M4 Artillery Tractor Powered by a Waukesha Motor Co Model 145 Engine      (added September 2011)

This is the story of the events that led up to the moment when the photo of the M4 18T, high speed, artillery tractor was taken as it dashed through a French village during WWII.


The controversial and unheralded invasion of southern France on August 14th, 1944 had exceeded all expectations. The allied forces had driven north from the Mediterranean up the Rhone River valley for over 400 miles to the city of Luxeil in northeastern France by September 19th. The next objective was to drive northeasterly and establish a bridgehead on the east bank of the Moselle River. From there, the plan was to drive in an easterly direction through the Vosges Mountains to the Rhine River and then on into Germany.


The Moselle, a tributary of the Rhine, flows north through the western foothills of the Vosges Mountain. The Moselle River and the Vosges Mountains were formidable barriers and to make matters worse, the autumn rains had begun early and rivers were beginning to rise and the dirt roads would soon become a quagmire. The early rains turned out to be a prelude to the worst winter of the century on the continent of Europe. The only useable crossings on the Moselle River were guarded by high ground just north of Remiremont, a strategically located city on the west bank of the river. Reconnaissance indicated that Remiremont and the main road up a valley from Luxeuil was heavily defended, however, a secondary road to Remiremont, to the northwest, was not!


The story is continued by quoting directly from a reference article that was written by the Texas Military Forces Museum about the 36th Division and the Moselle Bridgehead during WWII, and I quote. "... therefore, during the afternoon of September 19, General Truscott ordered the 36th to move without delay up to the Moselle in preparation for a crossing. The 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry, commanded by Major Everett S. Simpson, and Lt. Col. John N. Green's 132nd Field Artillery Battalion were ordered to move out at once via Plombeires to seize the heights overlooking Remiremont and to prepare to attack the city the next day."


The photo is a record of that successful flanking maneuver and was taken in the village of Fougerolles, in northeastern France, on the afternoon of Sept. 19th, 1944.




July 1999

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