pbcov A detailed and informative history is told in the book entitled The 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion in World War II -- An Illustrated History of the First African American Armored Unit to See Combat, by Joe Wilson, Jr. -- son of a 761st tanker (with an afterword by the author's father, Joseph E. Wilson, Sr.)

The following description of the book is from the website of the publisher, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, located in Jefferson, North Carolina.

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’s being posthumously awarded to Sergeant Ruben Rivers.

The son of a tanker in the 761st, Joe Wilson, Jr., a Systems Accountant in Washington, DC, has also written for World War II magazine.


“lavishly illustrated with photos of the participants...well documented, with a good bibliography. Recommended” — Choice;

“one of those well-documented labors of love...heavily illustrated work” — C&RL News;

“a worthwhile book of tank combat” — The Military Book Review;

“complete history” — ForeWord Magazine.

“Your book on the 761st is excellent. It is the best researched and best written book on the battalion. You have put together an accurate accounting of the achievements of the 761st and it should stand as the definitive history of the unit” — Baron Bates (son of the late Colonel Paul L. Bates, the 761st commander).

ISBN: 0-7864-0667-4, 323pp. 141 photographs, illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index illustrated case binding (7 x 10) 1999




InThe Black Panthers: A Story of Race, War, and Courage — the 761st Tank Battalion in World War II, historian Gina M. DiNicolo tells the full and unvarnished history of this important American fighting force. Relying on extensive archival research, including documents that had not been consulted in previous accounts, and interviews with surviving soldiers and family members, the author describes the unit's training, deployment, combat, and individuals, such as Sgt. Ruben Rivers, one of only seven African American men awarded the Medal of Honor for World War II heroism. The professionalism, dedication, and courage of the 761st and other non-white units made clear that the strength of the American army in the future lay with integration—one of the enduring accomplishments of these servicemen.

Gina M. DiNicolo is a military historian and award-winning journalist who has written on military topics for nearly two decades. She was a contributing editor at Military Officer magazine, where more than twenty of her stories graced the publication's cover. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in history, and served as an officer in the Marine Corps.

Above is from the publisher's web page.  See also the author's Facebook page.





Brothers In Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton

"I believe it is time for America to meet the men of the 761st, common men who grew to become heroes, black men who fought for a country that often hated them, stalwart men whoovercame social injustice to become men of colorblind valor." — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The following description of the book is from the website of the publisher, Broadway (an imprint of Random House.)

A powerful wartime saga in the bestselling tradition of Flags of Our Fathers, Brothers in Arms recounts the extraordinary story of the 761st Black Panthers, the first all-black armored unit to see combat in World War II.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar first learned about the battalion from family friend Leonard “Smitty” Smith, a veteran of the battalion. Working with acclaimed writer Anthony Walton, Abdul-Jabbar interviewed the surviving members of the battalion and their descendants to weave together a page-turning narrative based on their memories and stories, from basic training through the horrors on the battlefield to their postwar experiences in a racially divided America.

Trained essentially as a public relations gesture to maintain the support of the black community for the war, the battalion was never intended to see battle. In fact, General Patton originally opposed their deployment, claiming African Americans couldn’t think quickly enough to operate tanks in combat conditions. But the Allies were so desperate for trained tank personnel in the summer of 1944, following heavy casualties in the fields of France, that the battalion was called up.

While most combat troops fought on the front for a week or two before being rotated back, the men of the 761st served for more than six months, fighting heroically under Patton’s Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge and in the Allies’ final drive across France and Germany. Despite a casualty rate that approached 50 percent and an extreme shortage of personnel and equipment, the 761st would ultimately help liberate some thirty towns and villages, as well as the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp. (Note Liberators comment, below.)

The racism that shadowed them during the war and the prejudice they faced upon their return home is an indelible part of their story. What shines through most of all, however, are the lasting bonds that united them as soldiers and brothers, the bravery they exhibited on the battlefield, and the quiet dignity and patriotism that defined their lives.

ISBN: 0385503385, Hardcover, 320 pages, 1st edition May 4, 2004, also available as an eBook.





Sasser Patton's Panthers, The African-American 761st Tank Battalion In World War II by Charles W. Sasser. From the website of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, Inc.:

On the battlefields of World War II, the men of the African-American 761st Tank Battalion under General Patton broke through enemy lines with the same courage with which they broke down the racist limitations set upon them by others -- proving themselves as tough, reliable, and determined to fight as any tank unit in combat.

Beginning in November 1944, they engaged the enemy for 183 straight days, spearheading many of Patton's offensives at the Battle of the Bulge and in six European countries. No other unit fought for so long and so hard without respite. The 761st defeated more than 6,000 enemy soldiers, captured thirty towns, liberated Jews from concentration camps -- and made history as the first African-American armored unit to enter the war.

This is the true story of the Black Panthers, who proudly lived up to their motto (Come Out Fighting) and paved the way for African-Americans in the U.S. military -- while battling against the skepticism and racism of the very people they fought for.

Charles W. Sasser has been a full-time freelance writer, journalist, and photographer since 1979. He is a veteran of both the U.S. Navy (journalist) and U.S. Army (Special Forces, the Green Berets), a combat veteran and former combat correspondent wounded in action. He also served fourteen years as a police officer (in Miami, Florida, and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was a homicide detective). He is author, co-author or contributing author of more than 30 books and novels, including One Shot-One Kill and Hill 488, both available from Pocket Books. Sasser now lives on a ranch in Chouteau, Oklahoma, with his wife Donna.

ISBN: 0743485009, Trade Paperback, 368 pages, publication date February 2005






761stmovieIn 761st -- a 2007 movie -- twelve tankers of the 761st Tank Battalion recount their experience in the United States Army, fighting for a freedom overseas that they did not enjoy in America.

Soldiers of the 761st tank battalion
Pete Chatmon
Pete Chatmon
Pete Chatmon, Steven A. White, Wayne D. Robinson












In First To Fight: The Black Tankers of WWII -- a movie from the History Channel -- veterans of the first black tank unit to see combat recall the struggles they faced during WWII. (First to Fight is one of four documentaries in a History Channel set name A Fighting Force: African-American Military Heroes, also available from Amazon.)

  • A probing look at the plight of African-American soldiers during World War II.
  • Includes interviews with veterans of the 761st Tank Battalion.
  • See how the U.S. Military has endeavored to correct its racist past.

The 761st Tank Battalion made history as the first all black tank unit to see combat. Like the better-known Tuskegee Airmen, they proved they were as competent as any soldier in the U.S. military. Over the course of 183 days on the front, the 761st helped liberate more than 30 towns under Nazi control. Collectively they were awarded 11 Silver Stars, 70 Bronze Stars, 250 Purple Hearts, and a Medal of Honor. And more than 30 years after coming home, the 761st was finally recognized with the prestigious Presidential Unit Citation.

Through the stories of a select group of surviving veterans, First to Fight examines the history of the battalion--how they came to be; the racism they faced; their battles to be allowed to fight; and courageous service in the European Theater. The program also examines the larger issue of how the U.S. military has evolved from a segregated to an integrated institution.







Hit Hard is the story of the 761st Tank Battalion as told by the commander of its A Company, David J. Williams (recipient of the Silver Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, and four Campaign Stars) published by Bantam Books (1983) (illustrations by Greg Beecham and Tom Beecham, maps by Alan McKnight and William McKnight.)









The 761st Tank Battalion (African-American Soldiers) by Kathryn Browne Pfeifer, for ages 9 to 12, published by Twenty-First Century Books (1994), discusses the history of the Unit's battle record and individual experiences, and has a chronology of African American service in the U.S. military and a bibliography of books on African American soldiers during World War II.




Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II, by Potter, Miles and Rosenblum (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1992), 303 pages, numerous photos, half in duotone. Companion volume to the PBS television documentary about the role of the black soldier in World War II. Both sparked a controversy by claims that black troops (particularly of the 761st Tank Battalion) were the first to liberate Buchenwald (later editions of this book contained an errata sheet acknowledging the debate.)


Honoring Sergeant Carter, by Allene Carter and Robert L. Allen


By the publisher, Amistad Press:


In the early months of 1945 ... black soldiers, for the first time, played a major combat role. And Sergeant Eddie Carter was right in the thick of the battle.... With a zealous fearlessness, Carter single-handedly captured several Germans and secured reconnaissance that would be critical in capturing Speyer. His efforts would win him. a Distinguished Service Cross. But it wasn't until fifty-two years later that Carter was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Here is the untold story of why the American government not only withheld Carter's much due recognition but why they also denied him -- one of the most decorated black American soldiers in WWII -- the opportunity to reenlist. And here, too, is the inspiring story of the valiant Carter family -- from the moving courtship of Eddie and his wife, Mildred, to the family's unrelenting efforts to get the American government to apologize and own up to the racism and McCarthyism that fueled years of deceit and bigotry.

Joe Wilson, Jr.'s review (June 12, 2003): Gives Balance To The Greatest Generation! Honoring Sergeant Carter uncovers an important yet esoteric chapter in American WWII history and gives balance to The Greatest Generation. You may only come across a book as fine as this once or twice in a lifetime. If your budget allows only one book – this is the one. It is “intellectually honest,” informative, passionate, and if you don’t have ice water running through your veins, you will feel it! While reading I reminisced of my late father who served in very close proximity with Sergeant Carter during and after WWII. They never knew each other. My father saw Sergeant Carter after the war – how could he miss him – the sharp and deadly soldier that Carter was described to be and one of the very few African Americans holding the Distinguished Service Cross. My father understood all too well what happened to many good men during this era. I look back on living in Germany as a youngster during the Cold War with my avid interest in WWII. I explored bunkers and shopped flea markets searching for relics. Most had the dreaded swastika on it. My father observed my hobby and explained to me in great detail how it was dangerous and in bad taste, but I could keep the collection. He then told me in no uncertain terms: “If you come across anything with a Communist marking on it ……etc, etc… DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME SON!!!” I shook my head yes – I was speechless. Honoring Sergeant Carter provided clearer understanding of why I couldn’t speak that day. Sergeant First Class Edward A. Carter, Jr., affectionately known as Eddie, was one of the seven African American soldiers honored at the White House with the Medal of Honor. This long overdue tribute (over 50 years) took place on January 13, 1997. When you read Eddie’s story - that is backed with strong research and solid documentation - you will see how fact (in this situation) is stranger than fiction. A must read for WWII historians and buffs who are sincerely interested in balancing their understanding of WWII. Honoring Sergeant Carter is a great companion book that will complement Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation.




The 784th Tank Battalion in World War II History of an African American Armored Unit in Europe



The following description of a book about the 784 Tank Battalion titled The 784th Tank Battalion in World War II History of an African American Armored Unit in Europe, authored by Joe Wilson, will be available in libraries about January 10, 2007, is from the website of the publisher, McFarland:

With the onset of World War II, African Americans found themselves in a struggle just to be allowed to fight for their country. Individuals like Lt. General Leslie McNair and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt fought against the military’s discrimination, arguing that the nation could little afford to overlook such an important source of strength. Their eventual success took the form of a military experiment designed to determine whether African Americans were as capable as white soldiers. The 784th was one tank battalion formed as a result.

Part of an effort to chronicle the history of the first African Americans to serve in armored units, this history recounts the service of the 784th Tank Battalion. Replete with observations and comments from veterans of the battalion, it paints a vivid picture of World War II as seen through the eyes of soldiers who had to confront second-class treatment by their army and fellow soldiers while enduring the horrors of war. It details the day-to-day activities of the 784th Tank Battalion, describing basic training, actual combat, occupation and, finally, the deactivation of the unit. Special emphasis is placed on the ways in which these war experiences contributed to the American civil rights movements of the 1960s.

About the Author
The son of a tanker in the 761st, Joe Wilson, Jr., a systems accountant in Washington, D.C., has also written for World War II magazine. He is the author of The 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion in World War II (1999), and also the author of this website.






Invisible SoldierThe Invisible Soldier: The Experience of the Black Soldier, World War II compiled by Mary Penick Motley and with a forward by Howard Donavan Queen was first published by Wayne State University Press in 1975

A book consisting of a series of interviews about the experience of the black soldier.  As described by the publisher, Wayne State University Press: "By turns shocking, nightmarish, despairing, bitterly ironic, and, in rare instances, full of laughter, the fifty-five oral histories in The Invisible Soldier add a significant chapter to black history. The interviews disclose the brutality of the unseen wars black servicemen fought when confronted with the official army policy of segregation and by attitudes in southern communities, as well as overseas."







Little Known Front

The Little Known Front, by Eric Urbain, translation by Lane Barton
From post in Forum:

"The Little Known Front," written by Eric Urbain and published in Belgium in 2002, was translated by Lane Barton, G-345, 87th Infantry Division, and privately printed in the U.S. in 2004. After being temporarily out-of-print, a new printing is expected in the middle of February 2006.

The book covers the events that took place from December 21, 1944, to January 14, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge in the area west of Bastogne. While concentrating on the stories of the men in the 87th Infantry, 11th Armored, and 17th Airborne Divisions, the author also discusses the role of the 761st Tank Battalion from the time it joined the 345th Infantry on December 31st up to the action around Tillet on January 9th.

"The Little Known Front" is an 8 1/2" by 11" softbound book containing over 300 pages, 150 photographs and maps, and a personal name index. It is available from Robert Reed, 38 Bagdad Rd, Durham NH 03824. Please see the Forum post (click here) for pricing details. Also see a review by Mitchell Kaidy published on the website 87thinfantrydivision.com.





Lens of an Infantryman, A World War II Memoir with Photographs from a Hidden Camera by Murray Leff, published by McFarland (Jefferson, North Carolina) 129 photos, index, appendices, 207 pages softcover (7 x 10) 2007, ISBN 978-0-7864-2867-0. Click here to visit the publisher's website.

Lens of an InfantrymanMurry Leff fought in Europe beside the 784th Tank Battalion while he was part of the 137th Infantry Regiment. After he arrived in Europe he traded his cigarette ration for a 35mm camera. Hiding the camera under his field jacket, he was able to record some of the war’s most heated fighting. Photographs snapped while he crouched in a water-filled ditch show Leff’s rifle squad burying their heads in mud as enemy shells come in. Images show a supporting tank on its arrival and later, smoldering from a direct hit by German fire. These and many more photographs are part of the memoir recording Leff’s World War II experiences from Gremercey Forest through the Battle of the Bulge, the Ruhr Pocket and the fall of Germany. Now the owner of an advertising agency, Murray Leff lives in Bellerose, New York.