By Betsy Thorpe
By Betsy Thorpe
War of Movement: A military term that refers to warfare taking place in open country, whereby military operations are not restricted by extensive defensive obstacles.
“In one place we were in recently, a series of services were being held and the church bells were ringing at intervals all day. At one time an artillery barrage occurred at the same time just outside the town, and the combination of cannon blasts and church chimes somehow produced a striking effect. It sounded like a battle between good and evil.”
CPL Charles Gerald Purvis
February 12, 1945
Somewhere in France
August, 1942-October, 1945
Following their field training in camps throughout the South and their mobilization from Florida’s Camp Blanding, the famed Washington Artillery of New Orleans, Battery B, of the 141st Field Artillery Battalion saw service in Africa, Italy, France, Alsace and Germany. They were at Anzio Beachhead, they were the first American artillery outfit to roll into Rome, they fought with great motorized 155-millimeter howitzers. Their deadly two word motto was TRY US.
The Washington Artillery deployed from New York Harbor on August 21st, 1943. After a short stay and a 900 mile march in North Africa, the battalion arrived in Bangoli Italy on November 19th, 1943. They served 463 days in combat. They fired an average of 326 rounds of ammunition a day and occupied 108 different positions, in five war torn countries.
CPL Charles Gerald Purvis, was a thirty three year old newspaper man when he entered the ranks of the 141st Battalion. His professional sketches and thoughtful letters chronicle the training, voyaging, camps and marches the Washington Artillery of New Orleans endured throughout their term of service during World War II.
Charles Gerald Purvis died in Hattiesburg Mississippi on April 7th, 1981. This collection of his sketches and letters were assembled in his loving memory by his sister, Anne Purvis Cooper. “The time is long past to bring out these letters that are in my custody. They give a unique account of World War II, as experienced by one enlisted man in his assigned place of duty. They were interesting and well written, though often under difficult conditions and limited by censorship rules. It is daily life as it happened to real people going about the business of fighting a war”.