Cover image for The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion in World War II : an illustrated history of the first African American armored unit to see combat
The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion in World War II : an illustrated history of the first African American armored unit to see combat
Wilson, Joe, 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 313 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D769.306 761ST .W55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D769.306 761ST .W55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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This is a comprehensive record of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first African American armored unit to enter combat. Assigned at various times to the Third, Seventh and Ninth armies, the Black Panthers fought major engagements in six European countries and participated in four major Allied campaigns, inflicting 130,000 casualties on the German army and capturing or destroying thousands of weapons, despite severe weather, difficult terrain, heavily fortified enemy positions, extreme shortages of replacement personnel and equipment, and an overall casualty rate approaching 50 percent.Richly illustrated and containing many interviews with surviving members of the 761st, this work gives long overdue recognition to the unit whose motto was Come Out Fighting. It recounts the events that in 1978--33 years after the end of World War II--led to the 761st Tank Battalion's receiving a Presidential Unit Citation, the highest honor a unit can receive. Also described are the efforts that resulted, in 1997--53 years after giving his life on the battlefield--in the Medal of Honor being posthumously awarded to Sergeant Ruben Rivers.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

During WW II the American army was still racially segregated. Thus black American soldiers had to fight racism at home as well as the Axis powers. In a felicitous style Wilson, son of one of the men of the 761st, tells the story well, from the discrimination black soldiers endured in American training camps to the heroics they exhibited on the battlefield. The author also integrates the accomplishments of the unit into the "big picture." Readers learn of the valiant behavior of the unit not only on a narrow sector in the Ardennes in December 1944, but during the entire Battle of the Bulge as well. For this reason Wilson's history is superior to earlier accounts of black units in battle, such as Lyle Rishell's With a Black Platoon in Combat (1993) and William Bowers's Black Soldier, White Army (CH, Sep'97). If there is a weakness in this work, it is that the author fails to include mention of any acts of cowardice, insubordination, court-martials, or desertions. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos of the participants. It is also well documented, with a good bibliography. Maps are adequate. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. M. O'Donnell; CUNY College of Staten Island