443rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion in World War II

ITALIAN CAMPAIGN

ALIFE REST AREA

The 36th Division was relieved from combat by the 34th Division and on 28 December moved with the 443rd to bivouac in Alife, where the gun-tracks of each battery established a perimeter defense of the division area. It was at this time that the Adjutant General in the War Department, Washington, D.C., advised the 443rd that 37 men, listed as "missing in action" since 14 February 1943 in Tunisia, were prisoners of war in Germany. And on 1 January 1944 the 36th Division was congratulated by General Keyes, II Corps Commander, for its "feats accomplished under the severest conditions of weather and terrain and against a skillful and stubborn enemy".

Men of the 443rd will long remember New Year’s Eve at Alife. A vicious, winter storm with snow and cold mountain winds blew down tents and made life miserable for a while. It was here that General Eisenhower’s "Farewell Message to All Men and Women Serving With the Allied Forces in the Mediterranean Theater" was received.

" Soon I leave this Theater to assume other duties assigned to me by the Allied Governments.

"I take my leave of you with feelings of personal regret that are equalled only by my pride in your brilliant accomplishments of the year just passed. Although tempted to review again the many advantages that have accrued to the Allied cause through your bravery and fortitude, I believe that all these will come home to you if you will merely compare your present position and prospects in this great conflict with your position and outlook in the late fall of 1942. Then the Eighth Army was making its final preparations to attack the enemy who was standing only a short distance west of Cairo. Vast Allied armadas were approaching northwest Africa in complete ignorance as to whether good fortune or complete disaster awaited them. Battered Malta was being defended only by the bravery of her almost entirely isolated garrison. No Allied ship could traverse the length of the Mediterranean. Our fortunes appeared at a low ebb.

"All this is changed — changed by your will, your determination and your devotion to duty. Enemy action against our convoys in the Mediterranean is limited to harassing and submarine efforts. You have established yourself on the mainland of Europe. You are still advancing.

"You, along with the other Allied Forces fighting on many fronts, have already achieved the certainty that, provided every soldier, sailor and airman, and every citizen in our homeland continues incessantly to do his full duty, victory will be ours.

"Altogether you comprise a mighty fighting machine which, under your new commander, will continue, as a completely unified instrument of war, to make further inroads into the enemy‘s defenses and assist in bringing about his final collapse.

Until we meet again in the heart of the enemy’s continental stronghold, I send Godspeed and good luck to each of you, along with the assurance of my lasting gratitude and admiration".

Dwight D. Eisenhower

443rd Battalion Headquarters received a 23 December 1943 letter from Headquarters NATOUSA, which Authorized the 443rd AAA AW Bn (SP) battle honors for the Moroccan, Tunisian and Sicilian Campaigns. And another "thank you" letter came from a medical clearing station for the morale uplift provided by the 443rd’s traveling band as it played for patients.

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