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246th Coast Artillery to 545th Field Artillery

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by Victor Gomez, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I have been (and some of you are aware and have tried hard to help me) trying to trace my father's travels, (Feliciano Gomez) during his service in WWII. I first knew he was with the 246th Coast Guard Artillery but there was no listing of that group that I have been able to find at Hawaii and the Philippines so many have suggested that the AAA units sometimes were attached to other groups which I think is possible. I have been studying my mothers scrapbook she kept during the war with letters pasted in on each page. For once I removed an envelope and looked at the addressing on the back and found that he went to San Francisco to leave for Hawaii and his address was the 545th Field Artillery Battalion, Battery B. I do not know how many different ships he was on but I do know he was moved by the SS Marine Perch, and now I have found that the 545th Field Artillery was moved by a ship called the USS Millard County to the Philippines. However I do not know if that was battery B, but it does go to places my Dad has mentioned being at, such as Leyte Gulf. I know my dad did a lot of airplane spotting possibly there in the Philippines with his "Skylighter training". I mentioned he was trained with 16" guns that were on ship with him but I do not know if this was the SS Marine Perch or could possilbly be on the USS Millard County. I mentioned he was on ship to invade Japan when the bomb was dropped but I do not know what ship. Mr. Gardner you mentioned not being able to find the 246th in the listings or the SS Marine Perch. Could the ship the USS Millard County be one that is listed? My progress is slow so I am hoping this could be a better clue.:eek: Thanks again for any help.
     
  2. Billy the Kid

    Billy the Kid Member

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    Hello: What branch of service was your dad In?
    Have you tried to get a copy of his Service Record?
    Billy the Kid
     
  3. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Yes I have tried but like so many, his files were burned in a fire. He was in the Army, mentioned his stays in Virginia at Fort Story and other sites in that area. His best friend was Victor Natale and I have also known he had another friend called Arnold Buehler who listed his address as Fort John Curtis, Virginia? His writing was cursive and hard to read so I don't know if it was Curtis or something else. I had hoped to find a ship's manifest and found out from one of the ship sights that all the manifests were destroyed with that information for ships like the SS Marine Perch. Buehler was also in the 246th Coast Artillery.
     
  4. Billy the Kid

    Billy the Kid Member

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    Hello: You mentioned 16" guns, are you talking about
    the main batteries on a Battleship?
    Why was a Army guy doing on a navy ship????
    You mentioned Skylighters, isnt tha Searchlights?
    Was your dad National Guard or ???
    Billy the Kid
     
  5. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    This raised a lot of controversy here because it seems odd but my dad was with a group that was using a 16" gun that had to be unloaded with cranes and took 24 hours to dig them in. They were of WWI vintage and had been fired in Virginia.....then fired in practice somewhere in Hawaii. I don't know if they were fired in the Philippines but he always said they were on the ship he was on when heading to Japan for invasion. Of course he was turned around when the Bombs were successful. Lots of people have asked why 16" guns like that when so many ships were equipped with them. I do not know the answer except to speculate in the invasion of Japan there may have been a plan for them. I am not sure he was on the ship but the 545th Field Artillery is recorded to have been carried by that ship. I do not know if that included Battery B of the 545th Field Artillery. He was trained to spot enemy planes by searchlight, artillery with the 16" guns, and was also classified as a lineman for stringing communications. His group also practiced LST landings I believe. He went into the 246th Coast Artillery which is said not to have left the U.S. but evidently he was transferred to other places and went to Hawaii, and the Philippines but upon his return he was discharged out of the 246th Coast Artillery. Lots is known about the Skylighters that went to the European theater such as the 225th and he had that same kind of training but since he went to the Pacific there is little that I have been able to find about skylighters in the Pacific. The skylighters used searchlights to I.D. planes by silhouette to protect landing strips that we were launching our planes from and to protect other strategic areas. My dad had the silhouettes memorized. I don't have all the answers but remember well the facts that my dad repeatedly told family members when he was asked. I would like to know his trail especially after Hawaii which he would not always talk about so there was some areas he didn't often speak of. He was amongst those who became very ill with the jungle diseases while in the Philippines and that is on his discharge papers.
     
  6. Billy the Kid

    Billy the Kid Member

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    Hello: WOW! The bigest I ever heard of was 8" ?
    The Coastal sefense had 10" disapearing rifles, and they
    were permanet.
    See if you can borrow ( from library) a copy of
    Bert Weber's Silent Siege, Its a great book,lots
    of people don't know about it. Pictures of
    searchlights in it.
    I was in the 249th Artllery. Here in Oregon
    Billy the Kid
     
  7. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Thanks Billy!
     
  8. WW 2 Connections

    WW 2 Connections Member

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    Dear Mr. Gomez,
    If you would be so kind as to contact me directly, I believe I have the answers to most of the questions about your father's service during WWW 2.

    Richard V. Horrell
    211 Union St. #202
    Nashville TN 37201-1502
     
  9. rlyoun3910

    rlyoun3910 New Member

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    Other than the above solicitation for correspondence, I highly suggest that you talk with the Coastal Defense Study Group. Their website is just below. Also, you can search through the Skylighters--very informative.

    http://cdsg.org/
    http://www.skylighters.org/otheraaa/

    Some OB stuff for the Coastal Arty Corps: the 246th AAA Searchlight battalion was activated 10 Sep 1943 and disbanded 20 Oct 1944. It was part of the 8th CAC Rgt Harbor Defense in Oregon (Ft Preble). 2nd Bn 605th CA Rgt was changed to the 545th AAA Automatic Weapons Bn Mobile on 1 September 1943 then disbanded 8 November 1944. Units were changed out to AAA units. Many of those in the Pacific were attached to USMC regiments as well. However, there was a 545th Field Arty Battalion had towed 240mm guns. I'll find out more though. You have great hints in your parent's timelines and locations.

    The CAC had many 16-inch guns. For instance at Ft Tilden NY. There were also 16-inch guns on rails in California
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The US had a large supply of 16"/50 caliber guns ordered for battleships and battle cruisers cancelled under the Washington Naval Treaty; not sure exactly how many, but the ships would have mounted a total of 120 guns, plus spares. After the treaty they were turned over to the Army coastal artillery. Many were mounted, usually in pairs, covering the approaches to waterways like Delaware Bay. In land mountings they had a range of 44,000 yards, outranging the largest guns on battleships at the time - 16"/45s - Colorado, Nagato, and Nelson classes.
     
  11. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    Here is a link describing the one at Aberdeen. I've seen it there. Mighty impressive

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16%22/50_caliber_M1919_gun
     
  12. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Just to bring up to date some things I have learned. I am told it is highly unlikely the 16" guns were taken on the ships I have described but do not know for sure unless someone else who also was with this group were to confirm it so I may think I confused my fathers talk of shooting the 16" guns with his talk of describing his ship passages while in the Philipines. I may not have remembered his conversations accurately, I was young. I also have learned the Marine Perch was only used bringing people home plus later used to bring halocaust victims to New York. I do remember my dad describing the testing of the 16" guns in which he described developing loads with a handbook to obtain different distances with the shells. Some soldiers were slightly injured with the concussion blasts at the stronger levels of load. Although they often wore ear muffs, they often did not and my dad was not of good hearing especially in later years of his life. I also remember that while in the Phillipines he described how laborious it was to unload the guns to shore that were with him on ship that took all of them working about 2-3 days straight before they could adequately be dug in for use. He did describe that they were going to be utilized in the invasion of Japan and that their ship was turned around about the time the A Bomb was used saving them from having to invade as planned. Other things I have learned is there are no records of ship cargos because everything on Liberty Ships which my dad was on while going to war is not known due to the destruction of all ship records concerning the cargos. Another thing I have never figured out.....when leaving San Francisco he described a similar ship to the one he was on that broke up while at sea and everyone was rescued onto his ship to proceed to Hawaii. I have never found any information on the ship that was lost.....but my dad described how their ship had the same faults and stopped for a couple days for weilding and re-enforcing seams in their ship that had broken in the other ship and then they continued on. I can only confirm that he arrived at Leyte but find no information on the 545th boarding and heading to Japan as he describes so there is much that for me remains a mystery in that what ships were involved for these many trips is an unknown when reading records. As the 545th is one of those very small units made up of other groups .....these seem to be the hardest for anyone to trace accurately through the Phillipines. Mr. Horell was a source that helped to straighten out a few of the things I had questions about which he researched.
     
  13. rlyoun3910

    rlyoun3910 New Member

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    It's tough to remember such things and when we get older we kick ourselves for not writing these things down or being more attentive. I figuratively shoot myself all the time. He probably witnessed first hand the US Battleships shooting salvos, which must have been deafening. I've been around 155mm howitzers and PALADINS which make your teeth come out. The 240mm was/is a big caliber of gun and it was moved to the Pacific. I don't know where exactly, but can find out. What your dad was conveying to your dad conveyed to you is important: the devil is in the details and we fail to appreciate how difficult it is to move forces anywhere. We simply hear that troops loaded up on a ship and were disgorged on a beach. Not that simple. Keep prying. Contact the CDSG folks who are great. You have a connection to them, believe it or not.--Ray
     
  14. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    My father was in the 505th CA, but they were sent to Italy where they assaulted Salerno on Sept. 9 1943. Later, they became the 900h AAA/AWB. Eventually, they became the 473rd Infantry attached to the 92nd Infantry Division. There is a book about the 92nd including the 473rd, but it difficult to get hold of. I'm waiting for the results of my father's service from a researcher. I hope it is fruitful.
     
  15. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I actually do remember that the portable towed guns were removed from ship(according to his description) on one of the islands of Hawaii and they were instructed to practice with them shooting onto an uninhabited portion of one of the islands there and then they put it back on the ship and proceeded to the Phillipines. I do not remember where if it was in the Philipines or in Hawaii that they had one casualty while transporting guns.....sadly one of his fellow soldiers apparently fainted while in the exhaust of a towing vehicle and was overrun by the following heavy vehicle while they were deploying somewhere. You must realize for me, I had no concept of the grouping of Islands as they existed but simply remember the names he mentioned having not had any geography to really understand his descriptions. He also mentioned that at a Phillipine island they were told was quite secure, they discovered that there was one sniper left shooting occasionally at them and eventually they were able to capture the individual. This would be an experience of this 545th group that he was in. On another occasion while he was spotting outgoing and incomeing planes(to make sure all approaching planes were friendly) at an airstrip as he was trained to do, there was an overhead collision of planes that were coming in. The crash was tragic for both aircraft after they had returned from combat elsewhere. There were other stories and apparently several islands were involved but that is some detail I had hoped to find more on.....I know for a period he became very ill catching the most serious illnesses for a soldier in the jungle...his record shows yellow fever, malaria, and cholera and his memory of what was experienced through that period was spotty because of the severity of his illnesses while he was continuing to try to carry on his duties. So he had some definite blank spots due to the illnesses that were quite severe on him. For some of the time he was in field hospital. I am dependent on finding others from the 545th for further details but have not struck it lucky yet....I have not found anyone that was with this group with the exception of a few names that have already passed away. I feel the historic documents do not cover much except that the 545th reached Leyte with no more details of their activities. It is my impression from my dad's stories that they moved to other islands....then were placed back on another ship and sent to Japan(never reaching Japan), this story is verified by my mother's accounts as well but the ships involved are not known by me or any accounts I am able to find to read. So I continue to hope for someone from his own immediate group who knows the details....sadly it may already be too long. I describe these stories in case someone from his group can remember the same to come forward with anything that might ring a bell. I would like to know where he went besides Leyte, he has told me stories about those places as well and would like to hear others accounts of what happened in those places.....for example he told me he was ordered to string wires for electrical distribution in some areas of the islands......in post war years became the grid for some areas modernizing with electricity but at the time he did this it was for defensive infrastructure he was told. Yes I could kick myself and others for not writing down details of where and what he did while he was there but clearly our lives as a family were sometimes a struggle in my youth as we were raised on a small farm often struggling to raise crops and feed ourselves so these moments remembering back were only during times when he was in the mood and willing to remember back. How often we thought of how much harder life was for him and our mother as compared to us their children.
     
  16. Chisholm

    Chisholm New Member

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    The 246th Coast Artillery (Harbor Defense) was located in Fort Story (Virginia Beach, VA) covering Hampton Roads harbor with 16 inch guns. They would challenge ships by radio or lights and fire sub caliber rounds across the bow if the proper recognition signal was not returned.
    http://www.virhistory.com/nick/246ca.htm
    They started as a Virginia National Guard unit headquartered in Richmond, VA. My father was a Corporal in the unit in 1940 before going to OCS.
    Fort Story is still an active installation and there are some signs of the gun emplacements if you know where to hike.
    Post is also called Joint Base Little Creek and Fort Story.

    This is the location where the first settlers to Virginia landed before moving up the Chesapeake Bay.
     
    TD-Tommy776 and Earthican like this.
  17. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Great photos of Battery B with their 16 inch guns. Thanks for posting the link here, Chisholm. Oh, and welcome to the forum, too!
     
  18. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Chisolm...thank you for posting those incredible pictures of the 246th, I had never seen these before so they were a treat and I continue to be amazed at the size of the guns shown in those photos. I will be repeating my gazes on that link for a while.
     

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