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Unit Distinctive Insignia
52nd Railway Artillery

52nd Railway Artillery

Activated: 5 FEB 1918

Facilities Operated
Battery Designation (Armament)

Railway Battery A (4 - 8" RY)
Railway Battery B (4 - 8" RY)


Assignment: Harbor Defenses of the Delaware
Notes: Battery C re-designated Battery A, 287th CA
Battery D re-designated Battery B, 287th CA
on 22 April 1944 at Fort Miles, Delaware.
Motto: "Semper Paratus" (Always Prepared)

The 52nd Railway Artillery has a lineage stretching back to before WWI and was one of only four units (42nd, 43rd, 52nd, 53rd) to survive extensive reorganization of the US Army following the war.  The unit served overseas, primarily in France, until sailing home to Newport News, Virginia in early 1919 for posting at Camp Eustis.  During the first world war, the 52nd had been equipped with French and British weaponry - so upon their return they were reequipped with American railway ordnance. 

By the early 1920s, further reductions in US forces rendered the 42nd, 43rd, and 53rd inactive, leaving the 52nd the only active railway artillery regiment in the army.  The years from 1922 to 1924 would see extensive reorganization of the 52nd, but ultimately the unit remained intact.  In July of 1924 the unit was re-designated the 52nd Coast Artillery (Railway) and remained posted at Camp Eustis until it closed in 1931.  Second Battalion and Battery E - Third Battalion was relocated to Fort Hancock, NJ and Third Battalion minus Battery E was relocated to Fort Monroe.

Those batteries sent to Fort Hancock, NJ would often go to Cape May to conduct practice operations, but due to the financial situation of the US Army during the great depression, light powder charges were used as not to break nearby civilian windows since funds were not available to replace them.  Due to the close proximity of civilian homes in the Cape May area,  the 52nd would move their training exercises to Cape Henlopen beginning in 1938.  It was perfectly suited for the job, since there were very few residents within several miles of the area and the rails were already in place on site.  In October of 1938, units of the 52nd stationed at Fort Monroe were deactivated, and their personnel assigned to the 2nd Coast Artillery.  The remaining elements of the unit were re-organized entirely at Fort Hancock, New Jersey.  This would include re-activation of 1st Battalion, which had been inactive since 1922.

April 1941 saw the first deployment of the 52nd in preparation of the Second World War.  Battery D was ordered to Newfoundland and posted to Fort Pepperill near the harbor of St. Johns until early 1942.  Battery F departed for Bermuda on April 20, 1941 where they established coastal defense batteries on Somerset Island and St. Georges Island. By December 1941 the unit had been fully re-activated, although they had not yet achieved full strength.  First battalion headed out for Hawaii, while Battery E were sent to Puget Sound, Washington.  While in route, Battery E was ordered to send a detachment to man weapons in place at Manhattan Beach, California.  The remainder of Battery E was split in half upon arrival at Puget Sound into Batteries E and X.

The division of the 52nd did not end there.  Batteries were spread out all over the continental US, from Kentucky to Washington.  Battery C and Battery D were assigned to Fort Miles where they would remain for much of the war.  In 1944 they were re-designated Batteries A and B of the 287th Coast Artillery. 

By May of 1943 the headquarters battery of the 52nd was de-activated at Fort Hancock.  The personnel and equipment were absorbed into the various coast artillery commands in the harbor defenses of Sandy Hook.  Most of the unit became the 287th and 288th Coast Artillery Regiments. 


Visit What Price Glory for your WWII supply needs.  Commission from sales will be donated to the Fort Miles Restoration Project!

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