Colonel Ray Hosley Smith, originally of Shinglehouse, PA, retired in 1973 after an illustrious career in the U. S. Army. At his death in 2013, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Col. Smith started his military service as a Second Lieutenant in the 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion during WWII.
What do I know about Col. Ray H. Smith’s memoirs? Some years ago a fellow veteran of the 276th AFA, Pvt. Clinton H. Nichols, copied some of the pages of Col. Smith’s memoirs. For some unknown reason Nichols only copied a portion of Chapter 3 which starts with the beginning of World War II, Smith’s entry into the Army and early training. The copied pages end with the account of the long drive north to Luxembourg with Patton’s Third Army in December 1944, the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. Recently, Clinton Nichol’s niece sent me these memoir pages.
The first hand account of Lt. Smith as the Reconnaissance Officer for Battery “B” tells a vivid, personal story of the 276th’s first months of combat in France. But this is only the beginning of the 276th experience in WWII. They went on to fight through the terrible winter of 1944-45 pushing the Germans back to the lines before the famous Ardennes offensive. They crossed the Siegfried Line into Germany, fought their way to and across the Rhine and continued to combat enemy resistance within Germany. The 276th reached Czechoslovakia before the German surrender May 8, 1945.
The 276th’s WWII story did not end with the German surrender. Their orders sent them back across the Atlantic to train for the planned invasion of Japan. The Japanese surrender, brought on by the atomic bombs, precipitated the inactivation of the 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion in October, 1945.
Lt. Ray H. Smith decided to remain in the Army and make it his career. He went on to fight in Korea and eventually in Vietnam earning medals and awards along the way. Read Col. Smith’s obituary here. Or at Find a Grave.
You can also read about Ray H. Smith and his brother, Deforest A. Smith, Jr. on a website memorial to WWII service members from Potter County, Pennsylvania.
A group of family members of the 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion have continued to share what information and pictures they have about the battalion and its veterans. We would love to read the remainder of Col Smith’s memoirs.
Please contact me via the Contact page on this website if you have a copy of Col. Smith’s memoirs or if you know where we might find a copy. If you are able to share the memoirs with us, you will have our undying gratitude.