80 Years Ago today.
At a Roadblock on the Road to Bataan by Don Millsap, via the U.S. Army National Guard’s Heritage Collection
Luzon, Philippine Islands, December 26, 1941 — While the main attention of the beleaguered U.S. forces in the Philippines was focused on Japanese columns streaming inland from the Lingayen Gulf in the west, another enemy force came ashore on the east coast of Luzon at Lamon Bay. Company C 194th Tank Battalion from Salinas, California, was attached to a Filipino Army regiment near the town of Lucban. The 2d Platoon was ordered to make a show of force that would take it down a narrow trail. As the tank, commanded by SSgt Emil C. Morello, rounded a sharp curve it came face-to-face with an enemy roadblock. Without any hesitation, the tank smashed into the roadblock and the Japanese gun behind it.
Before being hit, Morello’s tank fired on other gun positions. After pretending to be dead, Morello and his crew escaped the next morning only to be either killed or captured, along with the other members of the 192d and 194th Tank Battalions, at Bataan.
These two battalions were National Guard units with companies from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. For their gallantry in action, both units were awarded three Presidential Unit Citations. Today’s 1st Battalion, 149th Armor, California Army National Guard carries on the gallant traditions of the 194th Tank Battalion.
The U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection has plans to exhibit a restored early U.S. M3 light tank, identified by the sponson-mounted .30 caliber machine guns on each side:
This type was used by the National Guard tankers of the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions on Luzon
Alongside a Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go that has belonged to the U.S. Army since it was captured in the Philippines in 1945.
The Ha-Go was the most common Japanese tank of World War II. Introduced in 1935, the Ha-Go weighs 7.4 tons and is armed with a 37mm main gun and two 7.7mm machine guns.
Black beret-clad tankers of the 2nd/8th Australian Armoured Regiment cleaning the collective guns of an American-made M3 Grant medium tank dubbed the “Aristocrat.” While the Russians were not impressed with Lend-Lease M3s, the British liked them well enough for use in North Africa
“The 75mm main gun is firing. The 37mm secondary gun is firing, but it’s traversed round the wrong way. The Browning is jammed. I am saying, “Driver advance!” on the A set, but the driver – who can’t hear me – is reversing. And as I look over the top of the turret and see 12 enemy tanks 50 yards away– someone hands me a cheese sandwich.” –LT Ken Giles, a British M3 Grant tank platoon commander in North Africa, during the Second Battle of El Alamein.
As noted by War is Boring, Paraguay is putting World War II-era M3 Stuarts and M4 Sherman tanks back into service. The country is thought to have three Sherman medium tanks and up to 14 Stuart light tanks in its inventory.
The venerable tanks — which are now over 75 years old — were originally designed to fight the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS in Europe. Neither tank proved to be a match for the Nazi Panzers on a one-for-one basis. But the combined Allied effort prevailed, and the Sherman would nonetheless continue to serve around the world for decades to come.
Now, apparently into their second century as well.
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“The Grants go into action – El Alamein,” circa November 1942, by Peter McIntyre, OBE, (1910-1995) a soldier and official war artist serving New Zealand during the Second World War. McIntyre served as an anti-tank gunner with the 2NZEF in Egypt, from April 1940 and you can feel how well he knew the subject matter in the piece.
This image depicts the use of ‘Grant’ tanks at El Alamein. The ‘Grant’ tank was a derivative of the American-built M3 medium tank, known by the British as the ‘General Lee’ (after General Robert E. Lee). The ‘Grant’ M3 medium tank was a modified version built to British specifications (named after General Ulysses S. Grant). Allied forces used the ‘Grant’ during the North African Campaign (Archives New Zealand)