Military Organization > United States > U.S. Army Infantry Cannon Company (1943-45)

U.S. Army Infantry Cannon Company (1943-45)

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following was the organization of the Infantry Cannon Company of the U.S. Army from July 1943 through to June 1945. During this time period, each Infantry Regiment was allotted one of these Cannon Companies constituting its main organic indirect fire support. A separate Anti-Tank Company provided a towed direct fire anti-tank gun capability.

The Cannon Company was equipped with a total of 6 M3 105mm towed howitzers with 118 men total strength.​ The next level up was the Infantry Regiment, which consisted of a Regimental HQ & HQ Company, Cannon Company (this), Anti-Tank Company, Service Company, Attached Medical, and 3 Infantry Battalions.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

    • Troop Headquarters

    • Assault Gun Platoons

  3. Sources

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cannon company inf reg 1943-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Towed Artillery Company

  • Origin: U.S. Army (United States)

  • Time Frame: Late World War II (1943-1945)

  • Personnel: 5 Officers and 113 Enlisted (109 after June 1944) plus 4 Attachments

 

1× Company Headquarters (1 Officer and 29 Enlisted [25 after June '44])

1x Headquarters Group*

  • 1× Company Commander, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Reconaissance Officer (2IC), First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× First Sergeant, First Sergeant (OR-8), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Reconaissance Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine and 1 M8 Grenade Launcher

  • 1× Communication Sergeant, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine and 1 M8 Grenade Launcher

  • 1× Transportation Sergeant, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 2× Radiotelephone Operators, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 10× Basic Duty Soldiers (6 after June '44), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

→ 1 1/2-ton 6×6 Cargo Truck

  • 1× Light Truck Driver, Private (OR-1) to Technician 5th Grade (OR-4)**, armed with 1 M1 Rifle and 1 M7 Grenade Launcher

→ 3/4-ton 4×4 WC Truck

  • 1× Automobile Mechanic (Driver), Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle and 1 M7 Grenade Launcher

→ 1/4-ton 4×4 Jeep

  • 1× Bugler (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine and 1 M8 Grenade Launcher

→ 1/4-ton 4×4 Jeep

  • 1× Messenger (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine and 1 M8 Grenade Launcher

→ 1/4-ton 4×4 Jeep

  • 1× Messenger (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine and 1 M8 Grenade Launcher

* M9 Bazooka available to the Company Headquarters and carried on one of its transports.

** Half of the company's 10 Light Truck Drivers were Technician 5th Grade. The other half were Privates or PFCs.

→ Attached Medical (from Regimental Medical Detachment)

  • 3× Company Aidmen, Private (OR-1) to Technician 3rd Grade (OR-6)

1x Administrative Group

  • 1× Supply Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Mess Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Company Clerk, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Armorer-Artificer, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Cook, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Cook, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 2× Cook’s Helpers, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

→ Attached 2 1/2-ton Cargo Truck, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG* (from Regimental Service Company)*

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

* Tows a 1-ton 2-wheel ammunition trailer. M9 Bazooka also on board.

3× Cannon Platoons (1 Officer and 28 Enlisted each)

1x Platoon Headquarters

→ 1/4-ton 4×4 Jeep

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Second/First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Agent, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Instrument Operator, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Radiotelephone Operator, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Messenger (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine and 1 M8 Grenade Launcher

→ 2 1/2-ton 6×6 Cargo Truck, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG*

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Technical Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Artillery Mechanic, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Ammunition Handler, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Light Truck Driver, Private (OR-1) to Technician 5th Grade (OR-4)**, armed with 1 M1 Rifle and 1 M7 Grenade Launcher

* Carries ammunition and tows a 1-ton 2-wheel ammunition trailer. M9 Bazooka also on board.

** Half of the company's 10 Light Truck Drivers were Technician 5th Grade. The other half were Privates or PFCs.

2x Howitzer Sections

→ 1 1/2-ton 6×6 Cargo Truck, towing an M3 105mm Howitzer

  • 1× Chief of Section, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Gunner, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 7× Cannoneer, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Light Truck Driver, Private (OR-1) to Technician 5th Grade (OR-4)**, armed with 1 M1 Rifle and 1 M7 Grenade Launcher

** Half of the company's 10 Light Truck Drivers were Technician 5th Grade. The other half were Privates or PFCs.

 
 
 

Discussion

The Infantry Cannon Company was an indirect or direct fire artillery element subordinate to the Infantry Regiment, manning 6 105mm howitzers. This gun composition replaced an older layout that had 6 M3 Gun Motor Carriages armed with M1897A5 75mm field guns and 2 T19 Howitzer Motor Carriages armed with M2A1 105mm howitzers. They differed from the equivalent 105mm battery in a Field Artillery Battalion in that the Infantry Cannon Company manned the lighter (and shorter range) M3 howitzer as opposed to the M2A2. While Cannon Companies can be employed against area targets like regular artillery units, they were more often intended to be used against point targets of opportunity (although they could be used at the regiment or attached units' discretion to support the regimental mission). According to the field manual on the topic FM 7-37, "Appropriate targets for the howitzers of the cannon company are automatic weapons, antitank guns, mortars, infantry howitzers, troop concentrations, road blocks, pillboxes, strongly fortified buildings, and armored vehicles." The company may have also coordinated with the regimental Anti-Tank Company to man an anti-armor defense (best used against halted vehicles or accompanying guns due to the low veloctity, high trajectory of the 105mm howitzer).

Company Headquarters

The Company Headquarters was the main command and support element of the company, consisting of a Comand Group and an Administrative Group.

The Command Group was the forward echelon of the Company Headquarters whose primary job was commanding the company and making preparations for the company to ensure combat readiness. In terms of vehicles the HQ had a 1 1/2-ton 6x6 cargo truck, a 3/4-ton 4x4 weapon carrier truck, and 3 1/4-ton jeeps. Its officers consisted of the Company Commander, who held the rank of Captain, and a Reconnaissance Officer who acted as a second-in-command (curiously not designated an Executive Officer as in other infantry, artillery and armor companies). The Reconnaissance Officer was responsible for recon of potential firing positions, targets, and routes of supply or egress. They were assisted by a Reconnaissance Sergeant and Messenger (who also acted as a Jeep driver, with the team presumably using a Jeep to conduct their recon). The Company Commander was further assisted by a First Sergeant (company's senior enlisted personnel) who was primarily responsible for administrative and supply functions (such as setting up the company command post), but could also have tactical responsibilities (such as commanding a platoon if the company had taken casualties).

A Communication Sergeant was responsible for operating the company message center (likely facilitated through a BD-71 switchboard, 6 EE-8 telephones, and 12 CE-11 reels for laying W-130 "assault" telephone wire. They were also responsible for maintaining the company's communications equipment in general, which also included 8 SCR-300 radio sets (used by the company's 5 Radiotelephone Operators). Two of these RTOs would be allocated to the Company HQ and 1 to each Platoon HQ. Meanwhile, a Transportation Sergeant supervised the maintenance and operation of the company's transport, their concealment, and assisted the Supply Sergeant of the Administrative Group in supply functions. They also supervised an Automobile Mechanic, who maintained the company's motor transport and drove a 3/4-ton WC truck. Driving the company's jeeps were a Bugler, who acted as a signalman or messenger, and 2 Messengers. Ten basic duty privates (6 after June 1944) would be trained as replacements or used as messengers, or used as the company saw fit (like manning the mess).

Three Company Aidmen, ranking Private to Technician 3rd Grade, would also be attached to the company from the Regimental Medical Detachment to provide medical support. They were allocated to the company in general, with the company free to distribute them as they saw fit.

The Administrative Group could be seen as the Company HQ's rear echelon element, consisting of personnel who mostly were embedded with other rear units to aid in the support of the company. The Supply Sergeant and Armorer-Artificer did travel with the company (or in the armorer's case, sometimes the regimental train) to aid in the supply functions and minor maintenance. However, the Mess Sergeant and their Cooks/Cook Helpers were typically situated in the regimental train under the supervision of the Regimental Service Company and the Company Clerk would be situated in the Regimental Personnel Section or at the division or corps level.

In addition, a 2 1/2-ton cargo truck towing a 1-ton trailer would be attached along with a driver from the Transport Platoon of the Service Company for the kitchen and baggage train (most likely where the Mess Sergeants and Cooks were).

Cannon Platoons

Each Cannon Company had 3 Cannon Platoons, themselves consisting of a Platoon HQ and 2 Howitzer Sections (1 M3 105mm towed howitzer per section), for a total of 6 howitzers for the company.

 

The Platoon Headquarters was furnished by a Jeep (presumably used for transporting the Platoon Leader or Agent and for recce functions) and a 2 1/2-ton cargo truck (carrying ammo and towing an ammo trailer). An M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun was mounted to the 2 1/2-ton truck and was used for anti-aircraft duties and local ground defense. The platoons were led by a Lieutenant Platoon Commander (before the Platoon Leader terminology was a thing in the US Army) and a Platoon Sergeant ranking Technical Sergeant. The Platoon Sergeant was a second-in-command for the platoon and was primarily responsible for leading the platoon's rear echelon and handling supply. If the platoon was firing as a unit, the Platoon Sergeant would control their firing. The Agent acted as a liaison for the platoon to units the platoon was attached to or supporting (such as an infantry unit in the same regiment).

Each Howitzer Section consisted of 10 enlisted personnel who rode in the 1 1/2-ton truck that towed their M3 howitzer. The section overall was led by the Chief of Section (a Sergeant) while a Corporal acted as Gunner. The gun was further operated by 7 Cannoneers, some of whom could be designated as rocket teams manning the platoon's M9 Bazooka if the gun didn't need the full complement. A dedicated Light Truck Driver drove the prime mover.

Sources

  • Table of Organization and Equipment No. 7-14  "Infantry Cannon Company", published 26 February 1944, republished by Military Research

  • FM 7-37 "Cannon Company, Infantry Regiment", published 28 March 1944, War Department

 

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      - Marcus Aurelius

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