I am somewhat disappointed on this booklet. In principle a very interesting subject and the combat examples are IMHO well chosen: the British, including the armoured brigade of the 7th Armoured Division, attempt to capture Tilly-sur-Seulles on 10 and 11 June 1944, just before the famous ”right hook” made by the 7th Armoured Division which ended to the combat around and in Villers-Bocage on 13 June 1944 of which Michael Wittmann is famous in Anglo-American world followed by the withdrawal of the 7th Armoured Division back to more or less its starting line by the 15 June. And the bloody introduction of the 1st Polish Armoured Division into combat on 8 and 9 August 1944 during the Operation Totalize. The Polish ordeal began just after the British and Canadian armoured regiments had stopped an overconfident attack of a Tiger company led by Wittmann only a couple kilometres to the west during which Germans lost five Tigers including Wittmann’s. And just west of the Poles the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, an armoured regiment (a size of an US or a German tank battalion) and the 1st Battalion Black Watch, an infantry unit, fought simultaneously a hard and to both sides costly fight against the Kampfgruppe Waldmüller. The “lowly” Panzer IVs of the II. Battalion/SS-Panzer Regiment 12 and the Jagdpanzer IVs of the 1. Company/SS-Panzerjäger Abteilung 12 were much more difficult opponents to the 1st Northants Yeo than Wittmann’s Tigers because of their skilful use of the terrain. And the Poles were badly blooded during their failed first attack partly because they were forced to use bad tactic ordered by their Corps commander Lt-Gen Simonds.
But the execution is somewhat botched, especially the Cromwell part has too many errors.
The product has the typical Duel structure, it begins with a useful chronology, then comes the design and development of the duellists with specifications and 3-view colour drawings of both. The engine given for Cromwell’s is a wrong version, more on that later. Then Technical specifications, which firstly gives gun/ammunition information. The ammunition drawings for Cromwell seems to give the US-made ammunition; the ammunition information is given in writing on the body of the shells, not by coloured ring(s) around the body or the nose of the projectile. The colours of the projectiles seems to be those used by British and Canadians, black for the AP shot (same in the US made) and buff body for the APHE and HE, the latter also with light grey/metallic nose (US-made had olive drab body for the HE, also with light grey/metallic nose). But I readily admit that the ammunition colours are not my forte. Then armour and mobility. In the armour part interesting information on the British armour manufacturing and the quality of British armour plates and some information how Germans tried to circumvent the scarcity of important alloy ingredients. After that the combatants: training, unit organisations at battalion level, tactics and short biographical notes on one British, one Polish and two German officers. And then the combat part. At the end analysis, aftermath, bibliography and index.
Contrary to the caption on the page 9, still in 1939 British 2-pdr was exceptionally good anti-tank weapon, in fact it maybe was even too much optimized for good penetration power, so much so that British thought that it was not worth to produce an HE shells for it because of the very small HE component possible. It was only in 1942 than they began produce HE shells for the 2-pdr and at that time the main AFV using the 2-pdr was the Daimler Armoured Car. Only after the summer of 1940 Germans began catch up with the 2-pdr penetration ability and then, from October 40 with up-armouring their tanks marginalized 2-pdr, partly because in pre-war British had made a wrong guess. They had guessed that the Germans would use homogenous armour plates on their tanks, not face-hardened and so chose AP type armour-piercing ammunition, which was optimum against homogenous armour but not so effective against face hardened. It was only in 1943 when the UK began to produce 2-pdr APCBC shots, which were optimal against face-hardened armour. But in 1939 and during the first half of 1940 the 2-pdr had one of the best armour penetration abilities of the tank guns in use. Only Soviet 76.2 mm L-10 gun installed many but not in all T-28s and T-35s had equal penetration power and the German short 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 had almost equal. Of course those circa 3” shells had much greater after penetration effects and those guns were able to fire effective HE shells. And of course the penetration values are not so exact than they seems to be in neat tables because penetration mechanism is complicated and test systems varied.
Even during the early desert campaign maybe half of the Panzer IIIs of the DAK were the Ausf Gs with 30 mm max armour thickness and so vulnerable to 2-pdr fire at normal battle ranges.
The author briefly mentions the awful amount of resource wasted in the British tank production programs in 1941-43, British produced at that time thousands of tanks (Cavaliers and Centaurs plus only in a caption mentioned Covenanters) which the British Army saw unsuited for use as gun tanks overseas .
And then the bad mistakes. The engine of Cromwell is given as Rolls-Royce Meteor 4B or 4B/1 but to my understanding those were the engines of the main production versions of the post-war Centurion tanks and Cromwells were mostly powered by the 570 to 600 bhp Rolls-Royce Meteor Mk. Is but the last 800 produced by the 600 bhp Mk. IIIs.
Same with the Morris auxiliary motor, it was introduced in Centurion Mk. 3, Cromwell had one cylinder 4 stroke air-cooled auxiliary charging set, Tiny Tim, mounted behind the driver. Even the suspension description is mostly for that of Centurion beginning with the claim of six units when in Cromwell there were five road wheels on each side independently sprung and hydraulic shock absorber fitted to front, second, fourth and rear suspension units. At least the track information seems to be correct even if Bingham gives 125 and Higgins 126 links each side.
Armament part of Cromwell gives IMHO a slightly misleading description on the APCBC projectile, the soft steel blunt-nosed penetrating/armour-piercing cap is there to alleviate the impact stress to the hard and sharp nose of the projectile and to give a better “bite” on armour and over that a separate thin hollow sharp-nosed ballistic cap was fixed. And I have never heard that the British often removed the hollowed base section of the M61 shell. In fact they often, but not always, removed the high explosive and the fuse from bursting charge cavity, filled the cavity with inert filler and closed it with a steel plug with tracer. And according to Bird and Livingstone this change increased penetration capability of the projectile by about 4% not reduced it as Higgins claims. I tended to side Bird and Livingstone in this.
As Higgins mentions in one caption, British tank designs suffered from the fact that they were restricted by the British railway loading gauge. Other nations also designed their tanks to be capable to be transported by rail but Great Britain had and still has more restrictive loading gauge than that used in the Continental Europe. This was/is a result of the British railway network being the oldest, and having been built by different private companies, each with different standards for the width and height of trains. This restriction restricted the turret ring diameter and so the size of the gun possible to install. That was made worse by the British habit not to use sponsons above the tracks and some British gun and turret design criteria. During the war British first tried to mitigate the problem by easing the railway clearance criteria. In the end it was decided to ignore the railway loading gauge restriction but because of the long development times Centurion was the first British tank to fully benefit from that.
Contrary to Higgins claim British had not missed the need of better and better armour-piercing tank gun but had had development problems. The design for a tank armed with a 17-pdr gun, which had the same penetration power as the long 75 mm KwK 42 gun of Panther and better than Tiger I’s 88 mm KwK 36 gun, had started in the spring of 1942, and in December 1942 it was planned that about 25% of British produced medium tanks would be armed with the 17-pdr gun. 200 17-pdr armed A30 Challenger tanks were ordered in early 1943. The protracted development of the A30 and the delay in its introduction into service proved to be costly to some Cromwell equipped armoured reconnaissance regiments in Normandy e.g. to the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry. Of course, even without A30 Challengers with better co-operation between armoured reconnaissance regiments and divisional anti-tank regiments (a bit larger than the US Tank Destroyer battalions or the German Panzerjäger Abteilungen) would have greatly helped in combats between armoured reconnaissance regiments and Tigers or Panthers. And the plans to arm some Cromwell series tanks with the Vickers 75mm L/50 High Velocity Gun shows that the Brits knew the need for a more powerful gun than the medium velocity 75 mm guns used on their tanks and Shermans. Unfortunately they found in late May 1943 that contrary to predictions the gun would not fit into the turret of Cromwell. In any case, it would probably not have had an impact at least in the early stages of the Battle of Normandy, since at the 25 May 1943 meeting, the start of the production of the cannon was delayed for the second half of 1944. Whether this was because of a development problem or a fall in priority because it became clear that the gun did not fit into Cromwell's turret, I don't know. The cannon, or more specifically, its more powerful development, the 77 mm HV cannon, was to become the main armament of the Cromwell’s successor, A34 Comet, and the new production schedule was in line with the planned A34 Comet production timetable.
Jagdpanzer IV part; Contrary to popular belief seemingly held also by Higgins, Tiger I development was not started as a hasty response to the surprise encounters of the Soviet T-34 and KV tanks following the German invasion into the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. It was initiated by Hitler's demand for heavy tanks that would be well armoured and armed with a powerful cannon, preferably a 88 mm calibre, nearly a month earlier. The reason behind this demand was the impression made by the French Char 2B and British Matilda II tanks. But the appearance of the T-34 and KV tanks increased the urgency of the task. Also, “…including upgrading the heavy, pre-war Tiger I design…” IMHO is better to say ”…including upgrading the pre-war D.W. and VK 30.01 (H) medium tank designs through the early-war VK 36.01 (H) heavy tank design to the Tiger I tank.”
IMHO the claim that the 7,5cm PaK 39 L/43 gun’s “barrel’s progressive rifling produced a similar effect to the added power generated by smaller guns that tapered at the bore.“ is an overstatement, the tapering gives a significant improvement in penetration power by significantly increasing the muzzle velocity, e.g. sPzB 41, 4,2-cm-lePak 41 and the British Littlejohn adapter. It was not confined to smaller guns, it was also used in the 7,5-cm-PaK 41. And while true that 7,5cm PaK 39 L/43 barrel had progressive rifling its effect to the muzzle velocity seems to have been slight, nowhere near the about 50% improvement achieved by 2-pdr Littlejohn adapter. Other than this small error IMHO the Jagdpanzer IV part is good, the ammunition part mostly gives very exact information on the ammunition Jagdpanzer IV used and the colour drawings of the ammunition used seems to be right. But I still have few main complains; other sources say that the HE round had a 0.745 - 0.755 kg propelling charge, not 2.2 kg the author claims. On gun traverse, the author only says that it was limited, but traverse figures are given in the specifications on the page 18, 12 degrees left, 15 degrees right, most other sources I have seen give 10 deg left and right, altogether 20 deg, but one of my friends, thanks a lot Arno, checked from his copy of Joachim Baschin, Martin Block, Jagdpanzer IV Part 1 - L/48 [Sd.Kfz. 162] Nuts and Bolts Volume 37 (2016) and it gives the same info as Higgins. So a point to Higgins. The amount of gun traverse is an important information because it shows how big tactical handicap the limited gun traverse was. The propellant weight for the Pzgr 39, the basic armour piercing ammunition, seems to have been 2.51 kg for KwK 40 since late 1943 but had been 2.43 kg still in August 1942 for the Kwk 40 and Sturm K 40. But the difference between this information and the information in the book is only 2 or 10 grams, so very insignificant.
The mobility part again gives wrong version of Meteor as the engine used in Cromwell, the given version was that used in Centurions from Mk. 3 onwards, in Cromwells they used Meteor Mk. 1s and 3s with maximum of 600 bhp power. In fact most of the Cromwell part describes the powerplant and running gear of Centurion Mk. 3 not that of Cromwell. The Jagdpanzer IV part seems to be ok, only difference I noticed was that Higgins says that its gearbox was ZF Aphon SSG 76 when Doyle et al (one of the other authors is Walter J. Spielberger) says it was Z.F. Aphon SSG 77. Ellis & Doyle gives the gearbox of Panzer IV Ausf D and Ausf G as ZF SSG 76 (ZF SSG 77), so both seems to be right.
As I wrote the part on British armour quality is interesting even if maybe a bit too critical. While a caption on the page 27 says “…British armour plate was essentially equivalent to U.S. armour plate in its resistance to penetration, but its quality was more variable…“ when Bird and Livingston writes “…British armor tended to be insignificantly higher resistance to penetration than U.S. armor, although quality was more variable…“. And “…British armour plate also tended to have a poor quality finish, with surfaces resembling corduroy that risked forming stress concentrations during impacts, reducing its ability to resist repeating shots” when Bird and Livingston writes “Surface finish of British armor was observed to be poor by German evaluators examining a captured Infantry Tank Mk. I. A Churchill III at the Aberdeen Proving grounds was found to have a turret side wall with a texture like corduroy. A rough surface can form stress concentration during shot impact, and result in a reduction of resistance to penetration.”[boldings mine]
On page 36, IMHO it would have been nice to mention also the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, a battalion-size unit, as part of a British armoured division, because the 10th Mounted Rifles Regiment was the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. Armoured reconnaissance regiment wasn’t a part of the division’s armoured brigade but directly under division’s control.
Training part is light on information, which is a pity because it had a very big influence on battles. On the British side in practice readers learn only that basic training took six weeks and after that soldiers spent six months with 58th Training Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps plus some information on the training with the 7th Armoured Division and with the 1st Polish Armoured Division and how the tanks were allocated within the 4th County of London Yeomanry (4 CLY), one of the three armoured regiments (battalion-size units) of the 22 Armoured brigade of the 7th Armoured Division, and the 10th Mounted Rifles Regiment. It shows that the latter had changed its organization from that of an Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (Type B) to that of an Armoured Regiment, but if right the Regiment HQ was three Cromwell short and the Reconnaissance Troop had one Cromwell, the normal ToE was four Cromwells with the HQ and none with the Reconnaissance Troop. The change of organization happened also in the British armoured divisions in Normandy as a result of the lessons from the early fighting there. The German part gives little information on training of panzer forces in general with the German Army and the Waffen-SS. Instead it gives some information on the training given in Panzer Lehr and Hitler Jugend divisions including what was emphasized in training with these formations. It also gives information on which units were used to form the Panzer-Lehr-Division, the official ToEs of the anti-tank battalions of a Panzer and a Panzergrenadier division and the actual situation with the Panzerjäger-Lehr-Abteilung 130 on 1 June 1944 and that of the SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 12 on 7 August 1944.
Colour drawings on the interiors of Cromwell’s turret and Jagdpanzer IV’s fighting compartment seems to be ok. The latter shows that both side walls of the fighting compartment of a Jagdpanzer IV were stacked from the floor to the ceiling with 75 mm ammunition. My only complaint is that all the shells shown in latter are painted with grey, so indicating HE or smoke shells, surely an anti-tank vehicle carried also black AP shells.
Tactical part has some good points but again complains on the weak 6-pdr ammunition even if all Cromwells used in combat had the OQF 75 mm gun or the 95 mm close support gun. Even if Cromwell was more thinly armoured than Churchill its main gun was the same as that most of the Churchills’, namely OQF 75mm gun Mk. V or VA, many Churchills in the ETO still carried 6-pdr because it had better penetration power. Sherman's standard 75-mm cannon had virtually the same performance as the OQF 75mm gun. Both guns used the same effective HE shell, but their penetration power was mediocre. But tanks usually used more HE than AP ammunition, tank duels were not the main task of the tanks.
Short biographical notes given are on John Cloudsley-Thompson, 4 CLY; Jan Maciejowski, 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment; Joachim Barth, 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 13 and Pz.Jäger-Lehr-Abt. 130 and Georg Hurdelbrink, SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 1 and 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12. All shorter than usual in this series, less than a half page each. What a little I found easily on Cloudsley-Thompson, Jan Maciejowski and Joachim Barth is consistent with the info given in the book. And the information on Georg Hurdelbrink is in line with that in Számvéber’s book. Only error is the claim that Cloudsley-Thompson served as Crusader Mk VI commander in June 1942. Should be Cruiser Mk VI, A15, Crusader Mk I but the British tank nomenclature is overly complicated.
The strategic situation chapter; fairly good on 10 June 1944, mostly seen from the German side. A few complains, even if also Fortin mentioned that “Germans used to install sharpshooters along the front line, concealed in high places (trees, houses, church towers)…” I wonder were all German snipers, or ordinary riflemen called as snipers in Allies' reports, “often strapped to high tree branches” as Higgins writes. It sounds a bit a wartime myth. During the Winter War November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940 between the Soviet Union and Finland Soviet troops believed that many Finns strapped themselves high up to trees and opened fire on the Soviet troops passing by. It was a myth but widely believed amongst the Soviet troops and often mentioned as a truth in Soviet literature. I’m not saying that Germans never strapped to high tree branches but that was not a good position for sniping, except a good field of fire it is the exact contrary of requirements for a good firing position and e.g. hugging tightly a tree trunk would have been a better position for sniping. And helmets were not rifle bullet proof at normal combat ranges, so maybe Higgins put too much weight on the fact that British tank commanders usually used berets not helmets. Helmets were mainly designed to protect against shell fragments not rifle bullets. Also it was not only because of the activity of Allied fighter-bombers and conflicting Axis orders as the author writes that Rommel failed in his effort to eliminate I Corps during the first two days of the invasion. The main units which stopped the counterattack by the Panzer Regiment 22 of the 21st panzer division on 6 June were the 41 Battery, 20 Anti-tank Regiment RA, which was equipped with M10s armed with 3" cannon, the Staffordshire Yeomanry, especially its Sherman Fireflies and some 6-pdr guns of the 2 KSLI. The effectiveness of British anti-tank fire seems to have been a shocking surprise to German tankmen but after all after the Battle of Medenine in March 1943 it had been clear that Panzer IVs had little chance of success if they attacked against a British anti-tank screen across open terrain without effective artillery support.
7 August 1944 situation description is good, also giving e.g. the positions of the companies of the SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 on the eve of the Operation Totalize.
As said, the Combat chapter has problems even if the actions are well chosen.
The June 10-11 part, Operation Perch.
Firstly in fact the main troop carrying vehicle with the motor battalions of the British armoured brigades was armoured half-track not carrier. But of course also the US-made M5s and M9s half-tracks used by British were much weaker armoured than medium tanks and were like Universal Carrier open-topped.
As a general note, Higgins as so many writers note that bocage country was very different from desert but IMHO it is strange that the 7th Armoured Division seems to have learnt next to nothing from its Italian experience even though it had fought there about 1½ months during the autumn of 1943. And the terrain between Salerno and Garigliano River wasn’t and isn't exactly like desert and the tankers had found it difficult to clear the villages and the thickly wooded country with low, wet ground including belts of olive groves, vineyards etc.
The first tactical map, on page 55, is good for the 10 June fighting, showing almost all the villages and the streams mentioned in the text so supporting the text well. Only notable error is that 56th Brigade was, as it stands in the text, an independent formation, not part of the 50th Division as shown in the map. But the text gives an impression that the tank losses with the 22 Armoured Brigade would have been clearly heavier on 10 June than the six tanks given in Napier's book. The losses Napier gives for the 4 CLY are the same as given in the Regiment’s War Diary (3 Cromwell IVs and 1 Stuart V knocked out, two of the Cromwells were friendly fire cases, hit by tanks of the 8th Armoured Brigade). Of course tank losses are not so simple to establish, a knocked out tank might well be repairable if the battlefield remained in own hands. In the British system tank battle casualties and breakdowns within last 24 hours which were not repairable within 24 hours by squadron fitters with the help of the Light Aid Detachment of its parent armoured regiment (a unit of the size of a German or an US tank battalion) and with the possible extra help by the Brigade Workshop, if the resources of the latter allowed that, were stricken from the unit’s books at last light and handed over to workshops and the crews got new or repaired tanks instead.
But for the 11 June fighting the map is rather useless, the only place mentioned in the text, ’Ferme Cheval Rouge’, is not shown nor is the only subunit mentioned, the 3./Pz.Jäger-Lehr-Abt. 130, the clues are that the day’s action is named as the fight for Tilly-sur-Seulles and the mention that the British attack moved on Tilly-sur-Seulles. The 2 Gloucesters attacked there with the support of the C Squadron of the 4 CLY and got into the northern outskirt of it but could not take the whole town. While trying to outflank the town to west the C Squadron lost one troop (3 Cromwells and one Firefly) ambushed between Marcel and Tilly by panzergrenadiers. After that the C Squadron and Recce withdrew to battle positions north side of the Ruisseau du Pont Saint-Espirit Creek (British Military 1:50,000 map Sheet 7 F/1 Caen coordinate 830695) to support Gloucesters who were being counter-attacked and withdrawing from the town. On the other hand the 5 RTR, which operated north of Lingèvres, 3-4 km west of Tilly lost, according to Napier, one M5 Honey to a SP gun and one Firefly and two Cromwells to Panthers after which it withdrew. So even if the text strongly indicates that the attack described is that of the 2 Gloucesters supported by the C Squadron of the 4 CLY it was an attack supported only by max. 19 Cromwells plus some light Stuart tanks. Air support either was not very strong because of the weather was marginal.
Sight information and drawings are as always interesting because it is not easy to find information on them. But the complain that there wasn’t no range settings for APDS and APCR ammunition in the Cromwell’s sight is unnecessary because for the 75 mm gun they were not in rather short supply, they were non-existent.
There is a slip in the caption on the page 68, the armoured brigade of the 1st Polish Armoured Division had three armoured regiments (a battalion size unit) equipped with Shermans, not two. Also in same caption Higgins noted that “…the Cromwell’s modest armour protection and main gun meant the vehicle was ill-suited for fighting in bocage country…” IMHO the bocage country was not especially unsuitable for Cromwell, it was poor terrain for all attacking AFVs. The OQF 75 mm gun was rather poor weapon for tank combat generally but it had a good HE round and in fact tanks usually used more HE than AP rounds in combats and more so in bocage were A/T guns and short-range infantry A/T weapons were most dangerous and the weak armour was relative, the turret was fairly well protected, clearly better than that of late Panzer IVs and turret sides and rear even better than those on 50% heavier Panther.
Break-out from Normandy and Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil
Higgins says there were only four Tigers with Wittmann, but Schneider says that out of the ten available Tigers, seven took part in the attack to the north towards Hill 122 along the Caen-Falaise highway. Agte says eight Tigers participated in the attack and provided the names of the other seven tank commanders involved in addition to Wittmann. Számvéber says five, I think he has forgotten two battalion headquarters Tigers that Wittmann had ordered to participate the attack, one of which he took as his command tank. Also all other Germans sources that I have seen agree with Schneider that the attack was made by seven Tigers. Higgins mentions that Kampfgruppe Waldmüller included also some Panthers but the tank component of the KG came from the II./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 which was a Panzer IV unit. According to Schneider the tanks participating the German counter-attack were Tigers and Panzer IVs. It is true that the war diary of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry mentions also Panthers in its list of destroyed enemy AFVs but in the text of the 1946 published unit history only Tigers, Panzer IVs and S.P. Guns (at least most of them must have been Jagdpanzer IVs) are mentioned in the description of the combat. The sentence “During the ensuing combat Jagdpanzer IVs positioned around Hill 112 reportedly destroyed 16 to 18 of an estimated 22 M4 Shermans of C Squadron, 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry for a loss of five Tiger Is, four Panthers, six PzKmpfw IVs and five Jagdpanzer IVs.” is problematic. Firstly, the TOE of a British tank squadron was 19 cruiser or infantry tanks. Secondly, Hill 112 situates SSW of the orchard were the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry was in position and the C Squadron had taken up positions in the eastern, south eastern and southern parts of the orchard but the A Squadron was placed in the southern and south western parts and so was the nearest to Hill 112 when at least most of the C Squadron was shielded by the orchard and hedges from view from Hill 112. The description of the action in the history of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry fits in much better with the description of the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 attack in the recommendation of Hurdelbrink, the Commanding Officer of 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12, for the Knight’s Cross given in Számvéber’s book. According to it the attack route of the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 was more or less that shown in the map in Higgins’ booklet as the attack route of the 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 which in fact did not participate the attack. Most of the victims of the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 seems to have been Polish Shermans. The A Squadron 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry suffered rather badly but most of its losses and the losses of the whole 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, 20 destroyed and damaged Shermans for the whole regiment, seems to have been inflicted by Panzer IVs of the Kampfgruppe Waldmüller in a savage, mostly short range combats, not by Jagdpanzer IVs, according to the unit history. But it is possible that some of the Shermans the British allocated to Panzer IVs were in fact hit by Jagdpanzer IVs lurking farther away. But according to Számvéber and especially the recommendation for Knight’s Cross to Hurdelbrink confirmed that 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 skirted Robertmesnil from the right and thrust into St-Aignan-de-Crasmesnil from the east knocking out six enemy tanks in so doing. These were probably tanks of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry. As said British allocated fewer of their losses to Jagdpanzer IVs but even according to British they brewed up two Shermans of the C Squadron when firing at them from a ridge some 1000 yards to the south of the Shermans, IMHO this would put the Jagdpanzer IVs about 2000 yards NE of Hill 112 on their way northwards using small woods and hedges to shield them from British observation and fire. Then 1. Kompanie/SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 engaged tanks 1.5 km east of St-Aignan-de-Crasmesnil. These were Polish tanks from the 2nd Armoured Regiment of which the company reported to have destroyed 18. As said this is much more in line with the British and Canadian reports than the Higgins’ version. The German losses Higgins gives are those claimed by the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry according to its war diary. According to it the unit claimed “five Tigers, four Panthers (VI-) six Mark IVs and five S.P.Guns.” But from the description of the battle in the unit history I counted five Tigers, seven Mark IVs, four identified only as tanks and four S.P. Guns, of which three during the night skirmish during the advance to Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil, of which more later, as destroyed plus two S.P. Guns as knocked out during the combat with KG Waldmüller. That adds up to the total of 20 tanks and S.P. Guns, the same figure given in the unit history as the day’s ‘catch’ if we leave out the two S.P. Guns claimed as ‘knocked out’. IMHO it is noteworthy that the unit history, written by officers participating the actions just after the war, does not mention anything on Panthers, but instead of them mentions four identified only as tanks. Germans lost five Tigers, probably not all to the 1 Northants Yeo. On Panthers, before looking Számvéber’s book, I was pretty sure that no Panthers were present during the combat with the 1 Northants Yeo because the II./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 was a Panzer IV unit. But he writes about Panthers subordinated to the II./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 participating the attack of the KG Waldmüller and additionally he clearly states that five Panthers arrived at the command post of the II./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 on 8 August, to my understanding in the afternoon. Those were tanks repaired by the Workshop Company of the SS-Panzer Regiment 12 and I got an impression that these were only used to secure positions south of Hautmesnil, some 3½ km south of the southernmost position of the 1st Northants Yeo. But it is possible that some other Panthers participated the attack by the KG Waldmüller. But Panther losses around Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil on 8 August seems unlikely, at least so many as four, because between late 7 and early 8 August the KG Wünsche lost nine Panthers while attacking on the British bridgehead at Grimbosq on the eastern bank of the Orne. These losses probably explain the changes in the numbers of the combat ready Panthers with the I./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 between 6th and 9th August when the five repaired Panthers mentioned above are also taken into account. I am not sure that the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 lost five Jagdpanzer IVs during its combat against the 1st Northants Yeo. The British unit claimed five and its unit history describes destruction of one and knocking out of two. Számvéber in the parts shown in the pre-view does not give exact number but used plural in vehicle losses and gives the personnel losses of the 1./ SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 for that day as 3 killed and 12 wounded. Because the Jagdpanzer IV had four crewmembers the loss of five Jagdpanzer IVs is entirely possible, but Polish might have got at least one of these. The 15 cm Sturmpanzer IV Brummbärs of the 1./Stu.Pz.Abt. 217 were attached to the II./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 or to the 89. Infanterie Division at that time, its attachments changed almost daily during early August. Where they were employed on 8 August, I don’t know but the number of combat ready Brummbärs dropped from 13 to 11 from 6 August to 9 August. Maybe the losses happened during a skirmish between No. 2 Troop of the A Squadron/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and a troop of German S.P. guns very early on 8th August during the Allies night attack which opened the Operation Totalize. Maybe also some Jagdpanzer IVs of the 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 participated this skirmish. The company was in the area or near of it according to a map in Számvéber’s book. British talked of Bumblebees which is the English translation of Hummel but why would Hummels have been so forward, about two miles behind the German frontline, and anyway the only formation that had Hummels in the sector of the I. SS Panzer Korps at that time was the 12. SS-Panzer Division which was, but the parts participating operations further west, in the area SE of Bretteville-sur-Laize. Both Brummbärs and Hummels were armed with a 150 mm howitzer but very different kind ones and both were built on the chassis or modified chassis of the Panzer IV. British identifications of AFVs of their opponents were often somewhat haphazard. On the other hand the effects of at least some of the hits on Shermans during this skirmish clearly like those of armour piercing shells of 75 mm L/48 and not like those of hollow charge shells of a 150 mm howitzer.
Also the map of the Cramesnil - Saint Sylvain area is a problematic, 33rd Armoured Brigade, an independent formation, is marked as a brigade of the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division. Also while it shows correctly the running of the frontline at midnight 8/9 August it is somewhat confusing because it shows for the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 only the areas it operated on 9 August, namely south and south-west of Saint Sylvain when for most other German units the movements shown are those of on 8 August and those shown as movements of 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 are in fact more or less the movements of 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 on 8 August. Also according to the text two Jagdpanzer IVs of the 1st Company advanced as far as to the northern edge of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil when according to the map the most northern advance was that by the 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 which is shown reaching area circa ½ mile south-east of the village. The problem is that the 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 didn’t participate to this action. Even according to the text in the booklet it was the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 which operated with the KG Waldmüller as it is in the all other sources I have seen. And Számvéber clearly confirm that the 1. Company is the right unit. But maybe the attack route shown as that of the 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 is not badly off the attack route used by the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12. Also the attack route of the I./SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25 is drawn too far east. I am somewhat puzzled by the claim that two of the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 Jagdpanzer IVs “advanced further through eastern Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil. At village’s northern edge, Hurdelbrink claimed to have knocked out a further five tanks, an armoured reconnaissance vehicle and two prime movers.” Számvéber’s book has almost identical text, “advanced further through village. At the northern perimeter of the village Hurdelbrink knocked out a further five tanks, an armoured reconnaissance vehicle and two prime movers. Presumably these were also elements of the Polish 1st Armoured Division.” The reason of my puzzlement is that the B Squadron of 1st Northants Yeo was stationed north of the village and most of it was watching due East. And neither in the war diary of the regiment, admittedly sparse worded, nor the history of the regiment, which uses 8 and half pages to describe the combat around the village on 8th August, mention anything on a German attack penetrating into the village or an action north of it. The history mentions on B Squadron that “Enemy shelling from high velocity guns was continuous and made life decidedly uncomfortable for rest of the day.” But no mention on tank losses with the B Squadron and the only mentioned kills by its crews were two Panzer IV kills made by one of its tanks sent to support the hard pressed A Squadron at the southwestern part of the 1st Northants Yeo’s position late on the battle. And the personnel losses amongst B Squadron crews mentioned in the unit history happened on late morning during mortar stonks. It seems that there were some possibilities for direct fire towards some potential B Sqn positions from east of Robertmesnil where the Polish reported German AFVs or from the ridge running NNE of it. Neither does the war diary of the 6th Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA, which seems to be very thorough, mention any attack into the village. "A" troop of its 33 Battery supported the 1 Black Watch which took St-Aignan-de-Crasmesnil early on August 8th. I have not seen the War Diary of the 1 Black Watch but have read the Colonel Hopwood's, the Officer Commanding it, description of the contribution of his unit to the Operation Totalize and it mentions nothing about German AFVs penetrating into the village. And an enemy held village was not the most optimal place for (a) Jagdpanzer(s). According to the recommendation for the Knight's Cross for Hurdelbrink 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 “…thrust into the village…from the east…” Then the two Jagdpanzer IVs “thrust on past the village, whereby Obersturmführer Hurdelbrink knocked out five more tanks at the northern edge of the village.” Looking the British war time map and the aerial photos of the area taken in 1947 it seems that it might have been possible to advance some 800 m east of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil using a couple small woods and hedges and also the crest of the ridge as a screen against observation from the positions held by the 1st Northants Yeo. The low height of JgPz IV made a stealth approach easier. According to the British map and the aerial photos the houses of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil formed a bit like to the north opening U and the B Squadron position, at least in the morning, was north of the village and at the time of the action there were, according to the regimental history of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, Polish units at the northern outskirts of the village. But it is difficult to explain the earlier part of the recommendation which says that 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 had thrusted into Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil from the east because there are nothing in the war diary or regimental history of the 1st Northants Yeo on that and it seems that nor did the Scottish infantry battalion there, 1st Black Watch, notice anything of that kind. But it is not entirely impossible, because the main positions of the infantry of the 1st Black Watch were south of the village and late during the combat between the 1st Northants Yeo and the KG Waldmüller a half of the B Squadron/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry was sent further south to support the A Squadron which had suffered heavy tank losses. And it was probably possible to advance to almost east of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil out of view from the village or from the orchards south of it, especially for so low vehicle as Jagdpanzer IV. But after that there was a more open stretch but at that time the area was more or less a boundary between British and Poles and those were usually a weak spots in defence lines and I do not know exact positions of the Poles after their unsuccessful attack during the afternoon of 8 August, but it seems that they retreated so far to the north that at least the lower parts of the ravine between Saint-Aignan and Robertmesnil that runs northeast was out of their sight, so maybe not impossible. Hart in his Operation Totalize in the map on the page 69 has figured out a very similar route as I. It ends more or less to a point where a 1947 taken aerial photo shows a narrow line of trees and a hedge which shielded from a view from the southern part of the Saint-Aignan, but after which any further advance would have bring one to a fully open field. Other possibility would have been to turn north some 150 – 200 m earlier using the trees and hedges on the both sides of the country road/cart lane running SE from Saint-Aignan towards Saint-Sylvain as screen towards the southern part of the Saint-Aignan, then across the Saint-Aignan – Conteville road to the garden of the Chateau or to the small woods at the eastern end of it. But I am not that good in map reading that I can say for sure that my reasoning is correct. For that I should visit the place because Google’s car didn’t drive the small country road/cart lane or a bit longer the cart track running south from the SE corner of Saint-Aignan. Maybe the other Jagdpanzer IV fired at the remaining tanks of the B Squadron/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry without hitting while Hurdelbrink sniped Polish vehicles. But clearly Jagdpanzer IVs took Shermans of the B Squadron under fire for quite a while even if it seems that they did not achieve effective hits.
Polish suffered heavy tank losses on 8 August and their attack on that day was stopped very soon after they crossed the start line by Germans. There are different information around exactly how heavy their AFV losses were during the Operation Totalize (7-11 August 1944) plus up to the noon of 12 August. I have seen two versions of the Operational Report, Commanding Officer, 1st Polish Armoured Division by major-general Maczek; the one published in the Canadian Military History in 2006 says the losses in armour (mostly from direct hits or set on fire): total number 66 plus 5 A/T guns SP and 1 25-pdr gun SP. I printed the other version from the net maybe 12 - 20 years ago, its text is otherwise identical but the number of tanks lost is given as 88. There are several typos in both versions, e.g. sometimes the 10th Mounted Rifles is typed as 10 Mountain Rifle, so difficult to say is 66 or 88 the right figure given in the original report. According to “Michael Kenny” Brian Reid gives a total of 57 in his book No Holding back (on page 290) which is not sourced from this report, of which 24 were 'Z' losses i.e. 'requiring extensive repair or replacement requiring evacuation' in other words extensively damaged or total losses, which one was decided by higher echelon workshop personnel. That is more or less same as German 'long term repair’ and ‘total loss’ categories combined. Hart in his Operation Totalize 1944 writes that the first attack by Poles on 8 August left no fewer than 38 wrecked Polish tanks spewing smoke on the battlefield and around 1600hrs Poles made a second try and in the face of heavy German defensive fire managed by dusk to advance some 1,600m in the area south of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil. Also the War Diary of the 22nd Dragoons RAC, whose Flail-tanks (mine sweeping version of Sherman tank) were there to support the Poles if needed, confirms that the Poles suffered heavy losses. Reynolds writes that the Polish 2nd Armoured Regiment (again a battalion-size unit) received 24 replacement tanks the following day and therefor sees Hubert Mayer’s claim that the regiment lost 26 Shermans from its two leading squadrons very reasonable. And he also accepted as not unreasonable Hubert Mayer’s statement that the 24 Lancers lost 14 tanks but his reason for that is very odd, namely that the battalion was halted by a shallow valley with a steep southern bank just south-east of St Aignan was almost certainly exposed to flanking fire from Wittmann’s Tigers advancing north from Cintheaux. Firstly there is no line of view from the route Wittmann’s Tigers used to the valley and secondly, the Tigers began their attack over an hour before Poles crossed their start-line and the gunner, Ekins, of the Firefly of No. 3 Troops of A Squadron opened fire against Tigers 55 minutes before the beginning of the Polish attack. And survivors of the Wittmann’s formation did not report any combat with tanks far east of their attack route before they run into the ambush. The three surviving Tigers claimed later in the day 7 tanks but the problem is that according to Schneider this happened east of St Aignan, so against the Poles but Agte says that this happened against enemy attacking west of St Aignan, so against Canadians. Taking into account the tactical situation I think that Agte is probably right. This interpretation seems to be backed up also by Számvéber’s book. Anyway, it is clear that also the Panzer IVs of the KG Waldmüller fought against Poles and the SS-Panzer Regiment 12 claimed 40 Shermans, one Churchill and one Cromwell on 8 August, clear majority of the Shermans and possibly also the Cromwell probably by the tanks of KG Waldmüller and about half of those claims against Shermans were most probably against Poles, the rest were British, against the 1st Northants Yeo. It seems to me that of the 29 tanks claimed by the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 on 8th August the first six were claimed against the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry which lost at least two brewed up Shermans to Jagdpanzer IVs and the rest were claimed against Poles but at least some of the Polish losses might have been victims of A/T guns, at least one of the British Shermans was put out of action by an A/T gun. It seems that the Polish 2nd Armoured Regiment really lost 26 Shermans and two Stuarts and the 24 Lancers six Shermans. So during the combats around St-Aignan-de-Cramesnil the 1st Northants Yeo lost 15 destroyed or damaged (plus 4 during the advance to St Aignan and one which was reported missing but which was in fact ended up with the 144th RAC at Cramesnil and stayed/was kept with that unit for two days) tanks and Poles 32 Shermans and 2 Stuarts. Of course one must remember that also the Panzer IVs of the KG Waldmüller suffered heavy losses, Számvéber writes “The remnants of the 5. and 7. Kompanien succeeded in retreating…” and according to the unit history of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry they destroyed at least one very successful Panzer IV with its crew, which had destroyed or damaged six Shermans according to British, so probably some successful crews could not report their claims. The claims of the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 on August 8 seems to have been somewhat inflated but no way badly. IMHO it seems that that there was altogether some 60 German claims against some 50 Allies tanks lost or significantly damaged. Clearly Jagdpanzer IVs of the 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 had proven their lethality.
Contrary what Higgins writes according to Maczek’s, the General Officer Commanding 1st Polish Armoured Division, operational report, the division didn’t execute the ordered night attack but resumed its attack on next morning.
On the combat on 9 August 1944, on which Higgins gives the German version. Even if the Poles suffered heavy tank losses 1./ SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 claims on that day seems to be somewhat inflated. According to Számvéber SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 claimed 88 kills 8. – 14.8. and according to my count this includes 19 Canadian tanks, three of them on 14 August. The 1./ SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 claimed 76 of these. The 1st Polish Armoured Division lost 66 or 88 tanks 8-12 August 1944 according to Maczek’s after action report, 88 is also the number mentioned in Számvéber’s book. Poles lost also 5 A/T guns SP, meaning 4 M10s and a M10c. The 10th Mounted Rifles tank losses 8-27 August were 16 knocked out and 12 damaged Cromwells and 4 knocked out and 2 damaged Stuart according to a history of the division. The Cromwell losses included the losses suffered during the Operation Totalize and also those suffered during the Operation Tractable i.e. during the closing of the Falaise Pocket. According to Michael Kenny this allows 3 Cromwell and 2 Stuart KO and 3 Cromwell damaged to be possible victims on Aug 9th. In Higgins bibliography he has a newer book, Kucia’s 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment (2011) but his description on 9 August combat is straight from German sources “…nine Cromwells from 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment… SS-Oberscharführer Rudolf Roy’s gunner, SS-Rottenführer Fritz Eckstein, reportedly destroyed all of these vehicles in short time around Hill 111, with Hurdelbrink’s vehicle knocking out six more.” One would think that there is information on the losses the 10th Mounted Rifles suffered in this combat in Kucia’s book. But if the tanks knocked out by Hurdelbrink’s vehicle were not Cromwells, which seems to be the case according to Számvéber’s description on the day’s actions. According to him Eckstein destroyed the Cromwells during the morning and Hurdelbrink claimed his six Shermans late on that evening. If 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment suffered no other losses during 9 August, six Cromwells and two Stuarts knocked out or damaged was not far off from Eckstein’s claims. And while according to Higgins’ text 1./ SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 eliminated 22 Shermans and Cromwells later during the late evening combat, according to Számvéber that was the number of victories for the whole day. Because I have not any other sources for the Polish actions during the Operation Totalize I do not delve into this more.
Even if Agte and Reynolds gives the date of Roy’s/Eckstein’s and Hurdelbrink’s Cromwell kills as 10 August, not 9th,, in this Higgins seems to be right because Számvéber also says that the date was 9 August and has facsimiles of the recommendations for the Knight's Cross for Eckstein, Hurdelbrink and Roy to prove the date.
on Cromwell generally balanced but again on p. 72 complaint against Cromwell’s 6-pdr cannon and its weak HE round seems odd because as said Cromwells used in the ETO were armed either with 75 mm gun or 95 mm howitzer both of which had effective HE round. And besides some think that because of the delayed service entry of the 17-pdr armed A30 Challenger it would has been a good idea to do, at least in the armoured reconnaissance regiments, which did not have Fireflies, the same as was done in many Churchill equipped tank regiments, namely keep one tank per a troop be armed with a 6-pdr because it had somewhat better armour piercing ability with the standard armour piercing ammunition than the 75 mm gun and had a limited amount of Sabot/APDS ammunition available. Those somewhat erratic shots had significantly better penetration power than the normal armour piercing shots/shells. The other, minor complain is that I see Comet more as the successor of Cromwell than a contemporary.
One negative point of Cromwell is not mentioned by the author. It was designed as a battle tank not as a reconnaissance vehicle and while Cromwell was fast, manoeuvrable and fairly low it was not an ideal reconnaissance tank, Meteor engine being noisy as were the all metal tracks. And especially British emphasized stealth in reconnaissance work.
On Jagdpanzer IV; the muzzle-breaks, not only crews were removing them, others were seeking them because they were short of supply during Normandy fighting and at that stage were seen as a standard part of the AFV.
Falaise pocket, Besides the actions of the 12. SS Panzer Division also the attacks by the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions against Poles from outside the pocket were instrumental for keeping the narrow corridor open to many German troops to escape from the pocket.
Photos are IMHO well-chosen even if several are well known, also most of the captions are informative. E.g. the photo of Challenger is good, taken from a bit higher it shows also the placements of the turret hatches. Caption giving a fairly good summary of that AFV. I have only a couple complains to the caption, the size of the turret was partly because the War Office demanded two loaders, so it was designed as a four men turret and the height of the turret was partly because of the requirement to provided 10° of gun depression also over the engine deck. And not the whole upper hull extend over the tracks, only the fighting compartment section around the turret ring. The 3-view colour drawings seem to be ok.
While I don’t usually like Osprey’s double page colour drawings seeing them as waste of the limited space available, IMHO in this booklets the drawing, in showing how difficult terrain the Normandy landscape was for an attacker, is useful.
Specifications given are quite thorough, more specific than usually in this series. Those of Jagdpanzer IV are also mostly accurate, also those of Cromwell but there is the bad mistake in its motive power section.
Bibliography is good.
OK, this became too long and partly off-topic, I was somewhat carried away by the combats around Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil and spent much time trying to figure out what had happened there. But that is one of blogger’s privileges. Booklet clearly shows that Jagdpanzer IV was an effective anti-tank vehicle. Its 75 mm L/48 gun was effective enough against Western Allies tanks, maybe heavy Churchills, Mks VII and VIII were exceptions, but there were not many of those around in Normandy. Cromwell on the other hand was let down by its gun in tank-vs-tank combat, it was not even match with Panzer IVH with its 75 mm KwK 40 gun, saying nothing on Panther or Tiger I. On plus side the gun had a good HE shell and the tank worked well during the pursuit through France in August-September 1944, i.e. in a classical cruiser tank role.
Kriegstagebuch des Panzer-Armeeoberkommando 5 Ia I. Teil 10.6.1944 – 8.8.1944 T313 Roll 420
Kriegstagebuch des Panzer-Armeeoberkommando 5 Ia I. Teil 10.6.1944 – 8.8.1944 (Anlagen) T313 Roll 420
War Diary of the 4th County of London Yeomanry
War Diary of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry
War Diary of the 6th Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA
War Diary of the 22nd Dragoons RAC http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/looking-for-the-diaries-of-22nd-dragoons-rac-august-1944.73686/#post-791161
British wartime 1:50,000 map 7F/1 Caen
British wartime 1:50,000 map 7F/3 Aunay-Sur-Odon
British wartime 1:50,000 map 7F/4 St Pierre-Sur-Dives
[Anon.] The 1st and 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry (Brunswick, 1946, Reprinted by The Naval & Military
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Stationary Office, 1989).
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. British and Commonwealth AFVs 1940-46 (Windsor: Profile Publication, 1971).
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(Hemel Hempstead: Model & Allied Publications, 1972).
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Ellis, L. F., Victory in the West Volume I The Batlle of Normandy (London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office,
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Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, 2004).
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Thames: Air Research, 1994).
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Knight, P. M., A30 Challenger Tank A Technical History (Black Prince, Second Edition, 2015).
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(2006) Iss. 2 pp. 51-70.
Meyer, Hubert, The 12th SS. The History of the Hitler Youth Panzer Division: Volume Two (Mechanicsburg,
PA: Stackpole, 2005, first published by J. J. Fedorowicz, Winnipeg 1994). Pre-view extracted on 25
November 2018 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zyOzFMjUkyQC&pg=PP1&dq=12th+ss+volume+two&hl=fi#v=onepage&q&f=false
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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Armoured-Campaign-Normandy-June-August-ebook/dp/B00TNTA2AC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1545918474&sr=8-1&keywords=the+armoured+campaign+in+normandy%3A+june-august+1944#reader_B00TNTA2AC Pre-view extracted on 9 August 2016. Showed more at that time.
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1943-1945, ed. by Jentz, Thomas L. (Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1996).
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Fedorowicz, Winnipeg 1998).
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on 1 August 2018 https://books.google.fi/books?id=7t7ZAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA259&lpg=PA259&dq=Fritz+Eckstein+ss&source=bl&ots=HP0evkK0pV&sig=yLTQuKLAOjk0bSFp2oEVeZIo2_o&hl=fi&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjNq4uT78zcAhWGCiwKHXRpC0kQ6AEwA3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=true
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Unfortunately I have not able to access to Tank-net Forums for a couple years because my anti-virus
program (F-Secure) blocked access there.
TankNet Military Forums, 2003 - The Cromwell - how good? Unfortunately I have not able to access to Tank-
net Forums for a couple years because my anti-virus program (F-Secure) blocked access there.
Niklas Zetterling’s long ago defunct Normandy site, information on 12. SS-Panzer Division and 217. Sturm- Pz.Abt extracted on 3.9.1999.
Jukka Juutinen confirmed some technical details.