Call sign: "Omaha"
Division Forward Echelon was the tactical nerve center of
the "Spearhead" in action. Basically, the element consisted
of the general staff, plus a number of special staff sections,
and a headquarters company whose sole function was the servicing
of Forward Echelon. During the great drives across France, Belgium,
and Germany, the coordinated planning and direction of forces,
so necessary in modern warfare, stemmed entirely from these officers
and men of "Omaha Forward."
Major General Maurice Rose, CG of the 3rd Armored Division, made
his headquarters here. Colonel John A. Smith, Jr., Chief of Staff;
Lt. Colonel Jack A. Boulger, G-l; Lt. Colonel Andrew Barr, G-2;
Lt. Colonel Wesley A. Sweat, G-3; Lt. Colonel Eugene C. Orth,
Jr., G-4; and Lt. Colonel George F. Cake, G-5; with their respective
staffs, helped to coordinate the vast and complex machinery of
the big armored division. Assisting in this task were the various
special staffs: those of Colonel James L. Salmon, Division Surgeon;
Lt. Colonel George V. Bussey, Signal Corps; Lt. Colonel Marion
E. Whitten, Chemical Warfare Service; Lt. Colonel William E.
Dahl, Civil Affairs Section; Major Charles H. Kapes, Provost
Marshal; and Captain Gove Johnson, Headquarters Commandant. In
addition, the Forward Echelon complement always included an artillery
officer. Colonel Frederic J. Brown; Lt. Colonel Lawrence G. Foster,
Engineer Officer; Captain Francis T. Farrell, killed in action
on December 10, 1944, and Major Ray W. Haney, air officers; Major
Charles H. Gravely, killed in action on September 3, 1944, and
Major Evan Regas, anti-tank officers.
Also attached to Forward Echelon, and working under the control
of G-2, were the Military Intelligence Interpreter team, the
Interrogation of Prisoners of War team, Order of Battle section,
Counter Intelligence Corps team, and Photo Interpretation team.
These units sided the swift and necessarily accurate decisions
of Forward Echelon.
Although Forward Echelon and Headquarters Company, the latter
commanded by Captain William L. Rodman, were not intended to
be used as fighting units, they were often forced to defend themselves
and in many cases fought hot actions against bypassed pockets
of fanatic enemy resistance. In early September, 1944, the command
post fought a heroic action against heavy enemy forces at Mons,
Belgium. For this successful engagement, the Forward Echelon,
Headquarters Company, and attached Signal Company personnel,
were awarded Distinguished Unit Citations.
Throughout the entire European campaign, from Normandy through
northern France and Belgium to the Siegfried Line, back to the
Ardennes struggle, and again on through Germany to the final
objective at Dessau, Division Forward Echelon worked in close
harmony with combat elements. The command took hundreds of prisoners,
sweated out vicious artillery barrages, and went on with the
vital planning and coordination that spelled victory in the west.
Major General Maurice Rose was a front line soldier. His headquarters
was seldom any appreciable distance behind spearheading tanks
of the division.
Call sign: "Omaha Rear"
Administration and service were the keynotes of Division Rear
Echelon, but personnel of the unit also saw hot action along
with every other member of the "Spearhead." In the
long drives which took the 3rd Armored Division through Normandy,
France, Belgium, and Germany, the troops of this headquarters
continually found themselves battling bypassed Nazis and hunting
snipers. They were bombed, shelled and strafed periodically.
In fact, the term "Division Rear" sometimes appeared
to be a grim joke!
Basically, the organization of Rear Echelon consisted of a number
of expert officer administrators and their enlisted staffs. These
men kept the complex and highly important records of the big
steel division. Here the knotty problems of personnel, finance,
quartermaster procurement, and ordnance were resolved and acted
upon. While Forward Echelon made the tactical plans and worked
within sight and sound of tank spearheads, Rear carried out those
administrative steps necessary in order to service properly the
front line. Service Company, commanded by Captain John E. Casey,
had as its primary duty the support of Rear Echelon Headquarters.
With their respective staffs, Lt. Colonel Robert M. Gant, Adjutant
General; Lt. Colonel Elmer W. Gude, Finance; Lt. Colonel Harry
P. Wolfe, Judge Advocate; Lt. Colonel Lasley Richardson, Quartermaster;
Lt. Colonel Ellis P. Sylvester, Inspector General; Lt. Colonel
Paul H. Maurer, Division Chaplain; Lt. Colonel Rager J. McCarthy,
Ordnance; and Captain Roscoe E. Miller, Special Services; worked
at Division Rear. Captain Raymond J. Davey, Army Postal Officer,
also had his headquarters here. All of these men were old members
of the division. The transfers of Lt. Colonel Joseph L. Cowhey,
ordnance officer preceding Colonel McCarthy, to XX Corps late
in August, 1944, and that of Major Thomas J. Murphy, predecessor
of Captain Millet, to a rehabilitation post, early in February,
1945, were the only changes in ten months of operation on the
In action Division Rear Echelon moved immediately behind the
heavy mobile artillery and reserve forces. This was the point
which enemy aircraft seemed most likely to bomb and where bypassed
pockets of resistance attempted to cut the "Spearhead"
column. Early in the European campaigns in Normandy, the headquarters
received an aerial bombardment which might have caused heavy
casualties, excepting for the fact that all bombs dropped were
duds. Cpl. Harold Mose, a unit personnel clerk, was neatly bracketed
by two 500 pound missiles, and the division chaplain's tent was
nearly blown down by the rush of air attendant to the falling
of another of these big but relatively harmless bombs. It was
a night, however, which will always live in the memory of Rear
At Raeren, in the Siegfried Line area of Germany, the headquarters
was situated in a "buzz-bomb alley." Several of the
robots landed nearby. Shellfire from railway guns, and an occasional
fighter-bomber attack, kept the clerks and administrators from
Division Rear Echelon landed on Normandy's Omaha White Beach
on June 24, 1944, with combat elements of the division. The headquarters
was never far behind fighting units from that time until final
victory deep inside Germany.
COMBAT COMMAND "A"
Call sign: "Ottawa"
The history of Combat Command "A", Brigadier General
Doyle 0. Hickey's crack armored assault force, is all interwoven
with the saga of the 3rd Armored Division. CC "A" was
the first division element to go into action during the European
campaign, at Villiers Fossard, Normandy, on June 29, 1944. With
those two other "Spearhead" battering rams, Combat
Command "B" and Combat Command "Reserve",
General Hickey's organization took the brunt of all 3rd Armored
Division battle operations. His tankers were the point of the
attack on innumerable occasions. They were in the forefront of
the great Normandy breakthrough, led the First United States
Army's history making drive across France and into Belgium. On
September 12, 1944, CC "A" entered the Siegfried Line
with CC "B", and later pushed first troops completely
through this heavily defended area.
Returning to the Rhineland front, after the bitter Ardennes campaign,
General Hickey's command led the First Army assault on Cologne.
His tankers and infantrymen were the first Americans to reach
that long-besieged city.
In the final offensive to defeat Germany, Combat Command "A"
· played an equal part with "B" and "Reserve"
in that magnificent drive which sealed the industrial Ruhr. Without
a pause for rest or maintenance, the command turned eastward
and continued the drive which halted, only on army order, at
Dessau, during the last days of the European war.
The composition of Combat Command "A" in Europe normally
consisted of the 32nd Armored Regiment, less one battalion; the
67th Armored Field Artillery Battalion; one battalion of the
36th Armored Infantry Regiment; one battery of the 486th Armored
Anti-Aircraft Battalion; one company of the 23rd Armored Engineer
Battalion; one company of the 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion;
one company of the 45th Armored Medical Battalion, and one company
of the 3rd Armored Division Maintenance Battalion. Those division
units which were not attached to combat commands "A"
or "B" were part of Combat Command "Reserve,"
led in action by the commanding officer of the 36th Armored Infantry
Regiment. The reserve force had, as its backbone, the infantry
regimental headquarters, plus one battalion of blitz doughs.
Naturally, all of these combat commands maintained a fluid composition.
Thus, when the situation demanded, extra infantry, artillery,
or other branches were added to bolster fire power and drive.
The staff of Combat Command "A" early achieved that
fine balance which is essential to a smoothly operating unit.
General Hickey, the cool, impersonal master of tank-infantry
warfare, inspired confidence in his men. Lt. Colonel William
G. Barnwell, irascible, keen old-army soldier, allowed himself
only an occasional cat-nap in lieu of sleep during the long rat
races. He was the executive officer and S-3. Major Sherwood L.
Adams, smoothly operating G-2, Major Stanley Hidalgo, S-3 Air,
and Captain Dale D. Bunch, were old members of Combat Command
CC "A" was born early in 1942 when a reorganization
of armored force abolished the old separate brigade system in
favor of the more versatile combat command. Originally, "A"
was the 1st Combat Command of the 3rd Armored Division, led by
General Leroy H. Watson.
Combat Command "A" trained, like other elements of
the 3rd Armored Division, throughout the desert maneuvers at
Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, before
sailing for England early in September, 1943. Upon arrival in
the British Isles, the headquarters was set up at Stockton House,
near Codford, Wiltshire. This was a base for operations which
extended over the downlands of Salisbury Plain, for beach landing
exercises along the English coast, and special training of various
Combat Command "A" landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy,
on June 24, 1944, and was committed to action five days later
at Villiers Fossard. Although sustaining heavy casualties, the
command drove through to reach its objective. Under the cool
and expert leadership of General Hickey, CC "A" swiftly
tightened into a veteran unit. Throughout the five campaigns
of the 3rd Armored Division in Europe, Combat Command "A"
thenceforth worked as a well oiled and directed machine.
No history of General Hickey's command in action would be complete
without mention of that colorful and efficient task force led
by Colonel L. L. Doan, commanding officer of the 32nd Armored
Regiment. Colonel Doan, the tall, loose-jointed Texas polo player,
led his men as though he knew that death was on a holiday. He
waded the Seine River in a hail of mortar and machine gun fire.
He walked into blazing Fromentel with the infantry scouts. He
was a typical front line commander who could get more drive out
of his men than a baker's dozen of rear echelon martinets. Long
before the war came to an end, Colonel Doan and his Task Force
"X" had acquired an aura of legend. Usually at the
point of the "Spearhead", Doan's exploits were woven
into CC "A" history.
When Major General Maurice Rose was killed in action during the
approach to Paderborn, General Hickey assumed command of the
division. His old, elite Combat Command "A" went on
to succeeding victories under the leadership of Colonel Doan.
However, the war was close to an end, and troops of the "Spearhead"
Division will always associate General Hickey with CC "A".
Hickey was the command, and the command was Hickey - exemplified
by that cool, precise strategy, the unhurried, thoughtful attitude
that could suddenly produce a drive so electrifying that it left
staff officers gaping in admiration while the enemy floundered
to certain defeat. Combat Command "A" was a colorful
organization, but it had an approach to battle which may only
be described as professional. Esprit de corps was there, and
know-how in every branch of service. Hickey's men didn't guess
that they were good: they knew damned well that they were!
COMBAT COMMAND "B"
Call sign: "Ontario"
Like Combat Command "A", the story of CC "B"
is the history of the 3rd Armored Division. Under Brigadier General
Truman E. Boudinot, the volatile California horseman, tanker,
and one-time army free balloon racer, Combat Command "B"
fought many of the hardest and most successful actions ever engaged
in by "Spearhead" forces. CC "B" lotted up
a record of successive victories throughout the entire western
campaign. From Normandy to the Elbe, General Boudinot led this
big, versatile command to final victory. It was no accident that
CC "B" took the first German town to fall to an invader
since Napoleonic days. These same dusty, triumphant tankers,
infantrymen and engineers, along with their comrades of CC "A"
and "Reserve", later led the American First Army into
flaming Paderborn to encircle the vital Ruhr area of industrial
Germany. During heavy action through the Normandy, northern France,
Ardennes, Rhineland, and central Germany campaigns, this crack
armored assault force ground ahead against all odds.
The composition of Combat Command "B" in Europe, normally
included the 33rd Armored Regiment, less one battalion; the 391st
Armored Field Artillery Battalion; one battalion of the 36th
Armored Infantry Regiment; one battery of the 486th Armored Anti-Aircraft
Battalion; one company of the 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion;
one company of the 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion; one company
of the 45th Armored Medical Battalion; and one company of the
3rd Armored Division Maintenance Battalion. While this battle
tested array often varied - extra infantry units and other elements
added as the situation demanded - the original composition remained
without radical change.
Working in close harmony with General Boudinot were his headquarters
officer personnel: Lt. Colonel Wesley A. Sweat, executive officer,
who was transferred to division forward echelon late in August,
1944, and replaced by Major Ralph M. Rogers. Major Rogers later
became S-3 Air Officer. Lt. Colonel Robert D. Albro then assumed
the duties of executive, an office he ably administered throughout
the Ardennes and German campaigns. Major William A. Castille,
S-2, and Captain Robert W. Angel, S-3, were also veterans of
the entire European operations of Combat Command "B".
Originally, CC "B" was the 2nd Combat Command of the
3rd Armored Division when, back in early 1942, a streamlining
of armored force organization disbanded the old separate brigade
set-up in favor of a more modern, integrated system. Brigadier
General Geoffrey Keyes was commanding then, and his staff included:
Lt. Colonel Julian H. George, 1st Lt Melville I. Starke, and
1st Lt. John T. Wingard.
The modern combat command, which dominated armored warfare in
the west, came into being during that summer of 1942. CC "B"
was commanded by Brigadier General John J. Bohn, after General
Keyes left the division and, indeed, throughout all of the command's
training at the California Desert Center; Camp Pickett, Virginia;
Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania; and during the eight month sojourn
in England, General Bohn commanded. He also led CC "B"
into action in Normandy.
Combat Command "B" sailed for overseas service early
in September, 1943. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, the headquarters,
along with its primary combat force, the 33rd Armored Regiment,
was billeted in Warminster, Wiltshire. Then, throughout the fall,
winter and spring of 1943-44, the command maneuvered over chilly
Salisbury Plain, engaged in numerous landing exercises along
the British coast, and generally received a last minute review
of training for the great crusade which was to begin on June
The wartime record of Combat Command "B" is indicative
of its spirit in action. On the debit side, General Boudinot's
command sustained more casualties than either "A" or
"Reserve". It was this competitive drive which, in
the opinion of many competent military observers, contributed
much to the dogged stand at Mortain in early August, 1944, when
elite German panzer elements attempted to break through American
lines to reach the sea at Avranches. Units of the 30th Infantry
Division, backed by General Boudinot's tanks, tank-destroyers,
and infantry stopped the enemy effort in its tracks. For this
action, the elements of the 30th Infantry Division concerned
later received a Distinguished Unit Citation.
After the highly successful summer campaign through France and
Belgium, CC "B" elements were the first allied troops
to enter Adolf Hitler's Third Reich in force, and the first to
capture and occupy a German town, Roetgen, on September 12, 1944.
Later, during the terrible Ardennes winter campaign, General
Boudinot's tankers and other arms combined again with the 30th
Infantry Division to create and then eliminate the "La Gleize
Pocket", an early victory for defending Americans. Here,
the SS LEIB-STANDARTE ADOLF HITLER Panzer Division sustained
Beyond the Rhine, in the great, final offensive of 1945, Combat
Command "B", battling heavy odds, as usual, smashed
through to liberate the death camp slaves at Nordhausen after
playing a great part in closing the important Ruhr, or as the
First Army named it, "Rose Pocket."
When the 3rd Armored Division came out of the fighting lines
shortly before the official declaration of Germany's surrender,
CC "B" was the only "Spearhead" unit that
could boast having bridged the Mulde River. The command, and
all of its component units, had a habit of getting out front.
They were there when the final whistle sounded.
[NOTE: There was no Special Section for Combat Command Reserve
in the book.]
32nd ARMORED REGIMENT
Call sign: "Oriole"
"Victory Or Death," the motto of the 32nd Armored
Regiment, served as an inspirational order to this first of the
3rd Armored Division's two great battering rams. Commanded by
Colonel Leander L. Doan, the 32nd contributed much to the powerhouse
drive of the "Spearhead" Division through Europe.
The 2nd Armored Regiment, forerunner of the 32nd, was activated
on April 15, 1941, at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, by a cadre
of 85 officers and 565 enlisted men of the 2nd Armored Division's
66th Armored Regiment and the 1st Armored Division. On May 12,
1941, the unit was redesignated the 32nd Armored Regiment (Light).
Its weapons were a very few of the old "Mae West" light
tanks. The first commander was Colonel Roderick R. Allen, later
commanding general of the 12th Armored Division.
Under armored force reorganization early in January, 1942, the
old 40th Armored Regiment (Medium) was disbanded and its tanks
issued to the 32nd and 33rd Armored Regiments. The new table
of organization guaranteed greater striking power to each of
the latter units.
With the 3rd Armored Division, the 32nd Armored Regiment trained
at Camp Beauregard and Camp Polk, Louisiana; Desert Center, California;
Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, before
sailing for overseas service on the Capetown Castle on September
5, 1943. Upon arrival in England, the regiment was stationed
at Codford, Wiltshire, and trained over Britain's Salisbury Plain
during the nine month period before invasion.
Commanded by Colonel Truman E. Boudinot, men of the 32nd received
their baptism of fire at Villiers Fossard, Normandy, on June
29, 1944. Against well dug in infantry, bazooka teams, heavy
mortar and anti-tank fire, the 32nd's armored teams pitted their
Sherman tanks. In spite of losses, the tankmen paced Combat Command
"A" to the final objective.
Assuming command on July 25, 1944, Colonel Leander L. Doan, then
Lt. Colonel, soon won the admiration and respect of each officer
and soldier of the regiment. Colonel Doan's personal direction
in combat was largely responsible for the outstanding record
of the 32nd Armored Regiment in Europe.
The 1st Battalion of the 32nd was commanded by eight separate
officers during the western fighting. Lt. Colonel Elwyn W. Blanchard
led the battalion in its initial action at Villiers Fossard,
through the Normandy breakthrough, and during much of the pursuit
across France and Belgium to the Siegfried Line. He was wounded
at Panes, France, and his executive officer, Captain Nicholas
D. Carpenter, commanded the battalion until he was wounded and
taken prisoner an hour later. Captain Foster F. Flegeal then
assumed command, but relinquished it when a 500 pound bomb wounded
him the next day. Major Frank S. Crawford was the battalion commander
for about three hours. His tank was knocked out, and he was wounded
by the fire of an enemy tank. Lt. Colonel John K. Boles, Jr.,
commanded the 1st Battalion for the remainder of the action at
Ranes-Fromental; turned it over to Major William G. Yarborough
who kept it until Colonel Blanchard returned from the hospital
to lead through the Siegfried Line. Colonel Blanchard was again
evacuated for treatment of his old wounds, and Lt. Colonel Matthew
W. Kane took command to lead the battalion from September 22,
through the battle of the Ardennes, and from the Roer River to
the vicinity of Dessau, Germany, where he was wounded and evacuated.
Lt. Colonel Boles took command until the end of the engagement,
and Major Robert L. Coughlin then assumed command.
Like so many battle wise units of the division, Lt. Colonel Clifford
L. Miller's 2nd Battalion took its full share of casualties.
The first commander in action, Lt. Colonel Nathaniel O. Whitlaw,
was twice wounded in the Normandy breakthrough. Major Richard
L. Bradley, Jr., who succeeded him, was hospitalized for treatment
of wounds after leading the battalion for less than a month.
Major William K. Bailey, who then assumed command, was wounded
a week later just before the storming of the Siegfried Line.
His successor, Lt. Colonel Sydney T. Telford, became commander
of the 2nd Battalion on September 13, and was killed in action
on the 14th while leading the battalion through Siegfried defenses.
Colonel Miller, the self styled "Army Brat", proceeded
to break that chain of bad luck which had thus far dogged 2nd
Battalion commanders. He led the unit to successive victories
in the Rhineland, the Ardennes, and central Germany.
Lt. Colonel Walter B. Richardson, commanding officer of the 3rd
Battalion, was one of the few combat leaders who seemed to bear
a charmed life. The courageous, hard-driving Texan led his crack
unit from Normandy to the final action in Dessau, Germany. Although
he was wounded four times, he never missed a day of action.
One of the 3rd Battalion's great soldiers was S/Sgt. Lafayette
G. Pool, whose tank, IN THE MOOD, was credited with the destruction
of more than 250 enemy armored vehicles, and scores of other
transport. Pool led the spearheading task force in 21 separate
drives before he was wounded in the breaching of the Siegfried
The 32nd Armored Regiment was a well knit unit. Its reputation
was that of a frontline fighting outfit. On VE day the Reconnaissance
Company and 2nd Battalion were able to boast Distinguished Unit
Citations, the former for heroic action at Mons, Belgium, and
the latter for its part in smashing Hitler's Westwall. The Meritorious
Service Plaque was twice awarded to Service Company and Maintenance
Company for their outstanding record of support during the entire
campaign in Europe.
33rd ARMORED REGIMENT
Call sign: "Orchard"
The 33rd Armored Regiment, Sunday punch of Brigadier General
Truman E. Boudinot's Combat Command "B", was the second
half of that massive tank battering ram which made the 3rd Armored
Division famous. Its Shermans were the first allied fighting
machines to reach the Third Reich and to capture a German town.
Commanded by Colonel John C. Welborn, veteran of North Africa
and Sicily, the 33rd "Men Of War" emerged from the
European conflict with a brilliant reputation for fighting ability.
The 33rd was an original "Spearhead" unit. It was activated
at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, on April 15, 1941, by a cadre
of 92 officers and 524 enlisted men from the 68th Armored Regiment
(Light) of the 2nd Armored Division. The new organization was
designated the 3rd Armored Regiment (Light), until May 12, 1941,
when it became the 33rd Armored Regiment (Light). Lt. Colonel
Robert W. Strong was the first commanding officer, and the unit
trained on a small number of the old "Mae West" light
Early in January, 1942, the 33rd received a number of medium
tanks from the disbanded 40th Armored Regiment. The new table
of organization, then put into affect, added more striking power
and modernized the entire unit.
The 33rd Armored Regiment trained with the rest of the 3rd Armored
Division at Camp Polk, Louisiana; Desert Center, California;
Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Early
in September, 1943, the regiment sailed for Europe on the John
Errickson. Upon arrival in Great Britain, the men were stationed
at Warminster, Wiltshire, England. During nine months of pre-invasion
training, they maneuvered extensively over Salisbury Plain, engaged
in practice landing operations up and down the British coast,
and received special courses of instruction in various subjects.
Colonel Dorrance S. Roysden led the 33rd in its baptism of fire
on bloody Haut Vents, Hill 91, in Normandy. In spite of serious
losses, the combat team took the hill, was driven off, and came
back to hold the ground a day later. In their first combat, here
at Haut Vents, at Font Heberf, and Belle Lande, the men of the
33rd Armored Regiment, fighting alongside other units of Combat
Command "B", helped to turn back a vicious counter
attack by Germany's elite Panzer Lehr Division. During this period,
Colonel Roysden assumed command of CC "B", and Lt.
Colonel L. L. Doan became regimental commander. Later, when Brig.
General Boudinot became CC "B" commander, Colonel Roysden
reverted to regimental C. O., and Colonel Doan assumed command
of the 32nd Armored Regiment.
Colonel Roysden was transferred to SHAEF on August 31, 1944.
Lt. Colonel Littleton A. Roberts then assumed command, but reverted
to executive officer under Colonel John Welborn, two days later.
Colonel Welborn led the regiment during the remainder of the
The 1st Battalion of the 33rd Armored Regiment was led by eight
different officers during the western campaigns. They were: Lt.
Colonel Rosewell H. King, Lt. Colonel Herbert M. Mills, Major
Kenneth T. McGeorge, Major William S. Walker, Major Charles W.
Walson, Lt. Colonel Elwyn W. Blanchard, Major Ralph M. Rogers,
and Major George T. Stallings, respectively. Of these, Colonel
King, who was wounded in action on August 29, Lt. Colonel Mills,
killed in action on November 18, Major Kenneth McGeorge, wounded
in action on January 8, 1945, and Lt. Colonel Blanchard, who
at various times commanded a battalion of the 32nd Armored Regiment
as well as that of the 33rd, were most notable for length of
The 1st Battalion was accorded the great honor of receiving a
Distinguished Unit Citation for its heroic action at Scherpenseel
and Hastenrath, Germany, late in November. Lt. Colonel Mills
was killed in this action. For extraordinary heroism, he was
posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
The 2nd and 3rd battalions were more fortunate in the matter
of preserving their commanding officers than was the 1st. The
2nd Battalion was led through all five European campaigns by
Lt. Colonel William B. Lovelady. It was his task force which
first reached Germany on September 12, 1944, and took Roetgen,
first German town to fall to an invader, and later occupied by
men of the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. The 2nd Battalion
of the 33rd saw much action during the Ardennes, the Rhineland
and the central Europe campaigns. Task Force Lovelady was a work-horse
unit of the regiment.
Equally colorful and effective was the 3rd Battalion, commanded
by Lt. Colonel Samuel Hogan. Colonel Hogan made history by leading
one of the division's multiple spearhead columns through Belgium
flying a Texas lone-star flag on his tank. To curious inquiries
from the populace, Hogan replied that the banner was that of
the "Free Americans!" The 3rd Battalion was well represented
at Marcouray, Belgium, during the bitter Ardennes fighting, when
Task Force Hogan was cut off and surrounded by enemy troops in
that town. After refusing a surrender ultimatum and fighting
until gasoline and ammunition had been expended, the famous "400"
proceeded to destroy their vehicles and infiltrate out through
German lines. Led by reconnaissance men, the "400"
did escape the trap by way of a daring 14 hour march through
enemy siege forces.
The 33rd Armored Regiment earned in furious combat the right
to its monicker, "Men Of War." Spearheading the powerful
drives of Combat Command "B" the regiment saw heavy
fighting in all five western campaigns. The regiment took part
in the closing of the Argentan-Falaise gap, the drive across
France and Belgium to the Siegfried Line, and had the honor of
being the first allied unit to enter Germany in force. In the
Ardennes fighting and the Rhineland battles, the 33rd was again
well represented, and in the final drives to isolate the Ruhr
and to reach the Elbe River at Dessau, Colonel Welborn's troops
were constantly in the van of Combat Command "B."
36th ARMORED INFANTRY REGIMENT
Call sign: "Ozark"
Men of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, "Blitz Doughs"
of the 3rd Armored Division, trace their immediate history back
to Brownsville, Texas, where the unit was activated in July,
1916, by personnel of the 4th, 26th, and 28th Infantry Regiments.
The new organization did not go overseas in World War I, but
saw service on the Mexican border.
Reactivated by a cadre from the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment
of the 2nd Armored Division, on April 15, 1941, the 36th Armored
Infantry Regiment became an original "Spearhead" element.
At Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, the first commander was Colonel
Walton H. Walker, the officer who later became a lieut. general
in command of the famous XX "Ghost Corps" of the 3rd
American Army. Other commanders, during training at Camp Polk,
Louisiana; Desert Training Center, California; Camp Pickett,
Virginia; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania; were Colonel Edwin
A. Smith, Colonel William L. Roberts, and Colonel Graeme G. Parks.
Upon arrival in England during mid-September, 1943, the 36th
was billeted at Sutton Veny, Wiltshire. With the rest of the
division, it maneuvered widely over Salisbury Plain, engaged
in landing exercises along the British coast, and took part in
various special training courses.
Colonel Parks led the "Blitz Doughs" in their baptism
of fire at Villiers Fossard, Normandy, but on July 18, 1944,
he was succeeded by Colonel William W. Cornog, Jr. Colonel Cornog
was the first regimental commander to be killed in action. From
August 9 to September 23, 1944, the regiment was under the command
of Lt. Colonel Jack R. Hutcheson, Colonel Louis P. Leone, and
Colonel Carl J. Rohsenberger. At that time, Colonel Robert L.
Howze, Jr., came to the regiment and led it through the remaining
eight months of the European campaign.
Men of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment figured prominently
in every 3rd Armored Division action on the continent. Companies
"A" and "C" of the 1st Battalion were the
division's first tactical units to be awarded the Distinguished
Unit Citation. This honor was bestowed as the result of heroic
fighting in the December Roer River salient. The entire 1st Battalion,
commanded by Lt. Colonel William R. Orr, was later awarded a
Distinguished Unit Citation for its work in storming the Siegfried
Line. The action began during Orr's first day in battle! That
was characteristic of the regimental spirit.
The Distinguished Unit Citation was also given to men of the
2nd and 3rd Battalion medical sections for outstanding gallantry
in action at Fromentel, France, and the Stolberg area in Germany,
respectively. And in September, the 36th was declared a combat
infantry regiment with more
than 65 percent of its personnel wearing the coveted badge.
During the "Spearhead" Division's five western campaigns,
six separate commanders led the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment.
The casualty rate was even more severe in lower echelons. Colonel
Orr's 1st Battalion went into its initial action at Villiers
Fossard, Normandy, under Lt. Colonel Walter Abney. Before the
unit reached German soil three months later, it had been commanded
by seven officers. They were: Colonel Abney, Major Paul W. Corrigan,
Captain John C. Chapman, Major Theodore P. Mason, Captain Frank
D. Hall, Captain Louis F. Plummer, and Colonel Orr. Captain Plummer
was wounded during the first phase of the Siegfried line attack.
In the 2nd Battalion, Lt. Colonel Vincent E. Cockefair landed
at the head of his troops in Normandy and was killed in action
on August 9. The records disclose that 14 succeeding officers
commanded the battalion from that time until VE day. Of these,
Major Thomas G. Tousey, Jr., and Lt. Colonel Thomas J. Moran
served longest, the latter fighting with his troops throughout
the Roer-Rhine slug fest, the great Paderborn sweep, and the
steady drive to Dessau.
Lt. Colonel Carlton P. Russell, wounded in action on August 5,
1944, was the first combat commander of the 3rd Battalion. Eight
other officers succeeded him, with Lt. Colonel Paul L. Fowler,
and Major Robert E. Chaney leading for the longest period of
time. Major Chaney was killed in action ten days before the "Spearhead"
Division came out of the line for the last time, at Dessau. Major
Gordon Thomas then assumed command.
Many enlisted men of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment gave
their lives to bring final victory. The job of the "Blitz
Doughs" was not an enviable one, and yet there was such
esprit de corps among Colonel Howze's troops that not one man
would have changed places with a tanker. These men were the infighters
of the division, the soldiers who insured victory after the cutting
edge of the armor had slashed enemy positions. Indeed, in street
fighting, the armored infantry often preceded the tanks. For
all of heavy casualties, constant fighting and fatigue, the "Blitz
Doughs" maintained a brilliant reputation for valor.
DIVISION ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
Call sign: "Onset"
The headquarters commanded by Colonel Frederic J. Brown, was
a nerve center designed to serve all ot the various integral
and attached artillery battalions of the 3rd Armored Division.
This centralized control made possible a perfect synchronization
of fire power from self propelled 105 mm pieces of the division's
own 54th, 67th and 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalions,
plus the tanks and tank-destroyers which were frequently used
for indirect fire on targets of opportunity, and the larger 155mm
guns of units like the frequently attached 991st Armored Field
The numerous separate battalions which were attached whenever
the situation demanded more fire power, found that Colonel Brown's
command was well organized. His communications system was so
famous for its speed and dispatch that combat commanders often
used artillery channels in preference to their own. With their
highly mobile, armored artillery pieces, the separate battalions
played a decisive role in each succeeding action. Under Colonel
Brown and Lt. Colonel Lawton F. Garner, executive, the division
artillery headquarters insisted upon a maximum use of fire power.
In so doing, it undoubtedly saved countless lives of American
soldiers. During the five western campaigns, this coordination
of forces placed more than 500,000 shells on the enemy, a record
which is believed to stand alone in the history of armored warfare.
67th ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BN.
Call sign: "Ozone"
The 67th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, which normally
supported Combat Command "A" in action, was led throughout
the five western campaigns by Lt. Colonel Edward S. Berry, a
graduate of West Point and the Field Artillery School at Fort
Sill, Oklahoma. Colonel Berry, one time commander of the 54th
Armored Field Artillery Battalion, brought his mobile 105mm self
propelled guns ashore on Omaha Beach, Normandy, with other units
of the 3rd Armored Division, on June 24, 1944. He went into action
almost immediately and the men of the 67th were rarely out of
shooting range of the enemy from that time until final victory.
The 67th Armored Field Artillery Battalion is a direct offspring
of the 2nd Armored Division's old 14th Armored Field Artillery
Regiment, which supplied a cadre of 51 officers and 299 enlisted
men to the original 67th Field Artillery Regiment, activated
at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, on April 15, 1941. Later, the
regiment was split to form the present 67th and 391st Armored
Field Artillery Battalions.
391st ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BN.
Call sign: "Orlando"
The 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, commanded by
Lt. Colonel George G. Garton, graduate of the United States Military
Academy at West Point, and of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, led all 3rd Armored Division artillery elements in
the number of high explosive shells delivered to the enemy during
the western campaigns. When the battalion came out of the line
at Dessau, shortly before VE day, it could boast a total of 172,100
105mm projectiles fired in support of the "Spearhead"
The 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, which normally supported
Brigadier General Truman E. Boudinot's Combat Command "B",
in action, was activated at Camp Polk, Louisiana, in January,
1942, from personnel of the old 67th Field Artillery Regiment.
With the 54th and 67th Armored Field Artillery Battalions, Colonel
Garton's 391st supplied most of the division's close support
54th ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BN.
Call sign: "Orlando"
The veteran 54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion is another
early member of the 3rd Armored Division. The 54th was at Camp
Polk, Louisiana, on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked America
at Pearl Harbor. Personnel of the battalion were on the firing
range when word came that the United States was at war.
In Normandy and northern France the 54th was commanded by Lt.
Colonel Robert J. Moore, a graduate of Florida University and
the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. When Colonel
Moore was wounded in the early phases of the Rhineland campaign,
Major John P. Sink assumed command. He was later replaced by
Lt. Colonel Mont Hubbard, who led the battalion through the rest
of the European fighting.
Like the 67th and 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalions, the
105mm mobile guns of the 54th were a constant mainstay of 3rd
Armored Division power.
Attached artillery battalions, under division control, played
a part in every "Spearhead" victory. Two of these units,
the 991st and 183rd Field Artillery Battalions, 155mm SP gun
and howitzer, respectively, were so frequently under Colonel
Brown's command that they considered themselves part of the 3rd.
That high regard was mutual. Men of the 991st fired the first
allied shell into Germany and were first to bombard Cologne.
The 183rd lobbed projectiles across the Rhine before any other
Distinguished attachees were the 58th and 87th Armored Field
Artillery Battalions (SP), veterans of North Africa and D-day
in Normandy; the 18th Field Artillery Battalion, which was first
to fire rockets in combat; and the 188th Field Artillery Battalion,
155mm (Towed), which gained undying fame among tankers by knocking
out an enemy Panther Mark-V with a first round direct hit at
Included among other fine attached battalions were: 967th, 957th,
258th, 730th Field Artillery Battalions, all using 155mm guns;
the 897th, 898th, 83rd, and 84th Field Artillery Battalions,
using 105mm pieces; and the 13th Field Artillery Observation
Battalion. The 897th, 730th and 898th battalions were units of
the 75th Infantry Division, and the 84th Field Artillery Battalion
ordinarily worked with the 9th Infantry Division.
83rd ARMORED RECONNAISSANCE BN.
Call sign: "Osgood"
The 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is an original "Spearhead"
unit, having been activated at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, on
April 15, 1941, as the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. Major Edwin
C. Greiner was the first commander, and the organization's core
was made up of 20 officers and 224 enlisted cadremen from the
2nd Armored Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.
On May 12,1941, the then 3rd Reconnaissance became the 83rd Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion. As such it made history in the five
western European campaigns of World War II.
With the 3rd Armored Division, the 83rd trained at Camp Polk,
Louisiana; at the California Desert Center; Camp Pickett, Virginia;
and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, before sailing for England
on the John Errickson early in September, 1943. Upon arrival
in Great Britain, the battalion was stationed at Longbridge Deverill,
Wiltshire, and took part in extensive maneuvers along the British
seacoast and over Salisbury Plain.
Four officers commanded the 83rd in combat. They were Lt. Colonel
William L. Cabaniss, who led the organization in Normandy and
was transferred late in August; Major John R. Tucker, Jr., who
then assumed command, then became executive officer upon the
assignment of Lt. Colonel Prentice E. Yeomans, two weeks later.
Colonel Yeomans commanded the battalion through most of its great
triumphs on the battlefield and was himself killed in action
during the last weeks of the war. Major Richard L. Bradley then
Under the leather lunged and capable Colonel Yeomans, the 83rd
came into its own as a great fighting force. With Combat Command
"B", the battalion was among the first Americans to
reach German soil in force. The 83rd also occupied Roetgen on
September 12, 1944, the first German town to fall to allied troops.
During the bitter winter campaign in Belgium, the battalion was
again in the limelight. Company "A" was with Task Force
Hogan's "400" at "Marcouray; personnel of the
unit reconnoitering a route out of that death trap and leading
a 14 hour march through German lines on Christmas night. Later,
the company, along with the rest of the battalion, spearheaded
an attack which cut the vital St. Vith-Houffalize road.
Back in Germany for the last great offensive early in 1945, the
83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion again led the "Spearhead"
in several of its most notable drives. The battalion was the
first unit of the First Army to reach the Rhine, touching the
"sacred river" at 4 A. M. on March 4, north of Worringen.
In the magnificent Paderborn sweep to encircle the industrial
Ruhr, Colonel Yeoman's men again whipped out in front to lead
the entire division on the longest armored drive ever made in
the history of warfare, 90 road miles against opposition.
During the last days of the war in the west, Lt. Colonel Yeomans
was killed in action while leading his troops in the town of
Zschepkau on the approaches to Dessau. Major Richard L. Bradley
then assumed command.
23rd ARMORED ENGINEER BN.
Call sign: "Outlook"
The history of the 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion encompasses
both world wars. The original regiment was activated at Camp
Meade, Maryland, in 1917, and served brilliantly in France. Known
as the "Road Builders Of The AEF," the first 23rd set
a high standard of achievement for its modern namesake.
The Battalion was reactivated on April 15, 1941, at Camp Beauregard,
Louisiana, with the 3rd Armored Division. Cadres were made up
of 28 officers and 729 enlisted men from the 17th Engineer Battalion
of the 2nd Armored Division. Major Fremont S. Tandy was the first
The 23rd trained at Camp Beauregard and Camp Polk, Louisiana;
at the Desert Training Center, California; Camp Pickett, Virginia;
and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, before sailing for Europe early
in September, 1943. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, the battalion
was stationed at Fonthill Bishop, Wiltshire, England, and took
part in extensive maneuvers over Salisbury Plain, and along the
Lt. Colonel Lawrence G. Foster led the 23rd Armored Engineer
Battalion through all five campaigns in the west. He and his
troops went ashore on Omaha Beach on June 23, 1944. The hedgerows
of Normandy presented an immediate problem. Some method had to
be devised to get tanks through, or over, these formidable embankments.
After blasting passages with TNT at bloody Villiers Fossard and
Haut Vents, Foster's men invented a double blade hedge cutter
which was attached to the division's Sherman tanks by maintenance
crews. These proved highly successful.
The battalion's first big combat bridging operation was carried
out near Corbeil, France, when 540 feet of treadway were thrown
across the Seine River. After the Seine, the engineers bridged
the Marne, Aisne, and a number of other streams which paved the
division's march into Belgium. At Mons, they exchanged shovels
for machine guns and declared a Roman holiday by mowing down
disorganized enemy columns trying to break out of encirclement.
Two bridges at Namur, one across the Meuse, and one spanning
the Sambre Canal, were built under hazardous circumstances.
Working under vicious mortar, artillery and sniper fire, men
of the 23rd mastered the dragon's teeth of the Siegfried Line,
lifted thousands of mines, destroyed pillboxes and cleared road
blocks. During the Ardennes fighting, units of the battalion
aided in the successful defense of Hotton, and later took part
in fierce battles at Lierneux, Cherain, and Sterpighy. The normally
hazardous work of lifting mines was made more difficult by severe
cold and snow which prevailed during this period.
Back in the Rhineland, the engineers constructed four bridges
across the Erft River and Canal under observed enemy artillery,
mortar and small arms fire. In the final great offensive, the
bridge company also aided an engineer group in the bridging of
the Rhine near Bonn. The battalion's last operation, the bridging
of the Mulde River, was abandoned by army order. The 23rd came
out of the line with reason to feel that its combat record added
much to the proud history of the original "Road Builders
Of The AEF."
703rd TANK DESTROYER BN.
Call sign: "Amber"
The 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, upon its activation at
Camp Polk, Louisiana, on December 15, 1941, may have been considered
by some as an "8-ball" outfit. One year later, at Indiantown
Gap, Pennsylvania, while troops of the 3rd Armored Division gazed
wide eyed, the "8-ball" tank busters proceeded to steal
the show at a demonstration of fire power and big gun accuracy.
Under the expert, harsh discipline of Lt. Colonel Prentice E.
Yeomans, later commanding officer of the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance
Battalion, the 703rd had whipped itself into shape as a smoothly
functioning, well trained organization.
Formed at Camp Polk, from 3rd Armored Division cadres, the 703rd
was yet an attached unit owing allegiance not to Armored Force,
but to Tank Destroyer Command, a new branch of service. Excepting
for a short TD and commando training course at Camp Hood, Texas,
however, and a period during the Ardennes fighting of 1944-45,
the battalion always remained under "Spearhead" control.
With the 3rd, it trained on California's Mojave Desert and at
Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Although originally wearing the
black and orange tiger patch of TD service, the fiercely independent
703rd finally adopted the "Spearhead" patch and was
as much a part of the division as any of its own tank battalions.
Crossing the Atlantic on the Shawnee, the battalion was
stationed at Mere, Wiltshire, England. Here, Lt. Colonel Wilbur
E. Showalter, a West Point graduate, assumed command.
Used as roadblocks, flank protection, and as a base of fire,
the M-10, 3-inch gun carriages used by the battalion added security
and heavy fire power to the division's drive through Normandy,
France and Belgium to the Siegfried Line. Here, the 703rd was
the first TD unit to receive the new M-36, 90 mm gun carriage,
which was used for both direct and indirect fire.
Throughout constant operations in five western campaigns, the
tank destroyer soldiers chalked up a record of efficiency that
was cited by the ordnance offices at Aberdeen, Maryland. For
every tank destroyer lost to the battalion through enemy action,
men of the 703rd destroyed ten German tanks or assault guns!
The battalion's most notable actions were: first, at Ranes-Fromentel,
France, where seven tanks and assault guns fell to the TD's,
among them two Panthers destroyed at a range of 25 yards, by
Cpl. Joseph Juno, who was himself killed as he attempted to aid
the wounded enemy tankers;
at Mons, Belgium, when column after column of fleeing Jerries
ran into the point blank fire of the TD's; and in the Ardennes
fighting, when the 703rd was temporarily attached to the 1st
Infantry Division and to the 82nd Airborne Division. The battalion
returned to the 3rd in time to take part in the all out counter
attack which deflated the "bulge."
Throughout the five European campaigns, the 703rd Tank Destroyer
Battalion destroyed 90 German tanks and SP guns, scores of other
transport and enemy line troops. In the final analysis, accuracy
and big gun performance paid off.
486th ANTI-AIRCRAFT BN.
Call sign: "Annex"
The 486th Armored Anti-Aircraft Battalion, an attached unit
of the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" Division, wasn't in
action long before it had acquired a soubriquet of its own. They
called it the "Anti-Anything" Battalion!
During the United States First Army's five campaigns in Europe,
men of the 486th constantly demonstrated their versatility with
fifty caliber quadruple mounts and 37 mm automatic cannon. Whether
the target was an enemy Focke Wulf 190, or a Mark-V tank. Colonel
Raymond E. Dunnington's ack-ack soldiers were ready and willing
to pass the ammunition. They did so, to the tune of more than
30 Category I (totally destroyed) and 16 Category II (damaged
and probably destroyed) confirmations on everything from light
bombing planes to jet-propelled fighters. On ground targets,
conservative figures show that the battalion destroyed more than
200 German combat vehicles of all types, including tanks, armored
cars, horse drawn artillery pieces, and at least two railway
trains. The battalion was the first of its kind on German soil
in World War II and the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft
from that German soil.
The 486th Armored Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Automatic Weapons,
Self Propelled, was activated at Camp Davis, North Carolina,
on December 10, 1942. Its first commander was Lt. Colonel John
W. Paddock. One month after activation, Lt. Colonel Raymond E.
Dunnington assumed command and the unit, originally a 40mm battalion,
was reorganized, issued the latest of mobile equipment and embarked
on a strenuous training program. As one of the first mobile,
modern flak battalions, Colonel Dunnington's outfit aided in
the preparation of numerous training films and publications for
After comprehensive maneuvers at Camp Polk, Louisiana, and Camp
Hulen, Texas, the battalion entrained for Camp Shanka, New York,
and boarded the Queen Mary for overseas shipment. The
ack-ack men provided AA protection for the big ship on its Atlantic
Exactly one year after activation, the 486th arrived at East
Knoyle, Wiltshire, England, and was attached to the 3rd Armored
Division, an association which was to prove fruitful in the bitter
days ahead. With the "Spearhead" Colonel Dunnington's
battalion landed on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, on June 23, 1944
and promptly began to earn the "Anti-Anything" nickname
by scoring on all swastika marked vehicles, in the air or on
From the time that the 3rd Armored Division landed on the continent
of Europe until VE day, the 486th AAA Bn. was operational. In
more than 70 direct attacks on division areas protected by M-15
and M-16 half-track, AA mounts of the battalion, there was not
a single case of serious damage caused by the attacking planes.
Although an attached unit, the flak-men of the 486th were always
considered "Spearhead" troops. In a division which
gained fame as the first team of the First Army, the battalion
which came to be called "Anti-anything" had a reputation
for straight shooting and uncommon versatility in the business
of total war.
ARMORED MAINTENANCE BN.
Call sign: "Oxygen"
The 3rd Armored Maintenance Battalion was one good reason
why the "Spearhead" Division kept rolling when, by
all the laws of machinery, it should have been halted for overhaul.
During the long rat race across France and Belgium in the rapid
summer offensive of 1944, the maintenance crews worked furiously
while on the move. They welded and brazed the broken armor; improvised
when material was scarce; cannibalized other vehicles on the
battlefield; begged, borrowed, and actually stole the necessities
which kept their charges rumbling forward against the enemy.
How well that task was accomplished is all in the record; it's
in the brave story of the long, grueling drives, the miracle
of supply, the smash into and through the Siegfried Line of Germany
early in September, 1944.
The 3rd Armored Division's Maintenance Battalion was activated
at Camp Polk, Louisiana, during the reorganization of armored
forces on January 1, 1942. Its components were: the 18th Ordnance
Battalion and Company "B" of the 15th Quartermaster,
both charter members of the "Spearhead" Division. Lt.
Colonel William R. Hamby was the first commanding officer. The
battalion trained with its parent unit at Camp Polk, Louisiana;
Desert- Center, California; Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown
Gap, Pennsylvania, before sailing for overseas service early
in September, 1943. In England, the battalion was stationed at
Codford St. Mary, Wiltshire, and maneuvered over Salisbury Plain
during pre-invasion months.
After thorough training, the Maintenance Battalion supervised
waterproofing of all the division's vehicles before embarkation
for France. Under Lt. Colonel Joseph L. Cowhey, the battalion
went ashore in Normandy, on July 4, 1944, and was immediately
given a problem to solve: that of producing a suitable hedge-cutting
arrangement to fit on the division's medium tanks. After a few
days of experimentation, a double plow chopper, designed by the
armored engineers, was evolved. In one week, 100 of these gadgets
were fitted to tanks. The materials used were I-beams and boiler
plate salvaged from blown bridges and buildings. Two hundred
of the choppers were ultimately installed and used to good effect
in the bocage country.
Lt. Colonel Rager J. McCarthy assumed command of the battalion
on August 29, 1944, and led the unit throughout the rest of the
During bitter attrition on the western front near Stolberg, Germany,
the battalion's personnel worked night and day under vicious
shell fire in order to repair the numerous "Spearhead"
tanks which had been damaged in action. The magic of the maintenance
crews returned vehicles to duty within short hours of retrieval.
Aside from swift repair on division combat vehicles, the Maintenance
Battalion aided the mammoth task of supply. Nine M-25 tank transporters,
the largest wheeled vehicles in the army, carried extra equipment,
gasoline, and ammunition for the "Spearhead." As if
this were not enough, Colonel McCarthy's men volunteered, at
one time, to give their blood for the wounded. That was, after
all, a typical gesture from the men who had adopted as their
own, the slogan: "We do the difficult immediately. The impossible
takes a little longer!"
ARMORED SUPPLY BN.
Call sign: "Orange"
The 3rd Armored Division's Supply Battalion, commanded by
Major Rodney J. Banta, became the lifeline of the "Spearhead"
in action. The battalion's big 2 & 1/2 ton trucks brought
vital fuel, ammunition, rations and supplies to the pace setting
front line units. Battalion trucks were also assigned to each
of the spearheading task forces and used to transport thousands
of infantrymen in the great drives.
Regardless of heartbreaking road conditions, a fluid enemy situation,
and lack of rest on the long overland hauls, supply was maintained
with exceptional speed and efficiency. Trucks were loaded far
beyond their normal capacity and drivers slept behind their wheels
after rolling day and night in the wake of the attacking armor.
On several occasions, the supply trucks passed through enemy
lines in order to deliver their cargoes. The great summer offensive
of 1944, which took General Omar Bradley's 12th Army Group from
Normandy to the Siegfried Line, was largely made possible through
the herculean efforts of such divisional forward echelon supply
troops as those of the "Spearhead." They were the storekeepers
of the front-line.
The 3rd Armored Division Supply Battalion is a direct descendant
of the 15th Quartermaster Battalion formed at Camp Beauregard,
Louisiana, on April 15, 1941, by a cadre of 165 enlisted men
and 17 officers of the 2nd Armored Division's 14th Quartermaster.
Colonel George H. Rarey was the first Commanding Officer.
In the armored force reorganization of January, 1942, the Quartermaster
Battalion was redesignated the Supply Battalion, rearranged,
and streamlined accordingly. All motor maintenance work, heretofore
done by the quartermaster sections, was dropped from the battalion's
agenda, and new training schedules stressed the problem of supply
in modern warfare of swift movement.
The battalion trained with its parent unit at Camp Polk, Louisiana;
Desert Center, California; Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown
Gap, Pennsylvania, before sailing for overseas service on the
Capetown Castle. In England, the Supply Battalion was billeted
at Codford St. Mary, Wiltshire, and received final training in
the division's extensive maneuvers over Salisbury Plain.
Men of the Supply Battalion landed in Normandy on July 3, 1944,
and immediately began the work which was to assume such critical
proportions in the breakthrough and the subsequent pursuit across
France and Belgium. When that staggering task was presented to
the men and officers of Major Banta's command, they were not
found wanting. The storekeepers of the "Spearhead"
Division added much to that accomplishment which came to be known
as the miracle of supply in Europe. The hauling of ammunition,
fuel, rations, clothing and equipment of all kinds, plus the
transportation of infantry in front-line positions, helped to
shorten the war in the west. In more ways than one, they delivered
45th ARMORED MEDICAL BN.
Call sign: "Oxford"
The combat record of the 45th Armored Medical Battalion is
an almost continuous saga of heroism under fire, of never-ending
labors to lighten the burden of the front line soldier, to minister
to his wounds, and to save his life in spite of "impossible"
field conditions. Lieutenant Colonel Charles L. Steyaart, commanding
officer of the battalion, found the task arduous, but he and
his troopers of the red cross shrugged off all limitations. They
just went to work. The medical corps motto, "Seivice Above
Self", was characteristic of the 45th.
Although aid men of the battalion carried no firearms or other
weapons, they accompanied "Spearhead" combat troops
throughout every battle, from Normandy to central Germany. In
order to save precious time, one half of a treatment section
travelled with the forward elements of each fighting task force.
The very presence of these men during the most critical of situations
was a constant morale builder to combat GI's.
In action, a fleet of armored half tracks, 3/4 ton panel ambulances,
and peeps, carried injured men from the battlefield to a relatively
safe place in the rear, often through a hail of shell fire and
small arms bullets. Many of the medical men were killed or wounded
while performing their errands of mercy. After temporary dressing,
the wounded were sent further to the rear; often, in the great
drives, for distances of 50 to 150 miles, to the larger field
Throughout all of the European campaigns, the battalion operated
advance rest centers and portable shower bath units to accommodate
bone-tired GI's just off the blazing front line. It was a service
these men never forgot.
The "Spearhead Medics" were activated with the 3rd
Armored Division at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, on April 15,
1941. The original cadre consisted of 19 officers and 96 enlisted
men of the 2nd Armored Division's 48th Medical Battalion. Lt.
Colonel William L. Tatum was the first commanding officer.
The new battalion trained with its parent 3rd Armored Division
at Beauregard and Camp Polk, Louisiana; Desert Center, California;
Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania; before
sailing for European service on the John Errickson, early
in September, 1943. Upon its arrival in England, the battalion
was billeted at Stockton House and Bapton Manor, near Codford,
Wiltshire. During the division's nine month pre-invasion training
in Great Britain, the 45th engaged in maneuvers over Salisbury
Plain and along the English coast.
Advance companies of the "Spearhead Medics" landed
in Normandy on June 24, 1944, and went into action with the rest
of the division at Villiers Fossard five days later. There was
no hesitation on the part of the red cross troopers; they had
been well trained for their part in the forthcoming campaigns.
"Service Above Self" had become more than a motto;
it was a way of life.
143rd ARMORED SIGNAL CO.
Call sign: "Ostrich"
The 143rd Armored Signal Company was an original unit of the
3rd Armored Division. It was activated on April 15, 1941, at
Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, by a cadre of 92 men from the 48th
Signal Company of the 2nd Armored Division. Then known as the
46th Signal Company, the unit was commanded by Major Frank G.
With armored force reorganization on January 1, 1942, the unit
was designated the 43rd Armored Signal Company. Personnel then
numbered 9 officers and 247 enlisted men.
The 143rd trained with the 3rd Armored Division in Camp Polk,
Louisiana; Desert Center, California; Camp Pickett, Virginia;
and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. With the division, it embarked
for Europe early in September 1943, and, upon arrival in England,
the company was stationed at Cucklington, Somerset. During the
nine month stay in Great Britain it engaged in extensive maneuvers
over Salisbury Plain and along the coastal areas.
Because of heavy channel storms, the Signal Company did not land
in Normandy until ten days after the rest of the division had
reached France. By the time Lt. Colonel George V. Bussey's troops
had come ashore, the 3rd had been committed to action and discovered
that it could not function properly without the communication
system which the 143rd was designed to provide.
Colonel Bussey, Division Signal Officer, and Captain John L.
Wilson, company commander, deserve much of the credit for the
excellent record of the Signal Company in action. The very successful
division plan for air-ground coordination in the Normandy breakthrough,
was worked out by these men in cooperation with the G-3 air and
air-support experts of 9th TAC.
As the communications branch of the 3rd Armored Division, the
143rd was charged with four main responsibilities. They were:
that of the Operations Platoon, which had radio, wire, and message
center sections; Signal Supply, which issued all signal equipment
to the division; Radio Maintenance and Installation teams; and
Signal Administration, which determined the overall policy for
division communications. The amount of work done by these various
sections ran into astronomical figures. For example, signal men
covered ten times the mileage distance of the division in attack,
and often had to fight their way to deliver important dispatches.
Radio messages handled, totaled over 65,000, and all other types
of dispatch were in proportion. Trouble shooting on wire under
heavy shell fire was an everyday job. 3,379 miles of telephone
wire were laid by the company during its five European campaigns.
Signal Company officers and men fought and died with the "Spearhead".
The company was at Hotton, led by Captain John Wilson; and certain
sections of it were at Mons during the action which won a Distinguished
Unit Citation for Division Forward Echelon, Headquarters Company,
and for those men of the signal company present. In every important
action, from the Normandy breakthrough to the last night in Dessau,
troops of the 143rd were the 3rd Armored Division's line of communications.
Call sign: "Oregon"
Headquarters, 3rd Armored Division Trains, was activated at
Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, on April 15, 1941. At that time the
headquarters was a special staff section. Later, at Camp Polk,
Louisiana, during the January, 1942, reorganization of Armored
Force, Division Trains became a separate unit and gained a headquarters
The original cadre for the headquarters came from the 40th Armored
Regiment. Later, the cadre was supplemented by men from other
units of the Division. With the rest of the future "Spearhead,"
Trains took part in maneuvers over the Mojave Desert, in California;
saw service at Camp Pickett, Virginia, and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania,
before sailing for overseas duty early in September, 1943. During
the long period of American training, the headquarters had operated
firing ranges for the entire division.
Upon arrival in England, Trains moved to Stockton House, Wiltshire,
and took part in maneuvers over Salisbury Plain and along the
Colonel James B. Taylor was in command during the early Normandy
fighting. He was killed in action on August 2, 1944. Shortly
thereafter, Colonel Carl J. Rohsenberger assumed command. Colonel
Rohsenberger commanded throughout the five campaigns of the "Spearhead"
In combat, Trains Headquarters was responsible for the movement,
defense, and bivouacing of elements entrusted to its control.
Normally, these consisted of Maintenance Battalion, the 45th
Armored Medical Battalion, Supply Battalion, Service Company,
and the rear echelon of Division Headquarters, the 486th Armored
Anti-Aircraft Battalion, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion, and
143rd Armored Signal Company.
Trains Headquarters landed in France on July 2, 1944, and received
its first taste of enemy action at St. Jean de Daye, when low
flying nuisance raiders bombed its area.
In the great armored drives of 1944, the trucks of Division Trains
hauled everything from infantry to gasoline and ammunition. Fuel
supply was critical and any retreat would have been impossible
because of lack of gasoline. Often the Trains were far ahead
of mop-up infantry, and were taking prisoners with the aplomb
of a combat unit.
During the final stages of the summer drive, the headquarters
operated an auxiliary prisoner of war cage for the division provost
marshal. Maximum use was made of transportation to move these
prisoners to the rear.
At Raeren, just outside the German border, in Belgium, the Division
Trains were located in "Buzz Bomb Alley." The pilotless
craft roared over day and night. Some fire from railway guns
and a few fighter bomber attacks were also experienced here.
During the early months of 1945, Colonel Rohsenberger's command
operated a Rehabilitation Center for GI's with battle fatigue,
light wounds, or exhaustion. Later, after the last great offensive
had begun, there was no time for anything but movement. Typical
of the period was the order: "Keep moving east as far and
as fast as you can." The Division Trains, along with the
rest of the "Spearhead" did just that.
THE SPEARHEAD WAS A TEAM
The reputation of the 3rd Armored Division was built on plain,
old fashioned American teamwork. There were no favorite branches
of service, no applause for the tanks without mention of the
plodding, indispensable infantry. They were all one, working
together for common good. And when the chips were down, they
all fought hard, as brother for brother. Each branch of service
depended upon the other for support and they rode to win together.
Next Chapter: Training in the States