6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 23, 2020 9:01 PM by Terry Lane

    Seeking records of 180th Coast Artillery Battalion

    Terry Lane Newbie

      My uncle, Walter E. Brantley, served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater in WWII.  I had previously received a copy of his WD AG 53-55 from the funeral home who conducted his funeral service.  I have found the following details regarding his service in that document: Date of Induction: 26 MAR 42, Arm of Service: CAC (Coastal Artillery Corps), Component: 180th Coastal Artillery Battalion, Military Occupational Specialty and No.: AA MG 845 (crewman, heavy artillery), Battles and Campaigns: Western Pacific, Decorations and Citations: Asiatic Pacific Theater Service Ribbon – Good  Conduct Medal – Victor Medal  AR 615-365  15 DEC 44, Date of Separation: 20 NOV 45.  Although there is significant information provided in this document, I have been able to find very little information on my uncle's unit (180th Coastal Artillery Battalion).  I am hoping that someone might be able to assist in directing me where I can find out exactly what and where the 180th Coastal Artillery Battalion served.  What battles they may have been involved in, etc.?

        • Re: Seeking records of 180th Coast Artillery Battalion
          Alex Daverede Adventurer

          Terry,

           

          What I posting here is admittedly a thin string gleaned from a U.S. Army lineage page for the 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, but there’s enough to frame some of the story.

           

          Your uncle served in what was known as the Coast Artillery Corps (CAC), a major branch of the Army organized in the late nineteenth century.  Originally tasked with defending the nation’s coasts and overseas possessions with large and medium caliber cannons, the CAC picked up the antiaircraft mission during the World War I era, when the primitive aircraft of the day were perceived as a threat to Army ground forces.

           

          The CAC’s original mission had become obsolete by 1943; however the antiaircraft mission blossomed during the Second World War as aircraft became a serious threat.  As the war progressed, the CAC organized more antiaircraft units, and the 180th CAB in which your uncle served was one of these.  The equipment of these battalions were standardized by 1943.  A battalion usually consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, four firing batteries (A-D), plus supporting fire control sections and supply/logistics units.  Some units had an additional battery armed with .50 caliber (.5 inch) M2 water cooled machine guns for close-range defense.  Each firing battery contained (usually) six M2 90mm antiaircraft guns supported by a fire control center with computer, height finder, and fire control radar sending data directly to each gun.  Alternately, these battalions could be armed with M1 40mm automatic antiaircraft guns in the same quantities.  The fact that your uncle was assigned the 845 MOS (Gun Crewman, Heavy Artillery) leads me to believe that the 180th CAB was a 90mm battery.

           

          These CAB’s were sprinkled around various islands and island chains to provide antiaircraft protection to island military and naval installations.  For larger installations the entire battalion was stationed at one location; at other times the battalion was broken up into its constituent firing batteries and spread around to different islands.  The soldiers serving in these CAB’s mostly had a boring war as the Japanese air threat diminished increasingly after 1942.  The 180th was activated in May 1944 at Fort Ruger, Territory of Hawaii and deactivated in December 1945 in the Marianas Islands located in the central Pacific.

           

          I hope you find this information of use.

           

          A. J.

            • Re: Seeking records of 180th Coast Artillery Battalion
              Terry Lane Newbie

              A.J.,

               

              Thank you for the information on the CAC.  I am hoping for much more details in an attempt to learn more about my uncle.  I actually never met my uncle as he left the family home circa 1930 telling family members that he would return in 10 years, but he never returned.  In fact, he was neither seen, heard from, or heard about by any family member again though my mother and all her siblings searched for my uncle all their lives without success.  It wasn't until 2015 that I took up the search and was finally able to locate my uncle as having traveled from Arkansas to Colorado and finally to Montana where he remained until his death in 1980.  Upon finding him, I was able to identify the funeral home which had conducted his military funeral.  They in turn provided me with copies of his military discharge documents and the names of some of the folks who attended his funeral.  I have been able to speak with some of his former friends and learned much about my uncle, including the fact that while hospitalized just before his death he was found hiding under his bed screaming "military" commands and speaking incoherently about the "Japs".   This implies to me that he may have had some tough experiences while serving in the Pacific Theater and may have even been suffering from what used to be called "Shell Shock" which is now called PTSD.

               

              I have made a request for copies of any available records related to my uncle from the National Archive, but this will take time. Thus I am hoping someone may be able to point in another direction which may allow me to find additional information specific to my uncle.

               

              Terry

                • Re: Seeking records of 180th Coast Artillery Battalion
                  Alex Daverede Adventurer

                  Terry,

                   

                  Thank you for providing more context of your uncle’s service.  You should be commended on the diligence and persistence in your search for your uncle’s story, especially as there was little in the way of records to document his life.

                   

                  I Have to apologize about the mistakes I made in my first response.  Digging through my library I forgot about a volume I’ve had for some time: Shelby Stanton’s “World War II Order of Battle.”  This book contains information on U.S. Army units organized during the war, and I discovered what I had written before was downright wrong.

                   

                  According to Stanton, the 180th CAB was indeed established in Hawaii on 31 May 1944.  It was organized as a mobile 155mm gun battery as part of the Harbor Defenses of Honolulu.  That assignment was purely administrative as these batteries could be assigned to any location in the Central Pacific.  Ultimately the 180th CAB was assigned as part of the garrison on the island of Tinian, where it was disestablished in December 1945.

                   

                  The battery was equipped with 6-8 155mm guns M1 similar to these seen during the Okinawa campaign:

                   

                  As a Coast Artillery Corps unit with an anti-surface ship mission, the battery equipped its guns with what was termed a Kelly mount, a portable steel platform that allowed a gun to traverse quickly to track a moving target on the water.  Kelly mounts looked like this:

                  The M1 had a crew of 14 which included a chief of the gun, gunner, pointer, trainer (these last two operate the controls that moved the gun barrel), and up to 10 men to load the 100 pound shells.  Your uncle’s MOS would have him prepared to assume any of the gun crew’s duties.

                   

                  I am sorry to hear that your uncle had such a rough time of it in his later years. Perhaps a reason can be found in the accounts of some of the Army Air Force personnel who were stationed on the island after its August 1944 capture.  According to them, there were still Japanese soldiers on the island for some time after its capture, living in isolated caves on the island. If the AAF crewmen were concerned about their presence, then I’m sure other personnel assigned to Tinian would have shared that concern.

                   

                  Again, I apologize for my earlier error.

                   

                  A. J.

                    • Re: Seeking records of 180th Coast Artillery Battalion
                      Terry Lane Newbie

                      A.J.,

                       

                      Again, thank you for your response.  My uncle's discharge records show him having been a member of the 180th CAB upon his discharge. 20 November 1945..  Based on the information you just provided regarding the 180th having been established in 31 May 1944 it would indicate that he served in one or more units prior to the 180th as his induction date was in 26 March  1942.  I remain ever hopeful that significant records will be returned from my outstanding records request to the National Personnel Records Center.  Otherwise I am hoping someone who's relative may have also been assigned to the 180th may have some information regarding other units the 180ths personnel may have served. 

                       

                      Terry

                • Re: Seeking records of 180th Coast Artillery Battalion
                  Jason Atkinson Pioneer

                  Dear Mr. Lane,

                   

                  Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

                   

                  We searched National Archives Catalog and located the World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917-1985 (Record Group 407) that may include records for the 180th Coastal Artillery Battalion. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

                   

                  If you have not done so already, we suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and prior to 1958 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. If there is any information requested by the form which you do not know, you may omit it, however the more information you provide, the easier it will be to locate his file. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.

                   

                  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. Also, the NPRC closed again as of November 7, 2020 until further notice. NPRC will respond only to requests involving burials, medical emergencies, and homeless veterans.  If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines or emergency requests may be faxed to (314) 801-0764.  Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for any inconvenience.

                   

                  We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!