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"US tank crew casualties in WW2" Topic


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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Blutarski24 Apr 2018 10:12 p.m. PST

I found the following Coox and Naisawald report quite interesting. Does anyone have any insights on the following?

- – -

The Johns Hopkins University memorandum ORO-T-117 Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II studied tank casualties extensively, in particular 274 medium tanks and 48 light tanks. The tables comprising the study are too unwieldy to replicate, so I'll provide a link and restate the core findings below.

The study found that in the medium tank, the commander had the highest probability (percentage in which the position was a casualty in all the incidents) of becoming a casualty, at 57%. The cannoneer (loader) and gunner were tied at 51%. The bow gunner was a casualty 48% of the time, while the driver was a casualty 47% of the time. The casualty figures for the light tanks are slightly higher, presumably due to their thinner armor and smaller internal volume. The driver and bow gunner were casualties 67% of the time, while the gunner was a casualty 65% of the time. The commander/loader became a casualty 63% of the time

In the 274 medium tanks each with 5 crew (1,370 crew), 171 were killed (an average of 0.62 per tank), 466 were wounded (1.7 per tank), and 59 were missing (0.22 per tank). In the 48 light tanks each with 4 crew (192 crewmen), 52 were killed (1.08 per tank), 72 were wounded (1.5 per tank), and 1 was missing (0.02 per tank). An average of 1 man killed and 1-2 wounded for a medium tank loss and 1 man killed and 1 wounded for a light tank loss is not an outlandish statement; many tank losses had no casualties, while other tanks were destroyed with all crewmen killed.

A number of tank crew casualties, perhaps half, occurred after crewmen had abandoned their vehicles or were outside them performing other tasks. ORO-T-117 sampled three tank battalions. In the 753rd Tank Battalion, 9 medium tanks were lost, with 21 crewmen casualties inside them and 102 outside. In the 756th Tank Battalion, 23 medium and 3 light tanks were lost, with 49 crewmen casualties inside them and 60 outside. In the 760th Tank Battalion, 21 medium tanks were lost, with 36 crewmen casualties inside them and 31 outside.

- – -

I will be procuring a copy of this document shortly.


B

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2018 11:15 p.m. PST

Total number of US tankers killed in NW Europe is said to be around 1750, that's a fairly low casualty rate probably due to the fact that they added a bunch of what the detractors of US tanks would call unnecessary and unsexy upgrades like giving the loader his own escape hatch and that hatches were springloaded and relatively easy to get out of in times of trouble. Steve Zaloga has been busy looking at German crew casualties and they don't look half as good as the US ones.

Unlike British crews, US tankers did wear helmets which had a significant impact on injuries. Also interesting to note that the statistics also include crew injured outside tanks, performing certain duties or simply trying to get away.

When compared to say infantry casualties or bomber crews, if you wanted a death trap, carry a Garand …

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2018 5:09 a.m. PST

Blutarski, does the study say how the tanks in the study
were knocked out of action ?

Presuming hits which impaired mobility (tread knocked
off, idlers damaged, etc), that sort of hit would seem
to have little to no impact to crew casualties, save
for the crew bailing out and being subject to hostile
fire.

Tom Reed Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2018 6:18 a.m. PST

My dad was a Sherman tank driver in Tunisia & Italy and got his purple heart when an 88 shell penetrated the tank just behind his position, and exited the other side of the hull before exploding. I don't know if any other members of his crew were also injured. I have pictures of his tank with the entry and exit holes.

Legion 425 Apr 2018 7:13 a.m. PST

As I said on another post, IIRC, somewhere I read/heard 1.3 crew members were KIA'd per AFV when KO'd. Or … Can't remember if that 1.3 is KIA'd or WIA'd ?
Of course if you are in that crew … 1.3 may be 1.3 too many …

Tom thank your Father for his service too …

the commander had the highest probability (percentage in which the position was a casualty in all the incidents) of becoming a casualty
E.g. the IDF reported similar. A TC generally does his "best" work, unbuttoned and exposed.

When compared to say infantry casualties or bomber crews, if you wanted a death trap, carry a Garand …
Indeed, generally in any conflict Infantry making up most of any armed force, suffer @ 70-75% of the losses or more … For obvious reasons.

Andy ONeill25 Apr 2018 7:23 a.m. PST

Yep, commander is more likely to be "up" and caught by unexpected mg fire or HE.
The tc is also more likely to be wandering around doing a little recce.

Crew in the hull are relatively safer when hull down.

emckinney25 Apr 2018 8:32 a.m. PST

Indeed, generally in any conflict Infantry making up most of any armed force, suffer @ 70-75% of the losses or more … For obvious reasons.

Because they outnumber the tank crews by 3:1.

emckinney25 Apr 2018 8:36 a.m. PST

Here's the link: link

mkenny25 Apr 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

Because they outnumber the tank crews by 3:1.
No. On a % basis an Infantryman was far more likely to end up dead than any other branch. Tanks crews were much more likely to survive the war than a foot soldier.

mkenny25 Apr 2018 10:49 a.m. PST

I searched for years for a copy of ORO-T-117. I contacted Naisawald but even he did not have a copy. He explained it was compiled during the Korean War and gave me some indications ofthe Survey's limitations. I managed to get a printed copy about 10 years back.
I think that by far the most detailed Report on tank casualties is the one done by 2 British Doctors and covered losses after the Rhine Crossing. Some 350 losses are covered in great detail. This is the contents page


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Starfury Rider25 Apr 2018 11:00 a.m. PST

If you don't mind a PDF version and are willing to part with a monumental $2.00 USD (yes $2.00 USD) you can get a copy of ORO-T-117 from Merriam Press;

link

They also have a British survey on tank losses in Normandy for a massive $2.99 USD.

link

As far as I can tell they include all the information as would be found in a traditional printed copy.

Gary

jdginaz25 Apr 2018 2:14 p.m. PST

" In the 753rd Tank Battalion, 9 medium tanks were lost, with 21 crewmen casualties inside them and 102 outside. In the 756th Tank Battalion, 23 medium and 3 light tanks were lost, with 49 crewmen casualties inside them and 60 outside. In the 760th Tank Battalion, 21 medium tanks were lost, with 36 crewmen casualties inside them and 31 outside."

9 tanks (45 crew) lost with 123 casualties
26 tanks (127 crew) lost with 109 casualties
21 tanks (105 crew) lost with 97 casualties

???

Legion 425 Apr 2018 2:48 p.m. PST


No. On a % basis an Infantryman was far more likely to end up dead than any other branch. Tanks crews were much more likely to survive the war than a foot soldier.
Totally agree …

Because they outnumber the tank crews by 3:1.
Think about it … Every army generally had/has more Infantrymen than tank crews. Many, many more than 3 to 1 …

Korvessa25 Apr 2018 5:50 p.m. PST

My psych professor in the mid 80s said he worked with a man who was the sole survivor of five different tank crews in WWII. He was the TC.
The concussion blew him out of the turret with minor injuries while the others burned inside.
No idea what kind of tank.

Legion 426 Apr 2018 6:24 a.m. PST

He was a lucky man and beat the "odds" so to speak …

mkenny26 Apr 2018 7:01 a.m. PST

He was a lucky man and beat the "odds"

He was a very unlucky man indeed. If it means he was knocked out in 5 different tanks and all the other 24 men were killed and he was the only survivor then he is a 1 in-a-million man. It would also mean that there would be 19 other knocked out Shermans were no one was killed given the 1 KIA-per-tank average

A British Tank Regiment had some 60 'Sabre' tanks and for NWE 1944-45 11th Armoured Division(4 Regiments)suffered 539 KIA in 11 months.
539 men from 2680 or 20%. Though the 'Sabre' tank count was c 240 there were other tanks (150+)in the Division notably 44 Stuart tanks but the KIA count includes all casualties from all tanks in the Division and not just the Sabre Squadrons.
The claims of 'high/massive' tank crew losses (compared to losses in The Infantry, Bomber Command or Submarine crews-all is relative) are bunk.

mkenny26 Apr 2018 7:18 a.m. PST

The second post in this thread

link

has a link to a downloadable version of the 1945 British Tank Casualty Survey. It is (in my opinion) by far the most detailed study of crew casualties in WW2.

It may be deleted at any time if Sam needs the space. Get it now!

Legion 426 Apr 2018 7:51 a.m. PST

He was a very unlucky man indeed. If it means he was knocked out in 5 different tanks
Unlucky enough to have 5 different tanks blown out from under him. But "Lucky" enough to survive …

I'd recommend he should not buy any lottery tickets, go to Vegas, etc. As if this story is true … he used up whatever luck he had or ever will have …

Andy ONeill26 Apr 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

A TC I interviewed had a "jittery" driver. He was the only survivor out his previous crew and a replacement for their own dead driver.
They were British.

An uncle of mine was in the merchant navy and a stoker. His ship was torpedoed when he and his friend were on deck taking a smoke break. They were the only survivors and luckily picked up by another vessel. You weren't supposed to slow or stop to pick people up.
That in turn was torpedoed and he was the only survivor.
Uncle Ted was never particularly lucky at anything as far as I recall.
Maybe Legion's theory of using up your luck is right.

Korvessa26 Apr 2018 11:26 a.m. PST

If nothing else, it certainly explains why he needed therapy. Seems like survivor guilt would be almost unbearable.

jdginaz26 Apr 2018 11:52 a.m. PST

"He was a lucky man and beat the "odds" so to speak …"

Or it may not have happened as related….

Blutarski26 Apr 2018 1:20 p.m. PST

Ed Mohrmann wrote -
"Blutarski, does the study say how the tanks in the study were knocked out of action?"

Hi Ed,
Cause(s) of loss/damage were not specified in the excerpt I came across. That is one reason why I will be obtaining the full report. The cited casualty figures differ considerably from the results reported in Dupuy's study and such inconsistencies always and I would like to get to the bottom of things.

B

mkenny26 Apr 2018 1:32 p.m. PST

It must have escaped the notice of some that a link to ORO-T-117 (Coox and Naisawald and a download option)is included in an earlier post by emckinney. You can read it for yourself.

Here it is again:


link

In case it is also overlooked I included a download link to the Wright & Harkness WO 205/1165 'Survey Of Tank Casualties Amongst Armoured Units In North West Europe' in one of my earlier posts.
Here it is again

link

Legion 426 Apr 2018 1:34 p.m. PST

Maybe Legion's theory of using up your luck is right.

Or it may not have happened as related….

Both are very much up for debate … evil grin

Blutarski26 Apr 2018 2:43 p.m. PST

Thank you very much, mkenny.

B

Walking Sailor27 Apr 2018 9:33 a.m. PST

jgdinaz ???
Compare apples to apples.
9 tanks (45 crew) lost, with 21 crewmen casualties inside them.
In the 753rd Tank Battalion: 3 medium tank companies (3X17=51), a command element (2), and an Assault Gun Platoon (3xM4-105)=56 tanks/280 crew with 123 casualties.
Also bear in mind that this is over a period of time. e.g. one man is wounded (1), his replacement is wounded (2), the first man returns to his unit and is wounded again (3). In Vietnam some LURP units sustained over 300% casualties.

Legion 427 Apr 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

In Vietnam some LURP units sustained over 300% casualties.
Yes, casualties come in 3 forms …

KIA

WIA

POW/MIA

Walking Sailor28 Apr 2018 6:11 a.m. PST

Legion 4 makes a very good point. This tank report is all casualties.

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