Common in military history are stories of brilliant solutions coming from unexpected sources. The Culin cutter is just such a device. When the Allies landed in Normandy in June 1944 their advance was slowed to a crawl by the thick, high hedgerows that lined the narrow roadways. These hedgerows couldn’t be pierced easily and the roadways became clogged lane ways of death for allied tankers.
The solution came from an unassuming New Jersey native, Sgt. Curtis Grubb Culin III, who was serving with 2nd Armored Division. He thought up using scrap metal from wrecks and fashioning them into sharpened teeth, which were fitted to the lower fronts of M4 Shermans and M5 Stuarts. These tracks could now break into and through the tangle of centuries worth of dirt, roots and bramble that formed the thick hedgerows. This allowed the allies to regain a measure of their mobility and to finally break out from the beachhead. Culin later lost a leg in the war, but did survive to return home to the U.S.
Sgt. Culin was awarded the Legion of Merit.