7th Armored Division Document Repository
World War II Documents of and related to U. S. 7th Armored Division
7AD Tanks Lost at the Battle for Overloon, Netherlands 30 Sep - 8 Oct 1944
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About this Page

The 7th Armored Division's battle to take Overloon and the nearby communities began 30 September 1944 and soon settled into something akin to World War I trench warfare. The British had simply halted their attack on Overloon, allowing the Germans several pressure-free days to prepare very strong defenses. At nearly the last moment, the US XIX Corps plan for a joint attack by a US infantry and a US armored division attached to a British Corps left the attack only to an armored division and shifted the infantry division completely to a different zone. (see Chapter X of "The Siegfried Line Campaign") Making matters worse, 7th Armored Division was rushed north from France in and had no familiarity with the terrain nor time for proper reconnaissance. They woke up on the morning of the attack 15 miles away from the line of departure. So they had to march 15 miles through territory they had never seen and then make an attack into territory that they had never been able to reconnoiter. It was a textbook plan for disaster. So fighting the Germans to a stalemate was actually far more of an achievement than should have been expected of 7AD in hindsight. It was more than a week before higher headquarters realized that their self-delusion that had led them to think they could use the infantry division elsewhere was in fact a pipe dream. And 7AD was finally relieved by a British force nearly 5 times as large -- a force that still took another week before taking Overloon.

Thus 7AD lost many tanks in the fields near Overloon from 30 Sep to 8 Oct 1944. And contemporary documents and maps, as well as documents and maps as late as 1947, recorded the locations of those tanks and the fates of their crews. This web page brings together the most important of those documents and maps.

Piet Peters Map - Tanks West of Overloon Piet Peters Map - Tank at Tuuthees
Overloon historian Piet Peters Maps of tanks west of Overloon (left) and at Tuuthees (right) in 9 Jun 1947 US Army report
Click on image for full-size
Tank at St Anthonis Breestraat - 1944 Tank at St Anthonis Breestraat - 2013
Unidentified US tank on Breestraat, St Anthonis - Marietje Dekkers Oct 1944 - Piet Peters 2013
Click on image for full-size
Click here for the web page of all 7th Armored Division (and related) tank serial numbers.

Documents

The Tanks

The 24 7AD tanks in the 9 Jun 1947 report are used as the master list, which is reconciled with the tanks listed in the other two documents. Note that these are a part of the overall research on lost 7AD tanks, which is captured in a separate web page. That web page should be checked to see if there is some information there that has not yet been included here.

I go back and forth about whether to group the tanks by unit, by date knocked out, or by the geographic clusters in the 9 Jun 1947 report. So while I do have an order here, I may overhaul the page at some point to change to order it by a different subject. For now, I am using the clusters of the 9 Jun 1947 report. The original text of each paragraph is followed by a discussion of each tank.


Narrative Report - 9 June 1947

Investigations in the St. Antonis and Overloon areas revealed that a total number of 26 tanks still remained in these communities as a result of the battles there in October 1944.

Below is a list of these tanks, giving locations, serial numbers, names, and the investigator's findings on each one. This list is compiled from information received from the Town Halls of St. Antonis and Overloon, and from various individuals contacted.

1. Two tanks, American model in British Service:

Serial number
T 148021
T 263186
Unit
Not applicable
" "
Name
Not applicable
" "

These tanks put out of action in September 1944 at Oploo, Community of St. Antonis.

The British tanks are included since they are in the report. The British had attacked toward Overloon from the northwest and then simply stopped, allowing the Germans several days to regroup in and near Overloon before the U. S. 7th Armored Division was sent in alone to do what the larger British force had ceased to do. When it became clear that a lone armored division was not going to be able to take Overloon, the larger British force finished the mission they had earlier abandoned. Thus the British tanks may have been knocked out either before or after 7AD. But no further research has been done into these two tanks.

If the tanks were knocked out in September 1944, before 7th Armored Division's attack, it is surprising that they were still on the battlefield in 1947 but only onte other British tank was still on the battlefield (see group 4 below).


2. Two tanks, American, located in Peelkant, Overloon:

Serial number
USA 3036782
USA 3033368
Unit
7/ 40/ A5
7/ 40/ A16
Name
Able Abe
Not visible

These are the two tanks mentioned by J. Loenen in his declaration in the Documents section above. These are also the two tanks in group 1 of the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration. Here is the map that shows the location of both tanks.

J. Loenen A/40 Tanks Map
Click on map for full-size
Tank 3036782 - A/40 tank 5 - "Able Abe" - Knocked Out 1 Oct 1944

NOTE: The tank "Able Abe" now at Overloon is not the original "Able Abe" but a reconstruction and repainting of another Sherman tank to honor the original "Able Abe".

J. Loenen declared this tank was on his property at Peelant C 235, which Overloon historian Piet Peters has located at about 5134'8.54"N-555'41.08"E. Here is the relevant part of J. Loenen's declaration:
"there is an American tank on my ground, situated at the Peelkant in Overloon, at about 300 meters West of the road from Overloon to S. Antonis. The tank is partly destroyed.
After returning from evacuation as a result of the fights in Overloon, I saw the tank; however, not before April 1945 I visited the wreckage for the first time. At that time I saw through holes in the tank a carbonized body, that was in the right front side.
I do not know anything about the fights which were going on before the destruction.
Several times during the last two years dealers in scrap-iron took several parts of the tank and took parts of the tank away. I cannot say, if any Military authorities investigated this tank."

The right front side is the bow gunner position. Bow gunner Allan Persons was the only crew member killed. His remains were recovered from the tank in May 1947 as Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium US Military Cemetery Unknown X-5785 and after examination was initially buried 16 Jul 1947 at Neuville-en-Condroz in Section Y, Row 11, Grave 254. His remains were repatriated, and he was buried Sunrise Memorial Cemetery in Duluth, Minnesota in July 1950.

The rest of the crew survived: Cpl Donn R Howard 31 259 274, Cpl Oscar Brown 34 264 108, T/Sgt R. Probus 36 313 902, and Sgt John Hankowitz 33 260 551 (who was later killed in action 30 Nov 1944). Cpl. Howard gave this depostion 26 Apr 1945 (Parsons IDPF PDF p 61):
"1. On 1 October, 1944, I was a member of a tank crew with Tec 4 Allan J. Persons, 37 340,978. The tank we were in was hit by enemy fire. Tec 4 Persons left leg was blown off at the hip.
2. I attempted to remove Tec 4 Persons from the tank but was hindered by machine pistol fire from the enemy, until it was too late.
3. The tank remained under my observation for ten or fifteen minutes and was still burning when last seen by me.
4. I am of the opinion that Tec 4 Persons is dead because his left leg was blown off at the hip, and he appeared dead when I looked at him."

Cpl. Howard also sent a 4-page hand-written letter 2 Oct 1949 (Persons PDF pp 41-44) in response to a letter from the Army Memorial Division. Here are relevant parts:
"On the first of October 1844, Company A, 40th Tank Battalion of the 7th Armored Division was to make a concentrated drive on the town of Overloon in Holland in an effort to capture it from the enemy.
I believe that including mine there were three tanks knocked out all told. ...
I do not remember the serial number of the tank nor the nickname but I can tell approximately where it happened. We were approximately two hundred yards from the out skirts of town diagonally across from a wind mill with a small builing to the right of it when an armor piercing shell from presumably an 88 mm. struck the tank directly in front of the bow gunner who was Sgt Persons, pierced the tank itself went thru Persons and exploded in the ammunition under the turret of which we had about 80 shells of 75 mm.
There was a blinding flash and a wall of orange flame shot up and caught me and also the assistant gunner in the face and body.
We managed to get out before being burned to death and the Tank Commander, Driver, Assistant Gunner and my self met outside to the rear of the tank which was burning quite fiercely. We called to Persons whose nickname was "Buddy" but there was no answer, and we proceeded to crawl away on our bellys. I was so painfully burned it was hard to crawl and when I looked up the others were about a hundred feet ahead crawling for their lives. So - I thought there wasn't a possibility of my getting out there whole skinned and went back to the tank and crawled up on the left side of the vehicle over the drivers hatch and the gun and lifted up the hatch to the bow gunners compartment. Immediately the heat that came out was terrific and on looking down I saw that Sgt Persons had caught the round in the left hip and there nothing where it should have been but a bloody pulp.
At that moment the artillery and small arms fire from the Germans who had succeeded in sending out troops in a retrograde movement was so great that I was forced to abandon the tank and run. The last thing I remember seeing was the black smoke and flame pouring from the turret hatch and I dashed off toward a patch of woods about 300 yards away and truthfully I cannot tell why I was not shot in the [cannot make out word] or why I am able to tell you this today.
In my personal estimation I think there wouldn't be enough to identify especially if the gasoline exploded in the tank."

Tank 3033368 - A/40 tank 16 - Nickname not Visible - Probably Knocked Out 1 Oct 1944

J. Loenen's declaration:
"Approximately 100 meters South of this tank ["Able Abe"], on the grounds of C. Verhoeven, there is another tank, also American type ..."

Thus far, the occupants and circumstances of this tank being knocked out are not yet known.


3. Four tanks, American, located in Vortum, Overloon:

Serial number
USA 22871*
USA 3033274
USA 3022896
USA 3022891
Unit
7/ 31/ B15
7/ 31/ B7
7/ 31/ B6
7/ 434 F HQ 23
Name
Not visible
Boomerang
Bull Dog-Radio 528
Paper Doll

Search of tank USA 3033274 revealed the possible presence of human remains. Search of the other three tanks resulted in negative findings.

* Number not totally visible, probably USA 3022871.

These are the four tanks in group 2 of the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration, which gives further information:
"It is very possible that there are still remains in one of the tanks. There are no remains found in the other three tanks. All four were destroyed on 3 October 1944 during the fights near Overloon."

These tanks were part of the easternmost attack, attempting to take Vierlingsbeek. The Morning Reports of Company B of 31st Tank Battalion show that these tanks were actually knocked out 1 Oct 1944 and not 3 Oct 1944. The Record of Events for 1 Oct 1944 reads:
"Left St Antonis 1300 Arr at Boxmeer 1330 Distance traveled 2 Mi. 1st and 2d Platoon attacked Vortum 0630 lost 4 Tks and 1 Half Track"

The 1 Oct 1944 C/31 Morning Report shows 9 enlisted men lightly wounded and 1 lightly injured. Thurman Meeks was reported on the Morning Report of 5 Oct 1944 as Missing in Action as of 1 Oct 1944; his remains have never been recovered and identified. I have more records, including the IDPF of Thurman Meeks. So there is more work to do on this group.

Map of Three Tanks near Vortum
Three tanks west of Vortum
Click on map for full-size

The map above is from the Individual Deceased Personnel File of James Cooksey (Company B, 23rd Armored Infantry Battalion) who in 1946 was recovered, along with Thomas Fischer (B/23), from the graves indicated on the map. They were killed 1 Oct 1944, the same day and probably in the same attack in which the three B/31 tanks were hit. And the map shows the location of three tanks near the grave location, so that these probably were the three B/31 tanks listed above.

I have no information yet on the tank of the 434th Armored Field Artillery Battalion that was knocked out at Vortum


4. One tank, American model in British service, located on Community property, Duivenbosch, Overloon.

Serial number
T 148039
Unit
Not applicable
Name
Not applicable

This is the lone tank in group 4 of the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration, which gives only this information:
"4. 1 tank at the border of the Duivenbosch at Overloon"

The British tanks are included since they are in the report. The British had attacked toward Overloon from the northwest and then simply stopped, allowing the Germans several days to regroup in and near Overloon before the U. S. 7th Armored Division was sent in alone to do what the larger British force had ceased to do. When it became clear that a lone armored division was not going to be able to take Overloon, the larger British force finished the mission they had earlier abandoned. Thus the British tanks may have been knocked out either before or after 7AD. But no further research has been done into this tank.


5. Four tanks, American, located near the house of J. A. Hendriks, C 167, Overloon.

Serial number
USA 3011069
USA 339520
USA 3099781
Not visible
Unit
7/ 17/ C15
Not visible
7/ 434/ F HQ 22
7/ 17/ C12
Name
Catherine-St--------
Charger
Tiger Ann 2
Not visible.

[Note on 4th tank:] Gun number: 75mm M3 4130 4 EMP? ORD CORP? 993 lbs 1942 Insp. D. M. G.

Inspection of tank USA 3011069 revealed the presence of human remains. However, it was learned from the Town Hall that two bodies had previously been removed from this tank and buried near the wreckage. These were later disinterred by American authorities and removed to Margraten as unknown soliders. Remains found in tank on this investigation consisted of small bones and part of the skull. Inspection of the other three tanks resulted in negative findings.

The first tank, USA 3011069 (C/17 tank 15), appears to be the one tank at the Pritterscheweg at Overloon in group 5 of the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration, which gives further information:
"In February 1945 the remains of one of the crew members were found and buried in the immediate vicinity. Some time later a second body was found, that was also buried near the tank. The first grave (of the first deceased) was marked with a wooden cross, of which the inscription is not known anymore at the Town Hall. The grave of the second deceassed was also marked with a cross, on which the inscription: Unknown American Driver 3 011 069. In June 1945 these bodies were disinterred by Amercan soldiers and removed to Margraten."

This was probably a C/17 tank. Either "Charger" or "Carouse" (group 6 below) was probably the 17-C-11 tank in which Barras (gunner) and Kimmons (cannoneer) were killed 4 Oct 1944 with survivors Lt. William Binders (commander), T/4 Albert H. Litchford (driver), Pfc Donald H. Cox (must have been bow gunner).

MORE TO COME ON THESE TANKS.


6. One tank, American, located on property of G. Gerrits, C 237, Overloon.

Serial number
USA---------
Unit
Not visible
Name
Carouse

Inspection of this tank revealed presence of human remains. Statement of G. Gerrits certifies that in the immediate vicinity of the tank the remains of one or more of the crew members are buried. Grave is unmarked and exact location is not known.

This tank does not appear to be included in the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration.

This was probably a C/17 tank. Either this tank ("Carouse") or "Charger" group 5 above) was probably the 17-C-11 tank in which Barras (gunner) and Kimmons (cannoneer) were killed 4 Oct 1944 with survivors Lt. William Binders (commander), T/4 Albert H. Litchford (driver), Pfc Donald H. Cox (must have been bow gunner).


7. Two tanks, American, located in War Museum, Overloon:

Serial number
USA 3022601
USA 3033401
Unit

Name

These are the tanks in group 3 of the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration, which gives only this information:
"3. 2 tanks in the War Muesum at Overloon"

There is much more to write about these, and more detail in the web page of tank serial numbers until then. USA 3022601 was A/31 tank 23, nicknamed "After Hitler". USA 3033401 was C/31 tank 13, nicknamed "Cookie", which has since been sold and moved to Italy and repainted -- for which the director of the War Museum, very rightfully, lost his job.

MORE TO COME ON THESE TANKS.


8. Four tanks on the Oploosche Dijk, Overloon.

Serial number
USA 3936649 S
USA -----86
USA 3099821
USA 3099908
Unit
7/ 40/ B4
7/ 40/ B5
7/ 40/ B11
7/ 31/ C3
Name
Not visible
Not visible
Big Boy 2
Not visible

[Note for tank 1:] This tank on property of J. Hubers.

[Note for tank 2:] First five numbers not visible. This tank on property of G. Jacobs.

[Note for tank 3:] This tank on property Widow v. Duinhoven.

These tanks do not appear to be included in the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration.

MORE TO COME ON THESE TANKS.


9. Five tanks in the district of Hatert, Vierlingsbeek, all on the property of Jager. Three of these tanks have been totally blown up and the greater parts have been removed by scrap-iron dealers. Due to this it is impossible to obtain any identification numbers; however, it can be said with certainty that these were American tanks by the parts left behind. Of the other two tanks the following information is available:

Serial number
USA 30100099n
USA 3099846
Unit
7/ 17/ A31
Not visible
Name
Not visible
Not visible

These tanks do not appear to be included in the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration.

These are most likely the A/17 tanks destroyed in the failed 2-day attack of Task Force Wemple on 3-4 Oct 1944.

MORE TO COME ON THESE TANKS.


10. One tank in the district of Tuut-Heesch, Vierlingsbeek, on the property of Deenen.

Serial number
USA 3039158
Unit
7/ 17/ B9
Name

Statements were obtained from the town halls, local police and parish priests, certifying that there are no records or knowledge of the interment or whereabouts of the above mentioned deceased in the communities of St. Antonis and Overloon.

NB: Reference is made to Holland Case #5738 for results of action taken on the four remains found in tank numbers: USA 3036782, USA 30333274, USA 3011069, and USA _______.

[signed]P. CHATELAIN, WD Civilian, Investigator

This tank does not appear to be included in the Vierlingsbeek Burgomaster's declaration. This is a bit surprising, since Tuuthees is very near to Vierlingsbeek. However, it may have been in the territory of the community of Groeningen, to which it is closer than Vierlingsbeek.

This tank was most likely destroyed in the failed 2-day attack of Task Force Wemple on 3-4 Oct 1944.

B/17 B-8 Tank at Tuuthees
B/17 B-8 Tank at Tuuthees
Click on photo for full-size

Overloon WWII historian Piet Peters discovered the above photograph in a municipal archive, photographer unknown. The tank is clearly a B/17 tank, and the marking on the right appears to read B-8. If the tank in the photograph was not the B-9 tank, then it must have been removed sometime before the 1947 report and the declaration of the Burgomaster. There is also the possibility, which does not seem likely, that this is in fact the same tank that the investigator listed in 1947 as B9, if he mis-read the B-8 as B-9. However, the tank in the photograph definitely has a nickname easily visible on the side of the chassis, below the turret, so that the investigator would have easily seen it and recorded it. But he did not record anything for the nickname of the USA 3039158 tank.

The tank in the photograph clearly did not burn. The turret is skewed to one side, so that it probably was hit on its left side, enough to knock it out of action but not to destroy it. The treads have already been scavenged. So it is impossible to tell if they were damaged by the hit.

I keep going back and forth between deciding that the tank in the photograph is the same as the one in the list and that it is not the same one. The thing that seems most significant to me is that the clearly visible nickname in the photograph would have been recorded by the investigator, but it was not. So on balance, I lead toward the tank in the photograph NOT being the tank in the list, so that both B-8 and B-9 were knocked out at this location but the B-8 tank was gone by 1947.

Nickname (actual size) of B/17 B-8 Tank at Tuuthees
Nickname (full size) of B/17 B-8 Tank at Tuuthees

I used image processing software to attempt to read the nickname on the side of the tank. The image above is the actual size image of the result. It appears to be two three-letter words, both beginning with B or possibly the second beginning with D. All Company B vehicle nicknames would have begun with a B for the first word. My first guess at the name was BIG BUG. But on closer examination, the second letter of the second word seems to be an O and not a U. So the most likely name was BIG BOY or maybe BIG DOG.

MORE TO COME ON THIS TANK.


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