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14th Field Artillery Observation Battalion

Discussion in 'History of America during World War II' started by Cheshire cheese, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. Cheshire cheese

    Cheshire cheese New Member

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    I arrive with a begging bowl again. I shall try not to outstay my welcome but its really difficult researching about 30 US Units from Britain who were resident locally. The above were part of Patton's Third Army and were stationed about 6 miles away at Marbury Hall in 1944. I know there is a history of the unit written in 1945 The Fighting 14th (Fourteenth Field Artillery Observation Battalion).
    Does anyone have a copy who could tell me whether it covers the time in England as well as their post D Day experiences? Does it discuss the nature of the camp, their reaction to it, the local people and what they did while they were there? Any help would be appreciated. I cannot get a copy in Britain to consult. Thank you all, CC.
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Amazom says it's very expensive (like $500). Here's a summary from the site


    The Fighting 14th contains reminiscences and humorous stories written by the Men of the Fourteenth Field Artillery Observation Battalion. From the Forward: 'Presented here is the humorous word and picture story of the operations of this battalion during the war with Germany. Every officer and man of the Battalion has contributed more than his share in bringing the conflict to a successful close. Written and shown on the following pages is the sense of humor which at many times has taken the individual soldier, the battery, the battalion, and the army through apparently impossible situations. Into these line and pictures may also be read the grim realities of war which can be fully appreciated only by those who have faced a powerful enemy on the battle field.' Book includes many illustrations including 3 foldout hand drawn maps, a roster section, and 2 pages of photo collages. This description refers to Volume 1, First edition, 1945.
     
  3. Cheshire cheese

    Cheshire cheese New Member

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    Thank you Lou. I should have said I had seen the Amazon.com book offer, hence my reason for knowing of the book. The copies I have considered buying are in bookshops that will not ship across the Atlantic. Also, the last time I bought a book unseen to check out a point was to find that for $40 I managed to get a one sentence quote. At that rate of return with so many units to research, bankruptcy is a serious risk! I am hoping a reader of these exchanges has the book and can help out.

    The British National Archives for army records in my area do not keep records of which US units stayed at which sites. They just handed over whole sites to the US for several years and there is no reference to who was there at all. The best I have started to do is to obtain, where they exist, the troop train records that sometimes show the name of the US unit, the date they traveled and the start and finish stations. The station name then sometimes helps you identify the camp they were based at.

    However, knowledge of who was in a camp does not help give an idea of the life they led before they went to Europe and what they were doing to prepare for their destiny. I want to tell their story of what they did in Britain, because so little is, understandably, written on this subject. Most people want to read what their ancestors did on the front line. I want to tell why people ended up in Britain where they did. There are reasons worth explaining, such as for a simple example, why was the USAAF mainly in the east of Britain, and the Army mainly in the west. That one is easy, but there are many more questions that deserve an answer. Thanks again Lou.
     
  4. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    While it doesn't address your particular unit, you might look at David Reynold's book Rich Relations for a look at how US troops interacted with the British. Other than that, I can't help you. Have you posted you query at our sister site ww2talk? They have a more Commonwealth outlook and may be better equipped to help you. Good luck.
     
  5. Funnyfarm

    Funnyfarm New Member

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    Lou, My father in the 14th FAOB. According to the book they arrived in Liverpool on July 14, 1944 and rode the train to Frome. The train ride took about 12 hours. They stayed in hutments, which look like quansit huts. "The English were very polite to us, however, and were kind enough to never say what they thought of us." They visited the numerous pubs in town and hiked all over the countryside. On August 15, 1955 they left Frome and went to Dorchester.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Hmm were they the original D Day Dodgers?

    On a serious note, it is very difficult to work out where individual US Army units were stationed in the UK. Unit operational records typically only start after deployment in France.
     
  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The best source are the ETOUSA station lists.
     
  8. Cheshire cheese

    Cheshire cheese New Member

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    Hi all, I've been traveling and this was the first time I could log on since Funnyfarm posted. This is the site I am using for ETOUSA station lists, hence me knowing about the 14th FAOB

    United States of America

    Scroll down half way and choose your month. Also on the net, but I don't have my references here, are links to sites that list either all APO numbers and their units, or the changing geographical locations.

    14FAOB advanced detachment were at Marbury April 44, so it took a while for the main party to get across. There was an increasing shortage of larger calibre guns and a big shortage of places to fire in Britain that did not risk shells hitting centres of population. Froome was very close to Salisbury Plain a large range area by British standards for shoots.

    Funnyfarm Besides what you have written, which Corps were they attached to, or which army? Judging by the date they landed in France they were late arrivals for Patton, 3rd, or early for Simpson, 9th. When the advance party came they were almost certainly linked to 3rd Army as everyone at Marbury was 3rd Army.
     
  9. Funnyfarm

    Funnyfarm New Member

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    Oops, that should have read August 15, 1944
     
  10. Funnyfarm

    Funnyfarm New Member

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    According to my dad, and the book "Fighting 14th" they did not land in France until August 17th
    They were then attached to Patton's Third Army. When the Third stalled, they were attached to another, but I cant remember who.
     
  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The 14th FA Obsn Bn was assigned to Third Army and XII Corps as corps troops.
     
  12. Funnyfarm

    Funnyfarm New Member

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    But In February 1945 they were assigned to XIX Corps of the 9th Army
     
  13. Funnyfarm

    Funnyfarm New Member

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    And not to start a fight, but looking through my dad's notes, they were never stationed in Marbury. The town's mentioned are Liverpool, Frome, Yeovil, Bridgeport, Dorchester and Portland
     
  14. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    No fight, but Marbury is where they were initially stationed, the Advance Detachment first in April, then the rest of the battalion in May. Liverpool was likely their port of entry and Marbury was a staging and cantonment center for VIII Corps, to which it appears the 14th FA Obsn Bn may have been assigned in May after it completed arrival in England. However, the VIII Corps, while assigned to Third Army, was attached to First Army for NEPTUNE and did not revert to Third Army until Third activated on the Continent on 1 August. VIII Corps did not move to the Continent with the 14th though, instead it took the 12th FA Obsn Bn to France as its observation battalion (the 12th FA Obsn Bn arrived in February). In mid June, when VIII Corps moved to France, the 14th was relieved from its assignment and instead assigned to XII Corps, which is who it moved to the Continent with. That it later was assigned to Ninth Army is not unusual.

    Frome, just south of Bath, was the intermediate staging area for the 14th FA Obsn Bn as it and the rest of the XII Corps prepared to embark for the Continent. From there, it moved to Yeovil, east of Taunton and north of Weymouth, then Bridport (not Bridgeport), Dorchester, and finally Weymouth-Portland, where there were numerous hardstands for troop embarkation onto LST, which was the preferred method of transporting battalion-size units and vehicles to France (my Dad's unit, the 537th AAA Bn followed a similar course, coincidentally as part of VIII Corps, landing over UTAH on 14 June after embarking on an LST, IIRC also at the Portland hards.

    So no fight, but hopefully more understanding.
     
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  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    No problem. Just gave me a chance to reference an old joke, good WW2 song and mention that OP Overlord launched a third rather than second Front....MEDIA=youtube]O4hny_XRaw4[/MEDIA]
     
  16. Cheshire cheese

    Cheshire cheese New Member

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    All of this has been most helpful and I apologise for not replying earlier. Once again away from home. Rich, do you have a reference for date of the main party of 14th FAOB arriving at Marbury? I have the advanced detachment there 30 April and probably the full battalion 31 May. (See my 21 June post for references) If the main party was late arriving in May 44, they were coming when VIII Corps were passed from Third Army to First Army with about 2 weeks to go to D Day. It is possible that the battalion had not been fully equipped in the short intervening period and therefore were substituted late on. We may never know unless NA records in the US reveal more. What I do know is, some Marbury allegedly based units only used the American Post Office number for Marbury as the site, indeed the area generally, could not handle the number of troops turning up. An example is the 86th Chemical Battalion (heavy mortars) who were billeted about 20 miles away in Bromborough/Port Sunlight. In April, 8 other unit advanced detachments arrived at Marbury listed with AP403 (Third Army) none of whose main parties ever seemed to have arrived in Marbury later. Mid Cheshire was the main muster area for 3rd Army and men were crammed in wherever huts, tents or billets could be found. There was certainly not enough room for Third Army men at Peover and Toft Halls (their HQ's) and many senior Third Army officers were billeted in Knutsford (see Robert S Allen Forward with Patton). Everyone's contribution has been of help, thanks to all.
     
  17. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The 14th FA Obsn Bn is shown as departing the New York Port of Embarkation on 2 July and arriving Liverpool, England 12 July, on Convoy CU-30. Such records usually apply to the main body and do not record when advance detachments moved. Thus, it was much too late to participate in the VIII Corps movement to France and the records of its locations in the station lists is probably only for the advance detachment.
     
  18. Cheshire cheese

    Cheshire cheese New Member

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    Thanks RichT090. I have fallen for the old trick that sometimes adv det. is not appended to a unit in a list. Robert S Allen, on the G-2 Staff of Patton regularly records the number of assigned Third Army units not available to them and which had to be left behind in England or had not even arrived.

    XII Corps stayed behind and its commander was made Deputy Commander Third United States Army (TUSA) to get the stragglers kitted out with TO&E / TBA.

    As early as May 8 Services of Supply in Britain were warned of the difficulties TUSA were having in getting T/E fulfilled. 14FAOB were obviously later one of them. On Third Army French official activation day, 1 August, Allen recorded that 110 TUSA attached units were not yet in France. A large number of Advanced Detachments in the Artillery speciality holed up at Marbury but very few got into France early on, or with their guns. Its possible they were all there as their transport was in a vehicle park nearby and both Corps and Army Artillery Commanders were on the spot at Marbury or nearby at TUSA, Peover Hall. Thank you for answering my question.
     
  19. Cheshire cheese

    Cheshire cheese New Member

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    This is written to help others research US Units in Europe. This site 14 Field Artillery Battalion Observation Battalion (USA) is useful for researching the locations of units in addition to the D Day Museum site reference in my 21 June post above. I have also found www.skylighters very useful. No one site has the definitive record of every unit as the movement of advance detachments, units, individual companies around UK sites was conditioned by barracks availability, training areas, special missions (eg. picking up vital equipment, being near ordnance depots) and movement to embarkation areas. Also units, like the main party of 14th FAOB and the majority of 80th Division were in and out of Britain so fast they don't show up on most, if any lists.
     

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