The Armored Fist: The 712th Battalion in the Second World War (Hardcover)
The 712th Tank Battalion landed in Normandy three weeks after D-Day and spent eleven months in combat. Along the way, its men dug up potatoes with their tanks and roasted them on the exhausts; liberated Calvados; drank wine and champagne; collected Lugers, banners and other trophies of war; and fought and died together in some of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. The men of the 712th were ordinary people living through an extraordinary time. This is a story not so much about the tanks themselves as it is about the people who were in them such as Billy Wolfe who wrote in a high school essay that 'I may get specialized training from Uncle Sam that might be my life's work.' It was his life's work. One of his sisters said 'Two weeks after joining the battalion as a replacement, 18-year-old Billy burned to death inside a tank.' Others include Ed Forrest, whose grave in the American cemetery at Margraten was adopted by a middle school whose students place flowers on it and say a prayer during field trips, and Jim Flowers who survived the horrors on Hill 122.