“Motor Sounds.” An Update to Post of June 26, 2014

Back last June I posted comments about whether or not American soldiers could recognize tanks as being German, based solely on the sound of their motors. While it seems that they couldn’t, I did find the following story from the February 20, 1945 edition of “The Railsplitter,” the unit newspaper of the 84th Infantry Division, that may be of interest:

771st Tankers Outwit Tiger

It took a mad game of hide and seek around battered buildings in a Belgian town, but five members of an American Sherman tank managed to knock out a larger, heavier, and more powerful German Tiger tank.

The chase began when an accompanying 84th infantryman rushed out of a building into which the Tiger had just fired. He said the Jerry tank was on the other side of the building.

Tank Commander Sgt.John W. Rogers of the 771st Tank Battalion found the Krauts were already making hasty preparations to fire upon his tank crew. Both tank commanders knew they would have to maneuver with haste before dealing the other a death blow. This started the race.

When Sergeant Rogers could no longer hear the motor of his enemy, he and his crew figured the Germans had secretly withdrawn to another spot in the town to lay an ambush.

The Americans countered by placing their tank at a strategic road junction camouflaged behind a small hill. There they waited for the Tiger. After a short time the Germans approached from the direction of a flanking side road, evidently believing the Sherman tank was still parked where they last saw it.

When the Krauts came within close range of their guns, the Americans opened fire with all weapons. The Tiger went up in flames.

Other members of the American crew were Cpl. Joseph D. Nagra, Cpl. Walter B. Lewis, T/5 Francis T. Wollyung and Pfc. John W. Shatzer.

Summer reading: “The Death Makers,” by Glen Sire.

For those of you who will take some time off during the upcoming summer months to power down and relax, nothing beats a good read for passing the time, and here we have a recommendation passed along by D.P. Dyer, a foremost authority on early-war American armor. “The Death-Makers,” by Glen Sire, was the book that set Phil on his quest to learn more about tanks in the first place. It may sound like a pot-boiler, and to some extent it is, but it took me awhile to realize it was fiction, so true was its description of what it was like to be an American tanker during the final stages of WW2, as the Allies faced the Germans on their own soil. “Makes ‘From Here to Eternity sound like a Mother Goose story…” blares the cover, and who, in 1960, could resist? Published by Crest Books (Fawcett World Library), it has the fast-moving narrative of a movie like “Guns of Navarone,” or “Hell is for Heroes,” and I found it quite an enjoyable read. I found my copy, for a pittance, on-line.