British tanks still outgunned in the desert

There had been high hopes for the new Stuart 'Honey' tanks when they arrived in the desert in August 1941

Closer and closer the German tanks came, and miraculously our line held. Again, somehow, the enemy had been able to muster almost fifty tanks. Against the inferior armour and gun-power of our only slightly more numerous Honeys it was almost enough to give victory.




Panzer attack causes confusion in North Africa

A British tank passes a burning German during Operation Crusader, November 1941.

Prisoners became gaolers. Men were captured and escaped three or four times. Half a dozen isolated engagements were going on. Field dressing stations and hospitals were taking in British and German and Italian wounded impartially, and as the battle flowed back and forth the hospitals would sometimes be under British command, sometimes under German.




Captain Philip Gardner wins the VC

Captain Philip Gardner after recovering from sustained wounds whilst rescuing a fellow soldier in the desert.

With the tow-rope now secured, Gardner was signalling the driver to move when a bullet struck him in the leg, fortunately not breaking it. As the tank moved, the tow-rope parted — probably shot away. Despite his own wound, Gardner returned to the armoured car, lifted Beame out and staggered back to his tank, half carrying and half dragging him.




Another VC at Sidi Rezegh

Campbell at his investiture with the Victoria Cross by the Commander in Chief, General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Campbell was awarded the VC for his action at Sidi Rezergh, 21 - 22 November 1941.

During the final enemy attack on the 22nd November he was wounded, but continued most actively in the foremost positions, controlling the fire of batteries which inflicted heavy losses on enemy tanks at point blank range, and finally acted as loader to one of the guns himself. Throughout these two days his magnificent example and his utter disregard of personal danger were an inspiration to his men and to all who saw him.




The siege of Leningrad begins

The heavy armour of the Russian KV1 tank was more than a match for any German tank at the time.

As I watched with fascination, the crews manning the 88s quickly scored a hit on the lead tank. Unable to maneuver or to elevate their barrels high enough to hit targets on top of the cliff, the remaining Russian armor was in a helpless and hopeless position. Over the next 20 minutes, the deadly 88s proceeded to pick off one after another of the KV’s and T-35’s trapped on the street below.




Baling out of a tank in Russia

The Czech built 38(t) tank advancing through a Russian village during the early part of Operation Barbarossa

My smashed teeth soon found their way into the trash can at the aid station. The shrapnel embedded in my face remained there until it saw the light of day all by itself as had been correctly predicted. I hitch-hiked my way back to the front.




Rommel counter-attacks in the desert

Crusader tanks moving to forward positions in the Western Desert, 26 November 1941. The Mk I only had a two pounder gun and was unreliable.

Next morning, the 17th June, the 5th Light Division set off at the appointed time [4.30am] and after a headlong advance reached the neighbourhood of Sidi Suleiman at 06.00 hours. The 15th Panzer Division had become involved in heavy fighting against an armoured force which the British had sent to parry the danger menacing their army. But it soon reached is objective. Great numbers of destroyed British tanks littered the country through which the two divisions had passed.




Operation Battleaxe – tank versus tank

The German 88mm anti-aircraft gun became notorious when used as an anti tank gun. In prepared positions when it was well dug in it was very difficult to hit.

The shot had penetrated the front of the turret just in front of King, the loader. It had twisted the machine-gun out of its mounting. It, or a jagged piece of the torn turret, had then hit the round that King had been holding ready – had set it on fire. The explosion had wrecked the wireless, torn King’s head and shoulders from the rest of his body and started a fire among the machine-gun boxes stowed on the floor.




Attack and counter-attack on Crete

German paratroopers go forward over the rocky terrain in the blazing heat on Crete 1941

I said to Kippenberger that I’d like first of all to go through the village on my own, so that I could go through at full speed and without infantry with me. And I drove through the village very fast firing on each side of the street and it was just chock-a-block full of Germans – and in coming out my second tank was hit and two of the crew members were wounded, but the tank was still serviceable.




Tank versus tank inside Tobruk

A German Mk IV tank, its turret blown off by a 25-pounder during the battle within Tobruk on the 14th April.

‘Driver advance, turn slightly left.’ My tank moved across to give this man protection. It was a stupid move, because by turning I presented the German tank gunners with a larger target, and they took full advantage of it. As we were turning back head-on to the enemy, the engine cut out, and we were left slightly ‘broadside on’. ‘She’s on fire, sir!’ shouted Adams, but he went on loading shells.