771st Tank Destroyer Battalion

Unit History:  Activated on 15 December, 1941, at Ft. Ethan Allen, Vermont.  They shipped out from the New York port on October 21, 1943 and arrived at Liverpool, England on November 2, 1943. The 771st was chosen to train other TD personnel in the ETO Troop Replacement system. Company A would move out and act as an advanced unit to ship to France in late August. The rest of the battalion would ship out on September 15 and join them on the mainland, equipped with M10’s.  Entered combat with the 102nd Infantry Division against the Siegfried Line defenses along the Würm River on 3 November.  Participated in the drive to the Roer River and held defensive positions there during December.  Converted to the M36 in January 1945.  Supported drive toward Rhine River in February.  Crossed the Rhine beginning 31 March and joined the 102nd Infantry Division’s drive across Germany to the Elbe River, reaching same on 14 April.  Spent remainder of the war helping to mop up bypassed pockets of resistance between the Rhine and the Elbe.  Attached to: 5th Armored Division; 102d Infantry Division; 11th Cavalry Group.  History text from the book The Tank Killers by Harry Yeide. Used by permission.

Combat Equipment: 11/44 – M10; 2/45 – M36

Commanding Officers:  Lt. Col. Wayland Minot (Orig. CO); Col. Michael Fibisch; Major Donald McGrayne; Lt. Col. Beverly St. G. Tucker; Lt. Col. David DeG Smith (1/18/43)

Code Name/s:  Midget

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

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

Awards:  Distinguished Unit Citation – 16-20 Nov 44, WD GO 108-45, Co C only

Location August 1945:  Viersen, Germany

Additional Information/Materials:

1.)   Souvenir Edition of the Crow’s Nest – Distributed to troops returning home on the Edmund B. Alexander Troop Ship.  Dated November 28, 1945, the troops on board included the 771st TD Bn, and the 802nd TD Bn. along with many others totalling 5,240 on board.  Courtesy of Steve Dike.

2.)  After Action Reports – from the Combined Arms Research Library of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

            Nov. 5-30, 1944……………6 Pages

            Dec. 1-31, 1944……………6 Pages

            Jan. 1-31, 1945……………7 Pages (some pages poor quality)

            Apr. 1-30, 1945………….11 Pages

            May 1-31, 1945…………….9 Pages (with overlay maps)

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

            Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1944………..20 Pages (Includes Officer roster, casualties & awards)

            Jan. 1-Dec. 1, 1945………….20 Pages (Includes Officer roster & casualties)

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

            Award General Orders…………………………………………..4 Pages

            Troop Assignment #147, June 12, 1945…………………..18 Pages

            Index to Unit Records……………………………………………1 Page (These are the records available from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.  If you would like to obtain copies of them, please contact us and we can help you with the process)

5.)  Second Platoon of Company CShown in the photo is John Martinelli, seated on the front of the TD wearing the helmet and George Yago standing beneath the gun with eyeglasses and no helmet.  Information provided by Joan Martinelli.  Photo courtesy of Bob Freego

6.)  Group Photo of Company C Members – Photo courtesy of Bob Freego.  Soldier I.D. by Joan Martinelli and reverse of photo from Jacob Schraeter.

7.)  Group Photo, Reconnaissance Company – Taken in 1942 at Fort A.P. Hill Military Reservation in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Provided courtesy of Paul Stevens.

8.)  Group Photo, Headquarters Company – Taken on May 30, 1943 at Fort A.P. Hill Military Reservation in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Provided courtesy of Serge Lemaire.

9.)  Unit History – Includes officers list and both 1st and Staff Sergeants list.  Provided courtesy of Joan Martinelli

10.)  Unit Citation – General Order 83 of the 102nd Infantry Division, dated June 7, 1945, identifying that Company C of the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion was cited for the award.  Provided courtesy of Joan Martinelli.

11.)  1947 Reunion Group Photo – The photo is identified as the battalion’s first reunion, held on May 17, 1947, at the Columbus Club in New York City. I believe there are at least 78 men in the photo along with a slightly lessor amount of ladies present. The photo is courtesy of Stephen Rovenger.

12.)  1961-62 Reunion Letter – Sent out by the 771st Tank Destroyer Association for their 20th Anniversary gathering of when they were created. Set for a resort in the Catskill Mountains of New York, the letter is signed by Walter Schraeter who was Chairman and Secretary of the Group. 

13.)  Small Group in Paris – A small group shot of men, taken in Paris on July 24, 1945. Taken after the war had ended, the men would have had opportuinity to take leave and visit certain approved areas of Europe, one area being Paris. I’m sure there are some members of the 771st shown in the photo but it is probable that some men are from other units as well. Photo courtesy of Serge Lemaire.

14.)  V-Mail Christmas Note – A short note sent to the home of Mrs. Clayton P. Sanders, wishing her a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 1943. The note was sent by Cpt. Robert J. Petersen who, at the time, was probably the HQ Company Commander. Cpt. Petersen would later be promoted to Major and serve as battalion Executive Officer. I would expect that similar notes were sent to each of the families of the men that were serving under him. Courtesy of Paul Sanders.

15.)  71st Antitank Battalion Pictorial – An 18 page pictorial taken from the 71st Field Artillery Brigade pictorial album for 1941-1942. The document includes a history of the unit as well as photos of the commanding officers as well as each of the men. Short biographies of the former and current commanders are incldued as well. The 71st antitank battalion was later redesignated as the 771st TD Bn.

15.)  Photo Gallery