A History of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion in World War II
by Terry Lowry
“We belonged to no one…we always supported or were attached to others…we were a bastard battalion.” – James M Lester
When the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion was deactivated on November 26, 1945, at Camp Myles Standish, Taunton, Massachusetts, their record read: 3 Distinguished Service Crosses (all posthumously), 5 Legions of Merit (one posthumous), 9 Soldiers Medals, 39 Silver Stars, 97 Bronze Stars, 5 Croix de Guerre, and 876 Purple Hearts and 91 Oak Leaf Clusters. 3 Unit Citations, 508 days in combat, and an estimated 500,000 rounds fired. They also supported 17 infantry divisions, 3 armored divisions, 2 airborne divisions, and numerous task forces, including Rangers and British commandos, and fought under 6 American Corps, 1 French Corps, 2 American armies, and 1 French Army. They fought on two continents and participated in 6 campaigns, including amphibious and glider assaults.
Their firepower was felt in Sicily, Italy, France, Germany, and Austria. Places such as Gela, San Pietro, Ceppagna, Anzio, Minturno, Venafro, Briancon, the Vosges, Colmar Pocket, Zellenberg, and Riquewihr saw them at their best. The battalion also lost nearly half their number in the sinking of LST 422, one of the worst naval tragedies of World War II. And after all this they were classified as Service Forces not entitled to wear the combat badge they repeatedly earned.
West Virginia contributed over 30 men to the battalion, including the author’s father. Charleston resident Rupert Burford’s unpublished wartime memoir is often quoted, as are the letters and personal correspondence of the many West Virginians and other members of the 83rd.
The author spent nearly ten years researching this book, interviewing numerous veterans, spending countless hours at the National Archives reading official reports, attended reunions, and gathered thousands of photographs. This book is truly a great World War II book and a fitting legacy to the men of the 83rd.
Chapters include: Edgewood Arsenal, Camp Gordon, Camp Myles Standish, Atlantic Crossing, North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Chiunzi Pass, Venafro, San Pietro, Anzio, LST 422, Southern France, Briancon, Vosges, Colmar Pocket, Germany, Occupation Period, and more….
What People Are Saying About Bastard Battalion
“The level of detail is unbelievable. It painted such a whole picture and was riveting”
— Susan Miller, Rosslyn, VA.
“The book is wonderful.”
— Lt. Robert Bundy, Co. A, 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, Huntsville, AL.
“A masterpiece . . . a real work of art.”
— David Dougherty, Fort Collins, CO.
“A true class of literature.”
— Alfred Green, Jr., Co. D, 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, Newtown, CT.
“The book is beautifully put together . . . brought back many memories.”
— William Gagliardi, Co. A, 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, Staten Island, NY.
“A great accomplishment,”
— Elizabeth Plassmann, Los Alamos, NM.
“Very well put together.”
— Susan Papacciolli, Hewitt, NJ.
“Wow!! The book is awesome.”
– Sandra Babich, Trafford, PA.
“The book is great.”
— Jo Ann Howell, Los Alamos, NM.
“An incredible job. What an achievement and a fitting tribute to all who served in the 83rd.”
— Bill Steedle, Saint James, NY.
“Thanks to Lowry for his Herculean skills in bringing the story of the 83rd to such vibrant life.”
— Joel Kweskin, Charlotte, NC.
“What a wonderful job by the author.”
— Tricia Bridges, Bethlehem, GA.
“A masterpiece . . . a monumental task.”
— Rhoda Horwitz, Sunrise, FL.
“I couldn’t put it down . . . I wouldn’t take a million dollars for my copy.”
— Mike Gregory, New Albany, MS.
“The book is really great and true labor of love.”
— George Shirley, Jr., Madison, MS.
“Thanks to Lowry for all he has done and what it means to these heroes and their families.”
— Dolly Sarrio, Timmonsville, SC.
“A great read.”
— Tom Bunker, Camarillo, CA.
“Congratulations on a job very well done.”
— John Hajdinyak, Randolph, NJ.
“An absolutely wonderful book.”
— Virginia Spencer, Endwell, NY.
“I had been waiting anxiously on the book but when it arrived it completely exceeded my expectations. Great job.”
— Valerie Klauscher, Crescent, PA.
“One of the best World War II regimental histories I have ever seen.”
— Greg Carroll, Charleston, WV.
“The books clarity and level of detail is truly impressive. To assemble such a mountain of data and put it in the readable form that it is in is a tremendous accomplishment which called for an unusual dedication and intellectual ability.”
— Dan Miller, Co. D, 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, Annandale, VA.
“Congratulations to Lowry for the way he wove together all the different threads from historical records, letters, reminiscences, photographs, and all the rest. bravo.”
— Dr. John Beasley, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
“The book is fantastic”
— Christy Lindberg, Assistant Historian, Chemical Corps, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.
“The book makes me proud to be a surviving Bastard.”
— Harold St. Gemme, Co. C, 83rd Chemical Mortar battalion, Little Rock, AR.