M4(105) Sherman 105mm Howitzer

This restored Battle of the Bulge WW2 American M4A3(105) Sherman Tank 105mm Howitzer Assault Gun can be found in the tank section of Bastogne Barracks museum in Belgium. It has a serial number of 57304 and was built by Chrysler in June 1944.

WW2 M4(105) Sherman Tank 105mm Assault Gun

Location

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.

The 105mm Sherman

Three versions of the Sherman tank were fitted with a 105mm. These are the M4(105), M4A3(105) and the M4A3E8(105). Records show that 800 M4(105) Shermans were produced between May 1944 and June 1945. The M4A3E8(105) Sherman had a production run of 2,539 but only 500 M4A3(105) were made.

Sherman M4 105mm Howitzers were designed to be deployed in Assault Gun Platoons that consisted of six vehicles as part of an armoured battalion. Their job was to provide more powerful close fire support and lay down smoke. They were not intended to engage in combat with enemy tanks. The high explosive HE shells they fired from their 105mm howitzer cannon did not have good anti-armour penetration performance.

They were great at knocking out pill boxes, soft skinned lightly armoured vehicles, infantry and artillery encampments. If they were suddenly surprised by an enemy tank they were issued with a high explosive anti-tank round known as a HEAT shell for self defence.

World War Two M4A3(105) Sherman Tank 105mm Assault Gun

The following paragraphs are from the memories of US Sherman tank crews that fought in the Battle of the Bulge December 1944 to January 1945 in the Belgium and Luxembourg Ardennes forest.

Tank capture prevention

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 just took two Sherman 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 by a 75mm anti-tank gun, Sergeant Spencer's tank came forward. He put the enemy gun out of action with a well-aimed HE shell and under the Lieutenant's orders he set our tank on fire.

We had ruined the radio when we left the tank. We put a grenade in the gun barrel. We did everything we were supposed to do. The Lieutenant did not want the Germans turn the turret around and firing the machine gun at us.

Spencer shot into the back of our tank because the Germans were stealing the tanks. They'd use them against us. The track was blown off so it was useless anyway, but machine gun still good.

Side view of a WW2 M4A3(105) Sherman Tank 105mm Assault Gun

Escape hatch maintenance.

We had the best working escape hatch of anybody in the platoon. I 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 replacement gunner, 'You sonofabitch now you listen. 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 I'll come and haunt you. I'll come and pull the sheets off your bed.'

Sherman tank camouflage

It was still snowing. We wound up in the town of Kirschnaumen in Belgium. There were no Germans. We were exhausted so had some chow and slept. I can recall so vividly how we wondered where the Lieutenant had gone. We were in a hayloft and he came up the ladder. He said, 'Come here, I want to show you something.' He had draped his tank in white sheets. They weren't whitewashing the tanks at the time. This was January 1945. There was snow all over the ground, so he scrounged these white sheets from all over and draped our tanks so we'd have camouflage.

Rear view of a M4A3 (105) Sherman Tank 105mm Assault Gun

Panzerfausts and the Sherman tank

The Captain told us that we had to move out at night. I objected as it was not safe as we had no infantry with us. He assured us that there was nothing down this road. 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. The driver was hit by shrapnel. I picked him up on my shoulder and I must have carried him a half or three-quarters of a mile. All he could say is, 'I'm hit in my head, I'm hit in the head,' but it was his back and ass that was so full of shrapnel. His brain was telling him he was in so much pain that he thought his head had been hit.

Surviving M4 105mm Sherman Tank National Armor and Cavalry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia, USA

M4 105mm Sherman at the National Armor and Cavalry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia, USA

Surviving M4 105mm Sherman Armourgeddon Paintball Museum, Southfields Farm, Leicester Road, Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, LE17 6NW, England.

M4 105mm Sherman belonging to Armourgeddon Paintball Museum, Southfields Farm, Leicester Road, Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, LE17 6NW, England.

Surviving USMC M4 105mm Sherman awaiting restoration at The Tank Museum, Bovington, England

USMC M4 105mm Sherman awaiting restoration at The Tank Museum, Bovington, England.

Where can I find other preserved 105mm Sherman Tanks?

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