A Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Ausf. B Sd. tank destroyer, a type previously reported on the Russian front, is examined by Capt. Jack H. Rothschild, Kansas City, Mo, in the Rimling area of France. The German TD was knocked out by one 90mm round from an M-36 tank destroyer of the 776th TD Bn, 44th ID. Feb 28, 1945. Signal Corps Photo #201967 from the National Archives.
The coffee cup shown was once the possession of the 776th's Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. James P. Barney. The photos of the cup were provided by Clay Ashley, who is the son of Bill Ashley, a long-time friend of Barney. I assume at some point it was given as a gift to Bill. The cup itself seems to have been created for a reunion, some time after the war, since the bottom of the cup shows USA on it.
Lt. Col. James P. Barney, CO of the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion, takes a few moments to check out operations from one of the unit's M3 half-tracks. This may have been taken during the unit's time in North Africa. Photo courtesy of Clay Ashley.
A photo of 2nd Lt. Clarence W. Byrne with his new wife, 1st Lt. Velma A. Drolet, just after their wedding. They were married at the 32nd Station Hospital in Caserta, Italy, on September 6, 1944. Clarence was a member of the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion which would later ship from Italy to Southern France. The photo originally came from an album belonging to Ruby Milligan (Hills).The photo is provided courtesy of Lowell Silverman who runs a website about the hospital where his grandfather was assigned. You can see it here.
This is one of a series of photos of an incident that occurred when a pontoon bridge over the Volturno River, in the Dragoni Sector of Italy, collapsed. The failure of the bridge caused two armored vehicles of the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion, to fall into the river. The driver of the one was trapped and died in the incident. The photo is dated November 29, 1943, but it is difficult to identify if this photo was taken in the early morning or at dusk. Men and equipment of Co. B, 16th Engineer Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, are attempting to pull the nearest of the vehicles out of the water. Only one track of the other unit can be seen protruding out in the water, just behind the foreground one. Photo courtesy of Tom Hubred.
Corporal Harland M. Bestul of Rocholt, Wisconsin, is shown inspecting the recoil mechanism of what I believe is a German Sturmgeschütz IV Ausf.G. The photo caption says it has a 77mm gun but I believe it may have been a 75mm. Cpl. Bestul was the gunner of the crew that knocked out this unit at the Brandelfingerhoff Farm located in the municipality of Brandlfing, Gros Rederching, France. He was serving with the 776th Tank Destroyer battalion, attached to the 44th Infantry Division, XV Corps of the 7th Army. Harland M. Bestul was born in 1921 in Alban, Wisconsin. He married the former Elaine J. Trinrud in 1945 and is listed as a mill worker for Bergstrom Paper in 1958. He passed away on July 14, 2013, and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Amherst, Wisconsin. Photo is dated March 9, 1945, and is courtesy of Tom Hubred.
Tank destroyer troops of the 776th Tank Destroyer Bn., serving with the Fifth Army, clear an area of snipers as they move their equipment into a new area, identified as Capannoli, Italy. This photo from the 196th Signal Corps photo is courtesy of Tom Hubred.
Another photo from the pontoon bridge collapse on the Volturno River. The incident happened in the Dragoni sector of Italy, on November 29, 1943. You can clearly see that the unit was not one of the unit's tank destroyers but is a T31 (T2) tank recovery vehicle. Photo courtesy of Tom Hubred.
You can now clearly see the tank recovery vehicle is no longer submerged athoiugh it is still not clear of the river. Photo courtesy of Tom Hubred.
As you can see, it is taking two other recovery units of the 477th Ordnance Company to pull the 776th T31 out of the river. The caption on this photo identifies that it was Pfc. Norman Togstad of Maddock, North Dakota, who died in the incident. Pfc Togstad was later buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Plot G, Row 4, Grave 43. Futher research identifies that Togstad was one of five brothers serving in the military during WWII. Only Norman would not come home. Photo courtesy of Tom Hubred.
Evident from this photo grouping is that it was quite difficult to get the two vehicles out of the river. Not only is an M31 (T2) Recovery Vehicle being used, an M25 Tank Transporter is also shown. Another photo shows that a second M31 was used as well. Take note of the two dummy guns on the front of the M31, which were added to the design to make the vehicle look as though it was armed with large weapons. Photo courtesy of Tom Hubred.
A very nice piece of what some would call "trench art" but I am not sure it was actually done during the WWII period. The item is a belt bucket, approximately 3-1/4 wide by 2-1/4 high with the tank destroyer motto and panther along with the unit being identified as the 776th T.D. Bn. The back has the name B. Rodgers engraved into it with the date 1984 and it is identified as being #23. I wasn't able to find B. Rodgers listed in the unit's roster and the date seems to imply it was done more recently, possibly for a reunion or maybe as a gift. The name might actually be the craftsman and not the veteran but this is only a guess.