Posted in 276th AFA, History, WWII

The 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion – Part 1

Due to the interest generated by my post about the M7 Priest, I decided to write about  my father-in-law’s unit and their experiences during the war.

The Battalion

The 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was in the European Theatre of Operation combat zone for 241 days, from September 1944 until the Germans surrendered in May 1945. They fought in the Battle of Northern France, the Battle of the Rhineland, the Battle of the Bulge, and the Battle for Central Europe. From the first round fired at Andelot, France, (near Nancy) they moved across Europe to near Strakonice, Czechoslovakia, at the war’s end. The battalion’s eighteen guns fired approximately 90,000 rounds in combat and provided support to whoever needed their guns. Thus they supported numerous groups including the French Second Armored Division, the Third Army, the 80th Infantry Division, the 6th Armored Division, the 12th Armored Division, the 9th Armored Division, the 4th Armored Division, the 90th Infantry Division, the 5th Infantry Division, the 26th Infantry Division, and the 11th Armored Division.


The 276th started out in Kansas where they trained as a field artillery battalion. While on maneuvers in Tennessee orders came to reorganize the battalion into an armored field artillery battalion. In January, 1944, they reported to Camp Campbell, Ky., for retraining on M7 track-mounted 105 howitzers.

On June 23 they left for Camp Shanks, New York, where they boarded the SS John Ericsson, set sail on July 1, 1944, and crossed the Atlantic to England. After arriving at Liverpool, they proceeded by train to Lianmartin, Monmouthshire, South Wales, for a thirty-day readying period.

The Campaign in Lorraine

On August 20th the battalion moved to Weymouth, on the south coast, and loaded on LST’s to cross the channel. After landing on Utah Beach in Normandy, the 276th began the motor march across France. By September 10 they reached Joinville, in eastern France near Nancy, where they were assigned to the French Second Armored Division. Here they fired their first combat rounds in the war.

Over the next few days the 276th crossed the Moselle and Meurthe rivers still in support of the French. During September and into October the account of engagements and movements reads like a tour guide of villages in Lorraine. Members of the battalion were killed, wounded and a few were captured. During a short rest the men stayed in French villages where the citizens welcomed them as liberators. From late October through mid-November,  the 276th supported the 6th Armored Division defending Landroff from a strong enemy counter-attack.  Steady rain in November caused muddy roads, traffic jams, hampered operations and generally made life miserable for the men. On December 5 they fired into Germany for the first time.

In early December orders came transferring 10% of the enlisted men, or 48 men, to the infantry.  Assigned to support the 80th Infantry Division, the 276th continued to fight along the German border. But on December 20th orders changed.

Battle of the Bulge

As part of Patton’s Third Army, the 276th journeyed from near Bettviller in easternmost France to the City of Luxembourg in four days, enduring snow, extreme cold, and icy, mountainous roads. This was the famous march in the dead of winter that Third Army made to relieve the US troops surrounded at Bastogne. In Luxembourg the 276th moved further north to engage the enemy along the southern shoulder of the bulge where they spent Christmas of 1944. During this time the weather was extremely cold. They were not allowed to build fires and they had no hot food. My father-in-law said that one night he fell asleep under the gun and when awakened by gunfire he was numb and stiff. Had he not awakened, he would have frozen to death, as many did that winter.

In the movie “Patton” there is a scene where General George S. Patton ordered a chaplain to write a prayer for good weather so that they could attack. This actually happened. The successful results of this prayer impressed Patton so much that he had a copy of it sent to all the men in Third Army. My father-in-law sent it to his mother who gave it to my husband. The prayer is printed on both front and back of a small, thin piece of paper about the size of a baseball card.

In January the 276th still supported the 80th Infantry Division as they fought northward helping the 319th Inf. Regiment repel a strong counter-thrust near Nocher. The battle remained near Heiderscheid until Jan. 18.  when the battalion supported attacks on Dahl and Kaulenbach, Luxembourg. By the end of January the Allies had crushed German offensive and had pushed back the battle lines to roughly where they had been in early December.

In February the battalion hammered the Siegfried Line along the Luxembourg-German border. They established liaison with the 4th Armored Division protecting the flanks of the 80th. Targets for the thousands of rounds fired included German defensive positions with nebelwerfers (rockets called screaming meme’s), mortars, tanks, pill boxes, snipers, infantry, vehicles and gun batteries. They crossed the Sauer river near Cruchten into Germany on February 20. Five days later the 276th received orders transferring them to support of the 4th Armored Division and continued to move further into German territory.

In Part 2 I will continue to recount the experiences of the 276th in the last months of the war in Europe.

Thanks to Teresa Williams for allowing me to use her father’s photos. Her father is Morris I. Grayson, Battery “B”, 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. Details were taken from the history of the 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion compiled by Sgt. Bruce B. Palmer.

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “The 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion – Part 1

  1. My father was Sgt Raymond Buddie of the Headquarters Battery. Did your father in law know my father? I enjoyed reading your history.

    1. Ray
      Thanks for your comment. My father-in-law passed away in 1999. He rarely talked about his service and refused to attend any of the reunions. We thought his memories were too painful. So I don’t know if he knew your father. Can you identify any of the men in the photo’s?
      Barbara

  2. I do not know any of the men in the photos. My dad would probably have known them. But my dad died in 2005. He went to the reunions and was close with the CO Lt Col Hardman. My dad was a also close with Lt Art Taylor. I had a chance to speak with Art Taylor before he died in 2010. That was the most information I ever got on the battalion. My dad also confided some in his brother and my uncle talked to me and my son about dad in 2009. I took notes. But my uncle Frank died last year. So sad that the whole generation is gone and none of them really wanted to tell the story. Your history is wonderful. But I think that the 276 was much farther east of Bastogne at th battle of the Bulge. My dad told me how upset Col Hardman used to get when they had to fight with the 80th infantry division because the CO of the 80th would put them way out front to keep his own losses minimized. He said they did not like fighting with the 80th but were really impressed with the 4th armored. He said those guys were really good. The 276th was one of the only Outside AFAB to serve for any time with the 4th. I have some other stories. But it’s hard to put them into context. Everyone is gone. There may still be a reunion. But I think they are down to just about a dozen left.

    Let’s all remember them and the Greatest Generation tomorrow on Memorial Day.

    Best regards,

    Ray Buddie

  3. I have a map that one of the men made for one of the reunions. I have copies and can send one to you. It traces the route of the 276th through Europe.

      1. Thanks for your comment. And good luck on your trip. I found your grandfather’s name on the roster for Battery B. I will email you privately with more information about the map. And I will add your name to my growing list of family members of the 276th.

    1. Ray Buddie:
      Could I possibly get a copy of the map? My Dad, Morris Irving Grayson, was in the 276th Battery B. I sure wish we had know about the reunion this year. If there is ever another reunion, I would love to take my Dad (if his health holds out). My Dad is 90 years old.
      Thank you.

    2. Ray Buddle: my name is Richard Burton and I am helping a friend of mine compile his father’s (Cpl. Ed Brady) military experiences with Battery C of the 276th; so that he can make an oral presentation about it to a military history group, near Harrisburg, Pa.
      If you can mail it (I’ll pay for postage) mail to: Richard Burton, 7216 Catherine Drive, Harrisburg, Pa, 17112 or email: centralpavietnamrt@verizon.net

      Many thanx

    3. Ray Buddie:My father was Marshall Goree of Chattanooga, Tennessee and his greatest joy was gathering with his brothers(and their wives) at the reunions. I grew up hearing stories of the brave men of the 276th and would love to have a copy of the map so that I can pass it along to my children’s children..if it’s possible! Thank you…allisonwillson@hotmail.com

  4. Hello my name is Tom Taylor – Lt Art Taylor was my father. I also enjoyed reading your story. I have attended one of the reunions and enjoyed it very much. I look forward to reading your part 2. If I can be of assistance, feel free to contact me. Ray Buddies dad and mine were very close friends.

  5. Hi guys, my name is Frank Huss,Tom, we met at that reunion. I was very fond of your dad and loved to sit and talk with him and hear his stories. My dad never attended the reunions but I started going after his death in 1996 and have really enjoyed them. I don’t know if you guys know but looks like this years reunion is going to be the last and it would be great if all of you could attend. The reunion is going to be in Gatlinburg TN, Sept 12 – 14. Barbara, would love for you to bring your photos and info.

    1. Thanks for mentioning the reunion. My husband and I would love to go. Please send me the specifics and I will pass it along to others who have expressed an interest in the 276th. Please send exact location, time frame/hours, and any registration requirements.

  6. Hi Frank, can you please send me info on the reunion? My dad always went to them. I hope that my son can come with me. I have some photos that I will bring with me. Please let me know. Tom, do you think you will make it?

    Ray Buddie

  7. Ray, Frank and Barbara,
    Unfortunately I can’t make the reunion this year. My moms house is in the process of selling, and my brother and sisters and I plan to move mom to assisted living on that weekend of Sept 13. The house sale closes the following week. It is breaking my heart that I can’t make the reunion and that I have to sell moms house. But time marches on. On top of all that, my wife and I already made plans to attend the “Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge” reunion in KC on Sept 4-7. My father-in-law is also a B of B vet – he served with 551 Paratroop Batallion in Belgium. Here is a link to the groups website: http://www.battleofthebulge.org

    please keep in touch everybody. my e-mail is taylor.tom@comcast.net

  8. Hi Barbara and family of the 276th. May father is Sidney Shaffer S# 312705570. He was known as “Red” because of his red hair. He enlisted on Jan 12, 1943 in Boston, MA. He’s 89 years old now and in failing health. His unit was the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment which, I believe, then split into the 274, 275 and 276th.

    I’ve tried to do some research on his service as he’s always wanted to know the path the 276th took across Europe. He’s mentioned that he and a few other solders made it across the Elbe River. Unfortunately, his archived military records were destroyed in a fire many years ago. I’ve tried to piece together the unit’s history, but wasn’t aware of your group. As a child, I remember visiting several of his army buddies on a trip across the U.S. After the War, Dad moved from Malden, MA to Oakland, CA.

    I’m currently reading Atkinson’s “The Guns at Last Light” and Charles MacDonald’s “The Last Offensive”. Assuming the 276th is his unit, members would have valuable information on the 276th history. He’s in poor health and maps, history or posted pictures would help answer his question: what was the path of the 276 from the day they hit Utah Beach on August 16, 1944?

    With much gratitude for your work and our parents’ service.

    Yours,

    Harris Shaffer
    Columbus, OH
    302.438.0836 Mobile

    1. Hello Harris,
      I checked through the roster for the 276th AFA and sorry to say I did not find your dad’s name. I did find a Wayne Shaffer in the medical detachment. Maybe your dad was in the 274th or 275th? If you send me an email I can send you a couple of PDFs with a time line of the 276th showing major dates and locations. My email address is taylor.tom@comcast.net.

    2. I hope that Tom provided you with the information you wanted. I, too, scanned the roster of the 276th and did not find your father’s name. You can read my other posts about the 276th and the M7 Priest for more about the battalion. I also recommend the book “Longneck, A History of the 274th AFA BN” by Jack K. Morrison. It includes a roster of the 274th which I scanned for your father’s name. I did not find it. I’m not sure where you would find a roster of the 275th. The archived website for the 275th website is still available but there is no roster posted online.

      I also recommend the book “Payoff Artillery – WWII” by Frank H. Armstrong. It is about the 283 Field Artillery Battalion (towed) but I gives an interesting account of the role of a Field Artillery unit. It also has lots of statistics and order of battle in the ETO.

      Also, the history of the 276th states that they landed on Utah Beach August 25, 1944. “Longneck” states that the 274th landed on August 19th. I’m not sure where you got the August 16th date. When I tried to research the 2nd Artillery Regiment, I found that it was reorganized as the 2nd Artillery Battalion early in WWII. Perhaps your father was in this battalion.

      I appreciate your frustration at trying to find information about your father’s service. My father-in-law passed away in 1999 before I started my research. And I have struggled to get more information about my father’s service. He passed away in 1996. Good Luck in your quest.

      1. Barbara,

        Thanks for your email, beautiful blog and follow-up.

        I’ll look into those books. I’m reading Rick Atkinson’s “The Guns at Last Light” which gives a macro picture of the war from D-Day onward.

        Another informative book, available as free PDFdownload, has been “The Last Offensive” by Charles MacDonald: http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-9-1/index.html

        Keep up the great work!

        Yours,

        Harris Shaffer

  9. MY dad Garr Hood (from Murphy NC) was a member. He passed away in 08. Does anyone remember him?
    Brian

    1. Hi Brian, Garr Hood is listed in the Battalion history as a Tec 5 in Battery A. This is the same battery as my father-in-law Dewey P. Whitaker who passed away in 1999. I will ask others in the 276th that I am in touch with about your Dad. Thanks so much for contacting me. Good to know we still remember these brave men.
      Barbara Whitaker

  10. Hi, my dad was Tech. Sgt. John Wesley Scott with HQ. Battery. I also have the 276th AFA book. He went to all the reunions and passed away in 2000. He enjoyed telling anyone that would listen about his war experiences.

    1. Good Morning,
      I’ve got an idea. Since our parents that served are called ” The Greatest Generation ” why dont we call ourself
      “The Luckyest Generation” ?
      I was very lucky to have an awesome dad that left us for his eternal home with Jesus in 08.
      Brian

  11. Oh my Gosh! This is the article of information I needed. I am writing an essay on my Great-Uncle who was in B-battery. He passed away in 2001 and he never talked about his bravery to anyone but my brother, I plan on maybe writing a book about him because he never had children and I feel a if his legacy should continue on somehow. His name is Lawrence Preston Snow. I have acquired all of his letters home from the war, but he never really says anything in them except that his is fine. Thanks so much for this article!!!

    1. Sylvia, Thanks for your comment. I found Tech 4 Lawrence P. Snow from Walkertown, N. C., in Battery B of the Roster of the 276th. On my website if you click on the Category “276th AFA” you can read all of my posts related to the 276th. Good luck on writing about your Great-uncle. The story of the 276th is fascinating. If you want more information, contact me and I can put you in touch with other family members.

  12. Good afternoon. I wanted everyone to know that my dad, Pvt. Robert C. Sapp Jr.(Bobby Sapp) from Headquarters division, passed away on Saturday August 15, 2015 at 8 pm CST in his home surrounded by his 6 children and one of his grandsons as well as a son-in-law. Dad was 90 years old, his wife, my mom, passed away 15 years ago. He had 6 children, 7 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren. I thought I would let everyone know.

  13. My wife’s Grandfather, Corporal Carlton L. Abernathy of Battery A, 276th AFA turned 90 years old today. He is still a wonderful asset to his family and friends.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s