The 561st Field Artillery Battalion was activated on 07/09/1943
at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, AR. The 561st consisted of five batteries.
Three of these batteries were firing batteries with each firing
battery having four 155mm guns. The guns were known as "Long
Toms." The 561st was not assigned to any particular division
or unit. It was a battalion which was built right into the system,
meaning that it could pick up and move to provide artillery fire
support to a division whose own artillery might not have had
enough fire power to get the job done.
The 561st landed at Utah Beach in Normandy on June 29,
1944. From that point on the men of the 561st were continually
involved in combat until the War ended on May 8, 1945. They were
involved in five major campaigns, including the battles for Normandy
and Brest in France. From October of 1944 until December 16,
1944 the 561st was dug in just East of St. Vith, Belgium, near
the village of Schlierbach. This was the exact spot where German
Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt sent his Panzers to attack
the American lines in what became the Battle of the Bulge.