I believe it is best to provide some orientation to the site visitor, particularly veterans of the 515th along with their family members. To begin with, I would like to provide some explanation of the opening page. I have visited a number of websites relating to military units. Most are well done and appealing to the eye. Many include division insignias and/or photos. Many also have music associated with them. (I included a Big Band piece from the time – “In the Mood”, not to be frivolous, but to create a sense of nostalgia from the time period.) My main point here is that some may be rather unimpressed or disappointed by the sketches on the opening page, thinking them rather crude or poorly conceived. A little explanation is therefore due.

The crest of the 515th FA Bn. on the opening page resembles something that someone rather quickly, and perhaps without a lot of artistic ability, put together. Many veterans of the unit however, will recognize that rather crudely conceived crest. This is because as the 515th was breaking up, someone in the unit (no one knows who exactly) pieced together a brief, unofficial, history of the 515th from the official reports that were kept at HQ. The unit history is about 20 pages long and obviously typed on a HQ typewriter. (The one-page Foreward found on the second frame of the slide show is the introduction to the unofficial history.) The crest that appears on this homepage is a copy of that original crest that appeared on the front page of the unit history. It’s not fancy, but it’s a depiction of the original. I believe it has historical significance, and as mentioned before, may be recognized by members of the unit. The copy was sketched by my then 13 year old daughter, Lydia, whose grandfather was a member of the unit.

The sketch at the bottom of the opening page depicts a 155mm Longtom being pulled by an M-4 Tractor (prime mover) down a road in Germany in the final days of the war. This also was sketched by Lydia. The sketch originally appeared in a family military history. It is my hope that both of these sketches, while not fancy or flashy, will also promote some nostalgia. It is my feeling that they have added value simply because of who drew them, originally and recently.

The rest of the hompage is laid out as many others. The links are rather self-explanatory. The History link is a brief overview of the unit’s creation, training, travels, combat experience and eventual breakup based on the research I have done so far. Some parts of the text are lifted exactly out of the unit archives. The Archives link takes the visitor to the documents of the unit which were gleaned from the Archives II Facility (National Archives) in College Park, Maryland. In the spring and summer of 2004, I traveled to the facility and copied all the documents of the 515th that they have on file. Except for a few pages that have been retyped due to legibility problems, they were simply scanned and uploaded onto the site. I have not at this point included the informal unit history that ended up in the hands of many of the unit members at the end of the war. The pages did not scan well and are simply not legible. It should be noted that the aforementioned unit history is primarily a condensation of the official reports. (Veterans and their family members who would like a copy can contact me and I would be happy to send one.) I would also like to mention that I have more documents that pertain primarily to training reports of the 515th while at Fort Lewis and Fort Bragg. I may upload these at a future date.

The Photos link takes the visitor to pictures taken of the unit at various stages of its existence. These pictures were loaned to me for the purpose of uploading them onto the website. Most are of Battery B and were loaned for this purpose by Mr. Bob Abrahams. Bob was a member of Battery B. Consequently, I decided to arrange them chronologically in relation to the location, starting with the days at Fort Lewis and ending at Oehringen, Germany at the end of the war. As more pictures come in, and I hope they do, I will add them to the files. At some point, if I can get enough pictures from different veterans, I may be able to rearrange them according to the specific batteries. In the mean time, even though the faces and names my not be recognized by members of the other batteries, veterans of the 515th will recognize the backdrops of many of the photos.

Along with a few other links which are self-explanatory, I have included a tab to outside links. These Links are to such sites as Fort Lewis, Fort Bragg, Camp Kilmer, the Cigarette Camps (including Twenty Grand) the 155mm Long Tom, M-4 Tractor, SS Argentina, TSS Monowai, etc. I think they will provide some further interesting information to the visitors. I have been trying to do some research on Camp Greystone which was located at Dalton-in-Furness, but have found nothing web-based at this point.

The site visitor will notice two other links on the Main Page – Poetry and Vets Page. The Poetry link takes the guest to a set of poems written by R. Bedford Watkins, former member of Battery B. Dr. Watkins wrote a series of poems a few years back as a way of expressing his memories of the war and combat. These poems were originally published in a small book entitled Remembering Armageddon. Dr. Watkins has graciously consented to allowing me to include them as part of the website.

Finally, the Vets Page link will be part of an exciting and ongoing project relating to the website. My hope is to have 515th veterans send me their stories along with photos that can be included under each battery of that specific link. I would encourage family members and friends to interview their own 515th veterans and send me the material so it can be uploaded onto the site. Further instructions can be read under the Vets Page link.

Since this is a first attempt at a website, I am sure there are shortcomings. My aim will be to improve as time goes on. I welcome criticism and constructive suggestions.


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