Category Archives: World War Two

Pre-Priest Photoshoot

Official caption: (early 1942)

The M-7 is the Army’s newest tank destroyer and is really a “killer.” Being tested for desert warfare at Iron Mountains, California. It carries both a 105mm Howitzer and a 50 caliber gun. Lieutenant M. Hutchison of Enterprise, Alabama is on the extreme right. Corporal L. Roberts from Graham, Texas is at post behind the Howitzer. Corporal Downing, whose home is Dekalb, Missouri, is in the turret.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Image now LOC LC-DIG-fsa-8b04892 https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b04892

Of course, those who are tank and SPG versed will recognize that the T32 Motor Carriage M7— dubbed the “Priest” in British service due to the pulpit-style .50 cal ring (and the fact that the Brits already had a similar SPG named the “Bishop”)– was a self-propelled gun rather than a tank destroyer, although a lucky hit by its 4.1-inch (105mm) M2A howitzer would smash just about any armored vehicle ever made before 1970.

The original chassis was based on the M3 Lee/Grant medium tank chassis.

Over 4,400 M7s would be produced, and the type remained in service with the U.S. Army through Korea and then with allied forces well into the 1960s and 70s including combat with the Israelis in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Some may still endure in the reserves of the armies of Pakistan and Taiwan, just in case they are ever required to prey (pray?) again.

Light a candle for the Dorchester Chaplains today

USAT Dorchester during 1942. Note her 4-inch deck gun forward. NHHC Catalog #: SC-290583

Some 80 years ago today, 3 February 1943, the 5,200-ton Gulf & West Indies Steamship Lines passenger steamer-turned-troopship SS Dorchester, while sailing from New York to Narsarssuak, Greenland as part of West-bound convoy SG 19, when she came across German type VIIC submarine U-223 (Kptlt. Karl-Jürg Wächter) as part of Wolfpack Nordsturm.

Besides 1,069 tons of general cargo, lumber, and 60 bags of mail, Dorchester carried a complement of seven officers, 123 crewmen, some 23 Navy Armed Guards (the ship was armed with one 4 in, one 3 in, and four 20mm guns) and 751 assorted U.S. Army troops and civilian passengers.

It was all over very rapidly after U-223 loosed five torpedos around 0452. With lifeboats scarce, although the escorting U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Comanche, Tampa, and Escanaba stood by immediately to rescue those seeking to leave the ship, within 30 minutes the Dorchester was on the bottom, taking 675 souls with her including her master, three officers, 98 crewmen, 15 Armed Guards, and 558 troops and passengers.

Painting of the crew from Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba rescuing survivors from the torpedoed USAT Dorchester. U.S. Coast Guard image

Four Army chaplains representing the four different faiths: Rev Lt George Lansing Fox (Methodist); Rabbi Lt Alexander David Goode; Rev Lt. Clark Poling (First Reformed Church) and Father John Washington (Catholic) gave up their lifebelts to soldiers who have none, and all perished with the ship.

The four “Immortal Chaplains” were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the DSC.

The Army’s Chaplin Corps marks their passage every February 3rd.

 

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023: A Hectic 133 Days

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023: A Hectic 133 Days

The photo was taken from USS Fletcher (DD-445). National Archives 80-G-284577

Above we see a rare photograph of the new Fletcher-class destroyer USS DeHaven (DD-469) passing North of Savo Island, which can be seen on the horizon, on 30 January 1943, immediately after the Battle of Rennell Island— the last major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal Campaign. Commissioned just the previous September in Maine, DeHaven would be sunk two days after this image was captured, on 1 February 1943 (80 years ago today) in these same waters by a Japanese air attack, sort of a parting shot to the Empire’s withdrawal from the embattled island.

Fletcher class background

The Fletchers were the WWII equivalent of the Burke class, constructed in a massive 175-strong class from 11 builders that proved the backbone of the fleet for generations. Coming after the interwar “treaty” destroyers such as the Benson- and Gleaves classes, they were good-sized (376 feet oal, 2,500 tons full load, 5×5″ guns, 10 torpedo tubes) and could have passed as unprotected cruisers in 1914. Powered by a quartet of oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers and two Westinghouse or GE steam turbines, they had 60,000 shp on tap– half of what today’s Burkes have on a hull 25 percent as heavy– enabling them to reach 38 knots, a speed that is still fast for destroyers today.

USS John Rodgers (DD 574) at Charleston, 28 April 1943. A great example of the Fletcher class in their wartime configuration. Note the five 5″/38 mounts and twin sets of 5-pack torpedo tubes.

LCDR Fred Edwards, Destroyer Type Desk, Bureau of Ships, famously said of the class, “I always felt it was the Fletcher class that won the war . . .they were the heart and soul of the small-ship Navy.”

Our DeHaven

DD-469 was the first Navy ship named in honor of LT Edwin Jess De Haven. Born in Philadelphia in 1816, he shipped out with the fleet age the ripe old age of 10 as a midshipman and made his name as an early polar explorer, shipping out with the Wilkes Expedition (1839-42), and looking for Sir John Franklin’s lost polar expedition as skipper of the humble 81-foot brigantine USS Advance in 1850 as part of the Grinnell expedition. Placed on the retired list in 1862 due to failing eyesight, he passed in 1865.

His aging granddaughter, Mrs. Helen N. De Haven, made the trip to Bath Iron Works in 1942 to participate in the destroyer’s launching ceremony.

De Haven (DD-469) was launched on 28 June 1942 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; sponsored by Miss H. N. De Haven, granddaughter of Lieutenant De Haven; and commissioned on 21 September 1942, T/CDR Charles Edward Tolman, USN, in command.

Launch of USS De Haven (DD-469) at Bath Iron Works, Maine (USA), on 28 June 1942 (80-G-40563

De Haven spent four weeks on shakedown cruises and post-delivery yard periods then sailed from Norfolk, reaching the Tonga Islands, on 28 November 1942. There, she attached to escort a convoy of troopships filled with soldiers of the Army’s 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division headed to Guadalcanal to relieve the “Old Breed” of the 1st MarDiv who had been there since the invasion landings in August.

De Haven screened the transports off Guadalcanal from 7 to 14 December, then sailed out of Espiritu Santo and Noumea in the continuing Solomon Islands operations.

Then, attached to Capt. Robert Pearce Briscoe’s Tulagi-based Task Group 67.5 (known as the “Cactus Striking Force”) along with the destroyers USS Nicholas, Radford, and O’Bannon, she patrolled the waters of the Southern Solomons to stop the “Tokyo Express,” the nightly effort to supply the beleaguered Japanese troops still fighting on the invaded islands.

Cactus Force took part in two bombardments of Kolombangara Island in late January 1943. During the latter, DeHaven fired 612 5-inch shells, which is some decent NGFS.

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS De Haven (DD-469) off Savo Island, viewed from USS Fletcher, 30 January 1943, two days before she was lost. NARA image 80-G-284578

Cactus Force was then sent on the night of 31 January/1 February to escort a scratch landing team of six small LCTs and the old converted “green dragon” fast transport (formerly a Wickes-class destroyer) USS Stringham (APD-6) to land the 2nd Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment and a battery of four 75mm pack howitzers near Kukum via Verahue Beach the other side of Guadalcanal, with the intention to outflank the Japanese who were rapidly evacuating the area.

However, they had the misfortune of being caught –in– Operation Ke-gō Sakusen, the Japanese withdrawal near Cape Esperance, and DeHaven became a victim to incoming waves of enemy aircraft screening that effort.

It was over in minutes. Four bombs– including one that hit the superstructure squarely, killing the commanding officer at once– sent the destroyer directly to the bottom as if on an elevator, taking 167 of her crew with her in the process.

She was the 15th American destroyer lost in the Guadalcanal campaign and had been in commission just four months and 11 days. The post-war analysis determined she was lost due to extreme and rapid flooding, specifically a “loss of buoyancy on relatively even keel” a fate only suffered by one other tin can in the war, sistership USS Aaron Ward (DD 483), also lost at a heavy air attack off Guadalcanal.

DeHaven’s six-page loss report is in the National Archives, submitted just four days after the ship took up her place on Iron Bottom Sound. As 10 of her officers were missing in action and three others seriously wounded on Navy hospital ships headed East, it was penned by her only unwounded officer, Ensign Clem C. Williams, Jr. Heady stuff for a 21-year-old O-1 to have to write.

Epilogue

As with the above-mentioned reports, DeHaven’s engineering drawings are in the National Archives.

She has a memorial at the National Museum of the Pacific War, located in Fredericksburg, Texas.

The man who wrote her loss report and compiled the names of her missing and dead, Ensign Williams, who was the son of a Washington dentist that had served in the Navy in the Great War, would survive his own war, become a physician in Indiana, and pass in 1992, aged 71.

Capt. Briscoe, leader of the Cactus Striking Force, would go on to command the fighting cruiser USS Denver (CL-58), earning a Navy Cross during the Northern Solomon Islands campaign from her bridge, then go on to lead the 7th Fleet during Korea. The Mississippian would conclude 41 years of service and retire in 1959 as a full admiral. He is buried at Arlington and a Spruance class destroyer, USS Briscoe (DD-977)— appropriately built in Pascagoula– was named in his honor.

When it comes to DeHaven’s fellow Fletcher-class destroyers, five of her sisterships– USS Pringle (DD-477), USS Bush (DD-529), USS Luce (DD-522), USS Little (DD-803), and USS Morrison (DD-560)— would go on to be sunk by kamikaze aircraft off Okinawa in a three week period. Life was not easy for Fletchers working the picket line in the Spring of 1945. 

The rest of her surviving sisters were widely discarded in the Cold War era by the Navy, who had long prior replaced them with more modern destroyers and Knox-class escorts. Those that had not been sent overseas as military aid were promptly sent to the breakers or disposed of in weapon tests. The class that had faced off with the last blossom of Japan’s wartime aviators helped prove the use of just about every anti-ship/tactical strike weapon used by NATO in the Cold War including Harpoon, Exocet, Sea Skua, Bullpup, Walleye, submarine-launched Tomahawk, and even at least one Sidewinder used in surface attack mode. In 1997, SEALS sank the ex-USS Stoddard (DD-566) via assorted combat-diver delivered ordnance. The final Fletcher in use around the globe, Mexico’s Cuitlahuacex-USS John Rodgers (DD 574), was laid up in 2001 and dismantled in 2011.

Today, four Fletchers are on public display, three of which in the U.S– USS The Sullivans (DD-537) at Buffalo, USS Kidd (DD-661) at Baton Rouge, and USS Cassin Young (DD-793) at the Boston Navy Yard. Please try to visit them if possible. Kidd, the best preserved of the trio, was used extensively for the filming of the Tom Hanks film, Greyhound.

DeHaven’s name was quickly recycled for a new Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer (DD-727) that was building at Bath Iron Works in Maine– the birthplace of “our” destroyer. Sponsored by Mrs. H. N. De Haven– who also cracked the bottle on the bow of the first De Haven— she commissioned 31 March 1944 and was screening the fast carriers of TF38 striking Luzon in support of the invasion of Leyte by that November. In a much longer 49-year career, this second DeHaven received five battle stars for World War II service and in addition to her Navy Unit Commendation picked up a further six for Korean War service and decorations for 10 tours in off Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

Transferred to the South Korean Navy in 1973, she was renamed ROKS Incheon (DD-98/918) (she was present at the landings there in 1950) and served under the flag of that country until 1993.

The USS DeHaven Sailors Association remembers both tin cans today and is very active on social media.


Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a
soul.


If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Great Norwegian War Movie on Netflix

I’ve always had an interest in Norwegian military affairs, and for a long time, one of my best friends was a former Cold War-era Norwegian Army vet who had a love of vintage German small arms– because by and large his unit had been equipped with second-hand Mausers, MP40s and MG42s captured in 1945.

If you have watched the European TV series Occupied (Norwegian: Okkupert) on Netflix, a three-season political thriller based on an EU-sanctioned Russian “silk glove” occupation of the country in the near future sparked by a quisling newly-elected environmentally-friendly Norwegian government, then you know the work of writer and director, Erik Skjoldbjærg, whose new film Narvik just hit the streaming service last week.

The movie focuses on the brutal two-month battle for the small Barents Sea port town of Narvik, one that started (sans declaration of war) on 9 April 1940 with a German counsel and “tourists” who got very tactical as the Kriegsmarine forced its way into the sleepy harbor and sunk the two 40-year-old 4,000-foot coastal cruisers Eidsvold and Norge, the first torpedoed before she could fire her guns and the second sent to the bottom by German destroyers in minutes. The rapid occupation as local Norwegian reservists fell back was soon upended by an Allied intervention after the Royal Navy slaughtered the German tin cans, and the combined Allied force briefly reoccupied the town in a battle that lasted until June, the last place part of Norway to fall.

It was truly a world war with combatants drawn from around the globe. While most of the German paratroopers and shipwrecked sailors were from Old Germany, the bulk of the Reich’s land troops were Austrian Gebirgsjäger mountain troops. Meanwhile, in addition to the local Norwegians, the Allied force included two battalions from the French Foreign Legion– men from 60 countries– four Free Polish battalions fighting in French uniforms, and assorted British troops.

The largest battle ever fought on Norwegian soil, the movie is primarily from the domestic point of view, told from the story of a fictional young Army reservist and his wife who is left behind to contend (and resist) against the initial German occupation. While in Norwegian, it is also available on Netflix with either English subtitles or an English overdub.

If you have a couple of hours, it is well worth your time.

One door closes, another opens

U.S. Marines participate in the deactivation ceremony for 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 13, 2023. The battalion is deactivating in accordance with Force Design 2030 as the Marine Corps modernizes to remain the premier crisis response force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Israel Chincio)

In Marine Corps news this month, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines cased its colors during the unit’s deactivation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on 13 January 2023.

Surely it is a bad sign when a famed unit– one that formerly counted Commandant Krulak, John Ripley of Dong Ha bridge fame, Ollie North, Dakota Meyer, and “Terminal Lance” Maximilian Uriarte– cases its colors on Friday the 13th.

The move will allow for the transformation of 3d Marines to the 3d Marine Littoral Regiment.

Of note, first stood up on 1 June 1942, 3/3 Marines were bled white in the liberation of Guam in July 1944, suffering over 400 casualties, half its strength.

Speaking of which, the Corps is marking the naming and reactivation of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, on Jan. 26, 2023, on Guam. MCBCB is named in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Vicente ‘Ben’ Thomas Garrido Blaz, the first Chamorro Marine to attain the rank of general officer.

Thirteen years old when the Japanese invaded Guam during World War II, Blaz worked in labor camps, building aviation fields, planting rice, and digging trenches until American forces retook the island in 1944. Post-war, following a BS from Notre Dame, he would serve in the Marines in both Korea and Vietnam.

The base will be the first Marine installation after Marine Barracks Guam was deactivated on Nov. 10, 1992. Ultimately 5,000 Marines will be stationed there, ironically “partially funded by a large monetary contribution from the Government of Japan,” as part of a pivot of Marines from Okinawa.

“MCBCB will play an essential role in strengthening the Marine Corps’ geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable posture in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Clowns and Mills Bombs

78 years ago today, 23 January 1945: PVT Marcel St-Laurent of “D” Company, Le Régiment de Maisonneuve, clowns for the camera at Cuyk, Netherlands. Details of the fuze on the bottom of the No. 36 Mills Bomb grenade can be seen. The length of the cloth bandolier has been altered by tying a knot in it to make it shorter.

First introduced in May 1918 and updated in the 1930s, the No. 36M Mk I was the British Army’s standard hand grenade until 1972 and still pops up in Africa and the Middle East from time to time.

A Canadian UN soldier in Korea with a U.S. made M-1 Carbine and several British Mills bomb grenades.

As for the good PVT St-Laurent, the Montreal-recruited Régiment de Maisonneuve was first recruited in 1880 and covered itself in glory in both World Wars– where its members became well-acquainted with the Mills Bomb. When the top image was taken, the regiment had previously landed in France in July 1944 as part of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. It was bled white through the Battle of the Scheldt, and the Walcheren Causeway before reforming for the final campaigns in the northern Netherlands and the Battle of Groningen.

Infantry of the Regiment de Maisonneuve moving through Holten to Rijssen, both towns in the Netherlands. 9 April 1945. Lt. D. Guravitch. Canadian Military photograph. New York Times Paris Bureau Collection. (USIA) NARA FILE #: 306-NT-1334B-11

It endures to this day as a Primary Reserve unit, still based in Montreal, along with the better-known “Van Doos” of the 22nd Regiment, making up one of the few French-language units of the Canadian forces.

Make way for Yorktown!

80 years ago today: The brand-new Essex-class fleet carrier USS Yorktown (CV 10), was launched at Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia, on 21 January 1943.

U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-33869

The second vessel in the class, the warship had been laid down on 1 December 1941– six days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor– as Bon Homme Richard but was renamed the become the fourth USS Yorktown on 26 September 1942 some three months after the loss of the third USS Yorktown at the pivotal Battle of Midway.

Sponsored by no less a person than Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the new Yorktown was commissioned on 15 April 1943 at the Norfolk Navy Yard with Capt. Joseph J. (“Jocko”) Clark, the skipper of the escort carrier USS Suwanee (ACV-27) during the Torch landings just five months prior, in command.

At commissioning. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-K-15555 photographed by Lieutenant Charles Kerlee, USNR. From the U.S. Navy Naval

A VF-1 Top Hatter F6F-3 fighter is launched from USS YORKTOWN, to intercept enemy forces during Mariana's turkey shoot 19 June 1944. Note target information board under the propeller. 80-G-248440

A VF-1 Top Hatter F6F-3 fighter is launched from USS YORKTOWN, to intercept enemy forces during Mariana’s turkey shoot 19 June 1944. Note target information board under the propeller. 80-G-248440

"Murderers' Row" Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

“Murderers’ Row” Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The new Essex-class carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19), and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

Painting of USS Yorktown (CV-10) in her Cold War angled deck and hurricane-bowed SCB conversion with assorted ASW aircraft embarked. So converted in 1957, she was reclassified as an Antisubmarine Warfare Support Aircraft Carrier (CVS-10). She remains in this configuration today, although with a bit more rust. Courtesy of Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida. NH 86022-KN

After an illustrious career that saw 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation earned during World War II and a further five battle stars for Vietnam service, Yorktown has served as a museum ship at Patriot’s Point, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina since 1975.

Wolverines and Thunderbolts

If you think you are cold, how about this shot from 78 years ago today?

20 January 1945, with an M-10 Wolverine tank destroyer of Co. C, 629th Tank Destroyer Battalion, in the frame, track commander SGT Jimmy Richardson talks to his driver, PVT Joe Honig, while Joes of the 83rd Infantry Division (“Thunderbolt”)’s 331st Inf. Regiment warm themselves by the fire after their retirement to the sector following the Battle of the Bulge, all trying to keep warm “somewhere near Courtil, Belgium.”

Richardson and Honig are likely in the jeep caps and jackets while the infantrymen are in the heavy coats and M1 helmets. Signal Corps Photo 455222. NARA #0006

Of the 58 Tank Destroyer battalions that shipped overseas during WWII, the 629th was one of 52 sent to the European Theatre.

The 629th TD Battalion first saw the elephant alongside the 9th Infantry Division in France during the third week of August 1944, then served with the 28th Division for the last two weeks of September during the Siegfried Line fighting and the 2nd Infantry Division into November. During the Battle of the Bulge, it supported the 75th until early January when it was attached– as shown above– to the 83rd Division. It then supported the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division (which were fighting as “leg” infantry) during the first two weeks of February, and the 99th Division from the last week of February until the end of the war, concluding the campaign equipped with the M36 90mm GMC.

As further detailed by TankDestroyer.net:

Unit History: Established 15 December 1941, at Fort Meade, Maryland. Arrived in Liverpool, England, on 9 January, 1944 and disembarked at Omaha Beach on 2 July with M10s. Performed artillery missions in Caumont sector. Joined 30th Infantry Division in fighting at Mortain in early August, then supported reduction of the Falaise Pocket. Participated in V Corps parade through Paris on 29 August. Advanced to Luxembourg by early September and then supported operations in the Hürtgen Forest and against the Siegfried Line. Shifted to Ardennes sector on 24 December. Fought to eliminate the Bulge in January 1945. Joined renewed assault on Siegfried Line in February. Crossed Rhine River into Remagen bridgehead on 11 March and converted to the M36 that same month. Participated in operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April, then conducted road march south to Bavaria and reached the Isar River before ending offensive operations.

As for the 83rd, during the division’s later headlong rush across Germany to the Elbe (280 miles in 13 days) in 1945, it earned the nickname “The Rag Tag Circus” from war correspondents due to MG Robert C. Macon’s ordering the supplementing of the division’s transport with anything that moved, “no questions asked.”

From their unit history: 

In those thirteen days the Thunderbolt Division threw away the books and improvised. We became a weird caravan. We picked up vehicles of any kind — and kept moving. Some of us drove deep into the Harz Mountains. Some of us dashed toward the Elbe. Our eyes ached, our backs were sore — but there was no let up. At times we were so tired we did not know what we were doing.

The Germans could not stop us. Rivers and mountains could not stop us. We passed beyond the Elbe, threw back counterattacks, then waited. Suddenly it became very quiet. We had time, then, to recollect a few of the things we had done and seen.

Desert Rat Wake Up Call

80 years ago this week. Official caption: “A Daimler armored car opens fire in the gloom of early morning at the start of the Battle for Tripoli, 18 January 1943.” The car is likely of the famed 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own), attached to the 7th Armored Division’s “Desert Rats,” who both used them in North Africa and were present in the Tunis campaign.

Photo by Keating G (Capt), No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit, IWM collection E 21333

Note the infantrymen behind, their .303 SMLEs at the ready. They would need them. Over the course of the next five days, Montgomery’s 8th Army would fight one of their last battles with the Afrika Korps and enter Tripoli on the morning of 23 January after Rommel abandoned the town.

When it comes to the Daimler armored car, the company made almost 2,700 of these light (7.6 ton) 4x4s during the conflict. Clad in just 7-to-16mm of steel plate, they were only proof against small arms rounds and shrapnel but were toast to anything .50 caliber or above. Nonetheless, they we fast, capable of 50 mph on good roads and handy both in the open and in built-up areas due to their size. 

Canadian Daimler Mk. 1 Scout Car, Sallenelles, France, LAC 4233182, original color

They proved effective in their standard (40mm Ordnance QF 2-pounder) and Mk I CS variants (with a 76mm gun) enough to remain in use with the 11th Hussars in Northern Ireland as late as 1960 and with Commonwealth and Middle Eastern countries until at least 2012.

The Butgenback Shuffle

Jan. 13, 1945: a Big Red One Soldier, from the 16th Infantry Regiment, in a protective snowsuit (aka Spok suit) advances toward enemy positions in the Butgenback sector of Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

Signal Corps Photo 248311

PFC George Kelly of Philadelphia near Bütgenbach Belgium – January 1945. LIFE Magazine, George Silk Photographer. Kelly was KIA shortly after this picture was snapped, at age 25.

For more on the 16th Infantry’s trip through snow “knee-deep on the level and drifted to two to three times that depth where the wind could get at it,” check out the regimental historical society’s detailed account.

« Older Entries