AfriGeneas Military Research Forum
At least 2 Black combat units came ashore on D-Day
This story bears repeating:
The 320th may have been the first Black unit to land on D-Day at Omaha but they were NOT the only Black unit. I have spoken separately, in person and by phone, to two men who served in Battery A of the 452nd AAA AW and who had had no contact with each other since the European theater was secured. One was a white gunnery sergeant whom I had the pleasure of actually meeting AND recording personally on the date of his 90th birthday in 2007. The other was a Black enlisted man whom I spoke with on the phone after finding on Google a local Florida newspaper reporter's interview with him at a retirement home in Florida.
Both men stated categorically and without prompting (other than my question as to how, when and where they first came ashore on the Continent) that Battery A had been attached at the last minute to a white armored infantry division with which they came ashore on D-Day at Omaha Beach in the third wave at about 17:00 or 18:00 hours. Their stories were credible, lucid and in agreement that their battery was put ashore in water nearly over their heads.
Like nearly all U.S. Army anti-aircraft artillery combat battalions, the 452nd AAA was comprised of 5 batteries - one command battery and four AAA combat batteries. To my knowledge the Order of Battle for Operation Overlord did not include the 452nd AAA, either as a battery or as a battalion. However, as with all major war operations, the Order of Battle was a working document often prepared days or weeks prior to the commencement of troop movement - relatively minor changes were more often than not omitted even from the final Order of Battle issued subsequent to the battle.
Bill, the gunnery sargeant, told me that no one knew for sure why they were attached to the armored infantry unit, but that the infantrymen came ashore without their armor and ordnance, whereas Battery A landed with at least one Bofors cannon mobile unit and the men were equipped and specially trained at the noted British 'cannoneer' school, Stiffkey, on Great Britain's eastern shore, to make use of both their Bofors cannons and their 'Quad 50' 4-point 50 cal. machine guns rigs as land weapons as well as their official use as ground to air anti-aircraft defense.
These ground soldier skills were put to use on more than just the intial D-Day landing, most notably in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest, as part of Patton's 'mini-army' of Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalions which raced to the scene of the hugely unexpected German effort to divide the Allies into two separate armies. Indeed, the 452nd AAA is one of only a dozen or so anti-aircraft artillery battalions whose name is chiseled onto the Battle of the Bulge Monument situated in St. Louis , Missouri.
It takes nothing away from the 320th AAA Battalion's participation in the landing on D-Day to recognize that another colored[sic] combat unit, the 452nd, was also represented in the Allies landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day and went on to participate in every major campaign in Northern Europe, including the occupation of Berlin at War's end.
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