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The 302nd Trench Artillery


The 302nd TRENCH ARTILLERY

by,
Captain Samuel J. Reid

From the Book
Trench Artillery
A.E.F.

The personal experiences of Lieutentants and Captains of Artillery who served with Trench mortars
Edited by,

Major P.H. Ottosen


302ND BATTERY, 77TH DIV.

LAW OFFICES OF
McCole AND Reid
7 DEY STREET
NEW YORK

February 13,1931.
Major P.H. Ottosen
Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Sir:
I am in receipt of your letter of January 30th in regard to the book which is to be published concerning Trench Artillery, A. E. F. I also note that you would like to have information concerning the activities of the 302nd Trench Mortar Battery, 77th Division. I am, therefore, giving you below a brief outline of the service of that Battery which I commanded.

302ND BATTERY

Organized August 30th at Camp Upton. The majority of the officers were from New York City, and the enlisted men were sent from New York City and Long Island, New York. On Oct. 10, 1917, many of the men were transferred to Camp Upton and Camp Greenwood, the vacancies caused thereby being filled by men from Camp Devens, Mass., and from northern New York State. The division began leaving Camp Upton on March 28, 1918, and sailed from Boston, Portland (Maine), via Halifax, and New York City. With the exception of the artillery, all units proceeded through Liverpool, across England and landed at Calais, France. The artillery sailed from New York in April and went direct to Brest, France.

Baccarat Sector

July 1st, 1919 to August 3rd, 1918

The Battery was attached to the 152nd held Artillery Brigade of the 77th Division. After going overseas, the Battery trained at Camp Souge where we received our material, six-inch Newton-Stokes Trench Mortars. After a period of training, the Battery proceeded to the front with the Division, and from about July 1st, 1919, to August 3rd, 1918, was in the Baccarat Sector. The Battery built emplacements, but the front at that time was very quiet and the Battery took part in no engagements in that sector.

Vesle Sector

August 11th, 1918, to September 16th, 1918

From Baccarat the Battery proceeded with the Division to the Vesle Sector. The 77th Division relieved the 4th Division on the Vesle, North of Chateau-Thierry, on or about August 11th, and advanced to the Aisne River, a distance, I believe, of about eleven kilometers. Inasmuch as trench warfare had by that time been discontinued and war of movement begun, there was, of course, no longer any use for heavy trench artillery. The heavy trench mortars, therefore, were left at the rail heads. Considerable German artillery was captured and I organized, by direction of the Brigade Commander, a battery of field artillery, using German 77s which had been captured. During the operations on this front the Battery was continually in action, as we had a practically unlimited supply of captured German ammunition. From that time the Battery became known by the Division as "Our Boche Battery", instead of the Trench Mortar Battery.

Argonne - Meuse Operations

September 26th, 1918, to November 11th, 1019

From the Vesle Sector, the 77th Division moved to the Argonne Sector and my Battery was attached to the Field Artillery Brigade of that Division and took part in the Argonne operations between September 16th, 1919, and November 11th, 1918. On this front, on account of the character of the terrain, the Battery used 105 ram. German Howitzers in place of the German 77's. We were able to obtain from captured stocks all the ammunition we were able to use. On November 11th, 1918, we were at Raucourt. The Division was then started across the Meuse River.'

The Battery had no casualties except two wounded.
In the official report of Major General Robert Alexander, who commanded the 77th Division, referring to the 3O2nd Trench Mortar Battery and the 105 mm. Howitzers used by it in the Argonne, it is stated:

"These light-weight guns, for which I had, at the beginning of the operation, about 125 rounds of ammunition each, tendered excellent service during the advance, as I was able to renew my ammunition supply from the captured stocks as we went along."

The New York World, on April 29, 1919, in telling of the plans for the triumphal parade of the 77th Division (Liberty), New York City's Own, quotes Major General Robert Alexander as follows-.

"I had hoped to have in the line of march the four 105 millimeter (41/2 inch) field pieces that we captured in the fighting on the Vesle and later used against the Germans in the Argonne. But it couldn't be arranged.

"When we took those four guns, we got 100 rounds of ammunition with each. After we hit the Argonne we found all the ammunition we needed to keep the guns busy against their former masters.

"After I was told it would be impossible to bring back these captured fieldpieces in time to have them for the parade of the division I had each piece etched in acid on the breech with the insignia of the division-the 77th (Liberty) Division of New York City.

"And I hope that not long after the great parade the City of New York will be presented, in the name of its division, with those four captured cannon., They certainly came in handy in the fight against the Germans-"

Inasmuch as we were not able to use the heavy trench artillery with which my Battery was originally Supplied, on account of the war movement that had set in at the time we reached the front, perhaps the record of my Battery will have little interest to you from trench artillery standpoint, nevertheless I hope that the above brief resume of our activities may be of some use to you in the preparation of the book you refer to.
Please note that my residence address is 17 Chedworth Road, Scarsdale, New York.
Yours very truly,
Samuel J. Reid,
Capt. F. A.
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