Captain Samuel J. Reid
From the Book
personal experiences of Lieutentants and Captains of
Artillery who served with Trench mortars
BATTERY, 77TH DIV.
LAW OFFICES OF
McCole AND Reid
7 DEY STREET
Major P.H. Ottosen
I am in receipt of your letter of January 30th in regard
to the book which is to be published concerning Trench
Artillery, A. E. F. I also note that you would like to
have information concerning the activities of the 302nd
Trench Mortar Battery, 77th Division. I am, therefore,
giving you below a brief outline of the service of that
Battery which I commanded.
Organized August 30th at Camp Upton. The majority of the
officers were from New York City, and the enlisted men
were sent from New York City and Long Island, New York.
On Oct. 10, 1917, many of the men were transferred to
Camp Upton and Camp Greenwood, the vacancies caused
thereby being filled by men from Camp Devens, Mass., and
from northern New York State. The division began leaving
Camp Upton on March 28, 1918, and sailed from Boston,
Portland (Maine), via Halifax, and New York City. With
the exception of the artillery, all units proceeded
through Liverpool, across England and landed at Calais,
France. The artillery sailed from New York in April and
went direct to Brest, France.
July 1st, 1919 to August 3rd, 1918
The Battery was attached to the 152nd held Artillery
Brigade of the 77th Division. After going overseas, the
Battery trained at Camp Souge where we received our
material, six-inch Newton-Stokes Trench Mortars. After a
period of training, the Battery proceeded to the front
with the Division, and from about July 1st, 1919, to
August 3rd, 1918, was in the Baccarat Sector. The Battery
built emplacements, but the front at that time was very
quiet and the Battery took part in no engagements in that
August 11th, 1918, to September 16th, 1918
From Baccarat the Battery proceeded with the Division to
the Vesle Sector. The 77th Division relieved the 4th
Division on the Vesle, North of Chateau-Thierry, on or
about August 11th, and advanced to the Aisne River, a
distance, I believe, of about eleven kilometers. Inasmuch
as trench warfare had by that time been discontinued and
war of movement begun, there was, of course, no longer
any use for heavy trench artillery. The heavy trench
mortars, therefore, were left at the rail heads.
Considerable German artillery was captured and I
organized, by direction of the Brigade Commander, a
battery of field artillery, using German 77s which had
been captured. During the operations on this front the
Battery was continually in action, as we had a
practically unlimited supply of captured German
ammunition. From that time the Battery became known by
the Division as "Our Boche Battery", instead of
the Trench Mortar Battery.
Argonne - Meuse Operations
September 26th, 1918, to November 11th, 1019
From the Vesle Sector, the 77th Division moved to the
Argonne Sector and my Battery was attached to the Field
Artillery Brigade of that Division and took part in the
Argonne operations between September 16th, 1919, and
November 11th, 1918. On this front, on account of the
character of the terrain, the Battery used 105 ram.
German Howitzers in place of the German 77's. We were
able to obtain from captured stocks all the ammunition we
were able to use. On November 11th, 1918, we were at
Raucourt. The Division was then started across the Meuse
The Battery had no casualties except two wounded.
In the official report of Major General Robert Alexander,
who commanded the 77th Division, referring to the 3O2nd
Trench Mortar Battery and the 105 mm. Howitzers used by
it in the Argonne, it is stated:
"These light-weight guns, for which I had, at the
beginning of the operation, about 125 rounds of
ammunition each, tendered excellent service during the
advance, as I was able to renew my ammunition supply from
the captured stocks as we went along."
The New York World, on April 29, 1919, in telling of the
plans for the triumphal parade of the 77th Division
(Liberty), New York City's Own, quotes Major General
Robert Alexander as follows-.
"I had hoped to have in the line of march the four
105 millimeter (41/2 inch) field pieces that we captured
in the fighting on the Vesle and later used against the
Germans in the Argonne. But it couldn't be arranged.
"When we took those four guns, we got 100 rounds of
ammunition with each. After we hit the Argonne we found
all the ammunition we needed to keep the guns busy
against their former masters.
"After I was told it would be impossible to bring
back these captured fieldpieces in time to have them for
the parade of the division I had each piece etched in
acid on the breech with the insignia of the division-the
77th (Liberty) Division of New York City.
"And I hope that not long after the great parade the
City of New York will be presented, in the name of its
division, with those four captured cannon., They
certainly came in handy in the fight against the
Inasmuch as we were not able to use the heavy trench
artillery with which my Battery was originally Supplied,
on account of the war movement that had set in at the
time we reached the front, perhaps the record of my
Battery will have little interest to you from trench
artillery standpoint, nevertheless I hope that the above
brief resume of our activities may be of some use to you
in the preparation of the book you refer to.
Please note that my residence address is 17 Chedworth
Road, Scarsdale, New York.
Yours very truly,
Samuel J. Reid,
Capt. F. A.
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