Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory… George S. Patton


armor08

Steeds of steel: a history of American mechanized cavalry in World War II St. Paul: Zenith Press, 2008 Harry Yeide United States Army Armored troops History 20th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. 320 p.: ill., maps; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 301-311) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Soldier inspecting new bantam truck at Fort Myer, Virginia. This small light truck, known officially as the "Truck 1/4-ton 4x4," is a small, low-silhouette, narrow-tread, 4-wheel drive car without armor protection, which is designed to carry three men and their individual weapons. It can also be used as an ammunition carrier. It is not currently contemplated that the vehicle itself will be armed. If this vehicle proves satisfactory under the exhaustive tests now in progress, its place in the Calvalry Team will be to furnish road and cross-country transportation for small rifile units whose normal function would include reconnaissance, security and dismounted combat. Frequently these rifle units will be employed with mechanized cavalry elements, such as Scout Car platoons, to extend the reconnaissance and supplement the fire power of larger units. This newly developed 1/4-ton truck has many advantages over motorcycles and moto-tricycles: it can carry three men, where the others are designed for two; it has more cross-country ability and ruggedness than the motorcycles; it is relatively quiet; its light weight permits manhandling; it's to be employed to carry either three men or a cargo weapon; it's easily concealed. With a few exceptions, these small vehicles will replace on a one-for-one basis the motortricycles and motorcycles with side cars now in use

Soldier inspecting new bantam truck at Fort Myer, Virginia. This small light truck, known officially as the “Truck 1/4-ton 4×4,” is a small, low-silhouette, narrow-tread, 4-wheel drive car without armor protection, which is designed to carry three men and their individual weapons. It can also be used as an ammunition carrier. It is not currently contemplated that the vehicle itself will be armed. If this vehicle proves satisfactory under the exhaustive tests now in progress, its place in the Calvalry Team will be to furnish road and cross-country transportation for small rifile units whose normal function would include reconnaissance, security and dismounted combat. Frequently these rifle units will be employed with mechanized cavalry elements, such as Scout Car platoons, to extend the reconnaissance and supplement the fire power of larger units. This newly developed 1/4-ton truck has many advantages over motorcycles and moto-tricycles: it can carry three men, where the others are designed for two; it has more cross-country ability and ruggedness than the motorcycles; it is relatively quiet; its light weight permits manhandling; it’s to be employed to carry either three men or a cargo weapon; it’s easily concealed. With a few exceptions, these small vehicles will replace on a one-for-one basis the motortricycles and motorcycles with side cars now in use

In World War II the U.S. Army’s mechanized cavalry force served in an astounding variety of ways. Mechanized cavalrymen scouted and fought in tanks, armored cars, and jeeps; battled on and from the sea in tracked amphibians; stormed beaches from landing craft; slipped ashore in rubber rafts from submarines; climbed mountains; battled hand-to-hand; and even occasionally rode horses.

An armored half-track vehicle fording the river

An armored half-track vehicle fording the river

This work follows the mechanized cavalry from its earliest days – landing in North Africa during Operation Torch and fighting on the jungle-clad slopes of Guadalcanal – through the campaigns in the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Pacific. Drawing on official after-action reports, contemporary combat records, personal recollections, and interviews conducted by the Army with soldiers shortly after battle, Steeds of Steel provides a vivid picture of what the war was like for the men of the mechanized cavalry.

Fort Benning. Armored forces personnel. Chow goes good after a ride in the "Hell Buggy," which is a nickname for the vehicle in which this young trainee in the armored forces does his stuff. As long as soldiers can eat and give disrespectful names to their equipment, all's well

Fort Benning. Armored forces personnel. Chow goes good after a ride in the “Hell Buggy,” which is a nickname for the vehicle in which this young trainee in the armored forces does his stuff. As long as soldiers can eat and give disrespectful names to their equipment, all’s well

When World War II broke out in 1939, the U.S. Cavalry was still mainly the proud, horse-mounted force it had been since the nation’s founding; within a year, the cavalry branch had lost its horses and very nearly its mission. Steeds of Steel tells how the cavalrymen carved out a new and critical role on the modern battlefield.

Bridge construction trucks. Engineer units of the armored forces use special trucks like this for tansporting and placing treadway bridges. Equipped with winches and crane members, these vehicles make quick work of laying bridge sections on pontons.

Bridge construction trucks. Engineer units of the armored forces use special trucks like this for tansporting and placing treadway bridges. Equipped with winches and crane members, these vehicles make quick work of laying bridge sections on pontons.

Harry Yeide’s narrative shows us troopers learning to outwit the enemy in the African desert, on Italian peaks, along European hedgerows, and through Pacific jungles. We see cavalrymen working alone, miles ahead of the nearest friendly units. And we witness the heroic efforts of the mechanized cavalry troop, joining the battle wherever an American infantry division serves.

Tanks at an armored division camp. Tanks are transported on trucks to save wear and tear on the fighting vehicles.

Tanks at an armored division camp. Tanks are transported on trucks to save wear and tear on the fighting vehicles.

The mechanized cavalry’s brilliant legacy has lived on in the armored cavalry for more than half a century. As the U.S. Army debates its role on the battlefield, this volume reminds us of our enduring debt to this incomparable fighting force.

Parade of M-4 (General Sherman) and M-3 (General Grant) tanks in training maneuvers, Ft. Knox, Ky. Note the lower design of the M-4, the larger gun in the turret and the two hatches in front of the turret

Parade of M-4 (General Sherman) and M-3 (General Grant) tanks in training maneuvers, Ft. Knox, Ky. Note the lower design of the M-4, the larger gun in the turret and the two hatches in front of the turret

Advertisements

Comments Off on Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory… George S. Patton

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments are closed.