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American Thunder

Discussion in 'The Tanks of World War 2' started by RichTO90, Apr 17, 2023.

  1. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    No, those weren't his problems. I met him when he came to do the original interviews that Discovery Channel recycled over and over again and talked with him for a while. I had no idea until later who he was - it was pure chance. He was obviously obsessed by the subject and was full of misconceptions and misremembered events, which is typical in memoirs. It also didn't help that he had a ghostwriter who added a lot of the blood and gore business - he was much more matter of fact than the way the book sounds.

    Anyway, I think I finally figured out what different memories he conflated and I think I have a good explanation for why he said what he did. Just like other cases of conflating memories there are elements of truth and real memory in what he says...but 60-odd years after the fact he got it mixed up.

    According to Alvin D. Coox and L. Van Loan Naisawald in Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II in 274 medium tanks recorded as lost by First U.S. Army, 50.8 percent (696) of the 1,370 crewmen were casualties. Of those, 24.6 percent (171) were killed, 56.9 percent (466) were wounded, and 8.5 percent (59) were missing. The tank commander accounted for 11.4 percent of the losses, the gunner and loader (properly the “cannoneer”) 10.2 percent each, the bow gunner 9.6 percent, and the driver 9.3 percent. A smaller sample of 48 light tanks and 192 crewmen found that 65.1 percent (125) were casualties, of which 41.6 percent (52) were killed, 57.6 percent (72) were wounded, and 0.8 percent (1) were missing. The driver and bow gunner each accounted for 16.7 percent of the loss, followed by the gunner with 16.1 percent, and finally the commander with 15.6 percent. Other data sources are pretty consistent with that.

    The thing is to that point - summer 1944 during the breakout - the odds that Oddball had ever seen a Tiger, engaged a Tiger, or seen anyone else engaged by a Tiger, was about as close to zero as it is possible to get. The occasions that spring and summer that American tankers encountered a Tiger can be counted on the fingers of one hand...if it's missing two fingers. Seriously, three Tiger tanks were recorded as recovered by FUSA and they were probably all abandoned and some, if not all, were probably recovered along the inter-Allied army boundary around Caumont so were as likely encountered by British forces an then recovered by Americans.

    So since any Tigers he encountered were probably actually Panzer IV, he could have just shot them up and been done with it.

    Anyway, the whole Oddball thing was very much a late war and postwar perception by American tankers.

    So do I. Wish I could speed up publication, originally it was planned for 16 December, which would have been perfect.
     
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  2. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

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    To be fair to Cooper he spent a good chunk of his war repairing knocked-out tanks in which people had died. I can see how that would colour your perception.

    I wrote a review of his book years ago, which might still be on here somewhere. I wasn't impressed by the amount of false comparisons and occasional downright inaccuracies. I did like the stories about young French girls in bikinis though...

    Edit, I decided to go looking. My review (if anyone is interested) is in this topic:
    http://ww2f.com/threads/death-traps-belton-y-cooper.63702/
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2023
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  3. Biak

    Biak Boy from Illinois Staff Member

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    Something I learned was when talking to WW2 vets it's best to try to understand their mindset. Many times conversations with my uncle confused me until I realized when he said "we" he wasn't talking about his group or squadron but "We" were any one of the branches, Army, Navy Air Force and yes even the Marines & Coast Guard. :D He had great respect for every man fighting.
    Journalist and a few others who write after the fact, fail to follow up for clarification.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Hey, when talking about Australians in WW2 i'll often say "we" (unless i catch myself) - You mob know what i mean.
     
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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Heaping on my own perspective...

    Cooper's 'problem' was taking a very narrow view of the war, from the perspective of somebody dealing largely with recovery and the mess (both human & mechanical) that entailed, then expanding that viewpoint well beyond its horizons.
    The book also makes some completely wild assertions about how tank supply/procurement should/could have gone. Most all of it fairly straightforwardly demolished.
    It would be an entirely reasonable memoir, had it not been spun out to something greater.

    And there's the probable real rub. Ambrose could certainly write, but he also liked to 'adjust' the truth to fit the narrative arc intended. To the extent I don't really trust any of his work any more. And Death Traps is a joint effort.

    It should've been one of those fascinating 'small' books that gave an individual's experience, where you could forgive ill-informed perspectives as purely personal, but it reached such popularity while containing so many grievous errors that it's now a symbol of how bad 'tank studies' can get. So many dreadful arguments out there over the years from people who've apparently only read that one book and seem to think it's all you need to have read. Even other execrable books that seem to be largely based on it.
    As understanding of Allied armoured efforts improves beyond decades of stuff essentially sourced from captured German officers, Buckley, Zaloga, etc.etc. the thing hangs around like an anchor slowing the otherwise improving historiography.
     
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  6. Biak

    Biak Boy from Illinois Staff Member

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    Speaking of Thunder, I awoke this morning to a thunderstorm at around 6am. Then later and around 11am I heard a "Storm of Thunder".
    Two F-16's playing in the skies above me but as usual low overcast and all I could do was stare up and listen. And Smile. Only lasted for about 15 - 20 minutes but Oh those 15 minutes were a Symphony that Beethoven could only wish for.
    Sorry, back to the topic.
     
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  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Well, it has shipped...with a price increase to $75. However, if you happen to be on the Kitsap Peninsula, Washington State, on Saturday 25 May 2024, I will be signing at the Silverdale Washington Kitsap Mall Barnes and Noble from 12:00 to 15:00. It is also available from Amazon.

    Amazon.com

    A recent review:

     
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