Reading recommendations
by Combat! fans for Combat! fans

Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II

0891416706.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg (165603 bytes)From the front flap: As American tanks raced across France, one fact became immediately clear: One on one, the Sherman tank with its 75mm main gun was overmatched by the more heavily armored and heavily gunned German tanks that it faced across the battlefield. The resulting losses were staggering and America simply couldn't get new equipment to France fast enough to keep our armed forces up to strength.
     As a young ordnance lieutenant in the 3rd Armor Division, it was Belton Cooper's job to travel with the combat units during the day and assist in coordinating the recovery, repair, and evacuation of the battle-damaged tanks. At night, Lieutenant Cooper and his jeep driver raced along dark country roads, often going through enemy territory, to deliver his combat loss reports to the ordnance battalion headquarters, typically some thirty to sixty miles to the rear. This ensured that his units got their share of patched-up, resurrected Shermans the next day.
     The German army did not have an armored recovery system at all: they simply abandoned their knocked out vehicles on the battlefield. Death Traps tells the amazing story of a previously unheralded aspect of the American victory. From D-day to the final thrust across Germany, Cooper and the men of his division's maintenance and supply system — manned primarily of soldiers who had been farm machinery mechanics andindustrial workers in civilian life — put back into action hundreds of M4 Sherman tanks. This remarkable achievement is brought to life by a man who made more ordnance inspections and witnessed more battle damaged tanks than probably anyone else — in any war.

Comments: The war from the perspective of a junior maintenance officer who had to keep the tanks on the front lines rolling. Not a dry, technical history of armor, this book takes you inside the mind of a young man, just out of engineering school, who finds himself in the middle of a war. He is tasked with picking up the pieces after a battle, to keep the tanks supplied and running, while often exposed to extreme danger himself. From Normandy through the end of the war, he sees first-hand what happens to American tanks (and their crews) when they run up against superior German armor. Excellent book, but not for the squeamish. Includes graphic descriptions of the aftermath of battle.

From Back Cover:
"Without a doubt, this is one of the finest WWII memoirs ever written by an American junior officer. This detailed story will become a classic of WWII history and required reading for anyone interested in armored warfare." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[Death Traps makes] an important contribution to the history of World War II, and is good reading besides. I have never before been able to learn so much about maintenance methods of an armored division, with precise details that underline the importance of the work, along with description of how the job was done." — Russell F. Weigley, author of Eisenhower's Lieutenants

"[Death Traps] makes a considerable contribution to the recorded history of operations in World War II, and brings a perspective to bear heretofore under-represented. This is the type of book we desperately need." — Bill Hansen, Chief Librarian, U.S. Army Armor School, For Knox, Kentucky.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Stephen E. Ambrose
1. Reflections
2. First Combat
3. The Breakthrough
4. The Falaise Pocket
5. From Paris to Soissons
6. Assault on the Siegfried Line
7. The Battle of the Bulge: Phase I, The German Attack
8. The Battle of the Bulge: Phase II, The Counterattack
9. Back to Germany
10.Battle of the Rhineland
11.The Battle of Central Germany
12.Final Thrust Across Germany
13.The Aftermath
14.The Survivors




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