Who's protecting who?

I was fiddling around on Wikipedia the other day, and came across the photo above, which had this caption:

Yanks of 60th Infantry Regiment advance into a Belgian town under the protection of a heavy M4 Sherman tank. September 9, 1944

Obviously, the photo was posed, and I certainly don't blame whoever wrote that caption, whether it was 1944 or last week. But the truth is, in real life, in the American Army, the relationship between armor and infantry was considerably more complex than either the photo or caption suggest. The foot soldiers are protecting that tank every bit as much as it's protecting them.

American tactics as the war progressed were actually both fluid and fairly sophisticated when it came to combining different arms or tools of war. That's one of the things that historians have generally not focused on when writing about WW 2 - much to the detriment of generals like Omar Bradley, who actually deserves quite a bit of credit for that flexibility. Bradley was not the plodding, one-dimensional infantryman some historians seem to believe. Nor did Patton, always identified with tanks in news stories and many subsequent histories, fail to appreciate how intricately armor and infantry (and artillery, air power, etc.), had to work together on the battlefield.

Photos may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes the thousand words speak to a greater truth.

(Side note: Sure, "protecting whom" may be the "proper" way of putting it, but are you going talk grammar with an M4?)

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