716th Tank Battalion

Discussion in 'US Units' started by 716_Grandson, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Great find on the "Joe Blow articles", Grandson. I believe that is what the GI's referred to them as, but that might be a later term.

    Funny they make a direct quote from the soldiers and they are all identical. It's a dead give away of a sham operation. It seems they could have credited that quote to the Bn CO and not make such a blatant lie of the whole effort.

    No apologies necessary, when you bring such great information. It seems I will be able to extract the complete text. I look forward to other report you mentioned.

    Just opened the PDF, looks great. Hope to read it this morning. Salute.
  2. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

  3. 716_Grandson

    716_Grandson 716th Tank Battalion Fact Finder

  4. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Great stuff - thanks everyone! I don't see my father in the group photo, but then I only have a few pictures of him. Dave_500...my father talks about Co. B at Go Chan hill and also I read about it in the Army History series.

    I will be reading the pdf and other documents. Funny thing, Grandson, my father had a newspaper article in his wallet with the same opening "Little known during the.." etc. just like the ones posted. I thought he had seen too many movies while over there. Now I know those weren't his words; didn't sound like his other writing.

    Earthican...seems you are a fan of Mauldin - I read his book Brass Ring which was wonderful and also the library had the two volume set of his works.

    Thanks again,

    Dave Ferro
  5. 716_Grandson

    716_Grandson 716th Tank Battalion Fact Finder

    Here are a few things related to some 716 service members.

    Attached Files:

  6. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    As is my practice when presented a detailed description of operations, I like to provide a map of some portion of the battle. The following excerpt was chosen because the hill elevations named are already indicated on the US Army official history sketch map so there is likely a short description of the larger action in the text.

    I also chose this excerpt since it mentions a Lt Conner. I noted on the photo of "I" Company 3d Bn 48th Armored Regiment that a Lt Conner is listed second as one of the company officers. Army tradition is to list officers by seniority and to reserve the position on the right for senior officers. So in my opinion it is probable that Lt Conner is the second officer from the left (wearing short overcoats) as you look at the picture.

    However I really can't be certain this is the same Lt Conner mentioned in the excerpt. I/3/48th Armored likely became "A" Company 719th Tank Bn. Lt Conner below is described as a platoon leader in "B" Company. And Conner is a common name. But it still seems likely to me that this is the same man.


    "On A—Day, January 9, 1945, the 716th Tank Battalion made an assault landing on the shores of Lingayen Gulf, going ashore in the First Corps zone on White Beach Two and Blue Beach. Components landing on White Beach Two included Headquarters, Service (—), B, C, and D (—) Companies and the Medical Detachment (—). Company A with Service Company and Medical Detachment elements landed on Blue Beach.

    Elements of the battalion, attached to the 43rd Division, proceeded to assemble in a bivouac area at Palapad. A small part of this section remained on White Beach Two during the night, but at daybreak moved to Alacan to remain there until all units moved to San Jacinto on January 12, 1945. Except for the assault landing, enemy shelling of the bivouac was the real “Baptism of Fire” for the men who came to liberate Luzon. While no extreme damage was inflicted, Service Company lost one truck but suffered no casualties, and C Company incurred 15 casualties as a result of the shelling on 11th of January, 1945.

    At San Jacinto preparations were made for the first attack with the 169th Infantry Regiment. On January 14, Company B moved out to the vicinity south of Nantangalan with hopes of a first engagement. However, a “Dry Run” was experienced when the tanks were ordered to return to San Jacinto by the 43rd Division Chief of Staff who did not approve of committing the Division Reserve to action. The following day was more fruitful. The 169th Infantry Regiment, C Company, D Company and one platoon of B Company moved into position south of Hill 355 and southwest of Mount Alava. The Assault Gun and Mortar Platoons of Headquarters Company moved into position on Hill 318, west of Hill 355, to provide supporting fire. Terrain proved unfit for tank employment. The tanks failed to gain an approach to Hill 355. The tanks did advance into enemy territory, neutralizing four pillboxes and killing four Japanese. Hill 355 was impregnable from this direction.

    The conflict between the men of the 716th Tank Battalion and the “Sons of Heaven” now began in earnest. On January 17, the First Platoon of B Company, under the command of Lieutenant Connor, with the 103rd Infantry Regiment, attacked the defenses of Hill 200, north of Manaoag. Calmly and cooly he led his platoon to a victory over the enemy on Hill 200. His men had tasted victory. Morale was high. The men admired their twice wounded commander who had refused evacuation.

    During the same day the Third Platoon of Company C moved to the vicinity of Malasin. Tank action along the road north of the town resulted in the over-running of three enemy mortars and four machine guns. In this attack Lieutenant Chasten was wounded but continued in command until evacuated the next morning. After his evacuation Staff Sergeant Watson took command of the platoon. Staff Sergeant Watson led his tanks in a coordinated tank-infantry attack with the 103rd Infantry Regiment, and drove back the fleeing enemy to Pozorrubio. The advance was rapid; the enemy overwhelmed. The platoon was relieved by the Third Platoon of Company B. Mopping up began with D and B Companies proceeding to the northwest and northeast respectively."


    Attached Files:

  7. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    I finally finished reading the 716th After Action Report for Luzon and the southern Philippines (found at the CARL online library). For anyone that has not read this, I'll point out that the earlier Luzon operation is found in the second half of the PDF document and the latter southern P.I. operations appear first.

    It might be that the 716th was the only armor to support the operations in the southern P.I. --- the Victory operations.

    The AAR is quite complete except for Davao operation. In this regard we are lucky to have the Ferro diary. While it is not complete, it helps a great deal.

    I noticed all modes of armored amphibious operations were carried out by the 716th in the southern P.I. These were either using LST's, or LSD's and LCM's, or the rare LSM, or the most common LCT.

    Given the detailed AAR available it would be well worth the effort to interview surviving veterans to supplement the battalion history. If carefully conducted, interviews could be quite valuable and not just fragments of memory.

    I'll add that I am contemplating a transcription of the AAR text. I don't think OCR will work on most pages. If anyone else would like to help, we could divide up the task. Let me know.
  8. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    At the library, finally scanning some photos - these were all in my father, Mario Ferro's wallet, except the one with the 14th Armored patch. Also a pay stub for $15.53 net pay.

    He is holding the Tommy gun but had a BAR and rifle over there. The other photo of another soldier is unmarked. Perhaps someone might recognize him.


    I guess that is him in the photo in front of the palm trees. It got worn out when I had it in my wallet.

    Checked a book at the library titled Steel Victory:the heroic story of America's independent tank battalions at war in Europe by Harry Yeide. I was hoping there would be one for the Pacific theater. Perhaps a letter to the author will produce one. Read a little of it, and looked at the photos, most I had not seen before.

    From the Triumph in the Philippines book, there are several other tank battalions, including two (initially, it says) in the 13th Armor Group that was held in reserve on the invasion date, going in on the 12th. I wondered whether the 716th was part of that, but they went in with I Corps and another battalion went in with the other Corps. Memory fading - sorry.

    You're right about the maps, Earthican - whenever they are missing from the books, or obscure, it makes it almost impossible to follow.

  9. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    I must now admit I have not seen many pictures (possibly none) of enlisted men of the "armored force" (I use quote marks because I am not certain if that is the correct term).

    You may have noticed that your father is wearing a disk on his left lapel that appears to be the side profile of a WWI era tank. I can't recall if I have ever seen this before. So I am calling it the "armored force" insignia.

    During WWII there was not an Armor branch for officers. You will notice all the officers for the 716th Tank Bn were either Infantry and Cavalry. Sometime after the war the US Army created the Armor branch and used the frontal profile of a post war tank over the crossed sabers of the Cavalry.

    The general practice is that a recruit wears no insignia and upon completion of basic training, now a soldier, they are awarded two block "U.S." disks to wear on the lapels. Upon completion of specialist training such as Infantry, Field Artillery, or Engineer they would replace the left "U.S." disk with the specialist insignia.

    Given your fathers induction date it seems likely that your father was among "the 700 men that answered the call to arms" as the unit history puts it. That is, he was with the 3d Bn 48th Armored Regiment from its formation. It seems probable that he completed all the training to be a tank crewmen. I suspect he became a cook sometime later in training.

    Of course cook is also specialist training but I don't think it makes a difference until one becomes a Mess Sergeant.

    Again, thank you for sharing, these family stories touch my heart.
  10. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Thanks for the message - never noticed that disk before and it does look like the WWI tanks. I'll have to check if there are any of his uniforms around the family home. Much was lost and only one uncle is left. Another was in the 4th Armored and I will e-mail one of his sons to see what he knows as far as disks on his father's uniforms. His mother would know also and probably has some contemporary information.

    My mother said she made some kind of plastic inserts for the cartridges but I can't figure out what she meant. I did find a book at the library about U.S. Weapons (1947) which has been eye-opening.

    Reading all the stories, I keep asking myself "How did they do it?" More respect for fathers and relatives every day.

    For example, an interview with Chuck Hurlbut who was in the 299th Combat Engineers about Omaha Beach - several of his Auburn buddies were lost there. Another just passed away.

    Chuck Hurlbut Page 1 D-Day 299th Combat Engineer Battalion | World War II Oral History | World War 2 stories

    I'll put this later in the Combat Engineer section.

    Thanks again for the info and the links to the After Action Reports.

  11. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    As per the 13th Armored Group, this is from the pdf I posted by Maj. Hunt:
    "The 716th Tank Battalion was attached to I Corps and the 754th
    Tank Battalion was attached to XIV Corps.

    "The 13th Armored Group, composed of the 44th Tank Battalion, the 775th Tank Battalion, the 632nd'Tank Destroyer Battalion and the 156th Engineer Combat Battalion arrived in Lingayen Gulf and commenced landing operations on-the morning of 11 January 1945."

    The 716th and cannon companies decimated the Japanese 2nd Armored, so the 13th Armored Group was not needed, and the group was later disbanded, the battalions parsed out to different infantry divisions.

    He did state why the group was organized:
    "The armor in the Pacific consisted of separate tank and tank destroyer battalions. Prior to the Luzon operation, these battalions had been attached to first one division and then another, with no centralized control. Therefore, in October, 1944, the 13th Armored Group was shipped from the zone of interior to Hollandia, New Guinea, with theapparent mission of coordinating, controlling and commanding the separate battalions that would participate in the Luzon invasion."

    Earthican said that the divisions were reorganized in 1943 which jogged my memory about the George Forty book Patton and his Third Army. Dug up copies of the pages with nice organizational charts for the armored, infantry and airborne divisions.

    He says: "In 1943 the armoured division underwent a thorough reorganization as well as being reduced in manpower by over 3,600 men. The light tank strength was halved (from 158 to 77) and the armoured infantry element increased. Service elements were trimmed, so as to increase their mobility, and unnecessary command echelons, such as the tank regimental level, were eliminated.The new streamlined division had five commands under divisional control, namely: Combat Command A (CCA), Combat Command B (CCB ), Reserve Command (Res Cmd), Artillery Command (Divarty), and Trains Command (Tns Cmd)."

    My cousin had send me his father's unit in the 4th Armored, 35th Armored Regiment, 3rd Bn, F Co but I did not understand why my father did not have a regiment level and which Combat Command Armand was in. The above explains it. I was used to the CCA, CCB and CCR only while reading about the run to Bastogne.

    Also, the Mindanao operation is nicely explained in Triumph in the Philippines with a clearly marked map, and a photo of troops embarked in an LCM going up the Mindanao River on the way to Fort Pikit - half way to Davao Bay. My father of course, took the land route from Parang. The landing went so well that X Corps decided to immediately use the river to leapfrog along the way to Kabacan. A unique operation in the Pacific.

    ****Seems the Japanese used this river route in their invasion - so not so unique****

    What did you mean about transcribing, Earthican? Isn't it already in pdf form posted here? Or do you mean other AARs? You can count me in.

  12. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    If I recall correctly the 13th Armored Group was the only Armored Group Headquarters to take to the field. The Armored Group concept was not used in Europe where Tank Battalions functioned by direct attachment to the Infantry Divisions and there were plenty of Armored Divisions.

    Since the South Pacific lacked any Armored Divisions and they thought they might need a massed armored force for the Luzon operation, the 13th Armored Group was to be a quasi-Armored Division.

    I found this map helpful for sorting out the deployments of the 716th in the Victory operations of the southern Philippines.

    A Company was attached to the 41st Division for Zamboanga/Jolo
    B Company was attached to the Americal Division for Cebu
    716th(minus A and B Co.) was attached to the 40th Division for Panay and northern Negros

    Later C Company was detached for the ongoing operations in northern Negros
    Meanwhile the 716th(-); that is D Co., Service Co., HQ; was attached to the 24th Division for Mindanao.

    As the Ferro Diary mentions A Company rejoined the battalion on the main portion of Mindanao before the movement to Davao.


    Yes I am typing up the 716th AAR PDF. The original is a low quality scan and is difficult to read. Plus a clean text document will be search-able. I am almost done with the Luzon operation. If you can download the PDF, take a look at the southern P.I. portion and let me know if you want to type some paragraphs or sections.
  13. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Thanks for the map - haven't seen that one before. The ones in Triumph in the Philippines are the ones I usually refer to. Wish I had posted the one of Mindanao but the link to the book might be more helpful - might have already posted this -
    HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Triumph In the Philippines

    There is so much in this volume that I have taken it out several times. Now I want to read the Manila part more closely, not to mention the Luzon and Mindanao parts, after getting more information from this site. Note all the activity around Davao in the Clearing Eastern Mindanao, X Corps, 17 April - 30 June, 1945
    and Clearing the Davao Area 24th Infantry Division, 30 April - 26 June 1945

    This is about the same time period of the diary.

    My computer is old and the pdf will not display - even the text is sparse with lines running through the letters. I could go to the library and use one of theirs, printing out several pages at a time. I'll try it next visit.

    One question: when the Army reorganized to the triangular system - three companies to a battalion etc. they seemed to have kept four to the 716th and probably other "independent" battalions, namely A,B,C, and D. The usual CCA, CCB and CCR was not used in the Pacific. I'll have to check the book about the independent tank battalions in Europe to see if they had the same structure. In the 101st Airborne, the Glider Regiments had two battalions each, but they realized they were understrength after D-Day, so the 401st Regiment's battalions were dispersed to the other two, with the third battalion of the 327th GIR being one of them. They still felt they were part of the 401st though and took a lot of attacks at Bastogne, unfortunately some from our own planes.

  14. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    One could write a PhD thesis on how companies were lettered. The first thing to note is that each type of unit did it differently. So what is said about tank units will be different for infantry, paratroop and glider.

    When there was a "heavy" Armored Division it had two Armored Regiments each consisting of one battalion of light tanks and two battalions of medium tanks. Each battalion consisted of three companies. Therefore there are two light tank battalions with a total of six light tank companies and four medium tank battalions with a total of twelve medium tank companies. Companies are lettered across the regiment so A, B and C would have been light tank companies. Companies D, E and F are medium companies in the 2d battalion; and G, H and I are medium companies in the 3d battalion.

    When they re-organized to the "light" Armored Division the three "new" tank battalions consisted of three companies of medium tanks (A, B and C) and one company of light tanks (D). From the mix of companies in the "heavy" Armored Division one can get four "new" tank battalions with two left-over light tank companies. The Combat Command was a headquarters with no fixed composition of units so there was no lettering of companies across the "new" tank battalions. The "new" tank battalion is the same organization used for the independent tank battalions.

    Trianglarization is a term most often (and correctly) used for the re-organization of the Infantry Division before Pearl Harbor. Armor and Paratroop units went through their own re-organizations.

    I had the same problems with the CARL online system and I had to use a new computer too. Nonetheless, I finished typing the Luzon portion of the AAR (attached). This makes good reading alongside the official history. As it should, the AAR focuses on the actions of its tanks but does not completely cover the "big picture".

    Corrected editions of the transcription have been added here.
  15. Charlotte Chambliss

    Charlotte Chambliss Junior Member

    My stepfather was Staff Sgt. Lee J McDonald.I have 2 pics of the 716 at Camp Chafee and he is on the front row in both. I was about 6 years old when he was killed on Cebu. I have all the info and his Purple Heart and Bronze Star. I have some pictures from New Guinea with names on a few. I think about him all the time. I have about 50 letters he wrote home as well as letters from some from some of his men and their families written when he was killed. I always thought he was machine- gunned when throwing a grenade from his tank,but recently read the commander's letter that says his tank exploded. I would like to read any info I can. I did not know there was anyone wondering about that time other than myself. I was a young child,but I remember a lot about this time. I live in a small town not far from Ft. Benning where my son-in-law is the civilian architect who helps with al the expansion going on now.
    716_Grandson likes this.
  16. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Welcome Charlotte

    I am so amazed that four family members of the 716th have connected here.

    Thank you for sharing the story of your father. It is very heart warming to know that, over their shared loss, his friends and their families reached out to your family.

    If your family did not request his remains to be returned to the US, it should be possible to get a photo of your father's grave from the US Military Cemetery in Manila. If you would like further information let us know.

    I would be honored if you could provide the text of his Bronze Star citation. If you do not have his citation it might be possible to obtain a copy. I would have to do some research but it should be possible.

    Thank you for your father's service. Let us never forget them.
    716_Grandson likes this.
  17. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Hello, Charlotte,

    Very glad you found the forum - there is some information about company B on Cebu from the U.S. Army Green books at the library and also on line posted before:
    HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Triumph in the Philippines [Chapter 31]
    This is Chapter XXX Central Vislayans

    About halfway down, on Page 613 there is an aerial photo of Cebu City from offshore, with Go Chan hill on the right - click on it to see an enlarged view.

    On page 614, the author says on April 29, 1945 of the Americal Division:

    "The assault battalion prepared to withdraw from Go Chan to permit air and artillery to give the objective a thorough going-over, but at this juncture the Japanese, by remote control, blew an ammunition dump located in caves along an eastern spur of the hill. In the resulting explosions Company A, 182d Infantry, lost 20 men killed and 30 wounded; Company B, 716th Tank Battalion, lost one tank and crew and suffered damage to two more tanks. The infantry company, already understrength as the result of long service on Leyte, ceased to exist, and the regiment distributed its survivors among Companies B and C.

    In a revengeful mood almost the entire 182d Infantry returned to the attack on 30 March. All available tanks, artillery, and mortars provided support, and the 40-mm. weapons of the 478th Antiaircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion joined in. By dusk the 182d had cleared all Go Chan Hill."

    My father, Mario Ferro, also says in his diary on May 3 that "B Co in 'Cebu' has had many casualties. I'm just hoping that none of my friends are hurt."

    The diary is attached to a reply on page one of this topic so you can download it.

    We all would like to see your photos. Dave500 posted a photo of a tank bogged down on Cebu with another parked nearby - on page 2, I think.

    Sorry about your loss. Certainly hope to preserve the legacy of the soldiers, sailors and airmen so they will not be forgotten.

    Dave Ferro
    716_Grandson likes this.
  18. 716_Grandson

    716_Grandson 716th Tank Battalion Fact Finder

    trying to upload more pics, its not working out so well, stay tuned
  19. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Looking forward to the photos. Thank you for sharing.

    Finished transcribing the AAR for the Southern Philippines Island operations. While this report was required by Army procedure, I really think the men who prepared it took the opportunity to credit the men of the 716th for their accomplishments. I think they would be happy to know that more people have access to it this many years later.

    Corrected editions of the transcription have been added here.
  20. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member


    Since the AAR took the time to map this action I thought it might be interesting to see what it looks like today. This was a D and C Company fight.

    The main road looks similar. There is the new town of Silay City on the north side of the road. That area and the cemetery are most likely slightly higher ground and the reason why the Japanese prepared positions there. Silay itself is on the west coast of Negros and west of Guimbalaon.

    AAR Excerpt

    On the morning of 4 April the company’s tanks less the third platoon joined the second Battalion of the 185th Infantry at the Silay airfield approximately three miles east of the town. This force, with one platoon of “D” Company, acting as a covering force then advanced east towards Guimbalaon eight miles away from Silay. Approximately 1000 yards west of Guimbalaon, at the bridge over Muyao Creek, heavy enemy machine-gun and mortar fire was encountered. The covering force withdrew, the infantry dismounted from the tanks and all the tanks moved rapidly off the road to the southwest of the town.

    [page 21]

    With the first platoon acting as a base of fire concentrating on enemy pillboxes and trenches from positions about 1,000 yards southeast of town, the second platoon moved about another three hundred yards east, and after firing briefly, moved north into the edge of town. Simultaneously, the infantry moved into Guimbalaon directly from the west. Several pillboxes manned by riflemen and automatic weapons were knocked out and approximately thirty-five dead Japs were found. Guimbalaon was a large Jap supply dump, and its capture at approximately the same time that Concepcion fell marked a serious loss for the enemy. Guimbalaon was captured about 1500 on the afternoon of 4 April. Shortly after its fall, U.S. Marine Corsairs, returning from a strafing mission, made two strafing runs on "C" company’s tanks. Three tank crewmen were wounded and considerable casualties were inflicted on the infantry.



    Attached Files:

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