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205th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy)

The lineage of the 205th goes back to 1913, with roots going farther into the history of Washington, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa parishes. Men from the area fought in the West Florida Rebellion of 1810, the Louisiana Campaign of 1814-1815, the Civil War 1861-1865, and the Spanish American War of 1898. Area units helped to forge freedom from Spanish colonial rule by serving in the West Florida Republic Army of 1820. Louglin's and Goff's companies from St. Tammany and St. Helena parishes opposed the British at Chalmette under the victorious Andrew Jackson. General Zachary Taylor took an army to Mexico in 1846, including the St. Helena Riflemen and Staples Company, both of whom returned home without seeing action.

Men from north of the lake served in the Civil War, some independently while others became organic to the Confederate Army. The Pumpkin Studs, the St. Tammany Artillery, and the St. Tammany Greys fought independently and close to home. Slocum's Company and Turner's Company, both of Washington Parish, fought as Companies A and K of the 3rd Louisiana Cavalry, operating as pickets and patrols in east Louisiana and Mississippi.

At the battles of Shiloh, Baton Rouge, Jackson, Atlanta, and Nashville, the Bever Creek Rifles and the St. Helena Rifles fought as Companies G and F, 4th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. The St. Helena Rifles and the Edward Guards fought as Companies F and B, 16th Louisiana, at Shiloh, Farmington, Perryville, Murfreeboro, Jackson, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Nashville.

Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia included the Washington Rifles and the Louisiana Swamp Rangers. The Rangers fought as Company G, 5th Louisiana, in the Peninsula and Valley Campaigns. The Washington Rifles served as Company I, 9th Louisiana, at Bull Run, Harper's Ferry, Second Manassas, Winchester, Antietam, and Chancellorsville.

The lineage of the 205t5h was re-established in 1895, when Thomas W. Cate organized the Fourth Separate Company of Infantry at Hammond. Redesignated Company H, 1st Infantry Regiment in 1896, the unit was activated in 1898 for the Spanish-American War. The company saw no action and was disbanded when the war ended. The battalion's lineage was re-established again in 1904, T. M. Bankston's Company I of Amite. O. J. Toujan's Forth Troop of Cavalry followed in 1905, continuing until it was disbanded in 1910.

On January 22, 1913, the battalion began its official military lineage, when Captain Louis F. Guerre organized an infantry company at Bogalusa. The unit was mustered into the Louisiana National Guard as Company C, 1st Infantry Regiment. The Bogalusa and Amite companies were mobilized as part of the 1st Infantry Regiment in 1916 to engage Villa, the Mexican revolutionary. Returned home without seeing action, the units departed immediately for duty in World War I. The troops were then dispersed, some into the 154th for action on the front, while the 114th served with the First Army in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign.

The 205th (then 105th) performed heroically in World War II as an Antiaircraft artillery battalion attached to the 1st Infantry Division. The unit helped the Allies to victories in Operation TORCH in North Africa, HUSKY in Sicily, and AVALANCHE in Italy. Armed with the 40mm Bofers gun, the .50 caliber machine gun, and the 37mm gun, they fought under the names of the 105th Coast Artillery Battalion (AA) (AW) and the 105th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion (AW) (SP). The battalion fought off over 1,000 German Junkers and Messerschmidt airplanes, shooting down over 75, and destroying some 46 others, perhaps damaging hundreds more. In late 1944, the unit had already won 37 Silver Stars, and 129 Purple Hearts.

Equipped with the 37mm gun, the 108th Cavalry was converted to become the 105th Separate Battalion Coast Artillery (AA) in 1940. Bogalusa became Battery C and Franklinton Battery D, with Headquarters, A and B located in New Orleans, LA. The battalion was activated on January 6, 1941 and was trained at Camp Hulen, Texas, near El Paso, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The unit was divided after moving to California, Batteries A and B leaving for the Pacific Theatre and the remainder training at the Desert Training Center, Camp Young, Indio California. Additional troops were brought from Ohio, with Batteries C and D dispersed throughout the four reorganized batteries. The unit was re-named the 105th Coast Artillery Battalion (AA) (AW) on July 10, 1942, and was shipped to Scotland and then England, while training for amphibious and antiaircraft warfare.

The Battalion participated in Operation TORCH, which was commanded by Lt. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and was the first major Allied offensive in the war. The 105th, attached to the 1st Infantry Division as part of the Center Task Force, landed on the coast of Algeria on November 8-11, 1942. The Center Task Force, commanded by Maj. Gen. Lloyd R. Fredenall, subdued the port of Oran and the naval base of Mer-el-kebir by November 10, despite resistance by the French. Batteries A and B of the 105th landed at Arzew, Algeria, with C and D coming ashore at Les Andelousee, about ten miles east of Oran. Batteries B and C were employed immediately to protect landing beaches with the 40mm and .50 caliber gun. Parts of C and D were removed to the southeast to Tunisia for the protection of the Thelepte airfields and the Faid Pass. The remainder of the battalion was moved along the Algerian coast to protect installations of Phillipsville, Bougie, and Djidjilli.

The 105th Coast Artillery Battalion (AA) (AW) was part of the forces routed by Rommel at Thelepte on the 17th. Having been brought to protect airfields there, the battalion vacated its positions before Rommel could arrive, while his tanks were rumbling towards the town up the Gafsa-Feriana road. The 105th met Rommel's tanks and artillery at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, February 20-23, 1943. Having moved into the pass with the 1st Infantry Division on the 16th, the battalion was receiving German artillery fire on the 17th. Sending Von Arnim from Sbeitla to Sbiba on the north, Rommel attacked the pass on the 20th. After dark, Battery D retreated with the 33rd Field Artillery Battalion to a high ridge west of the pass. The battery was shelled heavily by German tanks and artillery the next day. The Germans attacked Battery D on the 22nd, overrunning Bofers and artillery positions. Ac-ack men in the battery removed their weapons from perches, worked their way through the German tanks, and fired the guns as if they were infantry rifles. Five sections of the battery joined Batteries A and B, covering the retreat of heavy guns and vehicles.

The Americans counter attacked on the 23rd, recovering territory and material, including Bofers and machine guns belonging to the 105th. Rommel called off his attack, and sent his forces back toward the Mereth Line.

A stone monument stands in front of the National Guard Armory at Bogalusa to honor the members of Battery C, 105th Coast Artillery Battalion (AA) (AW). The battery won the highest award that a unit in the U.S. Army can win, for heroism at the Battle of El Geuttar, in southern Tunisia, on March 23, 1943.

Battery C won the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions at Djebel Berda in the defense of El Geuttar. Cited for "Extraordinary fortitude, magnificent courage, and unexcelled heroism", the battery "fought stubbornly and gallantly, exacting a punishing toll of enemy infantry, a counter attack with re-enforcement friendly Infantry and tanks of the 10th PANZER Division. Two men of the battery were killed, and a number were wounded.

Operation HUSKY, commanded by Eisenhower, now the Supreme Commander, was designed to liberate Sicily from the Axis. Under Eisenhower's command was the British General Harold Alexander, head of the Fifteenth Army Group, which consisted of Patton's U.S. Seventh Army and Montgomery's British Eight Army. The 105th again was attached to the 1st Infantry Division in Omar Bradley's II Corps as part of the Seventh Army. The landing at Sicily was the first use of LSTs (Landing Ships, Tanks). With antiaircraft guns perched atop the LSTs all four line batteries of the 105th protected the landing of the 1st Infantry Division at Red Beach, Gela, July 10, 1943. When a German bomb hit LST 313 about fifty yards from shore, twelve men of Battery D were killed, and seven more were wounded. The battalion moved into central Sicily with Bradley's II Corps, six men of Battery C receiving wounds at Nicosia on August 1, 1943.

The Allies moved from Sicily to the southern tip to Italy in early September 1943. The Italians surrendered to the Allies while the ships were on the sea. The 105th attached to the Fifth Army, Left Palermo and Termini Increase, Sicily, and landed on the Italian coast September 10-17, 1943.

The 105th opened the Italian campaign by supplying antiaircraft protection for the 45th, 36th and 3rd Divisions. The battalion protected the 3rd Division as it drove toward the winding Volturno River and the towns of Venefro and Cassino. The 105th supported the 85th Division from September 1943 to January 1944, during the last part of the Naples-Foggia Campaign, which resulted in the liberation of Rome. The battalion furnished antiaircraft support for the 85th, 91st, and 34th Divisions from January to September 1944.

The battalion spent the last winter of the war along the northern mountains of Italy with the 34th and 85th Divisions in the North Appelines Campaign. The Fifth Army, including the II Corps, broke out into the Po Valley in April and May. The 105th kept up with the rapid advance of the II Corps, protecting vital crossings in the valley. The battalion was situated at the foot of the Italian Alps when the Germans surrendered Italy in May 1945. The unit was deactivated September 15, 1945.

The battalion was re-established April 11, 1947 at the 105th Antiaircraft Battalion (AW) (SP), as part of the 39th Infantry Division. Bogalusa became Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, and Battery A; Franklinton became Battery B; Hammond was added as Battery C on July 29, 1948, and Covington as Battery D on December 16, 1948.

The Battalion was converted and redesignated as the 1st Squadron, 139th Armor on July 1, 1959 with units as follows:

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Troop - Bogalusa
  • Troop A - Parent unit in Franklinton with a detachment in Bogalusa.
  • Troop B - Covington.
  • Troop C - Hammond.

The Squadron was converted and redesignated as the 1st Squadron, 139th Armored Cavalry on May 1, 1963 with all units remaining at the same location with the same troop letter designation.

The Squadron was completely reorganized, redesignated and converted December 1, 1967 to the 205th Engineer Battalion, (Construction) with units lettered and located as follows:

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company - Bogalusa
  • Company A - New Orleans, LA (Jackson Barracks)
  • Company B (-Det 1) - Franklinton.
  • Det 1 Co B - Covington.
  • Company C - New Orleans, LA (Jackson Barracks).
  • Company D (-Det 1) - Alexandria, LA.
  • Det 1 Co D - Jena, LA.

    Troop C of Hammond retained their Armored Cavalry status and was transferred to the 256th Infantry Brigade in Lafayette, LA, and became Troop E.

    Company A (New Orleans) was re-organized and became part of the 2222nd Engineer Battalion (Maint) in New Orleans and Troop E 256th Infantry Brigade (Hammond) became Company A, 205th Engineer Battalion (Equipment & Maintenance) (Construction) on January 12, 1971.

    Company D (Alexandria & Jena) became Company C of the 769th Engineer Battalion (Construction) on October 1, 1972.

    Company C (-Det 1), 205th Engineer Battalion (Construction) was organized June 8, 1973 located in Slidell, LA.

    Company C, 205th Engineer Battalion (Construction), Jackson Barracks, was relocated to Slidell, LA on September 1, 1975 and was further split with a detachment 1 in Hammond.

    Company D, 205th Engineer Battalion (Construction), Thibodeaux, was transferred back to the 769th Engineer Battalion (Construction) as Company C of that battalion. Detachment 1, Company B, 205th Engineer Battalion (Construction), Covington, became Company D (-), 205th Engineer Battalion (Construction) and further split with a Detachment 1, in Bogalusa on September 1, 1975.

    The Entire battalion was converted to the 205th Engineer Battalion, Combat Heavy on October 1, 1976 with units located at the following:

    • Headquarters and Headquarters Company - Bogalusa.
    • Company A - Hammond
    • Company B (-Det 1) - Franklinton
    • Detachment 1 Company B - Roseland
    • Company C (-Det 1) - Slidell
    • Detachment 1 Company C - Hammond
    • Company D (-Det 1) - Covington
    • Detachment 1 Company D - Bogalusa

    The following is the current units of the 205th Engineer Battalion, Combat Heavy and their locations:

    • Headquarters and Headquarters Company (-Det 1) - Bogalusa, LA.
    • Detachment 1 Headquarters Company - Hammond, LA.
    • Company A (-Det 1) - Covington, LA.
    • Detachment 1 Company A - Hammond, LA.
    • Company B (-Det 1) - Franklinton, LA.
    • Detachment 1 Company B - Independence, LA
    • Company C - Slidell, LA (Camp Villere)

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    Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:23:55 ZULU