Fort Hood, Texas

...The Great Place

   

Camp Paper Marks First Anniversary of Creation of
Tank Destroyer Force

Soldiers armed with molotov cocktails

Editor’s note: The original tank destroyers were soldiers armed with molotov cocktails and sticky grenades — a sock filled with dynamite and then dipped in a bucket of tar with a 30-second fuse attached.

This article is reprinted from the Hood Panther, Dec. 10, 1942.

It was on Dec. 1, 1941, that by War Department directive, the Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center, as it was first known, was created at Fort George Meade, Maryland. In command then was colonel (now General) A. D. Bruce, who had been a member of the Planning Branch at the time of the Tank Destroyers conception, and who was destine to head its program.

New Theories Developed

The mission of the Center was to organize a combined school, planning board and unit training center, to develop a special task force, based on a new aggressive action theory as opposed to passive resistance, a philosophy epitomized in the name Tank "Destroyer."

In January, 1942, a site for the rapidly developing center was chosen in Central Texas near Killeen where the modern training center now stands.

Construction of the cantonment began late in April.

The center mushroomed.

Officers reported in droves to the school.

Headquarters of the Center was moved from Fort Meade to Temple, Texas. All available office space in the town was utilized.

The acute housing problem, the lack, and hurried improvisation of training facilities, the organization of the various instructional departments, all presented difficulties.

Conditions were rugged

There was no thought of waiting for the completion of the cantonment to inaugurate the Center as a training area.

Time was vital.

Battalions were brought in to the Unit Training Center and lived in the field, in tents, under theater of operations conditions, drawing equipment and food from aid and truck heads, purifying creek water.

During the latter part of August, troops began to occupy the cantonment area at Camp Hood, named in honor of the fighting General of the South, John Bell Hood, whose Texas brigade gained immortality in the Civil War.

In the Center, every known method of tank destruction is taught, from the massed fire of the mobile, self-propelled heavy weapons, to the ambushing of tanks, guerilla-fashion, by the individual soldier armed with Molotov cocktails and sticky grenades.

The TD Battalion, smallest tactical unit to be employed on an independent mission, is composed to include, organically, elements of the various branches necessary to make it self-sufficient.

Usually held as a mobile reserve in support of divisions, corps, and armies, TD units must be able to move rapidly to meet any armored force threat acting over a wide zone.

Action is stressed

Destroyers combat the tanks firepower with greater firepower — a high velocity, flat trajectory 75mm or 3" gun.

They combat the tanks mobility and independence of operation with greater mobility.

Armor is reduced to achieve this maneuverability and TD units depend on their ability to fire four or five rounds from one position, and reopen fire before the enemy's guns begin to register.

The cougar, or panther, chosen as an official symbol, epitomizes TD action.

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