743rd Tank Battalion D Co

Hello everyone,

Since this platform was so helpful in providing me with ways to locate information on my great-uncle I thought I would try it with my grandfather also.

His name is Robert E. Smith and he was a member of the 743rd Tank Battalion D Co. He was overseas from June 3rd, 1944 through January 1945ish. He was injured in October 1944 when his tank was apparently hit and he took shrapnel to the arm requiring treatment. He entered into service on March 23, 1943, and his separation date was December 14, 1945.

I did find some information regarding him on FOLD3 and ancestry. com but not enough to really put the pieces together. I have his DD214 that was recreated and I question some of the accuracies since National Archives informed me his information was lost in the fire of 1973. I have searched the web and found a decent amount on the 743rd but it is regarding the A Company and hardly anything on D Company.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • Devon,

    The 743rd Tank Battalion was one of the more engaged separate tank battalions during the war.  The 743rd came ashore at Normandy on D-Day supporting the 116th Regimental Combat Team of the 29th Infantry Division on Omaha Beach and fought with various infantry divisions for the remainder of the war in Europe.

    A book I highly recommend you get is Harry Yeide’s The Infantry’s Armor: The U.S. Army’s Separate Tank Battalions in World War II (Stackpole Books, 2010).  The 743rd is mentioned at numerous points in the book, and a reading of the book can give you an idea of your grandfather’s war.  The book is eminently readable at around 400 pages in length.

    In terms of sources, my former NARA colleagues are better equipped to advise on the archival sources available to you.  However, in his bibliography, Yeide cites combat interviews with members of the 743rd as part of the 30th Infantry Division, so those should be available at College Park.  Yeide also mentions a publication written by Wayne Robinson titled Move Out, Verify: The Combat Story of the 743rd Tank Battalion.  This book is one of the souvenir accounts published by units immediately after the war while they were still in Germany in 1945.  However they were quickly published on poor-quality paper, which would make copies hard to find today.  That being said, Yeide did find one, so these books are out there.

    As to why you haven’t  found much mention of the 743rd’s D Company, it is in part due to the configuration of most of the separate tank battalions in Northwest Europe.  At this point in the war, the 743rd had 3 medium tank companies (A, B, and C),  a light tank company (D), and a headquarters and service company (HHS). While the three medium companies had M4/M4A1 Sherman tanks, D company was equipped with the M5/M5A1 Stuart light tank, like this one:

    Page 171 in Yeide’s book explains why you may not see much of D company in after action reports.  In action supporting the 30th Infantry Division’s 120th Infantry Regiment attack on the town of St. Gilles (25 July 1944) two platoons of Stuarts assisted A and C companies of the 743rd.  To cite from the book:

    During the fight, the light tanks had been unable to play any part, because, in Duncan’s view (the 743rd's commander) their 37 millimeter guns were wholly inadequate.  One tank commander had engaged one of the Panthers but radioed dolefully, “Good God, I fired three rounds, and they all bounced off!”

    After these engagements with significant German armor opposition, armor officers learned to use their Stuarts for reconnaissance only or for missions where their lack of armor and firepower would not be a handicap. 

    I hope you find this information useful.

    Good luck with your research!

    A. J.

  • Dear Mr. Olesen,

    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

    In many cases where Army personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. Veterans and their next of kin also may use eVetRecs to request records. See eVetRecs Help for instructions.

    We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Muster Rolls and Rosters, 11/1/1912 - 12/31/1943 and Morning Reports, ca. 1912 - 1946 for Army units that may include rosters and morning reports of the 743rd Tank Battalion. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at St. Louis (RRPO) at stl.archives@nara.gov. Rosters for units serving in World War II from 1944 - 1946 were destroyed in accordance with Army disposition authorities. For more information, please see Access to Morning Reports and Unit Rosters | National Archives.

    We also located a series titled Central Decimal Files, 1940 - 1945 in the Records of U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter) (Record Group 338) that includes the file unit titled 743rd Tank Battalion (June 1944) during the 1940s. For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RR2R) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

    Next, photographs of various U.S. Army activities dating from 1940 to 2007 are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RRSS). Please contact RRSS via email at stillpix@nara.gov.

    Lastly, you may wish to search the U.S. Army Center of Military History’s The Normandy Invasion The Assault Force website for additional information about the 743rd Tank Battalion (a non-division military unit). The U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013, has a large collection of published unit histories.

    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!