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FM 18-5: Organization and Tactics of Tank Destroyer Units
Tank Destroyer Field Manual, War Department, June 16, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Field Manual. As with all field manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the field manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


• 138. COMPOSITION.—The headquarters company consists of a company headquarters and the communication, staff, motor maintenance, and transportation platoons. For details of the organization, see T/O 18-26.

• 139. COMPANY HEADQUARTERS.—a. The headquarters section is composed of the company commander, his executive, and certain enlisted men to maintain the supply, mess, and administration of the company. The motorcycle scouts are usually employed at the battalion command post for convoy control, scouting and patrolling, and as messengers. In combat, company headquarters remains with the rear echelon.

b. The motor maintenance section is responsible for second echelon maintenance of all headquarters company vehicles. It works and marches with the transportation platoon under the transportation officer.

• 140. COMMUNICATION PLATOON.—The duties of certain members of the communication platoon are as follows:

a. Platoon leader.—For duties of the platoon leader, see paragraph 159.

b. Platoon sergeant.—(1) He assists the communication officer.

(2) In combat, he usually remains with the battalion command post.

c. Message center sergeant.—He organizes, establishes, and operates the battalion message center. As a guide for operation, see FM 24-5.

d. Radio sergeant.—(1) He is in charge of the radio section.

(2) He usually remains with the battalion command post.

(3) He supervises the operation and shifts of the radio operator.

(4) He supervises radio repair and assists the communication officer in the inspection of all of the battalion radios.

e. Radio electrician.—(1) He repairs and maintains all radios within the company and, if desirable, assists in the repair of other radios in the battalion.

(2) If desirable, he assists the communication officer in the inspection of radios.

(3) He usually remains at the company command post.

f. Radio operators.—(1) They operate radios and maintain logs as prescribed in FM 24-5 and TM 11-454.

(2) They keep their sets clean, tighten all exterior connections, and report to the radio sergeant all indications of malfunctioning.

g. Panel and code corporal.—(1) He assists the message center sergeant.

(2) He encodes and decodes, or supervises the encoding and decoding of, all messages that require such action.

(3) He operates the panel station, assisted by other members of the message center section.

• 141. DUTIES OF STAFF PLATOON NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS.—a. Battalion sergeant major.—(1) He assists S-1.

(2) In combat, he remains at the battalion command post.

(3) He receives incoming messages from the message center and distributes them to the proper staff officers.

(4) He keeps the unit journal, under supervision of S-1.

b. Personnel sergeant.—(1) He assists the personnel officer.

(2) In combat, he remains with the rear echelon.

c. Intelligence and operations sergeant.—(1) He assists S-3.

(2) In combat, he accompanies S-3, and maintains the battalion situation map and such informal records as directed by S-3.

(3) When practicable, he contacts the intelligence sergeant and checks to see that the two situation maps agree.

d. Intelligence sergeant.—(1) He assists S-2.

(2) In combat, he accompanies S-2, and maintains a situation map and such informal records as directed by S-2.

(3) When practicable, he contacts the intelligence and operations sergeant and checks to see that his situation map agrees with the battalion map.

e. Battalion supply sergeant and assistant supply sergeant.—(1) They assist S-4.

(2) In combat, they usually remain with the rear echelon.

f. Ammunition sergeant.—(1) He assists S-4 and the battalion supply sergeant in ammunition supply functions.

(2) In combat, he usually remains with the rear echelon.

• 142. MOTOR MAINTENANCE PLATOON.—a. For duties of the platoon leader, see paragraph 161.

b. The motor maintenance platoon performs second echelon maintenance as prescribed in FM 25-10 and AR 850-15. In combat, every possible expedient will be used to repair vehicles; it is a point of honor with maintenance personnel to keep vehicles rolling.

c. During combat, the motor maintenance platoon is divided into two echelons. One part remains with the rear echelon. The other part, including the wrecker, follows the combat echelon; upon deployment, this forward maintenance echelon reports to the battalion command post and operates from there as required.

d. The motor maintenance platoon assists in operating the vehicle recovery service. (See par. 56.)

• 143. TRANSPORTATION PLATOON.—a. For duties of the platoon leader, see paragraph 162.

b. The transportation platoon contains the vehicles required for the battalion baggage and kitchens, and for the supply of rations, water, ammunition, gasoline, and oil. The transportation platoon operates from the rear echelon, carrying ammunition and other supplies to the combat echelon as required.

c. Refueling in the field is effected by vehicles of the fuel section moving along march units and exchanging full cans for empty ones. When it is impracticable for fuel vehicles to move along a column, they leave filled cans at a designated rendezvous where companies send their empty cans. Upon conclusion of a march or day's operation, refueling is effected before drivers rest. Morning finds every vehicle completely refueled.

d. The ammunition vehicles, in combat, report to the location designated for the battalion ammunition distributing point. The ammunition section keeps is vehicles loaded with the required types of ammunition by a shuttle service back to an ammunition distributing point designated by higher authority.

• 144. DISPOSITION OF COMPANY.—a. On the march.—The communication platoon and a portion of the staff platoon move with the combat echelon. The remainder of the company moves with the battalion rear echelon under the headquarters company commander.

b. Bivouac.—When the battalion is in a bivouac, headquarters company is in the center protected by the tank destroyer companies. A plan of defense of the bivouac in case of surprise attack will be drawn up for each element of headquarters company, and all personnel will be assigned duties protecting specified areas.

c. Action during combat.—When the battalion enters combat, the rear echelon remains in concealment. As soon as the combat echelon leaves the bivouac, the commander of headquarters company causes each company supply sergeant to report to him and gives them instructions in regard to the regrouping of all rear echelon establishments. For purposes of control and security these are concentrated in a central location, usually that of headquarters company. All-around protection is established. Motorcycle scouts are sent to critical points to give warning of hostile attack. Machine guns on vehicles are prepared for action; they may be placed on ground mounts covering critical points.

d. Return of combat echelon.—In case the headquarters company commander is notified that the combat echelon is returning to the bivouac, he causes the rear echelon personnel and vehicles of the various companies to resume their former positions shortly before arrival of the destroyer units.

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