Marine Corps Tank Battles in Korea
by Oscar E. Gilbert
Casemate Publications. ISBN 1932033130. Hard covers, 6.25 x 9.25-inches,
308 pages, 78 B&W photographs, four maps, appendices, index and bibliography.
Price: $34.95 USD, plus shipping.
Many will be familiar with the author and will know him from his old
“Full Detail” AFV monograph series and his more recent book
“Marine Tank Battles in the Pacific”. This latest in what
is intended to be a series (a book on World War Two is available, as the
above reference suggests, and another title on Vietnam is in preparation)
on Marine Corps use of tanks in combat describes actions in the “forgotten
war”, Korea, from June 1950 through July 1953. Relatively speaking,
there is very little available on the subject of the Korean War in general
and Marine Corps use of tanks in particular. So, for those reasons alone
this book is a welcome addition to the study of that period in history.
Note that operations of other Marine Corps armored assets such as the
LVT series of amphibious tractors is not the focus of the book, so there
is very little mention of them within the text. But, there is mention
(and some photographs) of the limited use of the M18-based M39 armored
utility vehicle in the armored personnel carrier/re-supply role, later
in the war.
In order to produce this fine book, the author has conducted extensive
interviews with participants and consulted archival and published materials.
This gives the book an excellent balance between the events as witnessed
by the participants and the broader historic, strategic and tactical issues.
It also makes for a great reading experience. The text is full of excellent
“war stories” and covers a wide variety of combat and non-combat
The reader will get an excellent idea of how unprepared for the war the
Marine Corps actually was, as well as how the average Marine adapted to
the situation to overcome the enemy. Life in the stink, the heat and cold
of the inside of a tank in battle is underscored by many first-person
anecdotes, most horrific, some humorous. Comments on the inevitable frustrations,
as infantry and tank units grew aware of each other’s strengths
and weaknesses are sprinkled throughout the book. Not to be forgotten
are the conflicts between the Marines and the US Army, (who did things
differently) which show that sometimes one’s friends can be almost
as dangerous as the enemy! And always, there is mention of the larger
military and geopolitical picture both in Korea and Washington, which
Most of the photographs are reproduced on glossy coated stock in two
separate sections within the book. This gives high quality reproduction
values, which allows the easier viewing of details in the photos. All
of the captions, without exception, are very informative as to the various
unique details of the vehicles, their locations, and the units that they
represent. Many will be very useful as inspiration for both vehicle modelers
and diorama builders. The remaining photographs consist of portraits of
those whose story is told within the covers (plus brief “where are
they now” captions). They are in a separate Epilogue at the book’s
The only problems I noted were the numerous typographical errors spread
throughout the text (and on at least one of the otherwise well done maps).
This is not necessarily the author’s fault. Certainly the publisher
should have made sure that the text was adequately proofread prior to
finalization for the print run. Regardless, the prospective purchaser
should not let this minor point prevent them from obtaining this otherwise
well produced book. You’ll not be disappointed.
Casemate Publications are available at bookstores and from the publisher
at: 2114 Darby Road, Havertown, PA, USA. Phone: 610-853-9131.