I. Activation and Training

The 745th Tank Battalion was activated at Camp Bowie, Texas, on August 15, 1942, under the command of Lt. Col. Thomas B. Evans. Under Lt. Col. Evans and a cadre originating from the 191st Tank Battalion, the 745th was molded from a mere group of untrained men into a cool, determined, highly efficient fighting unit -- a unit destined to take its rightful place with the finest armored battalions in the United States Army.

The great majority of the original cadre came from Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, and was made up of men from National Guard tank companies from Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. These well-trained men, taking the raw recruits which arrived from Camp Grant, Illinois, on October 14, immediately undertook a comprehensive training program consisting of calesthentics, infantry drill, obstacle courses, tank driving, and firing. Soon the transformation from civilian to soldier was apparent, and the 745th was ready for more advanced training which could be secured only from a large field maneuver.

On April 14, 1943, the Battalion loaded its tanks, trucks, and peeps onto railroad flat cars and entrained for the Louisiana maneuver area. It was in the vicinity of Leesville, Louisiana, that the unit began an intensive six-week field maneuver, applying to practical use the book theories which had been learned at Camp Bowie. Halfway through the maneuver period, Lt. Col. Evans relinquished his command of the Battalion in order to assume a post in Washington, D. C., and on May 11, Lt. Col. Wallace J. Nichols assumed command of the unit.

On June 6--a date which was destined to mark the beginning of the combat history of the Battalion a year later -- the men gladly left the mud and rain and heat of Louisiana to return "home" to Camp Bowie. This move was an epoch, for after loading all the tracked vehicles on flat cars, the men mounted trucks and rode the 440 miles to Camp Bowie in 22 hours, a record of sustained movement which stands high in the entire Army.

Once back in Camp Bowie, the Battalion began a gruelling period of range firing and preparations for overseas movement. A series of combat tests with the 4th Armored Division was completed practically on the eve of departure for the Port of Embarkation.

Loading on two trains, leaving their vehicles behind them, the Battalion left Camp Bowie at midnight on August 14. Traveling north to Chicago, where many men were within blocks of their homes, the trains turned east to Camp Shanks, New York, just 14 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. The men hardly paused here as they raced through their physical examinations and processing, and on August 18 the first units of the Battalion boarded the gigantic Queen Elizabeth in order to serve as gunnery crews during the crossing. The remainder of the Battalion went aboard the following night- -a night never to be forgotten. Loaded down with rifles, gas masks, musette bags, complete blanket rolls, and the ungainly packages of gas-impregnated clothing, the men struggled over 2 miles of hilly ground

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