An unusual tank duel on the Eastern Front

Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bomber with 3.7 cm anti-tank guns under the wings.  Rudel may be the pilot,1943.

I fire red Very flares, wave and drop a message in a container in which I inform my tank colleagues who and what are coming in their direction three kilometres away, assuming they both keep to the same course. By dipping my aircraft towards the spot where the T-34s are travelling at the moment I tip them off to the nearness of the enemy. Both parties drive steadily on.




Shermans versus Panzer IVs in Italy

A Sherman tank of 50th Royal Tank Regiment near Caldari, 17 December 1943

Tug was bloody good, a trifle excited but did not let it affect his judgement. Pleased as a schoolboy. Having disposed of one we were at once fired on by another, and had to scuttle behind a house. Observation bad and we could only see A.P. [Armour Piercing] and Browning [machine gum] flashing back and forth between two invisible opponents. We thought he was behind a haystack so we waited with the gun pointing over the rear of the tank.




A German counter-attack on the Eastern front

'Tiger I' Panzers of the 'Das Reich' SS Division in Northern Russia.

Towards noon the Russian Sixtieth Army went off the air, and soon afterwards our tanks overran the army headquarters.By evening the Russian front had been rolled up for a length of twenty miles. The attack was brilliantly supported by the aircraft of General Seidemann, who had established his H.Q. in close vicinity to that of the 48th Panzer Corps.




Account of infantrymen versus Tiger tanks

British troops and local civilians examine a knocked-out German PzKpfw VI Tiger tank, 19 July 1943.

By belly crawling and short monkey runs I got near to the river bank. I now knew why we could get no support, our radio operator was lying on the bank part of him bobbing up and down in the river, the rest of him lying on the bank with his smashed radio. Now out of the ditch and in the open I could see two Tigers up river stationary and able to fire along the river. To my right about a hundred yards away was a small clump of trees and bushes.




Soviet infantry destroyed by flamethrower

A 'Schützenpanzer mit Flammenwerfer', an armoured troop carrier with flame-thrower , on the Eastern Front in 1944.

We get our first sight of the attackers when their earth-coloured helmets appear out of the shallow depression.The first waves are mown down by the murderous fire from our two heavy machine guns and those behind now fall back down into the hollow. And then something happens that makes our hair stand on end: we witness, first-hand and close-up, the inhuman treatment meted out to Soviet soldiers by their leaders, and we have real sympathy for the poor devils.




The Germans hold the Dnieper Line

Panzer IV on the move on the Eastern Front

Suddenly Russian infantry in solid serried ranks attacked behind a barrage on a narrow front, with tanks in support, and one wave following the other. Numerous low-flying planes attacked those strong-points which were still firing. A Russian infantry attack is an awe-inspiring spectacle; the long grey waves come pounding on, uttering fierce cries, and the defending troops require nerves of steel.




Wehrmacht “scorched earth” retreat in Russia

A Russian village burns during the German retreat, August 1943.

Although the war caused these people a great deal of misfortune and hardship, the latter bore no comparison to the terror-bombing suffered by the civil population in Germany or what happened later on in Germany’s eastem territories. In any case, all the measures taken on the German side were conditioned by military necessity. One or two figures may serve to show what an immense technical achievement this withdrawal operation was. To begin with, there were 100,000 wounded to evacuate. About 2,500 trains were needed to shift German equipment and stores and requisitioned Soviet property. And the Russian civilians who had attached themselves to us alone numbered many hundreds of thousands.




A narrow escape on the Eastern Front

German anti tank gun on the Eastern front 1943.

The Russians had broken through all of a sudden.The operations of our division towards the south had to be called off. Panzergrenadier-Regiment 12 had to move as rapidly as possible, swinging out wide to the north, to be committed on the west bank of the Dessna, so as to prevent the Russian forces that had raced forward from taking the Dessna bridge in a coup de main. It was directed that all of the crossing points were to be blown up and the approach routes mined. Minutes before they wanted to set the charges, they saw us racing towards them like crazy men, directly towards the minef1eld.




Das Reich panzers rush to the defence of Kharkov

A view of men from Das Reich during Unternehmen Zitadelle, July 1943.

Under continuous heavy artillery, mortar, rocket, and tank fire, and due to the incessant day and night bombardment of the main line of resistance by enemy aircraft and the bitter defense against enemy attack, the regiments, which have been in continuous combat for the past six weeks, especially those of the 198th, 168th, and 3rd Panzer Divisions, have been bled dry. Not many more enemy attacks can be withstood in the present positions.




Kursk: Massive tank battle at Prokhorovka

Massed German Panzers including captured T-34s attack at Kursk.

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.