tanks

Jun

30

1944

RAF heavy bombers support Royal Tank Regiment

Avro Lancasters carpet bomb a road junction near Villers Bocage, Normandy, France through which the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions were expected to move to carry out an attack on the junction of the British and American armies. The daylight attack, by 266 aircraft of Nos. 3, 4 and 8 Groups, was carried out at 4,000 feet to ensure that the target indicators dropped by the Pathfinders were seen and 1,100 tons of bombs were dropped with great accuracy.

Must have been hundreds of planes, but all over in about 10 minutes. Seemed to be very little Jerry AA and didn’t see a single plane destroyed. Shortly afterwards, a huge black cloud ascended and gradually spread towardsus. Within an hour, we were literally in a fog: air became noticeably cooler and daylight partially obliterated, visibility about 200 yards.

Jun

25

1944

Tank attack into Fontenay-le-Pesnel

A Sherman DD tank, with flotation screens removed, passing through Douet as engineers work to clear the debris, 25 June 1944.

We made ourselves ready. Doug Footitt and Arthur Reddish put extra tracer bullets into the machine-gun belts: at night the inside of a tank was pitch-dark and the gunner’s sights were useless, but the tracer would help the main gun find its targets. We would have to be careful of our own infantry straying into our line of fire, and Arthur kept some grenades handy in case we were attacked.

Jun

6

1944

0400: The German counter attack is stalled

Rommel had only just recently inspected the 21st Panzer Division who were the closest to the invasion beaches.

Gradually we were becoming filled with anger. The clearance for an immediate night attack, so as to take advantage of the initial confusion among our opponents, had still not come, although our reports via division to the corps and to Army Group B (Rommel) must have long since been on hand.

Apr

2

1944

SS ‘Hitlerjugend’ massacre French civilians at Ascq

After the boys had been trained it was decided that they could form a Panzer division and they began training with tanks.

That’s when I raised a violent protest at their actions – the population had nothing to do with what had happened and that they were innocent. I was extremely angry at this point. But the interpreter was hitting me on the shoulder and said that the officer had ordered: “You too, Mr. Mayor, you will be shot.” And then I received a tremendous kick in the kidneys and they pushed me into the group of civilians who were awaiting execution.

Jan

7

1944

The Royal Engineers prepare for D-Day

The 29cm Petard spigot mortar on a Churchill AVRE of 79th Squadron, 5th Assault Regiment, Royal Engineers, under command of 3rd Infantry Division, 29 April 1944. A 40lb bomb can be seen on the right.

The novelty of this occasion was that we were told to fire our main armament, the Petard, against the sea wall there, to see if we could knock it down and then drive our tanks up over the rubble and move inland against an imaginary enemy. I should explain that the Petard was a short (80 yard) range weapon which carried the formidable amount of 26 lbs of high explosive. A wall of anything greater than 5 feet in height is a complete obstacle to a tank and many such walls existed behind the beaches in France.

Jan

3

1944

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.

Dec

7

1943

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.

Dec

6

1943

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.

Dec

5

1943

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.

Oct

31

1943

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.