it was learned that the rest of the members of this recon party of Battery B ran into a German forward outpost and were killed.
Batter C turned East and South from Aywaille and set up anti-mechanized defenses in the vicinity of Stoumont in connection with the 119th Infantry of the 30th Division.
Charlie provided the immediate defenses for the road net leading to Aywaille from the East. Early next morning, Charlie attempted to move Gun 4 to a more advantageous position in the town of Stoumont.
The gun became mired in mud and while the men worked to emplace it, enemy fire destroyed it, together with the M-4 tractor. The crew of this gun were evacuated and fell back as infantry to the vicinity of the next gun.
At 0730, Gun 2 which was emplaced in Stoumont, engaged a Mark VI tiger tank at range of 40 yards, knocking it out and setting it afire with seven rounds. The crew of the tank were completely destroyed. Here a major engagement was developing.