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Post Info TOPIC: Club-marked FTs in American Light Battalions


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Club-marked FTs in American Light Battalions

In his book, Organizations and Markings United States Armored Units 1918-1941, Charles Lemons states (page 15), "...The Americans used only the spade, heart, and diamond in marking their vehicles within the combat platoons. However, the company commander was allowed the use of one of the tanks assigned to the headquarters--which was marked with the 'club' symbol in the battalion color. 

The table of organization that I can find for the light battalions called for:

3 companies of 3 platoons each.  Each platoon consisting of 5 tanks.

2 tanks assigned to Battalion HQ

(47 tanks total)

And yet, Lemons writes (page 17), "The American tank battalion osistef three tank companies, totaling 72 light tanks and three signal tanks [75 tanks total]. Each of the line companies had three platoons of five tanks each, with the HQ section of the company retaining one signal tank and nine replacement tanks in reserve....The Battalion Headquarters...retained no tanks and consisted solely of support and administrative personnel and equipment." 

If I am correctly reading what Lemons wrote, it would appear that a company would have 15 tanks in 3 platoons, PLUS a HQ of 10 vehicles (signal tank and 9 replacements), for a total of 25 vehicles.  That would add up to the 75 total for the Battalion that Lemons describes. 

I have encountered a few photographs of FTs with Clubs and numbers, though. Mary Lee Stubbs and Stanley Russell Connor implied in "ARMOR-CAVALRY: Part 1; Regular Army and Army Reserve," that the light battalion contained 54 tanks.  That would make three companies of 15 tanks and 9 for use by Battalion HQ or reserve. I am wondering if the Club-marked tanks weren't actually part of a replacement company attached to Headquarters?  The French organized and marked their companies:  

 Battery 1 or Section 1 - Ace of Spades

Battery 2 or Section 2 - Ace of Hearts

Battery 3 or Section 3 - Ace of Diamonds

 Reserve (Section d’echelon) - Ace of Clubs

And it has been written that Patton based his table of organization on the French model.  Does anyone have access to documentation of the table of organization of a Light Tank Battalion in the AEF? Perhaps that would answer why there appears to be club-marked tanks above and beyond what was assigned to Battalion HQ.

Attached are a few images of AEF Club-marked FTs with numbers higher than 2 (that is, the two tanks we might assume were assigned to Bn. HQ).  But, what makes this even more complicated, however, the tactical symbol (the white shape onto which the club is painted) varies:  Circle (which, according to Lemons would be a B company symbol) and diamond (again, according to Lemons, C  Company).  This makes me think the Club marked FTs functioned as a 4th platoon in each company.  I have not encountered any club-marked FT with a number higher than "5," though. 

I am just really confused how these club-marked tanks fit into the battalion.

Thanks for any input.  




John A-G.
Hudson, WI USA

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