M4A1(76)W Sherman Tank

M4A1(76)W Sherman Tanks saw action in the WW2 Battle of the Bulge. This surviving American tank is kept at the Bastogne Barracks in Belgium.

M4A1(76)W Sherman Tanks saw action in the WW2 Battle of the Bulge

This restored M4A1(76)W Sherman Tank is exhibited at the Bastogne Barracks in Belgium.


The Bastogne Barracks can be found at 40 Rue de la Roche (N834) in Bastogne just north west of the city centre. They open at 10am and close at 4pm. You really need to get there by 2pm as there is a lot to see. It is an operational military camp with a tank restoration centre attached. You have to wait to go on a guided tour. You cannot wander around on your own. The only day it is closed is Monday. Many of the tanks have been restored to running condition. Have a look at their Facebook page for information about new events.

Wet Storage Bins

The letter W on the model variant name of this Sherman tank refers to the way the Ammunition was stored inside the tank. The 'Wet Stowage' arrangement repositioned the Ammo racks to the floor in ten ten round, vertically oriented bins. Four 'ready rounds' were also stored in the turret basket. The use of wet storage ammunition bins was a new design feature to try and stop the 76mm shells catching fire and exploding so easily as had happened in earlier models of Sherman tanks when hit by an enemy shell.

It was hoped that these 'wet stowage' bins would give the tank crew more time to get out of the tank before it blew up or turned into an incinerator. The 10 round ammo racks had 3 sealed chambers that were filled with water. Later a solution that included rust inhibitors and anti freeze was used instread of water. It was called Ammudamp.

M4A1(76)W Sherman Tanks saw action in the WW2 Battle of the Bulge

This restored M4A1(76)W Sherman Tank is exhibited at the Bastogne Barracks in Belgium.

Tiger Vs Sherman

Here is an account of a Sherman tank crew commander from the 712th Tank Battalion as they headed towards Bastogne. 'I hit a Tiger tank one day with my Sherman at least three times with a shell and never touched him. He just kept on coming. Then my loader accidentally threw a white phosphorous shell in and I hit that tank right in the front end and he stopped.'

'The tiger tank crew thought they were hit, penetrated and thought they were on fire. We used the white phosphorous shell for markers. It burns and a puff of white smoke explodes. They were good for hunting range. We had the old type sights where you guessed the range and we used to use what we called bracketing shots. Some gunners would use high explosive to get their bracket.'

'The first shell, you could see where it hit. Now if it would hit, say, 200 yards short, the gunner would raise his elevation 400 yards, and if he shot over the target, then he would drop down 200 yards. That's bracketing. And if you didn't get him the third shot, you'd better find a hole to get into because he was then going to be shooting at you.'

M4A1(76)W Sherman Tanks saw action in the WW2 Battle of the Bulge

This restored M4A1(76)W Sherman Tank is exhibited at the Bastogne Barracks in Belgium.

The Escape Hatch

More 712th Tank Battalion Sherman tank crew memories. 'I can remember plain as day one thing about that evening we got hit. We were about ready to eat our meal and they said there was a small pocket that was holding the infantry down. They wanted the tanks to clean it out. We took just two tanks. It was just supposed to be a small pocket and it turned out to be a little more than that.'

'After we were knocked out, Sergeant Warren's tank came forwards and under Lieutenant Gifford's orders he set our tank on fire. We had ruined the radio and we put a grenade in the gun barrel. We did everything we were supposed to do. So the Germans couldn't turn the gun around and fire on the town. I had Warren shoot into the back of our tank because the Germans were stealing the tanks and they'd use them against us. The track was blown off so it was useless anyway.'

'We had the best working escape hatch of anybody in the platoon. We used to oil that thing up good so when you touched the lever it would fall right out. Sometimes that was the only way of escape, If you're inside the tank and the hatches are down and the gun is traversed over your hatch you can't open it to get out. You have to go out the other way.

I can remember always telling our gunner, 'You sonofabitch, if we ever get knocked out make sure that gun's in the centre because if it's traversed over my hatch I can't get out and I'll haunt you. I'll come and pull the sheets off your bed. I'm sure there's a few guys that aren't here today because of that gun being over their hatch. We subsequently got a new tank after that.

The Sherman and the Panzerfaust

'We had been in the little town of Berle. This was towards the end of the Battle of the Bulge. We had terrific artillery going over up there, Then they told us the next morning we're heading for this little town of Doncols. Berle was up on a hill and Doncols is down in the valley. You could see across there all right, but it was too steep for the tanks to get Down and Berle was up on the side of a bluff.'

'There was just one road going in there so the strategy was we'd just hit this road and barrel ass as fast as we could into the town. We had two platoons; Lieutenant Griffin's platoon preceded us. He got into town and pulled behind the first set of barns and was waiting there. I got down right behind him. 'Well what are you gonna do, Lieutenant?' I asked'

'He didn't really know. We couldn't all stay there. So I headed into town, The tanks are in a string. It's a single road, you're in a line and we see this sucker off to our right with a panzerfaust. I couldn't get my gun around fast enough and he let go, but he didn't hit my tank, He hit the second tank, hit it right in the sprocket. The track came off and the tank rolled to the left, right into a goddamn manure pile.' He was really in the shit.

'It was at Oberwampach that Big Andy earned his second of three Bronze Stars. 'Captain Cozzens told us that we had to move out to a certain place at night, and I said, 'No, I'm not going to go. I'm not taking my tank out after dark,' And him and I went round and round and he assured me that there was nothing down this road. I can't think who else was in on it.'

'I know Hagerty was there. We got down this road and the first tank got hit with a bazooka, and the last tank got hit with a bazooka. And then the three in between, I got a bazooka in the gas tank of my tank, We went to evacuate our tank and got out, and this Owen (John Owen of Montgomery, Alabama) was hit by shrapnel. And I picked him up on my shoulder and I must have carried him a half or three-quarters of a mile. And all he could say is, "I'm hit in my head, I'm hit in the head," and his ass was so full of shrapnel.'

Read more in these two tank books