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Low numbered US Tank destroyer battalions

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Old Virginian, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. Old Virginian

    Old Virginian New Member

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    Does anyone have further information about the 65th and 66th Tank Destroyer Battalions? All I could find online is that these two units were formed in 1942 from the 307th and the 308th Cavalry Regiments, respectively, which were Army reserve cavalry units pre-World War II. Both battalions were disbanded on the same day in November 1944. I'd assume that they served stateside but would like definite proof as well as service locations and what they did during the war.
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard

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    TD Tommy should have an answer for you. He's one of our resident experts on tank destroyer units.
     
  3. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I just dabble a bit. The real TD Unit expert would be Natman. He can be reached here or at tankdestroyer.net.

    My first thought is that they might have been used as training units. I did come across an obit for a WWII vet which says, "He was initially stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, as a small arms instructor with the 66th Tank Destroyer Battalion." That seems to suggest that my inclination may be correct, at least with respect to the 66th TD Bn.

    If they were training units, I don't know that there will be much on them in the way of records.
     
  4. Natman

    Natman Member

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    I'm not aware of these two TD Bn's. Also checked with my partner on the TD website and he says the same thing. My initial thought was also that they likely became training units at Camp Hood and as Tom indicates, the obit quote seems to bear that out. There may well be records at NARA that could shed some light on this but they may be buried in Camp Hood records?
    Another research angle, possibly, would be to trace the service of Mr. Grega (from the obit) through Morning Reports and maybe find what unit he went to after the 66th was deactivated. It's possible he went to another TD unit still at Hood although the majority of TD units shipped out during Jan-April, 44, for overseas deployment. Artillery and infantry training was taking over Camp Hood in early 44 so transfer to those types of units is a possibility. The list of possibilities goes on.

    Steve
     
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  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    This is a peculiar one. There is simply no room for a "65th" and "66th" "TD" battalion in the organizational history. LTC Clay's U.S. Army Order of Battle does indicate that the 307th and 308th Cavalry in the organized Reserves when disbanded on 11 November 1944 were those units, but that may be specious and there is a gap of some three years before that happened in which I can find no existence of them as TD battalions. I also can find no mention the TD History of them. I suspect they were folded into one of the other battalions organized after 15 December 1941.

    The TD battalions originated from the antitank battalions organized by the War Department, beginning with 4th (later redesignated 94th) 1 January 1940, 93d, 5 June 1940, and 99th 1 July 1940. The National Guard AT battalions were federalized later in the year: 104th on 16 September, 103d on 19 September 1940, 105th in October 1940, 102d on 13 January 1941, 101st on 6 January 1941. The divisional antitank battalions were formed at different times from late 1939 (in the organized regular divisions) and then in 1940-1941 in the National Guard divisions.

    On 15 December 1941, the War Department authorized the organization of 28 light and 16 heavy TD battalions.

    "The War Department organized many of the light battalions from the recently activated provisional division antitank battalions and numbered them according to which division they stemmed from. Thus, the 601st, 602d, 605th, 606th, 607th, 608th, and 609th organized from the existing provisional antitank battalions of the 1st (organized 19 August 1941), 2d (organized 26 March 1941), 5th (organized 16 July 1941), 6th (organized July 1941), 7th, 8th, and 9th (organized 15 July) Divisions, while the 603d was newly organized from personnel of the 3d Division. The 654th Light (SP) Battalion was organized from the 4th Infantry Division (Motorized) Antitank Battalion (organized after the original 4th Antitank Battalion was redesignated the 94th Antitank Battalion) and the 691st Light (SP) Battalion from the Antitank Batteries of the 1st and 2d Cavalry Division. They were all Regular Army.

    The National Guard Light battalions were also organized from the provisional antitank battalions constituted in June. The 626th, 627th, 628th, 629th, 630th, 631st, 632d, 633d, 634th, 635th, 636th, 637th, 638th, 640th, 641st, 643d, 644th, and 645th (SP) were organized from the 26th-38th, 40th, 41st, 43d, 44th, and 45th Divisions. Of those, at least eleven were already organized and participated in the fall 1941 Louisiana and Carolinas maneuvers. The 26th, 27th, 29th, 30th, and 33d Provisional Antitank battalions participated in the Louisiana and Carolina maneuvers, but their organization dates are unknown.[3] The 628th organized on 10 July as the 28th Division Antitank Battalion (Provisional), the 632d organized 11 July as the 32d Division Antitank Battalion (Provisional), the 634th organized in August as the 34th Division Antitank Battalion (Provisional), the 635th organized in June as the 35th Division Antitank Battalion (Provisional), the 637th organized in October as the 37th Division Antitank Battalion (Provisional), and the 643d organized for the maneuvers as the 43d Division Antitank Battalion (Provisional), probably for the Louisiana maneuvers in July.

    The Heavy Tank Destroyer Battalions also were of varying background. The 701st, 702d, 703d, 704th, and 705th Heavy (SP) battalions were brand new organizations drawn from the 1st-5th Armored Divisions. Others were organized in the summer of 1941 specifically for the Louisiana and Carolina maneuvers. The 771st organized from the 71st Provisional Antitank Battalion, which was organized 15 June from Batteries G and H and other elements of the 186th and 187th Field Artillery Regiment, 71st Field Artillery Brigade New York National Guard. The 772d organized from the 72d Provisional Antitank Battalion, which was organized 5 August from Batteries G and H and other elements of the 177th and 182d Field Artillery Regiment, and elements of the 119th Field Artillery regiment, 72d Field Artillery Brigade, Michigan National Guard. The 773d organized from the 73d Provisional Antitank Battalion, which was organized in July from Batteries G and H and other elements of the 166th and 190th Field Artillery Regiments, 73d Field Artillery Brigade, Pennsylvania National Guard, and elements of the 141st Field Artillery Regiment, Louisiana National Guard (the famous old Washington Artillery of New Orleans). The 774th organized from the 74th Provisional Antitank Battalion, which was organized 1 July from Batteries G and H and other elements of the 172d and 179th Field Artillery Regiment, 74th Field Artillery Brigade, Georgia National Guard. The 775th organized from the 75th Provisional Antitank Battalion, which was organized 1 August from Batteries G and H and other elements of the 181st and 191st Field Artillery Regiments, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, Tennessee National Guard, and elements of the 168th Field Artillery Regiment, Colorado National Guard. The 776th organized from the 76th Provisional Antitank Battalion, which was organized 14 July from the Batteries G and H and other elements of the 183d and 188th Field Artillery Regiment, 76th Field Artillery Brigade California National Guard. The 795th (Colored) organized from Batteries G and H, 184th Field Artillery Regiment (Colored), Illinois National Guard.

    The 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion (Heavy) organized from the 101st Antitank Battalion, the 802d from the 102d, the 803d from the 103d, the 804th from the 104th, and the 805th from the 105th, which were all National Guard in origin. The 813th was newly organized from the 112th Field Artillery Regiment, New Jersey National Guard. The 893d organized from the 93d Antitank Battalion, the 894th from the 94th, and the 899th from the 99th, which were all Regular Army."
     
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  6. Old Virginian

    Old Virginian New Member

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    In James Sawicki's cavalry regiments lineage book, he mentions the two regiments' conversion into TD battalions on 30 January 1942.
     
  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    Yes, he does, which begins the gap I referred to - January 1942-November 1944. The 307th and 308th Cavalry were part of the 62d Cavalry Division. It was disbanded c. 30 January 1942, but effectively ceased to exist long before that since its officers had mostly been reassigned to other units...it had no commanding general assigned after October 1940 and no CoS after December 1941. The 154th Cavalry Brigade was also officially disbanded 30 January 1942, but did not have a commanding general assigned after about 7 December 1941. The 307th Cavalry had no commanding officer assigned after 7 December 1941 and the 308th no commanding officer after 6 November 1941. The last major training event of the division and its units was the First Army maneuvers in St Lawrence County, New York, in August 1940...except it did not participate as a unit. Instead, its officers and men were assigned to flesh out the units of the 22d Cavalry Division and 3d Cavalry Regiment (RA).

    Finally, none of the activation orders for the Tank Destroyer battalions in the period 15 December 1941-22 January 1942 when the "65th" and "66th" TD battalions were supposedly constituted actually mention such units and all units then constituted were three-digits in the 600 and 700 series.

    [delete speculation replaced by next post]
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    Okay, I think I finally figured it out. The 65th and 66th were not "Tank Destroyer Battalions" they were Tank Destroyer Training Battalions of the Tank Destroyer Replacement Training Center. It was activated 3 October 1942 at Camp Hood. The initial establishment as of 26 October, when the first 2,640 trainees arrived, were three training battalions, the 126th, 127th, and 128th, in the 1st Tank Destroyer Training Regiment, comprised of 99 officers and 528 EM cadre. By 1 January 1943, the T.D.R.T.C. expanded to five training regiments of two to three battalions each. The 132d and 133d Training Battalions were intended for "colored troops", but on 23 May 1943 the 132d became part of the A.S.T.P. program. On 11 October 1943, the T.D.R.C. was reduced to three regiments (2d, 4th, and 5th) and 11 battalions. Other known battalions were the 131st, 137th, 138th, 139th, 141st, and 144th.

    The personnel of various other Organized Reserve units were also transferred to the T.D.R.T.C. as training cadre. The 302d Cavalry (NJ OR) and 322d Cavalry (IA/MN/ND OR) became the 62d T.D.T.B., the 304th Cavalry (NY OR) the 63d, the 307th Cavalry (VA OR) the 65th, the 308th Cavalry (MD/PA OR) the 66th, the 319th Cavalry (MI OR) the 70th, the 320th Cavalry (WI/IL OR) the 71st, and the 324th Cavalry (WY/UT/ID/MT/CA OR) the 75th.

    By April 1943, the T.D.R.T.C. peaked at over 14,000 EM trainees and officer candidates in c. 16 training battalions with c. 60 companies. Each company had a cadre of 18 EM trainers. Afterwards was a steady decline in strength and organization. While the battalions formed from the OR cavalry nominally existed until disbanded on 11 November 1944, it appears they actually disappeared as organizations in the T.D.R.T.C. reduction on 11 October 1943, with their personnel going to the short-lived expansion of the A.S.T.P. program (the 1st and 3rd Regiments were transferred in June 1943 to the A.S.T.P. and the 6th and 7th Regiments, each of four battalions, were established for the program).

    So the 62d, 63d, 65th, 66th, 70th, 71st, and 75th TD "battalions" only existed for about six months in late 1942 and early 1943 and consisted of a cadre of 20-25 officers and 50-75 EM trainers and a changing number of trainees. They were never tactical organizations in the accepted sense.
     
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  9. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard

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    Rich, you are amazing as usual. I'm glad you looked into it and arrived at a satisfactory answer.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    Well, to be honest, it is inference from imperfect sources, but I'm pretty confident in the gist of it. Thanks!
     
  11. Old Virginian

    Old Virginian New Member

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    Many thanks, Rich. The battalion's presence at TDRC would explain the obituary reference to the 66th TD Battalion. What are your sources for the training battalions' existence?
     
  12. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    As Lou said, your ability to pull together so much detailed info is amazing. It would be interesting to know what sources you used, however imperfect they may be.
     
  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    Sorry, but to fit this sites posting limits I had to trim out citations. The principle two are Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Steven E. Clay, U.S. Army Order of Battle 1919-1941, Volume II, The Arms: Cavalry, Field Artillery, and Coast Artillery, 1919-1941, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2010) and Lt. Col. Emory A. Dunham, The Tank Destroyer History, Army Ground Forces Study No. 29 (Washington, D.C.: Historical Section – Army Ground Forces, 1946), especially Chapter XIII in the latter. The other sources for reconstructing the organization of the fielded TD battalions in my earlier post are below.

    1st Lt Edward L. Josowitz, 601st Tank Destroyer Bn. History, (NP: ND [1945]), p. 3; Bertrand J. Oliver, History 602d Tank Destroyer Battalion March 1941 to November 1945, (East Lansing, MI: 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion Associates, Inc., 1990), p. 1; 603d Tank Destroyer Battalion Unit History, January 1942; Lt.Col. D. F. Buchwald, History of the 605th T.D. Battalion, (Pfungstadt, Germany, 1945), p. 2; 607th Tank Destroyer Battalion Journal, 15 December 1941; History of the 608th Tank Destroyer Battalion, (NP:ND), p.1; Historical and Pictorial Review of the 609th Tank Destroyer Battalion, (Fort Bragg North Carolina, 1942), p. 37.

    1st Lt. Donald M. Carnine, 691 TD BN (NP:ND), p. 7.

    Gabel, U.S. Army GHQ Maneuvers of 1941, pp. 141, 161; George P. Lucas, History of the 627th Tank destroyer Battalion, February 1941-February 1945, (NP: ND), pp. 5-6; Patrick G. Emmanuel, History 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion World War II (NP: ND), p. 1; History of 633d TD Battalion, (NP: ND), p.1.

    Capt. Elmer V. Sparks (ed.), Victory TD [History of the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion], (NP, 7 June 1945), p. 23; Organization History 632nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, (NP: ND), p. 1; History of the 634 TDBN, (NP: ND), p. 1; A Brief History of the 635th Tannk Destroyer Battalion, World War II in the ETO Commanded by Lt Col Wint Smith of Mankato, Kansas, (NP: ND), p. 1; History of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion, (NP: ND), p. 1; 643d Tank Destroyer Battalion History, (Camp San Luis Obispo, California: 643d TD Bn Hq, 6 November 1945), p. 1.

    Seek, Strike, Destroy, The 771st TD BN, (ND: NP [1945]), p.5.

    Pictorial Review Seventy-second Field Artillery Brigade, Army of the United States, 1941, (NP: 1941), pp. 6-7.

    Battalion History, 773d Tank Destroyer Battalion, (NP: ND), p. 1.

    SO No. 15, Hq 74th F.A. Brig., 1 July 1941; Seek-Strike-Destroy, the Story of the 774th Tank Destroyer Battalion, (NP: ND [1945]), p. 2.

    The 728th Amphibian Tractor Battalion History, (NP: ND), p. 1.

    An Informal History of the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion, (Salzburg, Austria: Carl Pustet, ND [1945]), p. 5.

    History of the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion, Fort Custer, Michigan, December 16, 1941-December 31, 1942.

    AG 320.2 (11-17-41) MR-M-C, Subject: Organization of Tank Destroyer Battalions, 3 December 1941.
     
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  14. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Thanks, Richard. My apologies, though. I should have specified that I was more interested in the sources regarding the 65th & 66th. After rereading the Dunham study, I see how you connected the dots. Nicely done.
     
  15. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    No problem. The History and some newspapers identifies the "higher number" training battalions. I infer the lowest numbers formed from the OR cavalry regiments were those formed in the temporary expansion of the training battalions in early 1943. The question is just exactly when they were assigned and redesignated and when their connection with the Training establishment ended.
     

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