|Men of Armor: The History of B Company, 756th Tank Battalion in World War II|
|Part One: Beginnings, North Africa, and Italy|
|Fight with the American tankers! |
The 756th Tank Battalion (Light) was activated at Fort Lewis, Washington State, on 1 June 1941 as part of a new, ambitious and rapidly-expanding U.S. Armored Force. B Company was one of three tank companies forming this new “independent” tank battalion. At the time, American tanks were so scarce the crews field trained for several months by carrying around wooden frames as surrogates. Eventually, the outfit was equipped with M3 lights, then M5 lights before upgrading to M-4 “Sherman” medium tanks. This unique multi-volume history covers the full spectrum of experiences of the men in one company—B Company of the 756th Tank Battalion—from inception in June 1941 through the occupation of Germany in 1945. An American tank company in WWII consisted of only five officers and approximately 100 enlisted men—all living, traveling and fighting in seventeen tanks, two jeeps, one truck, one half-track and one tank retriever. Uniting the official record with the rich, personal accounts of the participants, the reader is swept along a highly detailed and shocking journey chronicling the evolution of American armor doctrine and tank design from June 1941 through VE-Day. The B Company tankers often fought at a disadvantage—struggling to survive a myriad of battlefield challenges and triumph against enemy armor better armed and better protected. What was once envisioned as a warfare of sweeping armored formations managed by West Point lieutenant colonels and ROTC captains quickly devolved into small unit street fights relying more and more on the initiative, resourcefulness and cunning of lowly OCS lieutenants and combat-seasoned sergeants. The journey is long, unforgiving and brutal. Forty-seven fellow tankers will be lost along the way…
The most comprehensive history of an American World War II tank company ever written.
Follow of the ambitions, trials and destinies of Charles M. Wilkinson, David D. Redle and fellow tankers of B Company, 756th Tank Battalion in World War II—a Sherman tank outfit comprised of seventeen tanks, five officers and roughly 100 enlisted men. Learn how these newly-trained “Men of Armor” struggle, fight, and adapt—first in light tanks, and later, medium tanks—upon everchanging, ever challenging, and often brutal battlefields across North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. In the course of nearly two years of combat, forty-seven company members will be lost—with survivors left forever scarred and altered. Their history is stark, honest, and personal—sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic—while delivering timeless human lessons in sacrifice, resourcefulness, practicality, the fickleness of fate—and above all, the power of perseverance.
World War II told from the unique perspective of the American tanker.
“The author thoroughly researched the unit records and had contact with many of the battalion veterans or their families. He found further information in Graves Registration files and the National Archives’ CARL digital collection. With its focus on tank crew members and their commanders this is a unique addition to the literature on WWII.”
A. Harding Ganz, Associate Professor Emeritus of the Ohio State University at Newark, author of “Ghost Division” (Stackpole, 2016).
“It is very rare to find a book that takes the reader down to the close and personal level of a company of men in battle. We have seen that for paratroopers in Band of Brothers and now we have it for a tank unit, in this case Company B of the 756th Tank Battalion. And what a remarkable book it is.”
Jeffrey Plowman, author of “Rampant Dragons: New Zealander’s Experience in Armour in World War II”, “Tank Attack at Monte Cassino: The Cavendish Road Operation 1944” and “The Battles for Cassino Then and Now” with P. Rowe.
“Jeff brings all his considerable skills to this unique Battalion level history. No lead is left unfollowed and this adds not only to the legitimacy of his work but also tells the personal story of these valiant men. Notes, letters, official documents are all used to great effect and allow the reader to gain those personal insights of men in conflict. It may be the best US armored unit history ever put together so long after the conflict.”
Victor Failmezger, author of “American Knights, the Untold Story of the Legendary 601th Tank Destroyer Battalion”
“Jeff Danby weaves an empathetic tale of people in his history of Company B, 756th Tank Battalion. From the very start, he frames portentous global events in terms of how the young men who would fight the war would have seen them. Danby’s prose is punchy, visually evocative, and entertaining.”
Harry Yeide, author of “The Tank Killers”, “The Infantry’s Armor”, and “Steeds of Steel”
“Danby introduces and develops an extensive cast of personalities, average American soldiers, as they experience combat and the quiet periods in-between, and gives the reader precious insight in to why this unit was so combat proficient. He gives a good overview of the development of the U.S. Army’s armored force at the beginning of the war, setting the stage for B Company and its men as they move from peace to war. Jeff has written another great story which I recommend to everyone interested in WWII and especially tank units in that war.”
LTC Timothy R. Stoy, Retired U.S. Army Infantry and Foreign Affairs Officer
RELEASED SUMMER 2021
“Men of Armor, Part One: Beginnings” has won the 2021 Army Historical Foundation’s prestigious
“Award in Excellence in U.S. Army History Writing” in the “Unit History” category.