385th AAA Battalion

WELCOME to the 385th AAA Web Site !

On this Web Site, you will find the History of the Men of the 385th Auto Weapons Battalion and their courageous journey through WWII from activation on 10 January, 1943 through discharge 25 July, 1945.  The Web Site is updated as new information is received.  If your grandfather, father, husband, uncle, etc., served with the 385th and you have photos or other pertinent information, please contact the Web Master by clicking on the Contact Tab above.   Enjoy the Site!

Web Site is Under Construction and may be Erratic for the Next Several Weeks.




                                               (385th AAA Battalion 40mm photo)

by Rich Anderson

Anti-Aircraft Artillery                          

At the beginning of World War II the US antiaircraft artillery force was
very much the poor stepchild of the Coast Artillery Corps. The units were
mostly three battalion (a gun battalion, an automatic weapons battalion, and
a searchlight battalion) regiments and separate battalions. They were
equipped with a motley mix of obsolescent 3" guns and single barrel                           
water-cooled .50 caliber machine guns. The German Blitzkrieg in Europe
forced a widespread reevaluation of the Army's AAA capability and, beginning
in 1940-1941 a vast expansion of the arm (it finally achieved an identity
separate from the Coast Artillery in 1943). On 30 September 1942, it was
proposed that 811 AAA battalions be organized (with a total strength of
619,000 men).

385th AAA Jeep

However, this massive buildup of AAA units became largely redundant when
another formerly poor relation of the US Army, the Army Air Corps, wrested
command of the air from the Luftwaffe in 1943 and 1944. Many AAA battalions
were disbanded to provide replacements in 1944, some were converted to
artillery. A total of 258 battalions were inactivated or disbanded between 1
January 1944 and 8 May 1945. Nevertheless, AAA remained a strong component
of the army and achieved something of resurgence in late 1944 in Belgium,
defending Antwerp from the threat of the V-1 "Buzz bomb." On 31 December
1944, there was still a total of 347 AAA battalions (with 257,000 men)
active in the Army.


In 1943 the AAA regiments were broken up into separate battalions, with the
regimental H&H companies becoming new AAA Group Headquarters. The AAA
battalions were organized as either gun (equipped with the M1 90mm AA gun)
or automatic weapons (equipped initially with a U.S.-designed M1 37mm gun,
but later almost wholly re-equipped with the famous M1 40mm Bofors-designed
gun, and with the M51 or M55 quad-mount .50 caliber machine gun). Battalions
were further classified as mobile (that is towed), SP (utilizing
halftrack-mounted guns, the M16, a quad .50 caliber mounting, and the M15, a
combination mounting twin water-cooled .50 caliber and a single 37mm), or
semi-mobile (with a reduced number of prime movers, designed for the defense
of static installations).

             (Double Click this image)      385th   M-16 HalfTrack with 4  (Quad Mount) .50 Machine Guns    

(Quad mount .50 caliber operated by 385th AAA)

The automatic weapons battalions of all types were organized with four
firing batteries, lettered A to D, an H&H Battery, and a Service Battery.
Each battery nominally contained eight towed 40mm or 37mm SP guns and eight
quad .50 caliber towed or SP machine guns. However, many slight variations
existed, some battalions had batteries composed of eight towed 40mm guns,
four quad .50 caliber mounts, and eight single, water-cooled .50 caliber
machine guns (there was a shortfall in production of the M51 and M55
mounts). Gun battalions were organized identically, except the batteries
were equipped with four 90mm guns each and, usually, three water-cooled .50
caliber machine guns.

        (40mm operated by 385th AAA Battalion gun crew)

Normally, an AAA automatic weapons battalion was attached to each division,
SP if attached to an armored division, and mobile if attached to an infantry
division. A corps normally had one or more AAA groups attached. Each AAA
group consisted of two or more automatic weapons battalions (usually
mobile), although a gun battalion was occasionally attached. In the European
Theater, gun battalions were more frequently found in AAA groups attached to
the army or army group. Antiaircraft brigades were also formed and were
normally attached to armies or to theater commands. In addition, the IX Air
Defense Command (in effect an AAA division, originally organized as a part
of the US Ninth Tactical Air Force), with an average of ten to fifteen gun
and automatic weapons battalions, formed a powerful AAA reserve for the US
12th Army Group in Europe.

                                                           (385th AAA Battalion 40 mm gun crew)  









          FW 190's over ST. Trond,    1 Jan, 1945



                                               FW 190 (#11 from the German Jagdgeschwader 4 - 4th Fighter Sq.)

                  Flown by German Pilot - Gefr. Walter Wagner, pilot of the 5th flight of JG 4 - Captured 1.1.45


                             Shot Down by 385th Anti-Artillery Batteries "A" & "B"             January 1, 1945              St. Trond, Belgium

Battery "A" was protecting the North and West portion of the field &

Battery "B" was protecting the South and East portion of the field


                                              Restored - White #11- after WWII                                                     (Photo Courtesy of J. Crandall - www.eagle-editions.com )


           Sgt. Doug Cochran - 'D' Battery                 Charles Davis - 'HQ' Battery


L to R -John Nedimyer, Fred Bowman, Norman Crews -"HQ" Battery

                       Jewel Overton

Officer Candidate School, Camp Wallace, Texas, March 1943                                                    Ken Fowler, top row, far left later assigned to Battery "B" - 385th AAA Aw


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Last Update:  03/08/2010