Jann, Charles A., III (817th)

Charles A. Jann III 1Charles A. Jann, III

Biography:  Charles Albert Jann, III was born on March 26, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Charles Albert Jann Jr. and Ann M. Gross and graduated from Germantown High School.

He continued his education by attending night school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied accounting and law for six months. He then worked for the General Refractories Company as a cost estimator, starting in 1942 until he was called into the military.

Service Time:  Charles entered the Army on December 31, 1943, at Philadelphia. After his basic training, he was assigned to Company C, of the 817th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

The 817th had originally trained with self-propelled Tank Destroyers but was converted to a towed battalion, using a 3″ anti-tank gun, in June 1943. They trained at Camps Bowie and Hood in Texas and then moved to Camp Phillips, Kansas, and spent additional time at Camp Breckinridge and Fort Campbell, Kentucky in early 1944, where Charles probably joined the unit. From there it was on to Tennessee, where they remained during the Tennessee maneuvers.

The unit then went to Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts, in July, 1944, and prepared for shipment overseas. The 817th boarded the U.S.S. Mt. Vernon and sailed without any escorts to protect them, arriving in Greenock, Scotland, on July 31st to begin training for combat in France. They boarded LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) and landed at Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on August 25th.

Charles A. Jann III 2The unit took up rear-area security duties in France and Belgium and guarded the COMZ (Communication Zone) from August to November, finally entering battle in the Hürtgen Forest, with the 8th Infantry Division, on December 9th.  They were then shifted to the Ardennes in February, 1945, and later to the Roer River sector to fire as artillery. Participating in the advance to the Rhine River with the cavalry, they crossed the river at Remagen, Germany, on March 15th and were the only towed TD battalion to enter the bridgehead.

The 817th began conversion to M18 tank destroyers on March 26th and joined the 104th Infantry Division at the Ruhr Pocket in April. Charles was assigned to the 2nd Platoon and specifically the 3rd tank destroyer of the platoon, serving as a TD Commander. Two companies joined the drive eastward from Marburg in mid-April, fighting in the Harz Mountains and helped capture Halle and advanced to the Mulde River where offensive operations ceased.

A newspaper article identifies that after the war in Europe had ended, Charles was stationed at Camp Washington D.C., near Laon, France, en route for the U.S. and a 30 day furlough back home. The furlough would provide him some needed rest before being sent for additional training, prior to going to the Pacific with his unit. Thankfully the war ended before the unit had made it home. The 817th received credit for four campaigns including Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe and Charles left the military at the rank of Sergeant. 

Charles A. Jann III 3Now back in the U.S., Charles returned to his job with General Refractories and on October 2, 1948, he married the former Marguerite Beatrice Fullam, who was born in Philadelphia and was the daughter of Laurence Fullam and Marguerite Maywhort Batt. The new couple would make their home in Plymouth Meeting, PA, and have three daughters, Carol, born in 1952, Linda in 1955, and Barbara in 1958.

Charles would later work for the Diener Brick Company in Collingswood, New Jersey, and in his spare time, he enjoyed fishing on his boat, growing vegetables, backyard BBQs and going to the reunions of the 817th. He was also a member of the Lions Club. Charles passed away on August 11, 1996, and was buried in the Mount Vernon Cemetery in Philadelphia.

I want to thank Charles’ daughters, and specifically Barbara, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.