M4A1 75 “ADELINE II”, A Company, 741st Tank Battalion, Omaha Beach - who were the crew?

Discussion in 'US Units' started by Michael Nikov, Oct 6, 2021.

  1. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Hello everyone.

    I am looking for details of the crew of "Adeline II" / "A13", an M4A1 tank of Company A, 741st Tank Battalion, damaged on Omaha Beach on D-Day. According to Mr. Zaloga: "Adeline's rear bogie assembly was hit by a 50mm antitank gun during a duel with a German bunker to the west of the WN62 resistance nest. The damaged bogie prevented it from moving over the sea wall. It is seen here on 7 June being towed through the village of Colleville-sur-Mer by one of the battalion's M31 tank-recovery vehicles."

    If anyone has any insight into this tank and its brave crew, I would love to hear about it.

    Attached Files:

  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    B and C companies had their own histories. There may be one for A Coy but I've never seen a reference to it.
    CL1 likes this.
  3. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Thanks. I know Bill Warnock over at https://www.etohistory.com/ is going to release a unit history of the 741st TB sometime in 2022 (hopefully before my birthday!), but I haven't been able to locate anything from A Company specifically.
  4. ADELINE II (Reg. No. USA 3036576, tank number A13 = 2nd tank in 3rd Platoon, 1st Section) landed at 0635 hours from LCT 2287 (Army Number 15, LTIN 2004) which was allocated to GAT #12.

    It was commanded by Sgt Robert D. Coaker (other crew members not known). See Revisiting Robert Capa's D-Day Omaha Beach photos

    Sgt. Coaker’s Report (A Co) 6 June 1944.

    Sgt. Coaker’s tank and Sgt. Ball’s tank with Lt. Klotz’s tank dozer landed on
    Normandy beach at 0635 hrs. between Easy-1 and Easy-3 firing on pill boxes at Easy-1.
    About 10 shots were fired on the first pill box and its gun was put out of action.
    About 50 yds. from where we debarked Sgt. Coaker’s tank was hit with an 88 MM knocking
    off one bogie wheel., but the tank could still operate but very slowly. Then Sgt.
    C oaker’s tank moved to a position behind a 3 ft. bank of loose stones, and silenced
    two machine gun nests, that were dug on the hill to his front. Then everything
    quieted down for about 15 minutes and he gave Sgt. Nicol and his crew some dry clothing
    for his tank crew had to leave their tank and swim to shore. Then a message was sent
    from Capt. King to move down to Easy-3, so he hobbled down
    the beach to Easy-3, and covered the Inf. with fire until they moved over the hill.
    Then he stayed in this position for about 3 hrs. for he couldn’t get his crippled tank
    over the beach wall. Then the 88 MM got so hot until they were hitting everything
    around me. Trucks and bull dozers were set on fire. My crew plus Sgt. Nicol and Cpl.
    Kleinhans who had been in my tank for protection. All left tank and took cover behind
    a grounded LCT that had been knocked out by an 88 MM gun. Then the tide was coming in
    very fast so my crew with other tank crews left the beach and dug in on the hill side
    about 200 yds. from the beach. The 88 MM and mortar fire was coming awfully close so
    we remained in our fox holes all night. The next morning with 88 MM still coming over
    pretty fast Sgt. Coaker and crew finally reached the Bn. C.P. all in one piece but
    damned near starved to death.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2021
    Michael Nikov likes this.
  5. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Thanks Michel! This is exactly what I was looking for!
  6. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    I'm going to push my good luck here and ask ... how about "Aide de Camp" (Reg. No. USA 3036947, tank number A10)? Is there any information on the crew?
  7. Where does the tank number A10 for AIDE DE CAMP come from? As far as I can tell A10 was Sgt Call's tank.

    I believe AIDE DE CAMP was in LCT 2049 (which sank en route), and that it might have been the second tank in Co Hq, i.e. tank number A17, normally commanded by the Communication Chief (a Sgt), who was possibly Sgt George Cora. See Revisiting Robert Capa's D-Day Omaha Beach photos

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
  8. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Hello Michel. Looking into my references, the first time AIDE DE CAMP was attributed as A10 was in D-Day Tank Warfare (Armor at War, 7002, Concord, 1994) by Steven Zaloga. In that publication he did publish a photo showing M4A1-75 Reg. USA 3036947 was named AIDE DE CAMP, but it appears that in the caption to the colour profile in that title (see attached) he acknowledges that it could have been A9 or A10 - both of which are not visible in the photo. Also, the "10" on the wading stack is an error as that was reserved for the dozers.

    Attached Files:

  9. Michael,

    Thank you for posting your source. However, Steve Zaloga does not explicitly say that AIDE DE CAMP was A9 or A10. This appears to have been inferred by various decal sets producers, who thought that the large numbers on the wading stacks were the (standard) tank numbers, instead of the tank dozer number.
    We now know better, and can confidently dismiss both A9 or A10 as the tank number for AIDE DE CAMP.
    A17 remains the likely choice in my opinion, but until AIDE DE CAMP is pulled out of the Channel and if its markings are still visible, we might never know for sure!

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2021
  10. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Very true. And for the number, you are correct - Zaloga does not say A9 or A10, but he (or rather the profile artist) does place a big #10 on the wading stack. He does say that "no bumper [codes] were painted due to security reasons", which we now know is false. I suppose this was written before the rear photo of "Adeline II" was available, so I can't fault Mr. Zaloga for that.
  11. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Hey Michel - how about Technician Fourth Grade Bolick Smulick and Private First Class Lawrence G. Sweeney - both of these individuals served with Company A, 741st Tank Battalion, and were awarded Distinguished Service Crosses for their actions on Omaha - any idea which tanks they served on?
  12. Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
  13. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Ah, too bad.
  14. Wait, wait...

    Just found this transcription of his DSC citation:

    "extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy on 6 June 1944, in France. Technician Fourth Grade Smulik landed with the assault force in the invasion on the coast of France. Shortly after landing, the tank dozer which he was operating was destroyed by enemy fire. Completely disregarding his own safey, Technician Fourth Grade Smulik left his destroyed tank dozer, crossed the fire swept beach and mounted an abandoned bull dozer. Though completely exposed to the heavy enemy fire, he placed the bull dozer in operation and proceeded to assist in preparing a lane through the beach obstacles which permitted the beaching of landing craft. The outstanding courage, determination and initiative of Technician Fourth Grade Smulik reflects a great credit upon himself and is in keeping with highest traditions of the Armed Forces.”

    Source: FJP Auctions, Inc. (see pp.37-38 attached)

    From the above citation, he was probably part of Pvt Ayers' tank dozer #13 which was hit and caught fire shortly after leaving its craft, and whose crew was brought into the beach by Tank Dozer #14.

    Attached Files:

  15. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    That makes sense. Bill at ETO History made a Pinterest posting of the grave of Smulik and his DOZER crew.

    Attached Files:

  16. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

    Looking at the citation for Private First Class Lawrence G. Sweeney, the tank he was on "received several direct hits" but he was able to continue to use the weapon systems to engage enemy targets (unclear if it was one of the .30 cal MGs or the 75mm main gun). Based on the post action accounts, I am tempted to attribute PFC Sweeney to the crew of S/Sgt. Fair's A14, but not 100%.
  17. Where does it say that Pfc. Sweeney was with Co A on D Day?
  18. Michael Nikov

    Michael Nikov Member

  19. Yes, I know this list but I was hoping for primary evidence. But let's trust Phil Nordyke on this, although as far as I know the available AARs of Co A (or other Co's) do not include any mention or hint of a crew member running across the beach to get more ammunition. The only similar mentions relate to getting ammo from the tank's own trailer behind the tank. Of course not every act of bravery gets to be recorded in the AARs, as demonstrated by T/4 Smulik's case.

Share This Page