Somebody give me a white phosphorous grenade

Friday, August 28th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachT. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War) shares the story of an officer coming across a T-34 that had just been disabled with a well-placed bazooka shot:

Pointing to the tank, Schmitt wanted to know, “What’s with that?”

“The crew is still inside — won’t give up,” Frank said.

“Hell,” Schmitt said. He stood out in the open and began to yell at the tank in the Korean he had picked up during the Occupation. “Ede wha!” Come out!

The tank stayed quiet, even when Schmitt went up beside it and banged on the turret with his hand. Then Schmitt climbed up on the sponson and tried to pull open a hatch. Suddenly, then, there was movement inside. A crewman partly opened the hatch, thrust a pistol through, and fired point-blank at the Weapons Company commander.

Unhurt, Schmitt jumped down. “You son of a bitch, we’ll fix you!” he said. “Somebody give me a white phosphorous grenade—”

Pulling the pin, Schmitt dropped the incendiary grenade on the tank’s back deck, over the air intake.

The North Koreans never did come out, though they made a number of unpleasant noises as they stayed inside and burned.


  1. The American Muse says:

    Sherman had it right.

  2. Bob Sykes says:

    Can’t anyone spell or parse:

    noun: phosphorus
    adjective: phosphorous

    Then there is the neologism “semiautomatic pistol.” Even the NRA uses this. For John Browning and every other designer, manufacturer, retailer and user these were “automatic pistols” right through the 1990′s. This error is a feeble attempt to claim false expertise. Pistol, rifle, and shotgun terminology evolved independently, and the experts didn’t need to impose a false uniformity.

  3. Ezra says:

    Commie fanatics. Probably Red army troops that fought at Stalingrad.

  4. Kirk says:

    There are reports of North Korean and North Vietnamese tank crews having been chained to their positions inside their tanks. I don’t know how accurate those reports are, but they go a long way towards explaining thing like this.

  5. Harry Jones says:

    Chain me in a tank and I’ll run you over.

  6. Kirk says:


    That’s why I emphasize the “report” bit… There are a couple of objections that I have about the wisdom of such a policy, as you point out, and then there are the mechanics of it all. Where were they chained to, and how was it managed? Who managed the keys, padlocks, and chains? How would they even get into the tightly-constrained space inside the tank?

    Also, just how the hell did the guys making the reports of this make the discovery? Did they find a cooperative crew, or were they investigating a wrecked tank filled with dead bodies?

    Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the whole thing were entirely BS, but who knows?

    Nonetheless, there are the reports throughout the literature from WWII to Vietnam, T-34 through T-55 and Type 59 tanks. No idea as to the veracity of any of it all…

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