Courtesy of Mr. Hansel L. Haycox|
(received 27 June 2006 via the CBI Message Center, Mr. Tom Miller, owner)
UNIT HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS
OFFICIAL LOG ENTRIES
This history was provided to me by Julia Connor, daughter of George R Ott, a member of the 613th Field Artillery. Ms Connor found the history among her father's papers after his death, and graciously provided me a copy.
I have transcribed the document into Microsoft Word format so that others can easily make copies. During this transcription, I have tried to keep the original format and spirit of the telling of the history. In a few cases, words had been truncated at the end of the line, and so I have filled in the missing letters or words with what appeared to be the intention of the writer. Also, there were a few misspellings which I have tried to correct.
My intent in preparing this history was to preserve the history as accurately as possible, and I hope that I have done so. If you have any suggestions or corrections to make, please let me know.
Hansel L Haycox
Vine Grove, KY
This unit was activated at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, on 17 December 1943, in compliance with GP 146, Hq 3d Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, dated 17 December 1943. Lt. Franklin Ryan was the only officer physically present on that date. Three hundred and sixty-five enlisted men arrived from the FARTC at Ft Bragg, N.C. on 19 December for the battalion. Major James F. Donovan joined the organization from the 71st Light Division on the 21st of December and assumed command. The battalion trained at Camp Gruber until it transferred to Camp Carson, Colorado on the 2nd of March 1944, a permanent change of station. There, training was resumed in garrison and in the field. ITP tests were taken on June 5th and 6th following Battery Firing tests which were given from May 11 to 17. A Physical Fitness test was successfully completed on June 17. Army Ground Force Battalion Tests were passed with flying colors during the period from June 27th to July 8th. MOS tests were taken in August, from the 1st to the 3d. In all these tests the Battalion as a unit did outstanding work and the grades awarded were substantially higher in most cases than the other battalions in the 413th Group received. The 613th FA Bn was alerted for overseas movement on 17 July 1944. The battalion departed Camp Carson for Fort Ord, Calif. on 23 September 1944, about 1730 hours in the afternoon with 28 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, 418 Enlisted Men. The mules were left behind at the last moment to be sent to the Ft. Robinson Remount Depot in Nebraska. The Battalion spent about two weeks at Ft. Ord, doing some training, some equipping, some sight seeing, and much preparing for the overseas move. At 1600 hours, 6 October 1944, the battalion departed Fort Ord for Camp Anza, Calif., with a strength of 25 O's, 2 WO's, 442 EM, arriving at their destination at 1000 hours on the 7th of October. There, in preparation for the overseas movement, clothing and equipment was checked and issued, typhus and cholera shots were given to all personnel, and instructions of ship routine were received. There also we got a taste of California nightlife in our visits to Riverside, Los Angeles, and points in between. Not to be overlooked was the evening spent in Pomona. Finally on 19 October, the main body of the battalion departed Camp Anza at 0900 hours by rail for the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation at Wilmington, Calif. The rear echelon joined them aboard the USS General Butner, a US Navy Transport, at 2130 hours the night of 21 October. At 0900 hours, 22 October, the Gen. Butner left the harbor for its destination. The battalion at that time was at complete TO strength. After a safe but hot voyage (with nothing more eventful than the initiation given to us at the crossing of the Equator), we arrived at Melbourne, Australia, at 1700 hours, 8 November, to restock with fuel and food. The voyage was resumed at 0900 hours on 10 November ending with arrival at Bombay, India, at 1000 hours, Bombay time, on 23 November, Thanksgiving Day. The battalion enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal and debarked at 1500 hours under priority, entraining that evening at 1600 hours for a trip across India by rail. Departing Bombay at 2030 hours the night of the 23d, they arrived in Camp Kanchrapara, India, at 0600 hours on 26 November. Commencing late that same night and continuing the next day the battalion was moved by air from Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta, to Myitkyina, Burma. From the 27th of November until the 17th of December, the battalion assembled its equipment and prepared for combat, encamped at Camp Landis, ten miles north of Myitkyina and or the Irrawaddy River. Here it was assigned to the 5332 Brigade which later was to become known as the Mars Task Force. Just previous to its departure for combat, the 613th was made a part of a combat team with the 124th Cavalry (Special). On the 17th of December, one year to the day after activation, the battalion departed Camp Landis for the battlefront, with a strength of 31 Officers and 434 Enlisted Men. A brief itinerary of the march, showing mainly dates and bivouac areas, follows: 17 December, Waingnaw, Burma (this first day was the hardest day of all for many); 18 December, Namlun Sakun, Burma; 19 December, Nam Tabet (this is where, according to story, one of our members fell wounded and was rescued by head hunters); 20 December, Man Nang; 21 December, Kantaoyang; 22 December, Dubaiyang; 23 December, Nalong. At Nalong, Lt. Harry E. Ruhsam was transferred from the organization for duty in China. The battalion remained at the Nalong bivouac the following day, celebrating Christmas the 24th of December, as the schedule called for the 25th to be a day of marching. On the 25th the battalion departed Nalong at 0730 hours bivouacing that night at Dawhpumyang; 26 December, Sinet. Drop of grain, rations, and supplies were being made daily by C-47 planes after each camp had been set up. On 27 December Zaibru, Burma was reached. At this point the batteries of the 613th were attached to the squadrons of the 124th Cavalry: "A" battery going to the 2nd Sqdrn., "B" to the 3d, and "C" to the 1st. 613th Bn. Headquarters and Headquarters and Service Battery marched with Regimental Headquarters with the 2nd Squadron. On the 29th, battalion headquarters, marching with the second serial, departed Zaibru Gahtunning, bivouacing that night at Kho-Kyin; 30 December, Man-Wein; 31 December, Laika, Burma. 21 Enlisted Men joined the organization this date. On the 31st, the last day of the year, the battalion strength was 31 Assigned Officers, 3 Attached Officers and 437 Enlisted Men. Losses for the month included 3 Officers and 20 Enlisted Men. Officer losses included Lt. Robert Young and Laurence Hardy to the hospital and Lt. Rusham to China. Five officers had just joined the battalion at this time: Capt. Bristow S. Hopper, Lt. William P. Howard, Lt. Sterling B. Larson, Lt. Lewis J. Mathews, and Lt. William A. Purcell. The next day, New Years Day, was spent in the burned out village of Laika where we had bivouaced the night before. On 2 January, the battalion departed Laika arriving Ningpawn; 3 January, departed Ningpawn for Pranglui beginning to climb Kachin Kodauvn hill. From this point the battalion marched continuously through the mountainous country. On 4 January the Naungho River was reached. This river wound through a beautiful grassy valley, an ideal place for the mules to rest as ample grazing was available. 5 January was a day of rest, of washing clothes, and grooming mules. On 6 January the battalion departed this area in a driving rain arriving after dark that night at Nan Ma-Kyo to make camp in a rain-soaked banana grove. This was one of the worst nights. The rain continued all night the 6th, and all the following day and night. On 7 January the battalion marched over very slippery terrain to arrive that night after dark at the Schweli River bridge. The descent to the river that evening in the half-dark and dark has since become known as the Schweli River slide. It was almost miraculous that no men or mules were lost during this descent. After spending the night on the river bank the battalion crossed the Schweli the next morning, 8 January, and moved a few miles down the river to Hkathkeng, to join the rest of the regiment. The crossing of the Schweli on a temporary bridge was made just before the bridge was swept out by high water from the rains of the previous days. The past two and a half days of rain were called the "Christmas Rains of Burma" and had created hazardous footing for both men and animals. In spite of accidents and slides no casualties occurred with either men or animals, and no equipment was lost. The 9th and lOth of January were spent in resting and getting rations. Because of low cloud formations, planes were unable to reach us with ration, and for a short period we were without food. On 11 January, the battalion departed for Nam Sang River bivouac east of Lungsong. On 12 January it arrived in the Mong Wi Valley southeast of Mong WI. Burma. Here for three days the battalion rested and ate, having received for the first time in weeks, supplemental rations which included a little bread, some jam, cereal, canned fruits and vegetables. During this period, special attention was given to the mules, dispatches were sent to the rear echelon, some promotions were received by radio, and the men rested and ate. Attention was given to the sick and several were evacuated. The battalion, refreshed and full of food, departed the Mong Wi Valley on 16 January making a short but very steep march to a small rice paddy due east of Mong Wi near Namnu. On 17 January, the battalion moved to a point just north of Kaungmo. On 18 January it proceeded to Nawhkam, Burma, into its first battle positions north of Hosi. Battalion personnel will recall the bivouac area the night of 17 January in the very steep-sided rice paddy and the subsequent march up the river the next morning (the 18th) when our route north was blocked by a Jap patrol. The first elements of the battalion went into firing position on 19 January, these elements being the guns from "B" Battery. They were joined later the same day by "A" Battery and the next morning by "C" Battery. "B" Battery fired the first shot at 1338 hours on 19 January. "A" Batterv fired its first rounds early the next morning. Effective results were obtained on a number of targets the first few days and all our combat objectives were secured. A number of Japanese were known to have been killed by our artillery fire in this initial operation. The battalion remained in its first occupied positions until 24 January. These positions were very exposed, being on hilltops. On the 24th both "C" and "B" Batteries were shelled. In "B" Battery, S/Sgt. Steve Vargo and Pfc John Trimble were killed when a direct hit was made on their fox hole. During the day, Gerrity, Seletyn, and Misiewicz were slightly wounded; Treulieb was seriously wounded at the front. Treulieb later was evacuated to the United States. The situation had now become localized and stable. In arriving at the battery positions near Hosi, the battalion had marched for 31 days and had covered an estimated 280 miles since leaving Camp Landis. This figure does not account for the hours of marching up hill and down hill to gain five miles forward distance. Casualties had been few, there being a few march fractures, some fatigue cases, and some sickness. Discipline had been excellent and the unit survived the march in better condition than any of the other units involved. Esprit de Corps was very high upon entry into combat. On 25 January the battalion command post was moved from one mile due north of Nawhkam to a new location to the north. In this new position fire was delivered for the rest of the campaign. Though at times shells dropped near the new area, no hits were made in battery positions and the only casualties suffered were in front line positions. During our stay in this position we supported much ground movement including the attack by the 2nd Squadron. It was during this attack that we fired the record 850 rounds in a short period. Our fire aided considerably in helping the Cavalry reach their objectives. This was real shooting, or so considered by the men. In the big attack by the 2nd Squadron on 2 February, Lt. Patrick E. Murphy and Corporal Charles B. Hooper, his radio operator, lost their lives as a result of wounds received. It was also on this day that Lt. Leo C. Tynan distinguished himself with "F" Troop. Lt. Tynan later received the Silver Star award from General Dan Sultan. In the closing days of the campaign, for the attack on 2 February broke the back of the Japanese resistance, the following casualties were suffered: Lt. George Sodeman was nicked while flying over Jap positions, Col. Donovan. Capt. Robert Compton, Lt. Bill Carter, Lt. Covault, and Pfc Tampa were injured. Corporal Stahl of "B" Battery was wounded seriously and later died in the hospital at Ledo after being evacuated. Pfc Pellum of "A" Battery was wounded slightly. No complete summary of targets attacked and destroyed was ever compiled but battalion fire was known to have destroyed one 150 mm Jap piece, one or two 105 mm pieces, several 70 mm pieces. In addition to this counter-battery work, much of it against superior guns, many concentrations were fired on dumps, mortar positions, truck parks, and our defensive fires broke up more than one enemy counter-attack particularly at night. The use of smoke shell in marking targets of importance in the enemy area enabled the Air Corps to attack and destroy by bombing and strafing targets which we could not neutralize ourselves. A second 150 mm Jap gun was thus destroyed when it was marked with WP shell after being spotted by our Liaison planes. No further shelling of the 612th or 613th battery positions occurred after this second 150 mm gun was destroyed. On 7 February the battalion did not fire one round and the campaign was presumed over. The enemy evacuated the battlefield and the battalion went into bivouac awaiting further instructions. It was at this time that the battalion received visits from General Sultan and Lord Louis Mountbatten, Commanding the Southeast Asia Command. Both officers were high in their praise of the work of the Mars Task Force. During the period from the 7th of February until the 27th of February the battalion remained in bivouac on the rice paddy north of Hosi. On the latter date the battalion proceeded south to take up a new bivouac east of Hsenwi, Burma. Here the battalion was relieved from assignment to the 124th Cavalry and resumed its training on an independent status. Here at Hsenwi, Lt. Carter rep1aced Capt. Jake Rand as Battery Commander of "C" Battery and Capt. Compton relieved Capt. McCall as commander of "B" Battery. On 19 March, Major Gus Edwards, Battalion Executive since the battalion's inception, left the unit to join the 38th Division (Chinese) as a liaison officer. On the morning of 22 March the battalion departed from its bivouac east of Hsenwi (1 mile SW of Man Kyawng) to proceed to the Lashio area. On the evening of 24 March at about 2230 hours the battalion arrived at its final destination 1/2 mile Northeast of Inai-Long and 12 miles West of Lashio after having made a forced march of 27 miles the last day. During the subsequent days the battalion instituted a training program and spent the rest of its time in improving living conditions in the area. The battalion movie projector was brought in from Myitkyina, a baseball, softball, and volleyball program was started, and the battalion settled down to a rather comfortable life. Lt. Holmes and Lt. Lewis joined the battalion about this time; a short time later Lt. Bell joined us from the 612th FA Bn. On 7 April the mules were herded north to a Remount Depot open near Myitkyina. Mr. Blackburn with a party of about 35 EM hit the trail this date to take the mules through. While camped here during the month of April word reached us from 1-6 Theatre headquarters that the following men had been awarded Bronze star decorations for work done in combat: Col. James Donovan, Lt. Seagraves and Corporal Reefer. On the 3d and 4th of May the battalion moved in echelon to a new bivouac area about two miles north of Old Lashio at a point where the Burma Road crosses the Nam Yao River. Soon after setting up camp in that area the unit was alerted for an air movement into China and spent its remaining days in Burma preparing for that movement. On the 10th of May the first plane load of personnel left for China to be followed by additional loads of men and equipment. The last planeload left the Lashio airport on the 13th of Mav. Upon arriving in China the unit was moved to Hostel 9, the Field Artillery Training Center, some 12 miles east of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Upon their arrival there, the battalion began to disintegrate, forming as it did the nucleus of two American Artillery Group Headquarters, besides sending men to various jobs on the post, furnishing instructors for Academic work and sending liaison personnel in the field with various Chinese units. In addition to this, several of the old timers of the battalion began to depart States-ward under the point system redeployment plan. As the summer progressed rumors were heard that the battalion was to be inactivated. This eventually was done in the late summer months, but the battalion had ceased to function as a battalion upon arriving in China, and except for one formal parade early in June, never met again as a unit. By the time August and V-J Day arrived, the battalion was scattered all over China. With the coming of redeployment to the States, 613th men were sent home both through Kunming and Calcutta, and eastward through Shanghai. Many of its men volunteered for further Chinese duty and remained in China well out into 1946. The majority of the men were on their way home or were in the United States by the end of 1945.
FROM THE OFFICIAL LOG OF THE 613TH F.A. BATTALION (PACK)
Personal Note: One realizes that the memory is a fragile thing, but in reading the log, it seemed to me that a number of things didn't get back to the rear echelon for entry into the log. The log was written in several hands, partially typed and partially written. Undoubtedly communications were not always perfect and different people apparently made entries into the log.
Special thanks to Rolf Larson, our BN Adjutant, who visited the Army Military Records depository in Maryland, and took the time to copy the log and share it with us!