By Alex Jones
STUNNING colour photos show hardy recruits and heavily armoured tanks being put through their paces before being sent to war – despite knowing the enemy would be better equipped.
Learning lessons from the First World War – which saw death on an industrial scale due to the ‘mechanisation’ of war including machine guns, tanks and planes – the United States realised it needed an overwhelming armoured force to counter the Axis forces in the battlegrounds of Europe and the Pacific. In 1940, the USA only operated several hundred tanks. By the end of the war that number had soared to nearly 100,000. German tanks were technically superior but US tanks, such as the Sherman, were quicker to produce. In the end, it was on the strength of numbers that allowed the Allied Forces to triumph in the battle of tanks.
These extraordinary pics, captured in colour by the United States Office of War Information department in June 1942, show a parade of state-of-the-art tanks preparing for action; a dusty crew proudly standing beside their M-4 Tank; and a determined looking soldier shouldering his trusty Garand rifle.
The photos were taken, most likely to be used as propaganda on the home front, six months after the USA entered the Second World War. The incredible images were captured at Fort Knox, more typically associated with the country’s impenetrable gold repository but which also served as a training camp in the mid-20th Century. It was here that thousands of recruits were introduced to hulking tanks, half-tracks and armoured vehicles, and trained in newly developed tactics and doctrines for a modern kind of warfare. These skills would then be tested to the extreme, perhaps on the beaches of Normandy or in a head on assault on Okinawa.