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Tanks for the Memories

$19.95

The 712th Tank Battalion spent 11 months on the front lines of World War II, from Normandy to Czechoslovakia, earning distinction as the Armored Fist of the 90th “Texas-Oklahoma” Infantry Division. Through dozens of interviews and conversations with its veterans, author Aaron Elson chronicles the day to day lives of the loaders, the drivers, the gunners, mechanics, truck drivers, tank commanders and assistant driver/bow gunners, the officers and enlisted men, from their youths in the Great Depression through their training in the horse cavalry, their escapades in England, the hedgerows of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and the Siegfried Line, to their brushes with what would one day be diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder. Aaron’s father served with the battalion, which launched him on a 35-year career as an oral historian.

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There are many books about tanks. Tanks for the Memories is about the people inside and around those tanks. People like Jim Flowers, a lieutenant who left both of his legs “on a piece of bloody French real estate” and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in turning the tide of the battle for Hill 122; like 18-year-old Billy Wolfe, whose last words to his sisters, 16-year-old twins Maxine and Madaline, were “So long, kids, and if I never see you again, goodbye,” and who was never seen to get out of his burning tank in the battle for Pfaffenheck, Germany; like tank commander Ruby Goldstein, who shared his recipe for cooking potatoes on the exhaust of his tank; or Max Lutcavish, whose “light” tank knocked out a Mark V Panzer. Tanks for the Memories follows the men of the 712th Tank Battalion from the Great Depression through the horse cavalry, their mechanization as part of the 10th Armored Division, from which they were broken off as an independent tank battalion; through their voyage to England on the SS Exchequer, their escapades in England, and then through 11 months of combat from the hedgterows of Normandy to the liberation of the Flossenburg concentration camp.

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