"In The Mood" x 3:
DETECTIVE WORK: LAFAYETTE POOL'S THREE TANKS
By Stephen 'Cookie' Sewell
Museum Ordnance Magazine
Back in September 1993, I wrote an article for Museum Ordnance
which questioned a number of "ultimate truths" about
German armor and WWII. Some thought I had committed heresy. But
others have written or called me about some of the things that
I brought up in that article. One of the more useful, but at
the same time more vexing, items which they wanted me to try
and find out were the markings used on the Sherman commanded
by SSG Lafayette Pool.
For those of you who did not read that article, Pool is credited
in the official history of the 3rd Armored Division as the top
scoring US tanker of WWII with some 258 enemy vehicles destroyed;
1,000-plus killed; and 250 prisoners taken. All of this took
place in a combat career that covered only 81 days in action
(27 June - 15 September 1944) and three different Shermans. The
question, since there are apparently no known pictures of Pool
or his tank currently in circulation, and only a fuzzy Yank
drawing of Pool himself, the problem is trying to use some old
fashioned detective work to figure out what they would have looked
By studying Pool's career, we can get an idea of the time
frame and the particular type of tank that he would have been
using. First off, we need to establish what kind of tank Pool
was using. When the 3rd Armored came ashore in Normandy (23 June
1944), it was primarily equipped with M4A1 tanks with the 75mm
cannon. In the same time frame, the 2nd Armored Division also
came ashore, but most of its tanks were M4's, not M4Al's. This
is a little fact which helps sort out "who's who" in
the period photos. 3rd Armored Shermans were also exclusively
shod with the T48 rubber chevron tracks; 2nd Armored had them,
and then took them off in July 1944; they would not get them
back until December 1944 and the "Bulge."
In this time period, 3rd Armored Division tanks were AN613
olive drab with markings in white and yellow "bumper"
numbers repeated on the sides of the vehicle. The yellow numbers
used by 3rd Armored generally had a dash between the letter (signifying
the company) and the number itself. 2nd Armored did not use the
dash as a rule.
From historical data in the divisional history, we know that
Pool was the platoon sergeant, and later the acting platoon leader,
of 3rd Platoon, I Company (3rd battalion), 32nd Armored Regiment,
which was part of the division's Combat Command A. Convention
in use by armored units at the time had the platoon leader (a
lieutenant) using the Xl tank, and the platoon sergeant using
the X5 tank. As 3rd Platoon, I Company, Pool's bumper number
should have been 1-35. Ergo, the bumper number in full should
read: 3A32AI-35, with the turret number in yellow as also 1-35.
Pool's tank was named IN THE MOOD. Based on traditions in
use at the time, the three should have been IN THE MOOD, IN THE
MOOD II, and IN THE MOOD III.
As for each tank and the markings it would have used, the
answer would seem to be as follows. The first IN THE MOOD lasted
from 23 June until 29 June, when CCA attacked for the first time
at Villers Foussard. IN THE MOOD was nailed by a German Panzerfaust
and the crew had to bail out of the stricken tank. Shortly afterwards,
Pool received IN THE MOOD II, which appears from his combat log
to have been an M4A1(76)W. This tank, like all others in the
division at this time, had the "hip ring" loader's
hatch. Based on the date of issue (July 1944), it should have
initially been marked as per IN THE MOOD but with the identifying
Roman numeral II after the name.
IN THE MOOD II lasted from around 1 July 1944 to 17 August,
when, as he led CCA in the process of clearing remaining German
forces from the village of Fromental. P-38's attacked what they
thought were "Tigers" and knocked out IN THE MOOD II.
Pool got another M4A1(W) the next day, and kept this tank as
IN THE MOOD III, until it was destroyed on the night of 15 September
while attempting to force the Siegfried Line at Munsterbusch,
southwest of Aachen. By this time, the only markings on the vehicle
would have been bumper codes, perhaps a serial number (photos
show most of them either painted out or worn down to the point
of being unreadable), and a letter I in white on the mantlet
above the 76mm gun. This tank probably had a muzzle brake and
the oval loader's hatch; IN THE MOOD II would not have had either
In his last battle, Pool was hit by a Panther before he could
turn and fire. While trying to back his damaged Sherman up, the
Panther hit it a second time, catching the tank on the edge of
a ditch and flipping it over as the same round blew Pool out
of the commander's hatch, seriously slashing open one of his
legs with a shell splinter. Pool was irate that his tank was
knocked out, but he was too badly wounded to continue and was
evacuated. The leg was too badly mangled to save, and Pool watched
any hope of his returning to amateur boxing disappear as the
leg was amputated.
Pool is noteworthy as he fought in 21 separate engagements
over his 81-day career. In nearly all of them, he was the lead
tank in the lead platoon of the lead task force of the lead combat
command of the division. Truly, IN THE MOOD, whichever one you
choose, was the "Spearhead's Spearhead."
Balin, George; D-Day Tank Battles; Beachhead
to Breakout. Tanks Illustrated 10. Arms and Armour Press 1984.
Becker, Emile and Milmeister, Jean; Marquages
Et Organisation US Army (ETO 1944-45). Printed in Luxembourg.
Historian, 3rd Armored Division; Spearhead
in the West: The 3rd Armored Division 1941-45. HQS US Forces
Europe 1945 (reprinted 1980 by Battery Press).
Hunnicutt, R.P.; Sherman: A History of the
American Medium Tank. Presidio Press 1978.
Wise, Terence; D-Day to Berlin: Armour Camouflage
and Markings. Arms and Armour Press 1979.
Zaloga, Steven; D-Day Tank Warfare. Concord
Armor at War Series 7002. Concord Press 1994.
Zaloga, Steven; The Sherman Tank in US and
Allied Service. Vanguard 26. Osprey Books 1982.
Zaloga, Steven; Patton's Tanks. Tanks Illustrated
11. Arms and Armour Press 1984.