The Sherman M4A3 (76)

 

Visitors on their way to the medieval castle of Clervaux will discover in the outer courtyard two original leftovers of the Battle of the Bulge. Both had been brought to rest in the last century. Among them: a tank! A Sherman M4A3, featured with a 76 mm gun barrel, having had more firepower than his forerunners, which were armed with the 75 mm barrel. And firepower was badly needed on December 17th, 1944 when German troops started invading Clervaux.

At 11.00 a.m. the Sherman B-2 rumbled up the narrow road leading to the main gate of the castle. Getting near the “Kratzenberg” house it went into a defending position. The five men crew, consisting of the commander, gunner, loader, driver and co-driver, went over to a specific strategy then. They turned the turret into an angle of 33 degrees before the crew flashed into action. The driver moved the tank only a few meters … with full speed … to a clear field of fire. The gunner aimed at some of the German panzers at the Marnach road and fired a few shells in their direction. After that, the tank moved backwards into its hiding position. At first the Germans didn’t realize from where they drew fire until the crew used the abovementioned tactics another several times. During the day B-2 took two grazing shots. Becoming aware of their highly dangerous position, the crew bailed out and took cover in a nearby building. When nightfall came in, some US-soldiers tried to retrieve the tank. In vain, they came under intense German infantry fire and had to abort their mission.

After daylight, on December 18th, 1944 the Sherman tank was disabled by a direct hit, pulling off the gun barrel. Clervaux was surrounded by German troops. GI’s were taken prisoner and were sent off to POW camps in Germany. Clervaux was recaptured in January 1945, while German units were retreating behind the Our and Sauer rivers. War was over! After the hostilities the people of Clervaux built up their destroyed houses, restored buildings and roads, mourned their death. No one gave a straw about B-2 until many years after WW2.

The wrecked Sherman tank was remaining at the very spot where it was disabled in Winter 1944 until 1956. Luxembourg’s army pulled it to the place where it stands since then until the present day on display and fixed the gun barrel. Only in 2003 CEBA’s senior historian Jean Milmeister researched and published in detail the fate of the Sherman tank B-2 in Ceba’s home magazine THE BULGE. Since then, it became evident that the tank belonged to the 9th Armored Division, 2nd Tank Battalion, Company B. This tank is one of two original leftovers from the Ardennes offensive. The Sherman tank is part of CEBA’s Battle of the Bulge museum and will be restored in the upcoming future by a team of CEBA’s specialists.