263rd Field Artillery Battalion
26 Div Artillery Pin-Pointing Saved Many Doughboy Lives
Perhaps the stirring record of achievement compiled by the 26th Division Artillery can best be indicated by a brief extract from a letter of commendation by Maj. Gen. W. S. Paul, former Division Commander, in which he makes reference to the bitter Battle of the Ardennes. He writes: "Despite seemingly insurmountable difficulties of terrain and blizzard conditions, our artillery at all times was in a position to support the attack. Moreover, the accurate and timely massing of its fires on innumerable occasions broke up enemy counterattacks before they could be launched, inflicting unbearable losses on the enemy. The conduct of the forward observer and liaison plane groups was marked with many feats of heroism and self-sacrifice. At no time, day or night, were observed fires lacking. To a commander that is the acme of perfection."
Under the superbly aggressive leadership of Brig Gen Morrill Ross, considered by many the most astute artillery commander in the ETO, the 26th Division Artillery maintained relentless pressure against a savagely resisting foe. Murderous artillery fire time and again crushed dangerous enemy attacks in their initial stages and at all periods the terrible losses inflicted by our artillery weakened and staggered the enemy troops. The overpowering amount and accuracy of our fire on many occasions completely broke enemy morale, resulting in mass surrenders and the saving of our own men's lives.
The 101st, 102nd, 263rd and 180th Battalions and Headquarters Battery each performed individual actions of outstanding merit and as a team working together they proved as efficient and deadly as any fighting combination in the theater.
The enemy first experienced the terrific concentrated power of our artillery on the morning of November 8th at five o'clock when our howitzers unleashed a devastating preparation against the surprised foe. The thunderous rolling bombardment lasted an hour and left the enemy reeling and disorganized. As a result the Seille River was crossed and Moyenvic and Vic sur Seille were captured.
The enemy came to dread the appearance of our artillery observation planes and seldom dared attempt large scale movements during the daylight hours. But even at night he was given no respite. All night long artillery harassing and interdiction fires blasted road junctions and enemy strong points, smashing convoys and seriously damaging communications lines. During the Ardennes campaign our artillery dropped at least one shell every ninety seconds for three weeks on a junction of five roadways over which all German supply columns had to pass.
On May 6th, after taking up positions in Czechoslovakia, Division Artillery fired for the last time in World War II.