Infantrymen, following John's tank
into Central Square, Cologne,
Germany; World War II
My brother John's tank, as they fired
at a German Mark V Panther Tank
that was parked in front of the
Cathedral in Cologne
The pictures on this, the preceding, and the following page, were taken by an Army frontline photographer, Sergeant Jim Bates. The top picture was taken as infantrymen of the 36th. Armored Infantry Regiment followed my brother's tank, as it entered Central Square in Cologne, Germany. The Cathedral can be seen at the rear in the top photo, veiled in smoke. Moments before the above picture was taken, an American M4 Sherman, entering the Central Square on a parallel street had been knocked out by a German Mark V Panther. The tank pictured above is my brother John's tank, an American M26, with a 90MM main gun. As an ex-tanker looking at the above picture, I can almost hear the blast from the 90MM and smell the sulfur from the gun powder. Man, "There's nothing like the smell of sulfur in the morning..." I kind of miss it.
The following is a copy of an article written by Sergeant Jim Bates, the frontline photographer that took the pictures on these pages. Sergeant Bates won the Bronze Star during the fighting in Cologne. The account follows:
"The greatest part of my life was in Cologne, Germany. It was my finest moments at Combat Photography when I joined the Third Armored Division in its capture of Cologne, Germany. It was this action that earned me a Bronze Star Medal to go with my Purple Heart. It was the tanks backed by the 36th. Armored Infantry Regiment that did the house to house fighting and clearing the area. In the center square in front of the Cathedral was a German Tank that a Sherman tank thought was disabled but the tank put a shell through the Sherman and killed three men in it. A Tank Commander named Robert Early from E Company 32nd. Armored Regiment went on foot to investigate. I asked to go along and we went on the mezzanine of a building and saw the German tank. Sergeant Early told me to stay there and he would come back in his tank and try to put the German tank out of commission. He told me that I could photograph it. He had one of the new M-26 Pershing tanks with a ninety-mm gun. Sgt. Early said he would turn into the square under me, stop and fire at the German tank. When his tank came into the square, the German tank began to traverse its gun. Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, the gunner, did not wait for his tank to stop but fired before the Mark V's gun was aimed at him. His first shot hit the German tank in the bottom and cut off the tank commander's legs. After the next shot, three of the crew bailed out but the shrapnel had got them. My pictures show the tank commander burned up with the tank, which was still smoldering the next morning. The driver got to the back of the building where he fell dead. The assistant gunner fell over a bicycle and lay there dead. The gunner went down nearby. All had been killed."
Click the next button below to see the results of the round fired in the above picture. Also, two rapid follow-up rounds that were fired to finish off the so called invulnerable Mark V Panther. Not a pretty site. Well, then again, I guess it is a pretty site.
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This page was last modified on:
Friday, January 10, 2003 01:59 PM
By Philip T. DeRiggi
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