Friday, February 5, 2010

American Anti Aircraft Artillery at Antwerp in WWII

The son of a GI in the 184th AAA Gun Battalion and I have been emailing recently. He had a question about one of his father's ribbons. So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to list the American anti aircraft units protecting Antwerp from German V-1 buzz bombs. I just bought a copy of: Da Baene. Belgium Remembers and honors the US Armies of Liberation. Published by Les Editions J. Rozez, S A. Bruxelles. 1948. This book lists all the units that received recognition in the Belgian Army Order of the Day. The 184th AAA Gun Bn., along with all the other units in Antwerp X, received two mentions. This granted the men the right to wear the Belgian Croix de Guerre ribbon and the Fourragère. A large proportion of the ant aircraft unit were British, and some Polish batteries were also attached. Unfortunately, my book is specific to the American troops only.

The listing of American anti aircraft units protecting Antwerp comes on page 68-69. This is under Section II. Book of Honor. Chapter 1, American units mentioned on two occasions in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army and honored with the Fourragere 1940:

Decree of June 17, 1946, no. 2509
Article one: The Antwerp Antiaircraft Artillery Command of the United States Army and the following attached units:

Headquarters Battery, 50th AAA Brigade
Headquarters Battery, 56th AAA Brigade
Headquarters Battery, 17th Group
Headquarters Battery, 30th Group
Headquarters Battery, 45th AAA Group
125th AAA Gun Battalion (Mobile)
126th AAA Battalion (Mobile)
136th AAA Gun Battalion (Mobile)
601st AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
184th AAA Gun Battalion (Mobile)
605th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
405th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
740th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
407th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
787th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion
494th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
789th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion
495th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)
150th AAA Operations Detachment
519th AAA Gun Battalion (Semi-Mobile)

are mentioned on two occasions in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army and granted the Fourragere 1940 for:

1. The units of Antwerp X Command played a heroic role in establishing and maintaining the antiaircraft defense for the liberation of the port of Antwerp which permitted the opening of the port on November 28, 1944, by defeating the all-out attack of the German V-1 bombs launched from the Trier area, as well as from the area North East of Nijmegen. The destruction of property and loss of life of both Belgian civilians and Allied troops was held to an absolute minimum through the tireless efforts on the part of the members of these units. Fighting day and night, the soldiers accomplished their mission in an outstanding manner which had as result the liberation of the Port of Antwerp and permitted the flow of supplies and munitions* to the five Allied armies. The heroic action of the members of these units reflects the highest credit upon the Antwerp X Command and the Allied armed forces.

2. The units of the Antwerp X Command, at the time of the all-out offensive launched by the Wehrmacht [German army] on December 16, 1944 [Battle of the Bulge], established an unprecedented antiaircraft defense against the attempts to destroy the port of Antwerp. The results of this heroic action, the success of which was absolutely vital to the Allied cause in general, and in particular, the preservation of the liberation of Belgium, were so successful that the operation of the port was never interrupted.

The courage of the officers and men, combined with their tireless efforts and technical skill, closed the campaign with the unprecedented gunnery score of 97 per cent.

*Actually, the only ammunition coming through Antwerp was that used by the anti aircraft batteries. All other explosives were run through Cherbourg and Le Havre to keep them safe from V-weapons.

Decree of September 26, 147, No. 4309
The 152nd Antiaircraft Artillery Operations Detachment, attached to the Antwerp X Antiaircraft Artillery Command of the Army of the United States, has been cited on two occasions in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army with conferring of the Fourragere 1940.


Further Reading on Antwerp X:

A 90mm gun that was been used for the defense of Antwerp. At the Artilleriemuseum Brasschaat (near Antwerp). Photo was sent to me by my friend, Raf Boesmans.

Antiaircraft Unit Histories:
Antwerp X command produced a short history booklette before its deactivation. See scans of the book on SkyLighters.org.

Individual unit history books for four of the Antwerp X battalions are available as free PDFs on Antiaircraft.org. The above 184th AAA Gun Bn (Mobile) is there, as well as the 125th AAA Gun Bn., 601st AAA Gun Bn., and 602nd AAA Gun Bn.

2 comments:

  1. My Father was a Sargent in the 405th Battery B heading a Radar unit. good to find this.

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  2. I found my dads discharge records. He is listed as being a dental tech. With the battles being in Central Europe, Naples, Rhineland, Rome, Southern France and Tunisia. He received the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal. I did not know all of this.

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