tanks

Jul

12

1943

Kursk: Massive tank battle at Prokhorovka


12th July 1943: Kursk: Massive tank battle at Prokhorovka

All day long planes fired at each other in the sky. There was a hail of splinters and bullets. That was familiar enough: but watch out, you might get killed by falling aircraft! Pilots parachuted here and there. One had to be careful not to confuse our men with the Germans. We could often see how the parachuting pilots continued their fight by firing pistols at each other. We wanted to help them, but how? If only our parachutes had had stars on them or the fabric was of a specific colour.

Jul

11

1943

General George S. Patton arrives on Sicily

Men of the 6th Durham Light Infantry chat with an American paratrooper in Avola, 11 July 1943.


11th July 1943: General George S. Patton arrives on Sicily

While we were on the beach at Gela, waiting for a boat to take us out to the Monrovia, I saw the most stupid thing I have ever seen soldiers do. There were about three hundred 500-pound bombs and seven tons of 20 mm. high-explosive shell piled on the sand, and, in between the bombs and boxes of ammunition, these soldiers were digging foxholes. I told them that if they wanted to save the Graves Registration burials that was a fine thing to do, but otherwise, they’d better dig somewhere else.

Jul

8

1943

A German view of a Panzer attack at Kursk


8th July 1943: A German view of a Panzer attack at Kursk

Oberfeldwebel Allgaier identified a dug-in KV-1, one of many. With typical Swabian composure and calmness, he took up a sight picture. But the distance was still too great; the 7.5-centimeter rounds ricocheted. He then fired with high-explosive rounds in front of them, so that the churned-up dust and dirt would rob the enemy of his visibility. He then used the time to get closer. He repeated the same game several times. Then he was at the spot he needed to be. With an anti-tank round in the breech, he waited in ambush. The dust blew away and revealed the target. Round on the way! Direct hit! lt was masterful.

Jul

6

1943

A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk


6th July 1943: A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk

The last plane dove directly upon our battery and released its bomb load. One of the bombs flew directly at my dugout. I saw my own unavoidable death approaching, but I could do nothing to save myself: there was not enough time. It would take me five to six seconds to reach a different shelter, but the bomb had been released close to the ground, and needed only one or two seconds to reach the earth – and me.

Jul

5

1943

The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel


5th July 1943: The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel

Having ordered the gunlayer to keep one of the tanks, which had come to the fore and was moving towards our vehicle, in his gunsight, I quickly checked the other guys in my crew: Valeriy Korolev was seemingly composed and had his right hand on the gun’s trigger; Plaksin and Emelyan Ivanovich kept their eyes glued to the enemy tanks through their vision slits and were noticeably anxious; the driver-mechanic Vitya Oleinik was agitated, and his hands were idly grabbing and releasing the clutch levers, but at such a tense moment this was natural.

Jun

23

1943

A Soviet infantryman prepares for battle


23rd June 1943: A Soviet infantryman prepares for battle

We veterans explained to the greenhorns the particular weaknesses of Tigers, Ferdinands, Panthers, and so on. You should always act in pairs. The enemy tank must ride over you, over your trench, then one soldier fires at the accompanying infantrymen, while the other throws the bottle or grenade. Because of the intensive exercises involving tanks, we realized that very soon we’d be taking part in some heavy fighting between large armoured forces.

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.