The 784th Tank Battalion in World War II

History of an African American Armored Unit in Europe


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About the Book

With the onset of World War II, African Americans found themselves in a struggle just to be allowed to fight for their country. Individuals like Lt. General Leslie McNair and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt fought against the military’s discrimination, arguing that the nation could little afford to overlook such an important source of strength. Their eventual success took the form of a military experiment designed to determine whether African Americans were as capable as white soldiers. The 784th was one tank battalion formed as a result.
Part of an effort to chronicle the history of the first African Americans to serve in armored units, this history recounts the service of the 784th Tank Battalion. Replete with observations and comments from veterans of the battalion, it paints a vivid picture of World War II as seen through the eyes of soldiers who had to confront second-class treatment by their army and fellow soldiers while enduring the horrors of war. It details the day-to-day activities of the 784th Tank Battalion, describing basic training, actual combat, occupation and, finally, the deactivation of the unit. Special emphasis is placed on the ways in which these war experiences contributed to the American civil rights movements of the 1960s.

About the Author(s)

The son of a tanker in the 761st, Joe Wilson, Jr., a systems accountant in Washington, D.C., has also written for World War II magazine.

Bibliographic Details

Joe Wilson, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 58 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015 [2007]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6272-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1177-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments       vii
Foreword by Bill Smith      1
Prologue      3

1. The Double “V” Campaign      5
2. Camp Claiborne      19
3. Camp Hood      25
4. Destination ETO      35
5. Baptism of Fire      41
6. The Raging Roer River      53
7. Task Force Byrne      62
8. Eighty-eight Alley      87
9. Crossing the Rhine      102
10. The Ruhr Pocket      114
11. Eyewitness to Genocide      132
12. Elbe River      140
13. Occupation      146
14. Whatever Happened to the 758th Tank Battalion      154
15. Whatever Happened to the 761st Tank Battalion      159
16. Deactivation      167

Afterword by First Sergeant Joseph E. Wilson, Sr., USA (Ret.)      187
Chapter Notes      191
Bibliography      197
Index      201

Book Reviews & Awards

“fine book…a good addition”—Stone & Stone Second World War Books; “an important, useful, and readable book…highly recommended”—On Point: The Journal of Army History.