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Seeking Information: 754th Tank Battalion

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by Top, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. Top

    Top Member

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    I first tried a Search here but came up nil.

    I am seeking information on any insignia and /or marking schemes used by the 754th Tank Battalion. They were an independant tank battalion and saw service on many campaigns in the Pacific, and were assigned to support the 37th Infantry Infantry Division on several occaisions. I would like to accurately model a Sherman from the unit.

    Thanks in advance for any information!

    -Top
     
  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I found a couple things related to the 754th Tk Bn, but I'm not sure if they will help.

    First, I found a photo on WWIIArchives.net of a couple of tanks from the 754th on Bougainville.

    I also came across this photo on another forum:

    View attachment 17400

    The poster identifies it as his father's, who served in the 754th Tank Battalion. It appears to have a generic triangular armor patch on the left shoulder.

    I'll keep looking around, but hopefully one of our other members will be of more help.


    Addendum:

    I thought I'd add a link to the digitized report of the 754th Tk Bn on Luzon that I found on CARL.

    Its not what you asked about, but I thought maybe someone else who happens upon this thread might find it helpful.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Top

    Top Member

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    Thanks!
     
  4. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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  5. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    You're welcome, Top. If you find what you're looking for, I hope you will share it with us.
     
  6. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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  7. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    I realize this post has been quiet for nine months now (just ran into it today), but I'm wondering Top if you're still looking for info/pictures on the 754th Tank Battalion?

    The picture that TD-Tommy776 highlighted in his post of a "uniform on a wall" looks familiar since I took it from my living room. I have several images of Dad and his tank (sorry, no images of just the tank) that were sent home while he was overseas. If you're still interested I could post them.


    ===================


    Yes, you're right TD, I read the report and found it very interesting. Ran into Dads name when he was presented the Purple Heart. However, the late date of the "Company Order" was a bit puzzling since it was several months after Dads wounding. I'm thinking it was offered after he had returned to duty due to the serious injury/hospitalization of the injury. From what I know of it, he nearly lost his life due to gangrene setting in before getting medical attention.

    Also, the report has Dads Company "A", (on his injury date) "Inactive". Yet, it states Company "B", 3rd Platoon, was involved in the very attack on the Manila Post Office Building that Dad was wounded? Not sure why Dads 3rd Platoon was with Company "B"?

    Really interesting,
    Thanks !!
     
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  8. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    CapnScurvy, welcome to our little Forum. Please be sure to make a formal introduction in the New Member section.

    I hope you don't mind my borrowing your photo for this thread. I did make a point to include a link for attribution. BTW, that is an incredibly stunning display of your Dad's uniform. It's the ultimate shadow box, IMO.

    Top was last online on 4 June 2013, so there is a chance he will be back. Of course, I encourage you to post the photos anyway since there are many here (myself included!) who would be very interested in photos of your Dad and his tank. I had a relative in the 129th Infantry, so the 754th is of personal interest to me. Also, if you are inclined to do so, please consider telling us more about your father in the Those Who Served section.

    Your assessment of the late date of his Purple Heart does make sense. The other issue is a bit more puzzling. I know that with my great uncle's TD unit, it was not unusual for platoons, sections or even individual guns to be attached to one of the other companies in the Battalion. However, that is known because it was in the Bn AARs. So, maybe that happened here but wasn't documented.

    One other possibility that occurs to me is that maybe the injury date is wrong. During that period, Company A was last reported in action on 16 Feb. Is there any possibility that he could have been injured on the 16th instead of the 20th? It wouldn't be the first time a date was wrong in a military report or GO for that matter.
     
  9. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    While I have no relatives who were in tanks, it's always good to have another enthusiast around;. I look forward to more of your posts. I'll echo Tommy and encourage you to make a formal introduction in the New Members area.
     
  10. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    Thank you TD-Tommy776 and LRusso216 for your kind welcome!

    I'll get onto my introduction on the "New Members" site very soon.
    On thinking about it more, I'm suspecting Dad's tank was assigned to Company "B" even though his Company "A" was considered "inactive" during his wounding. It was just 4 days earlier that an aerial bomb hit and killed Company "A"s Commander, and several others, while they were in bivouac. It seems the Company took relief just after this bomb strike, perhaps while transitioning to a new Commander.

    Dad and his crew had volunteered to install a Flame Thrower onto the tank some months earlier. It was voluntary due to the lethality of the equipment used (the fuel tank was placed between the driver and bow gunner, the propellant tank was in the turret). I don't know how many tanks in the Battalion were outfitted with Flame Throwers but I know Dad's had one. It makes sense that Dad's tank was in high demand while helping the Infantry during the building to building fighting. A flame throwing tank was also a huge target of the enemy due to the same lethality of the device. It's little wonder why volunteers were asked to use it.

    I'm pretty sure of his wounding date. Just after Dad's death in 1999, I asked one of his remaining crew members to tell me what he remembers about it. He kindly gave me a good description of where they were, what had happened, and what transpired next. He even made a drawing of the streets and buildings involved. An assault of the Old Post Office Building was their objective of the day (just like the Company "B" entry of Feb. 20th). Amazing what details he could remember. I'll be forever grateful for his assistance!

    I'll also be grateful for you sharing the "754th Battalion Report while on Luzon" with us. I had never seen this before, and it makes things much clearer.

    Yes the 129th and 145th Infantry were good friends by now with the 754th Tk Bn. The 37th Infantry Division were old friends going back to the Northern Solomons.
     
  11. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    That explanation does make a lot of sense. I'm good with it if you are. :D

    You're very welcome regarding the Battalion report. I came across it some time ago looking for documents related to the 129th/37th. We've got a few threads on the 129th, 145th and 37th Division. You may want to peruse them.
     
  12. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    To further the question regarding pictures of the 754th tanks. I found only a couple of pictures within my Dad's holdings that could give any reasonable image of one. He has several pictures with his crew, and other servicemen in front of a tank, but the tank is hardly visible in any of the other shots. The following picture is of Dad's tank, the "Wild Boar", with him on the left and two of his crew members. I'm not sure of the date or place, but these two crew members were with Dad during the Northern Solomons Campaign, and into the Luzon invasion..

    [​IMG]


    The right rear of the tank had the markings of "U S", and below, the partial number"...969804". From another picture taken of the "Wild Boar", there was another "placard" on the right side of the tank which had no writing on it at all. It was placed towards the front of the one seen in this picture (this placard is not visible in the above image).

    This following image has the same three, but with a front view. I'm suspecting the front "Star" gets scrubbed off when going through the jungle over-growth.

    [​IMG]


    The below picture is one of some notoriety taken by a professional photographer of a 754th tank while on Bougainville. Notice the left placard for the "Lucky Legs II" which is toward the front of the tank.....with not a second one (like in Dad's picture) to the rear. I remember asking Dad about this tank years ago, and he remembered it as one from another Company of the 754th. He said this tank was the Platoon Sergeants tank of whatever platoon it was assigned. He showed me the "3" within the triangle at the left rear of the tank. He said the "Wild Boar" also had this marking to designate the Platoon Sergeant's tank (Platoon Sergeant's were always in the #3 tank of the Platoon).


    [​IMG]


    I'm sorry, but this is the best I've got for pictures of the 754th tanks.

    I don't know who owned the camera, but I do know Dad sent the undeveloped pictures back to his sister who kept them for him. Lot's of pictures of the men, not much of the equipment.

    I don't know personally, but my Dad's sister once lived in Newburgh, New York during the late 40's, early 50's. She and my Uncle were invited to West Point by a fellow church member to look at WWII film footage he was responsible for. While going through some of the archives, my Aunt recognized the "Wild Boar" as it was in combat during the Manila Campaign. I'd like to think this film is still in existence, and someday get to see it myself.
     
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  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    That's an excellent post, CapnScurvy. Great photos of your dad and crew members. I'm a sucker for period photos, with or without tanks. Of course, the topic is more specific. However, I do think that the photos you chose would be helpful. Especially the second one showing the wear on the star. That not a photo op shot. That's a tank that's seen action. Very cool stuff. The third photo, as you said, is pretty well known. I once used it as the desktop photo on my computer. ;)

    It would be an interesting research project to try tracking down the video you mentioned. It might be worth a few emails to the NARA or West Point.
     
  14. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    Yes, I've wondered if there might be a way of getting to see some of the achieves that the service put together by their photographers? I remember my Aunt said the Officer that allowed them to see some of the film footage at West Point would have been in trouble if word got out he had allowed them to view them. She said there were several films of the 754th in combat situations......with one clip of Dad's tank moving up a stairway, leading to a large building. Another with it traveling down a Manila street. The "Wild Boar" could be easily seen on its side.

    She also said there was footage of war that she wished she'd never had seen. I guess there's a reason why some film will never be released.

    As a footnote: Dad named his tank after the wild feral pigs that lived in the mountains of Kentucky when he was a boy. They grew large, maybe 500 lbs, with tusks over 4 inches long. They were known for their ferocity and bad temperament, which suited Dad's idea of naming his tank very well.
     
  15. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    Earlier in this thread I'd indicated my Dad was a member of the 754th Tank Battalion during their duration in the Pacific Theater of WWII. My sister and I are in the process of cleaning out my Mother/Father's home after her recent passing (Dad passed away in 1999). While doing so, I found a personal letter addressed to both Dad and Mom (and "Teenagers"), from one of Dads Army buddies who was from Sun City, Kansas. The letter is dated Feb. 19, 1968. I remember meeting this gentleman (a devout bachelor), several times while attending the 754ths yearly Battalion Reunions that Dad would take us to from time to time. He had served in Dads platoon during the later part of the war, but early on, he was assigned to another Company. Within the letter, he had cut out the below picture (from the apparent magazine he found it in) to show Dad what he was talking about.

    [​IMG]

    The following is what is written from one "Army Tanker" to another:

    "I'm sending you a picture that appeared in Real Mens Magazine in April issue of 1968. It kind of made my blood boil for awhile. They used it to illustrate a Marine story on Guadalcanal & New Guinea. You and I both know its an Army Tank and the picture was taken at the 143 Reg. of the 37th Inf. Div line, in March of 1944, on Bougainville.

    Back in 1944, that picture came out in Yank, Time, and the Wichita Eagle, and I don't know how many more. When I came home when my Mother died, my sister asked me if I ever saw anything like that over there? I said just from the inside of that turret. That's my tank, and probably my steel helmet hanging on the back. Because Tony Benardo, and Gus, had theirs inside with them...I think.

    Lucky Legs II sure is clear in the picture, although the "3" is fairly faint. The reason I'm sure it was taken in March of 1944, is because if you remember we had just got the Mediums, and before we could get all the tar off, the Japs made the big push. If you will notice the top half of the star still has tar on it. We ripped the tape and tar off so the turret would turn and never had time to wash the rest off.

    While I think about it Sheriff (that's the nick name Dad had), did you ever see the write up they did on the Wild Boar, there on Luzon? I never did get to read it."

    To this day, I don't know what was written about the "Wild Boar", or where. But, to find out a guy I knew was sitting in this tank when the picture was taken makes me proud of his service, and grateful of his friendship to our family.
     
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  16. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    I don't know If you've seen it but "Rolling Thunder: Against the Rising Sun" is a book about the Pacific tank battalions. It has quite a few passages devoted to the 754th. Unfortunately while it does have some quotes from soldiers journals or interviews, due to the scope of the book it talks more about platoons and companies than individual tanks.
     
  17. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    No I hadn't read the book Pacifist, but I'll look it up. There's not much written about the Pacific Armor Battalions, so finding information about them is very interesting.

    Over the past several years, the 754th Tank Battalion Association has come to a close. The membership had dwindled to a precious few. Knowing the physical ability of the remaining members to attend was of concern, they had to curtail their activities. Thomas Howard, their long time secretary (who I would call their "Historian") has written several things about the Battalion, either from his diary, or from other sources. These items were originally released to the membership as he published them. I have no idea if there is a public release of them or not. Seems like I remember hearing that he had turned over his writings to an appropriate library for archiving.
     
  18. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Welcome back, CapnScurvy. Thanks for sharing that story and the letter. It is still not uncommon to see the troops in that photo mistakenly ID'd as Marines. I think folks just assumed that, since it was taken on a Pacific Island, they must be Marines.

    I had wondered which regiment was in the photo. Unfortunately, the letter you quoted mentions the "143 Reg", which was never on Bougainville and was with the 36th ID. I believe he meant either the 145th or 148th Regiment, both of which were with the 37th ID. With a little research, it should be possible to figure out which regiment is represented in the pic.
     
  19. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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  20. CapnScurvy

    CapnScurvy New Member

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    I had to read the hand written letter again, yet it reads the "143 Reg." I also read Tom Howard's account of the March 1944 Bougainville offensive. Much like the article that Pacifist has noted, the 129th Infantry Regiment are the one's most likely involved with the "Lucky Legs II" tank of the 1st Platoon of Company C, of the 754th. I'm guessing since one of its members admits seeing things "from the inside of that turret", I'm guessing he didn't really get to shake hands with the guys outside. :rofl: No doubt a mistake.
     

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