8 January 1945: This German Panzer VIB, (Königstiger) tank #312 (SS-Oberscharführer Peter Kisters), of SS Panzer Abteilung 501, was knocked out by 90mm M36 tank destroyers of the 628th “Victory” Tank Destroyer Battalion, attached to support the paratroopers of the 82nd “All American” Divison, near Coronne, Belgium.
Formed five months prior to Pearl Harbor as the 28th Infantry Division’s anti-tank battalion, the 628th was largely formed from Pennsylvania National Guard members. Shipping out for England in April 1944, they were assigned to support the 1st Infantry and 29th Infantry at Normandy, where they landed at Utah Beach with M10 Hellcats.
Fighting to the Falaise Pocket and through Belgium to the Siegfried Line and the Hurtgen Forest, around which time they upgraded to M36s, they really came into play at the Battle of the Bulge to help blunt the German offensive in the Ardennes, fighting in turns with the 5th Armored, 78th Infantry, and 3rd Armored Divisions.
On New Year’s Day 1945, the 628th was chopped to the All Americans for 11 days to give their light infantry some muscle in clearing the area west of the Salm River. In their time with the paratroopers, the battalion lost four M36s and 14 men but chalked up six panzers in return– including two Tiger II tanks.
Finishing the war deep in Germany, the 628th was inactivated on 14 November 1945, their scoreboard holding 56 tanks by then.