Military Vehicles Past and Present
Pictures from my Neighbor in South Dakota. Rudy Pavel Served with the 1st Armored Division first in the scout platoon of Division HQ, then in the recovery section of Division HQ. He served from January of 1942 through the end of hostilities in Europe in May of 1945. He then came back home to South Dakota to farm.
His brother served in the European Theater as well. At this point, Rudy does not remember much about what unit his brother was with or what his brothers's specific MOS was, but he knows his brother served under Gen. Patton, was a participant at D-Day, and ended the war in Czechoslovakia. His brother survived the war but passed away some years ago and did not speak much of his experiences to Rudy.
As more information becomes available, I will post it here. NEW INFO IS POSTED IN BOLDFACE 1-22-02. I have recieve helpful information from Daniele Guglielmi on the various pieces of equipment/dates/units. Many thanks to him.
Rudy at Ft. Knox, in training January of 1942. As soon as Rudy finshed BT and AIT (or whatever it was called then) he said he shipped to England, which was on Mother's Day in 1942. He landed in Liverpool, England. There he said the division prepared for Operation Torch and the invasion of Africa. He did not participate in the landings, but was a scout for a while, using M5 Stuarts, before transfering to the recovery section. He said while in Africa, his truck column was strafed by a german aircraft which was flying so low and close he said he could see the color of the pilots eyes (blue!) and that he and about 5 other guys shared credit in shooting the plane down. However, he was not too happy to have been strafed. This happened near Kessarine Pass.
The only picture Rudy has of the Anzio beachhead. He had a good friend who succumbed to shell shock while on the beaches of Anzio. Rudy said the most horrible experience he had was here because of the german long range artillery, in the mountains. He said you could hear it coming and you would duck down, but it was frustrating because you could not fire back at the enemy and you never knew where the shell would hit.
Rudy said that while on Anzio, they build a sort of "fox-shelter" in which they slept at night. Rudy said that since day one he went around with 5 GI blankets, and the colder it got, the more of the blankets went on top of him rather than on the bottom. :) He siad the germans used a lot of bombs that had submunitions, like handgrenades. His first night on anzio, he got his foxhole dug just deep enough, and then covered up the hole. During the night the beachhead was bombarded and when he woke, he had shrapnal that had gone through a couple of his blankets. The next night he joined his buddy in a much improved shelter that they both made big enough for two.
Another story, just after this, was that the fox-shelter had good overhead cover and you made a entrance to the sdie witha little job in it so nothing could fall in and get into the hole to blow you up. Well, they always left their helmets just outside the door. The next morning, Rudy popped his head out and found his helmet had several large holes in it! Another close call.
He said that he served with the 1st armored, HQ Co. 81st Recon Battalion. In Africa with the scouts, they used M3 Halftracks and M5 Stuarts. With the recovery unit, they had 2 M3 Halftracks, 1 Diamond-T Wrecker, and the M32 Recovery tank, which he said he did not use much.
He said they had recovered the M8 in the pictures below and were attempting to get out of the fire zone. They had hooked up the M8's tracks to drag behind the tank until it was safe to reattach. The crew were in a Willy's Jeep at this point. He said just as they got underway, the german artillery started to shell them, so they beat feet as fast as they could. They were zig-zagging across the road to keep out of the fire, which worked, but he guys in the jeep were so unnerved they forgot about the track being dragged and ran it over with the jeep. They were able to keep going,but once in relative safety they looked and all the tires were flat! :)
Rudy met Gen. Patton while in service in Africa and he said that while he respected the man, he personally did not like him because of his policy dealing with shell-shocked people. After his friends experience he realized that had Gen. Patton been in charge in Italy, his friend may very well have died instead of recieving treatment. After this, he also worried about his brother who served in Gen. Patton's 3rd Army.
Itialian AFV's Rudy took pictures of, obviously abandoned. The first is a Carro Comando M 42 (it lacks the 13.2mm Breda 31 Heavy MG). Note the commo pattern. The second is a Semovente da 90/53 su scafo M 41. Rudy said BOTH of these vehicles were encountered between Anzio and Rome. Daniele was surprised as to his knowledge the Semovente was only used on Sicily. Rudy said that he was never on Sicily and that he was sure the picture of the Semovente was between Anzio and Rome. These pictures are from 1944, unkown location between Anzio and Rome.
German Bergepanther captured in Italy, possibly near Toscany, part of schwere Panzer-abteilung 504 in July 1944. Daniele has researched it to be here, and Rudy confirms he was in this place in the timeframe.
Tiger I knocked out again possibly near Toscany in July of 1944, maybe part of S.Pz.Abt 504. Daniele thinks this is the place, Rudy says the time frame is correct for where he was.
Tiger 1 of the schwere-Panzer-Abteilung 508 (German Heavy tank Battalion) possibly near Cori in May of 1944. Daniele thinks this is the unit/place, and Rudy has confirmed they were in this area at this time.
Collection of abandoned equipment in Italy. The first is a Skoda 105/32 Artillery Piece. The second is of a german 8.8cm and it's primary mover, the 8 ton halftrack. Third is a Italian T 40 tractor...notice the marking in front of the driver position. Fourth is a German Marder II. Fifth is a modified Pavesi tractor...notice the marking just to the front of the driver (Rudy).
Various catastrophies that befell the GI's. The first three pics are of vehicles hitting mines, a duece and a half, a M8 Greyhound, and a M8 and a jeep.
The last picture is of what a german 8.8cm anti-tank gun will do to a M8 greyhound. The shell penetrated the front armor almost on the front "beak", just to the right of the drivers position. As seen by the covered bodies, the crew did not survive. Rudy said this scene, much like his brother's experiences in the hedgerows of Europe, was repeated almost everywhere it could be pulled off.
The Recovery unit of 1st armored division, 81st Recon Bttn, HQ Co., Italy 1944. People are, Kneeling: Harry Speaker, (unknown), Rudy Pavel. Standing are: SD Miller, (another) Miller, George Fritch, (unknown), Doug "Smiley" Burnette, (unknown), Hogan Dike.
Breaking track on a M8 GMC. Rudy stated that this picture was taken somewhere between Naples and Rome. This is the M8 in the above story.
Rudy said they finished up in May of 1945 in the Po river Valley. They were preparing to assault a valley through the Alps between Italy and Germany when the end of the war came. Rudy said that he traveled with many of his buddies through this place after the war and were VERY thankful they did not have to assault it, he figures it would have been extreemly costly in lives to do so.