Rockingham Now has posted an article about Cecil Thomas, a WW2 veteran who commanded a M4 tank on D-Day. Thomas was part of the 741st Battalion, one of the separate tank battalions equipped with DD Sherman tanks. The article gives a summary of the life and wartime service of Thomas, as well as testimony from some of the soldiers that served with him.
One of Thomas’ soldiers, Staff Sgt. Thomas Fair, later described the landing:
“The ramp was dropped (on the LCT) in pretty deep water and we left the craft. The water was up over the turret ring. We finally pulled upon the beach, but still stayed in the water enough for our protection, our bow gunner started spraying the trees and hillside with .30-caliber (machine gun fire) while we looked for anti-tank guns and pillboxes.”
The tanks made rapid progress in their drive south. They shelled a farmhouse that had been converted into a gun position, reducing the enemy’s shelling barrage on two of the tanks that had become separated from the rest of the unit. They carried on with their mission, the report said, “penetrating to such depth that they found the enemy completely unprepared for attack. In one case, the tanks fired upon three of the enemy who were on bicycles riding along the road.”