DEVENS -- Fort Devens Museum presents a program on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 1 p.m., on an African-American unit, the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion, part of the U.S. VIII Corps Artillery in World War II. In case of snow, the program will be postponed until Jan. 18.
The 333rd had to employ its 155 mm. howitzers from landing craft in order to clear its way onto Utah Beach in the Normandy invasion. It supported the 2nd Infantry Division, advancing across France, but its greatest honors came in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest when its rear-guard forces were overrun by Nazi troops and most of them were killed or captured. Eleven of the captured men were then cruelly tortured and murdered near Wereth, Belgium. Remaining members of the 333rd survived being surrounded with the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne until General Patton's soldiers broke through the German line and the Air Corps. could resume supply drops in better weather. At the Battle of the Bulge this battalion suffered heavier casualties than any other artillery unit in the entire VIII Corps. Yet the 333rd failed to receive recognition for its accomplishments, and a perfunctory investigation into the Wereth 11 massacre was quietly laid aside.
The first half of Saturday's program will be devoted to the showing of a DVD recounting the training and combat experience of the 333rd during World War II. Speaker Christian de Marcken will then tell the second half of this story, the revelation some 60 years later of the Wereth 11 travesty and making known the accomplishments of the 333rd in combat. Although the 333rd had not been trained at Fort Devens, those who have brought to light its exploits, members of the Worcester chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, include several friends of the Museum.
This event is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. The Fort Devens Museum is located on the 3rd floor at 94 Jackson Road. The building is wheelchair accessible. For information, call 978-772-1286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.