155th AAAB history
The 155th (Glider) Bn was activated on April 15th, 1943 at Camp MacKall, NC and was assigned as an organic part of the 17th Airborne Division. At this time and during all the war, the Battalion was commanded by Lt. Colonel John W. Paddock.
The unit was composed of approximately 500 men split into two main components :
- Anti tank units : A, B and C batteries.
- Anti aicraft units : D, E and F batteries.
- Additionally, there was a headquarters elements and a small medical detachment.
Each anti-tank batteries was composed of two platoons, with each platoon having four squads organized into two sections per platoon. Thus each battery had eight guns. In 1943, the main anti-tank gun was the 37mm caliber gun, but because of the poor performance against German’s tank armor, it will be replaced by the english model of the 57mm caliber gun (the 6 pounder gun) in the European theater of operations. The British model of the 57mm caliber gun was in fact smaller and took place in the Waco CG-4 glider. When switching to these heavier gun, the squad size increased from seven to nine men. The guns were towed by jeeps (flown in via separate gliders.
The anti-aircraft batterie was composed of three platoons with four squads apiece. Each squad had one .50 caliber machine gun and one jeep with trailer giving each battery twelve .50 caliber machine guns. These units were often assigned to infantry regiments as additional heavy weapons support.
During the training, the men of the Bn were trained as Glider troops. Like the other Glider units of the 17th A/B Division, some of the troopers became qualified paratroopers while they were at Camp Forrest, TN.
As the mission of the 155th Bn was not to fight as an infantry battalion but to support other division’s infantry regiments and sub-units if necessary, the six batteries were assigned across the 193rd GIR, the 194th GIR, the 507th PIR and the 513th PIR during the first days of combats west of Bastogne.
Battery D and E were attached to the 193rd GIR on January 9, 1945.
After the Bulge, the battalion moved with the other components of the Division to France and was re-equipped in preparation of Operation Varsity. In expectation of the airborne invasion, 155th Bn's batteries were assigned to other division units like this :
- A Battery : 507th PIR.
- B & E Batteries : 194th GIR.
- C Battery : 513th PIR
- D & F Batteries were landborne echelon. They must catch up with the division once the Rhine had been bridged.
The 155th sufferred 30% casualties in the first two hours of the invasion on March 24th, 1945.
Summer 1945, somewhere in Germany. This young unidentified paratrooper of the 17th Airborne Division poses for photograph in front of a 155th AB Anti Aircraft Battalion's jeep (1/4 ton vehicule). The scene is probably located in Germany during summer 1945 (original unpublished photo - TFH collection). Click to enlarge.