www.DarbyRangers.Com | Follow Me
The 4.2" mortar battalions provided chemical warfare (White Phosphrous, smoke, and gas) support to Army divisions and were especially effective in support of Darby's Ranger Battalions. Originally without an HE capability, inasmuch as there were no HE rounds for the 4.2" mortar, in late 1942 an High Explosive round for the piece was developed.
As a result of the HE round development the chemical mortars were available to provide welcome heavy mortar support for the infantry by 1943. Affording a highly mobile and effective 'artillery' for the infantry and Ranger units they were attached to. They distinguished themselves across the European Theatre.
At Anzio the 83'd CMBn suffered heavy losses after a ship carrying most of the unit was sunk by German bombers; elements of the unit already ashore continued to support the Cisterna operation; and the breakout from the Anzio Beach-head.
By the fall of 1944 there were sufficient battalions in the ETO to allow for a normal assignment of one company per infantry division. In some circumstances this would be augmented to a full battalion.
The 2nd, 3rd, 81st, 83rd, 86th, 87th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, 93rd, 94th, 95th, 96th, 97th, and 99th Battalions served in the European Theatre of Operations.
Source: 83rd CMBn 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion History: One of the best unit history sites on the web; loaded with information about the 1st & 3rd Rangers...