OPERATIONS OF THE WESTERN DETACHMENT

1ST BRIGADE, TANK CORPS (US)

SEPTEMBER 26 – OCTOBER 11, 1918.

(PERSONAL EXPERIENCE)


By Captain Thomas C. Brown


…As we left the forest and started east we seemed to be passing through all of the machine guns and anti-tank guns that had been kicked out of Montblainville.  They peppered us from all sides with their small stuff, adding a big “wham” every so often from their wicked 16mm anti-tank gun.  This gun was very effective and would penetrate tank armor very easily with a normal impact.  The fact that the gun was about as dangerous to the firer as to the one fired at saved us considerable trouble. 

The general practice seemed to be to place the butt of the rifle against a tree, point it in the general direction of the target, and pull the trigger.  The few dead gunners of this class who were found had very heavy pads in the shape of short pillows fastened to their shoulders.  As we came out into the open just west of the village the artillery opened up on us.  We lost one tank from this fire.  After getting the tanks under cover from artillery observation I reported to the Battalion Commander of the Infantry unit that occupied the village.  The infantry line ran around the west side of the town in an old overgrown and half-filled-up trench, then around and through the cemetery which occupied the high ground in the north edge of the town.  There appeared to be no enemy to the east toward the river,- or at least there was no fire coming from that direction.  The position was getting enemy fire from the left rear – not a comfortable place to occupy with night coming on.  The Infantry Commander asked me if I would move my tanks against the machine guns to his left front, as they were causing him the most losses.  I told him that it would be worth trying if he could spare enough Infantry to mop the devils up after the tanks chased them into their holes, otherwise we would only get a lot of artillery put down on us without accomplishing anything.  He could not furnish any infantry support and agreed that I was probably right and called the party off.  He then requested that we remain in the village to assist them in case of a counter attack which he was expecting.  We stayed there until evening and then pulled back to Varennes for a refill of gas and oil, this being as far forward as our supply trucks had come.  We here met up with the kitchen and received our first hot meal since the evening of September 25th.


A rather amusing incident happened to one tank crew during this expedition into the enemy’s forest retreat.  According to the sergeant’s story, they were driving up one of the woodland lanes when they met up with a German kitchen set up and doing business with a prepared dinner of corned beef and cabbage, with trimmings, all ready to serve.  Of course the cooks, K.P.s and interested bystanders were somewhat surprised to first hear and then see this iron monster break into their culinary establishment.  They immediately took to their heels, being helped along by a round of “HE” from the tank’s one-pounder.  According to the boy’s story, they got out and helped themselves, and to prove their yarn they brought with them a bucketful of the corned-beef-and.

 

Source:  Brown, Captain Thomas C., “Operations of the Western Detachment, 1st Brigade, Tank Corps (US),” September 26-October 11, 1918, monograph prepared for The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, 1928-29.

stevenhardestyWW1combat,comedy,tanks,world war IOPERATIONS OF THE WESTERN DETACHMENT 1ST BRIGADE, TANK CORPS (US) SEPTEMBER 26 - OCTOBER 11, 1918. (PERSONAL EXPERIENCE) By Captain Thomas C. Brown ...As we left the forest and started east we seemed to be passing through all of the machine guns and anti-tank guns that had been kicked out of Montblainville.  They peppered...Recovering forgotten and overlooked military history