“Fly’ in Home” the M4 Sherman destroyed on Peleliu island, October 18th, 1944

Interviews, WW2, WW2 Pacific treasures, WW2 Wrecks

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos and additional information by Seth Erazmus

A lone Sherman tank wreck is located on Peleliu island, still echoing the ferocity of warfare.

"Fly’in Home" in October 7th 1944, just a few days before it was destroyed
“Fly’in Home” in October 7th 1944, just a few days before it was destroyed

According to Mr. Seth Erazmus, this specific tank was named “Fly’in Home” and was destroyed on October 18th, 1944 along with most of her crew.

1st platoon, A Compnay, 710th Tank Battalion training in San Luis Obisbo in early 1944.
1st platoon, A Compnay, 710th Tank Battalion training in San Luis Obisbo in early 1944.

The grandfather of Mr. Seth Erazmus was the assistant driver of this Sherman tank and as Mr. Erazmus points out Pfc George Lopes of Fall River MA took his place that day, and he was KIA. My grandfather Charles Erazmus survived by just a stroke of dumb luck”

Pfc George Lopes of 128 Orange Street in Fall River MA. A well liked guy of Portuguese heritage.
Pfc George Lopes of 128 Orange Street in Fall River MA. A well liked guy of Portuguese heritage.

The lone tank was sent in to extract Marines that had been pinned down at the western base of Hill 210. Around 150 Japanese had infiltrated the front lines located northwest of Hill 210 and reoccupied their old positions, now behind American lines.

The handgrip that would have been in his hand the moment he was killed.
The handgrip that would have been in his hand the moment he was killed.

A USMC Captain named Henry Will Jones of GA was with the tank to help direct them to the location of his men and the Japanese positions.

Grandpa's tank. The hole I am standing in was caused by a Japanese IED built from a Japanese aircraft bomb. Likely something in the 200-500lbs range. They buried them in the ground, with the nose pointed up. Inside this tank was the crew, surrounded by ammunition, and aviation fuel. Four of the five men in the tank crew were killed, along with a Marine Captain on the tank acting as a guide. I am only here today because a guy named George Lopes took my grandfather's place that day. His position was direct where I am standing in this photo.
Grandpa’s tank. The hole I am standing in was caused by a Japanese IED built from a Japanese aircraft bomb. Likely something in the 200-500lbs range. They buried them in the ground, with the nose pointed up. Inside this tank was the crew, surrounded by ammunition, and aviation fuel. Four of the five men in the tank crew were killed, along with a Marine Captain on the tank acting as a guide. I am only here today because a guy named George Lopes took my grandfather’s place that day. His position was direct where I am standing in this photo.

He was KIA along with the crew when the tank hit a mine.

George with a few of his buddies
George with a few of his buddies

It burned for days and was later rolled to extricate the human remains.

John Prehm (tank commander) and Otto Hesselbarth (driver) seen here before combat in Palau. Otto was killed within a few months of this photo being taken.
John Prehm (tank commander) and Otto Hesselbarth (driver) seen here before combat in Palau. Otto was killed within a few months of this photo being taken.

The tank was tank “A-1” of A Company, of the Army’s 710th Tank Battalion. My grandfather was its assistant driver.

The assistant drivers .30cal gun position where George was killed. This was actually my grandfather’s gun, but George had the unfortunate luck of taking his position that day.
The assistant driver’s .30cal gun position where George was killed. This was actually my grandfather’s gun, but George had the unfortunate luck of taking his position that day.
Sgt. John Prehm of Ames Iowa. John was a tank commander from another tank in the platoon. He was put in charge of the lead tank that day, taking the place of 1st. Lt. Gilbert Lindloff. John survived the incident, but was sent back to the States as a result of his injuries. He was in the turret at the time of the explosion.
Sgt. John Prehm of Ames Iowa. John was a tank commander from another tank in the platoon. He was put in charge of the lead tank that day, taking the place of 1st. Lt. Gilbert Lindloff. John survived the incident, but was sent back to the States as a result of his injuries. He was in the turret at the time of the explosion.
Seth Erazmus: "In memory of all those who lost their lives so far from home."
Seth Erazmus: “In memory of all those who lost their lives so far from home.”