The latter part of November and the month of December saw the rains stop and
give way to a period of intense cold. It was a period of many moves on the part of
the battalion and saw the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, which brought the
Luftwaffe out in force for the first time since the Normandy beachhead, the forward
fighter bases defended by this battalion being one of the favorite targets of the
The movement of the battalion's units during the period were generally forward, although platoons on some occasions relieved one another. On 17 November, the 1st Platoon of Battery "A" moved to Airstrip A82 at Etain. On 20 November, the 2nd Platoon of Battery "B" left Chalons sur Marne to take up positions around Airstrip A80 at Mourmelon. The 1st Platoon of Battery "B" left Vitry de Francois on 28 November for Airstrip A63 at Vertus and moved again on 1 December to A77 at Mesnil sur Orge. The 2nd Platoon of Battery "C" moved from Bar le Duc on 4 December to Airstrip A94 at Jouaville, and on 9 December the 1st Platoon of Battery "B" made its third move in 11 days as it went into position to defend bridges around Verdun. The movements for the month were concluded on 27 December when the 2nd Platoon of Battery "B" relieved the 1st Platoon of Battery "C" at A64, the latter platoon moving up to A98 at Rosieres en Haye. This last move, occurring during the height of the Battle of the Bulge, was highlighted by an attack on Airstrip A80, the field being vacated by the 2nd Platoon of Battery "B" while the platoon was in march order positions in preparation for the move. The attacks were repeated by an Me410, which bombed and strafed the field, and the platoon rapidly resumed its positions and engaged the hostile craft with its lights, enabling the AW (Automatic Weapons) unit located on the field to drive the plane away with accurate fire.
The early part of the month of December saw considerable increase in aerial activity, with frequent hostile plots being received from long-range warning, but it was not until the night of 20 December that the first hostile craft appeared over areas defended by this battalion and began a period of 13 days during which 35 planes definitely identified as hostile and several times that many as probably hostile were engaged by the lights of the battalion. Two planes were engaged by the unit's machine guns, one of which was shot down, and the battalion's sections and areas adjacent thereto were bombed and/or strafed on 11 occasions.
Chronologically, the action began on the night of 20 December when a hostile craft was picked up by the lights of the 1st Platoon of Battery "A," but escaped without making an attack. The following night another single hostile strafed Airstrip A94, and was picked up by the lights of the 1st Platoon of Battery "C," but the hostile again left the field without further incident. On 22 December an enemy plane dropped a bomb near Section 2 of Battery "A" and strafed nearby installations, and on 23 December, Airstrip A82, defended by the 1st Platoon of Battery "A," was strafed, while near A64, defended by the 1st Platoon of Battery "C," seven hostiles were engaged by the lights after dropping bombs a short distance north of the defended objective.
Christmas Eve was a night of considerable activity for almost all units of the battalion. A lone
German aircraft dropped a bomb just north of Savonnieres en Perthois, location of the
battalion command post, and then, flying very low, strafed the battalion headquarters, but
failed to cause any casualties or damage. Bombing and strafing in its vicinity were reported
by the 1st Platoon of Battery "B," while the 2nd Platoon of Battery "B" reported strafing, and
four bombs were dropped near Airstrip A94, defended by the 2nd Platoon of Battery "C."
The same night, three German soldiers, hiding in a barn near Vadenay, were captured by
Lt. Edward W. Ziegler, commanding the 2nd Platoon of Battery "B," assisted by Pvt. Albert
DeMatteo, his jeep driver, and an unknown Air Corps private.|
Christmas night, the German attacks continued, with the 2nd Platoon of Battery "C" involved in most of the action. Early in the evening, a JU-88 approached the field and was engaged by the lights. AW units on the field opened fire and the hostile plane was observed to crash. A few minutes later, a second JU-88 was picked up coming in from the east at an extremely low altitude, strafing the approaches to the field. Section 9 of Battery "C," directly in the path of the approaching plane, was strafed as the hostile craft passed overhead, but Pvt. Jeff Workman, manning the section's machine gun, opened fire. The enemy plane began to smoke and veered sharply off to the right, apparently out of control, where it was completely destroyed by AW fire, exploding in mid-air. The battalion was credited with one-half Category I claims on both planes destroyed at A94 on this occasion.
The night of 27 December saw the attack on Airstrip A80 which was previously mentioned and, on 28 December, the area near A94 was again subjected to bombing. Section 4 of Battery "A" was strafed on the night of 29 December, one bullet passing through one of the section's pyramidal tents. This plane was engaged by the section's machine guns and, although hits were observed to be scored, the destruction of the plane could not be confirmed. Bombing and strafing of the area defended by the 1st Platoon of Battery "B" around Verdun on the night of 31 December was the closing incident in this period.
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