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Old 09-09-2019, 11:27 PM
Asuka is offline
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,295

Did the United States Army stop training tank crews after Normandy in WW2?

I recently read the book "Tank Men" by Robert Kershaw and he makes a claim I haven't heard anywhere else. Basically the United States Army started winding down their tank program in mid-1944 as they were expecting the Western Front to end by Christmas. As a result there were serious shortages of American tankers going into 1945 and it got to the point the US Army was literally taking rear echelon soldiers, putting them into tanks with no training, and expecting them to learn to fight on the go leading to horrendous tanker casualties in 1945.

Anyone know how true this is?
Old 09-10-2019, 01:32 AM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Various
Posts: 153
My gut reaction was "hell no!" But after skimming portions of the US Army publication linked below, Iím beginning to wonder if the answer might have been "yes, for a time."

United States Army in WWII
The Army Ground Forces

Skip to the subsection titled "Retrenchment and Readjustment, 1944-45", which begins on manuscript page 271.

Iím not going to read the whole thing myself, but a quick skim seems to suggest that they started looking seriously at reducing some ground force schools (like tank-destroyer school) as early as mid-1943 (possibly because they realized tank-destroyers weren't worth the investment), and that throughout 1944 they went back and forth on reducing army ground force numbers overall. It mentions a proposal specific to consolidate, but not eliminate, certain schools (including the Armored School) in July of '44 (just after D-day) to reduce overhead, but then it seems the wavering and the wiffling and the what-not continued throughout the year, no doubt in response to developments in Europe and changes in plans for the Pacific theater too.

There is one blurb that reads:
Actually courses were not reduced; they were eliminated. By the time the replies were tabulated, in late September 1944, the conditions that had called forth the original proposals for reduction had changed. The bulk of AGF units had left the United States or were about to leave.54 The demand for school training for personnel assigned to units was nearing the vanishing point.
But itís not clear to me if itís referring all schools, or just to officer courses. Anyway, as I said, Iím not going to read the whole thing, but it seems like the answer you seek will be somewhere in that section of that reasonably authoritative-looking US Army publication.
Old 09-10-2019, 10:36 AM
Corry El is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,821
Originally Posted by Asuka View Post
I recently read the book "Tank Men" by Robert Kershaw and he makes a claim I haven't heard anywhere else. Basically the United States Army started winding down their tank program in mid-1944 as they were expecting the Western Front to end by Christmas.
Sounds oversimplified. The book ASL v2.0 referred to is the official take on the complicated and controversial topic of US Army manpower use in WWII. There's certainly a lot more to it than 'expected the war to be over by Christmas'. And looking at armor personnel in isolation is misleading also since a lot of the debate both before and after the Army was fully engaged (which didn't really happen until mid 1944, North Africa, Sicily/Italy and Pacific operations before that were small compared to Northern Europe campaign from mid '44) was about relative production of officers (especially) but also enlisted men and unit formation in Infantry v everything else. Some believed the Army wasn't producing enough infantry even before casualty rates skyrocketed from mid 1944 onward. And had produced too many antiaircraft/coast arty especially but also everything else but infantry.

The officer schools for non-Infantry, non-Armor were actually shut down before D-Day the surplus was so obvious in the other arms. It was planned to discontinue the Armored School by Sep '44 but it wasn't done was casualties were also high in Armored Divisions once large scale fighting began. But the Army struggled above all, and pretty critically by the end of 1944, to keep infantry units near theoretical strength. Armor too but that's focusing on the smaller of the two issues.

Lots of officers and enlisted were converted from other combat arms (antiaircraft etc) and rear echelon units to combat from 1944, but again principally to infantry.

So the personnel issue was more relative, how many of each type of officer/EM to train, and based on underestimation of front line (infantry most of all) casualty rate, though arguably also a general view of length of the war. But not so much 'victory disease' based on the collapse of German resistance in France in August 1944, most of the relevant decisions were before that.
Old 09-10-2019, 11:44 AM
AK84 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 16,320
Didn'nt the V-1 attacks on Lomdon and South of England save several US AAA units from being disbanded?
Old 09-10-2019, 03:42 PM
Mk VII is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: England
Posts: 2,936
The Army Specialized Training Program began to be shut down already at the beginning of 1944 as it became clear the large numbers of technical specialists it was designed to produce would not be needed as much as infantry replacements. The German war was at one point expected to end by the end of 1944 (the British called this Stage One) while the Japanese war (Stage Two) was expected last longer than it eventually did, well into 1946.
The British also had a shakeout of service and L of C troops, with anti-aircraft personnel being replaced by women and Home Guard rather earlier once the air raid threat appeared (prematurely) to have diminished.


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