An in-the-moment re-creation of the Allied breakthrough of the West Wall into Nazi Germany by a remarkable cadre of tank crewmen of the 3rd Armored Division.
Based on testimony from several surviving veterans—both American and German—military writer Makos (Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice, 2015, etc.) presents the true story of this intrepid division, which Gen. Omar Bradley described as having led the endgame against the beleaguered Germans across Europe “with a serious and grim intensity.” The primary hero of this tale is Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, who evolved in his tank duties from being a gunner on an aging Sherman tank, dodging superior Panthers through the fields of occupied Belgium, to commanding the first Pershing in a spectacular showdown into Cologne, Germany, in spring 1945. It was the beginning of the end for Germany in the months after the D-Day landings, and the 3rd Armored Division was leading the breakout across northern France, thus earning the name “Spearhead” Division. With illustrations and photos, Makos offers comparisons between the unpopular and outgunned Shermans and the seemingly invulnerable Panthers and Tigers. However, “a secret weapon” had just arrived from America in the form of the Pershing tank, introduced by the legendary commander Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, who led the Spearhead Division. In it, Smoyer would charge into Germany’s fortress city, Cologne. However, as the author writes, “this is not a story about machines, how one tank stacked up against another. This is a story about people.” Through alternating firsthand accounts by Smoyer and a German tank crewman, Makos reveals much about the German determination to thwart the Allies during the final Battle of the Bulge as well as the weary civilian population’s quick turn to fraternization once the game was over.
A compelling, exciting adventure of a hard-driving American force, “the first Allied unit to punch through the West Wall and to also capture a German town.”