UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment
"Iron Dukes"

In 2007, as part of a continuing drawdown of US forces in Europe, the 1st Armored Division began both transformation to the US Army's modular force structure and redeployment of some of its brigades to the United States. Units redeploying from Iraq at that time would be redeployed to the Unitd States. 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor was subsequently relocated with the rest of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division to Fort Bliss Texas, but was inactivated in April 2007 as part of the modular transformation.

The 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment was a forward deployed Tank Battalion located in the Federal Republic of Germany. It was nestled in the rolling hills of the German State of Hessen, in the city of Friedberg. It occupied Ray Barracks along with 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment; 501st Forward Support Battalion; Headquarters, 1st Brigade; and it's sister battalion, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment. As a member of the "Ready First" Combat Team, it was one of many units that make up America's Tank Division, the 1st Armored Division.

The 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment was first constituted on 13 January 1941 in the Regular Army as the Company B, 7th Armored Regiment, an element of the 4th Armored Division. The Company was activated on 15 April 1941 at Pine Camp (which subsequently became Fort Drum), New York. On the evening of that day 600 officers and 3200 enlisted men stood at attention while orders activating the 4th Armored Division were read. The United states was not yet at war, but 10 months earlier a group of military geniuses leading Hitler's armies had demonstrated a new type of warfare that electrified and dumbfounded the world. Their names were Guderian, Kleist, and Rommel, and they called their operations the "Blitzkrieg," or lightning war in English.

Meanwhile an up-and-coming American named George S. Patton had already begun forging the US 2nd Armored Division in the mold of the German Panzer Divisions that had forced France to her knees in less than 2 months. The 1st Armored Division was at Fort Knox. The 2nd Armored Division, under Patton, at Fort Benning. The 3rd Armored Division, born simultaneously with the 4th Armored Division, originated in the warmer climate of Camp Beauregard, Louisiana. It was no secret that their mission would eventually be to tangle with the German gentlemen and defeat them on their own terms.

One group of the soldiers present when the 4th Armored Division was formed became the nucleus of the 7th Armored Regiment, which in turn became the 37th Armored Regiment on 8 May 1941. Company B, 7th Armored Regiment was subsequently redesignated as Company B, 37th Armored Regiment. The first filler personnel arrived at Pine Camp 4 days later, and 2 weeks after that a 13-week basic training cycle was begun.

By summer's end the old regulars and peacetime draftees were proudly wearing their caps cocked on the left side of their heads and looking like "Tankers." Training in the fundamentals of Armor began, despite the fact that there were only 21 tanks in the entire division. Many of the 37th Armored's key personnel were selected to cadre the 5th and 9th Armored Divisions. The blow that struck Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and subsequent declaration of war on Germany on 11 December 1941 brought new meaning and purpose to the training being conducted and Pine Camp. It also brought an influx of new equipment to the 37th Armored.

In October 1942, while the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions were staging for their baptism of fire in North Africa, the 37th Armored and the remainder of the 4th Armored Division moved to Tennessee for maneuvers. A month later the Regiment moved again, all the way to the West Coast this time, establishing its Command Post near Freida, California, at the California Desert Training Center. Although most of the 37th Armored's men were from the eastern United States, they plunged into their work in the Mojave desert with a desire to prepare in training for what the 1st and 2nd armored Divisions were experiencing in combat. On its second birthday the 37th Armored was razor sharp and ready in its own mind for shipment overseas. When in early June 1943 orders came for movement, it was thought that the Regiment was on its way to a date with the Axis Powers-possibly in the forthcoming campaign in Italy. Instead the 37th Armored dismounted at Camp Bowie, near Brownwood, Texas.

The Texas summer passed. The men saw how their 2 years together had prepared them physically and professionally when they compared training and proficiency test results with other units. In September 1943, during a 10 day period, the 37th Armored was streamlined to the shape in which it would face the enemy. The 37th Armored Regiment, as such was no more. 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion and the Regimental Headquarters became the 37th Tank Battalion, composed of 3 medium tank companies (A, B and C), one light tank company (D) and a Headquarters Company. Company B, 37th Armored Regiment was reorganized and redesignated on 10 September 1943 as Company B, 37th Tank Battalion.

The 37th Tank Battalion was, along with the 35th and 8th Tank Battalions, the nucleus of the "light" armored division. On 15 November 1943, Major General Wood announced to the 4th Armored Division that they would go overseas. On 11 December 1943, the 37th Tank Battalion moved northeastward by train, unloading at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts, from which the main body sailed on 29 December 1943. Eleven days later they were training again in England.

The beginning of a long and fateful relationship was marked on 1 February 1944. The 4th Armored Division became part of General Patton's Third US Army. On the morning of 6 June 1944, the American First US Army and the British Second Army hit the beaches of Normandy. The 37th Tank Battalion, along with the rest of Third US Army did not participate. Finally, on 8 July 1944, the 37th Tank Battalion moved to Southern England and prepared for its rendezvous with the Wehrmacht. Four days later it was in Normandy.

For the remainder of July 1944, the 37th waited in reserve, while the 4th Armored's doughboys relieved elements of the weary 4th Infantry Division. On 28 July 1944, the First US Army launched its breakout attack. The Infantry divisions on both sides of the 4th Armored attacked and "pinched out" the Division, whereupon this "left jab" was followed up by the "right cross" in which the 4th Armored attacked through the Infantry lines and began to race for the neck of the Brittany peninsula. The 37th was traveling on the fist of this blow with Colonel Bruce C. Clark's Combat Command A. Coutances fell the next day and Avranches, at the northern edge of the neck of Brittany, on 30 July 1944.

On its way across Brittany, the 4th Armored Division resumed its working acquaintance with General Patton, for the Third US Army became operational on 1 August 1944. By 9 August 1944, the 37th Tank Battalion was knocking on the door to Lorient, on the southern edge of Brittany. On 14 August 1944, the siege of Lorient was turned over to the 6th Armored Division and the 37th Tank Battalion turned eastward with the rest of the 3rd Army, which was beginning its historic race across France. VII Corps was the southernmost corps of the Third US Army. 4th Armored Division was on the VII Corps southern flank and the 37th Tank Battalion was protecting the southern flank of the Division. There was nothing south of the 37th Tank Battalion except the Loire River and the Germans.

The Battalion's Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Creighton W. Abrams (later, as a full General, commander of all US Forces in Vietnam and Army Chief of Staff), detached a task force under Major Edward Bautz to blow the Loire river bridges between Blois and Tours, but they found upon arrival that their work had been done by the Wehrmacht. This Task Force then followed the Loire's northern bank, paralleling the advance of the main body. On 16 August 1944, a German column was sighted on the south bank. Major Bautz's tankers pounded on this column unmercifully, inflicting severe losses and driving the Germans back from the river.

The 37th Tank Battalion crossed the Seine on 25 August 1944, and the Marne on 23 August 1944. The Marne Canal was bridged and the town of Chalons was attacked from the east, to the consternation of the defending garrison, which was expecting an assault on the western edge of town.

In another lightning thrust the 37th Tank Battalion captured the bridge across the Meuse at Commercy. An attack in a driving rainstorm won this prize before the Germans could blow it up. Then, on 1 September 1944, the 37th Tank Battalion ground to a halt. The gasoline ration had run out. While the chain of command up through General Patton fumed and threatened, the 37th Tank Battalion surveyed its accomplishments. It had advanced 700 miles in 7 weeks, crossed 3 major rivers and was within one day's motor march of the German border, only 70 miles to the northwest.

On 13 September 1944, the M4 tanks of the 37th Tank Battalion knifed across the Moselle River and, on 14 September 1944 overran the rear Command Post of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division at Arracourt and, in Valhey, caught the same division's forward echelon Command Post before it could displace rearward.

For 3 days Colonel Clark's CCA was behind enemy lines. The 37th Tank Battalion spent those days spreading confusion and terror in the German rear areas. From 19 September through 22 September 1944, the Germans tried to push the 37th Tank Battalion back across the Moselle. It was one of the largest tank-to-tank engagements of the war, at Mayenvie, the 37th Tank Battalion lost 14 Shermans while knocking out 55 Panthers and Tigers. Needless to say, the German counterattack was unsuccessful.

On 22 September 1944, the 37th Tank Battalion's M4s swept south again through Coincourt and Bures to the Rhine-Marne Canal. Counterattack followed counterattack as the desperate Wehrmacht tried to dislodge the Third US Army from its position, but as the toll of Panthers mounted, the attacks dwindled in intensity and finally ceased. The 37th Tank Battalion was relieved on 12 October 1944 by elements of the 26th "Yankee" Infantry Division. For its tenacity in the Moselle Valley, the 37th Tank Battalion was awarded its second Croix de Guerre with Palm by a grateful French Government (it's first having come in Normandy). The 37th's tankers were pulled off line for a rest after 87 straight days of combat.

Winter was quickly approaching. The 37th Tank Battalion moved out in a downpour on 9 November 1944 to deprive Hitler of the industrial Saar Valley. On 11 November 1944 the Battalion was caught on the road and lost 6 tanks because it could not deploy in the bottomless mud. Still the Shermans pushed on. On 8 December 1944, the Battalion smashed through the old French Maginot Line and took Singling. Two days later it was relieved again, by elements of the 12th Armored Division, and sent to the rear for another rest, although not so far back that elements of the Battalion were not in contact. On 16 December 1944, Shermans of Company A were the first 4th Armored Division vehicles to enter Germany when they chased several German tanks back into the woods near Rimling.

The 37th Tank Battalion was unaware that the same day Company A entered the Reich, Hitler had played his last trump north of where the 4th Armored was resting from its 5 months in action. The 5th German Panzer Army, last of the German Strategic Reserves, spearheaded the attack by Model's Army Group B that opened the "Battle of the Bulge". Its objective was the port of Antwerp and allied depots nearby. Its political motives were to inflict such losses on allied forces that the western powers would accept a negotiated peace. On 18 December 1944, the 37th Tank Battalion got its march order: Move north against the German penetration, which was causing alarm to the Allied High Command.

On the same day the 101st Airborne Division was moved by truck to establish a strongpoint at the key road and rail junction of Bastogne, in Belgium. By the time the 37th Tank Battalion arrived at the south flank of the German penetration, the 101st Airborne was cut off on all sides by the enemy drive. The Battalion became a point of the 4th Armored Division's drive to relieve the paratroopers in Bastogne. The Battalion moved out in a feathery snowfall at 0600 on 22 December 1944, attacking northward against German airborne troops. The 37th Tank Battalion and the 53rd Armored Infantry made up the 4th Armored Division's Combat Command B, which was committed on the right of the other 2 combat commands when they were slowed up. In a bloody engagement against German paratroopers wearing American uniforms, CCB took Bigonville.

At 0200, 26 December 1944, CCB marched 30 miles west to the 4th Armored Division's left flank. At 0700 on 26 December 1944, the Battalion jumped off from Bercheaux and swiftly took Bauxles-Rosieres, Nives and Remoiville. At dawn on 26 December 1944, the 37th Tank Battalion struck again, taking Remi, Champagne, and then seizing the high ground near Chochiment, only 3 miles from Bastogne. Lieutenant Colonel Abrams, commanding the 37th Tank Battalion, made the undramatic statement, "We're going in to those people now."

The lead vehicle in that attack was a Sherman named "Cobra King" and commanded by Charles Boggess Jr., of Greenville, Illinois. Lieutenant Boggess was Commanding Officer of C Company, 37th Tank Battalion. There were only 8 other tanks in Company C when the "move out" order came, but at 1515 hours all 9 sets of sprockets turned, leading the 37th Tank Battalion northward to the embattles 101st Airborne.

Two towns lay between the 37th Tank Battalion and Bastogne. Their names were Clochimont and Assenois, and they were both heavily defended by elite German troops. Beyond Assenois was a heavy wood, concealing the blockhouses that enclosed the road to Bastogne. Company C's mission was to barge through these defenses in high gear, stopping for nothing and leaving the mopping up to the companies following, which were supported by the 53rd Infantry. At 1645 1st Lieutenant Boggess shook hands with Lieutenant Webster of the 326th Engineers, 101st Airborne Division and in 25 minutes Lieutenant Colonel Abrams and his S-3, Captain William Dwight, reported to Brigadier General Anthony G. McAuliffe, acting Commanding General of the 101st Airborne.

The fight was not over. Lieutenant Boggess' company now consisted of only 4 M4 tanks, and the rest of the 37th Tank Battalion had suffered similarly. The corridor to Bastogne had to be held. By now the 37th and elements of the 26th Infantry Division were joined in fighting to hold the road open. Still, it was not easy. Counterattack followed counterattack until at last, on 9 January 1945, the German penetration had been pushed to the east of Bastogne. A shattered enemy began to withdraw to his homeland to resume the last ditch struggle that could end only one way. For its relief of Bastogne, the 37th Tank Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

On 10 January 1945, the 37th Tank Battalion was attacking east of Bastogne when the order came to halt. After a masterful disengagement and an icy road march south to Luxembourg, the Battalion again found it was in the Third US Army reserve, ready to answer a fire call. In the rugged country of the Rhineland, it was mainly an Infantry war, but the 37th Tank Battalion followed close behind the attackers, ready to knife through the West Wall when a breach was secured. Finally, on 22 February 1945, General Patton uncorked his tanks and Outscheid, Mioderwinger, Baustert, Feilsdorf, and Koosbrisch quickly fell to the 37th Tank Battalion, which was then with CCB, attached to the 60th Infantry Division.

On 25 February 1945, Company B, with Company B of the 51st Armored Infantry, took the bridge over the Prum at Remesdorf. More than 1,000 prisoners were taken in this action and those of the Battalion's other companies. In 4 days, the Battalion had led the 3rd Army in its piercing of the Siegfried Line. A stiff counterattack near Sefferweich was beaten off while the Battalion caught its breath for the next venture. Farther north, the US First Army was fighting its way into Cologne to set the stage for the dash to the Rhine.

On 5 March 1945, the 37th's M4 tanks attacked through the 5th Infantry Division's bridgehead over the Kull and immediately cut across German combat zones to a distance of 13 miles. On 6 March 1945, a distinguished prisoner fell to Lieutenant Joe Liese, the Commanding Officer of Company B. General von Rothenkirch, Commanding General of the 53rd Army Corps, was driving his car on an inspection tour near Putzberg, where he stumbled on Company B. By the afternoon of that day, the 37th Tank Battalion was even past German artillery positions. Prisoners from the 10th Woodchopping Battalion surrendered to the advancing tankers. The 37th Tank Battalion sped on to Ochtenburg, captured there a billeting party from the German 7th Army Rear Command Post. When almost to the Rhine, Lieutenant Liese's Company B overtook a German wheel column and, with assistance from artillery light aircraft, shot it up badly. Then the 37th Tank Battalion moved to the Rhine and took up positions overwatching the river.

During the night, remnants of the Wehrmacht tried to get back across the Rhine. In doing so, numerous enemy vehicles which stumbled into the 37th Tank Battalion's position were either captured or destroyed. On 7 March 1945 the US First Army thrust north from Cologne, pinning what was left of the German 7th Army between it and the 4th Armored Division. It was in this drive that the 9th Armored Division captured the Remagen bridge intact. On 8 March 1945 Lieutenant Colonel Abrams left the 37th Tank Battalion to command CCB and Major Bautz assumed command of the Battalion. For the next 2 weeks the 37th was engaged in cleaning out the Palatinate, the triangle formed by the Saar, Rhine and Moselle Rivers. On St. Patrick's Day 1945, the 37th Tank Battalion entered the Spa City of Bad Kreuznach, and on 21 March 1945 it arrived again on the banks of the Rhine at Worms.

On 25 March 1945, the Third US Army crossed the Rhine. The 5th Infantry Division crossed in Navy landing craft near Oppenheim before the Germans could fire a shot. When the east bank was secure, a pontoon bridge was quickly constructed, and by 0300 on 26 March 1945, the Battalion was across with the rest of the 4th Armored Division. The 37th Tank Battalion exploded through the Red Diamond (5th Infantry Division) perimeter. The 37th Tank Battalion, with the rest of CCB, sideslipped west and followed CCA across the Main on 28 March 1945. By dusk, the 37th Tank Battalion's M4s were in Giessen, 40 miles north of Hanau. The Frankfurt-Berlin Autobahn was the 4th Armored Division's axis of advance. The 37th Tank Battalion reached Hersfeld (subsequently Bad Hersfeld) the last day of March 1945. On 2 April 1945, under heavy air attack, the 37th Tank Battalion crossed the Werra.

By April 1945 the 37th Tank Battalion had driven deep into central Germany when it was relieved by elements of the 80th Infantry Division. The Battalion then marched south and drove into Czechoslovakia, where the war ended on 6 May 1945. The 37th Tank Battalion then participated in the Herculean task of disarming the Wehrmacht and set up shop in Bavaria as part of the occupation forces on 27 May 1945.

On 1 May 1946, when the 4th Armored Division was inactivated, the 37th Tank Battalion traded M4 Sherman tanks for armored cars and motorcycles with the red, yellow an blue insignia of Major General Harmon's US Constabulary. The 37th Tank Battalion became the 37th Constabulary Squadron. Later on 20 September 1946, the Squadron was placed on the inactive list.

On 11 December 1951, still on inactive status, the unit was converted and again designated as the 37th Tank battalion. It was assigned to the 4th Armored Division on 25 February 1953 and then activated on 15 June 1954 with the rest of the division at Fort Hood, Texas. The unit was inactivated on 1 April 1957 at Fort Hood, Texas, and relieved from assignment to the 4th Armored Division. Company B was concurrently redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor. The Battalion was assigned on 1 July 1957 to the 2nd Armored Division and activated in Germany with its organic elements concurrently constituted and activated. When the 2nd Armored Division rotated to Fort Hood in early 1958, the 2nd battalion, 37th Armor found itself back in the USA, this time until July of 1963, when it was assigned to Germany as part of the 4th Armored Division.

In May 1971, the 4th Armored Division was reflagged as the 1st Armored Division. Concurrently, the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor was relieved from assignment to the 4th Armored Division and assigned to the 1st Armored Division. The 37th moved to Ferris Barracks, Erlangen, Germany in August 1971.

On 28 February 1983, the Battalion was relieved from assignment to the 1st Armored Division and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division (Forward). The 2nd Battalion, 37th then moved to Panzer Kaserne, Boeblingen, Germany. On the 28 April 1987, the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor colors moved to Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany to become part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. The unit was inactivated on 16 February 1988 in Germany and relieved from assignment to the 1st Infantry Division. It was assigned on 16 April 1988 back to the 1st Armored Division and activated in Germany.

The unit was relieved on 17 January 1992 from assignment to the 1st Armored Division and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. On 15 February 1996, 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor was deactivated at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany. The colors remained cased until the 17 February 1997, when the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment was brought back into service at Ray Barracks, Friedberg, Germany as part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

From March 1997 to September 1997, the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment deployed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in support of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, Operation Able Sentry. As 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor prepared to deploy to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in support of Operation Able Sentry, the normal configuration of the Battalion underwent a dramatic change. It received numerous attachments that were required in order to accomplish the mission. These attached soldiers became a part of the the 2-37th Armor family. With Task Force Headquarters as diversified as always, A Company (Agressors), the Scout, and Mortar Platoons took on duties as the Quick Reaction Force while B Company (Battlecats), C Company (Cougars) and D Company (Dawgs) rotated between the Observation Posts along the Serbian border and Force Protection duties on Camp Able Sentry.

Upon arriving at Camp Able Sentry, the Iron Dukes immediately began to dig in and start their mission. On Camp Able Sentry, all of Task Force Headquarters started working on improving conditions and preparing to assume Task Force Control. As the Companies rotated in, crews on the Observation Posts were changed out and on 14 March 1997, 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment officially assumed command of Task Force Able Sentry.

The Iron Dukes set out to accomplish the following goals during the deployment: Safety first and foremost; Accomplish the mission while exceeding the previous standards; and Improve all aspects of the Task Force Area of Operations. All of these goals were accomplished, in addition to having the distinction of being the first unit to conduct "cross-border" discussions with our Serbian counterparts in Serbia. When Task Force 2-37th Armor relinquished command to Task Force 1-6th Infantry on 5 September 1997, it was said that they had accomplished the mission while exceeding the standard and through hard work, dedication to duty and their positive attitude.

In 2007, as part of a continuing drawdown of US forces in Europe, the 1st Armored Division began both transformation to the US Army's modular force structure and redeployment of some of its brigades to the United States. Units redeploying from Iraq at that time would be redeployed to the Unitd States. 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor was subsequently relocated with the rest of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division to Fort Bliss Texas, but was inactivated in April 2007 as part of the modular transformation.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:23:27 ZULU