The Fourth Armored Circus


John C. Hardwig’s unit trained at Pine Camp, NY and in the desert of the
Southwestern United States. The unit was nicknamed “The Fourth Armored Circus” for the stunts and tricks they performed while unloading from flat-bedded railroad cars with only loose planks between the cars.

They were deployed to England in preparation for the Normandy Invasion
and then entered France in July 1944. As part of Patton’s 4th Armored Division, 51st Armored Infantry Battalion, the unit was instrumental in the breakout from the Normandy beachhead. While riding their cycles under fire, they were trained to lay them down and power spin in a circle while
drawing a Thompson 45 submachine gun from a front fork scabbard and returning fire.

Due to the high casualties caused by the Germans stringing piano wire at neck height, they were reassigned. John Hardwig became a jeep driver/ aide to Maj. Gen. Harry Rockafeller. Between October 1942 and September 1945, Hardwig served in 5 major battle campaigns and received numerous awards and medals including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Brooke (Hardwig) Dankenbring

My husband has been an avid reader of The Horse Backstreet Choppers magazine since 1993 and has always ridden a Harley. He is now in the process of building a 1967 BSA for me. I grew up riding on the back of a 1978 Suzuki TR185 with my dad. John C. Hardwig was my grandfather.

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