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The 761st Tank Battalion
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Cpl. Carlton Chapman in an M-4 with the 761st Tank Battalion, Nancy, France. November 5, 1944

At Camp Claiborne in April of 1941 the 761st was born and were deployed on October 10, 1944 on Omaha Beach in France.

The 761st was part of the 5th Tank Group along with the 785th and the 784th, this was the first all African American Armored tank group. All of the Senior officers were white, while only having a few black junior officers overseeing 675 African American soldiers per battalion. Even though the 5th Army was comprised together on paper, they never actually fought together as a whole Army group but as separate Battalions when needed. The 761st was activated and sent to Camp Claiborne for training, the basics is what was taught on light tanks. After this they were sent to Fort Hood, here they underwent their further and final training while being upgraded to Medium tanks. This lasted for two years, while white units were sent overseas into service only after a  few months of training.

Even though these African American troops signed up to defend the country they lived they were subject to cruel racism, murder, and severe beatings by neighboring soldiers from nearby training camps. The 761st wanted to retaliate but commanding officer Lt. Colonel, Paul L. Bates talked them out of it. Bates pushed the troops hard in the quest for excellence, which worked as the Unit would later find out.

GEORGE PATTON’s Third Army

The 761st finally got the chance they needed to prove a lot of critics wrong when they landed in France on October 10 1944 for the Invasion. Despite Patton’s reservations the training report on the 761st (rated as Superior) convinced him to give the 761st a chance. Patton before he sent the 761st to battle addressed them with a famous speech - “Men, you're the first Negro tankers to ever fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren't good. I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don't care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons of ******. Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all your race is looking forward to your success. Don't let them down and damn you, don't let me down.”

Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.
pins Silver Star on Ernest A. Jenkins

From that day forward the 761st “Black Panthers” were nearly always at the spearhead of attacks, it was November 7th 1944 this Battalion first saw action. Their objective was a French town of Morville-les-vic, the battle hard fort payed off as their performance was second to none. A fact that was proven many times over, in all the 761st took back 30 towns that were occupied by the Germans by the end of the war. December 1944 the 761st took part in the Battle of the Bulge where they took a village called Tillet, just west of Bastogne. From there they pushed North and cut-off the main supply routes of Germany.

In six months of fighting the 761st was awarded 4 campaign streamers, while the units soldiers received 11 Silver Stars and 69 Bronze Stars.  In 1978 the 761st was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, further more Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997 for extraordinary heroism November 15-19 1944. Sergeant Warren G. H. Crecy was also nominated for the Medal of Honor for actions during combat on November 10-11, a medal he did not receive. The Unit also were awarded 296 Purple Hearts, 8 with clusters.

This Battalion was battle hardened at wars end, they never gave up hope, Nor did they give up the fight to fight for their country. These brave fighting men will always be remembered in history. We salute you the fighting unit of the 761st.

Author: Andrew “Chaos_Tzeentch” Osullivan


In one of the upcoming updates, we will introduce 761st shoulder patch as an emblem:

Decal by Branislav 'InkaL' Mirkov

See you on battlefield

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