The Second Chemical Mortar Battalion was activated originally at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland on 16 April, 1935, as the Second Chemical Battalion (Separate) (Motorized). It consisted at that time of Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Company “A”, personnel for which were transferred from the First Chemical Regiment, inactivated at that time.
The Battalion had as its home station, Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, and remained there until early in 1942, except for occasional maneuvers. During February of 1942 the battalion, still just two companies. moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
April 1, 1942, was the second activation day. at which time companies “B”, “C”, and “D” and the Medical Detachment were activated in a ceremony marked by a fanfare of trumpets and a noticeable lack of personnel in the rear ranks. The battalion was on its way.
Cadres and practically a full complement of men had been received and trained in time for maneuvers in the Carolinas in July and August of 1942, so the battalion under command of Robert W. Breaks participated wholeheartedly. The older men will remember the six weeks of really “roughing it” there. It was a general confusion of enemy alerts, the reds and the blues, foxholes by the numbers, great clouds of dust, smoke pots and tear gas, the Pee Dee River battles, and warm beer.
Even before the maneuvers had ended, rumors of overseas shipment began to infiltrate into the conversations of these “rugged soldiers”, a practice, continued daily right up until the embarkation almost a year later.
Back to Fort Bragg for more training by the middle of August, 1942, the battalion underwent an intensive training period on company problems designed to develop and maintain superb physical condition. Late in the year additional men were received to bring the unit up to T O strength. At the same time amphibious training was instituted at Camp Carabelle, Florida, and each company spent approximately two weeks firing from landing craft in support of simulated assault landings. Here for the first time ammunition was made available in quantities large enough to permit adequate gunnery practice. Previously an allotment of about 30 rounds per company per year was the total. But at Carabelle, firing technique was developed. Onward!
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