War and Military History
Battle of the Bulge
Military Equipment

What types of artillery were used during the Battle of the Bulge?

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2008-06-23 03:06:24
2008-06-23 03:06:24

Yes. Field Artillery were used at long range and smaller artillery pieces were used for close range by the infantry.

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The 980th Artillery Battalion was a 155MM howitzer battalion. The howitzers were towed behind trucks until the battalion went into battery to fire. During the Bulge, it was part of the US VII Corps. VII Corps was commanded by J. Lawton "Lightening Joe" Collins, who was one of the best American Corps commanders of the war. Collins went on to follow Eisenhower and Omar Bradley as Chief of Staff of the US Army, the Army's top general, a position he held from 1949-53, during the Korean War.The 980th Artillery was one of hundreds of "independent" or "separate" battalions created by the Army for WWII. These battalions were "independent" because they were not an organic part of any larger formation. There were independent battalions of many types - tank, tank destroyer, engineer, signals, all anti-aircraft battalions were independent, and there were a very great many independent artillery battalions, of various calibers. One of the largest US field artillery pieces of the war was the 8 inch gun, and all 8 inch battalions were independent. The next largest was the 155MM howitzer.Every US infantry division had as part of its structure four artillery battalions - three of 105MM and one of 155MM. The independent artillery battalions were to provide additional firepower. The idea was that independent battalions could be moved around as needed, to supplement the divisions.All independent battalions were assigned to HQs higher than the division level - to a corps or a field army. Because of this they were sometimes called "corps troops" or "army troops". Every corps had a lot of these independent artillery battalions, collectively called the "corps artillery".The field artillery was the most effective combat arm of the WWII Army. The artillery had all its dreams come true on the very eve of the war. They got new weapons - the 155MM and the 105MM, and the magnificent 2 1/2 ton truck to pull them and haul shells. New FM radios for communication with FOs (forward observers), who called in fire missions and adjusted the aim of the gunners. The US pioneered something called "Time on Target", or TOT, where by careful calculation every gun within range of a given target could fire so that ALL their shells arrived on the target in the same instant - very demoralizing to any enemy troops who survived. Captured Germans were deeply envious of the lavish use the US could make of artillery ammunition. And this was with what the US regarded as severe shortages of artillery ammunition, which often caused restrictive quotas to be imposed on how many shells could be fired per day. The US never worked out this supply SNAFU, and half of the US artillery ammunition produced for the war never left the US. Even so the US was always able to soften the enemy up with an effective artillery barrage, as the "Red Legs" blasted their way into Germany. The artillerymen were "Red Legs" because historically the artillery had a red stripe down the side of the uniform pants leg, and red piping and trim on the uniform.Administratively the 980th Artillery Battalion was a part of the 188th Field Artillery Group, which included the 980th and the 951st and 172nd Artillery as well.The VII Corps, to which the 188th FA Grp was assigned, was the corps HQ whose troops landed on D-Day on Utah Beach in Normandy. The VII Corps was part of the US First Army throughout the campaigns in France and Germany. The Battle of the Bulge (more formally, the Ardennes Offensive), involved a surprising German attack that fell mainly on the US First Army, with the Germans breaking through the US line in several places and driving between the US First Army and its neighbor to the north, the US Ninth Army. For over a week the American troops had their hands full trying to stabilize the situation and reform their line in front of the Germans. Once the situation was more stable and the Germans began to lose momentum, the US VII Corps attacked into the Bulge from the north to meet other units attacking from the south, to pinch off about half the Bulge, in an effort to trap the Germans in the tip of the Bulge.You can find a detailed history of the VII corps operations during the Battle of the Bulge at:http://www.vii-corps.org


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