Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This post will cover the Sherman related images in “The War Against Germany And Italy, Mediterranean and adjacent areas”.
As we talked about in the last post on The Army has a series of History books they published shortly after the war nicknamed the Green books. You can find them all on the US Army Official History site the “Green Books” in PDF format. Most of these books have minimal photos, but they put out a pair three picture books and this post will cover the one on Italy, Southern France and North Africa.
This book, like the one on the northern European Campaign was not the highest quality scan, so the picture quality is not great. It is good though, and you can make out a good amount of detail in them. There are also fewer Sherman photos, because the Sherman was not as usable in Italy, because of the terrain, but it was still a very common item on the battlefield in the MTO. The book starts off with some images from the Torch landings and covers the fighting in Tunisia.
This is an interesting image, and the caption doesn’t say it, but that’s the R975 that powered many Sherman models they are looking over. I would love to get my hands on a high resolution version of this photo.
Lee tanks being readied by UK Troops.
I just thought this was to interesting of a photo to not include just because no Sherman, was in it.
US Radar aimed spotlights.
A M3 Lee Crew having some chow. I do not agree with the caption, the Lee was not obsolete yet, and was still capable of knocking out all German Armor. The US Army got a bloody nose at Kasserine Pass because of bad leadership, and tactics, along with green troops.
An M4A1 towing a Halftrack. The location, Sidi Bou Zid, was the location of a big battle where most of a battalion got knocked out.
In the top photo is an M6 37mm GMC, a rare and short lived Tank Destroyer. They were phased out during the fighting and replaced with 75mm M3 GMC, a 75mm gun mounted on an halftrack. This was replaced by the M10 in time for the Sicily invasion. The M10 would be the first TD to be successful and they were popular with their crews.
An M4A1 hauling ass about 60 kilometers from Tunis.
An M4A1 being used to test deep wading gear. This doesn’t look like factory produced wading gear to me, but its hard to tell with the shot quality. Most people assume the trunks were the only parts needed for it to work. It took hours of labor to prepare the whole tank for deep wading. The Shermans hull was not designed to be watertight, so all the joints had to be filled with a special tar, and it had to be applied in a ton of places requiring the removal of interior racks to get to the nooks and crannies during the process. Without the waterproofing, as soon as the tops of the suspension and the bottom of the hull got submerged water would begin coming in. The Shermans slip ring for the turrets electric power was mounted under the on the hull floor. As soon as this touched water, it shorted the tanks eletrical system out.
I didn’t know we had given the French any P-38s, but we did, enough for one squadron or so. The Sherman has to be an M4, M4A4 or M4A2. I lean towards the M4A4 since the wheels are spaced so far apart, though, the suspension is at full droop, I don’t think they would get that much closer together. The way they have it rigged is interesting, they are not using the hull lift rings, and seem to have tied into the suspension bogies, with the worn wire ropes.
I thought this was interesting, how many people know we shipped supplies and tanks through Iran into Russia and the middle eas? I wonder what kind of security these trains had? I would love to get a high res version of the train photo, the tanks are Shermans, but there is no telling the vintage.
This is another photo that made it in because it’s cool. This LST could be full of tanks, they would jus tbe inside the LST on the main deck. These vehicles are all light enough for the roof. The LST was designed for these kinds of loads, and had a ramp that could be raised and lowered to get the vehicles up there. The LST was a really interesting ship design. Check out this post for more info.
This is a Lima built M4A1. There is a larger version of this photo on the Sherman Minutia site, in there how to identify Lima Locomotive Shermans!
No tanks in this image, but the subject is interesting, and not often covered. The mosquito was an enemy to both sides, spreading several diseases, the most troubling Malaria. The US Military used pesticides to combat it, I had never heard of Paris Green before, but it’s a oldschool, fairly toxic pesticide, and they sprayed it all over the med to prevent mosquitoes. This was important, the losses through malaria can get out of hand fast if you don’t have the meds to counter it, and spraying for them is a great way to keep the risk down. In the Pacific, they sprayed a lot of DDT.
Another LST image, this one showing the floating pontoon sections used to get vehicles ashore when the slope of the beach was not ideal for getting the LST in close enough to drive right out its built in ramp. Beaches of that type were fairly rare.
This post reminded me we have a holiday coming. Christmas overseas at war was a tough burden on US Troops. The US Military does is hardest to get these men a turkey dinner like these doughs are enjoying. Merry Christmas everyone!
An M4 Sherman getting a new set of tracks installed. The caption mentions armor had not seen a lot of use, and that partially true. Many tank battalions would be used as artillery and would be on call when needed. That’s not really seeing action, but it’s still combat, counter battery fire wouldn’t be unheard of. You can see an M10 GMC in the background, this looks like a repair depot. See the image caption for location info.
This is a great image, I really wish I had a high res version of it. Here we have a practically invisible M10 tank destroyer. From a distance this TD would be very hard to spot.
This looks like another LLW M4A1, it has a siren that looks like the Mars brand type they used. The Inflatable Shermans are interesting. Up close they are clearly fake, but from 50 yards or from a low flying plane it would be very hard to tell a real Sherman from an inflatable.
A pair of photos of M31 ARVs doing ARV things. If a tank really gets stuck, falls into a ditch, collapses a bridge, since in deep mud, it might take two or even three ARVs or Tanks or a combo of both with a lot of towing cable to free the tank. Getting a tank stuck like that would make the driver notorious, and not in good way.
An M5 light and M4 medium in the town of Coreno Ausonio Italy, from an unknown unit, supporting the French Army.
An M31 moving a German portable Pillbox. They seem like ready made coffins. They were an interesting design, and you can make out the hole where an axle was inserted, and two wheels could be fitted along with a trailer tongue, and the thing was flipped onto its wheels and towed away by a horse or small vehicle. F or more info see this post on the Lone Sentry
A vaunted Tiger, burning, on the streets of Rome. City fighting would be hard on a tank like the tiger, with bad visibility, with known blind spots, and slow turret traverse means a few determined infantrymen could sneak up on it and kill it, unless it was heavily supported by infantry.
A pair of M10s with the 5th Army entering Rome.
A huge marshaling yard at the port of Naples full of vehicles waiting for the invasion of southern France. This is just a small sample of what would be used in the invasion.
A US DD Sherman used in the Southern France landings. The DD used in this landing had much better results.
Another burned out Tiger, the Nazi version of the Gold Plated Toilet, with a useless anti magnetic mine paste applied that only added weight to an already overweight vehicle. As far as I can tell, the neither USSR, or US or British Armies had a commonly issued magnetic mine. So yeah, the Germans wasted time and treasure on some crappy paste that did not good.
These two vehicles were the true staples of the effective German armor force. The Stug III was based on the excellent panzer III, and was a way to get a nice 75mm gun onto its hull. the Stug was well liked by their crews, reliable by German standards and well suited to mobile warfare. The Panzer IV was not a great tank either, but it was the best tank Germany had, and it’s the one they should have continued to produce. Sure it had a lot of flaws, crappy suspension with no growth potential, a hull with thin armor with way to many individual plates, welds, and rivets, making it very labor intensive to build. It was also reliable by German standards, but was no Sherman. The turret was also a complicated mess of time wasting multi angle plates. Even with all these flaws, it was still a better tank than all the later German Armor because it was reliable enough to actually show up to the fight. It’s gun was good enough to deal with most of the threats it faced. It also didn’t waste huge amounts of gas because it wasn’t underpowered.
Action shot of an M7 crew firing their 105mm howitzer.
A pair of M4A1 75 tanks fording the Arno river near the gothic line. Note the line marker in the river, it probably gets much deeper to the tanks right side.
I wanted to include some photos of the terrain. Hills and mountains are tough on tanks. All that armor generally means they are not hotrods in the first place, throw in climbing steep grades, and any automotive issues with the tank are going to come out very fast. Lucky for the US and other Allies, the Sherman was an automotive masterpiece, and was reliable enough to be used in these places and still continue to work. This type of terrain really cuts the life of a tank down, in particular if the tank is already unreliable, if you have a part know to wear out in 1500 kilometers, hilly terrain could cut that in half, or worse if the driver was bad.
I thought this was an interesting shot along with a good illustration of the terrain. Those 6X6 trucks were pretty capable off road, but not as good as a tank in most cases. The caption doesn’t give us any info on how the truck got there. One thing I know from taking a Jeep out on trails like this, is pictures never show how steep a place is, like being there in person. I’ve taken pictures of places that gave me some serious pucker factor going up or down, and when you look the pictures over, they never convey the steepness like being at the top and looking down. Driving a tank on narrow dirt roads like this was probably not enjoyable at all.
This is the final terrain shot, this one is long enough to give you a good idea of some of the distances involved and how tall the hills and mountains were.
The most reliable version of the Panther, the Panther Casemate! Take a panther turret, slap it on a steel bunker frame that you’re put in a hole in the ground and poor in concrete! No 150 kilometer final drives, no 1500 kilometer tanny, or 1500 kilometer maybach motor. Plus you get a bunk!
An US tank salvage yard.
The caption of this photo said there was a M4A1 76 in it, but there are no 76mm armed Shermans in this photo. I assume the caption is accurate otherwise. Note the hilly area the tanks are in, the M4 and M4A1 would be the most difficult of the shermans to drive in this type of terrain.
M10 TDs given to the South Africans as Lend Lease. They may have come directly from the US, or it may have been the Brits giving them M10s they had not converted to Achilles TDs with the 17 pounder.
Another LLW M4A1 and a pair of M18s with an M4A1 76w and a regular M4A1 75 in the background. The trail they are on is much steeper than it looks. This is the type of terrain the granny gear in the Shermans transmission would come in very handy on.
A pair of M32s driving through the hills of Italy in the fog.
I don’t think this is a regular Callipe.
I didn’t know ACME was involved in making bridging gear, and this does not seem like a very good idea. Is that a roadrunner in the corner of the top pic??!
A very cool shot of an M7 SPGs battery firing at night. The caption says this was prep fire.
An M10 GMC hauling ass down Highway 65.
An M10 in the background of some German POWs being marched to a containment area. They would then be shipped off to camps in England or the US. The US treated POWs very well in most cases and delivered Red Cross packages without delay.
A South African Tank unit with M4A1 76w tanks. The Brits were sent a fair number of these tanks through lend lease, but didn’t want them, so they gave them to the other members of the UK.
Ok, so I threw in one more terrain shot, because I thought this one was interesting, this is really the last one though.
This is another mis-captioned photo, at least where the Sherman is concerned. The caption says the tank is an M4A3 with 17 pounder. I can’t say there was never a M4A3 with a 17 pounder gun, because the US did have some 75mm Shermans converted, even though they were never issued, one at least was probably an M4A3. The British did not receive any M4A3 tanks for their own use. The image looks like an M4 composite hull Firefly, a very common version of the firefly based on the M4 composite hull tank. I assume the rest of the caption info is correct though.
An M18 getting a ride on a makeshift ferry.
An M10 TD waiting for some action near Lake Garda.
This concludes the photos I found relevant from CMH 12-2. The book is packed with a lot of other photos of things not Sherman related, and since you can download them for free, if you are interested in WWII history, download them and have a look. I found many of these images I had not seen before.