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Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5, 1918: Finding Aid

Published in August 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 524
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5
  • Dates: 1918
  • Size: 0.08 linear feet (1 volume)
  • Creator: Brandt, A. W.
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5 spans from October until December 1918. The Record and Log, kept in part by Gunner's Mate A. W. Brandt and in part by Battery 5's Medical Department, records the daily activity of Naval Railway Battery 5 in France during World War I, while also offering an overview of specifications and capabilities of the Naval Railway Batteries in general.

History of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5

From September 6, 1918 until the November 11 Armistice which ended the hostilities of World War I, the United States Navy operated five railway mounted artillery batteries in France. These batteries, each composed of a single 14-inch, 50-caliber gun and multiple supporting railway cars, were under the overall command of Rear Admiral Charles P. Plunkett. The last of these batteries, Battery 5, departed the staging yards at Haussimont on October 11, 1918 for its first firing position west of Verdun. From that position, Battery 5 fired its first shot at Longuyon on October 23. Battery 5 then relocated to Thierville, where it fired 10 rounds at Mangiennes on October 29, 6 rounds at the south of Longuyon on October 30, 6 rounds at the south of Longuyon on October 31, 44 rounds at Longuyon on November 1, 25 rounds at Longuyon on November 2, 10 rounds at Mangiennes and 5 rounds at Longuyon on November 9, and 5 rounds at Longuyon on November 11. Following the end of hostilities, all five batteries returned to Haussimont before retiring to St. Nazaire.

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Description of Contents

The Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5, comprising 0.08 linear feet of documentation in a single volume, spans from October until December 1918. The Record and Log, kept in part by Gunner's Mate A. W. Brandt and in part by Battery 5's Medical Department, records the daily activity of Naval Railway Battery 5 in France during World War I, while also offering an overview of the specifications and capabilities of the Naval Railway Batteries in general.

The Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5 is roughly subdivided into two sections. The first section, beginning on page 29 and kept by A. W. Brandt, opens with a roster of the officers attached to the staff of Rear Admiral Charles Plunkett, Commander, Naval Railway Batteries in France. The next five pages offer an overview of the Naval Railway Batteries, discussing the specifications and capabilities of the Mark IV, Mod I 14-inch guns, including a comparison to the German "Big Bertha" howitzer; the relative demoralizing effects of the American and German heavy artillery; anecdotes of the destructive force of the Railway Batteries (including the uprooting of an entire field's worth of turnips, the complete obliteration of a cinema filled with German soldiers, and the destruction of the headquarters of General Gallwitz); and the reaction of French townspeople to the Railway Batteries and their crews.

The remainder of the volume was apparently kept by Battery 5's Medical Department. From page 119 through 121 is a dated list of men, spanning from September 14 until December 6, 1918, labeled "Prophylaxis List." The volume resumes again on page 141 with a log of daily activities spanning form October 11 until December 10, 1918. The first page of entries primarily pertain to preparatory and construction work performed by Battery 5's crew. Once Battery 5 was readied, the log entries typically note weather conditions and the time and number of shells fired, as well as incoming enemy fire, incoming enemy bombers, and the damage and injuries sustained therefrom. Gunfire operations noted by the log occurred west of Verdun on October 23; and at Thierville on October 29, 30, and 31 and November 1, 2, 9, and 11. Following the Armistice on November 11, the log notes Battery 5's return to Haussimont pending movement orders, and ultimate return to St. Nazaire for decommissioning.

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Arrangement

The Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5 comprises a single volume with two sections.

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Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5 is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Purchased in September 1999. Accession No. 99-85.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material in this repository pertaining to U.S. Naval Railway Battery operations in World War I can be found in 14 Inch Naval Railway Battery Mk. I: Designed by the U.S. Naval Gun Factory, Washington D.C.. The Navy's official report on the operations of the railway batteries, The United States Naval Railway Batteries in France, is available in the Nimitz Library general collection.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5, MS 524

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

The United States Naval Railway Batteries in France. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in August 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in August 2019.

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Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Railway artillery -- France
  • Railway artillery -- United States -- History -- World War, 1914-1918
  • United States. Naval Railway Batteries (France)
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- France
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval operations, American

Genre Terms

  • Logs (records)
  • Manuscripts

Additional Creator/Author

  • United States. Naval Railway Batteries (France)
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Record and Log of U.S. Naval Railway Battery 5, 1918

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