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The 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion

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Creating Tank Destroyers

When the US military decided something needed to be done about the nearly impossible Panzer tanks the Germans were marching across the world with their initial response was to create a defensive company within infantry units.

General Lesley K. McNair

On April 12, 1941 Gen McNair wrote:
"It is beyond belief that so little could be done on the question in view of all that has happened and is happening abroad. I for one have missed no opportunity to hammer for something real in the way of antitank defense, but so far have gotten nowhere. I have no reason now to feel encouraged, but can only hope this apathy will not continue indefinitely."

Gen McNair's statement encouraged a series of antitank conferences beginning just 3 days later.

Conferences Begin

Present at this first meeting on April 15, 1941 were: G-3 War Dept., Chief of Infantry, Chief of Field Artillery, Armored Force, Chief of Calvary, Chief of Coast Artillery, General Headquarters and the War Plans Division, War department General Staff.

This conference resulted in approval by all for offensive antitank tactics but was marked by disagreement over the organization and command of antitank units.

Chief of armored Force recommended the creation of a provisional antitank arm which was viewed favorable by General Headquarters. He did not want the burden of antitank defense, deeming it counter to the offensive character of the Armored force. He recommended the creation of a provisional antitank arm which was the view favored by General Headquarters.

Disagreement continued on how antitank units would be created, who would supply and command them and how many there would be.

Second Conference

The subject of branch responsibility remains a big problem at the second conference, 14 May. Gen George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, directed the Asst Chief of Staff G-3 to take immediate action on antitank measures to include an offensive weapon and organization to combat armored forces.

In this directive, Gen Marshall indicated that defense against armored forces was a problem beyond the capabilities of any one arm and probably required the organization and use of a special force of combined arms, capable of rapid movement, interception and active rather than passive defense tactics.

On May 26 the decision was made to leave antitank companies with infantry regiments. Each divisional and higher headquarters was to appoint an antitank office and new provisional antitank battalions were to be organized at once. Their weapons would be taken from the artillery. Their intent, at the time was to establish before the end of 1941 a "large antitank unit."

A month later provisional antitank battalions were activated by War Department letter and antitank officers were appointed in divisions and higher units.

Four Day Conference

Held in July, the 14th thru the 17th. was a historic antitank conference called by the Asst Chief of Staff G-3, War Department, to inform antitank officers of the antitank problems, The proposed test in maneuvers, the latest mechanized antitank doctrine and such.

The genesis of the original Tank Destroyer was born out of this conference. -- A 75mm gun mounted on a half-track.

War Department Order of December, 1941

The term "antitank" did not set well with many, it was defensive, it was not indicative of the offense tactics to be used. It was not just a name change, it was a change in military hierarchy. The new Tank Destroyer Battalions would be allotted to General Headquarters, that is, they would be a separate arm of the military. Antitank units in cavalry divisions and field artillery battalions and regiments in continental United States were to be inactivated. Infantry antitank battalions were to loose the name "infantry", be renumbered, and designated as "Tank Destroyer" battalions."

January 30, 1942

The first new homogenous tank destroyer force, composed of battalions, only nominally connected with the older arms and complete with full reconnaissance and other supporting elements, came into existence under Lt Colonel Richard G. Tindall.

As noted on the previous page, the 893rd TD Battalion arrived at Camp Hood on  March 31 1942 and the 753rd on April 1 1942.

Nearly after a year, General McNairs' thoughts  were written out they came to fruition. The US will soon be ready to eliminate the advantage of the Panzer.

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