32nd Armored Regiment

Excerpt from Spearhead in the West, published by Third Armored Division on 25, June 1945

32nd ARMORED REGIMENT Call sign: “Oriole”

“Victory Or Death,” the motto of the 32nd Armored Regiment, served as an inspirational order to this first of the 3rd Armored Division’s two great battering rams. Commanded by Colonel Leander L. Doan, the 32nd contributed much to the powerhouse drive of the “Spearhead” Division through Europe.

The 2nd Armored Regiment, forerunner of the 32nd, was activated on April 15, 1941, at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, by a cadre of 85 officers and 565 enlisted men of the 2nd Armored Division’s 66th Armored Regiment and the 1st Armored Division. On May 12, 1941, the unit was redesignated the 32nd Armored Regiment (Light). Its weapons were a very few of the old “Mae West” light tanks. The first commander was Colonel Roderick R. Allen, later commanding general of the 12th Armored Division. Under armored force reorganization early in January, 1942, the old 40th Armored Regiment (Medium) was disbanded and its tanks issued to the 32nd and 33rd Armored Regiments. The new table of organization guaranteed greater striking power to each of the latter units. With the 3rd Armored Division, the 32nd Armored Regiment trained at Camp Beauregard and Camp Polk, Louisiana; Desert Center, California; Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, before sailing for overseas service on the Capetown Castle on September 5, 1943. Upon arrival in England, the regiment was stationed at Codford, Wiltshire, and trained over Britain’s Salisbury Plain during the nine month period before invasion. Commanded by Colonel Truman E. Boudinot, men of the 32nd received their baptism of fire at Villiers Fossard, Normandy, on June 29, 1944. Against well dug in infantry, bazooka teams, heavy mortar and anti-tank fire, the 32nd’s armored teams pitted their Sherman tanks. In spite of losses, the tankmen paced Combat Command “A” to the final objective. Assuming command on July 25, 1944, Colonel Leander L. Doan, then Lt. Colonel, soon won the admiration and respect of each officer and soldier of the regiment. Colonel Doan’s personal direction in combat was largely responsible for the outstanding record of the 32nd Armored Regiment in Europe. The 1st Battalion of the 32nd was commanded by eight separate officers during the western fighting. Lt. Colonel Elwyn W. Blanchard led the battalion in its initial action at Villiers Fossard, through the Normandy breakthrough, and during much of the pursuit across France and Belgium to the Siegfried Line. He was wounded at Panes, France, and his executive officer, Captain Nicholas D. Carpenter, commanded the battalion until he was wounded and taken prisoner an hour later. Captain Foster F. Flegeal then assumed command, but relinquished it when a 500 pound bomb wounded him the next day. Major Frank S. Crawford was the battalion commander for about three hours. His tank was knocked out, and he was wounded by the fire of an enemy tank. Lt. Colonel John K. Boles, Jr., commanded the 1st Battalion for the remainder of the action at Ranes-Fromental; turned it over to Major William G. Yarborough who kept it until Colonel Blanchard returned from the hospital to lead through the Siegfried Line. Colonel Blanchard was again evacuated for treatment of his old wounds, and Lt. Colonel Matthew W. Kane took command to lead the battalion from September 22, through the battle of the Ardennes, and from the Roer River to the vicinity of Dessau, Germany, where he was wounded and evacuated. Lt. Colonel Boles took command until the end of the engagement, and Major Robert L. Coughlin then assumed command. Like so many battle wise units of the division, Lt. Colonel Clifford L. Miller’s 2nd Battalion took its full share of casualties. The first commander in action, Lt. Colonel Nathaniel O. Whitlaw, was twice wounded in the Normandy breakthrough. Major Richard L. Bradley, Jr., who succeeded him, was hospitalized for treatment of wounds after leading the battalion for less than a month. Major William K. Bailey, who then assumed command, was wounded a week later just before the storming of the Siegfried Line. His successor, Lt. Colonel Sydney T. Telford, became commander of the 2nd Battalion on September 13, and was killed in action on the 14th while leading the battalion through Siegfried defenses. Colonel Miller, the self styled “Army Brat”, proceeded to break that chain of bad luck which had thus far dogged 2nd Battalion commanders. He led the unit to successive victories in the Rhineland, the Ardennes, and central Germany. Lt. Colonel Walter B. Richardson, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, was one of the few combat leaders who seemed to bear a charmed life. The courageous, hard-driving Texan led his crack unit from Normandy to the final action in Dessau, Germany. Although he was wounded four times, he never missed a day of action. One of the 3rd Battalion’s great soldiers was S/Sgt. Lafayette G. Pool, whose tank, IN THE MOOD, was credited with the destruction of more than 250 enemy armored vehicles, and scores of other transport. Pool led the spearheading task force in 21 separate drives before he was wounded in the breaching of the Siegfried Line. The 32nd Armored Regiment was a well knit unit. Its reputation was that of a frontline fighting outfit. On VE day the Reconnaissance Company and 2nd Battalion were able to boast Distinguished Unit Citations, the former for heroic action at Mons, Belgium, and the latter for its part in smashing Hitler’s Westwall. The Meritorious Service Plaque was twice awarded to Service Company and Maintenance Company for their outstanding record of support during the entire campaign in Europe.

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