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782nd Tank Bn M4 Sherman Crew WIA by a Panzerfaust


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This is a uniform I received a little bit ago but just found some great research for and never got around to posting it. It’s named to a Sergeant Joseph (last name has been blocked for privacy as the vet is still alive).

 

Joseph enlisted in 1943 to follow in his brothers footsteps (who was with the 14th AF). Formerly a clerk with a local coal company, he moved to Fort Knox where he trained in machine gun, radio, and armor proficiency. Upon graduation he was sent to join Company B of the 782nd Tank Battalion. He traveled around the country with the battalion, which was being prepped for PTO service in California (while in Cali, their tanks were featured in the Columbia picture “Counter-Attack”).

 

The unit was eventually sent back to the east coast where they were sent to France, landing on 16 January 1945. As soon as they stepped off they were loaded into an old troop train full of 40-and-8s to travel to their new post at Camp Lucky Strike. Unfortunately, the conductor was unfamiliar with the tracks and did not realize the final station was a dead end. Not applying the breaks in time, the train ran headfirst into the station and many of the troops cars slammed into one another and basically disintegrated. 54 men were killed and dozens wounded. Luckily, Joseph escaped unscathed.

 

Spending some time recovering and being shifted around the front, Joseph and the 782nd were eventually sent to join the 97th Infantry Division for operations pushing into Germany in early April. Assigned as an assistant driver, radio operator, and MG gunner on an M4 76mm Sherman. The fighting was fairly smooth at first with minimal casualties until they hit the border town of Cheb, Czechoslovakia on 25 April.

 

The city was occupied by a Volksgrenadier Battalion bolstered with Werewolf partisans, German troops hid behind every rock and bush. Company B was split and joined the 368th IR for the assault. His platoon, one of the only with 76mm M4s, took point as they approached the town with infantry behind them in support. Joseph was scanning the road ahead when he suddenly heard the large thud of a Panzerfaust round slamming into their side, but not detonating. He quickly spotted the German soldier running away and began to unlock his MG. Before he could open fire, however, he felt another round hit their side, this time igniting the tank into an inferno. He scrambled to get out of the tank, getting stuck for several minutes and receiving severe burns to his face, hands, and neck. Jumping to the ground, he was taken to the rear by 97th medics as the infantry surrounded the now derelict hulk. Unfortunately, the driver and another crewman were taken captive in the bustle, but the tanks did push onward and capture the town. Treated for the next month or so, he eventually made a full recovery, served a little occupation duty, and returned home. He remembers his times with the tanks fondly, despite his injuries. Of their entire two months in combat, his tank was the only lost in the battalion and he was one of only 7 wounded.

 

I was very happy to receive this uniform as it is my first from a tanker. Joseph is currently alive but not doing great health wise, I hope for his full recovery and he even expressed interest in a full interview! I was very lucky to find his story as it is often somewhat difficult with these independent tank battalions. Even though he got in late, he certainly saw his share of action and sacrifice in those far away European fields.

 

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One of the only photos of the 782nd Tanks, and it happens to be from his platoon that day outside of Cheb. This could be his tank but it is unknown

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Hospital paperwork

GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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Hospital paperwork

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One of the only other photos of the 782nd, also taken the same day at Cheb

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GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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Very nice! thanks for sharing!

 

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Great group! Good to hear the vet is still alive! You should definitely interview him if you get the chance.

He probably would love Cheb the way it is today. People like the Americans there. There is a monument for the American liberators near the city center. They do a big liberation celebration and parade every year on 8 May with many reenactors. Veterans come too. It is just a great feeling when you enter the city and there is a big banner that says "Diky Ameriko" (Thank You America).

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