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Item:
ON3713

Original U.S. WWI AEF Tank Corps 344th Battalion Named Uniform Set

Regular price $1,395.00

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind set. Named to JOHN HARDMAN this incredible set is comprised of a wonderful condition tunic complete with Tank Corps collar tabs, an excellent textured paint M1917 helmet with a hand painted Tank insignia and Ace of Diamond and Ace of Spades playing card insignia. Also included are his original WW1 dog tags that read:

JOHN HARDMAN

344TH. BN.

TANKS CORP.

U.S.A

The reverse of the tags read:

JOHN HARDMAN

201331

The AEF Tank Corps was very small and finding genuine pieces from veterans who actually saw action is extremely rare. This set is in wonderful condition with loads of research potential.

The Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces was the mechanized unit that engaged in tank warfare for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front during World War I.

Brigadier General Samuel D. Rockenbach, as the Chief of Tank Corps for the American Expeditionary Forces under Pershing, organized, trained, equipped and then deployed the first American tank units to the Western Front of 1918 Europe. An initial plan for 2,000 light Renault FT tanks and 200 heavy British Mark VI tanks was changed to 20 battalions of 77 light tanks each and 10 battalions of 45 heavy tanks each. A total of eight heavy battalions (the 301st to 308th) and 21 light battalions (the 326th to 346th) were raised, but only four (the 301st, 331st, 344th and 345th) saw combat.

Captain George S. Patton, the first officer assigned to the unit, set up a light tank school at Bourg, France, starting on November 10, 1917. In the first half of 1918, the 326th and 327th Tank Battalions were organized at Patton's school, while the 301st Heavy Tank Battalion was raised at Camp Meade, Maryland, USA and transported to the British Tank Schools at Bovington Camp in southern England, for training.

The 326th (under the command of Sereno E. Brett) and 327th Tank Battalions (later renamed the 344th and 345th and organized into the 304th Tank Brigade, commanded by Patton), were the first into combat, beginning with the Battle of St. Mihiel (as part of the US IV Corps) on 12 September 1918, followed by the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (as part of the US V Corps) on 26 September. Major Brett assumed command of the 304th after Patton was injured during the St. Mihiel Offensive. The small French Renault FT tanks they were equipped with found the going hard and many were lost or ran out of fuel crossing the battlefield – the Germans, forewarned, had largely retreated from the salient.

The 301st, equipped with British Mark Vs, suffered large casualties in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal on 29 September as part of the British 4th Tank Brigade, under the control of the Australian Corps. Some tanks were hit by shelling before the start line, while others were lost crossing an unreported British minefield. Of the 34 participating tanks, only 10 made rallying. The 301st then seized the village of Brancourt on 8 October, fought in the Battle of the Selle on 18 October, and participated in a night attack on 22–23 October in the vicinity of the Sambre Canal.

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