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Author Topic: Vilseck tank confirmed as ‘Cobra King’ - M4A3E2 Assault Tank  (Read 6366 times)


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« on: 1 January 2009, 19:14:41 »


By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Saturday, December 27, 2008

A World War II-era M4 Sherman tank on display at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany has been confirmed to be the “Cobra King,” the first tank to reach besieged American troops defending Bastogne from the Germans’ counterattack during the Battle of the Bulge.

U.S. Army Europe officials announced the discovery Friday in a news release timed to coincide with the Dec. 26, 1944, anniversary of the Company C, 37th Tank Battalion’s famous arrival in Bastogne.

The tank was identified by matching serial and registration numbers, a project worked jointly by historians with U.S. Army Europe and the U.S. Army’s Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor in Ft. Knox, Ky.

Officially designated as an M4A3E2 Assault Tank, the Sherman “Jumbo” was built in mid-1944 at the Detroit Tank Arsenal. Only 254 of the tanks were built. Because of the short run, and because they were on a built-up hull, all 254 tanks were issued serial numbers in sequential order, according to Army officials.

When U.S. Army registration numbers were assigned to the vehicles, they too were issued in sequential order, allowing historians to confirm a direct match with the two sets of numbers, according to the Army release.

Some photographs of the antiquated tank can be found online.

In what appears to be an old black and white photo from World War II posted on the photo-sharing Web site Flickr, the tank is marked with large letters “First in Bastogne,” under which the smaller words “Cobra King” are legible.

The five men in the photo aren’t identified.

According to the Army’s release, “Cobra King” was under the command of 1st Lt. Charles P. Boggess, commander of Company C, 37th Tank Battalion.

Other crew members were Pvt. Hubert S. Smith, driver; Cpl. Milton Dickerman, gunner; Pvt. Harold Hafner, bow machine gunner; and loader Pvt. James G. Murphy.

“We have not yet determined if any of these men still survive …” Army officials said in the release.

Army historians recognize the “Cobra King” as a significant piece of World War II history for its role in the Battle of the Bugle, the powerful German counterattack in December 1944 in Belgium’s Ardennes forest. In a last-ditch effort, Hitler unsuccessfully tried to divide Allied forces in an attempt to bring about a negotiated peace in Germany’s favor.

In his 1946 narrative “Bastogne: The First Eight Days,” then-Col. S.L.A. Marshall wrote: “ …at 1650 First Lieutenant Charles P. Boggess, commanding officer of Company C, 37th Tank Battalion, drove the first vehicle from the 4th Armored Division to within the lines of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 101st Division, of the Bastogne forces. This was the beginning. The German encirclement was now finally broken, though some days would pass before the American lines to the south were again firm and several weeks of fighting would ensue before the siege of Bastogne was finally lifted.”

The tank is expected to go on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Army, scheduled to open in 2013 outside of Washington, D.C.

Lt Col Creighton W. Abrams, Jr (CO 37th Tk Bn)

and some info on what happened that day in the Ardennes:

LINK: Stricly-gi for the complete story...

Dawn of December 26, 1944, right after a cold Christmas, our unit was only three miles from Bastogne …
… I mounted my CO’s personal tank (Lt Col Creighton W. ABRAMS Jr) for a very ‘special’ mission ! It had been decided that a special team, mainly consisting of C Company, 37th Tank Battalion, under temporary command of its XO, Capt William A. DWIGHT (S-3) would take a secondary road, leading from Clochimont thru Assenois to Bastogne, in order to break the siege of that town and to contact the surrounded American defenders . This kind of surprise attack was to take place in enemy-held territory ! Acting as point vehicle, I would lead with ‘Cobra King’ (mount of Lt Col C.W. Abrams) followed by another 7 tanks, half-tracks, and some other extra vehicles . My personal crew consisted of Pvt Hubert SMITH (driver) – Cpl Milton DICKERMAN (gunner) – Pvt Harold HAFNER (bow gunner) – Pvt James G. MURPHY (loader), and myself as commander, we were all battle veterans … We moved full speed, firing straight ahead, with the other tanks firing left and right . We weren’t supposed to stop on the way either . As soon as we cleared the first little town, I called for artillery support (4 artillery battalions were available) on Assenois, that is, ahead of the convoy – our column entered the place still under friendly fire, such was our speed and progress ! After clearing Assenois, we ran into more enemy resistance, and mopping up was required with help of our half-trackborne C Company, 53d Armored Infantry Battalion . We then came across a large pillbox, which we at once destroyed . There certainly was a lot of confusion, since the Germans hadn’t expected us to break thru via this secondary road, nevertheless enemy fire was considerable, and we lost 4 Shermans on the way.

As my tank cleared the following woods, we came upon an open field with colored canopies (from previous supply drops), I reckoned we were now approaching friendly lines . Our column subsequently slowed down, on the look out for friendlies, and we seemed to recognize a number of foxholes with helmeted figures . Taking no chances, I called out to them, shouting to come out to us, indicating we were part of the 4th Armored Division ! After several calls, an officer emerged with a smile, and said; “I’m Lt. Webster, 326th Airborne Engineers, glad to see you guys !” It was 1650, December 26, the 4th Armored Division, had broken thru enemy lines, and reached its objective - the siege of Bastogne was over … although the fighting wasn’t yet …
(Charles P. BOGGESS, 1st Lt, C Co, 37th Tk Bn, 4th Armd Div, USA, ……….., recollections)

1st Lt. Charles P. BOGGESS Jr. (1984)

feel free to add more info
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« Reply #1 on: 1 January 2009, 19:38:06 »

One of my scenarios at the depot is made using this small battle as base.
On the battlefield tour I have done this place was one of the battlefields we have visited.
Check the scenariodepot for :

Breakthrough to Bastogne.:


« Last Edit: 1 January 2009, 19:41:05 by stoffel » Logged

My topics are about my personal opinion, my thoughts and what I think. They do not reflect the official opinion of the ministry of defense of the Netherlands.
Mad Russian

« Reply #2 on: 1 January 2009, 20:00:58 »

I was in Vilseck in the mid to late 70's so I may have actually seen that tank.

Good Hunting.

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