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Military History/WWII Army information on my grandfather


QUESTION: Dear Mr. Sutton,
I recently found my grandfather's discharge document from the US Army with little information on it and have had difficulty researching further.  My grandfather passed of cancer before my birth. With the following information, can you help me with this? Any battles or campaigns he may have been in? How/why he received a bronze star? What kind of weapons he may have been issued? rifle? sidearm? Anything else on his unit?
Hollis Barnett Smallwood
Private First Class US Army WWII
Battery B 438th Armored Field Artillery Batallion
Born September 2, 1918
Died September 6, 1975
Serial Number: 34081067
Enlisted April 4, 1941 Fort McPherson, GA
Discharged November 22, 1945
Military Occupation Specialty Gun Crewman coast artillery 608
Thank You so very much in advance!!

ANSWER: Greetings

It is an honor to help.  First off as a family member you can request his service record.  If have included the link to that page below.  Please visit the achieves website first.  The 438 started out as a coastal artillery unit but once deployed to Europe as an Antiaircraft artillery unit.  His unit was a mobile unit for battlefield protection.  He most likely worked with a unique weapon called the quad 50.  This was 4 50 caliber machine guns mounted on a halftrack.  A good antiaircraft weapon it was also a great pillbox killer and was used to break up infantry concentrations.  If he served in a vehicle he might have carried the M1911 hand gun or a M1 Carbine rifle.  As to his war record you will have to get specifics from his record.  The 438 was in an action near St. Girard, Belgium around Sept 6 to 9 used their antiaircraft guns on Germany troops.  I donít have any specifics if he was or was not there.  The 438 used their trucks many times to move men and equipment around France due to the fact that the Luftwaffe was primarily used to defend German airspace from US and British bombers.

I hope this helps and please check out the links they will got into more detail.

Thank you

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QUESTION: Mr. Sutton, I want to apologize to you as some of the information I provided you was incorrect.  He was not in the 438th.  It was in fact the 428th armored field artillery battalion.  All the other information is correct.  What threw me off was that I knew he had served in the pacific, specifically in the Ryukyus campaign, which if I'm not mistaken is part of Okinawa. I don't think he did much if any service in Europe during the duration of the war.  With this correction, can we try for round 2?
Thank you again!


Glad to help.  The 428 fought in Italy during World War 2. Their big battle was at North Apennines.  It is possible your Grand Father trained with the 428 and that he transferred to another unit.  Again get his service record from  Your are correct Ryukyus was part of the operation to take Okinawa.

I have included a link on about Ryukyus that may help, but I donít have any other information on your grandfather at this time.

Thank you  

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Paul Sutton


I can answer questions on World War Two weapons, tactics, and strategy. I can answer questions on Weapons systems and their development. I can answer guestions on Space exploration history. I am a World War 2 expert. I study Military Weapons Systems and the usage of those systems.


I work for Saint Petersburg College as a TRS or Technology resources specialist. I read 10 to 15 books a year on World War 2 and weapon systems. I also have a BA in History from USF.

I have a BA in history from USF.

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