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The 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion

invites you to enjoy this site while learning about WWII and tank destroyers

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Colonial Era

US Army Flag - 1775
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Adopted in 1775

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13 Star -
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Specialized Training

As the Tank Destroyer arm of the American army was being developed, Major Noble J. Wiley, Jr. and Executive Officer Colonel Richard G. Tindall (later Brigadier General) knew the TD Battalions would need specialized training. The concept developed more fully as Camp Hood took shape.

Both of these men were involved in the preliminary antitank maneuvers of the 1st army in the Carolinas during October-November 1941. They knew specialized training would be needed to develop offensive as well as defensive troops capable of stopping the German army.

The mission of the Tank Destroyer Unit Training Center became that of training tank destroyer units to the point of blotting out and erasing any fear of armored forces; establishing superiority in maneuvering and gunfire.

The specialized training program for TDs provided for 19 weeks of training. 6 weeks of basic and 13 weeks technical and tactical training. The basic training was comparable to that of a replacement training center.

The technical instruction was designed to make all personnel expert with their principal weapons or expert in their specialist duties.

In the tactical phase, the coordinated action of the squad, section, platoon, company and battalion, was taught.

Captain Gordon T. Kimbrell (later Lieutenant Colonel) designed and executed an innovative method at Camp Hood for the TD Battalions. The use of Commando tactics and battle conditioning. His training method became a model for similar courses throughout the Army.

Training Hazards

Among the known and expected hazards of training American boys to act in unison to seek, strike and destroy. Black widow spiders, mosquitoes, chiggers and poisonous snakes were common hazards. As were sunstroke and heat exhaustion. Yet, even with all this against them, this Specialized Arm of the Army, known as Tank Destroyers, were able to produce human fighting machines that were capable of wiping out the enemy's armored vehicles which were preventing Allied victory in WWII.

Firing by Ear Rather than Sight

In June 1943, a new method of night target designation was developed by the Second Training Group. Range was determined by machine gun tracer fire and announced to a tank destroyer section. One gun was laid at the announced range and the other in the section at a range 100 yards short. A delayed fuse setting was used. Both gunners observed the tracers and fired at will. In a test of this method, three targets were destroyed with the expenditure of only three rounds per gun for each target.

In conjunction with the above training (and the training below) the tank destroyer battle firing position was developed - a crouch with the pistol held directly in front of the belt buckle or with the butt of shoulder weapons resting on the pit of the stomach, aimed by ear rather than by sight, fire from this position was phenomenally accurate in daylight as well as in darkness. Units firing in the darkened tunnels of the battle conditioning course consistently averaged 85% hits as compared to an average of 50% hits on similar targets with aimed fire in daylight.

Two additional Battle Conditioning courses were constructed during the latter part of 1942 and January 1943 to provide facilities for all tank destroyer organizations.

Tank Destroyers Set the Pace

Tank Destroyers were the first to train with live ammo coming at them.

Early in April, 1943, permission was received from the Tank Destroyer Center to experiment with the use of live ammunition in training. For the first time in the history of the United States Army, troops were subjected to grazing machine gun fire twelve to eighteen inches above their heads while they crawled across an open field in which explosives were detonated in their midst. This was the origin of the infiltration course, now standard throughout the Army as preparation for combat.

The methods of street fighting, woods fighting, and close combat firing - taught by the battle conditioning department of the Unit Training Center - were copied extensively by other training installations.

Tank Destroyers were trained to Seek, Strike and Destroy the enemy. Learning to overcome the above hazards created a unit that was indeed able to succeed in their mission. The 808th tank destroyers were one of those units.

 

The Enlisted Mans' Oath

Unknown Campt the 808 trained at

 

I, John Doe, do solemnly swear or affirm
to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whomsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the president of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the articles of war.

 

 

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