BTRY B, 340TH Field Artillery BN, Unit Timeline
This history is dedicated to all past, present and future officers and enlisted men of Battery "B," 340th Field Artillery Battalion, 89th Infantry Division.
John A. Dorigan
Hailing from Camp Forrest, Tennessee and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, a cadre of sixteen enlisted men (Stromer, Jennrich, Weightman, Dorigan, DeRosa, Maloney, Coulter, Crammer, HohI, Arie, Nadell, Aldridge, Sajak, Schaefer, Bolden and King) arrived at Camp Carson, Colorado to form the nucleus for Battery "B", 340th Field Artillery Battalion, 89th Infantry Division. The date of their arrival was the fifteenth day of June 1942. From that date on, many more men have joined the roster. Unfortunately, the lack of time and space does not permit the telling of how each and every one was admitted, or the relating of the many remarkable items of interest that they created for the benefit, as well as the amusement of, the Battery.
It is hardly necessary to state that "B" stands for Best, for the men who have been members of the Battery have always done their utmost to make that slogan stick. Never have they failed.
Captain Ostner, Captain Lightbown and Captain Van Loton have been the men whose duty it was to organize and supervise our training. Captain Ostner, our first Battery Commander, was well capable of starting the ball rolling and setting down the rules that made us always want to stay on top. When he left us to go to a higher headquarters, First Lieutenant Lightbown assumed command. Soon, as a result of his proven ability, he was promoted to captain. Aided by his red hair and his well over two hundred pounds, he gave us the fight that carried us through our maneuvers with an excellent record.
Shortly after maneuvers were finished, Captain Van Loton took command of the Battery. He had entered the Battery in October 1942 when he was appointed Executive Officer. His ability soon earned his first lieutenant's bars; while on maneuvers as a Liaison Officer for the Battalion, he received his captaincy. All of us are well pleased that Captain Van Loton will be our Battery Commander when our next big event takes place. In the first phase of our training, we learned everything from our "hut, tup, three, four" to the handling of our primary weapon, the 105 MM. howitzer. It did not take us long to see the advantages of trying our best to become a group of top-flight soldiers.
Many days and nights were spent bivouacking on the range where we weathered the rains, snow, and often the heat. But nowhere have we seen such beautiful blue sky as that which made up our ceiling on these excursions. In the month of June, 1943 we went up some 9,000 feet to the Lake George area behind Pike's Peak. While spending a pleasant week there, we learned how to function as a combat team with the 353rd Infantry Regiment.
A brief period elapsed after our return from Lake George before we went on Division Maneuvers. These maneuvers took place on our own range, as well as on some adjoining land south of the range extending seven or eight miles toward Pueblo, Colorado.
After a series of maneuvers, we spent our time getting in some firing practice, as well as smoothing out our rough spots. But more important was the fact that we were changed over from a regular triangular division to a light division. In place of our 105' MM. howitzers, we were issued 75 MM. pack howitzers. As the jeep became our prime mover, we began to walk instead of ride. We called ourselves "Infa-Artillerymen," the walking artillery.
Then on November 18, 1943 we headed south by train to Louisiana and more maneuvers. Our trip took us through Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, and then south through Shreveport to Hawthorne, Louisiana.
Although we were one of the first light divisions, our schedule in Louisiana was the same as that of any other mechanized division. This meant that many a day of the three months we were there was devoted to hiking twenty miles or more daily. Many of those days were wet ones, for it seemed that rain fell on an average of four days a week. Christmas dinner with the wine was probably the most welcome meal that we had since coming into the Battery, for the previous days had been cold and wet and the ground was covered with frozen rain. Our cooks must be commended for the preparation of that excellent dinner.
From our Louisiana maneuvers, we once again boarded the train. This time our destination was Camp Roberts, California via a southern route through Shreveport, Fort Worth, Dallas and Needles, California. From Needles we went through the San Bernardino Valley to Los Angeles, thence along the coast to San Luis Obispo and finally to Camp Roberts.
After camping outside Camp Roberts for three weeks we left for the Hunter Liggett Military Reservation on February 20, 1944 for another three months of maneuvers among the hills high above the Naciemento River Valley.
Fortunately, our maneuver schedule this time was planned for a light division, because the hills were so steep that at times we had to disassemble the howitzers in order to get them up the slopes. At first we thought it was to be another Louisiana because of the incessant rain, but after the first eighteen days the weather cleared and lived up to California's advertising campaign.
We proved to be more than artillery men on both maneuvers, for we built sections of roads, did outpost guard and performed the many other duties that make up the soldiers life. Our opponent was the 71st Light Division, and we whipped them soundly.
The highlights while at HLMR was the week spent on the shores of Pacific, the "C" ration diet and possibly the stagecoach line from HLMR to King City, where many of us had to get out of the buses so that they could ascend the hills.
In late May we received the good news that the division was being shipped east to Camp Butner, North Carolina. Not that we were particularly anxious to be located in North Carolina; it was the very thought of sleeping in a bunk after six months on the ground that was music to our ears.
Our trip was by the same southern route we had traveled four months earlier and from Shreveport we went through New Orleans, Birmingham, Atlanta and finally to our new home in Camp Butner, just outside Durham, North Carolina.
Of the many men who have left our ranks, the ones who went POR have been the men who we have missed the most. Now that it is "B's" turn to go, we wish we could have these fellows back with us, for we know they could always be relied upon to give a good account of themselves. We also know that those who took their places will do their best to keep our Battery's standard equally high.
In parting, we wish to say that this brief history will be nothing compared to the history our men will make from here on. Our purpose in devoting the time now to this document is so that it will form a basis for the discussions we will have when this period of our lives is over and chance brings us together again.