Tanks in Hell

A Marine Corps Tank Company on Tarawa

Romain Cansiere, Oscar E. Gilbert

In this unique study Oscar Gilbert and Romain Cansiere use official documents, memoirs, interviews with veterans, as well as personal and aerial photographs to follow Charlie Company from its formation, and trace the movement, action—and loss—of individual tanks in this horrific four-day struggle. It is a story of escapes from drowning tanks, and e
Date Published :
May 2015
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Illustration :
photos throughout
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003030
Pages : 264
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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+
Available
$34.95
Paperback
ISBN : 9781612006512
Pages : 264
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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+
In stock
$19.95

Overview
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Winner of THE GENERAL WALLACE M. GREENE, JR. AWARD for outstanding nonfiction



In May 1943 a self-described “really young, green, ignorant lieutenant” assumed command of a new Marine Corps company. His even younger enlisted Marines were learning to use an untested weapon, the M4A2 “Sherman” medium tank. His sole combat veteran was the company bugler, who had salvaged his dress cap and battered horn from a sinking aircraft carrier. Just six months later the company would be thrown into one of the ghastliest battles of World War II.

On 20 November 1943 the Second Marine Division launched the first amphibious assault of the Pacific War, directly into the teeth of powerful Japanese defenses on Tarawa. In that blood-soaked invasion, a single company of Sherman tanks, of which only two survived, played a pivotal role in turning the tide from looming disaster to legendary victory. In this unique study Oscar Gilbert and Romain Cansiere use official documents, memoirs, interviews with veterans, as well as personal and aerial photographs to follow Charlie Company from its formation, and trace the movement, action—and loss—of individual tanks in this horrific four-day struggle.

The authors have used official documents and interviews with veterans to follow the company from training through the brutal 76-hour struggle for Tarawa. Survivor accounts and air photo analysis document the movements –and destruction – of the company’s individual tanks. It is a story of escapes from drowning tanks, and even more harrowing escapes from tanks knocked out behind Japanese lines. It is a story of men doing whatever needed to be done, from burying the dead to hand-carrying heavy cannon ammunition forward under fire. It is the story of how the two surviving tanks and their crews expanded a perilously thin beachhead, and cleared the way for critical reinforcements to come ashore. But most of all it is a story of how a few unsung Marines helped turn near disaster into epic victory.

About The Author
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Romain V. Cansière is a native of southern France, interested in the U. S. Marine Corps since his teenage years. His current historical research is on the Marine Corps in World War I.Oscar and Romain co-authored Tanks In Hell: A Marine Corps Tank Company On Tarawa, winner of the 2016 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for distinguished non-fiction.

Oscar E. Gilbert was a U.S. Marine Corps artilleryman and instructor, and retired after a thirty-eight year career in government service, university teaching, and international petroleum exploration. He is the author of numerous books on military history. He lives in Texas.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
PREFACE Romain Cansiere
PREFACE Ed Gilbert
FOREWORD Edward L. Bale, Jr., Colonel, USMC (Ret)

1 A NEW DOCTRINE FOR A NEW WAR
2 SALAD DAYS—FORMATION AND TRAINING
3 THE TANKS OF CHARLIE COMPANY
4 THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACKS—CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT
5 OBJECTIVE: CODE NAME HELEN
6 DAY ONE—THE REEF
7 DAY ONE—INLAND
8 DAY TWO—SECURING THE BEACHHEAD
9 DAY THREE—SWEEPING THE ISLAND
10 DAY FOUR—THE FINAL CARNAGE
11 AFTERMATH

EPILOGUE: The Legacy of Tarawa
LATER LIFE

APPENDIX A: Charlie Company Chronology
APPENDIX B: Tank Company Organization and Equipment
APPENDIX C: Inside the M4A2 Tank
APPENDIX D: Charlie Company Personnel at Tarawa
APPENDIX E: Historical Research and Photographic Analysis

NOTES
REFERENCES CITED

REVIEWS
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"... unique study describes the battle of Tarawa as you've never seen it: from the tankers point of view..."

- Tanks on Tarawa

"The book is heavily laden with quotes, memories and stories of the men of Charlie Company. This book brought tears to my eyes in some instances where the authors and Marines remember their actions in one of the most fiercely fought battles of the Pacific. The first person accounts along with the historical narrative both flow together well to provide a gripping account of the battle for Tarawa from a tanker's point of view. This book adds a much-needed perspective on the Marine Corps operations on Tarawa. Get it and read it.

Highly Recommended, especially for those interested in the Pacific Theater and armor operations in World War II."

- Armor Modeling and Preservation Society

"... trusts veterans of the battle to recall their own experiences — and gives them plenty of space to do so — while the historians do the work of tracing the individual paths of specific tanks and fitting them into a cohesive narrative of Pacific tank combat. Helpfully, each tank had a name, making them easier to follow."

- War Is Boring

"The Battle of Tarawa has been extensively studied, with many scholarly works covering the battle. Oscar Gilbert and Romain Cansiere have approached this topic by burrowing down to the company level examining in minute detail the activities of C Company, I Corps Tank Battalion (Medium), its individual M4A2 Sherman tanks, and the Marines who operated them Arguing that Marine tank operations have been understudied generally and that the tank contribution on Tarawa specifically has been relatively ignored, the authors present a holistic unit history...It is a very enjoyable read, the style is plain but energetic, and the battle scenes are very clear. As a battle study, the work is a great success, providing a detailed account of the company’s successes and failures on Tarawa. As a unit history, the work provides an excellent mix of personal anecdote and organizational data... The book provides a personal, beachlevel view of the Marine island campaign that highlights the sacrifices made by Marines of all stripes while winning the war in the Pacific."

- Marine Corps History

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