716th Tank Battalion

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

  1. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Scanned the page from my father's diary dated June 13, '45 and will send also to Armor Magazine, along with the diary, to see if they have any information about the write-up that he talks about. Perhaps someone can read the name better - It looks like Armordus to me but he probably meant Armored US or something.


    Note on the left page how he wrote D Co. which looks like an 'O'

    Also wanted to say that the book on Armament had a section about the room-sized computer that was used for computing trajectory tables among other uses; a spark tunnel to check the way shells traveled; a series of X-Ray photos showing a 20mm shell exploding.

    One vehicle missing from the book was the half-track; my Dad, Nick Basile said they had a lot of these.

    Will this topic move to WW2F?

  2. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Reading all these stories increased my admiration for what our troops were able to accomplish, but the losses - many because of avoidable mistakes - also caused a sinking feeling.

    Any human endeavor is fraught with mistakes, war makes them deadly. I think Paul Fussell explores these themes in his book Wartime. It's a difficult read and it is intended to get people who think lightly of war - even "good" ones - to open their eyes.

    While I tend to explore the technical and material aspects of conflict, I try not to forget the many costs of war.

    On a lighter note, feel free to start a '716th Tank Bn' thread on ww2f.com If you want to share any attachments from here you will have to upload them there.
  3. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    The more I read, the more I find situations where lives could have been saved if someone did their job. An example is the Normandy invasion and the heights of the bocage trees - you would think that someone would know that the trees were 30 feet high or more and not 10 or so - visitors to France and the French in England could have told the planners. And they asked for postcards etc to help with the planning.

    The library had Don Burgett's Currahee! in the discarded shelf, so I grabbed it up, plus a book by a German soldier who was at Stalingrad - this uses papers of von Paulus to explain that battle. There was a German-English dictionary also. The library discards any book that is not taken out in a certain amount of time - meaning it has to be popular. Many books are not even seen by patrons - I keep finding old and interesting ones.

    Rereading Burgett's book, I had forgotten how desperate the battles were - his group was dropped 12 miles from the intended drop zone and had to fight their way to it before they could take their objectives.. Many losses while they joined other mixed teams.

    This site is fine; the note at the top of the page suggested that this belonged at the other site, so I wasn't sure.

    My Dad, Nick, drove an ambulance in ETO and the Philippines/Japan - didn't say much, but he must have seen a lot of injuries.

  4. SteelVictory

    SteelVictory Junior Member

    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.


    My book The Infantry's Armor covers the Pacific theater (in fact, ALL theaters).
  5. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Checked for your book at our library, 4 coming up, only Steel Victory at our local library, and I had read that a few months ago, commenting on it here. Especially liked the history of the Sherman's manufacture, that is, the reason for the shape: engine and shipping requirements by the Army. And the dialog between the tank commanders put a new aspect on what they had to do.

    Put in a request from outside our library system: they had 40 hits on Harry Yeide; many were duplicates at different libraries, and some were e-books or electronic records.

    Here I was going to write the publisher about the Pacific Independent Tank Battalions and voila.

    Like Earthican, I do read about the tactics as well as the mechanical aspect but since many relatives and friends were involved in that war, finding out about the people is a top priority. Trying to find out what my father was like is part of it. Not to forget the people at home, making the machines.

    Read one about the gliders - many problems to be overcome. A photo of a Waco diving headfirst at an initial demonstration with the mayor and other staff stays in my mind. The many small manufacturers were not used to the exact specs needed. The aviator Micheal Murphy is owed recognition for getting the effort to work at all. An amazing person.

    Got 2 responses from Armor magazine: they will check for any information about the write up and the editors are checking to see if they will publish the diary, which I did not expect when sending it to them.

    The second message was that they could not find anything yet in their research, but will keep trying. Forgot to mention that the dates would be off by one day. Perhaps looking at the 24th Division history and AARs will help.

  6. Dark Wing

    Dark Wing Junior Member

    The designation M4A5 was given by the US Army Ordnance Branch to the Canadian Ram tank. Strictly speaking the Ram was not a Sherman. It was a separate Canadian variant of the M3 Grant/Lee medium tank, designed at the same time as the Sherman, with a single turret that had a smaller than a M4 Sherman 60 inch turret ring diameter. The Canadian Ram tank was originally fitted with a 40mm and later 57mm tank guns, but that smaller turret ring diameter meant it could not be upgraded to the M2 and M3 75mm gun used by the M4 Sherman. When the lightweight M6 75mm gun of the M24 Chaffee light tank came about, it was too late to upgrade the Ram to it for fighting in Europe. Variants of the Ram tank served as self propelled guns, turretless armored personnel carriers and as flame thrower vehicles with Canadian Army units in North West Europe. Good to hear from another relative of the 716th members. Each contributes to what we can find out about our relatives. And to acclaim what they did.

    I asked my uncle who was in the 101st glider regiment about that device on the jeeps. He said "Oh, that's the wire cutter"and looked like he was remembering from back then. I figured out what he meant. He also said the ground shook like jello when those 88s hit.

    Another relative was a tanker who was captured during the Bulge and told me some precautions in the tanks, like keeping the hatches open when under artillery fire as the concussion could be fatal.

    My father's diary ends before the Japanese surrender, so I don't know how he responded. Hearing how your father and others found out was a treat.

    Just happened to have a library book Weapons of World War II by G.M. Barnes, Major General (Ret) published in 1947 and issued under joint sponsorship of the Army Ordnance Association and The Franklin Institute. Great photos and technical info on the equipment, some of which I had never heard of. Always wondered how those recoilless rifles worked.

    This is what they list partially about the M4 on page 204 and the engine listing on the next page. There is no heading for the engines listed on the next page shown below.:

    M4 Continental R975-C1 (gasoline) 80
    M4A1 Continental R975-C1 (gasoline) 80
    M4A2 G.M. 6-716046 (diesel) 50
    M4A3 GAA-III V-W.C. (gasoline) 80
    M4A4 Chrysler 5-line W.C. (gasoline) 80
    M4A6 Caterpillar RD-1820 (diesel)

    I wonder what happened to the M4A5?

    The book notes that "The power plant originally used was unique for a track-laying vehicle in that a radial airplane type of motor modified for tank use was employed. As the requirements for tanks grew, it was necessary also to use several other engines, such as a commercial Diesel engine, a composite engine formed by combining five large truck engines into a unit power plant, and, finally, a highly developed V-8 engine."

    I would have liked to have seen that five engine installation. GAA-III was a mystery until I saw the listing for the M10A1 and M36 below.

    The M6 heavy tank (40 built, but not used) had a Wright G-200 radial, but the M26 is listed with the Ford GAF V-8, LC; the M24 with a Cadillac Series 42 Dual V-8 LC. The M5 light tank also had dual Cadillac V-8s, while the M3 shows either the Continental W670-9A 7 cylinder gas engine or the Guiberson T1020-4 9 cylinder diesel, both radial.

    They even list the types and numbers of grenades carried (12 usually).

    Motor carriages are what they call the M10 (GM 6-71-8046), M10A1 (Ford GAA), M18 (engine not listed), M36 (Ford GAA).

    Since your manual says it had a Ford, that must be the GAA - interesting that there were so many different types and sizes. Some tank parts were made at the ALCO plant here; my aunt said she was making some plates for them. I saw a site with tanks assembled at the ALCO plant at Schenectady.

    Learned a lot from your post and hope to hear more.


  7. Dark Wing

    Dark Wing Junior Member

    General MacArthur requested an Armored Division for the invasion of Luzon.

    There were none available -- they were all committed to Europe -- and was given the 13th Armored Group instead.

    Luzon was the only place where the Armored Group functioned as US Army doctrine envisioned.

    The 13th and the Hawaii based 4th armored groups were both slated for the invasion of Japan inside the two Army corps landing on "X-Day" of Operation Olympic.
    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.

  8. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Thanks for the info, Dark Wing - History can be mysterious as in the designation from Ordnance for a Canadian tank in between those for Sherman tanks.

    Read Harry Yeide's book The Infantry's Armor -The Separate Tank Battalions in World War II which covers all theaters of operation and has a great deal of information. There was good armor being used then. The appendix has a short description of each battalion, with activation, original units, which battles they were in and the divisions/units they were attached to. There is also a listing of operations and which units were involved. If you are interested in all separate battalions in all the theaters of operation, this is a good book to consult. Primary theme is co-ordination between infantry and armor - how it was or wasn't accomplished. When units trained and stayed together so they were familiar with each other capabilities, then it worked well. Often all this had to be learned over again in the field.

    Three things come to mind that we have discussed here - there is a lot more, the book is recommended highly as the other about the ETO:

    - During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, tankers went into battle with sirens wailing - yeah, even in 1941. These were the192nd and 194th Tank battalions - the 193rd was diverted from Hawaii to reinforce. The M3 light tank with 37mm gun was newly issued in place of the M2A2s but they did not have time to train with them.The 37mm also used canister which was effective against snipers in trees and enemy in fields/jungle.

    - Most units in the Pacific used rubber blocks on their treads, since they worked better in mud. In the mountains and roads, we have seen photos of steel blocks being used.

    - Always liked the "White Star of Liberation" painted on the sides of our tanks. Many times I thought it was also saying "Aim Here" to the enemy. Harry says that many tankers were painting over the stars on the sides, leaving the ones on the top to identify themselves to friendly airplanes. Many attacks by our own air force though in spite of that.

    The operations on Mindinao were not covered in detail, but Luzon is. I would have liked to correlate what was in my father's diary. Esp. the 'accidents'. Mindinao was partially an amphibious assault, not only in the landings but also the use of landing craft up the river halfway to Davao.

    I know the difference between amtracs, amtanks, Alligators, and Buffaloes now. Some research would be interesting about why these were not used in the ETO. A Marine officer suggested this but it was not followed through. The situation and conditions were different, though.

    Scanned the Japanese Government money that my Dad, Nick Basile brought home.


    The monument on the upper ten peso bill is the same on the one peso, but the second ten peso is smaller and has a different monument. Anyone know what they are? Note the serial numbers - not much to these and The Japanese Government, not the Imperial Government or Empire of Japan.

  9. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Thought I would post a set of photos that my uncle, Joe Wawro, took at Anzio. Not in the 716th's theater of operation, but two of them are of disabled tanks, so might be of interest.

    Not sure what happened to the Sherman on the left - at first I thought it had been hit head on, but then wondered if internal explosions caused it to split like that.

    Can't identify the tank on the right. Other views of a downed plane - note the twin vertical stabilizers/rudders - and of the town and beach.


    This is a small jpg that doesn't magnify well, but I am sure I have a better version. Due to lack of time, I put more than one photo in the scanner. I'll try to borrow the photos again and do them separately.
  10. 716thresearcher

    716thresearcher Junior Member

    First of all, many thanks to von Poop. This is a wonderful site which I was very happy to stumble upon in my research. I hope my host will forgive this ongoing discussion of a US unit, but the particular thread is interesting to me, as you'll see.

    My uncle was in the 716th from its inception at Camp Chaffee and ultimately was killed in the battle of San Manuel in January 1946.

    For those who may be interested in what it was like to serve in Sherman tanks in the Philippines at that time, I'd suggest Cutthroats: The Adventures of a Sherman tank driver in the Pacific, by Robert C. Dick. He also indicates that tanks were given names using the first letter of their company designation, e.g., "Classy Peg" in C company. Interestingly, my uncle's tank was also in C company, and my late father mentioned that he believed his brother's tank was named "Crime's Coffin". If anyone in the forum can supplement this information, I'd be grateful.

    Finally I don't want to natter on too long here, but those forum members who want to look for US unit histories and other interesting WWII era documents related to tank training, tank use doctrine/tactics, check the link below.

    Thanks again for putting together such a fine site.

    Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) Digital Library

  11. 716thresearcher

    716thresearcher Junior Member

    Hello Earthican,

    I recently read Cutthroats: The Adventures of a Sherman tank driver in the Pacific by Robert C. Dick. The author saw action at Leyte and Okinawa.
  12. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member


    Thanks for posting - sorry about your uncle.

    CARL has been checked for any info, but they only have what already has been posted here. Guess I will e-mail them and inquire about any other documents about the 716th. Sending them the diary might help.

    Went to the library and took out Robert Ross Smith's Triumph in the Philippines and Samuel Eliot Morrison's Return to the Philippines...my bookmarks were still in the pages when I was looking for anything about the 716th - 4 entries in the index.

    This time I wanted to try to find out which task force they traveled in and also go through the Smith book and check the dates and events again my father's diary.

    Good maps in these books - in Smith's there are 12 fold-out larger maps as well as those in the text. Only found one symbol on a map for an armored division and that was Japanese. There are organizational charts but the Japanese order of battle is more complete. The photos are dark and the aerial ones especially hard to make out.

    Morrison has a listing of kamikaze attacks during the Luzon invasion. Most of these were directed at the bombardment group's ships which preceded the transports and LSTs etc. but they did not stop until Jan. 13 so our relatives were sitting on the LSTs waiting to go ashore while this was going on. My father only mentions the invasion in a letter to my uncle (15 at the time) but no detail, except that it was a day he would never forget.

    I'll have to look up the book you recommended.


  13. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Found this topic on website iStorya about Cebu before and during WWII.
    Lots of photos and even movies of the invasion - 22 pages - haven't gone through all of them - my dial-up crawls with all the photos.

    Also there are links to stories by servicemen that should be of great interest. Don't know if any 716th personnel are included. One photo points out 716th tanks in the distance with the 182th Regiment Americal Division. Some photos seem to repeat - one in the town square with a mobile gun (M7?) and many residents cheering. Someone here might recognize a relative.

    Should check if there is a topic for Mindanao or Luzon etc.

    World War 2 - Cebu

    Discussion is mostly in native Filipino (Tagalog?).

    Sent a message to webmaster to have the poster contact me and left the link for this topic.

  14. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Hello Earthican,

    I recently read Cutthroats: The Adventures of a Sherman tank driver in the Pacific by Robert C. Dick. The author saw action at Leyte and Okinawa.

    Hello, 716thResearcher,

    I am reading Cutthroats right now. He is a wonderful story teller and he has plenty of practical and technical information too. He gives a very good description of what it was like to operate a tank.

    Hey Dave,

    Thank you for sharing the photos. It's always interesting to see photos that have never been published. Really odd to see that Sherman split in half. Not a pleasant sight for any tanker.

    Great find on the Cebu photos. Cebu city is much larger than I had imagined.

  15. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Still have to look up that book - will do so soon.

    Earthican - any idea how that tank got that way? There are a few other photos my Uncle Joe had taken - and my Dad (Nick Basile) has some non-tank ones: he and friends at Hiroshima, midget subs in the background, a ship listing, and an unfinished aircraft carrier. Trying to get them more organized.

    I hope we can find more info on the 716th.

  16. Harlock

    Harlock Junior Member

    Leo Smith was my wifes grandfather. 716th Tank Battalion, Company B. KIA 21 January 1945. I have a few pics, and certificates, as well as a letter from 'Bob' to Leo's wife. I've been researching him and looking for any info or pics.

    Attached Files:

  17. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Thank you for sharing your family story Harlock.

    I checked the After Action Report and found the blunt description of the Sgt Smith's death. Having his pictures forces me reflect on the horrific nature of combat and the tragic waste of war. On one hand he seems to have been a happy-go-lucky kid but on the other he was a determined young NCO that put himself in danger for the good of his crew.

    Rest in Peace
  18. Harlock

    Harlock Junior Member

    Thanks Earthican, I have a letter to his wife that assured her that his death was instant and he didn't suffer. Is there any other info or pics that you know of?
  19. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    No sorry I do not have any pictures of the 716th TB. Hopefully 716thresearcher will preview what he or she finds.

    In addition to the book Cutthroats, I am reading Okinawa Odyssey also about the 763d TB. He was a tank platoon leader and provides a different perspective. I have not finished it yet but here are a few bits of tankers lore. The man that operated the bow machine gun and was also the assistant driver was called "bog". So driver, bog, gunner, loader, commander is a crew. He also wrote that the auxiliary power unit was called "little Joe" but never knew why. So, "Driver, shut down the engine and fire up little Joe". Also he explained for the vehicle intercom each crewmen had a throat microphone while the commander often used the hand-held mic for better sound quality. Also he explained that the periscopes around the commanders hatch did not come until later production of M4A3's. The few vehicles they had equipped with these were highly sought by the tank commanders and probably saved many lives from snipers.
  20. jjpm74

    jjpm74 Junior Member

    Hello all,

    I found this thread while researching my Great Uncle Paul Aleba Jr. Paul served in the 716th in Company C. He was mustered out on a ship called the White Marsh on December 26, 1944. Attached is the only photo I have of him in uniform. This thread has been a fascinating read. Thanks to everyone who has contributed information.

    Attached Files:

    716_Grandson likes this.

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