9th Armored Division on Maneuvers in Desert Training Center

The 9th Armored Division (the "Phantom Division") was stationed at Camp Ibis from June-October 1943. Below are some photos from a collection of 26 negatives I received taken by a soldier while on a week long maneuver where the men covered hundreds of miles over bare desert in tanks and trucks. It was pure luck that I was able to locate the exact spot where these photos were taken, allowing for a 'then and now' comparison. When I visited the site, there was still lots of evidence of the 9th Armored's bivouac, including food and tobacco cans, .50 and .30 cal shell casings, old campsites and lots of tank tracks still visible in the desert.

The 9th Armored Division landed in Normandy late in September 1944, and first went into line, 23 October 1944, on patrol duty in a quiet sector along the Luxembourg-German frontier. When the Germans launched their winter offensive on 16 December 1944, the 9th, with no real combat experience, suddenly found itself engaged in heavy fighting. The Division saw its severest action at St. Vith, Echternach, and Bastogne, its units fighting in widely separated areas.

It's stand at Bastogne held off the Germans long enough to enable the 101st Airborne to dig in for a defense of the city. After a rest period in January 1945, the Division made preparations for a drive across the Roer River. The offensive was launched, 28 February 1945, and the 9th smashed across the Roer to Rheinbach, sending patrols into Remagen. The Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen was found intact, and was seized by elements of the 9th Armored minutes before demolition charges were set to explode on 7 March 1945.

The Division exploited the bridgehead, moving south and east across the Lahn River toward Limburg, where thousands of Allied prisoners were liberated. The Division drove on to Frankfurt and then turned to assist in the closing of the Ruhr Pocket. In April it continued east, encircling Leipzig and securing a line along the Mulde River. The Division was shifting south to Czechoslovakia when the war in Europe ended on 9 May 1945.


An M4 Sherman medium tank crew firing shells intothe valley. "MOM" is stenciled on the side.


Sherman's firing 75mm shells. Spent casing are stored under the white tarp on the left of the photo.


Another 'then-now' view- note the tank tracks in the right photo are still visible in the desert today.


GMC CCKW "Deuce and a Half" cargo trucks that haul food, ammo and provisions for the week-long maneuver. The area today is as barren and desolate as it was 70 years ago.


The photographer has climbed the hill next to the tanks for the next few photos. A GMC supply truck has come up to the tanks. Note more tanks and trucks in the distance. The circular tank tracks in the left of the original photo are still clearly visible in my photo.


After firing shells, two Shermans leave. One circles around the front and is seen in the middle heading back to the supply trucks. The other backed up (note tank tracks) to turn around and drove to the right of the photo. Note the Dodge M6 Gun Motor Carriage firing its 37mm gun next to the remaining two Sherman tanks.


Lots of old food cans, ammo and other debris was found in this area.


A close-up of the tank tracks clearly visible after nearly seven decades


Some soldiers on top of the hill to watch the tanks fire into the valley.


Two soldiers standing on the rocks. Note the large rock in lower left corner is the same.


A captain taking a smoke break. He has the 9th Armored Division patch on his jacket, which is how I was first able to ID which unit this was. The rocks in the left side of both photos line up. Note the Dodge M6 in the background.


Soldiers firing Browning .30 cal machine guns. Me sitting on the same rock as the sergeant.  Note the deep tank tracks around me.


A soldier eating his meal off the back of a GMC 'deuce and a half' truck.


A lieutenant standing on the hood of a M6 Gun Carriage talking to the photographer. A long line of 9th Armored Division supply trucks, tanks and jeeps preparing to move out for the maneuver.


The 33 ton Sherman tanks left deep tracks on the hard, rocky desert floor.


A 1943 dated .50 caliber brass machine gun shell from the Salt Lake Armory. It was probably fired from the tank commander's .50 mounted on top of the turret.


A tobacco can, .30 shell and metal strap- probably for a wooden food or ammo crate. Old rusted food and juice cans.


1943 dated .30 cal rounds. Fired from a M1919 Browning machine gun or a M1 Garand. No idea what this is but there were many. A wire held together with a metal tab that has U.S. stamped on it.


Old rusted can. Unknown rock formation found where the tanks were.

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