"My Experience In Cologne March 6,1945"
Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, Co. E. 32nd A.R. 3rd Arm'd. Div.
We were fortunate to have our M-4 Sherman replaced with the M 26 PershingsTank with the ninety mm gun.. We had been on a drive to capture Cologne and we were near the center of the square in front of the Cathedral when one of our Sherkans M-4 tanks approaching the center square, was knocked out by a German Mark V Panther, killing three of the crew. When this happened, our crew was ordered to go down the adjacent street and destroy the German tank.
We were told to just move into the intersection far enough to fire into the side of the enemy tank, which had their gun facing up the other street. However, as we entered the intersection, our driver had his periscope turned toward the Germans and saw their gun turning to meet us. When I turned our turrent, I was looking into the Mark V gun tube; so instead of stopping to fire, our driver drove into the middle of the intersection so we wouldn't be a sitting target. As we were moving, I fired once. Then we stopped and I fired two more shells to make sure they wouldn't fire at our side. All three of our shells penetrated, one under the gun shield and two on the side. The two side hits went completely through and out the other side.
As for the German tank crew, I spent many years wondering if they survived. Only recently, after receiving the Bates' tape, did I find the answer. The tape revealed that three died outside of the tank. A letter from another soldier who looked through one of the shell holes said he saw one burned to death inside the tank. Apparently none of them survived the ordeal. The M 26 Perishing Tank with the 90 mm gun was the best tank we had during the war. We kept it till the end of the war; however, we were hit twice with panzerfausts at Paderborn and had to have repairs done.