Day of the Panzer: A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in Southern France

Day of the Panzer: A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in Southern France

by Jeff Danby

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This is a rarely detailed “you are there” account of World War II combat, describing a brief but bloody tank/infantry action in August 1944. Based on six years of research—drawing from interviews, primary documents, and visits to the battlefield—”The Day of the Panzer” transports the reader into the ranks of L Company, 15th Regiment, Third Infantry Division, and its supporting M4s of the 756th Tank Battalion as they grapple head-on with the Wehrmacht.

L Company was nearly wiped out during the bloody Anzio breakout of May 1944. Under the fiery leadership of Captain James “Red” Coles, the unit was rebuilt and molded into a tough, colorful bunch in preparation for “Operation Dragoon.” On August 15, 1944, they hit the beaches in southern France, joined by the tank crews of 2nd Lt. Andrew Orient’s 3rd Platoon, all veterans of Cassino.

After overcoming pockets of resistance along the coast, the tanks and infantry swept inland, nipping at the heels of the retreating German Nineteenth Army. A sudden German artillery salvo dispatched six L Company men and left Lt. Orient dead. 1st Lt. Edgar Danby, an armor instructor (the author’s grandfather), was flown in from Italy to replace him.

Despite logistics problems, the Third Division forged north through the Rhône River valley until they found the Germans holding fast, L Company and its supporting tanks leading the regimental charge. In the haste and chaos of the day, they managed to slip the German rearguard and unwittingly attacked the German LXXXV Armeekorps headquarters in the small town of Allan. Both sides were shocked by the ferocity of the battle.

Led by a rampaging Panther tank, the Germans counterattacked, knocking out the Sherman of Lt. Danby while threatening to cut L Company’s positions in half. Surrounded and facing annihilation—but steeled by the courageous leadership of Captain Coles and others—L Company held fast despite dead and wounded on all sides and 13 men captured. The seemingly unstoppable Panther, stalking the battlefield like some black knight from a Teutonic fantasy, continued to hold off American reinforcements in the morning, until the Armeekorps headquarters executed a withdrawal.

In this book, the minute-by-minute confusion, thrill and desperation of WWII combat is placed under a microscope, as if the reader himself were a participant. In this small but singular battle, the courage of US troops in their liberation of France is given full due.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935149606
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 05/08/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 350
Sales rank: 703,687
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Jeff Danby was born in 1963 in Pontiac, Michigan. As the son of a high school history teacher, Jeff grew up in a house full of books—which he read voraciously. He went on to get a B.A. Degree in History (with Honors) from DePaul University with a concentration in 20th Century America. He also attended DePaul’s School of Law for one year before leaving in good standing. While at DePaul, Jeff was an illustrator and cartoonist for the school newspaper, The DePaulia.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction     xv
L Company     1
Respite and Preparations     21
Yellow Beach     35
On to Saint-Tropez     51
Across Southern France     65
Toward Marseille     81
Roadblock     103
Pursuit North     117
Armor Column     139
Allan     149
Reconnaissance     171
The Crossroads     183
Trouble in the Rear     205
The Gauntlet     217
A Small Revenge     233
Epilogue     237
Postscript     257
Appendices     275
Notes     292
Bibliography     337
Index     351

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Day of the Panzer: A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in Southern France 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
AB44 More than 1 year ago
Jeff's literary depiction of the heroics in Southern France during WWII is beyond reproach. His detailed footnoting serves his work masterfully. Anyone who values freedom and democracy should pay tribute to the great generation that served so valiantly during this troublesome time. Jeff's done a masterful job at depicting the day-to-day challenges, triumphs and failures of ordinary men made extraordinary by the times and places of WWII. Some day all that will be left of these extraordinary times will be the written detailed stories of WWII, such as Jeff has done here with "Day of the Panzer." He should be commended for his research and perseverance in writing this account. I highly recommend you take a few days and indulge yourself in this well written episode of the southern France campaign of WWII and those treacherous days of L Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in Allan, France. Colonel Tom Ahrendt Ohio Army National Guard Iraqi War Veteran
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago