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633rd AAA AW Battalion

80th Infantry Division

 

A Halftrack of the 633rd AAA AW Bn. with a German town in the distance.

 

 

In the lower photo, you can see that this particular halftrack is outfitted with twin 50 caliber machineguns and what looks like a 20 mm Bofor gun.  Off in the distance, in the right, you can just make out a second halftrack in its camouflage.  The crew of the halftrack in the foreground looks to be cooking food.  The 633rd AAA AW Bn. was intended to be an anti-aircraft unit, but didn't encounter that many enemy aircraft to shoot at.  Instead, the 633rd's gunners; men like my buddy Don Schoo, were often called on to deal with ground targets.  Don's halftrack was similar to this one, but was outfitted with quad-fifty machineguns instead.  These weapons could lay down an awesome amount of firepower, and were vital in infantry support roles such as Mt. Toulon, France.  The men of the 633rd Anti Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion served the 80th Infantry Division with distinction, and have rarely gotten the credit they deserved.  In fact, in 23 years of working on this history project, this is the first photo I have ever seen of one of their halftrack vehicles.  This photo was taken by Maj. Rawls of the 305th Engineer Battalion, and I purchased it at auction for my buddy Don Schoo.  Don travels around to schools and civic groups to educate people about the war.

 

My buddy Ken Aladeen remembers: "The night we arrived on the continent we were loaded on trucks and started to convoy toward the Argentan - Falaise gap.  A lone Me-109 strafed us.  Big mistake. The 633rd had units scattered in the convoy and shot the guy down.  A few days later, while we were dug in waiting for something to happen an enemy sniper kept us ducking for cover.  One of the 633rd's trailer mounted quad .50 cal was off to our left.  The gunner, fairly secure in his armored gun tub, was reading a book.  We heard a round bounce off of his shields he sat up quickly brought his guns down to ground level and cleared about 50 feet of hedgerow.  We heard nothing from the sniper(s) after that.  Later we heard that two badly mangled enemy, laying in a chopped hedgerow had been found.  Both the 40 mm Bofors and the 20mm were devastating anti-personnel weapons.  Using timed fuses in the projectiles; they usually burst in the air - hopefully above the enemy.  Of course this worked both ways - we didn't like it any better than they did."

 

 

 

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