244th Field Artillery Battalion

January 1944

Dear Mom,

     Just a note to let you know I’m still alive and kicking. We are going out with the 10th in just a few minutes.  The New Year came and went amid shouts and revelry. We were all over at the Coyne– about 40 couples. Verne and Mary Grace came down Fri. aft. for the doings. She called Weds. night – wanted to know if I would come to Ft. Ben. – so she came here instead.   We had a lot of fun with the Col -. Wink is in town putting them on the Bus.

     Tonight, we are all going to relax and get a lot of sleep for a change.

     Malm just got in from his leave – guess he too had a lot of fun. Verne said that she didn’t get my package at Christmas – hope it wasn’t lost.

     Not a thing else to report. I feel real good and hope you all are finished with the flu. My love to one and all.

                                             Tom

Dear Family,
     All’s well after a fine weekend. I finished work Fri at 1800, met Vern & Mary Grace & then went out to Coyne’s – everyone was there, and we all had a lot of fun. Sat night Wink, the gals Luis & Sally and I went out. Had fun again Sunday I had to work till 1800 so the gals went home at 1315. Tomorrow the umpires go out at 0830 – till the next morning. That’s our last day out. Will be glad to get back to the Battalion. Will write again in a few days.
                                                                            Love to all
                                                                                     Tom.

Dear Folks,
     A real week ahead of us. Battery test 1, 2 and we’ve got to prov’em or we’ll all shoot ourselves.  Wink, the Col. & I drove to Pinehurst N.C. Sat. Had a lot of fun – it’s real pretty there. It snowed all Sat. night & Sunday. Took some pictures don’t know if they turned out well though. Put the car in the garage to have the brakes adjusted. Saw that my check to dad was returned – can’t figure it out cause my stubs show enough. I know it was embarrassing for dad – hope he’ll forgive me. I’m going to check the books – cause I’m sure the bank made a 10.00 slip on my balance on Nov.
                                                                                    Love Tom.

Dear Folks,

     Again tonight, I hope to get into bead early. Last night it was 20:30, tonight – 22:00. After a weekend of rain – today was a real change – warm. I was able to park my new coat a while. It is the nuts – the warmest thing I own. I got dad’s letter with the income tax blank – my god – 2 have to pay about 250.00.

     These people down here are the dumbest crew I’ve ever seen – Sat. I put I a gal. of Prestone – warned the men to be sure he shut the petcocks – Sunday afternoon it had all drained out. That was the easiest $266 I’ve ever spent. Now all I have to do is dig up some more of both. And that’s a real job.

     Say – have you seen in the papers an ad showing some 10 in. boots that lace up about half way then have a leather flap that crosses over and buckles twice? It’s a new boot the army is putting out. If you see any – please let me know.

     Have you heard from Don yet? And is Peg in Indiana yet? Bet Mrs. Zook will be glad to see Bob again – please give him my best. I have a chance to go to Sill for an extra course in Surviving – is will be a great advantage to me if I make it. Will let you know how it turns out.

     More in a few days –
     We go into the field next week for seven days.
                                                            Much Love,
                                                                 Tom.

Dear Mon and Dad,

     Another week is gone – and it was a real rough one to. We had our Battery test again – the same one that we had at Ft. Benning. We did a pretty fair job – in spite of everything. The “forward observer” problem I shot wasn’t too bad – I got 100% effect in the mortar emplacement. The next day we ran our survey – we didn’t do as good as I had hoped – but good enough to pass. The latter part of Feb. we take our Battery Tests. If we pass then we’ll be 95% closer to doing our “main” job. The Col. has said that if we pass – we’ll have a party we will never forget.

     Mrs. Mercado still in Pinehurst – we may go back up there in a week or so. It’s terribly pretty country. Didn’t you and dag go through there several years ago?

     It has rained here for a couple of days – but that didn’t stop our work.

     I got the car back Thurs. It sure does run good. The tires are getting smooth again.

     Do you remember Bob Long of Chattanooga? He’s here at Gordon – married & has a real nice wife. His sister was here and I saw her here last night.

     I have found out why my check for 40.00 was returned by the bank. I knew at the time I wrote it that I had $48.00 left on the stub. The error was that a November check for $10.00 was cleared the 3rd of Dec. and also the service charge of $1.29 for Nov. was taken out. It was all my fault for not knowing, and it’s too late to mend the damage of Dad’s embarrassment in having to go to the Title for a check.

     I got my coat yesterday – it sure is nice and warm. Could have used it during the rain – instead I got wet instead.

     The 3rd Corps is on its way – we are now in the IX Corps.

     Will write again in a few days.
                                                 Love to all,
                                                             Tom.

Dear Folks,

     Just a short note to let you know that everything is ok. In about an hour we leave for our week in
the field. If the weather holds and is as nice as it was this past week, all will be swell. It has been “shirt sleeve” weather all day long.

     No more has been said about school, so I’ll let you know what happens.

     Bet it was a thrill to hear from Don and I know you’re all just dying to know where he is exactly.

     Ted Price has a daughter – born a week or so ago – Capt. Galway has a son – born just a couple of days ago -. What an outfit.

     Nothing else to report – have got to get back to work.
                                            Much love to all.
                                               Tom.

Wednesday – 26th January 19441
          Change In Organization

          On 26 January 1944 the Battalion was reorganized under T/O & E 6-55 dated 31 July 1943 per letter, Army Ground Force, 13 January 1944, file 321/202 (FA)® GNGCT and redesignated as the 244th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Gun, Truck Drawn).

Wednesday – 26th January 19442
          Change In Organization

           The Battalion was whipped into shape for the final firing test when the order came on the 26th of January 1944 to convert to the 155mm – “Long Tom’s)”.  A whirlwind of activity ensued in which we trained – passed the tests with flying colors – and presented ourselves for overseas shipment.  Colonial Mercado was given a special mission and shortly before shipping time was replaced by Lieutneant Colonal John J. “By God” Davis.

Colonial Davis Papers3

     I joined the 244th in the final days of training getting ready to go overseas.  It had passed all its artillery tests to make sure that it was ready to go overseas and go into combat.

     We did have some enlisted men who were from up in the north part of the United States, close to the Canadian border, and were French Canadians.  So, we had people who spoke French and we also had some enlisted men who spoke German. We were pretty well off from that point of view.

155mm M1A1 With M1 Carrage Standard
The 155 mm M1 Long Tom

     The M1 155 mm Long Tom is a 155 mm caliber field gun developed and used by the United States military with its M1 designation coming from its carriage. It was developed to replace the Canon de 155mm GPF and was deployed as a heavy field weapon during World War II.  The gun could fire a 45.36 kg (100 lb) shell propelled by a 20.5 kg (45 lb) charge to a maximum range of 22 km (13.7 mi). The gun was design with an Asbury mechanism that incorporated a vertically hinged breech plug support.  This type of breech used an interrupted-thread breech plug with a lock that opened and closed the breech by moving a single lever.

     The gun is placed in its firing position with the gun pointed in the direction of fire, the trails were lowered, and the limber removed. Once on the ground, the limber-ends of the trail are separated to form a wide “v”. The carriage would then be lowered using the built-in ratcheting screw jacks, lowering the gun carriage to the ground. Recoil spades are placed at the limber end of each trail leg to make the gun very stable and assisted its accuracy during recoil. The recoil spades were transported in brackets on each trail legs.

     The ammunition for the 155 mm gun was a shell and the powder charge packaged, shipped and stored separately. The shell was lifted into position behind the breach by two men using a cradling device and then rammed into the chamber to engage the shell’s rotating band in the barrel’s rifling by a third man. After ramming the shell home it was followed by loading a number of powder bags (1 to 7) as required to achieve the range necessary. The powder charge was placed by a fourth person.

     Once the powder was loaded, the breech was closed and locked, a primer was placed in the breech plug’s firing mechanism. The azimuth and elevation was set and the gun was ready to fire.  The firing mechanism was a device for initiating the ammunition primer by a continuous pull percussion hammer with a lanyard. The lanyard first cocks the firing pin and then fires the primer with a continuous pull. The primer then sets off the igniter which ignites the propelling charge creating 40,000 psi (275,790 kPa) of pressure (normal pressure under maximum charge) to propel the 45.36 kg (100 lb) shell.

Upper CarriageLower Carriage
Traversing MechanismRemovable Retractable Suspension System Consisting of:
Two Axles, 8 Wheels, Hand Brakes
Elevation MechanismFiring Support Base
Gun SupportTrails
Upper & Lower Gun Cradle Connector
Recoil Mechanism
Gun Tube Slide Support
Gun Tube

Specifications 
Weight of Gun – Complete 9,595 lb
Weight of Barrel9,190 lb
Length Barrel24 ft.
Length of BoreCal. 45 (23.5 / 6.975m)
Rifling Length19 ft., 9″
Breech Mechanism405 lb.

M4 High Speed Tractor
          M-4 Tractor is for the 155-mm gun, 8″ howitzer, and the modified 240-mm howitzer.  The M4 will carry a small amount of ammunition, in addition to crew and section equipment.
Monday – 31st January 19444
          Strength Last Day (Commissioned And Enlisted)
DATEOFFICERSENLISTED MENTOTALINCREASEDECREASE
January 19444549654113
  1. Department of The Army, The Adjutant General’s Office, History of The 244th Field Artillery Battalion 8 August 1942 to 15 March 1944
  2. Department of The Army, USH&EC, USAMHI, 202-244th 1945, “History of The 244th Field Artillery Battalion During World War II
  3. U.S. Army Military History Institute, Archives Branch, Colonel Davis Papers
  4. Department of The Army, The Adjutant General’s Office, History of The 244th Field Artillery Battalion 8 August 1942 to 15 March 1944