"The 'Spearhead' was fact as well as nickname. Its mission
was twofold: first, to pierce enemy frontline defenses, and second,
to race amok, cutting the German supply and communications channels,
the organization of reserve forces, and the very will to fight.
How well the big steel striking force accomplished this task
is stated in the day by day history of the western front. In
action, the 3rd Armored Division usually hit the enemy with multiple
"Two combat commands, 'A' and 'B', organized into task
forces were committed on line, with a reserve group, actually,
a third combat command, held in abeyance slightly to the rear.
Division Headquarters Forward Echelon travelled immediately behind
the two primary battering rams, and elements of Trains, which
included Supply, Maintenance, Medical, and Division Rear Echelon,
moved in that order.
"Actually, because of the nature of armored warfare,
every man in the division saw something of action during the
long drives. Supply trains were ambushed during their important
trips back and forth over the roads of conquest; command post
soldiers found themselves battling bypassed Nazi troops, and
rear echelon maintenance men helped to round up prisoners of
"Theoretically each of the spearheads were of the same
basic composition. Due to a changing situation in action, this
was not always the case, but deviation was the exception and
not the rule.
"Reconnaissance elements in light tanks and armored cars
invariably rode the point of the attack until opposition was
encountered. Tanks and infantry, always well supported by artillery,
tank-destroyers, anti-aircraft units, and engineers, supplied
the Sunday punch. Communications were maintained by signal men
well to the front, and medical corps detachments also travelled
with the probing spearheads in order to hasten evacuation of
"Driving immediately behind 'these forward elements was
the command post, often within small arms range of the enemy;
the heavy artillery, represented by attached 155mm self-propelled
units, and the division reserve ready to go into action on call.
"Division Trains were at the haft of the spearhead. Here
were the administrators, the supply, maintenance and medical
headquarters which catered to frontline elements.
"In action, this entire phalanx of power was highly mobile
and fluid of composition. Thus, reserve forces could be, and
were, rushed into the line when it appeared that one of the primary
combat commands was weakening, or needed a rest. Similarly, attached
units of artillery, infantry, or air support might be incorporated
on short notice. The 'Spearhead' at war was self-supporting,
extremely fast, and packed an incredible wallop in fire power."
[END of excerpts]