American Knights: The Untold Story of the Men of the Legendary 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion (General Military)
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An unmissable white-knuckle ride from the Kasserine pass to Anzio, Operation Dragoon to the final attacks on the Third Reich, this is the gripping story of the men and machines that took on Nazi Germany's best. This book not only reveals the technical details and origins of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, it places the reader on the front lines of the European war.
As the war swung in the favor of the Allies, it became clear that no final defeat of the Third Reich would be possible until the armored monsters of the Panzerwaffe were defeated. But who would, or even could, take on the mighty Tigers and Panthers, just a handful of whom could stop entire formations in their tracks? The answer lay with the formation of a new type of unit, the Tank Destroyer Batallion. This is the story of the men and machines who made up the very first Tank Destroyer Batallion, the 601st, from their unique training and formation, to the final, desperate battles in the heart of Nazi Germany. Packed with rare material, letters, diaries and unpupublished photographs, this is an intense and intimate chronicle of the men who fought the Panzers in an astonishing 10 campaigns and 546 days of lethal combat. Re-live the excitement and terror of battling the best the Wehrmacht and SS had to offer, in every major campaign in the West.
recorded. Some things now considered insignificant were recorded and other things that should have been recorded were not. 36.Welch’s comment about sleeping in the tank destroyer is of interest. According to Staff Sergeant Harper five men could sleep in a destroyer by arranging themselves in a star pattern inside the hull. They all had to keep their feet pointing toward the center. To sleep, most of the men were on two or three different levels at once, each with a sharp edge. It was often cold
only seven of us to guard them. We loaded up at Port Empedocle on an LST. It was a rough trip and the prisoners proved to be very unclean and unsanitary. Italian prisoners of war in Palermo, Sicily, July 23, 1943. “When we got orders to leave the stockade we had 1,027 prisoners and only seven of us to guard them.” – Sergeant Nowak. (NARA) Sergeant Colprit, who also volunteered for POW duty to see Sicily, went to Agrigento and had this to say: I was given four men to take 995 prisoners to the
formed. Now it needed to learn how to function in the war that many thought was coming to the US. The regiment left Fort Devens in October for Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for the Carolina Maneuvers, the largest US Army maneuvers ever held to date. General George C. Marshall, then US Army Chief of Staff, based these maneuvers on his World War I experiences, which was the last time US forces of this aggregate size had operated together, some 23 years earlier. General Marshall wanted realistic
or holes. Before we knew what they were doing, we shot several of them with rifles. After capturing one or two, they told us what was happening and we quit shooting them. Because it was Easter Sunday, they were given a liquor ration and had orders not to shoot at us.74 The battalion’s monthly report for April, reflecting Welch’s attitude in previous letters, goes on to say this: Morale of personnel remained on a rather low level due to long periods of inactivity. Successful attempts were made
against German positions and then pull back. After a few weeks of this, it became routine and the Germans attributed it to the stir-crazy Americans having nothing better to do with their tanks.”75 One of 601st Recon Company’s men, Sergeant Kenneth H. Stone (Groveton, New Hampshire) was killed on May 15, 1944. The Germans fully expected an Allied breakout. According to Wolfgang Schneider, by May 21 elements of the German 508th were southeast of Latina near Genzano, Velletri, and Cisterna. Two