William H. Barrett
Eyewitness to the Transformation of U.S. Army Artillery in World War II
By Dieter Stenger, Curator
William S. Barrett entered active service on August 17, 1941. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he underwent training as an artillery battery officer with Battery A, 112th Field Artillery (FA). In March 1942, the 112th FA made a road march from Fort Bragg to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which was revolutionary because truck-drawn artillery replaced horse-drawn artillery. The change was one result of the lessons of the Louisiana Maneuvers and other maneuvers in 1940 and 1941.
On December 14, 1942, Barrett was assigned as commanding officer, Battery C, 112th FA, and then re-assigned on the first day of 1943 as commanding officer, Battery C, 695th FA. The 695th FA was re-designated as an armored field artillery battalion in August 1943 and shipped out for England on February 11, 1944, coming ashore in France on July 22nd.
Beginning in August 1943, artillery battalions were equipped with self-propelled artillery. Equipped with self-propelled 105-mm. M7B1 Howitzer Motor Carriage (HMC) "Priests," and making up part of Combat Command A, Task Force D, 7th Armored Division, Barrett participated in successively seizing bridgeheads over the Moselle and Saar Rivers. Barrett received the Silver Star Medal for actions before Maiziéres-les-Metz, which allowed U.S. forces to attack and reduce the defenses around Metz, eventually cross the Moselle River, and continue pursuit of the German Army.
The William S. Barrett collection, part of the Army's Core Collection located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, consists of historic property documenting the tremendous change in tactics when U.S. Army artillery was revolutionized. Barrett's guidon from the horse-drawn Battery A, 112th FA, is a unit symbol that has endured historically to this day. It not only embodies one of many Army traditions, but also is directly associated with a Soldier who personally experienced the dramatic transformation of Army artillery in the 1940s.
The unit battery guidon, service hat, insignia, and photograph of William S. Barrett.
Silver Star Medal and citation of Captain William S. Barrett.
William S. Barrett in England, XX Corps, May 1944.
An M7B1 "Priest" from the 1st Section Battery, France 1944.