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Task Force 45

Webmaster's Introduction

Why a "Task Force 45"? It seemed principally to address the need for one more infantry division on the line, to share the load and allow rotations in the front lines, reassigning the less critically needed antiaircraft artillery units as the war wound on toward its end.

"AA" and "AAA" are used here as abbreviations for "Antiaircraft" and "Antiaircraft Artillery" respectively. The earlier "Coast Artillery" designation was replaced in 1943 with "Antiaircraft Artillery", but all AAA units continued to be a part of the Coast Artillery Corps arm.

One of the questions not answered in the unit history is when or whether the AAA troops converted to provisional infantry were eligible for the Combat Infantry Badge. It appears, from feedback, that the CIB was not awarded to AAA troops in Task Force 45, but was to those who were later 'converted' to the 473rd Infantry Regiment. The 473rd Infantry is discussed briefly at the bottom of this webpage.

The following material is abstracted from the History document; those paragraphs which are taken directly appear in quotes.

(29 July 44 to 28 January 45)


"Task Force 45 was a polyglot task force of American and British antiaircraft gunners acting as infantry, with Italian Partisans, Brazilians and colored American troops fighting by their side. Its artillery were the antiaircraft guns pointing earthward, the guns of tanks and tank destroyers and of captured German weapons. Its engineers were Italian civilians who were not afraid to work within the sounds of guns and who built well. It did much with little. British Tommies who rode forward on American tanks, with American mortars behind and American engineers forward, and the Yanks who stepped out of their foxholes with British artillery pounding protection behind, with Italians at their side and out ahead and with Brazilians on their flanks, learned that different peoples can fight well together."

"Major General Willis D. Crittenberger, IV Corps Commander, on 24 July 1944 advised Brigadier General Paul W. Rutledge, 45th AAA Brigade Commander, of the plans to employ the Brigade, minus some antiaircraft elements and plus elements of some of the other arms, as a Task Force to relieve the 34th and 91st Infantry Divisions. elements of those divisions had then secured and were holding the line of the ARNO RIVER from the 21 Easting to the Tyrrhenian Sea, a front of about 15 miles."

"General Rutledge at once began the conversion of his command to a provisional infantry unit."

Conversion to provisional infantry status was implemented by temporary assignment of an experienced infantry adviser officer to each company (ex-battery), battalion, group and brigade headquarters. Officer vacancies were filled by infantry officers, and support needs (Photo Interpretation, Surgeon, AMG, Engineer, POW Interrogation, Intelligence, Field Artillery) were augmented by assigning experienced officers to fill out the staff.

Each AAA battalion, with a minimum change of personnel, adapted from a four firing battery structure to the infantry design of three rifle companies and one heavy-weapons company.

"IV Corps, on 26 July 44, issued Field Order No. 6 which designated the 45 AAA Brigade as Task Force 45 with the following [initial] missions:
a. Relieve elements of the 34th Infantry Division and the 91st Infantry Division in zone and assume command of sector on Corps order.
b. Hold forward positions and conduct active patrolling in zone to prevent enemy infiltration.
c. Send small reconnaissance patrols across to determine enemy strength and dispositions.
d. Maintain contact with Task Force Ramey.
e. Protect left flank of Corps.
f. Prepare to follow up any enemy withdrawal."

"On the same date, Task Force 45 issued Field Order No. 1 assigning [the following mission to its AAA battalions]:
a. Assume provisional infantry T/O [Table of Organization] at once.
b. Assemble equipment not needed for infantry role at battalion rear echelon where only sufficient personnel will be left to provide security and maintain equipment.
c. Continue intensive training in Infantry tactics, stressing defense of river line, scouting, patrolling, and use of Infantry weapons. ..."

"During its operation, Task Force 45 had at varying times, 3000 to 8000 men attached from the following units:"

"It covered fronts of from 12 to 25 miles, both mountainous and on coastal plains and it advanced its initial front twenty miles from the line of the Arno River and Pisa to the Gothic Line of the Hun at the CINQUALE CANAL north of Forte dei Marmi."



10 February 1945

SUBJECT: Commendation.

TO: Commanding Officer, 45th AAA Brigade, APO 464, U. S. Army

1. Upon the occasion of the inactivation of the 45th AAA Brigade, I consider it a duty as well as a privilege to enter upon the record my official commendations for the distinguished contribution it has made to the Allied war effort in Italy. During the eight months period in which the 45th AAA Brigade ahs been a part of the IV Corps, it has successfully executed a wide variety of missions over varied terrain and under all conditions of weather.

2. Although not organized, trained and equipped to do so, it has nevertheless functioned in a role similar to that of combat division in battle. the changes and improvising necessary to facilitate the use of an Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade Headquarters in the capacity of a division headquarters were accomplished with efficiency and dispatch while in constant contact with the enemy.

3. During the time the 45th AAA Brigade Headquarters fought as a part of the IV Corps, it operated not only as an Antiaircraft Artillery Headquarters in a fast moving situation, but also assumed the duties of a Task Force Headquarters which through meritorious performance has established an enviable reputation among the allied troops in Italy.

4. The wide scope of its effectiveness is best indicated by the success of its distinguished commander, Brigadier General Paul W. Rutledge, and able executive Colonel [Gerald G.] Gibbs, in directing operations involving technical employment as antiaircraft; and command of ground troops engaged in the pursuit of the German Army north along the Tyrrhenian coast, the occupation of a defensive line along the Arno River, the subsequent crossing of that river, the capture of Pisa, Viareggio and other Italian cities, and the more recent winter operations in the Apennine Mountains.

5. The flexibility and commendable performance of this headquarters is also indicated by the fact that troops available to it constantly changed, and included both British and American antiaircraft units operating initially in their characteristic role and later as infantry; tanks, tank destroyers, infantry, engineers and all types of artillery.

6. The conversion of American and British antiaircraft units from their antiaircraft duties to the role of infantry and artillery in support of ground troops, which conversion was accomplished while in contact with the enemy along the front lines and without any preliminary preparations, may be regarded as a noteworthy example of American ingenuity and improvisation.

7. In every way this organization has lived up to the high traditions and standards of the United States Army. it is therefore with considerable gratification that I look back on this successful and very satisfactory association of the IV Corps with 45 AA Brigade headquarters in the campaign of Allied armies in Italy in 1944 - 1945.

8. As they go forward to other duties, all personnel, enlisted and commissioned, who have been on duty with the 45th AAA Brigade Headquarters during its participation in the IV Corps pursuit from North of Rome into the Apennines, can have a justifiable pride in the part they have played in the success of the Allied Arms in Italy

Major General, U. S. Army,

A.P.O. #464, U. S. Army

12 February 1945

SUBJECT: Commendation.

TO: Commanding Officer, 45th Antiaircraft Brigade, A.P.O. #464, U. S. Army

1. Although the headquarters of the 45th Antiaircraft Brigade and some of its remaining unit served under my command for but a brief time before disbandment and diversion to other tasks, I have learned, through reports and records, of the splendid record of accomplishment of that command. I desire here to note its accomplishments and to express my admiration for the outstanding manner in which it handled each of the many difficult and diversified tasks assigned to it during its existence with the Fifth Army.

2. I have heard nothing but praise for the performance of the men and organizations of the 45th Antiaircraft Brigade both in their antiaircraft role and in ground action as a front line element of the Fifth Army. They functioned at all times throughout all of the operations of the Italian campaign in which they participated in a highly commendatory manner making a notable contribution to the traditions of the Coast Artillery Corps as well as those of the Army as a whole.

3. I regret that conditions have necessitated the inactivation of such a fine command, but I am pleased to have so much of its personnel remain within Fifth Army in other units [primarily the then-activated 473rd Infantry Regiment] where I know they will carry on in the same outstanding manner that has characterized their performances in the past.

4. I compliment you and every member of the 45th Antiaircraft Brigade on your enviable record of achievement. You have earned the respect of all who have known you and may now be rightfully proud of a job well done.

Lieutenant General, U. S. Army

["1st Indorsement" to the above commendation]

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY, Office of the Antiaircraft Commander, (Rear),
A.P.O. #464, U. S. Army, 13 February 1945

TO: Commanding Officer, 45th AAA Brigade, A.P.O. #464, U. S. Army

1. Upon the disbandment of the 45th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade and the 45th Antiaircraft Artillery Operations Detachment, I wish to add my appreciation the Army commanders' commendation fro the admirable and gratifying performance of the difficult and varied assignments which were so successfully carried out by your command. The work of the Brigade in the role of directing antiaircraft units in infantry missions and acting as a divisional headquarters has been outstanding and is well deserving of great praise.

2. It is with great deal of pleasure that I pass this commendation on. I am well aware of the contributions made to the traditions of the Coast Artillery Corps by the officers and enlisted men of your organization. I wish to take this opportunity to extend my sincere best wishes to every individual of your unit for continued success in his new assignment.

Brigadier General, U. S. A.

What happened then to the 45th AAA Brigade?
On 14 Jan 45 the 473rd Infantry Regiment was activated from the following "assets":
- HHC 2nd Armored Group and 435 AAA Bn -> Headquarters and Headquarters Co, 473rd Infantry Regt.;
- 434th AAA Bn -> 1st Bn, 473rd Infantry Regt.;
- 532nd AAA Bn -> 2nd Bn, 473rd Infantry Regt.; and
- 900th AAA Bn -> 3rd Bn, 473rd Infantry Regt.
On 24 Feb 1945 the 473rd Infantry Regiment was attached to the 92nd Infantry Division. The 'provisional' infantrymen officially became 'grunts'!

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