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Tank Driver: With the 11th Armored from the Battle of the Bulge to Ve Day Paperback – 30 Sep 2014

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"[A] well-balanced, often moving look at one man s war and every man s war." World War II"

About the Author

J. Ted Hartman was 19 years old when he got behind the controls of a tank and drove it into battle. After receiving a discharge from the army, he took a medical degree and became an orthopedic surgeon. He was founding chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine, Texas Tech University, from which he is now retired.

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When J. Ted Hartman became a driver in an M4 Sherman tank in the 11th Armored Division, he joined a relatively new branch of the U.S. Army. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Good but somewhat general account 11 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hartman was a PFC with the 41st Battalion, B Company of the 11th Armored Div and saw action from the end of the Bulge battle to the very end of the war. The book is significant by its mere existence. I know of very few books by American tankers. The book is well written and covers from his indoctrination through home coming and even his revisiting Belgium in later years.
Hartman was a M4 Sherman driver and tank commander (although he was initially given the choice of being a driver or a gunner). Unfortunately his details on his many combat actions are light. But he does give a few interesting glimpses into the life of a U.S. tanker.
-He was on the Sherman the whole time but he never details what variants along the way. One picture in the books shows him on a M4A3E8 at the end of the war. He does mention going from the 75mm Sherman to the 76mm during his Bulge actions. He also notes that his battalion got four Pershings (one per company) in April 1945, just before the end of the war. Because no one was familiar with them they were stuck in the back of the column. He said folks felt better knowing the limitations of the Sherman. Although, he does note they wish they had the Pershing during the Bulge fighting. Hartman comments on the great reliability of the Sherman throughout the book and notes the German tanks "lumbered along at a snail's pace compared to ours."
-Tanker losses were really appalling. In nine months of combat the 11th Armored Div suffered 48.1% casualties during the war with 614 killed (out of about 12,000 men in the Div). His 41st Battalion suffered 68 killed (about 11%) and his Company B suffered 23 killed (about 20%). What is amazing is the high loss of officers and tank commanders. His company commander was killed within minutes of their first action and in the nine months I think they went through three or four COs (one at least was wounded and returned later). He only seems to comment on a couple of bad platoon leaders. He lost numerous tank commanders either directly or as they left to fill other vacancies. In the Forward of the book, Spencer Tucker states that the 3rd Armored Div suffered 580% casualties of its tanks (either destroyed or 'knocked-out') and that the U.S. lost 6,000 tanks in Europe during the war.
-Hartman comments on the poor performance of the 75mm gun and that they had to get rear shots on the German tanks. "The German gun had fired an armor-piercing projectile that entered the turret, killed all three men, and then exited the other side. We knew the German 88 was extremely powerful, but this was devastating to see. We were later able to measure the distance from which it had been fired-1,700 yards, almost a mile!" What is most notable though is the low number of actual tank vs tank actions (at least that he describes). What seemed to cause the most tank loses were panzershreck attacks (the author always says panzershreck or even bazooka but who knows if this was strictly true or if he did not differentiate among panzerfaust, etc.). Snipers also killed a number of his comrades.
-The author describes working very frequently with armored infantry troops and how often a couple troops would ride on the back deck of the tank to spot enemy infantry and AT units. He also talks about how `Art' (a call sign), the Piper Cub spotter plane, would fly overhead and call down artillery on enemy positions and even help give them driving directions through towns. Art also called in tactical air cover and Hartman comments on P-47s firing rockets at the enemy. He mentions at least a couple of occasions when the tankers would act as or support infantry clearing houses.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
After a Return Visit to Belgium 16 Nov 2003
By Margaret - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Following a return visit to Belgium last summer and a fresh vision of the area around Bastogne, I was especially keen to read "Tank Driver". I was most decidedly not disappointed. Dr. Hartman's account can be followed without difficulty, aided by military explanations and maps, which the reader can easily fathom. What is unfathomable,however, is how he, at age 19, along with colleagues, many of whom were as young, could survive such a horribly emotional,physically excruciating ordeal, which included the losses of comrades. The intricacies of learning the mechanics of tank driving and maintenance, made learning to drive a manual shift car and changing a flat tire laughable. The author was able to keep this reader's attention with the, surprisingly for tanks, fast paced, scenarios, which are sophisticated enough for adult audiences without entirely losing the voice of a nineteen year old. "Tank Driver" is a book which can be read easily, in a day or so, particularly, by those who have an interest in these violent events near the close of the European war, but also for students who are studying this time period, most especially if they are close in age to what Ted Hartman was as that young soldier, who fought so bravely.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Book Review of Tank Driver 6 Sep 2003
By Travis Bridwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Indelible memories of 1942-45 linger from my pubescent period. Images are those heard and seen via an upright Philco and black and white news reels between feature Westerns at Saturday afternoon movies.
Reading Tank Driver offered faces, skin and muscles to a very real corpus of WWII action. A large trove of letters by the author to his parents in Ames, Iowa, informs his writing and reportorial prowess. From the Bulge to the mesas of Los Alamos there is a compelling need to begin with Tank Driver. Well done, J. Ted Hartman.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
ASTPer And Armored 6 Oct 2008
By John P. Rooney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Tank Driver" by J. Ted Hartman
Subtitled: With The 11th Armored From The Battle Of The Bulge To VE Day".
Indiana University Press, 2003.

In 1943, J. Ted Hartman graduated from high school and became a member of the United Stares Army. After training in Camp Roberts, California, he was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and he traded his hometown college town of Ames, Iowa for the college town of Eugene, Oregon, University of Oregon. In February, 1944, the Army Specialized Training Program was shut down and most the ASTPers at University of Oregon were assigned to the 11th Armored Division. Hartman states, "So much for the word of the army" and he places that comment in italics. Every now and then, the author will use the same statement, in italics, to point out the duplicity of the Army, in particular, and the government, in general.

Camp Cooke, California. On page 24, the author recounts that a "...lieutenant at the microphone was trying to be funny at 2 A.M. When we weren't responsive, he began making nasty remarks about college kids and ASTP. It was all downhill from there". As you go through life, the sad thing is that the nasty remarks and the hurtful looks are more easily remembered. Here, an unnamed lieutenant has been remembered with a subliminal curse in this book. J. Ted Hartman brings this same attention to personal remembrances throughout the book, as the 11th Armored Division trains in the U.S., crosses the ocean and begins its combat career in Europe.

The author traces the path of his division from the Battle of The Bulge, in Belgium, through Luxemburg, across the Siegfried Line and into Germany. They cross the Mosel River and travel south across Germany, with a side trip into Worms. All of these engagements are documented in a personal way, but they are also accompanied by maps and photos. The maps have been simplified to remove unnecessary details and then the maps are annotated to accompany the text. For example, on page 84, the map has a note, "Fulda. Defended bitterly. Armor bypasses to north", which is further explained in the surrounding pages. His personal comments are quiet and unassuming: "...a sniper hit Zaher, one of our most capable tank commanders. While we provided cover, the medics evacuated him". (Page 102).

This is a very uplifting personal memoir. The shock of battle, having a tank shot out from under them, the discovery of the horrors of the concentration camps, all generally reflecting the history of the 11th Armored Division, are covered in this excellent book. The book ends with two concluding chapters. "Waiting To Go Home" tells about the occupation forces in Europe, while the chapter, "Belgium Remembers" recounts a visit to various battlefields in 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I learned more ! 27 Oct 2003
By Roger Marquet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Before reading "Tank driver", I believed I knew all about 41st Tk Bn. It was a mistake ! Ted Hartman tought more to me. And it is written in very pleasant way, not too hard to understand for a Frenchspeaking Belgian like me.
What I appreciated the most is being "plunged" in the atmosphere of the time of the war. And of course, I was able to recognize some friends of mine in the story told by the writer.
A very good job made by Ted Hartman. I would commend this book to all the foreigners who speaks just a little bit English.
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