Lt Col Raymond L Cato
Silver Star Recipients
Capt Sylvester G Willer
1/Lt Thomas W Mehler
2/Lt Duane L Smith
T/4 Robert Lyon
Cpl James Bain
Pfc Richard E Donnelly
Bronze Star Recipients
T/5 Eugene R Beck
Capt Nicholas K Biddle
Capt Wallace R Buelow
Lt Col Raymond L Cato
Pfc William H Cude
Pfc Richard R Daley
Maj Edward C Frank
S/Sgt Bruce R Guy
2/Lt George F Heafy
Cpl Leroy C Kelly
T/5 Elmer D Kendrick
Capt Robert P Woodhull
Pfc Francis E Young
460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
he 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion was
activated March 15, 1943, as an element of the 17th Airborne Division. The
authorized strength of the 460th was 39 officers and 534 enlisted men. The
battalion commander was LTC James C. Anderson. The executive officer was MAJ
Bert Nash and MAJ Cleo V. Hadley was the S-3.
March 2, 1943: 84 enlisted men
of the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion were assigned as cadre to the
460th. April 10, 1943: Captain William Ennis, 1st Lieutenant Louis Vogel and
eight enlisted men: 1st Sergeant Joseph Koch. Staff Sergeant Edward Johnson,
Staff Sergeant Donald Kirk, Tech Sergeant George Hubbard, Corporal John Fuller,
Sergeant Daniel Bellonio, Sergeant Jack Luddy and Sergeant Joseph Verbosky, were
ordered to Camp Toccoa, GA for temporary duty in connection with reception,
screening and assignment of recruits for the 460th Parachute Field Artillery
Battalion. Men selected were shipped to Camp Mackall, NC where the 17th
Airborne Division was being formed.
After training at Camp Mackall
and nearby Ft. Bragg, the men of the 460th were ready for Fort Benning, GA and
parachute training. Arriving at Fort Benning in late August 1943, the battalion
was ready for whatever the Jump School Cadre had to offer and they offered an
abundance. Push-ups almost around the clock, running under the hot Georgia sun,
calisthenics, shock harness, tower mock-up and the nervousness of packing your
parachute. These were the A-B-C-stages. The supreme test was the dreaded D
Stage, where your mettle was certain to be tested -- your first parachute jump.
Monday, September 13: The
artillery men of the 460th were ready and waiting for the first of five
parachute jumps that were required to win the coveted Silver Wings that
recognizes one as an Army paratrooper. The men of the 460th were unique due to
the fact that they went through Jump School as a unit. They didn't let the
battalion down; they passed with flying colors.
Soon it was winter in North
Carolina and many of the troops saw snow for the first time. The snow was
exciting until it fell while the battalion was bivouacked in a rural area. But
worse conditions were ahead for the men of the 460th. February 5, 1944: The
battalion left Camp Mackall and traveled to Tennessee to take part in maneuvers
conducted by Headquarters, Second Army. "Tennessee Maneuvers" simulated combat
conditions as realistically as possible. Participation in such trial was to
substantiate a unit's fitness for combat duty.
On a miserably cold, wet day,
it was announced that the parachute elements of the 17th Airborne Division were
being pulled out for overseas shipment, as the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat
Team. This was welcome news for men of the 460th and on Saturday, March 4, 1944,
the battalion was on its way back to Camp Mackall.
During the next two months,
all efforts were concentrated on preparation for overseas movement. Wills and
powers of attorneys were made out, leaves were granted, and shots taken for
communicable diseases. Crew-served weapons, artillery and vehicles were
cosmolined, crated and readied for shipment. With personal obligations taken
care of and goodbyes said, and with little or no apprehension apparent, the
troops were eagerly waiting for further orders.
Two weeks before embarkation,
the battalion commander and staff of the 460th were relived. Lieutenant Colonel
Raymond L. Cato, USMA '36, (picture above left)
and eight officers from the 466th Parachute Field
Artillery Battalion were assigned in their places. Two of these new officers,
Captains Edward C. Frank and John M. Kinzer, were promoted to the rank of major.
Frank would be the XO officer and Kinzer the S-3.
The 460th was ready and
prepared for combat. The Fire Direction Center would be manned by troopers who
were well trained to perform their assigned tasks. Gun crews had proven
themselves on the artillery ranges of Fort Bragg. The officers were an
exceptional group that had graduated from the Artillery school at Fort Sill, OK.
All troopers of the 460th were selected and trained to excel in their assigned
In early May 1944, the 460th
staged through Camp Patrick Henry, near Newport News, Va. On May 17, the
battalion and the 59d' Airborne Engineer Company loaded onto the Panama Canal
Ship Cristobal and sailed down the James river. At Hampton Road, the Cristobal
and the grace liner, Santa Rosa. with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment
aboard, were joined by a Navy destroyer and the little convoy headed out into
the open Atlantic. The odyssey of the 517th Parachute Regimental Team had begun.
(The Cristobal would survive the war and return to U.S. Army service, moving
supplies and personnel between the United states and the Panama Canal Zone until
she was retired in the late 1980s. )
The 14-day trip across the
Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean Sea to the port of Naples. Italy.
was relatively uneventful, except for one grievous incident. Staff Sergeant Leo
Degrenier. a cadre member and T-4 Franceco Soto had on-ship assignments that
allowed close contact with the ship's crew. This association led to the drinking
of "Torpedo Juice". resulting in their deaths. The battalion had suffered two
previous deaths. One when a recruit died while running Mount Currahee at Toccoa.
GA; another at Camp Mackall. when Thomas Loggins of Pensacola, FL was killed
when a supposedly unarmed bazooka rocket exploded in a Headquarters Battery
barracks. Several others were seriously injured. including loss of limbs.
After the Cristobal and Santa
Rosa docked at Naples on May 31, the troopers filed down the gangplanks into
waiting railroad cars and were carried to a staging area in the Neapolitan
suburb of Bagnoli. The Regimental Combat Team (RC1) was scheduled to take part
in the attack from Valmontone to Rome the next day. This was canceled after it
was made known that crew-served weapons, artillery and vehicles were not yet
From the staging area of
Bagnoli, the RCT moved on to "The Crater." The Crater was the bed of a
long-extinct volcano that was rumored to have been the private hunting reserve
of Neapolitan royalty. It was a flat, circular area surrounded by the volcano's
rime. The troopers set up a tent camp and settled down to wait for weapons and
vehicles to arrive. While the troopers waited in the Crater, the 460th's "Air
Force," 1st Lieutenants, Fred L. Fadely and George F. Morris, and Staff Sergeant
Victoria Miskimins were busy reassembling the two Piper Cub liaison places that
were partly disassembled for shipment on the Cristobal. Fadely and Morris were
aviators, and Fort Sill-trained artillery officers. Miskimins was the aircraft
Shortly after the aircraft
were ready to fly, Fadely was ordered by the 5th Army to fly over the Anzio area
to search for targets to be fired upon by artillery battalions in that sector.
He saw nothing worthy of artillery fire, but he may have been the first member
of the combat team to go on a combat mission.
After two weeks in the Crater,
the RCT finally received their equipment and on June 14, the outfit struck
tents, stowed away extra gear, and moved to a beach at Naples to wait for LSTs
to carry them to Anzio. The RCT loaded three ships per , battalion. The LSTs
headed north toward Anzio but during the night, the RCT's destination was
changed by the SIb Army Command. The ships continued north and at midday, the
LSTs put in at bomb-wrecked Civittavecchia, dropped ramps and the troops marched
off to bivouac several miles inland.
The RCT was attached to the
36th Infantry Division which was under IV Corps and operating on the left of 5th
Amy. On June 17, the 4601b was trucked to near Grosseto where they moved into
firing positions, after contacting 36th Division Artillery.
On June 18, the 517th Infantry
filed through Grosseto heading northeast on Highway 223. The 111 Battalion ran
into a storm of machine gun fire as it entered the Moscona Hills. The 460th saw
their first action when their 75mm howitzers opened fire. The Germans retreated,
leaving behind over 100 prisoners and a large number of dead and wounded.
On or about June 24, 21.1 Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sietz
and Battalion S-2/S-3 Sergeant, Staff Sergeant Bill Lewis were on reconnaissance
in the area along Highway 1 near Folloncia where the battalion was moving
through. From their hillside position, they observed German tanks headed in
their direction so 460th Forward Observe W.J. "Tommy" Thompson was alerted and
he positioned himself on a hilltop and called in artillery fire that repelled
the tank attack. The 460th "Air Force" got into the action in this sector of
Italy when Lieutenant Fadely, flying his liaison plane over German-held
territory, spotted a large enclosure with tanks and other vehicles. He called
for artillery and the guns of the 46om answered. Much equipment was destroyed
and Fadely continued on in search of other targets. In the RCT's brief
engagement in Italy, 4,746 rounds were fired from the 16 howitzers of the 460th.
Another 559 rounds were directed for a 105mm Battery.
The RCT was relieved June 26 and pulled back to the area of Frascati, southwest
of Rome, to make preparations for the "Big show," the parachute assault into
Southern France. Bivouacked in an olive grove near Frascati, the troopers of the
460th welcomed the opportunity to relax and enjoy USO shows, PX rations and
swimming in a nearby lake. Rome, only 11 miles away, was a special treat and
passes were liberal.
Southern France - Operation Dragoon
On July 18, the 517th RCT was formally assigned by 7th Army to the 1st Airborne
Task Force. August 11, the 460th was trucked to a bivouac area near Montalto de
Castro west of Rome. Other units of the RCT were scattered about in the Rome
area. The 460th was sealed off on August 10. Movement in and out of the bivouac
area was banned and no further contact with military or civilian personnel was
allowed. About 1:00 a.m., August 15, 1944, the 460th minus C Battery, loaded
into C-47 aircraft from the 437th Group, 53 Wing of the USAAF Troop Carrier
Command. One by one the planes roared down the dirt runway and lifted off into
the dark sky to join other planes of the "Albatross Mission, " the "Spearhead"
to drop 5,628 paratroopers into Southern France. C Battery, assigned to the lst
Battalion, took off from a dirt runway near Canino.
Some troopers of the 460th landed on or near their designated drop zone while
others landed as much as 20 miles away. Either through error or a faulty jump
light system, 20 planes dropped artillery men early and they landed in the
vicinity of Frejus, France. These men had great difficulty finding each other.
Sometime after daylight, about 18-20 Headquarters troopers with much equipment
were headed into the direction they hoped would lead them to the battalion.
About mid- morning, they met up with Major Frank and about 30 others from
Headquarters Battery. By noon, a force near 100 460th troopers with four 75mm
howitzers and other equipment, under the command of the major, was headed west.
After halting for the night. the major was made aware of a nearby German 88mm
artillery battery. At daybreak. seven German guns were put out of action by
artillery fire from the 75mm howitzers of "Task Force 100". Satisfied with their
first fire mission. the "Force." along with their German prisoners captured the
previous day. continued their trek westward. After some friendly persuasion
while looking down the barrel of a machine gun. the prisoners helped to pull the
howitzers. After another scrimmage with the enemy in the afternoon. the
artillery men's journey of some 20 miles ended when Colonel Cato greeted his
lost mini-battalion as they arrived with 1/4 of his battalion's fire power.
On D+2, Lieutenants Fadely and Morris flew their
liaison planes from Italy to Corsica where the two aircrafts were loaded onto
takeoff ramps attached overhead on LSTs. Off the coast of France, the ships
headed into the wind and with the lieutenants gunning the planes' engines to
full throttle, they headed up the ramps and with the help of the wind, the
aircrafts lifted up into the sky to become the airborne eyes for the RCT.
The next two weeks saw the RCT headed in a NE
direction. Towns and villages fell like dominoes, one after the other as the
fast-moving combat team pushed toward the Maritime Alps. September found the RCT
in the Alps. The 46(Jb was firing 300-400 rounds daily during the battle for Col
De Braus. Continuous enemy counter battery fire came upon the battalion's
position a mile north of L'Escarene. On September 5, a five-round concentration
killed one man and wounded nine and forced the battalion's CP to set up in a
railroad tunnel. It wasn't like starting from scratch, although lots of
scratching took place because the tunnel was loaded with fleas.
A group of Headquarters men had taken up positions nearby and claimed foxholes
left by the Germans. Providence was with one trooper who had abandoned his first
foxhole for another: his first choice took a direct artillery hit. Lieutenant Fadely. not to be left out of the action in the Alps. flew his small plane over
one of the maintain fortresses near Sospel to direct fire from the large guns of
a British cruiser in the Nice harbor. He scored several hits only to discover
later than no damage was done to the mighty citadel that showed no respect for
repeated hits from 7Smm, 105mm, and 155mm shells.
The RCT continued to fight in
the Alps for the next two and a half months pushing the Germans into northern
Italy. During this period, the guns of the 4601h played havoc with the German
troops: 75mm pack howitzer were spread over a considerable area from L 'Escarene
to some of the highest peaks. Form the large amount of rounds fired into Col de
Braus to single round direct fire, the battalion was always ready when artillery
fire was requested. After liberating Sospel, the Germans' last stronghold in the
Alps, and after more than 90 days in combat, the RCT was relieved by the newly
arrived 141h Armored Infantry. During this tree-month span, the 4601h fired
9,130 rounds of 75mm shells.
On November 18, the 460th set up camp at La Colle, six miles west of Nice.
On December 1, the RCT was assigned to XVIII Airborne Corps and directed to proceed to Soissons in
northern France. On December 6, three trains pulling the infamous WWI 40 and 8 (a small
boxcar designed to haul 40 men and 8 horses) were loaded at Antibes, France, for
the 500- mile trip to Soissons. The first two trains arrived at Soissons on
December 9 and the third came in the next day. Bi1Jeted in barracks for the
first time overseas, the troopers were looking forward to Christmas with turkey
and a1J the trimmings. The scuttlebutt was that the war was a1J but over and the
RCT would soon be on the way home. The scuttlebutt was wrong. On the morning of
December 18, the RCT was alerted to be prepared to move on two-hours notice.
The Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge
Movement orders came December
21, and the RCT loaded onto trucks for a long night's journey through sleet,
snow and freezing rain. Destination -Belgium. The German army had launched a
massive offensive against weak American positions in the Ardennes region of
Belgium and Luxembourg. The RCT had been rushed into action to face the best
German troops. During the next 37 days, the RCT would clash with units from SS,
Panzer and Airborne Armies.
On December 22, the RCT, minus the 1st
Battalion, was assigned to support the 3Qth Infantry Division near Malmedy. The
460th fired 400 rounds in missions south and east of Malmedy. On Christmas Day, the RCT was
released from attachment to the 30. and returned to XVIII Corps control and
moved to Ferrieres. From positions near Ferrieres, the 460, reinforced the fires
of the l' Armored Division Artillery.
The fall of Manhay on
Christmas Eve to the 2nd SS Panzer Division sent shock waves throughout the
Allied Command. High-Ievel demands for its recapture at all cost were given to
General Ridgway, who assigned the 517'h RCT to spearhead the Manhay attack. On
December 271h, the 46& coordinated an eight-battalion TOT (Time Over
Target, an artillery technique in which all shells arrive on target at the same
time, regardless of gun target distance), over 5,000 rounds were fired (one
researcher states 8,600 rounds) in four concentrations, one directly upon Manhay
and three on its southern approaches. The Germans were stunned by the artillery
fire and caught off balance by the speed and violence of the attack. In less
than an hour, Manhay was recaptured.
On New Year.s Day. the RCT was
attached to the 82Dd Airborne and alerted to go on attack in the Salm River
sector of the Ardennes. Across the Salm River were elements of the 1. SS
Panzer Corps and Gennan paratroopers. As the attack began on January 3. the
46(1' fired concentrations of artillery fire. Later in the day, the battalion
was told it would be limited to 500 rounds per day due to shortages of 75mm
ammunition. This allotment was extended before darkness, and its.s fortunate it
was because a strong force ofGennans counterattacked across the Salm River. The
4601h hit them with repeated 75mm concentrations of fire that stalled their
In Saint Jacques, 460th FO
Lieutenant Tommy Thompson and his team had established their outpost in a large
building with a clear view of their concentration point. Later, B Company
settled in with the artillery men for the night. After dark, a column of German
tanks entered town and began firing point-blank at their sanctuary. Lieutenant
Thompson contacted a 155mm artillery battalion and firing by sound called in
fire on the constantly moving tanks. To the relief of the troopers in the
building, the tanks retreated. B Company Commander Captain Robbins told Thompson
that he had saved his company. Thompson agreed, adding that the FO team's skins
were also spared. Several hours later, about a company of enemy troops came up
within a few hundred yards of Thompson's concentration point. He called for
Battalion 10 rounds. Later, 60 bodies were found in the field.
At nearby Bergeval, C Company
was engaged in a big fight on a ridge that continued throughout the night,
becoming steadily more violent. Ranging in by sound, 460tb Artillery Observer
Lieutenant Henry Covington brought artillery fire within 50 yards of C Company's
position. The Germans, outnumbering C Company by about 200, retreated, leaving
behind about 50 dead and many prisoners. Gallant C Company lost 24 men,
including the company commander.
On January 7, the 3rd
Battalion was given responsibility for what remained of the front along the Salm
River. While the 460th remained in support of the 3rd Battalion, the rest of the
RCT moved into the 82nd Airborne Division reserve near Arbrefontaine.
1st Army's next major effort
was to be the recapture of the important road junction of St. Vith. The job was
given to General Ridgway's XVII Airborne Corps. Colonel Graves received his
orders on January II, and on January 13, the 460th moved into firing position
north of Stavelot and the drive to recapture St. Vith began. Ten days later, the
XVIII Airborne Corps had taken its final objective in the Ardennes, closing out
the only major route of withdrawal left to the German forces. The 517th RCT's
role in this drive was paramount. The 460th furnished pinpoint concentrations of artillery fire
for the RCT and other units. The RCT had been in continuous action along the 30-mile XVIII Airborne
Corps front from the Ourthe River to St. Vith for 37 consecutive days. From December 22 to January
27, not a day had passed in which part or all of the RCT was not in contact with the enemy.( << Click Picture (right) for larger version << )
Although the Battle of the
Bulge had ended, the war was far from over. After a 10-day stay in Stavelot,
resting and re-grouping, the 460th , along with the rest of the RCT, was
ordered to Hansfeld, Germany, to join the 82"' Airborne Division. A few days
later, February 3, the RCT was attached to the 78th Infantry Division.
During the next few days, the
RCT would encounter some of the most violent fighting of the war, under the
severest of weather conditions. During this period in the Bergstein- Schmidt
area of the Huertgen Forest, the 460th Fire Direction Center coordinated their
heaviest concentration of artillery fire of the war. 14 battalions of division
and corps artillery, FO Captain Robert Woodhull was killed while directing fire
and FO team member, Battalion Operations Sergeant, Tech Sergeant George Hubbard
was seriously wounded.
After being relieved by the
508th Parachute Infantry, the RCT was trucked to the railhead at Aachen,
Germany. After a two-day train trip, the RCT arrived at Laon, France, where they
settled in for a two-day stay. On February 15, Colonel Graves was notified by
the XVIII Airborne Corps that the RCT was assigned to the newly arrived 13th
Airborne Division and was to proceed to Joigny, France, 70 miles southeast of
As the RCT closed in at Joigny
on February 21st, the RCT was dissolved the 460th became part of the 13th
Airborne Division Artillery and the 596th Engineers were merged with Company B,
129th Airborne Engineer Battalion.
On March 12, the 13th Airborne
was assigned by 1st Allied Airborne Army to participate in "Operation VARSITY".
Montgomery's crossing of the Rhine River. The 13th's participation in VARSITY
was called off. It was the first of several aborted missions. The war in Europe
ended and the 17th Airborne Division was scheduled for shipment to the Pacific
where they were to participate in "Operation Cornet", a jump into the Japanese
home islands, with take off from the Aleutians.
Some 460th troopers had
optioned to join the 82nd Airborne in Berlin, other with enough points were
offered discharges, most wanted to remain with the 460th and visit Japan. The
war ended in the Pacific while the 460th was at sea headed for New York. Too
bad, because once the 460th reached Japan, Tokyo Rose would have lost her
The 460th's performance during
the Battle of the Bulge was so extraordinary and complicated that it's difficult
to comprehend. Their primary responsibility as the artillery arm of the RCT was
to support the 517th Infantry. This they did exceptionally well. But many other
units received the same quality of artillery fire from the 460th as did the
517th. Just how many others, it's difficult to say, but it's likely to have been
20 or more. During the nine days in Belgium in December, the 460th fired 4,759
rounds of 75mm shells and 30 TOTs, not counting the massive Manhay barrage. The
460th, in its five major campaigns during WWII, not only supported other units
with 75mm fire, they also furnished fire direction center and forward observer
assistance. The 16 howitzers of the 460th fired more than 19,000 rounds of the
75mm shells, again not counting the Manhay fire. The 460th certainly added
credence to the old military adage that "artillery is never in reserve."
On February 25, 1946, at a
deactivation ceremony held at Fort Bragg, NC, the 460th, a proud and courageous
artillery battalion passed into history.
( Source: Condensed from Paratroopers' Odyssey: A History of the 517th Parachute Combat
Team (1985, Military Narrative by LTC Charles E. LaChaussee, AUS Ret.) and Chronicle of the 517th
PRCT (1985, Compiled by Clark Archer)
This version was printed as a feature article in
Quarterly magazine in the winter of 1998.)
460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion - Pictures
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