Lt Edgar Danby, Cpl Steve Vargo, and Pvt
Dual Dishner were assigned to the 756th Tank Battalion. They were killed on August 27, 1944 in Allan, France. On
April 29, 1949 they were buried in Section E Site 51-52 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
1/LT Danby, Edgar R.
PVT Dishner, Dual F.
CPL Vargo, Steve
1st Lt Edgar R. Danby
Leader: B Co / 756th Tank Battalion
from Wyandotte, Michigan — Killed in Action at Allan, France on Aug. 27, 1944.
He spoke fluent French and was a
church organist by profession.
L was fighting in a small town called "Allan" in Southern France on August 27th, 1944. This town is southeast of
Montelimar by about 5 or 10 miles. The commander of this company at the time was Captain James Coles. The battalion commander
was LTC Thomas R. Davis. Lt. Edgar R. Danby was the platoon leader for the 3rd Platoon, Company B, of the 756th
Tank Battalion. His tank platoon was attached to Company L/15th Infantry Regiment that day when he was killed. His tank was
knocked out by a German tank hiding in a cemetery just north of town by about 400 yards. He and his turret crew were killed
instantly, but the driver and bow gunner of his tank escaped and were subsequently captured. There were two other tanks from
the 3rd Platoon that participated in the battle, but his was the only American tank knocked out that day in Allan.
a journal account from a French resident of Allan who witnessed the battle. It is quite detailed, giving an hour by hour account
of the day's events. It talks of an American patrol of about 15 men who went down into a creek ravine near the cemetery at
about 3:00 p.m. and came under attack. The journal account says that these men were killed or captured and did not return.
It says that my grandfather then moved his tank to support this patrol before it was hit about 100 yards north of town on
a small bridge over the creek. One of the men who got out of my grandfather's tank, and was captured, was a man by the name
of Hubert S. Shew. He has since passed away, but his relatives tell me that he was captured along with about 15 other men
(the missing patrol?) and held as a POW until the end of the war.
for town was fairly intense at times, with some shelling of farmhouses, some "cat and mouse" between opposing tanks in the
town's narrow streets, and the destruction of a German tank east of town. There were several firefights, particularly at the main intersection of town near the
Catholic Church. There was also a firefight in the western gardens, with the Germans seeming to take a heavy beating. The
main concentration of German activity seemed to be, however, in this cemetery just 400 yards north of town. This enemy force
seemed to halt the American advance through town for a few hours, and I believe that the patrol was sent to scout out it's
strength and location. During the day's events, the Company radio was knocked out and the radioman was severely wounded when
night came, the town was safely under American control, but communications had been cut off. Captain Coles took his jeep with
the wounded radioman and sped south of town back to the Battalion command post. He came storming back in a maintenance tank
with a radio, crashing a German roadblock on the way back into town. For this action he received the Distinguished Service
The 756th Tank Battalion monument at Fort Knox credits the unit with 255 Bronze Stars.
- Pvt Dual F. Dishner (B Co., France, Aug. 27, 1944) (Posthumous)
DAY OF THE PANZER
A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in
This is a rarely detailed “you are there” account of World War II combat,
describing a brief but bloody tank/infantry action in August 1944. Based on six years of research—drawing from interviews,
primary documents, and visits to the battlefield—The Day of the Panzer transports the reader into the ranks of L Company,
15th Regiment, Third Infantry Division, and its supporting M-4s of the 756th Tank Battalion as they grapple head-on with the Wehrmacht.
On August 12, 1944, L Company hit the beaches in southern France, joined by the tank crews
of 2nd Lt. Andrew Orient’s 3rd Platoon, all veterans of Cassino. After overcoming pockets of resistance––along
the coast, the tanks and infantry swept inland, nipping at the heels of the retreating German Nineteenth Army.
A sudden German artillery salvo dispatched six L Company men and left Lt. Orient dead. 1st Lt. Edgar Danby, an armor
instructor (the author’s grandfather), was flown in from Italy to replace him.
Despite logistics problems, the Third Division forged north through
the Rhône River valley until they found the Germans holding fast, L Company and its supporting tanks leading the regimental
charge. In the haste and chaos of the day, they managed to slip the German rearguard and unwittingly attacked the German LXXXV
Armeekorps headquarters in the small town of Allan. Both
sides were shocked by the ferocity of the battle.
Led by a rampaging Panther tank, the Germans counterattacked, knocking out the Sherman of Lt. Danby while threatening
to cut L Company’s positions in half. Surrounded and facing annihilation L Company held fast despite dead and wounded
on all sides and 13 men captured.
In this book, the minute-by-minute
confusion, thrill and desperation of World War II combat is placed under a microscope, as if the reader himself were a participant.
Local writer follows grandfather's WWII journey in
By TIFFANY EDWARDS
On Aug. 26, 1944, 1st Lt. Edgar Danby warned his wife in a letter he was headed into battle. "You are a remarkable woman,
my dear wife, you are strong mentally and spiritually, and I know that you won't give way to any weakness such as anxiety
or worry," he wrote from war-ravaged Europe. "I'll be back, never fear -- I wasn't made to die yet."
however, was the last family members heard from Danby, a platoon leader in B Company, 756th Tank Battalion, 3rd Division of
the U.S. Army.
From a young age, Jeff Danby was fascinated with the story of his paternal grandfather. In August 2000,
Danby, now 44, decided the time was right to research the circumstances surrounding his grandfather's death. That journey
since has taken him twice to Allan, France, where his grandfather was killed, and set him on the path to publishing his first
book, "Day of the Panzer: A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in Southern France." The book, published by Casemate,
is due out in April.
The son of a
history professor who has his own degree in history from DePaul University, Danby was staying home with his three children
in 2000 and working as a freelance artist. His wife, Melinda Woofter, is a Granville dermatologist.
He turned to
the 3rd Infantry's veterans association for leads about Edgar Danby, a Canadian-born church organist who had moved to Detroit
and signed up for the U.S. Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Within days, Jeff Danby got a tip through the veterans'
Web site and he was directed to Dave Redle, of Akron. Redle was captain of B Company when Edgar Danby served.
"He's got a
fantastic memory," Jeff Danby said of Redle. "He was actually listening to the radio when my grandfather was killed."
his grandfather died instantly, along with two other soldiers, when their tank was hit in Allan, France, on Aug. 27, 1944.
The elder Danby was part of the Southern France Campaign, launched two months after the June 1944 landing at Normandy. Its
intent was to supplement the Normandy effort and open a new supply route.
that effort, Jeff Danby's grandfather and his two fellow soldiers later were buried together in Kentucky. "I wanted to find out more," Danby said. "What got him? What were the circumstances?"
Soon he was
making contacts in France, obtaining documents from the National Archives and interviewing veterans. What started as a personal
project for his family grew quickly.
he met through the Internet sent him an account of the battle between the Americans and the German 11th Panzer (panther) Division
that had been chronicled in a slim book, "Allan, Moon Village."
fell into place.
tank) broke through German road blocks and ended up attacking German headquarters without realizing it," Danby said. "They
stirred up a hornet's nest."
He said U.S.
forces almost were split in two. That night, they regrouped under the strong leadership of Cpt. James Coles of L Company,
whom he described as an inspiring "hell-raiser." The next day, the Germans continued their northbound retreat. Coles later
was given a Distinguished Service Cross for holding his men together.
In 2001, Danby
and his father, Russ, traveled to France, where the villagers of Allan greeted them warmly. In 2004, he made a second trip
with his wife for several 60th anniversary celebrations. "These people are wonderful in this town," he said. "They gave us so much attention and many gifts. They remember
the war and are grateful."
In all, Danby
has talked to more than 30 L Company veterans of the Southern France Campaign, including five eyewitnesses to his grandfather's
accident that fateful day. He also has built enduring friendships in France.
In 2006, encouraged
by those he'd met along the way, Danby sought a publisher. Several months later, he'd signed a contract. Casemate recently
informed him his book has been selected as a main selection of the History Book Club. It will be available through Amazon.com,
Barnes & Noble and the Casemate Web site, Danby said.
"Day of the
Panzer," however, is not just about his grandfather.
is a supporting character," he said.
The story largely
reflects the efforts of Coles and L Company. He said he thinks it will fill a gap in World War II literature, which tends
to focus on the efforts in northern France or give more generalized accounts.
author now is turning his efforts to his next book, tentatively titled "Men of Armor," about B Company of the 756th Tank Battalion.
THE TANK KILLERS
A History of America’s
World War II Tank Destroyer Force
The Tank Killers is the story of the American Tank Destroyer Force in North Africa, Italy, and the European Theater during World War II. The tank destroyer (TD)
was a bold-if some would say flawed-answer to the challenge posed by the seemingly unstoppable German blitzkrieg. The Tank
Killers follows the men who fought in the TDs from the formation of the force in 1941 through the victory over the Third Reich
in 1945. It is a story of American flexibility and pragmatism in military affair.
were among the very first units to land in North Africa in 1942. Their first vehicles were ad hoc affairs: Halftracks and
weapons carriers with guns no better than those on tanks and thin armor affording the crews considerably less protection.
Almost immediately, the crews realized that their doctrine was incomplete. They began adapting to circumstances, along with
their partners in the infantry and armored divisions. By the time that North Africa was in Allied hands, the TD had become
a valued tank fighter, assault gun, and artillery piece. The reconnaissance teams in TD battalions, meanwhile, had established
a record for daring operations that they would continue for the rest of the war.
The story continues with the invasion of Italy and finally that of Fortress Europe on 6 June 1944.The TD men encountered
increasingly lethal enemies, ever more dangerous panzers that were often vulnerable watched in frustration as their rounds
bounced harmonly to their guns while American tank crews lessly off the thick German armor. They fought under incredibly
diverse conditions that demanded constant modification of tactics. Their equipment became ever more deadly. By VE day, the tank destroyer battalions had achieved impressive records, generally with kill/loss rates
heavily in their favor. The Tank Killers draws heavily on the records of the tank destroyer battalions and the units with
which they fought.Veterans of the force add their personal stories.
|Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Pvt Clyde W. Dillingham was a member
of the 67th Armor Regiment of the 2nd Armored Division when he was awarded the Distinguished Service
Cross. His citation reads:
President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Clyde W. Dillingham, Private,
U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the
67th Armor, in action against enemy forces on 28 and 29 December 1944. Private Dillingham's intrepid actions, personal bravery
and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great
credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”
Headquarters, Ninth U.S. Army,
General Orders No. 296 (1945)
Pvt Dillingham was given the DSC for his bravery in breaking through a defended roadblock
with his tank during the Battle of the Bulge. He was buried at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery Section E 69 on June 16,
These four soldiers were
members of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to the Third Infantry Division. They were killed on September 13, 1944 during Operation Dragoon that was the invasion of southern France.
They were buried at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Section E 27-28 on February 23, 1949.
Corp Brown, William B
Sgt Childers, James
Pfc Corthell, Richard C
601st Tank Destroyer Battalion
The Battalion fought
in Battle of Kasserine Pass in February 1943 and at El Guettar in March. It converted to the M10 at end of North Africa campaign.
They participated in invasion landings at Salerno, Italy, on 9 September 1943. The unit made their third assault at Anzio
on 22 January 1944 and entered Rome in June. They conducted their fourth assault landing in southern France on 15 August 1944
and advanced to the German border in the Vosges region
Combat Equipment: 11/42 - M3 & M6; 7/43
- M10; 2/45 - M36.
Commanding Officers: Herschel D. Baker; Walter
Earle Tardy (4/43); Daniel S.T. Hinman (3/44); William R. Harrison (3/45).
Code Name/s: Cricket, Sunray and Werewolf
17, to May 13, 1942
9, to Aug. 17, 1943
9, 1943 to Jan. 21, 1944
22, to Sept. 9, 1944 (Amph.Assault)
15, to Sept. 14, 1944
15, 1944 to Mar. 21, 1945
16, 1944 to Jan 25, 1945
22, to May 11, 1945
The battalion landed in southern France as part of Operation Dragoon on August 15, 1944, pushing up through France with the 3rd Infantry Division. Operation Dragoon was the
Allied invasion of southern France that took place between Toulon and Cannes, During the move into southern Germany, on January
26, 1945, two tank destroyers of the battalion participated in the engagement for which Lieutenant Audie Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor. It saw heavy action at the Colmar Pocket, destroying 18 enemy tanks and receiving a second Presidential Unit Citation,
and was re-equipped with the M36 Jackson tank destroyer after this. It crossed the Rhine in March, fought in the
capture of Nuremberg in April, and finished the war in Bavaria.
In its combat debut in Tunisia in 1943 during the North African campaign, the M10 was successful as its 3-inch gun could destroy most German tanks then
in service. Later in the Battle of Normandy, the M10's gun proved to be ineffective against the frontal armor of the newer
German Tiger and Panther tanks but was effective against lighter tanks such as the Panzer IV medium tank and
other lighter vehicles and self propelled guns. By the fall of 1944 the improved 90mm Gun Motor Carriage M36 began to arrive in Europe as well. In the Pacific war, US Army M10s were used for infantry support but were unpopular due to their open-topped
turrets, which made them more vulnerable than a fully-enclosed tank to Japanese close-in infantry attacks.
The M10's open-topped turret left the 5-man crew vulnerable to artillery
and mortar fire as well as infantry close assault, especially in urban combat and wooded areas. By the end of the war its armor was too thin to provide
protection from the newer German tanks and anti-tank guns. The other main disadvantage of the M10 was its very slow speed
of turret rotation, as the turret traverse was unpowered and the crew had to hand-crank the turret around. It took approximately
two minutes to rotate a full 360 degrees.
The post-war American film star Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor at the Battle of the Colmar Pocket, when he used the heavy machine gun of an abandoned and burning M10 to repel
German infantry, despite the vehicle taking several more hits from tanks or artillery.