iii corps

June 29, 1917 - Battle of Mount Ortigara Ends in Italian Failure

Pictured - Although fought on a smaller scale than other battles on the Italian front, the Battle of Ortigara was a perfect microcosm of the Italian’s army’s ills and problems.

Tenth time lucky? Nine battles had been launched by the Italian army against Austrian positions at the Isonzo, with no success. A smaller effort to take several mountains on the Asiago Plateau failed as well at the end of June 1917. Italian troops initially succeeded in taking one of three targeted peaks, but determined counterattacks by Austria’s elite III “Iron” Corps succeed in forcing them back from each one. By the end of a few weeks of fighting, the Italians had incurred 25,000 casualties, the Austrians only 9,000. Italy’s prime general, Luigi Cadorna, hoped that at least enemy forces had been weakened enough for a tenth attack on the Isonzo to break them.

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The M42 Duster Appreciation Post

During the course of the Korean War, the U.S. Army decided to phase out all vehicles based on the M24 Chaffee chassis, such as the M19 Gun Motor Carriage 40 mm Anti-Aircraft, in favor of designs that utilized the chassis of the M41. Since the 40 mm guns were still seen as an effective anti-aircraft weapon, the turret of the M19 was simply mounted to the M41 chassis with few changes except a partial redesign to accommodate the larger turret ring of the M41 and designated as the M42.

Production of the M42 began in early 1952 at GM’s Cleveland Tank Plant. It entered service in 1953 and replaced a variety of different anti-aircraft systems in armored divisions. In 1956, the M42 received a new engine and other upgrades along with other M41 based vehicles, becoming the M42A1. Production was halted in Dec. 1959 with 3,700 examples made during its production run.

Sometime in the late 50s, the U.S. Army reached the conclusion that anti-aircraft guns were no longer viable in the jet age and began fielding a self-propelled version of the HAWK SAM instead. Accordingly, the M42 was retired from front line service and passed to the National Guard with the last M42s leaving the regular Army by 1963, except for the 4th Bn, 517th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in the Panama Canal Zone, which operated two batteries of M42s into the 1970s.

The HAWK missile system performed poorly in low altitude defense. To ensure some low altitude anti-aircraft capability for the ever increasing amount of forces fielded in Vietnam, the Army began recalling M42A1s back into active service and organizing them into air defense artillery (ADA) battalions. Starting in the fall of 1966, the U.S. Army deployed three battalions of Dusters to the Republic of Vietnam, each battalion consisting of a headquarters battery and four Duster batteries, and each augmented by one attached Quad-50 battery and an artillery searchlight battery.

Despite a few early air kills, the air threat posed by North Vietnam never materialized and ADA crews found themselves increasingly involved in ground support missions. Most often the M42 was on point security, convoy escort or perimeter defense. The “Duster” (as it was called by U.S. troops in Vietnam) was soon found to excel in ground support. The 40 mm guns proved to be effective against massed infantry attacks.

Most of the Duster crew members had their AIT training in the 1st. Advanced Individual Training Brigade (Air Defense) at Fort Bliss, Texas. Some of the Duster NCOs had received training at the Non Commissioned Offices Candidate School which was also held at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery was the first ADA battalion to arrive in Vietnam on November 1966. A self-propelled M42A1 Duster unit the 1st of the 44th supported the Marines at places like Con Thien and Khe Sanh Combat Base as well as Army divisions in South Vietnam’s rugged I Corps region. The battalion was assigned to First Field Force Vietnam (IFFV) and was located at Đông Hà. In 1968 it was attached to the 108th Artillery Group (Field Artillery). Attached to the 1/44th was G Battery 65th Air Defense Artillery equipped with Quad-50s and G Battery 29th Artillery Searchlights. The 1/44th served alongside the 3rd Marine Division along the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in I Corps thru December 1971.

The second Duster battalion to arrive in Vietnam was the 5th Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery. Activated in June 1966 it arrived in Vietnam in November 1966 and was diverted to III Corps, Second Field Force (IIFFV) and set up around Bien Hoa Air Base. Attached units were D Batter y71st Air Defense Artillery equipped with Quad-50s and I Battery 29th Artillery Searchlights. The “Second First” served the southern Saigon region through mid 1971. D-71st Quads remained active through March 1972.

The third Duster battalion to arrive was the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery. Activated in June 1966 it arrived in Vietnam in June 1967 and set up operations in the Central Highlands, based out of An Khê (1967-70) and later Tuy Hoa (1970-71). Attached units were E Battery 41st Artillery equipped with Quad-50s and B Battery 29th Artillery Searchlights (which were already in country since October 1965). Members of these units not only covered the entire Central Highlands, but assets also supported firebases and operations along the DMZ to the north and Saigon to the south.

Each Duster Battalion had four line batteries (A,B,C,D) and a headquarters battery. Each battery had two platoons (1st, 2nd) which contained four sections each containing a pair of M42A1 Dusters. At full deployment there were roughly 200 M42 Dusters under command throughout the entire war. The Duster and Quads largely operated in pairs at firebases, strong points and in support of engineers building roads and transportation groups protecting convoys. At night they protected the firebases from attack and were often the first targets of enemy sappers, rockets and mortars. Searchlight jeeps operated singularly but often in support of a Duster or Quad section at a firebase.

Between the three Duster battalions and the attached Quad-50 and Searchlight batteries over 200 fatalities were recorded.

The three M42A1 equipped ADA units (1/44th, 4/60th & 5/2d) deactivated and left Vietnam in late December 1971. Most if not all of the in-country Dusters were turned over to ARVN forces. Most of the training Dusters at Ft.Bliss were returned to various National Guard units. The U.S. Army maintained multiple National Guard M42 battalions as a corps level ADA asset. 2nd Battalion/263 ADA headquartered in Anderson SC was the last unit to operate the M42 when the system was retired in 1988.

flickr

Home Sweet Fighting Hole by Marines
Via Flickr:
Lance Cpl. Andrew Naranjo, a rifleman with 2nd platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, lies in his fighting hole during Exercise Brolga Strike, June 5th, 2017. Marines with 3rd Bn., 4th Marines trained with Australian Defense Forces during the two-week brigade certification exercise, hiking more than 100 kilometers in the first week. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathaniel Cray)

The Last Battle of the Napoleonic Wars Wasn’t Waterloo

Discounting skirmishes outside Lyons on July 6th 1815, the final engagement of the decades-long, world-defining conflict was fought on the 2nd and 3rd of July, just south-east of Paris, at a village called Issy.

After the French defeat at the battle of Waterloo, the armies of the Duke of Wellington and Blücher, and other Seventh Coalition forces, advanced upon Paris. Wellington and Blücher continued their operations up to the gates of Paris and, on 30 June, had recourse to a movement which proved decisive of the fate of the city. Marshal Blücher having taken the village of Aubervilliers, or Vertus, made a movement to his right, and crossing the Seine at Saint-Germain, below the capital, threw his whole force upon the south side of the city, where no preparations had been made to receive an enemy.

This was a thunderbolt to the French; it was then that their weakness and the Coalition’s strength were seen most conspicuously, because at that moment the armies of Wellington and Blücher were separated and the whole French army was between them, yet the French could not move to prevent their junction.

After the war Lazare Carnot (Napoleon’s Minister of Internal Affairs) blamed Napoleon for not fortifying Paris on the south side, and said he forewarned Napoleon of this danger. The French were thus obliged to abandon all the works that they had constructed for the defence of the capital, and threw the army over the Seine to meet the Prussians.

Although a Prussian brigade was defeated in a skirmish at Rocquencourt near Versailles, the movement of the Prussians to the right was not checked. On the morning of 2 July, the Prussian I Corps under the command of General Zieten had its right at Plessis-Piquet, and its left at Meudon, with its reserves at Versailles.

Zieten advanced on the 2 July towards the heights of Meudon and Châtillon and fought a sharp battle for the possession of Sèvres, Moulineaux, and Issy. The contest was obstinate, but the Prussians finally surmounted all difficulties and succeeded in establishing themselves firmly upon the heights of Meudon and in the village of Issy. The French losses during this engagement are estimated at 3,000 men.

At a French Council of War, which was held during the night of 2/3 July in Paris, it was decided that the defence of the capital was not practicable against the two Coalition armies. Nevertheless the French Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Davout, was desirous of another attempt before he would finally agree to a suspension of hostilities.

At three o'clock on the morning of 3 July Vandamme, commander of the French III Corps, advanced in two columns from Vaugirard to attack Issy. Between Vaugirard and the river Seine he had a considerable force of cavalry, the front of which was flanked by a battery advantageously posted near Auteuil on the right bank of the river. The action commenced with a brisk cannonade, the French having brought twenty pieces of cannon against the front of the village which was then vigorously assailed by his infantry. The Prussians had constructed some barricades and other defences during the night; but these did not protect them from the sharp fire of case shot which was poured upon them by the French batteries, the guns of which enfiladed the streets. The 12th and 24th Prussian Regiments, and the 2nd Westphalian Landwehr, supported by a half battery of twelve pounders, fought with great bravery. There was much loss on both sides. At length the French withdrew, but only to advance again, considerably reinforced.

The 2nd Prussian Brigade was immediately ordered to join the 1st, and the whole of the troops of the I Prussian Corps stood to arms. Zieten sent a request to Blücher for the support of two brigades of Bülow’s IV Prussian Corps and, at the same time, begged Thielemann to advance (in conformity with instructions conveyed to him from headquarters) from Châtillon and to threaten the French left flank.

In the mean time the French renewed their attack upon Issy, which, however, again proved unsuccessful. This was followed by a heavy cannonade and by further assaults, without any decided advantage having been gained over the defenders. The French did not appear disposed to venture upon a more general attack, which would have offered them a much greater chance of forcing back the Prussian advanced guard; the French commanders probably considered that such an attack, if unsuccessful, might end with the suburbs of Paris being easily carried by storm, Accordingly, after four hours’ continued but fruitless attempts upon Zieten’s advanced position, the French fell back upon Paris, with the Prussian skirmishers following them until they came within a very short distance of the barriers surrounding the city.

Issy was the final attempt of the French army to defend Paris and, with this defeat, all hope of holding Paris faded. The French high command decided that they would capitulate.

Accordingly, at seven o'clock in the morning, the French ceased fire and Brigadier General Revest (chief of staff to the French III Corps) was delegated to approach Zieten’s Corps, which was the nearest to the capital of all the Coalition forces, to offer a capitulation and to request an immediate armistice.

On hearing of the unilateral French ceasefire, Blücher demanded that the French provide delegates with full powers of negotiation before he would finally agree to a suspension of hostilities, and indicated the Palace of St. Cloud as the place where the negotiations should be carried on. He then moved his headquarters to the palace.

Officers furnished with full powers by their respective chiefs soon met at St. Cloud, where the Duke of Wellington had joined Prince Blücher. The result of their deliberations was the surrender of Paris under the terms of the Convention of St. Cloud.

Napoleon Bonaparte had already announced his abdication (24 June 1815); unable to remain in France or to escape from it, a few days later, on 15 July, he surrendered himself to Captain Maitland of HMS Bellerophon and was transported to England. The full restoration of Louis XVIII followed the emperor’s departure. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died in May 1821.

U.S. Marines with Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, fold the nations colors as practice prior to the burial ceremony for Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Capt. John J. McGinty III (ret), at the Beaufort National Cemetery in Beaufort, S.C., Jan. 23, 2014. Capt. McGinty received the nation’s highest award for valor, for his actions, during the Vietnam conflict. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Vincent White MCRD Parris Island Combat Camera/Released)

Members of 3rd Plt. CoB, 2nd/3rd, 199th Lt. Inf. Bde mount army Duce & 1/2’s after multiday S&D mission in Mekong Delta s/w of Saigon (War Zone D, III Corp).   Squad leader on right, myself (w/M-60) in middle & fellow squad member on left. Rare pick up by truck. If not walking out, normal extraction was via lift out by UH-1 Hueys, or pick up by the ‘Brown Water Navy’ (water borne LCIs escorted by PBRs.) (1967)

Submitted by a veteran.

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General Sickles (Center) With His Staff, After The Loss Of His Leg At Gettysburg- For Several Years He Visited The Limb On The Anniversary Of The Amputation

During the height of the Confederate attack, Sickles fell victim to a cannonball that mangled his right leg. He was carried by a detail of soldiers to the shade of the Trostle farmhouse, where a saddle strap was applied as a tourniquet. He ordered his aide, Major Harry Tremain, “Tell General Birney he must take command.” As he was carried by stretcher to the III Corps hospital on the Taneytown Road, he bravely attempted to raise his soldiers’ spirits by grinning and puffing on a cigar along the way. His leg was amputated that afternoon. He insisted on being transported back to Washington D.C which he reached on July 4, 1863, bringing some of the first news of the great Union victory, and starting a public relations campaign to ensure his version of the battle prevailed. On the afternoon of July 5, President Lincoln and his son, Tad, visited General Sickles, as he was recovering in Washington.

Sickles had recent knowledge of a new directive from the Army Surgeon General to collect and forward “specimens of morbid anatomy … together with projectiles and foreign bodies removed” to the newly founded Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C. He preserved the bones from his leg and donated them to the museum in a small coffin-shaped box, along with a visiting card marked, “With the compliments of Major General D.E.S.” For several years thereafter, he reportedly visited the limb on the anniversary of the amputation. The museum, now known as the National Museum of Health and Medicine, features the artifact on display still today. Photo: Sickles’s leg, along with a cannonball similar to the one that shattered it, on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicinehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Sickles