Major Charles W. McCoy, Ex.O. Second Tank Battalion
Serial # 05835
Major McCoy was awarded the Silver Star for actions on Tarawa 20-24 November 1943. He took command of the 2nd Tank Batallion during the battle when the CO was injured. Their landung craft was blown out from under them, and they had to walk through a wall of machine gun fire to make it to the beach. McCoy continued to command the battalion for the remainder of the war.
Report of the 2nd Tank Battalion Commander
The use of the LSD was very successful. Our reconnaissance party landed at H-14 on Beach Red 1, but they had no time to reconnoiter Beach Red 3. The chanel markers which had been set up floated away and the reconnaissance party acted as markers.
The sea wall was the most effective obstacle the Japs had, and the Engineers had to blow out a section for the tanks to go through. In a fight between a Jap light tank and one of our mediums, they fired about simultaneously and both were knocked out.
Q. How deep was the water when you landed?
A. On Beach Red 1 it was about five feet in places. On Beach Red 3 it was lower because they were able to get in closer.
It is believed that some of the tanks were knocked out by magnetic mines because there were some on the Island. I think others were knocked out by a Jap gun probably of a 75mm caliber.
Light tanks - The light tanks landed on Beach Red 2, and as they arrived they were assigned to LTs as called for.
Some mediums received numerous hits with about a 40mm which, although did not knock any, penetrated the sides of the tanks.
It is recommended that for prolonged operations spare tank crews be made available. We did not lose a man inside the tanks but most of them were lost getting out and trying to communicate with the infantry.
Communications - Communication in the medium tanks was poor. We lost some radios in the light tanks because of salt water. Likewise, several light tanks were ground out by salt water.
The 37mm gun is definitely not heavy enough to knock out the type of pill boxes encountered at Tarawa. It is necessary that we get ammunition in as early as possible.
There is no telephone outlet on the medium tank. It is recommended that each assault LT commander have a tank liaison man with facilities to communicate with tanks.
I believe the tanks were landed at the right time, and that all would have gotten in if it had been at low tide. It is believed that flame throwers on light tanks would have worked extremely well.
The RU/GF is a good radio but trouble was experienced with the dynamotor.
Total casualties for the battalion were 14 dead, 28 Wounded, and about 15 missing.
At the end of the operation there were two mediums and 15 lights that were servicable. Out of a total of 36 tanks in all, 29 were recovered.
source: "REPORTS OF BATTALION COMMANDERS", 22 December 1943.
copyright 2003 Wheaton, Illinois
Created 11 June 2003- Updated 14 September 2003