Military History/war history of the 141st. A.A.A. Bat. 9th
QUESTION: My Father was a cpl.on a 90mm AA gun in the 141st. AAA Battalion of the 9th. Army from 1943 through 1946. Any info. about their war record would be appreciated. My Father is now deceased and while he was alive he would never speak about his war time service. He did talk about serving as an MP guarding POWs after the war until rotating back to the US in Jan. 1946.
George King II
A few questions and comments.
Do you have your father's service records? If you request them on line you will get his discharge papers which will give you the times, dates and location of his unit, as well as any awards he was authorized, and any qualifications he earned such as marksman, sharpshooter, and weapons upon which he qualified.
Okay, there were a total of 347 Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalions in the Army in WWII.
They ranged from 90mm armed battalions to those armed with quad .50 machine guns mounted on armored cars or trucks. Some were equipped with 40 mm Bofors guns.
Early in the war they were needed to maintain security and defense of rear areas against air attack and protect front line areas as well.
Each division had three regiments and each regiment might have an attached AAA battalion or company. Being able to assign smaller units to larger units allowed commanders to tailor a force for a specific task. There were also Battalions attached to Corps headquarters, a Corp is two or more divisions under the command of a Corps headquarters. An army is two or more corps and AAA battalions could be assigned to that headquarters as well for protection of supply dumps and other Army and Corps assets supplying the divisions.
So, as the war progressed, the USAAF, the army air force, kicked the shit out of the Luftwaffe, and by D-Day German air power became a non factor. The US and Brits had complete Air supremacy. The difference between air superiority and supremacy, is at a point in time. Say on D-day the US had air superiority, since only two German aircraft appeared. By D-day +10 the US had Air Supremacy, over nearly all of Europe. We could go anywhere and do anything without the Germans being able to challenge us and have air superiority anywhere since our forces were so overwhelming.
Okay, during the Battle of the Bulge, US infantry divisions had reached a critical point. Eisenhower was desperate for replacements.
In WWII the US started out the war with a target of 100 divisions of around 10,000 men each. The idea was to keep them at full strength by sending them replacements. This differed from the way everyone else, friend or foe did it. In all the other armies, each regiment had a replacement battalion back home, that recruited and trained men for the regiment and sent them replacements. Each regiment was based in a specific geographic location, such as a county, or town. Major cities might support ten or twenty regiments. This was thought to increase esprit de corps since men who fought with their neighbors were more likely to fight harder as to not shame themselves in the eyes of people who would write home about it.
The down side was if a regiment had a bad day, a bunch of local boys would die and a lot of governmental telegraphs would be sent to the same town.
The Germans and Russians tended to make new divisions entirely, and the old ones were spent down to the bone, then rebuilt. This puts history in a different light when you hear people saying "well, the Germans had 350 divisions on the Eastern Front and only 70 fighting the Americans. And the Russians had 400 divisions.
Well yeah, but a German Division was about the size of two US regiments. The Russians the same thing. Their Armies were about the size of a corps, plus add in the fact that they were probably at 60% strength meant they were much smaller.
Now an attacker usually needs to be 3 times the strength of a defender, so the Germans were still able to put up a good fight. Post war studies show that one German was worth about three Russians on attack or defense based on casualties inflicted and suffered in both modes of combat. They were better than US and UK troops by about 1.5 to 2.
What does all this mean to your father.
During the Battle of the Bulge and afterwards, Eisenhower ordered hundreds of AAA battalions to be dissolved since there was no fear of German air attack. All the personnel were assigned as infantry or tank crew replacements. This was done with little or no additional combat training for the AAA battalion men. They had all received basic training and were qualified on the M-1, but it is doubtful they received any advanced infantry training.
I have not seen any records of the casualty figures for these guys, but I can bet they were high, above average, since they were pushed directly into combat to make good losses.
After the German Ardennes Offensive was stopped, the battle of the Bulge raged for another three months until the Germans were pushed back to where they started. Instead of pinching off the salient, Eisenhower insisted on a broad front offensive and pounded the salient back like a dent in a fender.
It cost a lot of men.
So, now armed with this knowledge, it is likely your father might have seen some bitter fighting and that is why he did not want to talk about it. After the war ended, he might have been reassigned to an MP battalion for the following reasons.
Right after the war, men began to be shipped home on a points basis. It was called the Advanced Service Rating System. You got 1 point for each month of service, 1 point for each overseas month of service, 5 points for a Combat Infantryman's badge, or other combat award, and 12 points if you had a kid under age 18.
The total told you where you ranked for return to the states. If you father was only pressed into combat in 1944, he might have been on AAA defense behind the lines, then he would have been low on the totem pole for discharge and return home. That is probably why he was still there until 1946. His assignment to a MP battalion would have been logical since there were a lot of POW compounds to guard.
His records would tell you to what division, corps HQ or Army HQ his battalion was assigned, and from that you can deduce where he was and what he was involved in.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: My Dad did say his crew had destroyed German aircraft and had been strafed by Bf-109s. Could his unit which I gave you in the first E-mail have been attacked during the Jan. 1,1945 air raids on air fields? He did say his unit had served under Patton during the "Bulge" fighting. I have never heard that the 9th. Army was under Patton. These are some questions I have about his units battle history. According to letters I have now found his unit arrived in France in early Sept. 1944.
Okay, based on the new information, he could have been assigned to either a Machine gun AAA battalion armed with M2 Halftrack mounted Quad .50 caliber guns, or one armed with 90mm guns that were pressed into service as anti-tank guns. I would wager the former rather than the latter, since the Quad .50s were also used against ground targets and were more mobile than the 90 mm guns.
If he was with Patton, I doubt the incident was related to the Jan 1, 1945 air attacks.
There is a bit of confusion here. You say 9th Army when you really mean 8th Division. There was no 9th Army in Europe, there were the 1st Army under Hodges, the 3rd Army under Patton, and 7th Army under Patch.
The 9th infantry division was attached to the 1st Army under Hodges.
The 9th Armored Division was attached to the 1st Army as well.
Looking at the order of battle here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Bulge_order_of_battle#U.S._Third_Army
I can find no reference to the 141st. If you notice, most of the AAA battalions retained were AA AW battalions. These are the quad .50 mounted on half tracks. AAA battalions were the 90 mm guns. It could be that in the confusion your father's unit was parceled out, or sent forward to Bastogne, or St. Vith, to bolster defenses without being formally attached to a division.
Units of the 9th Armored Division were sent to Bastogne.
Eureka! I found some info that will clarify things.
The 141st AAA Gun Bn(mobile) was part of the 18th AAA Group. The Group was also made up of the 379th AAA AW Bn (probably bofors guns) and the 571st AAA AW Bn (Self Propelled)Those would be the quad mounted .50's.
During the Ardennes the group was attached to the 29th Division. Go here: http://www.history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/29ID-ETO.htm
Scroll down to Attachements, meaning attached units.
If you look farther down, you's see that the Division was attached to the Third Army in August of 1944, but then reattached to the First ARmy in September. Then to the Ninth Army until the end of the war. There was a brief period during the Ardennes when it was attached to the British 21st Army Group under Montgomery on the north Shoulder of the Bulge.
The list of command post locations near the bottom gives the date and town location of the Division headquarters, and undoubtedly your father's unit would not have been far away.
Compare those dates and places with what you got off his service record.
For future searches try using the 18th AAA Group, or 29th Infantry Division. If you can find a copy of the division history, it might give you specific info related to his battalion.
This lists the 18th AAA group under non divisional units as qualifying for the Normandy Assault Landing Credit. This might have been where your father fired at strafing enemy aircraft, sometime after June 6th as they did put up AAA defenses to protect the Mulberry Harbors and the large concentration of shipping off the Beach.
It appears the 18th was also attached to the 28th Division from July 28th 44 till Sept 30 1944.
They were attached to the 79th Division from 16 Apr 45-5 Jun 45
This documents the Rhineland Campaign.
This documents the Central Europe Campaign.