“SEEK, ATTACK, DESTROY!”: IMPRESSIVE VINTAGE ARCHIVE OF 102 PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS DOCUMENTING OPENING CEREMONIES AT FORT HOOD, TEXAS, THE U.S. ARMY’S FIRST TANK DESTROYER TRAINING CENTER
(WORLD WAR II). Photographic archive of Fort Hood Opening Day. Killeen, Texas: U.S. Army Signal Corps, 1942. Oblong folio (11 by 14 inches), 90 leaves of cardstock, each with gelatin silver black-and-white or sepia-toned photographic print on glossy paper stock affixed (88 measuring 8 by 10 inches, 2 measuring 4 by 6 inches), ring-bound; 12 additional photographic prints (9 on glossy paper stock, 3 on matte; each measuring 8 by 10 inches) laid in loose. Housed in custom half morocco clamshell box.
Vintage archive of 102 black-and-white and sepia-tinted photographic prints (90 mounted on thick card stock, another dozen loose) documenting the September 1942 opening ceremonies of the United States Army’s groundbreaking tank destroyer training center at Camp Hood, with numerous intriguing views of anti-tank artillery, troop exercises and Army officials and important visitors from Washington, D.C. and Hollywood. A unique, visual primary source of American military history.
In 1942, while World War II raged, the United States Army developed 108,000 acres of central Texas farm land into Camp Hood, later Fort Hood. The new base became home to a tank destroyer tactical and firing center and some 38,000 troops (a figure that would swell to almost 95,000 in less than a year). The Army designed Camp Hood to house its newly created Tank Destroyer battalions: mobile anti-tank guns on armored half-tracks to combat Nazi Germany's Panzers, which had overrun so much of Europe. Generals Andrew D. Bruce and Lesley J. McNair (both pictured in several of the photographs in this album) organized the units, quickly training "scores of officers and men," as the New York Times reported, "in the tough business of 'tank busting'… The mission of the tank destroyer is best epitomized by the motto the new battalions have adopted, 'Seek, attack, destroy!'" This remarkable archive of vintage photographs documents the ceremonies marking the base's opening day, September 18, 1942. Highlights include the presentation of colors and the review of troops; inspections of such equipment as .30 caliber machine guns, the 37 mm tank gun towed by a Jeep, 75 mm guns mounted on the M3 GMC and M10 GMC half-tracks, and M2A4 Light Tanks; practical demonstrations of the quarter-ton reconnaissance car, Molotov cocktails and "Sticky Bomb" grenades (the latter improvised from dynamite, nitroglycerin and GI socks), trench warfare and unarmed combat; mock Nazi villages and simulated Japanese formations that served to simulate tank hunting under actual combat conditions; the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps detachment; Fort Hood's military personnel as well as visiting officers and government dignitaries; and several photographs of Hollywood starlets and popular pin-up subjects Anne Gwynne, Martha O'Driscoll and Joan Blondell, as well as Miss America 1942, Jo-Carroll Dennison (shown playing with the 899th Tank Destroyer battalion's puppy mascots, visiting with Will Rogers, Jr., and firing a Tommy Gun). Neat manuscript ink annotations and ruling to leaf margins. Some photographs with previous, unobtrusive hole-punches at edges.
Occasional closed tears to leaves, not affecting mounted photographs. Light curling to loose photographs. A unique and engrossing archive of vintage photographs, depicting a significant development in America's military might.