143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 21
On the 24th of December, Able and Dog batteries, together with the operations section of Headquarters and the service elements of headquarters, received orders to move to the vicinity of Aywaille. They were attached to the 11th AAA Group to establish the AA defenses of the two bridges at this point.
As a result of this move, the guns of Baker and Charlie were rearranged to cover the forward positions. In Baker Battery, we had found on the 22nd, as a result of reconnaissance by elements of the 30th Division, that there were considerable numbers of German armored vehicles assembled in the area of LaGleize.
From our own map and ground recon it was possible to move Gun 4 forward, under cover of darkness, to a defile which would command this pocket at a range of about 1500 yards.
On the night of the 22nd and 23rd, this move was completed. The 23rd was a very foggy day and it wasn't until late in the afternoon that the mist cleared enough for German artillery to fire a few rounds in our vicinity. Counter fire was delivered by us at the point of this flash and we received no further fire. We spent a restless, cold night anticipating a clear day on the morrow.
At approximate 0830, we received liason parties from the 743rd Tank Battalion and 119th Infantry Division which indicated targets in the La Gleize pocket for our fire.
What a thrill as our first rounds were fired and a camouflaged tiger tank shot up in flames our first tank was destroyed. As fire was delivered on this first tank we noticed two other tanks move in the bushes.
Fire was shifted to these two targets and they were destroyed. Finally fire was directed at various other suspicious looking targets with the result that several small dumps and one enemy-manned Shermann tank was destroyed. During this engagement forty-two rounds of 90mm ammunition was expended.
Cease fire was given so that elements of the 743rd armored and 119th Infantry could move in and mop up this pocket. That was not to be our only action in Baker Battery that day, for at 1200 we opened fire in conjunction with B Battery of the 639th and shot down a ME- 109 in flames.
In Charlie Battery at this location, we had no action until around 1240 on the 24th when were strafed by two ME-109 s while going into position. Our answering fire from our fifty calbre machine guns brought down one plane and the other departed, leaving a trail of smoke.
In Able and Dog batteries, we left on the morning of the 24th and were in our new position ready to fire by approximately 1900.
On Christmas we had a quiet day and despite the conditions, all us had our turkey for dinner.
The morning of the 26th was another clear and in Able and Dog batteries, we were strafed by low flying P-47's, one plane bearing German insignia.