The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

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Peter H
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The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by Peter H » 11 Jan 2007 12:03

Okinawa: The Last Battle Washington DC: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1947:

On Okinawa, one U.S. Army tank battalion, the 193rd, supporting an infantry battalion of the 27th Division, suffered extremely from a lack of tank-infantry coordination during a one-day attack. Of thirty U.S. Army tanks, three were stopped by mines or road hazards and five were shot by Japanese anti-tank guns enroute to the village objective. In the village, fourteen more tanks were disabled by mines, anti-tank guns, artillery, and close assault units. Six more tanks were attacked by suicide attackers who swarmed the unprotected tanks and destroyed them with satchel charges. At 1330, the tanks withdrew. Only eight vehicles of the original thirty made it back to the start point. The tanks had operated wholly without infantry support.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 11 Jan 2007 17:32

A new story to me. However that paragragh is very poorly written and does not tell us much beyond there was a lack of coordination between a tank and infantry unit. The losses don't add up and it is impossible to know how many tanks were "destroyed" as opposed to being disabled. It would intersting to know what casualties these 30 tanks took.

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Post by Peter H » 11 Jan 2007 22:51

I found this discussion on Tanknet:

http://63.99.108.76/forums/index.php?showtopic=13452
...the attack by A Company (REINF), 193rd Tank Bn in support of 1/105 Infantry, 27th Division. The Army had a tendency to try fancy tactics, and this was one of several spectacular failures.

The idea was for the tanks to go around the west end of a ridge, while the infantry attacked over the ridge to meet them on the far side. The tanks immediately stumbled into an ambush set by the 22nd Independent Anti-Tank Bn in a maze of unmapped roads and trails, and when the infantry could not breach the ridge defenses, the tanks were isolated and in real trouble. Crews that abandoned wrecked tanks were set upon by Japanese infantry, and the fighting went on for nearly four hours.

Rescue efforts by 2/105 also met with disaster. By day's end Army losses were 22 tanks, 720 killed, wounded, and missing. Many of the tanks were complete write-offs, wrecked by mines, internal explosions, and US artillery brought down on them.

"Losses" are hard to determine, as expert and often heroic repairs at company and battalion level put tanks back in action within a day or two. In some cases a tank company might be down to two or three tanks by day's end, but back up to twelve or fourteen by morning - without issuing new tanks. In some cases tanks might be abandoned for a day or two, then recovered. Sometimes damaged tanks were deliberately destroyed by other tanks or artillery if left in enemy ground. USMC doctrine was by necessity to push "rear depot" repairs down to battalion and company level.

Rottman's Okinawa 1945:The Last Battle states that overall in the whole campaign of the 354 US tanks committed,153 were destroyed,a 43% loss rate.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 11 Jan 2007 22:56

US Army Tank battalions in the Pacific & Asia:

http://63.99.108.76/forums/index.php?sh ... &show=&st=&

A quick combing of Shelby Stanton's World War II Order Of Battle indicates the following tank units went to the Pacific or CBI:

1st-6th TK Bns, Provisional: Arrived India Oct 43, phased into China's KMT by end of war.
28th Tk Bn: Philippines.
44th Tk Bn: New Guinea, Admiralty Is, Philippines.
192nd Tk Bn (Light): Philippines, lost at Bataan.
193rd Tk Bn (Light): Hawaii 7 Jan 1942, served all over PTO, ended up in Okinawa.
194th Tk Bn (Light): Philippines, lost at Bataan.
706th Tk Bn: Guam, PI, ie Shima, Okinawa.
710th Tk Bn: Palau, Okinawa.
711th Tk Bn: Philippines, Okinawa.
713th Tk Bn (Armored Flamethrower): Philippines, Okinawa.
716th Tk Bn: New Guinea, Philippines.
754th Tk Bn: Bougainville, Philippines.
762nd Tk Bn (2 Cos): Saipan.
763rd Tk Bn: Philippines, Okinawa.
766th Tk Bn: Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Saipan (one Co each landing)
767th Tk Bn: Marshall Is, Philippines.
775th Tk Bn: New Guinea, Philippines.
779th Tk Bn: Philippines.
785th Tk Bn: Philippines.

Tank Destroyer Bns:
627th TD Bn: Hawaii in 1942, never went farther.
632nd TD Bn: New Guinea, Philippines.
637th TD Bn: Bougainville, Phiplippines.
640th TD Bn: New Britain, Philippines.
645th TD Bn: New Guinea 21 Jan 43 to 24 Jun, when converted to 98th Chemical Mortar Bn (seems there was more need for heavy mortars than towed 3" guns in SWPA).
671st TD Bn: Philippines.
806th TD Bn: Arrived 1 Sept 45, no action.
815th TD Bn: New Guinea, broken up Sept 44.

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Post by Peter H » 11 Jan 2007 23:05

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... awa-8.html

April 19th 1945:
At 0830, just before the infantry left the protection of the little fold in front of Kakazu, tanks in groups of three and four in column formation began moving across Kakazu Gorge; they then continued southward through the saddle between Kakazu and Nishibaru Ridges. Altogether about thirty tanks, self-propelled assault guns, and armored flame throwers moved out of the assembly area that morning for a power drive, against the Japanese positions, Company A of the 193d Tank Battalion making up the major part of the force. Three tanks were lost to mines and road hazards in crossing the gorge and the saddle. As the tanks moved down the road in column, a 47-mm. antitank gun, firing from a covered position to the left on the edge of Nishibaru Ridge, destroyed four tanks with sixteen shots, without receiving a single shot in return. The tank column hurried on south to look for a faint track leading into Kakazu that had shown on aerial photographs: the column missed it, lost another tank to antitank fire, and then in error took a second little-used trail farther south and began working over enemy positions encountered in the face of the escarpment and in the relatively flat country to the east of Kakazu. Discovering that they could not reach the village from this point, the tanks retraced their way to the main road, turned back, found the right trail, and were in Kakazu shortly after 1000. They moved around and through the village, spreading fire and destruction; Kakazu was completely shot up and burned during the next three hours. Fourteen American tanks were destroyed in and around the village, many by mines and 47-mm. antitank guns, others by suicide close-attack units, and more by artillery and mortar fire. During the day six tanks in the Kakazu-Nishibaru area were destroyed by suicide attackers using 22-lb. satchel charges, which were usually thrown against the bottom plate. A majority of the tank crew members were still living after the tanks had been disabled, but many were killed by enemy squads that forced the turret lids open and threw in grenades.

At 1330, since it was now evident that infantry would not be able to reach them, the tanks received orders to return to their lines. Of the thirty tanks that had maneuvered around the left end of Kakazu Ridge in the morning, only eight returned in the afternoon. The loss of twenty-two tanks on 19 April in the Kakazu area was the greatest suffered by American armor on Okinawa in a single engagement.The tanks had operated wholly without infantry support. Four of the twenty-two were armored flame throwers, and this was their first day in action. Some crew members of tanks destroyed by antitank gun fire dug pits under their tanks and remained hidden forty hours before they escaped, incredibly unmolested by the scores of Japanese within 100 yards.
The Japanese had guessed that a tank-infantry attack would try to penetrate their lines between Nishibaru Ridge and Kakazu Ridge, and they had prepared carefully for it. Their plan was based on separating the infantry from the tanks. The 272d Independent Infantry Battalion alone devised a fire net of four machine guns, two antiaircraft guns, three regimental guns, and the 81-mm. mortars of the 2d Mortar Battalion to cover the saddle between the two ridges. The machine guns were sited at close range. In addition, two special squads of ten men each were sent forward to the saddle for close combat against the infantry. One group was almost entirely wiped out; the other had one noncommissioned officer wounded and three privates killed. The enemy defense also utilized the 47-mm. antitank guns of the 22d Independent Antitank Gun Battalion and close-quarters suicide assault squads. So thorough were these preparations that the Japanese boasted "Not an infantryman got through."

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 13 Jan 2007 13:15

Thanks Peter

These links at least make sense. I had heard of the battle of Kakazu Gorge , I just didn't remember the connection with this 193rd Tk Bn or the casualty figures.

Chris

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Post by Cjspess » 28 Feb 2007 15:16

One of my uncles passed away 3 days ago and, although I knew that he had served in the Pacific Theater in WWII, I just found out that he served in the 193rd Tank Battalion and was wounded on Okinawa and awarded the Purple Heart. I was doing some research on the 193rd and this forum showed up. I would like to know the brigade and division of the 193rd. I thougt I saw a reference to the 6 Armored Division. If anyone has any information as to the division and brigade of the 193rd, I would be interested in knowing.

Thank you,
Charles Spess
Houston, TX

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 Mar 2007 01:58

Hi Charles,

In 1941 the thirteen independent tank battalions then in existence "comprised the 1st Tank Group, which operated as a controlling headquarters" until the tank battalions were assigned to infantry divisions in-theater.

From what I can gather the 193rd was then matched with the 27th Infantry Division in the PTO.

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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by bud miller » 07 Apr 2009 23:01

hi my name is bud miller and my father john w miller was a captain in the 193rd on okinawa, and i believe he served most all of the PTO in the 193rd . He was trained at Ft Knox in '42 and went to the pacific after that , spending time at schofield barracks HI. Then serving in Gilbert,Saipan,Marshalls and Okinawa.
A few yrs ago i read the book Okinawa, by roy e appleman, very informative..since my dad past away about 20 yrs ago.
I would appreciate any who have other info i could look at pertaining to the 193rd in the PTO.
thanks
bud

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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by Peter H » 08 Apr 2009 11:29

Thanks bud.

From World War II in the Pacific,Bison Books 1990.

Sherman at Okinawa under fire.
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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by Peter H » 08 Apr 2009 12:12

His something on the 713th Tank Battalion on Okinawa as well--"The worlds only flame throwing tank battalion".

http://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/hist ... _tank.html
By the time Okinawa was in American hands, the 713th battalion killed 4.788 Japanese soldiers and captured 49 among the few who surrendered to U.S. forces. Battalion losses were comparatively light: 8 killed. 111 wounded or injured in action and one listed as missing in action. Among the wounded was Colonel McCrary. Enemy anti-tank fire and mines claimed 16 of the battalion's flame-throwing Shermans. Another 25 were listed as operational losses.
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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by TGenovese » 20 Nov 2009 02:50

My great-uncle was killed in action on Okinawa and served in B Co., 193rd Tank Bn. All the information that I'm reading is from A Company but I haven't read any information about B Company. If anyone has any information about B Company (or maybe they were so short staffed, they were mixed together?), it would be much appreciated.

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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by Peter H » 03 Apr 2011 08:08

From Youtube UnknownWW2InColor

Death in a Tank at Okinawa


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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by Mil-tech Bard » 09 Apr 2011 19:41

The Tank-net forum has a thread on Armored flame throwers here:

http://208.84.116.223/forums/index.php?showtopic=33879

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Re: The destruction of the 193rd Tank Battalion

Post by Mil-tech Bard » 09 Apr 2011 20:37

The 193rd Tank BTN and the 27th Infantry Division had both fought the Japanese in the Central Pacific (Makin and Saipan) and picked up some bad habits in the face of poor Japanese anti-tank defenses. In neither action did these units faced an integrated Japanese anti-tank defense with 47mm guns in numbers, well sited machine gun positions with supporting mortars & artillery, well used anti-tank mines and well trained suicide anti-tank units they did on Okinawa.

That said, the 7th Infantry Division and 711th Tank BTN faced a similar ambush at Red Hill on the Shuri line and lost far fewer tanks.

See pages 341-342 of Gene Salecker's book ROLLING THUNDER AGAINST THE RISING SUN: The Combat History of US Army Tank Battalions in the Pacific in World War II.

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