I have recently heard from Mr Donald DePasqual who is involved in a 'quest' which vistiors to Armour in Focus may be of some assistance. Don bought George Forty's book WWII AFVs & Self-propelled Artillery and recognised his brother-in-law sitting in the commander's position of an M8 armoured car on the dust jacket. Don and his brother-in-law, Calvin Boykin, have since been attempting to trace the location where the photograph was taken. A copy of the photograph was supplied by Bovington which shows a much larger scene but there was no indication of who the photographer was or where it was taken.

If you wish to see the photo in greater detail click on the image above. Please be patient as the full image is about 301K in size and will take a little while to downlaod.

Calvin Boykin served with 814 TD, 1st Section, 2d Platoon, RCN CO. Here is a little background info from Calvin himself.

"I do know that it was taken after the 23 December 1944, for my original M8 was lost that night as we withdrew through Salm Chateau, near Vielsalm, when it was bogged down in marshes near St. Marie." ..."By having only 814 TD stenciled on the front of the vehicle means that this is a replacement vehicle. Our original issues had the battalion number, the company, the platoon, and the number of the vehicle. 814-RCN- 2. Some of our battalion had 7AD stenciled in, noting our attachment to the 7th Armored Division. I have seem photos that had 3A, noting that at one time we were with the Third Army (through France only). Might add that RCN CO of the 814th suffered considerable losses during the withdrawal from the St. Vith area on the night of 23 December 1944. Some 20 were listed as missing, later reported captured. Lieutenant Will Rogers Jr.'s 1st Platoon of RCN CO lost all its vehicles, 3d platoon earlier had been ambushed, losing three men killed and the lieutenant captured. 2d Platoon RCN CO, my platoon, having lost only my M8, was the first to be called out on a mission. However, my crew in the photo is new from the time of the loss of the M8, except for myself. I was gunner, then promoted to section sergeant after the withdrawal. Our former radio sergeant became company radio sergeant, our section sergeant became platoon sergeant of 2d Platoon. The former driver suffered a break down and had to be sent to HQ CO. The new crewmen all came from 2d platoon, the driver of the M8 a former rifleman, the gunner a former motorcycle messenger, and the radioman perhaps a machine gunner with some radio expertise. Who remembers? Anyway, we had to make do with what we had, except that vehicle replacements came soon, my recollection being on 27 December, although personnel replacements from the outside came very slowly".... "My guess is that the photo was taken certainly after the 23rd and probably not before 27 December when we received our replacement M8, as I recall, and sent out on a mission. Could have been a few days later. In any case I don't remember seeing the field artillery prime movers, one being stuck in a ditch as the other used a chain to pull the other out. "

The M4 HST on the left of the picture has a bearded figure painted on the front - possibly Bluto from Popeye? Is there any significance to the white band on the tree to the left? What calibre gun is being towed? Presumably the photographer would have hung around to record the completion of the recovery of the M4 HST and gun. Does anyone ever recall seeing any other photos that could relate to this one?

If you have any comments this scene, or any of the individual element of it, please contact either Don or myself.

 

Update from Don 25/11/00:

"We are concentrating on this area for now.  It shows the Bomal(Erazee),Manhay, Grandmenil road junction. There is a possibility that since the 814TD was a Harze( quite near here) during the last few days of Dec. 44 and first week or two in Dec 45, there is a good likelihood that Cal's section could have overtaken the M-4 HST's here. Still long-shot, but if we can identify the object in the background of the photo as a house(top) the building just visible here could be it. It did lose it's roof inthe fighting, but this only narrows the time frame."

Photo by Wiliam Vandivere of Life Magazine on 5th February 1945 looking east to Manhay.

Time Inc.

 

1999 Chris Shillito