641st Tank Destroyer Battalion

Unit History:  Established December 18, 1941, at Ft Lewis, WA, from personnel of the 41st Infantry Division.  Originally a Light Towed Battalion, they shipped from the New York port of embarkation on Mar. 4, 1942, and arrived in Australia (via the Panama Canal) on Apr. 9, 1942.  Arrived New Guinea on Jan. 21, 1943.  Entered combat in May, 1944, and were redesignated as 98th Chemical Battalion (Motorized) on Jun. 24, 1944.  Landed in the Philippines on Jan. 9, 1945, and were redesignated as 98th Chemical Mortar Battalion on Mar. 20, 1945.  Returned to U.S., landing at Los Angeles Port on Dec 24, 1945.  Deactivated on Dec. 26, 1945, at Camp Anza, CA.

Combat Equipment:  N/A.

Commanding Officers:  Major Albert H. Swift (original); Lt. Col. Arthur Fertig (7/42); Lt. Col. Charles G. Dawley (6/43); Major Robert “Bubbles” Preston (12/43); Lt. Col. Cochran (12/43); Major Alexander Batlin (8/44-Lt. Col. 4/45)

Code Name/s:  Unknown

Campaign Credits:   Luzon………………………..Dec. 15, 1944 to Jul. 4, 1945

                                 New Guinea………………..Jan. 24, 1943 to Dec. 31, 1945

Awards:  None

Location August 1945:  Philippine Islands

Additional Information/Materials:

The following documents are from the Combined Arms Research Library of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and relate to the unit as a Chemical Battalion, although these men were trained as Tank Destroyer servicemen.

1.)  Battalion Reports

                Apr. 12 to Jun. 6, 1944…………..3 Pages (Historical Report, difficult to read)

                Apr. 13 to May 1, 1944…………..1 Page (Recon. Journal, formerly Recon.)

                Apr. 14 to July 22, 1944………..12 Pages (Co. B Journal)

                May 27 to Jul. 7, 1944……………4 Pages (Recon. Incident Report)

                May 28 to Jul. 3, 1944……………4 Pages (Recon. Fire Missions)

                Jun. 22 to Jul. 20, 1944………….7 Pages (Co. B Historical Report, difficult to read)

                Jul. 7, 1944…………………………4 Pages (Co. D, Operation Hurricane)

2.)  Miscellaneous 641st Documents-from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas.

                Various Documents, 1941……….3 Pages

3.)  98th Chemical Mortar Battalion and its predecessor, the 641st Tank Destroyer Battalion  – A thorough history written by Bennett M. Saunders, Captain, USAR (retired), who was S-3 (Operations Officer) of the battalion. It provides a detailed history of the 641st, with its subsequent conversion to the 98th Chemical Mortar Battalion and the units actions in the Pacific Theatre.  The link provided above is located on Bruce Elliott’s website dedicated to all United States Army Chemical Mortar Battalions. A pdf. of the material is available here.

4.)  Article on 4.2″ Chemical Mortar Battalion – The photo used in the article came from a letter written by Sgt. Melvin Davis, while stationed in New Guinea.  The article provides some history of the unit along with names of men from Rigby, Idaho.  It also lists the men of his squad.  Provided courtesy of Shane Davis.

5.)  The following two photos were taken on October 25, 1944, while the unit was stationed in New Guinea. There is no indication of who the groups are but we can assume they were some type of company photos. The backs of the photos include a partial list of personnel and the first photo includes the paw print of their mascot “Pom Pom”. The photos were provided courtesy of Shane Davis whose father Melvin Davis served in the unit.

                    98th Chemical Bn. – Photo 1 (Melvin is shown in the front row, fifth from the
                                                              the right.)

                    98th Chemical Bn. – Photo 2 (Melvin is shown in the front row, ninth from
                                                              the right.)

6.)  Photo Gallery