M24 Chaffee of 18th Cavalry Squadron

M24 Chaffee light tank of 18th Cavalry Squadron (Mechanized), 14th Cavalry Group (Mechanized), First Army. The vehicle wears whitewash camouflage. The 14th Cavalry was severely mauled in the opening days of the German Ardennes offensive, holding a critical juncture between V and VIII Corps at the Losheim Gap. There German forces had entered Belgium in 1914 and 1940. During the battle, the 14th Cavalry held out as long as they could against the 18th Volksgrenadier and 3rd Fallschirmjager Divisions for three days. Spread too thin, units were isolated and cut off from communications. The 18th Volkgrenadier was completely destroyed. Near Poteau, elements of the 14th Cavalry were ambushed and German Kriegsberichter (War Correspondents) shot film of advancing SS units that became the only German view of the Ardennes offensive to survive the war, frequently used in documentaries to illustrate the German advance. In light of the poor performance of the M3/M5 light tank (facing German armor in M3/M5 light tanks in 1944-1945 was suicidal) crews welcomed the M24 Chaffee, which was armed with a 75mm (3 inch) main gun. The Chaffee could not stand up to German armor or anti-tank weapons, but it had a better chance of fighting. The first 200 Chaffees issued in the European Theatre of Operations were issued to cavalry units to replace their M3/M5 light tanks and provide the reconnaissance units with greater firepower. 18th Cavalry received their first M24 on February 3, 1945, and was fully re-equipped that month. After reconstituting and regrouping in Belgium, 18th Cavalry M24s fought along the Roer River in February 1945. The Squadron crossed the Rhine at Remagen on March 17 and supported the 99th Infantry Division's advance on Giessen before transferring to 3rd Army on April 18. Leading the way into Austria, the 18th Cavalry crossed the Danube on April 25 before halting on the Inn River on May 2.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Army
Date Photographed: 
Saturday, February 3, 1945