Segment 7

Annotation

When the Cannon Company was first introduced to the cannon, they were a "tank outfit" [Annotator's Note: more like a tank destroyer outfit or mechanized artillery with the M7 Priest] and they had a 57mm gun that would have been like a slingshot against a German Tiger tank because it was no match for it. It was decided to take their mechanized artillery away and transition them to a Cannon Company using the smallest 105mm howitzer made at the time [M3 105mm Howitzer]. From what Baldwin remembers hearing, the paratroopers were training to take parts of the weapon and assemble them on the ground. He never recalled seeing that, but only hearing it.The M3 Howitzer fired an 18-pound projectile, had a fixed fuse on the end of the shell that could be set for tree burst, air burst, ground fire, etc. The weapon had 7 powder bags of black powder [Annotator's Note: to fire a projectile]. There was a string attaching each bag to one another. For instance, if you were shooting a quarter of a mile, you would use 2 bags. And with the elevation capabilities of the gun, you could shoot 5 miles if you wished. The men preparing the ammunition on the gun crew knew exactly how many powder bags were needed for each shell and the distance they were being fired by listening to the instructions of the cannon crew and the forward observer. The forward observer would be talking back to the 6 gun positions instructing their fire and they were probably stretched out over a quarter of a mile. This was so that if you lost 1 section, you wouldn't lose all of the others at the same time. The barrel on the weapon was about 5 to 6 feet long, pretty short barrel and there was a sight on the left hand side of the gun. They also had something they called an aiming stake too that you put out some 75 to 100 feet to the left of the front wheel. It had red and white markings on the stake and you would look through the sights and focus on the stake. The observer would then give his distance and you would fire 1 round in relation to the distance of the aiming stake and he would tell if the rounds were short, to the left or right, or the shot was long. They would put the rounds in position by the aiming stake. Then the forward observer would tell you to fire at will. When you did so, you would start to move the barrel 1 quarter of an inch or so to the left and/or right, back and forth. When you did so, you would be covering a whole section with fire. After all, you didn't want all of the shells to land in the same place. If you did, then you weren't doing much good. When you had 6 gun sections, you could cover a whole mountain or hill crossing like that. But, you knew exactly how far to fire and then you would raise it or lower it or shift fire from right to left to cover a whole territory.When they were reorganized, the men of Cannon Company had never seen this use of war. Before they left Wisconsin, they started learning the weapon and how to use it. They had to learn to use it, tear it apart, take it down, replace the parts and everything they could about that cannon. They loved it. At the time too, they thought they would be like a field artillery company. Baldwin couldn't remember who made the gun, but felt like they made a good 1.

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