Cannon Company
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Camp Croft, South Carolina
US Army Infantry Replacement Training Center

The infantry Cannon Company, not to be confused with Artillery, was tasked with the operation of the one and a half ton 105 mm howitzer. The company consisted of three cannon platoon, each platoon with two sections, and a headquarters group. Proficiency in the use of the M1 rifle, M1 carbine and grenades was augmented by training with the bazooka as an antitank weapon. The howitzer section was made up of a section chief, gunner, truck driver, and seven cannoneers who alternately performed the duties of sighting, preparing ammunition, loading, and supplying ammunition.

Learn more about Cannon Companies formed during W.W.II by clicking here.


While the Cannon Companies employed at Camp Croft were formed strictly to train Infantrymen
in the basic skills necessary to operate the 105 mm Howitzer, there were combat units
created during W.W.II which were known as Cannon Companies. 
A veteran of one such unit provided most of the information below.

Cannon Company

I was in the Cannon Company of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division, from 1940 to 1945.  I was one of the first picked out for transfer to the newly formed Cannon Company because it was a chance for the HQ Company to get rid of their yard birds and misfits. Most of the men that came to the company at their own request were very beneficial and helped forge a smooth efficient artillery/cannon company.

I might also say that they thought I would live longer away from the front lines because of my age, and my dare devil approach to what was a simple effort.  It was not known as a fact but it was noticeable that I was a young 16 year old who had to eat three pounds of bananas to reach minimum weight to pass the army physical in order to get a bed, food and housing for this run away from a California reformatory.

The following is what I remember about our Cannon Company and those who tolerated me.  May those that have passed on rest in peace and for the living, live longer with their dreams fulfilled.

I know that our unit had many different approaches to armament but I never saw but six M3 105 guns at any one time in our Cannon Company.  Maybe they felt that with the proficiency displayed by our company commander, we didn't need more then six. Three platoons of three squads, two squads one gun each and one squad of ammunition carriers, communication, support and platoon brass, noncoms and me radio operator. 

I know that Capt. John William Fritts, better known as Bill, had great concern about using the M3 as a direct fire weapon and this concern proved to be correct on D-Day+2 when we had to go up against a disabled tank (courtesy of some Air Corps fighter) incased in concrete on a road in Normandy with a still useful turret and an 88 mm, that made short work of that gun section and inflicted our first causalities of the war on the Indian Head division's 38th Infantry Cannon Company.

With nightmares of this happening, Capt. Fritts drilled into all those Cannoneers the theories of indirect fire and the disadvantages and advantage of the M3 from the mortar like fire with charge one with maximum inclination to indirect fire with up to charge 5, the limit for the M3.
I do feel that a lot of us would not be here were it not for our Captain's steadfast opinion on how best to train our unit for indirect fire as opposed to eyeball to eyeball contests with large bore 2000 pound howitzers with only two wheels.

As far as what each of the man's job was, I have to plead ignorance but I do remember the fire control center well, as my job was to repeat aloud the quadrant of the target and the adjustment required after the first round landed.

As far as the range of the two howitzers the M3 had a 5700 yard range with charge 5 and artillery howitzer I believe was a M1 with a 7500 yard range with charge 7 making them both in the range of the Germans 88 mm for counter-battery fire.

As far as the radios are concerned, I have never seen SCR536 (walkie talkies) used by others within a company position.  They were a short range radio and I think they were used for training more than anything else, and in the movies because they were declared surplus and dumped right away. I carried a SCR300 a far superior radio that replaced the BC610 (not to be confused with the SCR 610, a kilowatt AM transmitter that required a truck to move). We used SCR300 radios with long and short antennas for both front line observer and fire control center.

We were formed at
Fort Sam in San Antonio Texas and played around with some French 75 mm guns and trained to ride in CG-4A gliders towed by C-47s C-46s. We were later moved to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin where we played in the snow and learned to ski and use snow shoes and how to start frozen trucks in the morning (we had a Sherman tank platform no turret with 105 mm sticking out the front that we kept in the motor pools heated shop.  We started all of our trucks by pulling that big beast out and used it to drag the other trucks until the wheels turned and thus started them, some times three or four trucks one behind the other some rolling, some sliding with the Sherman leading the way. Such is fun!

When spring came we were train as Rangers learning Judo and some live fire courses training, but we were allowed to practices with all these small tanks and big Sherman's etc. When we arrived in Ireland we were issued the little M3 105 mm Howitzer and fell in love with them. Then I went to Fort Benning for radio training. I came back in time for leave to go back to California to visit then back to Camp McCoy with news that Wenchell, a newscaster, asked the question on the air "What was some regular army General doing with some regular Army division in the hills of Wisconsin when troops are so direly needed on the front?"  A week later, October 10, 1943, we were on our way.

Thanksgiving day we lost our first man while still in Ireland, just before dinner two of our guys were doing a fast draw and stab contest with trench knives one was stab right in the heart. We stood and watched, blood pumping out of his chest and subsequently dying. That made the T.G. day dinner somewhat of a flop.

--- John Johnson, April 2005

My late father Elmer D. Schorry, 87th Division, 346th Infantry Regiment, Cannon Company used the M3 105 mm howitzer, exactly as shown on your website.  Dad told me that very late in the war in the ETO they received gun shields but found them to be cumbersome and quickly abandoned them in the Ardennes somewhere.

The 87th received their basic training at Camp McCain, MS, thence got further training, and dad became a cannoneer at Ft. Jackson, SC.  Later they moved to Camp Kilmer, NJ, and in fall '44 went to England.  In Nov. '44 they got to France through Le Havre.  They went into combat on Dec. 14, 1944 (two days before the Bulge broke out).  The 346th Cannon Company was in 154 straight days of combat.  In July '45 they were back in the States for a 30 day furlough, and were then mustered out in Sep. '45. War's end of course kept them from being part of Operation Olympic, the Japan invasion.

Thanks for the website!

-- Rob Shorry, March 2005