Plymouth County

S/Sgt. Donald R. Bensley





With the Fifth Army, Italy: S/Sgt. Donald R. Bensley, whose wife lives at Hinton, and Sgt. Bernard A. Dandurand, and Cpl. Leon R. Dandurand of 716 Court St. in Sioux City, and brothers of Emil Dandurand of LeMars, were all members of the 185th Field Artillery battalion that helped soften up the German lines at Bologna. The 185th is a unit of the Red Bull Division, and has served overseas since April, 1942. They fought all through North Africa, including Fandouk ness and Hill 409. Later they fought near Salerno, Italy, before being transferred to France. They have had 500 days of combat duty.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, April 30, 1945

Three Men in Fifth Army In Italy

S/Sgt. Donald L. Bensley, whose wife lives on Route 1 Hinton, survey and instrument sergeant, Pfc. Carl Zimmerman, truck driver, and Pfc. Harley Zimmerman of Kingsley, are members of the 185th Field Artillery battalion, part of the big gun team softening up Germans before Bologna as the Fifth Army’s current offensive got underway in Italy.

The 185th’s 155-millimeter howitzers fired 100-pound shells with a skill acquired through 500 days in combat. They’ve pumped nearly 150,000 rounds into enemy lines in Tunisia and Italy.

The 185th, a unit of the 34th “Red Bull” Division, went overseas in April, 1942, served in Northern Ireland and England and entered combat for the first time February 19, 1943, in North Africa. The battalion served throughout the Tunisian campaign, including battles at Fondouk Pass and Hill 609. AT one time, its B Battery had gun crew operating among the doughboys, a squad of infantrymen serving as security patrol for the artillery positions.

The 185th joined the Fifth Army late in September, 1943, near Salerno, Italy. In 53 consecutive days, the battalion fired more than 15,000 shells at Cassino, where A Battery alone shot up 240 rounds in 10 minutes.

The howitzers were fired with their minimum powder charge last summer in the neighborhood of Tarquinia, where targets were only 2000 yards from the guns. C Battery was subjected to German machine-gun fire in that area and, at one time, the big howitzers were made to change aim in excess of a right angle.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert D. Offer of Washington, D.C., commands the 185th.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, May 4, 1945