M8 v. Tiger

The M8 Armored Car was not intended to engage enemy tanks. Really if anything, it wasn’t intended to engage anything in its scout role, where speed and mobility to get the hell out was its greatest weapon, more so than the rinky-dink 37mm gun it mounted. Meanwhile the German Panzer VI “Tiger” was just the opposite, fifty+ tons of steel, designed to rule the battlefield with its 88mm gun and thick armor. Apparently Troop B, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron never got that memo though.

As part of the 7th Armored Division, Troop B was in the region of St. Vith when the German launched their December, 1944 counter-offensive, and on the morning of the 18th, as the Germans continued to push into the “bulge” that would give the battle its name the Division was attempting to hold the line. 

In a well concealed position, an M8 Greyhound was positioned at a seam in the American lines when a German Tiger barreled by and began heading toward the positions of Company A, 28th Armored Infantry Battalion, ready to pummel them with enfilade fire. Despite the obvious mismatch, the armored car raced out of its hiding place, chasing in the wake of the enemy heavy tank. Closing fast, the German commander caught sight of the threat, and began to traverse his turret to bring his gun to bear. Knowing they would have only one chance, the M8′s crew continued to gun in as close as possible, only opening fire 25 yards away with three quick shots into the comparatively weak rear armor. The Tiger came to a halt, and quickly started shooting flames, while the M8 trundled back off to its own position.

In the end, St. Vith would fall, but only after several days of hard fighting that delayed the Germans by four days, an upset that contributed heavily to the ultimate failure of the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.

(Images via Wikipedia; Source US Army report on Battle of St. Vith)

An American soldier of the 71st New York Infantry Regiment saying goodbye to his sweetheart as his regiment leaves for training at Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1917.


Today marks 100 years since the beginning of World War I. Also known as the First World War, WWI was a global war centered in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. From the time of its occurrence until the approach of World War II, it was called simply the World War or the Great War, and thereafter the First World War or World War I. In America, it was initially called the European War. More than 9 million combatants were killed, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents’ technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.

Two newly liberated French civilians greeting two American soldiers in Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, November 6, 1918.


James Montgomery Flagg, appointed “official artist” in New York State by Governor Whitman., 1917.

Item From: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs. (1789-09/18/1947)

This is a picture of the artist James Montgomery Flagg and his most famous recruitment poster. The poster depicts Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer with the caption: “I Want YOU for U.S. Army.” It was inspired by a British recruitment poster that had Lord Kitchener in a similar pose. Flagg modeled Uncle Sam’s face from his own, only adding age and a white goatee.



Harlem Hell Fighters

First organized in 1916 as the 15th New York National Guard Infantry Regiment and manned by black enlisted soldiers with both black and white officers, the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, popularly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” was the best known African American unit of World War I. Federalized in 1917, it prepared for service in Europe and arrived in Brest, France in December.  The next month, the regiment became part of the 93rd Division (Provisional) and continued its training, now under French instructors.  In March, the regiment finally received its Federal designation and was reorganized and reequipped according to the French model.  That summer, the 369th was integrated into the French 161st Division and began combat operations.

Dubbing themselves “Men of Bronze,” the soldiers of the 369th were lucky in many ways compared to other African American military units in France in 1918.  They enjoyed a continuity of leadership, commanded throughout the war by one of their original organizers and proponents, Colonel William Hayward.  Unlike many white officers serving in the black regiments, Colonel Hayward respected his troops, dedicated himself to their well-being, and leveraged his political connections to secure support from New Yorkers.  Whereas African American valor usually went unrecognized, well over one hundred members of the regiment received American and/or French medals, including the first two Americans – Corporal Henry Johnson and Private Needham Roberts – to be awarded the coveted French Croix de Guerre.

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He was just a boy. No more than 16 years old. He called me Mom. And he was so sick, he died before morning.

WWI nurse Linnie Leckrone recalling the front

Leckrone was one of the first women to be awarded the Silver Star for her work in the Gas and Shock team during WWI. However, she was discharged from the Army before being awarded her medal, and it was posthumously awarded to her daughter in 2007 by the US Army.


The 369th Infantry marching down Fifth Avenue in honor of their return, Feb 1919

The 369th were known as the Harlem Hellfighters (and sometimes as the Black Ratters) and was an infantry regiment formed completely of African Americans and African Puerto Ricans. During the Great War, the men of the 369th spent the longest time at the front, earning the respect of the French soldiers they fought beside leading them to their name Hellfighter because they never lost a man to capture, nor losing a trench or a foot of ground to the Germans.

The parade thrown for their return in February 1919 began on Fifth Avenue at 61st Street, and proceeded uptown past ranks of white bystanders before turning west on 110th Street, and then swung onto Lenox Avenue to march into Harlem, where black New Yorkers packed the sidewalks for a glimpse of the men.