Military History/106th CA/AAA
Mr. Patton...My father was a member of the 106th CA/AAA Battery C having served with the unit from March 1941 thru Sept 1945. I have been researching this unit for some time with the goal of writing a treatise of his service for his descendants. Slowly, but surely, I have been piecing the history together. The largest gap seems to be the role of 106th during the invasion of Sicily. Do you know to what unit they were attached while in Sicily? Were they a part of Gen Patton's push to Messina? Were they at Troina? I have after-action reports for Feb 1944 thru May of 1945, can you suggest a source for other reports, esp those prior to Feb 1944? Further, if you are on Facebook, there is a group called "Photos from Camp Hulen"...you might find it interesting. Thank you for your interest and addressing my questions. Most sincerely, Judith Hensley Fleenor
As you are probably aware, the Anti Aircraft battalions underwent a lot of changes through the war, not least was their disbandment and or cannibalization for troops in 1945 when the Allies had air supremacy.
Seeing that his unit was the 106th Coastal Artillery and AAA Battery it is unlikely that all of his unit accompanied Patton.
Do you know what kind of equipment his unit was armed with at that time? There were heavy and Auto AAA batteries. Some were equipped with towed 90mm guns and others equipped with the quad mount 50cal AAA weapons or the Bofors 40mm gun mounted on the M2 Halftrack. These were those with the AW for Automatic Weapons.
"Normally, an AAA automatic weapons battalion was attached to each division, Self Propelled if attached to an armored division, and mobile if attached to an infantry division. A corps normally had one or more AAA groups attached. Each AAA group consisted of two or more automatic weapons battalions (usually mobile), although a gun battalion was occasionally attached. In the European Theater, gun battalions were more frequently found in AAA groups attached to the army or army group. Antiaircraft brigades were also formed and were normally attached to armies or to theater commands."
In your records does it say what if any weapon your father might have qualified in? If it has the M2 .50 cal then likely he was assigned to a battery of quad mounted .50 cal guns a self propelled unit.
If this is the case, it is likely that he could have been part of a unit that accompanied Patton on his dash to Messina. During that part of the war, the Luftwaffe was still much of factor flying form aerodromes in Italy along with Italian air force until their surrender. So most ground forces would have had some AAA capability with them.
The heavier AAA batteries would have been kept near the beach head to protect the stock piled supplies and such from air attack.
Here is a search I ran for the 106th on the US Army military history page. It looks like they were assigned to the 45th Division, the ThunderBird Division make up of guys from Oklahoma and other southwestern states. It was a national guard divison. They were attached to that division from April to May of 45.
The document on the 45th division shows the battalion was repeatedly attached to the 45th Division. The 45th was in Sicily too as well as Salerno and the Op. Dragoon landings in southern France which is likely how the 106th made it to Germany and did not get stuck in Italy till the end of the war.
Now since the late war records for the 106th show no less than six of seven attachments to the 45th Division, that tells me that it was likely organic to the Corps headquarters and was attached to the 45th as needed.
The 45th was with the V corps of the Sixth US Army Group until it was assigned to XV Corps in October of 44. On New Years 1945 it was attached to VI Corps. So if the 106th kept it attachment to the 45th, it probably mirrored its movements till the end of the war.
You may know this but if not it may explain some things.
The US Army of WWII had hundreds of independent battalions. There were nearly 350 AAA battalions consisting of over 250,000 men. The same held for tank battalions outside of Armored divisions.
All these independent battalion assets were attached to headquarters, either at the division, Corps, or Army level. A Corp was two or more divisions, an army one or more Corps. So by having all these independent assets like engineer battalions, artillery, tank and AAA a Corp or divisional commander could customize forces for specific jobs. He might load up a division with artillery support, throw in some AAA, and all the tank battalions he had to give it more punch.
So that is why I think the 106th was attached to a Corp of near the end of the war, since it was attached to the 45th division numerous times.
See if that does not fit with some of the other info you have.
In Sicily the 45th was part of the II Corps, and likely the 106th was attached to II Corps.