I found new material on Operation Totalize and so have made some fundamental corrections to the text from the chapter Break-out from Normandy and Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil onwards. They are written in bold letters. Special thanks to Michael Kenny, MarkN, John (histan) and Tom O'Brien (Tom from Cornwall) who gave very useful information, hints and links to much of this new material.
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 in Great Britain there was and still is more restrictive loading gauge than in the Continental Europe. This was/is because the British railway network is the oldest and has been built by different private companies, each with different standards for the width and height of trains. This restriction limited the turret ring diameter and thus the size of the gun possible to be mounted. That was made worse by the British habit not to use sponsons/panniers above the tracks and some of the British gun and turret design criteria. During the war the British first tried to alleviate the problem by easing the railway clearance criteria. In the end it was decided to ignore the railway loading gauge restriction but due to the long development times, Centurion was the first British tank to fully benefit from it.
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 TO&E 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 TsO&E 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 TO&E 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 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 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 which in fact did not participate the attack. Most of the victims of 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 according to the unit history to have been inflicted by Panzer IVs of Kampfgruppe Waldmüller in a savage, mostly short range combats, not by Jagdpanzer IVs. 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. 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 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 north-northeastwards 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 meaning 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. One must remember that the situation for Germans and SS-Panzer Division 12 was extremely critical and the HQ and main parts of the I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12, the Panther battalion, were committed elsewhere, so the practical option was to attach these Panthers to the II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12 in this special case. But of course it is possible that some other Panthers were involved in 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.
1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 did not lose five Jagdpanzer IVs during its combat against the 1st Northants Yeo. The British unit claimed five S.P. Guns, but these probably included the three claimed by Lt. Jones’ No. 2 Troop of “A” Squadron during the advance to Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil. This is in line of its unit history which describes destruction of one and knocking out of two during the combat south of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil. These latter were Jagdpanzer IVs, the destroyed one at least was inspected after the battle by 1 Northants Yeo men. What happens those claimed as knocked outs, I don’t know. 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 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 theoretically possible, but I find more text in the pre-view when tried again and according to Számvéber, on page 242, the SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 lost only 4 Jagdpanzer IVs as total losses during Operation Totalize so it was not possible that they lost five to 1 Northants Yeo on 8 August. The total personnel battle casualties of the Jagdpanzer IV companies (1st and 2nd) of the battalion during 8 to 14 August were nine dead, 17 wounded and four missing, that might seems surprisingly high for only four AFVs, each crewed by four men, total loss. But the crewmembers were not the only members of the companies. The Soll personnel strength of a Jagdpanzer Kompanie with 10 Jagdpanzer was 3+44+72, which makes the total of 119 men, so only appr. 1/3 of the manpower of a company were crewmen. The 15 cm Sturmpanzer IV Brummbärs of 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. At first I thought that it was possible that the losses happened during a skirmish between No. 2 Troop of 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. It seems very probable that some Jagdpanzer IVs of 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 far forward, about two miles/three kilometres 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 were 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. There were no StuG IVs in the area and there were no Nashorns in Normandy. So no other AFVs with Pz IV chassis than StuPz IV and JgPz IV have any reasonable reason to be north of St Aignan de Cramesnil at that time. However, on StuPz IVs, Lt Phelan, 4th Troop/3rd Squadron/Canadian Grenadier Guards destroyed two SP guns just west of Cintheaux during the afternoon of 8 August, those were most probably Sturmpanzer IVs, the 2 Canadian Armoured Brigade, a part of which Canadian Grenadier Guards was, informed II Canadian Corps at 2130 hours on 9 August that enemy equipment knocked out since commencement of Operation Totalize was known as two GRIZZLY BEARS (15 cm SP) and 1 7.5 cm SP mk V PANTHER (withdrew smoking), in other words two Sturmpanzer IVs and maybe a damaged Jagdpanzer IV, there was no Panther SP version with 75 mm gun, maybe the sloped armour of the Jagdpanzer IV confused Canadians. Lt. Phelan’s action was in daylight and his troop captured the crews and his regiments harboured 1½ kilometres north of the combat site the next four nights so probably the identification of the destroyed enemy AFVs was more accurate. No. 2 Troop of A Squadron of the 1st Northants Yeo lost all its three 75 mm Shermans in that skirmish, one brewed up, one burned and one was put out of action by a hit in the engine. Maybe the claim that the opponents had been Hummels came from the Light Aid Detachment or Brigade Workshop personnel which probably went to look the damaged tank later on or from a recovery team because according to the unit history the troop leader described their opponents as tanks. I also though the possibility of a friendly fire case. According to the unit history No. 2 Troop of A Squadron of 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry was in the right hand file of the British left hand column and the troop made a detour to the right to by-pass Flail tanks which had difficulties to negotiate a sunken road, and were hit first from left then ahead and from right. The 1 Northants reported no other combat with enemy AFVs during the night advance so probably the opponents of No. 2 Troop of “A” Squadron were not other vehicles of the unit. The tank unit of the right-forward British mobile column, the 144th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, was at first delayed by German resistance. According Fortin its losses, three tanks, were caused by German infantry using Panzerfausts but according to the net article that unit lost a number of Shermans and three Priests to enemy action during the move to the debus area point just north of Cramesnil in fire fights with German infantry equipped with anti-tank weapons. According to the article the column also bumped to some German German Panzers and during this tank skirmish both sides lost two tanks. But those incidents were too late or too far away for being participated by No. 2 Troop of A Squadron of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, its combat happened around 1.30am and 144th RAC crossed the railway line at earliest at 2.00am, probably somewhat later. Unfortunately the only information on 148th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps I have on that night is a few sentences in Ludovic Fortin’s British Tanks in Normandy and according to it 148th RAC seems to have lost only one Sherman. It was part of the British right-rear column which objective was Garcelles-Secqueville. So with what kind of vehicles No. 2 Troop of A Squadron of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry during the night 7/8 August I don’t know. Germans used in Normandy a vast array of SP guns, so there are plenty of possibilities if British misidentified the chassis of the S.P.s they claimed. And of course friendly fire case is still possible. Kangaroo losses among those carrying 1 BW according to Colonel Hopwood's description of the 1st Battalion the Black Watch contribution to Totalise “The only direct enemy opposition encountered between the Soliers - Hubert Folie road and the debussing area came from an enemy self propelled gun which followed the column a short distance and knocked out two Priests which were carrying “B” Company men. In addition, an odd spandau opened up from time to time causing no damage.” The 1 Northants unit history says that besides the three tanks three Armoured Infantry Carriers had been hit on the march. There were several rows of AVsRE and Shermans between No.2 Troop and Kangeroos carrying 1 BW, so it seems improbable that No.2 troop engaged them, but one cannot be sure.
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 by Germans very soon after they crossed the start line by Germans. There are different information around exactly how heavy their AFV losses were during 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. But Reynolds in his Steel Inferno page 303 writes that in his book Avec Mes Blindés, General Maczek admits to the loss of 66 Poles tanks, so 66 seems to be more likely to be the correct figure for the Polish tank losses from 7 August to the noon of 12 August. On the other hand 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 Maczek’s 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. But I do not know what the exact Polish AFV losses were on 8 August. I do not have access to Polish documents. But E Squadron 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment, which according to Reid delivered replacement vehicles to 1st Polish Armoured Division throughout the Normandy campaign, delivered nothing to Poles on 8 August, a Sherman V to the 1st Polish Armoured Division on 9 August (it was a replacement for a Sherman that had fallen through a bridge on 8 August) and 16 Sherman Vs on 11 August and 2 Sherman Vs to Polish Forward Delivery Squadron on the same day. On 12 August 3 Sherman Vs, 1 Sherman Vc (i.e. a Firefly) and 1? (the figure is very difficult to read) Cromwell to 1st Polish Armoured Division. On 13 August it delivered to the division 3 Cromwell 4/5s and 1 Staghound. On 14 August 1 Ram SP 25 pdr. On 15 August to Polish Forward Delivery Squadron 2 Sherman Vs and 1 Sherman Vc. And so on. What Polish Forward Delivery Squadron had at the beginning of Operation Totalize, I do not know. But D Squadron, 25 Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment, which was the forward delivery squadron of the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade, the armoured brigade of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division seems to have had 29 to 40+ tanks at the beginning of the operation. It delivered 10 to 15 August 60 tanks and received 33 and at the evening of 15 August had one Sherman ready for delivery and one in workshop, so probably it had had 29 tanks at the beginning of the operation. Operation Totalize was 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade’s, as also Polish 1st Armoured Division’s, first battle. C Squadron, 25 Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment was the forward delivery squadron of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, an independent formation which had been in action since D-Day. It delivered between 1 and 10 August 15 tanks more than it was received (34 vs. 19), so it had had at least that number of tanks at the beginning of the month. Most of its deliveries were made before the operation in order to bring the strength of 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade as near as possible to its TO&E strength. During the Operation Totalize, 8 to 11 August, it delivered 12 Shermans and received three. So Polish Forward Delivery Squadron may have had 15 to 30 tanks with it at the beginning of the operation, probably closer to 30. On the other hand E Squadron 25th Cdn Armd Del Regt delivered according to its war diary during the operation almost all tanks directly to 1 Polish Armd Div and not to its delivery squadron, the latter was the normal procedure and which was followed with the Canadian armoured formations during the operation. Maybe Polish Forward Delivery Squadron was not fully operational yet.
The Polish tank casualty report sent to Canadians on the forenoon of 9 August 1944 gives the tank losses on 8 August as 2 Stuarts, 26 Shermans and 6 Cromwells. It was third report on the subject and again with different figures. These reported tanks were destroyed or knocked out or non-operational for any other reason and were not repairable in 24 hours. Of the six Cromwells at least three were knocked-out, repairable or not, by Germans according to a unit history of 10th Mounted Rifles Regiment.
On the other hand the Phantom patrol with HQ Polish Armoured Division, from “C” Squadron 18 Canadian Armoured Car Regiment (XII Manitoba Dragoons), reported that Poles had lost approximately 38 tanks on 8 August. Canadians had communication difficulties during Operation Totalize and Poles had even worse, partly because of language problems which were made worse when some of the bombers of the US 8th Air Force bombed short in the afternoon of 8 August. Amongst the casualties was the commander of their British liaison unit who was killed. This loss hampered Poles’ communication with 2nd Canadian Corps and the other Canadian units and formations. But 26 Shermans is the number which Reynolds gives as the number of tanks lost by the two leading squadrons of Polish 2nd Armoured Regiment on that day. He gives his source as Meyer, Hubert, The 12th SS. The History of the Hitler Youth Panzer Division p. 174. He continued saying that Meyer gives no justification for this figure and continued “However, it is known that the Regiment received 24 replacement tanks and crews the following day and his [Hubert Meyer’s] figure seems very reasonable.” But Reynolds gives no source to his information. So, the lost 26 Shermans were either losses of the both attacking Sherman regiments or the tank loss report lacked information on the losses of 24 Lancers and the all 26 Shermans were lost by the 2nd Armoured Regiment. Against the latter speaks the fact that according to MarkN 24 Lancers lost 2 Stuarts which are probably the two Stuarts mentioned in the loss report. Of course it is possible that also 2nd Armoured Regiment lost exactly the same number of Stuarts but maybe not so probable. On overall tank losses of 24 Lancers on 8 August MarkN writes that “I've found one reference to 24th Lancers losing 6 pantsers from a 1959 book and 14 from a 1958 book. The former seems to lean on information from an earlier 1947 book. I'm not sure we should take either as being authoritative.” Hart in his Operation Totalize 1944 writes that the first attack by Poles on 8 August left no fewer than 38, the same figure the Phantom patrol with HQ Polish Armoured Division gave as the Polish tank losses for 8 August, 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 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 sight 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 some 2 km northeast 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.
According to the war diary of 2nd Canadian Corps Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General the officer casualties of 1 Polish Armoured Division had been on 8 August
1 Armd Regt 1 WIA
2 Armd Regt 4 MIA 2 WIA
24 Lancers –
10 Mtn Regt 2 WIA
On 9 August
1 Armd Regt –
2 Armd Regt 1 earlier reported as MIA who returned OK, 1 earlier reported as MIA who
returned WIA, 1 KIA, 1 WIA
24 Lancers 1 KIA, 3 WIA, 4 MIA
So According to 2nd Canadian Corps Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General War Diary Polish 24 Lancers Regiment suffered no officer losses on 8 August, the whole division had reported loss of 18 officers on that day including two wounded officers of the 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment, the Cromwell unit of the Division. But of the 18 officers two are missing from the list that gives the names and the units with which they served. A short history of the regiment in the net, http://www.polishwargraves.nl/info/24.pul.one.htm says on 8 August combat “The Regiment therefore fought a hard battle, losing a few tanks. Among the losses in personnel a high percentage were officers. OC 1st Squadron Capt. PIWONSKI Marian was killed by artillery fire…” According to 2nd Canadian Corps Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General War Diary Piwonski was amongst those lost on 9 August, he was reported as MIA. Poles seems to have communications problems with the British and Canadians, so it is possible that information about some losses arrived late to 2nd Canadian Corps and thus an attempt to figure out a rough estimate of the tank losses based on known officer losses, a highly inaccurate method in itself, is even more inadequate in this case. But anyway it might be that the discrepancy between officer casualty reports reaching 2nd Canadian Corps and the information in the net history indicates that the tank losses of 24 Lancers or some of them were lacking from the tank loss report send to 2nd Canadian Corps by the Poles. So I cannot say anything definite on the Polish tank losses on 8 August.
Anyway, it is seems that also the Panzer IVs of the KG Waldmüller fought against Poles. 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 several of those claims against Shermans were probably against Poles, the rest were against British, against the 1st Northants Yeo. It seems to me that of the 29 tanks claimed by 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. It is difficult to say exactly how many tanks the Jagdpanzer IVs destroyed or knocked out because the figure of Polish tank losses is unclear and Jagdpanzer IVs were not only claimant. The British losses are simpler. 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 there for two days) tanks. 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. As noted earlier according to the 1st Northants Yeo they lost two brewed up Shermans to Jagdpanzer IVs. And at least a few of those three Shermans of No. 2 Troop of A Squadron lost during the skirmish with “”Bumblebees” might in reality be lost to Jagdpanzer IVs of 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12. In addition one Sherman was knocked out by an A/T gun, probably the one of the Divisionsbegleitkompanie of 12. SS-Panzerdivision. The gun was destroyed almost immediately afterwards by tank fire. Tank losses of Poles on 8 August are more problematic beginning with the fact that it is difficult to decide their exact AFV losses as shown above and how many of them were knocked out by the Jagdpanzer IVs of 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12, how many by the Divisionsbegleitkompanie of the 12. SS-Panzerdivision and how many by the units under control of the 272. Infanterie Division? Yes, the right neighbour of the 89. Infanterie Division, 272. Infanterie Division, is also a part of equation. It was fairly well armed with A/T weapons but had failed to keep the forest west of Chichéboville in spite of making a counter-attack. It then formed a new defensive line from Chichéboville to Contevilleen. According to the manuscript written by the GOC of the division to the US Army after the war the allied tanks which attacked against this new deep left flank of the division were repulsed in front of Contevillen and Poussy-la-Campagnen and the enemy attack from La Hogue was repelled by fire. According to the manuscript 26 enemy tanks were knocked out [abgeschossen] in the sector of the division. Those tanks attacking the left flank of the division must have been Polish. And again the figure of 26. That units of 272. Infanterie Division fired at Polish tanks is in line with what the chief of staff of the Polish 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, the armoured brigade of the Polish 1st Armoured Division, wrote, namely that 2nd Armoured Regiment was routing east of the woods at 108556 (woods some two km SE of St Aignan de Cramesnil) and came under fire from the direction of Conteville and Poussy as well as the 108556 strongpoint but the GOC of the division mentions nothing exact only writing that ”There was a constant threat to the left [eastern] flank, which will be henceforth a menace to the div ops and my permanent worry.” Poles also took prisoners from 272. Infanterie Division and claimed to have destroyed i.a. two 88 mm guns, which if true were might well be from this division. Other candidates are schwere Panzerjäger-Abtailung (mot.) 1039 (elements of which were attached to I. SS-Pz-Korps, the Corps to which both 12. SS-Pz.-Division and 89. Infanterie Division belonged), a Flakkampftrupp (I do not know were there any around in the area at that time but they had two 88 mm guns and a few 20 mm AA guns each) or 89. Infanterie Division. But anyway it is very likely that the Jagdpanzer IVs was an effective tank killers during the fighting on 8 August. To my understanding it was the Jagdpanzer IVs east and northest of Robertmesnil which were the main reason to the failure of the attack of 1 Polish Armoured Division with help from the units of 272. Infanterie Division operating around Conteville and Poussy and probably also from some Pz IVs from KG Waldmüller.
Actions of 1./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 12 during the early morning of 9 August
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.
According to Maczek's Operational Report, a unit history of the 10th Mounted Rifles and various Canadian War Diaries, the Poles and especially the 10th Mounted Rifles (the Cromwell unit) did not operate around Point 111 in the early morning of 9 August, so they could not be targets of Rudolf Roy’s gunner SS-Rottenführer Eckstein. It is highly probable that the opponent was Worthington Force, especially because of the war diaries of the units of Worthington Force, the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Regiment) and 1st Battalion Algonquin Regiment, mentioned nothing on other Allies/unknown/German tanks arriving at Point 111, which was 400 metres north of their position, during the morning and being knocked out there. Lieutenant-Colonel Worthington reported at 0650 hours on 9 August to his brigade HQ that the main body of his force had arrived at Point 195, their objective, in reality the force was very near Point 111, and that they had destroyed few lorries. This suits perfectly with the German reports that enemy tanks had occupied Point 111 from where they dominated all supply routes of KG Waldmüller. And according to the 2nd Canadian Corps Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General war diary 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment suffered no officer casualties on August 9, that speaks strongly against significant Cromwell losses on that day. On August 8 it had lost two badly wounded officers. According to the War Diary of the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment the rear/reserve component of Worthington Force, A Squadron of the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment (28th CAR) and D Company of the Algonquin Regiment, was still by daybreak SSW of Soignolles WNW of Point 111. Most of the tanks of A Squadron were lost when they tried to reach the position held by the main force, namely a large rectangular field surrounded by a bocage tree-hedges some 350 m south of Point 111. According to the war diary the main part of Worthington Force sighted the first Tiger at 0800 hours, sometimes after that two tanks from “A” Squadron, the only ones from the squadron to reach the main position of the force, arrived. They brought the information that enemy armour and A/T-guns had completely cut off Force’s approaches, and that no further reinforcements from the original battle group could reach their position. According to Canadians at least some of the other tanks of the “A” Squadron were knocked out by Tigers (but this can mean also Panthers or Panzer IVs, British and Canadians were not very good to in identifying their opponents but IMHO probably tanks anyway) but others were potentially victims of Eckstein but the problem is that they seems to have been destroyed a little over kilometre west/WNW from Point 111 when according to a map sketch and the recommendations of Rudolf Roy and Fritz Eckstein for the Knight’s Cross reproduced in Számvéber’s book put the Eckstein’s victims at Point 111. And aerial photos taken in 1944 and 1947 show that shrub and tree rows sheltered the Canadian tanks well from fire from north where the Jagdpanzer IV was according to the sketch map in Számvéber’s book on the page 169, if the map coordinate given in the war diary of the 28th CAR is correct. At least the following Canadian battlegroups were better on the map than the badly disoriented vanguard and “A” Squadron could locate its position in daylight. Of course, full certainty would only come from images taken from ground level in 1944, but it seems that Eckstein would have had, at best, only a few very narrow sectors through which he could see those “A” Squadron tanks that advanced towards the Worthington Force main position before they approached the crest of the SW-NE running ridge which included i.a. Points 111, 132 and 140. Before that, the approaching tanks of “A” Squadron were clearly easier targets for tanks of KG Wünsche operating on the ridge west of the position of Worthington Force. The five surviving tanks of “A” Squadron plus three tanks of “B” Squadron with them were pinned down SSW of Soignolles by enemy and eventually knocked out. Before that one AA tank was loaded with ammunition to resupply them but it was hit just before it reached them. British and Commonwealth AA tanks at that time were Crusader III, AA Mk IIIs with some Mk IIs which were almost identical and if it lost its turret it had a reasonable resemblance to Cromwell.
So while at first I thought that Eckstein's victims had been “A” Squadron tanks because they were closest to his Jagdpanzer at the sunrise now I think that at least the two Shermans of No. 2 Troop of “A” Squadron which did not made it to the main force position and the four Shermans of the troop Worthington sent to north to suppress A/T fire from that direction, the nearest two were knocked out less than 250 meters west of Point 111 on the same ridge. So those two Shermans were knocked out some 1.4 km from the position of Roy’s Jagdpanzer given in the sketch, while that was too far away from frontal penetration by a 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48 with Pzgr Patr 39 (A German table says that 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48 with Pzgr Patr 39 penetrates the frontal armour of Sherman I (M4) & V (M4A4) from appr. 800 meters. Post-war Yugoslav tests showed that 7.5 cm Pak 40 with Pzgr Patr 39 penetrates the glacis of a M4A3E4 Sherman, a bit thicker but less sloped than that of the Sherman sub-types mentioned above, from 1100 metres and the turret front from 1000 m. Penetration is not exact science and the specifications what is penetration varied and German tables tended to be on conservative side to make sure that German gunners did not open fire too far away for very probable penetration. The two nearest Shermans shown on the blow-up photo No.1 on the page 17 in Bechthold’s article had turned so that they were more or less aligned west-east direction behind a hedge and so showed their substantially less well armoured sides towards Roy’s Jagdpanzer and so were vulnerable to its fire. Even the 38 mm thick hull side of the third tank showing on the photo about 100 m south of the first two Shermans and its nose directly towards north might well be vulnerable to fairly acute angle hit from Roy’s Jagdpanzer. Of course at least some of these Shermans may well have be knocked out by other German AFVs or guns. The nearest point of the main position of Worthington Force was under 350 meters SSW from Point 111 and so 280 to 400 metres farther away [minimum 1.6 km away] from Roy’s/Eckstein's JgPz IV and behind a hedge/tree-line. But on the other hand according to the war diary of the 1 Algonquin Regiment, the infantry component of the force at appr. 0800 o’clock the main position of Worthington Force “came under terrific 88mm fire from North and North-east. Several tanks were hit and burst into flames.” I don’t know what guns Germans had le Bû sur Rouvres area (NE of the Worthington Force position) but the fire from north was probably 75 mm fire from Roy’s Jagdpanzer which was appr. NNE of the Canadian position. So Eckstein may well have hit some of the tanks there.
9 August afternoon/evening Polish actions
Most of 1st Armoured Regiment (1. Pułk Pancerny) was attacking towards Point 140 south of Soignolles, about two kilometres SW of Point 111 and some 1.3 kilometres SW of the position of Worthington Force in the afternoon/evening of 9 August 1944. They took heavy casualties. This was a Sherman not Cromwell unit. Most of 10th Mounted Rifles was fighting in St. Sylvain three kilometres N of Soignolles but some parts of it were reconnoitring around Soignolles and SE of it.
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.
War Diary of the 2nd Canadian Corps - General Staff 1944-08-01 – 1944-08-31.
War Diary of the 2nd Canadian Corps - Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General Branch
1944-08-01 – 1944-08-31.
War Diary of A & Q Branch, HQ 4th Canadian Armoured Division 1944-08-01 – 1944-08-31.
War Diary of the HQ 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade 1944-08-01 – 1944-08-31.
War Diary of The Royal Regiment of Canada 1944-08-01 – 1944-08-31.
War Diary of 1 Bn. Algonquin Regt. C.A.(A). 1944-08-01 – 31.
War Diary of the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Regiment) 1944-08-01 –
War Diary of E Squadron 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment CAC 1 July 1944 – 31 July 1944.
War Diary of E Squadron 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment CAC 1 August 1944 – 31 August
War Diary of HQ 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin R) CAC 1 Aug 44 – 31 Aug 44.
War Diary of F Squadron 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment 1 Aug 44 – 31 Aug 44.
War Diary of C Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin R) CAC 1 Aug 44 –
31 Aug 44.
War Diary of D Squadron 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin R) CAC 1 Aug 44 –
31 Aug 44.
Maczek's order for the attack No 1 on 8 Aug 44 to the 1 Polish Armoured Division on 7 August 1944.
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report was written by the division's Ia and is dated January 1947.
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Military History, Volume 67, Number 1, January 2003, pp. 137-173.
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Stackpole,2009). https://books.google.fi/books?id=Ou63DAAAQBAJ&pg=PA59&hl=fi&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false Extracted on 15 January 2019.
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Spielberger, Walter J., Die Panzer-Kampfwagen 35(t) und 38(t) und ihre Abarten (Stuttgart: Motorbuch,
http://www.polishwargraves.nl/info/24.pul.one.htm Extracted on 15 Januarry 2019.
https://www.project44.ca/intelblog/2019/8/6/worthington-force-from-the-air Extracted on 8 November
http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/m4sherman.html#M4A4 Extracted on 12 June 2019.
https://www.quora.com/Could-WW2-anti-tank-guns-fire-HE-shells-like-normal-guns-could-or-were-they-less-effective-for-firing-this-type-of-shells Extracted on 22 February 2019.
reference.jpg Extracted on 11 September 2019.
https://aijaa.com/CzKg3E Extracted on 11 September 2019.
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
Press, Uckfield [no date]).
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Volume Two (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole, 2006, first published by J. J. Fedorowicz, Winnipeg 1996).
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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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Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, 2004).
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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).
Quarrie, Bruce, Encyclopaedia of the German Army in the 20th Century (Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens,
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Fedorowicz, Winnipeg 1998).
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Controller of Stationery, 1960).
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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.