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M3 Lee Medium Tanks of the 752nd

Embedded Image Code
Crew of Tank #12 posing in front of their M3 Lee at Ft. Lewis, Washington in April 1942. Private Ray Holt is front & center.

- Researched and Written by Robert Holt -

Very little is known about the M3 Lee tanks of the 752nd Tank Battalion. Relatively few of the 752nd tankers who saw combat with the 752nd in Italy had been with the battalion in its early "M3" years. Due to the inactivation and reactivation of the battalion in North Africa (see Historical Narrative), most of the men who had originally trained with the battalion were transferred out to other units in the theater. With relatively few of the 752nd tankers having actually trained with the unit, very few photos of M3 tanks that the battalion used at Ft. Lewis, the Indio DTC, England, or North Africa have been found.

Interestingly, the few 752nd tankers who did train with the battalion all seem to refer to their M3 tanks as "General Grants." In reality, the 752nd used the standard U.S. M3 configuration that later became known as the "General Lee." The main difference between the two versions was in the turret. The turret of the 752nd's "Lee" tanks was higher and smaller, with a commander's cupola with a .30 caliber machine gun. Revised storage bins and the use of sandskirts also differentiated the British "Grant" version.

Source: M3 Lee/Grand in Action, Squadron/Signal Publications

The tankers' incorrect use of the name "Grant" is understandable. The nickname "Lee" was never used by American troops, because it was actually the British who dubbed the two versions "Grant" and "Lee." The Brits and Commonwealth tankers commonly referred to their tanks as "Grants," and eventually the American tankers became aware of this nickname and used it as a generic descriptor of all M3 medium tanks.

The few photos that do exist of 752nd M3 medium tanks clearly indicate that only the initial M3 version was used at any time in the unit's history. The 752nd never used the cast-hull M3A1, the later welded-hull M3A2 (only 12 of these were built), or the diesel-powered M3A3.

Some, but not all, of the 752nd's M3 tanks used in Stateside training had a white (or perhaps yellow) "training" stripe around the circumference of the turret. Similarly, some, but not all M3s in the 752nd also carried an Allied star (without circle) on the side of the turret. The last photograph shown below suggests that the 752nd still used turret stars in Tunisia, but of course the training stripe was removed. No information has yet been found regarding bumper codes or other markings on 752nd M3s.

M3 Lee Tanks of the 752nd

Pvt Raymond Holt, North Africa, R. Holt Collection, Embedded Image Code
U.S. National Archives

Click these links to see other 752nd Tanks:

M4 & M4A1 Sherman Medium Tanks

M4A3 76mm Sherman Medium Tanks

M3/M5 Stuart & M24 Chaffee Light Tanks

Rocket Tanks of the 752nd

Soft-Skinned Vehicles

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Researched by Robert J. Holt
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