tanks

Jun

18

1943

A prisoner snatch on the Eastern front


18th June 1943: A prisoner snatch on the Eastern front

We heard cries of alarm from above us. Firing on the move, Germans were already running through the forest in our direction. Our man responsible for the boat couldn’t find the end of the cable in the water, panicked, and swam across the river to our side, although later he told us that he had gone to get the boat. We made so many mistakes due to our lack of professional training!

May

1

1943

The US 34th ‘Red Bull’ Division takes Hill 609

1st May 1943: The US 34th Division takes Hill 609

Toward morning one platoon succeeded in forcing its way up the goat trail, which the Germans had believed was not a feasible means of approaching their positions, and took the stubborn men of the “Barenthin” Regiment by surprise from the rear. Temporarily stunned, the enemy was quickly overcome and Hill 609 was ours. Immediately a battalion was placed in occupation of it and our artillery forward observers accompanying the foremost infantry elements soon were directing fire upon the rapidly retreating enemy causing great havoc.

Mar

27

1943

British tanks break through German lines overnight

27th March 1943: British tanks break through German lines overnight

At times the tanks were crunching over occupied enemy trenches, and we could see terrified parties of Germans and Italians running about with their hands up. But we hadn’t time to bother about prisoners. Our progress was desperately slow. That was my chief worry. If we didn’t succeed in getting through in the dark, the situation in the morning didn’t bear thinking about. We should be surrounded by the enemy and dominated by the hills on either side of the valley.

Mar

22

1943

Impressions of the well supplied US Army

22 March 1943: Impressions of the well supplied US Army in Tunisia

Most of the American stuff was first-class, and even as good or better than the German. Their mess tins, water bottles, rubber-soled boots, woollen underclothes, shirts and windbreakers were all superior to the British equivalents and their uniforms in general were made of finer stuff. The Garand rifle and the officers’ carbine were already regarded by many veterans as the best small arms on the front. As for their heavier equipment, it is doubtful if any army ever went to war so well supplied.

Mar

9

1943

Exercise Spartan tests D-Day forces in Britain

9th March 1943: Exercise Spartan tests D-Day forces in Britain

The armoured divisions’ progress, however, was disappointingly slow; there were bad traffic jams and petrol shortages; and for a time there was a complete breakdown in communications between Corps and Army Headquarters. This last was not surprising, since 2nd Canadian Corps Signals was neither fully equipped nor fully trained. It should moreover be remembered that this was the first occasion on which the whole of the 5th Division was actually exercised together as a formation.

Feb

19

1943

Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

19th February 1943: Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

As we very soon discovered, the Americans had first-class tanks and antitank guns. Behind the front, large supply dumps could quickly replace any deficiency. The fact that they had no combat experience and were at a disadvantage against our “desert foxes,” could not be held against them. In one respect, they seemed to have the edge over their British allies: they were extraordinarily flexible; they adapted immediately to a changed situation and fought with great doggedness.

Jan

28

1943

Montgomery battles on, Rommel bows out

28th January 1943: Montgomery battles on, Rommel bows out

When he first stepped on the stage he told us to cough and blow our noses and then be silent. We would later on be permitted to cough at intervals. The pride he showed in the Eighth Army – ‘my army, my soldiers’ – just escaped self-flattery. His aggressiveness in the field was carried into his talk. It allowed of no modesty, mock or real. He was enthusiastic about what had been accomplished but only in so far as it was a stepping-stone to what he now intended to do.

Jan

2

1943

U.S. and Australian troops win a hard victory at Buna

2nd January 1943: U.S. and Australian troops win a hard victory at Buna

He has had over six weeks to develop his defences and along all good approaches we can expect timber pill-boxes in depth which can only be located by actual contact. He is a determined defensive fighter and fights to the death, taking a heavy toll of attacking troops. He has used guns and Molotov cocktails in the jungle effectively against our tanks.

Dec

26

1942

Listening to the battle from a tank

26th December 1942: Listening to the battle from a tank

‘King, have you anything to report? Over.’ ‘George, one of your children came up in the middle of my transmission then, when I was trying to talk to King. It’s most difiicult and annoying, and I won’t have it… Tell him to bloody well keep off the air when I’m trying to fight a battle. Off . . . er, to you. King, King, have you anything to report? Over.’

Dec

16

1942

New Russian tactics delay ‘Winter Storm’

16th December 1942: New Russians tactics delay ‘Winter Storm’

Over and over again it became necessary for the tanks to wait or even turn back and assist, as the panzergrenadiers had to deploy to locate and identify an invisible enemy in combat on foot. The various enemy nests proved so well hidden in the steppe grass (which was brown like Red Army uniforms) that the only way to find them was actually to stumble across them. Usually some unlucky German soldier had been killed by a bullet before a nest was identified.