I am in search of information about my Dad's service during WW2. He passed away in 1966 & is buried at Fort Leavenworth Nat. Cemetery. His records burned in the 1973 fire in St. Louis. I want to find anyone that may have served with him. What I know so far is that the Anti-Aircraft Artillery unit was attached to the 30th Infantry Division. On his head stone it says: Leland Harleon Purcell Battery D 531 A.A.A (AW) Bn CAC He served from 4-19-1943 to 1-7-1946 Serial # 34 652 577. I am having problems finding what the (AW) and CAC means and where he actually fought. He didn't talk about the war unless it was funny stories but do remember him saying he gave away his medals to children because he didn't consider himself as a hero. He thought the kids were the hero's. Dad was just an American trying to do the right thing to keep America safe. If anyone can educate me as to what campaigns his unit did during WW2, I would appreciate it so very much. If anyone remembers my Dad, I'd love to talk with you. Thank You all for your service to keep us safe!This message has been edited. Last edited by: spiritof2d,
Here's a starting point:
AW = Automatic weapons
CAC = Coastal Artillery Corps (the original branch of anti-aircraft artillery)
On 30 September 1942, it was proposed that AAA be a new classification from Coastal Artillery. 811 AAA battalions be would originally be organized.
AAA units became less critical when the Luftwaffe began to lose control of the air in 1943. 258 AAA battalions were disbanded in 1944 with some being converted to artillery. AAA remained a component of the army and saw heavy action 1944 Belgium, defending Antwerp from the threat of the V-1 "Buzzbomb." At the end of 1944 there were still 347 AAA battalions active.
AAA regiments operated in separate battalions, organized as either gun (90mm AA gun) or automatic weapons ( M1 37mm gun, but later re-equipped with 40mm Bofors gun, M51 or M55 quad-mount .50 Cal. MGs). Battalions were further classified as mobile (towed), SP (halftrack-mounted guns, M16 quad .50 or M15, combination twin .50 caliber and 37mm), or semi-mobile (base defense).
The battalions were organized with four batteries, A to D, an H&H Battery, and a Service Battery. Each battery nominally contained eight towed 40mm or 37mm SP guns and eight quad .50 caliber towed or SP machine guns. However, many slight variations existed as new TO&E changes occured.
AAA battalions would be routinely attached and detached among the various units of it's Corp or Divisional command.
531st AAA Bn - The battalion activated at Fort Bliss on 15 July 1942 as the 531st Coast Artillery Battalion (Antiaircraft)(Automatic Weapons), and redesignated as antiaircraft artillery automatic weapons battalion (AAAWBn) on 15 May 1943.
The troops departed Boston on 11 February 1944, arriving in England on 23 February for service in Europe with the 30th Old Hickory Infantry Division; during the remainder of World War II the 531st received campaign streamers for:
Normandy - the 30th ID landed on 10 June as replacements for the 29th ID
The battalion returned to the states on 1 January 1946 and inactivated the following day at Camp Kilmer, NJ.
The following units were involved in the Battle of the Bulge.
Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow
102 Cavalry Group, Mechanized
186, 196, 200, and 955 Field Artillery Battalions
254 Engineer (Combat) Battalion
187 Field Artillery Group
751 and 997 Field Artillery Battalions
190 Field Artillery Group
62, 190, 272, and 268 Field Artillery Battalions
406 Field Artillery Group
76, 941, 953, and 987 Field Artillery Battalions
1111 Engineer Combat Group
51, 202, 291, and 296 Engineer Combat Battalions
134, 387, 445, 460, 461, 531, 602, 639, and
863 Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalions
30th Division Organization
117th, 118th (detached Aug. 1942), 119th and 120th Infantry Regiments
113th, 119th, 197th and 230th Field Artillery Battalions
105th Engineer Combat Battalion
30th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop [Mechanized]
30th Infantry Division Band
531st Anti-Aircraft Artillery / Automatic Weapons (AAA/AW) Battalion
The 30th Infantry Division arrived in England, 22 February 1944, landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, 11 June 1944, secured the Vire-et-Taute Canal, crossed the Vire River, 7 July, and, beginning on 25 July spearheaded the St. Lo break-through. The day after the division relieved the 1st Infantry Division near Mortain on 6 August, the German drive to Avranches began. Fighting in place with all available personnel, the 30th frustrated enemy plans and broke the enemy spearhead (Operation Luttich) in a week of violent struggle, 7-12 August. The division drove east through Belgium, crossing the Meuse River at Vise and Liège, 10 September. Elements entered the Netherlands on the 12th, and Maastricht fell the next day. Taking up positions along the Wurm River, the 30th launched its attack on the Siegfried Line, 2 October 1944, and succeeded in contacting the 1st Division, 16 October, and encircling Aachen.
After a rest period, the division eliminated an enemy salient northeast of Aachen, 16 November, pushed to the Inde River at Altdorf, 28 November, then moved to rest areas. On 17 December the division rushed south to the Malmedy-Stavelot area to help block the powerful enemy drive in the Battle of the Ardennes. It launched a counteroffensive on 13 January 1945 and reached a point 2 miles south of St. Vith, 26 January, before leaving the Battle of the Bulge and moving to an assembly area near Lierneux, 27 January, and to another near Aachen to prepare for the Roer offensive. The Roer River was crossed, 23 February 1945, near Julich.
The 30th moved back for training and rehabilitation, 3 March, and on 24 March made its assault crossing of the Rhine. It pursued the enemy across Germany, mopping up enemy pockets of resistance, took Hamelin, 7 April, Braunschweig on the 12th, and helped reduce Magdeburg on the 17th. The Russians were contacted at Grunewald on the Elbe River. After a brief occupation of an area on the Czech border, the 30th was alerted to return to the United States for further deployment to the Pacific. However, enroute to the U.S.A., the war in the Pacific came to an end by the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan.
Days in Combat 282
There was a publication in 1945:
United States. Army. 531st AAA (AW) Battalion. A History of the 531st
Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. Baton Rouge:
Army & Navy Pub., 1945.
A citation list for the Belgian Fouragerre:
Per Royal Belgian Decree No. 1393, dated November 20, 1945, the following units are authorized the Belgian Fourragere:
30th Infantry Division
531st Anti-Aircraft Artillery AW Bn.
743rd Tank Battalion
823rd Tank Destroyer Bn.
The 30th Division as a whole, including the 531st AAA, AW Bn; 743rd Tank Bn.; and the 823rd Tank Destroyer Bn., was awarded the Belgian Fouragerre in a Royal Belgian Decree No. 1393, dated November 20, 1945, for its part in the liberation of Belgium between September 4 – 10, 1944, AND, for its action in the Ardennes fighting between December 17 1944 and January 25, 1945.
Individuals must have participated in BOTH of the above actions to be eligible for this award.
Addendum: According to the AAA journal (link above) the 531st AAA BN was credited with 26 Category 1 (shot down and seen to crash) and 13 Category 2 aircraft kills.
Thank you so very much for replying with all this awesome information. My family is going to be so happy that this information has finally been found. I pray that I can now find someone that knew my Dad. There is one picture of Dad with 2 other soldiers in uniform that I will be receiving soon. It may be a boot camp picture but so far, no one knows where it was taken nor who the other men are. I will try to post the pic as soon as I get it. Is this the right place to post it? I also have a poem that my Uncle Clyde wrote coming home on the ship from over seas. He fought along side with Audy Murphy. Is this a good place to share his writings?
Again, Thank you so very much for all this information. You are my hero! Tudy
Happy to Help!
As far as his medals/awards, based on what has been found, at the very least he would have the American Campaign medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 campaign Stars, The WW2 Victory Medal, and the Army of Occupation Medal.
If you get any pics with his ribbons this may help ID them.
These would be his general service medals. Any decorations would be worn before these. Ribbons were generally issued during the war but many of the actual medals were not designed or issued till after the war.
The Belgian Fourragere is a 'cord' award worn over the left shoulder.
The AMC, EAME and WW2VM are certain, but I am assuming he participated in all 5 listed campaigns (each represented by a bronze star on the award with a silver star representing 5 bronze stars) the AOM medal is 99% certain. The unknown is exactly when they left Germany for the states ( it says ENROUTE to the US the war ended) 30 days in the occupied zone from May 9th 1945 would have qualified him and it is most likely they stayed in an occupation mode that long.
There are a few other 'history' sub forums on the site but this is as good as any for you to post and follow on infomation.
Good luck, glad I could help.
Edit: Ok, I searched thru a WW2 DA Pam 672-1 dated July 1961 with changes of October 1961 included. Your father was in occupation status from 9 May to 14 August 45 so he did earn the AOM AND I found a change that added the French Croix de Guerre Medal for the 531st AAA (AW) attached to the 30th Inf. Div for 15 jun 1944, DA General Order 14-59.
Here is the Croix de Guerre for WW2
But being added in 1961, he may never knew it had been awarded.
So American Campaign Medal, EAME (Europe,Africa,Middle-East) Campaign Medal with silver campaign star for 5 campaigns, WW2 Victory medal, Army of Occupation Medal with 'Germany' clasp, French Croix de Guerre Medal.This message has been edited. Last edited by: JPfromTN,
I'm not the original poster, but I want to thank you for your reply because it answered questions I had about my cousin Bernie Lester Johnson, whose gravestone reads "PFC 472 AAA AW BN CAC".
I'm not asking you to do all the research you did for the previous poster (that was a lot!), but I'm hoping you can direct me to some information sources for Bernie's unit so I can look it up myself.
I'd appreciate any help you can give me.
Sorry about the delay, been away and just saw your post.
The 472nd AAA AW CAC is credited with participation in the New Guinea and Philippines (Luzon) campaigns against the Japanese and having received the Philippines Presidential Unit citation.
The surviving records of the 472nd was sent to the Eisenhower Archives in 1962 and at that time were in box 301.
from the site:
"U.S. ARMY: Unit Records, 1940-1950
The U.S. Army Unit Records collection (formerly: U.S. Army, U.S. Forces, European
Theater: Selected After Action Reports, 1941-45) primarily spans the period from 1940 to
1950, with the bulk of the material covering the World War II years (1942-45). The collection
is comprised of organizational and operational records and miscellaneous historical material
from the files of army units that served in World War II.
The collection was originally in the custody of the World War II Records Division (now the
Modern Military Records Branch), National Archives and Records Service. The material was
withdrawn from their holdings in 1960 and sent to the Kansas City Federal Records Center for
shipment to the Eisenhower Library. The records were received by the Library from the
Kansas City Records Center on June 1, 1962. Most of the collection contained formerly
classified material that was bulk-declassified on June 29, 1973, under declassification project
number 735035. General restrictions on the use of records in the National Archives still apply."
This is a .gov site so I think I can post this link
a link to the finding aids:
There's limited info on an easy search so the 472nd may have been assigned to a higher command rather than a division. The New Guinea campaign was Jan 43-Dec 44 and the Luzon part of the Philippines was Oct 44-Jul 45
Hi--My father was a corporal in Battery D 472nd AAA AW, and spoke once or twice about being in New Guinea and Luzon. I've been trying to find out how that unit rolled up, in order to track exactly where he was. Any help finding out how 472 rolled up (possibly 6th Army?) would be appreciated.
My grandfather served in D Battery 531st AAA BN. I have an assortment of pics from his service and pics of the entire BN from their history book, if anyone would be interested in copies.
What do you have exactly? My relative may gave been in that group, does the book have a roster of names? Can you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org? Thanks!
My father was in the 531st. I too would be interested to know if there was a roster of names in your book. I'm not sure which battery he served with. And if he is in there, sure, I'd be very interested in a photocopy. email@example.com
Also... JPfromTN I don't know whether you or someone else would know, but I know for a fact that my father never received his Croix de Guerre. Would it still be possible to get this medal? And if so how would one go about doing it?
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The Army doesn't issue the Croix de Guerre. You would have to check for vendors online or look for vendors in military items in your local area.
Proud Member Derelict
2 ways- contact the nearest French Consulate or embassy, have his paperwork handy! . 2. buy it- i believe the Medals of America have them.
Hello. My Father served in the D Battery 531st BN as well and I would love to have the opportunity to see the photos you have. He was shot twice in Belgium in Sept of 1944. Thank you.
I too have a few pictures of my Dad (Leland Purcell from Ft. Mill, S.C. York County enlistment)& 2 other soldiers but I don't know who they are. Please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org .
I would love to have any copies you may have. Please contact me email@example.com Thank You so much! Tudy
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