tanks

Jun

13

1942

‘Black Saturday’ for the British Eighth Army


13th June 1942: ‘Black Saturday’ for the British Eighth Army

With the first light the two armies were engaged. Almost at once the battlefield was covered over with rolling sand and the smoke of buming oil. Confused orders and messages were flying over the radio on both sides.

The front line British tanks called for assistance, and launched an attack from the north to cut through the base of Rommel’s wedge. They ran at once on the 88-millimetre guns that had been concealed in the night. Simultaneously, the tip of the enemy wedge threatened the British armoured headquarters which were forced to decamp hurriedly eastwards. During this move the headquarters lost contact with a great part of the tanks joined in battle.


And the battle was ferocious. In an attempt to get within range the British charged headlong upon the German positions. In a few minutes it was a massacre for both sides. From dozens of concealed positions the 88s opened up a tremendous belt of fire. Those British tanks, which had somehow escaped the opening salvoes and got right up to the enemy, found themselves exposed and deserted by their comrades who had fallen by the way.

Read the whole story at World War II Today

Feb

24

1942

South African dawn patrol snatches prisoners

24th February 1942: Desert War – South African dawn patrol snatches prisoners

They were miles out, in a kind of valley. Stirton stumbled on a German position about a company strong, only a Sentry half-asleep. Barney yelled, ‘Share that with your friends’ and lobbed a grenade. There was pandemonium. Shouts, screams the patrol’s tommy guns pouring in fire.

Jan

10

1942

Rommel remains confident despite retreat

Operations going as planned so far. Our mines and Luftwaffe are making things difficult for the enemy pursuit. To think that we’ve got our force back 300 miles to a good line, without suffering serious harm, and in spite of the fact that the bulk of it is non-motorised! That our “ unemployed ” generals are grousing all the time doesn’t surprise me. Criticism doesn’t cost much.

Dec

12

1941

Intense cold brings misery to the German Army

Lorries have long since been off the roads. Horse-drawn sleighs are the only means of locomotion. Tragic scenes of retreat recur with ever greater frequency. We have few aircraft. In temperatures like these engines are short-lived. As previously when we had the initiative we go out in support of our ground troops, now fighting to hold the attacking Soviets.

Dec

3

1941

British tanks still outgunned in the desert

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.

Nov

26

1941

Panzer attack causes confusion in North Africa

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.

Nov

23

1941

Captain Philip Gardner wins the VC

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.

Nov

22

1941

Another VC at Sidi Rezegh

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.

Sep

8

1941

The siege of Leningrad begins

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.

Jul

8

1941

Baling out of a tank in Russia

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.