643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion

 

                                                                  643rdTDBn-DUI

 

Motto:  "Hit Hard"

Unit History:  Redesignated from the 43d Infantry Division’s Antitank Battalion (Provisional) on 3 December, 1941, and activated at Camp Blanding, Florida, on 15 December.  Arrived at Cherbourg, France, on 15 December, 1944, equipped with towed guns.  First engaged near Manhay, Belgium, on 22 December, 1944.  Crossed the Roer River on 24 February, 1945.  Re-equipped with M18's in March 1945, crossed the Rhine River at Wesel and the Elbe River en route to Zerbst.  Withdrawn to take up occupation duties in the Harz Mountains.  History text from the book The Tank Killers by Harry Yeide.  Used by permission.

Combat Equipment: 12/22/44 - Towed 3" Gun; 2-3/45 - M18.

Commanding Officers:  Maj. Bernard F. Redihan; Lt. Col. Kiernan Harford (4/42); Lt. Col. Lilburn H. Stevens (2/43); Maj. Maurice A. Pierce (3/44); Maj. Ira M.F. Gaulke (4/44); Lt. Col. Clarence J. Kruegar (4/44); Lt. Col. Burlle R. Farr (5/44); Maj. Hershal I. Druxman (10/45); 1st Lt. Frank J. Richardson (11/45).

Code Name/s:  Condenser

Campaign Credits:  Rhineland........................Sept. 15, 1944 to Mar. 21, 1945

                                Ardennes-Alsace..............Dec. 16, 1944 to Jan 25, 1945

                                Central Europe.................Mar. 22, to May 11, 1945

Awards:  None

Location August 1945:  Camp San Luis Obispo, CA

Additional Information/Materials:

1.)  Pages Dedicated to the 643rd.  A good friend of mine and fellow Tank Destroyer researcher, Ben Savelkoul of the Netherlands, has collected information on many TD units.  One unit in particular is the 643rd, which Ben not only has a listing of the unit's key dates in history, but also a nice group of photos, a listing of their fallen soldiers, some write-ups on a few actions of the unit and some more extensive information on a couple of the men of the unit.

2.)  Roster of the 643rd - This chart listing is on Ben Savelkoul's website.

3.)  Company A Group Photo - Taken in the fall of 1945, at Camp San Luis Obispo, CA, after the unit had returned from overseas duty.  Provided courtesy of Jack Hilliard, who, since he had enough points, had already been discharged and is not in the photo.  The rest of his crew is in the photo, Cliff Guyette, Gordon Lugten, Frank Dodd and Frank McNulty.  Page two includes the names of the men and was originally provided by William Fahey.  WARNING LARGE FILE

4.)   Company A Group Photo - Taken in August of 1942, while the unit was stationed at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.  The photo was provided to me courtesy of Ben Savelkoul but was originally donated by Michael Warne, whose wife's uncle, Pfc. John Clanton, served in A Company.

5.)   After Action Reports - from the Combined Arms Research Library of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas (**).

            Dec. 20-31, 1944...............4 Pages (includes casualties)

            Jan. 1-31, 1945.................5 Pages (includes casualties)

            Feb. 1-28, 1945.................5 Pages (includes casualties)

            Mar. 1-31, 1945.................4 Pages (includes casualties) (**)

            Apr. 1-30, 1945...............10 Pages (includes officer roster) (**)

            May 1-31, 1945.................9 Pages (includes officer roster) (**)

6.)  Unit Journals-from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas.

            March 1-31, 1945.............31 Pages

            May 1-11, 1945................11 Pages

7.)  Miscellaneous Documents-from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas.

            608th TD Bn personnel transfers to 643rd, Dec. 19, 1943...............2 Pages

            Commendations, Jan. 20, 1942-June 19, 1944..............................9 Pages

            Various Documents, Nov. 14, 1942-Oct. 25, 1945........................25 Pages

            Various Orders, Dec. 16-17, 1941................................................2 Pages

            Various Orders, March 21-Dec. 7, 1942.......................................26 Pages

            Various Orders, Feb. 17-Dec. 31, 1943........................................47 Pages

            Various Orders, Jan. 24-Dec. 31, 1944........................................11 Pages  

8.)  Battalion History - Official 31 page War Department document, which includes formation, attachments, personnel strength, locations, maneuvers, battles, commanding officers, commendations, insignia description, sports achievements, inspections, tests, awards and decorations.

9.)  Christmas Menu 1943 - A menu with roster of men from HQ Company and Medical Detachment from their 1943  Christmas celebration.  At the time they were stationed at Camp Gruber, OK.  It would be almost a year later until they would land in France. Courtesy of Ben Savelkoul.

10.)  Photo Gallery

11.)  Hellcats Don't Leak Oil, They Mark Their Territory! - Book written by Lester R. King about his unit and their experiences across Germany.  Lester was an Assistant Gunner and a member of the Second Platoon of A Company, 643rd TD Bn.  It was published by Trafford Publishing in 2006 and has 268 pages.  I do not have a copy of the book but I have seen it still available through used booksellers.