AUSTRIA AND VE-DAY. TO APRIL 45-9 MAY 45
Entry into Austria was forced by XII Corps units in the closing days of April, but much else
happened before that event. One of the most interesting of these prior occurrences was the capture of the
training area of the Grafenwohr. Around this vast installation the rolling upland country, scattered with
stands of grub pine amid sandy pasture lands, had been taken over for a tank and artillery maneuver
grounds, and also for a more sinister purpose. The locality had been overrun by the 11th Armored
Division, and surrendered on 19 April 45 when bracketed by CCA and CCB. Prior to the arrival of
ground force units on the scene the place had been liberally plastered by Allied bombers. By the time the
Corps CP moved into the stricken Wehrmacht training Station on 24 April, says Col Murray: "We set up
in a German Caserne that had been the equivalent of our Field Artillery School, which was about 80%
destroyed. It was huge. It was as large as Fort Sill. Officers and men lived in the Caserne." and a
dismal wilderness the "Post" was, too.
The resemblance of the place to Fort Sill was no simple accident. The following September the
US Field Artillery Journal would publish a revealing note on the incident:
"Col William H Bartlett, who was an instructor in gunnery and tactics at the Field Artillery
School from 1938 to 1942, had the unique experience as Commanding Officer of the 183rd Field
Artillery Group of capturing the Field Artillery School at Grafenworhr, Germany, during the closing
days of the drive on the Elbe River. As a result, the Nazi flag which formally flew over that school is
now a prized possession of the Field Artillery Museum.
"In forwarding the captured Nazi flag to Maj Gen Ralph McT Pennell, Commandant of the Field
Artillery School, Col Bartlett wrote:
'In the rapid advance across Germany the 183rd Field Artillery Group, assigned to the US Third
Army, attached to XII Corps, participated in the capture of the Artillery and Panzer School at
Grafenwohr, Germany. The firing ranges and school organization were very similar to those of the Field
Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Signal Mountain, however, was noticeably absent.
'The 183rd Field Artillery Group captured the School Flag and several maps of the Post Area. It
is only proper that the flag of the school be placed with the Battle Trophies of the Field Artillery School
of the U.S. Army, and it is being forwarded herewith.'
"Transmitting the flag from Germany to the Field Artillery School, Lt James H Wilson, adjutant
of the XII Corps Artillery, said, 'The capture of this trophy is appropriately symbolic of the superiority
of the doctrines and teachings of the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.' The captured Nazi flag
is now on display in a new Field Artillery School Museum Annex."
Most sinister of all discoveries in the Grafenwohr area was the revelation that a section of it was
devoted to a colossal Chemical Warfare Supply dump of approximately 3,000,000 poison gas projectiles
and mines of all types.