ARTILLERY BRIGADE, US ARMY
REDESIGNATED 26TH FIELD ARTILLERY BRIGADE
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
The Provisional Field Artillery Brigade was formed from three national guard field artillery regiments from South Dakota, Idaho, and Texas. Each of these three Regiments had two battalions. The original intention was to send two regiments i.e four battalions, two battalions from the 147th Field Artillery Regiment (South Dakota) and two battalions from the 148th Field Artillery Regiment (Idaho), to the Philippines to bolster the U.S. regular forces there. But the 2nd Battalion, 148th Field Artillery, was not fully trained, so it was replaced by the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment from the Texas National Guard.
The Provisional Field Artillery Brigade was ordered overseas to the Philippines as part of the Pensacola convoy in November 1941. The Brigade comprised:-
All four battalions were armed at the San Francisco wharves with the 75mm field gun, M1897A4 on the M2 carriage (essentially ye olde French 75 on a modern, split-trail field carriage), but after a few months in Australia, three of the battalions were re-armed with the new 105mm howitzer.
Many of the British 75mm guns in the Oahu garrison were also carried as cargo on the ships of the Pensacola convoy headed for Manila. They were not accompanied by gun crews and were intended simply to increase General MacArthur's fire power. He had requested 105mm howitzers but they were not available. The British 75mm stayed on board after the ships left Brisbane and were then taken to Java. Only one of the many guns was used at Java. It was used to replace a standard gun damaged by a Japanese air attack. All of the guns were later captured intact by the Japanese.
The Provisional Field Artillery Brigade was diverted to Brisbane, Australia in late 1941 after the news of the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. They were one of the first US Units to land anywhere in Australia after Pearl Harbor.
When the Pensacola convoy arrived in Brisbane on 22 December 1941, Major General Julian F. Barnes was the senior officer in the convoy and he established the first U.S. Headquarters in Australia, in the Lennons Hotel in George Street, Brisbane.
Once the brigade had arrived in Australia, ABDA Command (American-British-Dutch-Australian) required:-
The other battalion of the 148th Field Artillery, the 2nd Battalion, arrived in Australia months later and did see combat in the South West Pacific area. The other battalion of the 131st Field Artillery, the 1st Battalion, went on to fight in North Africa and Europe.
The pre-WW2 national guard field artillery regiments were mostly composed of two firing battalions, the 1st Bn and the 2nd Bn. During WW2, the field Artillery Regiment was found to be unwieldy due to the increasing number of artillery missions called for and the necessity of going through an unnecessary command level (regiment) in order to obtain vital artillery support, not to mention that the Pacific islands either could not support or did not require an entire artillery regiment.
Therefore, the old Field Artillery Regiments were broken up into separate and independent F.A. Battalions. Usually the former First Battalion was redesignated from the old regimental designation, e.g., 1st Bn, 148th Field Artillery Regiment, became the 148th Field Artillery Battalion, with the 2nd Bn becoming the 205th Field Artillery Battalion. In 1941, it was intended that a provisional field artillery brigade (subsequently designated the 26th Field Artillery Brigade) be formed from the American northwest states, South Dakota and Idaho, viz., two battalions each from the 147th and 148th Field Artillery Regiments. Unfortunately, the 2nd Bn, 148th Field Artillery, was found not to be combat ready, and the proficient 2nd Bn, 131st Field Artillery, Texas National Guard, was substituted for it. The redesignations of the units once comprising those three national guard field artillery regiments are as follow:-
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 15 December 2004
This page last updated 05 September 2018