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188th Field Artillery

6/12/2006:

The 188th Field Artillery Regiment was organized in Valley City in 1940. It was soon split into two groups: the 188th Field Artillery Battalion and the 957th Field Artillery Battalion. On June 11 and 13, 1944, both units entered Normandy, France as part of the D-Day offensive that began a week earlier.

When the war ended in August 1945, the Fargo Forum wrote about the 188th’s long hard journey, as follows:

“Another North Dakota unit to see action in this war is the 188th North Dakota field artillery, originally entirely made up of North Dakotans, but later representing all states which took part in the early fighting in Europe.

“The former National Guard unit landed in France only a few days after D-Day, and within a few hours had its big guns blazing at the Nazis. Attached at first to airborne outfits, the group went through several battles on the Cherbourg peninsula and on through the St. Lo break-through.

“Much of the time, the artillery unit found itself in the front lines [and] had to adopt infantry methods of fighting along with its big guns. As it swung into the battle of Belgium, it had the unusual opportunity of capturing 258 of the enemy at Mons. They continued across Belgium, went on to breach the Siegfried line and participated in the siege of Aachen,” the article continued.

“Last December was the blackest part of the history of the 188th—the battle of the bulge. Christmas day was the worst, and the fighting raged for several days after. But the enemy was shattered and the battalion had hung up an impressive record.

“In one day,” the story read, “the big guns had poured out 2,430 rounds of 96-pound shells on 80 different missions. That exceeded any previous record by 1,100 rounds.

“Adding to the record, the battalion fought the Nazis in a total of five foreign lands—France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Germany. And it has fired practice rounds in the U.S. and Britain, making a total of seven countries and thousands of miles through which the group has traveled.

“When the point system of discharge was set up after V-E [Day], the original North Dakotans in the 188th were all eligible to come home. They had left the state shortly after the 164th infantry, on April 13, 1941. Mobilized since April 1 of that year, serving overseas, and participating in most of the battles in Europe, the North Dakotans had gained enough points for [immediate discharge.”

Source: The Fargo Forum. August 15, 1945.

by Merry Helm