MemoirsPersonal Accounts from Soldiers in the 733rd VOICES FROM THE PAST Nothing could tell the story of the 733rd Field Artillery Battalion better than the soldiers themselves. A small handful of soldiers kept written journals during the war, while others wrote memoirs in retrospect. My grandfather rarely spoke of the war, but he did keep a handwritten journal as he traveled across France and Germany. My family wasn’t aware of his journal until after his passing. Reading it piqued my interest in his war years, and later served as the launchpad for my research. I was recently able to acquire two other memoirs written by soldiers in the 733rd. If there are others, I would very much like to know of them! Journal: Ivo Schommer Written over the course of the first six months of the war, this hand-written journal of Ivo Schommer (B Battery) includes his personal thoughts and feelings on the happenings of the war while traveling through France and Germany. His journal is written thoughtfully and eloquently. The series of entries end on 22 January (after a three week hiatus).This hiatus begins on the day grandpa Ivo was rescued by the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion, his jeep having been hit by enemy fire during the Battle of the Bulge. An oral account was given of this story, with the written account being available in the historical records of the 81st. It is not mentioned in the journal, but more information about this incident can be found on the interactive map. Tribute to my grandfather Ivo Schommer Memoir: Ambrose Little Written in retrospect for the anticipated inclusion into the archives at the US Library of Congress, Ambrose Little writes of his memories of the war with the Service Battery of the 733rd (listed as D Battery). This journal is a very enjoyable and insightful read – I highly recommend it. I would describe this memoir as a personal, sometimes humorous look into the daily happenings of the 733rd during the war. I was actually able to locate Ambrose, and we have been speaking on the phone regularly ever since. It has been an honor to get to know him. To my surprise, I found out that Ambrose and my grandfather went to high school together. They enlisted and went on to serve in the 144th (National Guard) together, and remained with the 733rd over the course of the war until they were discharged. They even came back from Europe on the same boat and enjoyed a celebratory steak dinner together. Unfortunately they lost contact with each other in the 1950’s, but I am very glad to have found him! Memoir: Elmore Willets Written in retrospect in 1987, this is the military journal of Captain Elmore A. Willets, Jr. (Headquarters Battery) spanning from April 1944 – December 1945. It is over fifty pages typed, and it’s the most historically detailed account I have come across for the 733rd. Good scans of the photos included in the document can be found on the Photos page. To sum it up, I would call this a historical record of the 733rd from the perspective of an officer. Very worthwhile read. Excerpts "...within these century-old walls is housed the foreign element of American troops. Within every occupied barn there dwells a section of men. Behind every section there lies a story - a story in these days of common simplicity - a story of men at war.”Ivo Schommer, B BatteryThose first days in Normandy were grim, with sniper fire around us, no hot food, no rest, and much confusion. Those days I don't think any of us felt that we could survive long...Officer Willets, HQ Battery“Captain, I didn't come here for a dress parade, I came here to fight a war.”Ambrose Little, Service Battery LOGS & RELATED COMPILATIONS Since journals and memoirs from GIs who served in the 733rd Field Artillery Battalion are so difficult to come by, logs and journals from members of other field artillery battalions who were active in the same campaigns can serve as valuable pieces to the puzzle. The only log that I’m aware of for the 733rd is “Logmeter’s Long Toms” (included below). I am always on the lookout for related content, so please visit the blog page to contact me if you have something that might fit well here. Log: Logmeter’s Long Toms (733rd FA Bn.) This log was printed in Germany and presumably distributed to the troops of the 733rd before they disbursed. It contains dates and locations of the 733rd throughout the time of combat. Although it isn’t completely comprehensive, it is extremely useful and includes other facts and figures about the troops. When they were writing their memoirs, both Ambrose Little and Elmore Willets used this log to jog their memories on some of the events and locations. I didn’t find a copy of this in my grandpa Ivo’s belongings, rather someone sent me a copy over the Internet. As unlikely as it may seem, I was actually able to find a copy of this pamphlet on the a website offering historical military artifacts. I ordered it without hesitation – it’s one of less than a thousand ever printed! Strategy: History of the XX Corps Artillery This historical document contains some of the strategies and maps from the movement of the XX Corps Artillery. The 733rd Field Artillery Battalion was part of the XX Corps for a good duration of the war. The XX Corps (20th Corps) was known as the “Ghost Corps” because of the speed it advanced across France and Germany. It was used as the spearhead of General Patton’s 3rd Army and is often credited for the rapid advance across the continent. AAR: 203rd Field Artillery Group The 733rd Field Artillery Battalion was attached to the 203rd Field Artillery Group for a brief period. Despite only being attached for a short time, the 203rd FA Group followed the same path as the 733rd for a good part of the war. The linked document is mostly composed of After Action Reports. AARs were to be submitted by every part of the Army on a daily basis, with the battery being the smallest unit required to submit them. These AARs went up the chain of command so officers could form a picture of what was happening on the battlefield. Strategic decisions made by generals and commanders were largely based on information gathered from AARs; they were critical and it was only under the most dire circumstances that they were not submitted. Thankfully many of these AARs have been preserved.