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
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
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.