Cannon Company History

Capt. Charles E. Syers 

When the Regiment left Tent City, France, Cannon Company went to the Ardennes Forest to wait until called into combat.  Heavy fighting had taken place in the forest when the Germans were pushed back at the time of the Bulge.  This was the first place the men saw dead Jerries lying around.  Some of the men went out to look over the area and came back with stories that there were many dead Americans unburied on the next hill.  Immediately, the 1st Sergeant and the Medics went to investigate and to buy them.  When they got to the area, they found that these many “Americans” were Germans wearing the American uniform, complete with G.I. socks and gloves.  The distinction between them and the real Americans was the bright red scarf they wore around their necks.  The men immediately realized the kind of people they were to fight against.  When the 272nd went on line, the Cannon Company relieved the 273rd Cannon Company.  As their gun positions were almost out of range of the Germans, the C.O. decided to move closer to the line.  The mine platoon had to clear the area before they moved in to set up their guns; the mail clerk hit a Schu mine, and three men were wounded.  A minute later, a truck set off another; therefore, the C.O. gave the order to move back to the old positions until the area was thoroughly cleared of all mines.  The weather became hazy as they moved back, but the Jerries undoubtedly had the group under observation; when they were moving into the forward area.  That night, the Krauts laid down a terrific barrage over the “supposed” cannon position.  The company would have been completely wiped out if they had not moved back to the rear area. 

While firing on the Siegfried line, Cannon Company had three different Commanding Officers in four days.  Captain Lipsius was C.O., but he was called to Regiment as S-2; therefore the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Nevins, took his place.  The same night, Lt. Nevins was out looking for new gun positions, when his jeep hit a mine.  He was seriously wounded.  His driver, Pfc. Wilson, and the other officer, Lt. Wentz, were hospitalized but have returned to the company.  Lt. Nevins was sent to the States.  The present C.O., Captain Syers, took over and he has been with us since then, bringing the Company through all of its combat. 

After giving only harassing fire for the first few days in combat, the Cannon Company at last got a chance to see how good it could be.  The forward observers – Lt. Martin, Cpl. Garstecki, Pfc. Wright – were with L Company near Kamberg, when a machine gun Sergeant asked them to put fire on a few enemy machine gun positions which had been set up during the night.  Within a few minutes, the gun crews had rounds over the spot, and a direct hit was made.  “Mission Complete” was sent back.  The men of L Company were well pleased with the firing. 

While in support of the 1st Battalion in their fierce struggle for Witzenhausen, the Cannon Company was set up in positions outside the town.  Near the positions was a barn filled with hay; so a few of the cannoneers, who were lucky enough, caught a few hours of sleep in the barn.  When morning came, they checked the upper loft and, to their surprise, came upon an armed Jerry.  Things happened fast, but soon Jerry was their prisoner.  Thereafter, those fellows checked every place they slept.   

There had been a lull in firing for a while; the men were anxious to be assigned a mission.  Suddenly, a fire order came to put a concentration of 200 rounds of heavy explosives on the town of Heiligenstadt.  Two hundred rounds were out of their casings in no time.  Just when the first round was ready to be fired, the command came, “Cease firing.”  The town had been declared an open city at the last minute.  “Close station march order” came, and the crews sadly cased the 200 rounds.  Tough s___! 

It has been said that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, but to the Cannon Company, it was rather lucky.  On the way to Leipzig on Friday, April 13th, they had a few close ones.  The first thing to happen was two Jerry planes diving and strafing.  Some came close, but no one was hurt.  Along the way, the road had a sharp curve.  Not knowing this, the convoy stopped, which left the Company’s maintenance truck in the line of fire.  The Jerries fired.  The round hit in front of the truck.   

After the next one hit to the rear of it, the motor Sergeant quickly pulled his truck out of the convoy, but an Engineer truck pulled into the same spot.  The next round hit the Engineer truck and set it afire.  The Company was strafed again that night, but as before stated, Friday the 13th was their lucky day.  No one was hurt. 

The fellows were cooking C rations around a fire one day when suddenly some 150s came pounding in around them.  Beans, stew, and hash flew in all directions, and the men hit the ditch in a hurry.  Every time they started to heat their cans, the shelling started again.  Finally, they gave up and ate what was left of their delicious C rations cold. 

When the fellows asked S Sgt “Digga-the-sump” Deciolla for cake while in combat, he gave it to them.  He mixed the cake batter with a rammer shaft from one of the cannons.  It was swell.  Cannon Company has been proud to serve with the other men of the Battle Axe Regiment – a Regiment that has truly proved itself in combat to the highest degree.


Typed from "History of 272 Infantry Regiment"
March 17, 2005 by Editor Amy Rose