Men of Armor - The History of B Company, 756th Tank Battalion in World War II

Part One: Beginnings, North Africa, and Italy

Jeff Danby

The story of B Co., 756th Tank Battalion from activation through to the eve of the battle for Monte Cassino, from the tanker's perspective.
Date Published :
August 2021
Publisher :
Casemate
Illustration :
maps and photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636240138
Pages : 392
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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$34.95
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Overview
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With the tankers of B Company, 756th Tank Battalion, in their Sherman tanks as they fight from the stalemate of Cassino through to the stunning capture of Rome.

After the shocking fall of France in June 1940, the U.S. Army embarked on a crash program to establish a new armored force. One of the units formed was the 756th Tank Battalion (Light), activated at Fort Lewis in June 1941. Because of severe equipment shortages, the new battalion trained without tanks for several months, but by early 1942 were equipped with new M3 light tanks. While companies A and C took part in Operation Torch, B was withheld for lack of cargo space in the transport ships and rejoined the battalion two months later in north Africa. The units undertook reconnaissance missions following the landings in Salerno.

In December 1943 the battalion was ordered to upgrade to a medium tank (Sherman) unit. Given less than a month to reorganize and train in M4s, the battalion was sent into the Mignano Gap on January 11, 1944 and supported the 34th Infantry Division in the capture of Cervaro and Monte Trocchio. Later in January, B Company supported the troops of the 100th Battalion on bloody but ill-fated attempts to cross the Rapido river – finally at the third attempt the battalion established a secure bridgehead across the Rapido. During the next two days the nearby town of Caira was also captured, opening a clear avenue for an attack on Cassino.

Based on decades of research, and hours of interviews with veterans of the 756th Tank Battalion, Jeff Danby's vivid narrative puts the reader in the turret of B Company's Shermans as they ride into battle.

About The Author
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Jeff Danby was born in Pontiac, Michigan. As the son of a high school history teacher, Jeff grew up in a house full of books—which he read voraciously. He went on to get a B.A. Degree in History (with Honors) from DePaul University with a concentration in 20th Century America. Jeff currently lives in Granville, Ohio, with his wife Melinda and three children. He is an active member of the 756th Tank Battalion Association and maintains the organization's website. He also maintains memberships in the Society of Third Infantry Division, and the 15th Infantry Regiment Association.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The Setting

1: Origins
2: Formation
3: Preparing for a New Kind of War
4: California and a Captaincy
5: North African Foothold
6: Border Watchers
7: Tunisia
8: Bizerte Bystanders
9: Italy
10: Reorganized
11: The Gates of Hell
12: The Rapido River
13: Attack
14: Bridgehead
15: Caira
16: The Barracks

Appendices
Bibliography
Notes
Index

REVIEWS
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"The author thoroughly researched the unit records and had contact with many of the battalion veterans or their families. He found further information in Graves Registration files and the National Archives’ CARL digital collection. With its focus on tank crew members and their commanders this is a unique addition to the literature on WWII."

- A. Harding Ganz, Associate Professor Emeritus of the Ohio State University at Newark, author of "Ghost Division" (Stackpole, 2016).

"It is very rare to find a book that takes the reader down to the close and personal level of a company of men in battle. We have seen that for paratroopers in Band of Brothers and now we have it for a tank unit, in this case Company B of the 756th Tank Battalion. And what a remarkable book it is."

- Jeffrey Plowman, author of "Rampant Dragons: New Zealander’s Experience in Armour in World War II", "Tank Attack at Monte Cassino: The Cavendish Road Operation 1944" and "The Battles for Cassino Then and Now" with P. Rowe.

"Jeff brings all his considerable skills to this unique Battalion level history. No lead is left unfollowed and this adds not only to the legitimacy of his work but also tells the personal story of these valiant men. Notes, letters, official documents are all used to great effect and allow the reader to gain those personal insights of men in conflict. It may be the best US armored unit history ever put together so long after the conflict."

- Victor Failmezger, author of "American Knights, the Untold Story of the Legendary 601th Tank Destroyer Battalion"

"Jeff Danby weaves an empathetic tale of people in his history of Company B, 756th Tank Battalion. From the very start, he frames portentous global events in terms of how the young men who would fight the war would have seen them. Danby’s prose is punchy, visually evocative, and entertaining."

- Harry Yeide, author of "The Tank Killers", "The Infantry’s Armor", and "Steeds of Steel"

"Danby introduces and develops an extensive cast of personalities, average American soldiers, as they experience combat and the quiet periods in-between, and gives the reader precious insight in to why this unit was so combat proficient. He gives a good overview of the development of the U.S. Army’s armored force at the beginning of the war, setting the stage for B Company and its men as they move from peace to war. Jeff has written another great story which I recommend to everyone interested in WWII and especially tank units in that war."

- LTC Timothy R. Stoy, Retired U.S. Army Infantry and Foreign Affairs Officer

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