Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives In World War II

SPEARHEAD                                                  ADAM MAKOS

When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner’s seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gentle giant from Pennsylvania has a hidden talent: He’s a natural born shooter.

At first, Clarence and his fellow crews in the legendary 3rd Armored Division—“Spearhead”—thought their tanks were invincible. Then they met the German Panther, with a gun so murderous it could shoot through one Sherman and into the next. Soon a pattern emerged: The lead tank always gets hit.

After Clarence sees his friends cut down breaching the West Wall and holding the line in the Battle of the Bulge, he and his crew are given a weapon with the power to avenge their fallen brothers: the Pershing, a state-of-the-art “super tank,” one of twenty in the European theater.

But with it came a harrowing new responsibility: Now they will spearhead every attack. That’s how Clarence, the corporal from coal country, finds himself leading the U.S. Army into its largest urban battle of the European war, the fight for Cologne, the “Fortress City” of Germany.

Battling through the ruins, Clarence will engage the fearsome Panther in a duel immortalized by an army cameraman. And he will square off with Gustav Schaefer, a teenager behind the trigger in a Panzer IV tank, whose crew has been sent on a suicide mission to stop the Americans.

As Clarence and Gustav trade fire down a long boulevard, they are taken by surprise by a tragic mistake of war. What happens next will haunt Clarence into modern day, drawing him back to Cologne to do the unthinkable: to face his enemy, one last time.


A very good book from the look of war through the gunner of a Sherman tank. The 3rd Armored Division actually fought more battles and longer in Europe than the other Armored Divisions, they just weren’t led by big named leaders, just by men who got things done. They also lost more tanks by being in more battles. You follow Clarence Smoyer and the men in his Sherman. The author also is able to give you the look of the war from the Germans side through Gustav Schaefer who becomes a gunner with the German Panther tank. Following both you see the look of battle after D-Day and the continuing struggle, through the countryside, leading up to the Battle of the Bulge and then there fight to Cologne and the showdown with Gustav. Gustav and his tank mates are given the task to hold off the American army by themselves, and you get their thoughts on that. By the time the battle of Cologne starts Clarence and his crew has one of the new Pershing tanks which if they had at the beginning of the war or sooner probably would have saved many tankers, for it was a much superior tank than the Sherman and fired a 90mm round as opposed to a 75mm round. Through the different battles, you also get a ground look from the Doughs the Infantry unit that was with the 3rd Armored. This all leads you to an ending where the men met many years later where they had that tank battle in Cologne and how it still showed on the men who were in their eighties. I found this to be a very good book and one I am glad I read. Being a son of a WWII vet who was with the 82nd Airborne it is always good to see and hear about it from a different side. A very good book. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

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