By Nathan N. Prefer On January 17, 1945, as Allied forces prepared to descend on Germany itself and put an end to the war in Europe, an American tank battalion disappeared. The 43rd Tank Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Scott Hall, organic to the 12th Armored (“Hellcats”) Division’s Combat Command A, joined with the 17th Armored Infantry Battalion to push German forces out of the town of Herrlisheim in France’s Alsace region. Shortly after the battalion entered the town, some garbled but seemingly desperate messages were received by Combat Command A from Colonel Hall. Neither Hall nor his battalion was ever heard from again. It was not until 1940 that the United States War Department made the first move to create tank, later armored, battalions within the U.S. armed forces. Originally only 15 were authorized, half “heavy” and half “light.” The original battalions consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters (H & H) company and three tank companies. Each tank company consisted of three platoons of five tanks each, with a headquarters section of two additional tanks. In 1942, a service company was added. Later additions included a light tank company, an assault gun platoon, a mortar platoon, and a reconnaissance platoon. By 1943, the battalions usually had a total of 54 medium tanks, 17 light tanks, three assault guns (105mm howitzers), three 81mm mortar halftracks, and numerous support vehicles. A fully staffed tank battalion numbered 729 officers and enl


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