Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

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Richard Stone
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Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Stone » 12 Feb 2024 04:18

The attached short article discusses an emergency shipment of Sherman Tanks the US Army arranged for the British 8th Army in July 1942 to aid its fight against Rommel following the fall of Tobruk. The emergency shipment was directed by the US Army Transportation Corp aided by several American railways, the US Merchant Marine and the shipping port personnel.

The article was printed in the July 1947 edition of the USA professional military reference magazine ‘Military Review’.

Combat Notes - Mil Review July 1947 - Brit Sherman Tnk Shpmnt.png
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 12 Feb 2024 06:19

Richard Stone wrote:
12 Feb 2024 04:18
The attached short article discusses an emergency shipment of Sherman Tanks the US Army arranged for the British 8th Army in July 1942 to aid its fight against Rommel following the fall of Tobruk. The emergency shipment was directed by the US Army Transportation Corp aided by several American railways, the US Merchant Marine and the shipping port personnel.

The article was printed in the July 1947 edition of the USA professional military reference magazine ‘Military Review’.


Combat Notes - Mil Review July 1947 - Brit Sherman Tnk Shpmnt.png

Interesting; of course, apparently the Transportation Corps could not tell a self-propelled 105mm artillery piece from a self-propelled 76mm-armed tank destroyer, but oh well - one can't have everything when it comes to the rear area types, can one? ;)

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 12 Feb 2024 06:41

daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
12 Feb 2024 06:19
Interesting; of course, apparently the Transportation Corps could not tell a self-propelled 105mm artillery piece from a self-propelled 76mm-armed tank destroyer, but oh well - one can't have everything when it comes to the rear area types, can one? ;)
Because, oddly enough, that was what they were called at the time, informally at least. One of the more colorful, if inaccurate, appellations given to an American "tank" was the "Tank Killer" used for a short time for the 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7. On 10 April 1943, an event was held in Schenectady, New York to commemorate the role of ALCO HMC M7 and Medium Tanks M4 and M4A2 in the “turning point of the war at El Alamein” in October 1942. The city-wide celebration was attended by many high-ranking American and British officers. Ceremonies included sealing a time capsule in city hall containing mementos from the completion of the first M7, and a free screening of the world premiere of “Desert Victory”, a British documentary of the Battle of El Alamein for ALCO workers and their families. I suspect the Military Review article simply repeated the propaganda language of the time. BTW, there could have been no 76mm-armed self-propelled tank destroyers at the time for them to distinguish, since none existed at the time, they were 3-inch only then.

I give a more complete rundown of the events of Convoy AS-4 and the emergency shipment on the Seatrain Texas, in Appendix II of American Thunder.
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 12 Feb 2024 13:42

Richard Anderson wrote:
12 Feb 2024 06:41
daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
12 Feb 2024 06:19
Interesting; of course, apparently the Transportation Corps could not tell a self-propelled 105mm artillery piece from a self-propelled 76mm-armed tank destroyer, but oh well - one can't have everything when it comes to the rear area types, can one? ;)
Because, oddly enough, that was what they were called at the time, informally at least. One of the more colorful, if inaccurate, appellations given to an American "tank" was the "Tank Killer" used for a short time for the 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7. On 10 April 1943, an event was held in Schenectady, New York to commemorate the role of ALCO HMC M7 and Medium Tanks M4 and M4A2 in the “turning point of the war at El Alamein” in October 1942. The city-wide celebration was attended by many high-ranking American and British officers. Ceremonies included sealing a time capsule in city hall containing mementos from the completion of the first M7, and a free screening of the world premiere of “Desert Victory”, a British documentary of the Battle of El Alamein for ALCO workers and their families. I suspect the Military Review article simply repeated the propaganda language of the time. BTW, there could have been no 76mm-armed self-propelled tank destroyers at the time for them to distinguish, since none existed at the time, they were 3-inch only then.

I give a more complete rundown of the events of Convoy AS-4 and the emergency shipment on the Seatrain Texas, in Appendix II of American Thunder.
In 1947, when the item excerpted above was published? One thinks not...

Likewise, pretty sure there were hundreds if not thousands of 76mm-armed tank destroyers in existence in 1947, although they were presumably in storage before going overseas under MDAP.

See? Nitpicks are everywhere, aren't they?

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 12 Feb 2024 18:10

daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
12 Feb 2024 13:42
In 1947, when the item excerpted above was published? One thinks not...

Likewise, pretty sure there were hundreds if not thousands of 76mm-armed tank destroyers in existence in 1947, although they were presumably in storage before going overseas under MDAP.

See? Nitpicks are everywhere, aren't they?
Sure, you can pick nits with the best of them. Me, I like to try to explain, or at least figure out why, those nits may have come about. :lol:

The article was printed in 1947 in Military Review. It was extracted from the Report of the Chief of Transportation, which was written in 1945. That in turn was taken from monthly and annual summaries made to SOS/ASF of Transportation Corps activities. Lots of room for error in the bureaucratic game of Chinese Whispers.

What things were called is a fascinating subject, and it changed over time. For example, you could have nitted that instead of "tank destroyers" or "tank killers", they should have called the 105mm HMC M7 they were transporting "Priests", except of course that appellation did not exist prior to the Battle of 3d Alamein. However, at the time the original report was written, after the Seatrain Texas arrived safely at Alexandria, one of the nicknames given to that vehicle was indeed "tank killer" or "tank destroyer" and it is quite possible whoever wrote the end of war history simply took the description verbatim from the original report, since the original summaries rarely contained detailed manifests.

More interesting would be to discover who came up with the apocryphal story that all the vehicle engines were stored on the Fairport and they had to be replaced as wel when she was sunkl. Quite likely that too originated in a similar misreading of the original reports.
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 13 Feb 2024 05:30

Richard Anderson wrote:
12 Feb 2024 18:10
daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
12 Feb 2024 13:42
In 1947, when the item excerpted above was published? One thinks not...

Likewise, pretty sure there were hundreds if not thousands of 76mm-armed tank destroyers in existence in 1947, although they were presumably in storage before going overseas under MDAP.

See? Nitpicks are everywhere, aren't they?
Sure, you can pick nits with the best of them. Me, I like to try to explain, or at least figure out why, those nits may have come about. :lol:

The article was printed in 1947 in Military Review. It was extracted from the Report of the Chief of Transportation, which was written in 1945. That in turn was taken from monthly and annual summaries made to SOS/ASF of Transportation Corps activities. Lots of room for error in the bureaucratic game of Chinese Whispers.

What things were called is a fascinating subject, and it changed over time. For example, you could have nitted that instead of "tank destroyers" or "tank killers", they should have called the 105mm HMC M7 they were transporting "Priests", except of course that appellation did not exist prior to the Battle of 3d Alamein. However, at the time the original report was written, after the Seatrain Texas arrived safely at Alexandria, one of the nicknames given to that vehicle was indeed "tank killer" or "tank destroyer" and it is quite possible whoever wrote the end of war history simply took the description verbatim from the original report, since the original summaries rarely contained detailed manifests.

More interesting would be to discover who came up with the apocryphal story that all the vehicle engines were stored on the Fairport and they had to be replaced as wel when she was sunkl. Quite likely that too originated in a similar misreading of the original reports.
Plenty of 76mm-armed tank destroyers in 1945, though. M-18s...

And there are these creatures known as editors, you know? Presumably even Military Review had them in 1945, or 1947, or whenever.

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Feb 2024 06:24

daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
13 Feb 2024 05:30
Plenty of 76mm-armed tank destroyers in 1945, though. M-18s...
Sure, but not in 1942. None in fact.
And there are these creatures known as editors, you know? Presumably even Military Review had them in 1945, or 1947, or whenever.
They are basically evul, but yeah I know of them. :lol: However, again, this is not an article written for Military Review, it is a snippet, extracted and published as it was, directly from the original. So it doesn't look like an editor touched it.
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Sheldrake » 13 Feb 2024 12:13

Confusion among American commentators might be reasonable. Until Kasserine Pass even informed individuals in the US thought that German success was due to massed tank attacks. At the time the M7 was potentially a tank killer in the same way that the SU152 was. If a 105 round hit a 1942 vintage tank, it would spoil their day. It doesn't look that different to some of the Gerrman SPs. For much of the desert campaign, field artillery was expected to engage tanks.

The M7 was very much welcomed by the RA in the 8th Army. Adding SP 105mm howitzers to the British Orbat probably did more to help defeat German battlegroups than, say, M10 TDs might have done. The ability to deal with anti-tank guns was seen as probably more important than killing tanks. By then the Brits were very aware of German tactics of using tanks in partnership with anti-tank weapons and hitting defensive positions with HE from out of range of anti-tank guns. The M7 had a longer range and better arcs than the 25 Pounder Bishop, which is why the 25 Pounder Ram SP "Sexton" was based on the M7.

It wasn't until Army Training Memorandum No. 45 of May 1943 that it made clear that SP Field Howitzers were not intended to fire on the move, not armed with machine guns and should only engage tanks in extremis.

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Feb 2024 18:33

Sheldrake wrote:
13 Feb 2024 12:13
The M7 was very much welcomed by the RA in the 8th Army. Adding SP 105mm howitzers to the British Orbat probably did more to help defeat German battlegroups than, say, M10 TDs might have done.
Yeah, especially since when Convoy AS-4 sailed on 19 July 1942, there were zero 3-inch GMC M10 to load on it, other than the Pilot T35 and T35E1.
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 14 Feb 2024 04:26

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 Feb 2024 06:24
daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
13 Feb 2024 05:30
Plenty of 76mm-armed tank destroyers in 1945, though. M-18s...
Sure, but not in 1942. None in fact.
And there are these creatures known as editors, you know? Presumably even Military Review had them in 1945, or 1947, or whenever.
They are basically evul, but yeah I know of them. :lol: However, again, this is not an article written for Military Review, it is a snippet, extracted and published as it was, directly from the original. So it doesn't look like an editor touched it.
Don't think so, actually: here's the masthead - editor in chief, two editors (English edition); and four editorial assistants;

https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... /939/rec/2

If it was simply an excerpt, best practice is to provide the date of the original. Otherwise, one gets blamed for other's stupidity.

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Feb 2024 04:52

daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
14 Feb 2024 04:26
If it was simply an excerpt, best practice is to provide the date of the original. Otherwise, one gets blamed for other's stupidity.
Hey, I'm not the one expecting best practice from Military Review. And I'm still not seeing anything other than a snippet excised from a Transportation Corps History - not the Green Book BTW - and pasted into MR as a filler. Maybe you're seeing something else?
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 15 Feb 2024 04:01

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Feb 2024 04:52
daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
14 Feb 2024 04:26
If it was simply an excerpt, best practice is to provide the date of the original. Otherwise, one gets blamed for other's stupidity.
Hey, I'm not the one expecting best practice from Military Review. And I'm still not seeing anything other than a snippet excised from a Transportation Corps History - not the Green Book BTW - and pasted into MR as a filler. Maybe you're seeing something else?
Copy editing, man. It's a thing.

Of course, it was the C&GSC, so - perhaps not surprising.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/05/th ... lliterate/

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 15 Feb 2024 07:53

daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
15 Feb 2024 04:01
Copy editing, man. It's a thing.

Of course, it was the C&GSC, so - perhaps not surprising.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/05/th ... lliterate/
On the whole, I suspect the C&GSC did better in 1947, but I could be wrong.
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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 16 Feb 2024 18:57

Richard Anderson wrote:
15 Feb 2024 07:53
daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
15 Feb 2024 04:01
Copy editing, man. It's a thing.

Of course, it was the C&GSC, so - perhaps not surprising.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/05/th ... lliterate/
On the whole, I suspect the C&GSC did better in 1947, but I could be wrong.
Percentage-wise, there far more functional illiterates among the US general population in the 1940s (2.7-3.2 percent) than later in the century (.6 percent in 1979), which given the significant increase in foreign-born US residents and naturalized US citizens in the past half-century or so, is probably a more appropriate comparison with the 1940s population than today.

https://nces.ed.gov/naal/lit_history.asp

Having said that, obviously literacy rates in the US, even in the 1940s, differed widely based on socio-economic status, as the Army's "Category" classifications of draftees during WW II made clear.

https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Cens ... 20-020.pdf

The 1940s measurements, were - generally - of literacy in any language, not simply English, so that's another factor. Lot of pre-1920s immigrants might have been literate in German or Italian, for example, but not in English. Same for gender, of course; women had fewer educational opportunities then men, although that doesn't play in the PME candidate pool of the 1940s.

Of course, US Army officers attending the C&GSC were - all things being equal - a fairly elite group; one would hope they could read and write at a collegiate or graduate level. It's not like they were Marines, after all. ;)

Today, as the PIAAC survey data from 2012/2014/2017 makes clear, literacy rates are highly stratified by economic status, recent immigration, and - of course - geography; the states with the lowest rates are in the southeast (Louisiana and Mississippi, especially) and southwest (New Mexico). Beyond that, of the big three states in terms of recent immigrant populations, New York and California do better than Texas. Plenty of room for improvement, but worth keeping in mind, since education - especially adult education - is very much a state/local responsibility.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/edu ... 799429007/

Not a lot to do with stripping M4s and M7s from the 2nd Armored Division to ship them to the 8th Army in 1942, but it is interesting to consider the varying skills sets between the respective pools of 1940 and 2024. Imagine the level of horsemanship was much higher in 1940; expect the ability to use electronic equipment is much more prevalent today. ;)
Last edited by daveshoup2MarDiv on 16 Feb 2024 22:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Emergency US Shipment Of Sherman Tanks to British 8th Army - North Africa July 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Feb 2024 21:51

daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
16 Feb 2024 18:57
Richard Anderson wrote:
15 Feb 2024 07:53
daveshoup2MarDiv wrote:
15 Feb 2024 04:01
Copy editing, man. It's a thing.

Of course, it was the C&GSC, so - perhaps not surprising.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/05/th ... lliterate/
On the whole, I suspect the C&GSC did better in 1947, but I could be wrong.
Percentage-wise, there far more functional illiterates among the US general population in the 1940s (2.7-3.2 percent) than later in the century (.6 percent in 1979), which given the significant increase in foreign-born US residents and naturalized US citizens in the past half-century or so, is probably a more apporpriate comparison with the 1940s population than today.
Sure, but the officer corps before and during World War II, Regular, National Guard, Organized Reserves, and Army of the United States, were not selected from functional illiterates and actual - as opposed to functional - illiteracy was one of the bars to enlistment...at least until 1943 when the strictures were relaxed. It was one of the many reasons U.S. manpower was not as well mobilized as Germany's or the Soviet's.
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