Tanks in Hell
In May 1943 a self-described “really young, green, ignorant lieutenant” assumed command of a new Marine Corps company. His even younger enlisted Marines were learning to use an untested weapon, the M4A2 “Sherman” medium tank. His sole combat veteran was the company bugler, who had salvaged his dress cap and battered horn from a sinking aircraft carrier. Just six months later the company would be thrown into one of the ghastliest battles of World War II.
On 20 November 1943, the Second Marine Division launched the first amphibious assault of the Pacific War, directly into the teeth of powerful Japanese defenses on Tarawa. In that blood-soaked invasion, a single company of Sherman tanks, of which only two survived, played a pivotal role in turning the tide from looming disaster to legendary victory. In this unique study, Oscar Gilbert and Romain Cansiere use official documents, memoirs, interviews with veterans, as well as personal and aerial photographs to follow Charlie Company from its formation and trace the movement, action—and loss—of individual tanks in this horrific four-day struggle.