When we think of battle tanks we think of the awesome Abrams and other modern units that make up today’s US fighting force but the reality is that without the tanks of WWII, we’d have nowhere near the advanced gear that our fighters use today. The Sherman, the Pershing, and the Chaffee along with a host of others were evolutionary steps in our mechanized fighting abilities but like all machines, they break, they fail, and they need to be fixed. This is one thing when your car breaks or gets stuck in the mud. You call for a tow and you spend a weekend in the driveway fixing stuff. When you are in the middle of nowhere and people are trying to shoot your ass off, these things are treated differently.
The video below was made in 1944 and was used to train tank crews on how to make “Field Expedients” to keep their vehicles moving in the event of a mechanical problem, a mud, sand, or mire problem, or perhaps a pesky matter of things like a tank track coming off afflicted them. It was about adapting to the situation, using the tools at hand and relying on your crew to effectively get you back on your way.
Some of the stuff is very basic but it is all pretty interesting. The illustration on how a tank track actually works is pretty simple but highly informative as an example. The only thing we could think about while watching this video is all of the guys who would later be doing this type of pure grunt work under far more horrid conditions than shown here, likely mocking the whole production in the process. At one point the narrator says, “That’s pretty easy,” when the soldiers are reinstalling a track. Not so much.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, it has us in a reflective mood today.