From the family of Salvatore Sclafani,
991st F.A. Bn, WWII, in 2006
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November 5, 1944


The Deed Done by Battery B of the 991st
Battery C Also Commended For Its Decisive Roll In Capture Of Aachen

By wireless to the New York Times

American First Army Headquarters, November 4, 1944. -- The first American shells to fall on German territory were fired by boys from the Bronx, members of Battery "B", 991st Field Artillery Battalion, formerly the second Battalion of the 258th Field Artillery, the "Washington Greys". (Pfc. Joseph P. Mutnan of Carteret, New Jersey fired the first shell, said a report from Verviers, Belgium on Sept. 10.)

The presence of this Battalion with the Third Armored Division was disclosed simultaneously with the announcement that Battery "C" of the Battalion had been formally commended for the way its Self Propelled 155 mm rifles literally brought the house down on the defenders of Aachen.

One of the first few outfits in Europe, the 991st Battalion has never been out of action a single day since it was first committed to battle July 13 in Normandy. Besides having been the first to fire into Germany when one of its Batteries shelled a road intersection town of Bildchen southwest of Aachen on September 10, it was also the first to use captured 155mm shells against their German manufacturers.

First Used With Infantry

During its first months of action, the 991st was employed in general support of the infantry then attached to the Third Armored Division during the campaign that decimated the German Seventh Army with the closing of the Falaise Gap.

From Normandy the Battalion Sped through France with Lieut. General Courtney H. Hodge's First Army, crossing the Seine, the Marne, and the Aisne and entering Belgium on Sept. 2 and finally chasing the Germans directly through the West Wall. During the advance the Battalion participated in the entrapment of 25,000 Germans at the Pas de Calais area, and one forty-eight hour period took more prisoners than its own strength although it was an artillery and not an infantry battalion.

Once into Germany, Battery "C" was detached from the Third Armored Division and was assigned to the First Infantry Division for the assault on Aachen. During the encirclement of that city, the battery directly supported the Eighteenth Infantry Regiment, destroying or neutralizing pillboxes, strong points, and bunkers with its self-propelled guns, while the infantrymen fought their way up Crucifix Hill and into Verlauntenheide.

In Aachen itself, the battery fought through the streets with the 26th Infantry, attacking strong points and pillboxes at ranges sometimes only 200 of 300 yards.

Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, commander of the Seventh Army Corps and Maj. General Clarence R. Heubner, commander of the First Infantry Division, in letters of commendation to the Battery Commander, Capt. George G. Fisher, Jr. of 303 Larch Avenue, Bogota, NJ, expressed their appreciation of the assistance given in enabling the infantry Division to reach its objectives on schedule.

Feared By Germans

Perhaps a more significant complement came from the German commander of Aachen, who said that the greatest shock his men had was the use of the Battery's big guns in Aachen's streets. In one case, he said, high explosive shells penetrated three stone buildings and exploded in a fourth. In another case four rounds were fired in the basement of a building, causing it to collapse on its foundations.

The 991st was inducted into Federal Service in February 1941, and subsequently trained in up-state New York, North Carolina, and Virginia. It sailed for England in January of this year after tours of duty in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Jersey, and New York.

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