The Sherman tank is one of the most iconic vehicles that became infamous during and after World War II for its significant contribution in helping the Allies win the war.
Equally significant, though maybe less known, was the “tank ace” Staff Sgt Lafayette "War Daddy" Pool, a brave, committed tanker and his tank crew of four.
The story of Pool, his crew, and their Sherman Tank affectionately named In The Mood is definitely a tale of war heroes worth passing down.
It was so notable that their story was inspiration for a movie!
Tank Ace - Lafayette Pool
Lafayette Pool, hailing from Odem, Texas, volunteered for the Army during the 1940 draft, serving a calling that had been in him since he was a boy to serve his country.
Leaving behind his engineering studies at the Texas College of Arts and Industries, now known as Texas A&M University - Kingsville, he reported to Fort Sam Houston in 1941 despite an eye injury sustained as a child, though that injury would never hold him back.
By 1943 and ready for embarking to Europe, Pool had been promoted to Staff Sergeant when he was offered a chance to go to Officer Candidate School to become a 2nd lieutenant.
He declined the offer, opting instead to go to the battlefield, the goal of having one of the best tank crews fighting the war already in his mind.
Pool did that and much more, going on to become one of the U.S. Army’s tank aces, a term used to classify those who had enjoyed great success against enemy tanks or other armored vehicles.
As he collected a crew of sharp men around him, Pool, his tank, and his crew were nearly unstoppable, even when faced with various setbacks.
Pool had great skill as a tank commander and the team he built became a little military family that went on to achieve many successes, easily earning the title of tank aces.
A Tank - or Three - Called In the Mood
In the military, the tradition of naming vehicles like planes and tanks has been around for a long time.
During WWII, his first tank was an M4A1 Sherman and Pool named it In the Mood, named after the famous song by Gene Miller.
Pool and his crew were definitely "in the mood" for destroying some enemy tanks throughout their impressive battlefield career, when the tank and its crew became famous.
Pool was trusted as a leader and though he put himself and his crew into precarious positions multiple times, it was never without good results.
In fact, the original tank was destroyed in June of 1944 but only after destroying three German tanks and killing more than 70 soldiers.
Each new tank that Pool acquired was re-named In The Mood by him and his crew, as the name had become meaningful to them.
The second Sherman, an M4A1 (76) W, came with a bigger, longer cannon that was used in numerous attacks to keep the Germans retreating and was destroyed in August 1944 when it was hit by bombs.
All five, the commander and his crew, had now survived the destruction of both tanks, so they happily gave their third tank, another M4A1 (76) W Sherman with the same updated cannons, the same lucky name as the first two and continued leading the fight to clear the battlefield of enemy tanks, armored cars, and soldiers.
In The Mood was a great name that served Pool, his crew, and three tanks well, but as with anything else, all great things do eventually come to an end.
Ironically, that end to the third In The Mood happened when, of all things, Pool and his crew were ordered to flank the field during an attack rather than spearhead the attack like they usually did.
They were at their last battle before being rotated back to the States and the commanding officer, already acknowledging Pool’s successes, wanted to send the entire crew back home safely as the heroes they were.
At the time, one of Pool’s regular crew was also missing, having a hearing check done, so they had a new crew member for the battle.
Between the inexperience of their new crew member and the way the Germans unexpectedly attacked them twice, Pool’s tank was once again destroyed, seriously injuring him and some of his men.
The “War Daddy” And His Crew
In an autobiographical article about the event and its aftermath entitled “My Pups,” Pool, who died in 1991 after a lengthy and rewarding military career, reminisces about waking up in a military hospital in England weeks later wondering what had happened to the four men who were the crew of In The Mood, revealing his thoughts and affections for them and the tight-knit crew and little military family they had formed.
It is an interesting read, one that in just a few words explains the meanings of the nicknames of his crew members - School Boy, who got the name because he was only 17, Jailbird, who’d been charged with manslaughter and chose the Army over prison, Ground Hog, the brave, accurate gunner, and Baby, the demure 5’4” driver of the tank - as well as the camaraderie that this gang of seeming misfits had formed between them and their commander with a bad eye.
As they all referred to each other by these nicknames, they’d collectively named Pool with his fervor for war their “War Daddy,” since he somehow always knew what to do and how to take care of them so they got out alive, even on that last fateful day.
He called them his “pups” since he took them on inexperienced and still learning, teaching them bravery, leadership, and how to win at war without backing down.
In the emotional end of Pool’s passages, the reader sees that the War Daddy understands that his pups were no longer pups but now full-grown dogs ready to use their experience to continue the fight against the enemy, while he stayed back and healed.
The Story of War Daddy Pool Lives On
Stories about braveness and great leadership come from every war and the story of Lafayette “War Daddy” Pool is no different.
His story, and the story of In The Mood and its crew, was inspiration for the 2014 film Fury, starring Brad Pitt.
The story has also inspired many essays and manuscripts about Pool, his men, and their accounts of fighting the Germans during World War II.
Meet Author Stephen L. Moore - November 19, 2022
Stephen L. Moore, author of Blood and Fury: The World War II Story of Tank Sergeant Lafayette "War Daddy" Pool, tells the entire story of War Daddy, his "pups," and all three of the In The Mood tanks in a wonderfully penned account of Pool’s life and military career.
The Museum of the American G.I. is proud to announce that Stephen Moore will be visiting us on November 19, 2022, to discuss his book with military enthusiasts who want to know more about Sergeant Lafayette "War Daddy" Pool and his impressive story.
More information will be posted on the website about this wonderful opportunity.
Come join us on Saturday, November 19, 2022!
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