The use of artillery reached its zenith in World War II. It accounted for the majority of casualties on the battlefield. Whether it was the jungles of Guadalcanal, the desert of North Africa or Western Europe, the artillery branch answered the call. The U.S. Army led the way in both gun design and the development of advanced observation techniques taught at places like Fort Sill, Oklahoma. All this innovation came to fruition during the last year of the war with the ability to concentrate firepower on the enemy through the use of combined arms techniques honed in the hedgerows of Normandy.
Battery personnel were some of the first to get hit by enemy shells during the Battle of the Bulge. The front line came to them as never before. German infantry and tanks bypassed the infantry screen and rolled up on their positions. In an age of indirect fire and advanced observation techniques, direct fire on a target became commonplace. Others, fighting with carbines and bazookas, held off many a thrust by the enemy, some even fighting hand to hand. Desperate artillery observers had to call down fire on their own positions to help stave off oncoming Panzers.
During the first week of the Bulge, the U.S. Army was able to amass almost 350 guns of all calibers, one of the largest concentrations in the history of warfare, to defend the Elsenborn Ridge in the northern sector of the Bulge. The Sixth SS Panzer Army literally ran into a wall of steel. Throughout the rest of the campaign, artillery continued to be penultimate battlefield weapon. At Bastogne, standing right alongside the 101st Airborne were Red Legs, many of them African-American.