Sometimes the Mirror Lies

For reasons lost to time, I managed to mirror the image of the Tiger II on page 262 of Duel in the Mist 3. Apologies for being a buffoon – it’s completely my fault and not the authors.

Wrong:
Duel in the Mist 3

Right:
Duel in the Mist 3

Panzerwrecks 14 page 64 – Ausführung update

William Horn contacted me a couple of weeks ago regarding the Panther on page 64 of Panzerwrecks 14:

I have recently acquired volume 14. On the lower picture on page 64 you claim that the vehicle is a Panther A. If you look at the jack block rack, the small cable rack, and the position of the rear storage box, you will see that it is a Panther G. I am sure that others have probably caught this but I thought I would point it out just in case. I love your publications and they have given me countless hours of pleasure and expanded my knowledge of WWII German vehicles. Keep up the great work!

Yep, I agree with you William.

Panzerwrecks 19 page 60 – location update

Hats off to Janez Čokl for correcting the location of the Jagdpanzer 38 on page 60 of Panzerwrecks 19: Yugoslavia. Over to Janez:

I saw one location mistake in Panzerwrecks 19 (nice work). Photo of Hetzer on page 60 was taken in Celje, not in Maribor. (Google street view linkProbably was the same vehicle like those one on the page 59. This two locations on both photos are not far away (see attachment).

Got a correction? Know something we don’t? Get in touch.

Want to know more about Jagdpanzer 38s?  Check out In Focus 1: Jagdpanzer 38 coming in March.Panzerwrecks 19 - Yugoslavia

Panzerwrecks 13 pages 86-89 – location update

Perry Rowe got in touch with an update as to the location of the photos on pages 86-89 of Panzerwrecks 13: Italy 2. Over to you Perry:

I was just looking through this again and noticed the caption to the series of pics pp86-89. Daniele Guglielmi has wrongly ascribed these to Salerno in Sept ’43 when they are in the Anzio area in ’44. There is a Life photo showing the second one on page 89 closer up. This is said to be in the Lanuvio area of the beachhead. 

GE confirms the location of the pictures on pp86-89 as being a little north-west of Cisterna on Via Monti Lepini (and nowhere near Lanuvio!). The view on p87 is toward Cori.

More about Panzerwrecks 17, pages 70/71, this time…

From Paul Hocking:

Some information to correct the comments on page 71 of PzW #17.

The OOB listed on page 71 for Fs AA 12 is completely misrepresented and inaccurate, I am afraid that Fred Deprun has followed a wrong trail about this unit’s OOB.

To explain, in a book by Didier Lodieu called “Dying for St-Lo” which you may well be familiar with, Fred Deprun appears to be a sub-author for several sections of the book. On page 38 of this book he covers Fs AA 12 in some detail, but unfortunately it’s all of a mix up.

The OOB he quoted is a five company Aufkl Abt exactly the same data as you have on page 71 of PzW #17.

This specification has long puzzled me as this OOB is exactly that of a Type 44 Panzer Aufkl Abt, which is normally only seen specified for Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions. So the puzzle is, did an essentially Infantry Korps (i.e. II Fs Korps), really have a PzAA with all the 150 plus armoured vehicles that that entails ? if so this Infantry Korps, which also included its Fs StuG Abt 12, that it did certainly have, is almost a miniature Pz Grenadier Division, but as far as I am aware, The Herman Goering Pz Division and I Fs Korps aside, there were no other large Fallschirmjager Panzer units in existence.

Anyway to move on, quite by accident I was late last year in contact with a Simon Trew, an historian with the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, about some other inaccuracies in the book “Dying for St-Lo” that he was also covering in another book, and it turned out that it was he who had supplied Fred Deprun with a lot of information about the OOB of Fs AA12, but it is not what was eventually printed, it’s totally different. He had not seen the final edition of the book and was completely unaware of how wrong was the data printed, and very surprised.

It seems that Simon Trew was in the USA previously and had looked at original WW2 POW interrogation reports of ex-FsAA12 personnel, They all described a totally different OOB that was much more along the lines of an infantry based unit, also suffering very much from late war shortages of vehicles and equipment, this is the OBB of their unit;-

Stab Hptm. Gottsche, with 1x 6×6 ex-Italian armoured car and 3x ex-Italian B4 tanks.

1st Kp Lt v Konitz, with several Pkw and Lkw, 3x half-tracks (possibly Kettenkrad), 2x 8cm mortars and a 8,8 cm Puppchen

2nd Kp Lt Runge, same as 1st Kp

3rd Kp Lt Tereus, same as 1st Kp

4th Kp Lt ? 4x 2cm flak guns plus MG’s

5th Kp Lt Ilig, Schwere Kp with 1x 12cm Mortar, 2x Pak 40, 6xMGs, 12 Lkw

6th Kp Lt Lanefeld, Vors Kp with 20-30 Lkw

As you can see an entirely different OOB to the five company PzAufkl Abt quoted by Fred Deprun, it was in fact a six company infantry Aufkl Abt, and poorly equipped as well.

But the Italian armoured car is mentioned in the Stab of this unit and it would seem that calling it a 6×6 is misleading, it’s a 4×4, but it does look to the passer by like it is a 6×6 with the location of its spare wheel being where it is, which is probably what most of the POWs interviewed probably saw of it, if indeed they saw it at all.

Trust you find this of interest.

Thank you Paul. The attention these images attracted is gratifying, because when I first found them on motion picture film I was hesitant to try to obtain them, as they presented a bit of an anomaly and were rather dark. Lee brightened them up and Fred Deprun was kind enough to provide his comments. Had he said nothing, we would not be getting this input now. Elon Musk has had things blow up on the launch pad, so it’s important that we not shy away from trying again next time. It’s what guys do. This blog is like our drawing board; it’s what we go back to when we’ve had a mishap ;- )

 

 

 

Panzerwrecks 16, pages 5, 70 and 71 – a failed matchup

We try our best to pull together as many views of a tank as we can. Sometimes we pull it off, sometimes we don’t. And sometimes we only get it partially right. Randy Roy touched base to tell us that the ‘old hare’ Pz.Kpfw IV on page 5 of Panzerwrecks 16 is actually the same as that shown on pages 70 & 71. Read on: “Thanks for another welcome edition of Pz Wrks. A kaleidoscope of mechanized destruction! The high definition clarity of the photos is amazing! Again revealing the minute details of our valiant history from seventy years past. I hope to see the Bulge 2 in the near future. Lucky for uncle Adolph he didn’t win and take Antwerp, possibly winning the atom bomb sweepstakes!

Addition: The ” old hare” Pz IV hybrid Ausf. F2 ( Ausf. G) on page 70,71 also appears on Page 5. Compare the:
-Steel return rollers, ( rare on this Ausf.)
-The back folded 8mm turret schurtzen with AP round damage.
-Spare track lying across the side fender.
-Twisted rear side fender section.
-Turned up front fender.
-Main gun at maximum elevation.
-Open engine access hatch ( GI holding handle).

The page 5 photo was taken first, then later moved off the side of the road, to the page 70/71 location.”

Thanks Randy

Randy Roy Matches Up a Wreck or Two in “Panzerwrecks 16.”

Thanks for another welcome edition of Pz Wrks. The “old hare” Pz IV hybrid Ausf. F2 (Ausf.G) on page 70, 71 also appears on Page 5.
Compare the:
1. Steel return rollers, (rare on this Ausf.)
2. The back-folded 8mm turret schürzen with AP round damage.
3. Spare track lying across the side fender.
4. Twisted rear side fender section.
5. Turned up front fender.
6. Main gun at maximum elevation.
7. Open engine access hatch (GI holding handle).
 
The page 5 photo was taken first, then later moved off  the side of the road, to the page 70/71  location.

Our thanks to Randy for bringing this match-up to our attention. You’re hired, Randy!

Panzerwrecks 13: General corrections & updates from Daniele Guglielmi

I received an email from my friend Daniele Guglielmi, author of many Italian theatre books, with a few corrections and observations. Over to you Daniele:

Page 1, you can see at lest three types of tyres on the AB41s: two of Celerflex models (taken from trucks), and Artiglio di sicurezza (run-flat, very rare). It’s possible that the other wheels had the other two models used: Artiglio and Libia.

Page 4, did not both the Marder III Ausf. H and M have the same crew of four?

Page 11, Pignataro (not Pignatora).

Page 18 etc., the StuG and StuH III belonged surely to the StuG Brigade 242; this unit had a particular way to bring the side spare track links.

Page 28, in October 1944 the Tiger number 334 was used as a target on the beaches of Riccione, at the presence of the new 8th Army commander, Gneral McCreery. The German tank was totally destroyed by the shots of 6pdr, 17pdr and 75mm guns.

Page 50, StuG Brigade 242, as above see the reversed side spare tracks.

Page 51, Artena, not Ortona (which lies 200 km east)

Page 52, did not the Sd.Kfz. 7/2 belong to the Hermann Goering Division?

Pages 58, 59, I think that the Sd.Kfz. 10 was found near the Tiger of the s.Pz.Abt. 504 destroyed in Cecina on 1st July, 1944; the pictures came form a roll of the same series. Apart for the Tiger unit, in the area there was the 16. SS Panzergrenadier-Division RFSS, which employed some StuG III Ausf. F8 and G.

Page 74 etc., many photos were taken by British and New Zealand reporters on 28 June 1944 near Ficulle (Terni), a town with an important railway station. The Regio Esercito (Italian Royal Army) received in 1941 two Canon de 194 GPF sur chenilles Saint Chamond (named Cannone da 194/32 su affusto a cingoli Saint Chamond). After the Italian armistice of 9 September, 1943, the two vehicles were captured by the Germans, who used them (as 19,4cm Kanone 485(f) GPF) for the coastal defence of the town and the port of Civitavecchia (west of Rome). One of these two SPG is now exposed in the museum of Aberdeen, Maryland, USA.

Page 78, I believe that the first dug-in Panther showed was in the Gothic line north of Pesaro, on the eastern side of the line, in August 1944 and the second one on the Gustav line in May 1944.

Page 92, I believe that the circular unit insignia was for the Panzer-Regiment 26, not for the whole 26. Panzer-Division, which used the old marking (see on the two Panzer IVs at the pages 90 and 91, on the turret skirt and on the front of the hull) until the end of war.

Page 96, probably the Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. G destroyed in Villa Grande in December 1943 belonged to the 90. Panzergrenadier-Division.

Duel in the Mist 2 Errata: Part 1

Conscientious authors that they are, the Duel in the Mist team have been finding a few things that needed correction. Over to them:

No Hellcats
P.8
This reserve was the result of the recent conversion to the mobile M-10 Wolverine tank destroyer. The 2nd Platoon, already equipped with four M-10 TD’s, had originally been with the 2nd Bn, 119th Inf Rgt and thus escaped the debacle at STOUMONT.

P.30 The 823rd TD Bn had a frustrating day as it tried in vain to get the ten M-10 TD’s they were scheduled to receive plus an additional four from the 9th US Army. At the end of the day, it was near TARGNON, with the 2nd Platoon having moved up its four M-10 TD’s all the way on the N.33 to the positions of the 1st Bn, 119th Inf Rgt on the outskirts of STOUMONT.

Replace M-18 Hellcat by M-10 Wolverine on pages 8 and 30.

703rd TD Bn
P.122
A platoon of M-36 tank destroyers from Company B, 703rd TD Bn, 3rd Armd Div was supposed to support the 504th PIR.

P.175 Map
Tank Destroyers of Company B, 703rd TD Bn supported the elimination of the remaining German strong points.

Replace Company C, 703rd TD Bn by Company B, 703rd TD Bn on pages 122 and 175.

Addendum
The story of the 703rd TD Bn at CHENEUX

The old tank destroyer witch which must have laid some curse on us. Not only do the typos and errors rise in geometric proportions once we try to weave them into our narrative, invariably also new sources open up to us only after the story has gone into print. This was so with DITM 1, where the crucial engagement with the two Platoons of Company A, 823rd TD Bn at STOUMONT should be the subject of a rewrite as our understanding of this phase has deepened over the last three years. Maybe something we can set straight in a second edition. It has happened again with DITM 2.

As for the 703rd TD Bn at CHENEUX, we feel that the interested reader should have some additional information. One does recall that the men of 504th PIR were not impressed by the performance that the pair of M-36 Tank Destroyers put up in this engagement, to say the least. At one point, It it seems that an exasperated Lt Col Willard Harrison, Commanding Officer 1st Bn, 504th PIR, even ordered his men to shoot at the TD’s if they would continue to ignore his order to advance (DITM 2, p, 136). What do the tank destroyer men tell in turn? Their story can be glimpsed in their After Action Report that can be found on the fantastic website www.tankdestroyer.net.
First of all, we now can identify the unit as 2nd Platoon, Company B, 703rd TD Bn, led by a certain Lt Roberts. The report adds that the platoon was immediately attached to 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR for their night attack. Actually, they were attached to the 1st Battalion. The 2nd Battalion would eventually relieve the paratroopers from Red at CHENEUX on Dec. 22nd after the hard fought battle. Only a section (two TD’s) was available, the other two tank destroyers were down for repairs. Their mission was to move along the first elements of the paratrooper outfit, making as much noise as possible and shooting at everything in order to give the impression of a much bigger armoured thrust. This looked like a good idea, only with visibility down to 25 yards, the intended show of strength somehow failed to make a big impression on both the paratroopers and the Germans. In due course, the initial infantry attack stalled as is described in detail in DITM 2. The 20mm Flak near House Boutet was singled out to be the reason for all this trouble (see the Sd.Kfz. 10/5 in DITM 2, p. 132, as the likely suspect). The tank destroyers “were not in a position to take the 20mm under fire”, as the report reads. No wonder with them being hiding behind some brushes 400 yards back, we are inclined to add and of course there is no word about them being literally kicked into action. The next move in order to do something for the paratroopers was text-book frog leaping, only with one frog staying behind and the other one doing all the leaping: “One destroyer moved up the road while the other remained in position covering its advance.” With visibility down to 25 yards, the unlucky crew having drawn the up-front assignment would soon have scuttled out of sight of their supportive comrades, we suppose. The first thing they chanced upon was a German halftrack on the right side of the road. We think that this must have been the Sd.Kfz. 251/9 in its advanced position in front of the Boutet House (see DITM 2, p. 128). The visibility must indeed have been very low, as the ensuing action speaks of a frantic scramble to get the gun laid on this unsuspected target: “As the gunner swung the gun around, the tube struck the other vehicle” and the driver “immediately reversed the destroyer”. At the same time the German crew was abandoning the halftrack and “was considerably helped by a round of HE [high explosive] which completely destroyed the vehicle and crew.” Although it’s impossible to construct a clear timeline from all the accounts about the CHENEUX action, we still think that the halftrack had already been put out of action at this time by Pfc Del Grippo. The (wounded or shocked?) crew might still have lingered about, but that would not have been the sensible thing to do in this case. If the halftrack mentioned was indeed the Sd.Kfz. 251/9, the high explosive round didn’t completely destroy it, as could be expected against a fully armoured vehicle. Looking at the photograph, it’s interesting to note that a round fired from the tank destroyer coming in on the road behind would be into the rear of the halftrack. The vehicle wouldn’t have had a chance to quickly bring its fixed gun to bear on its adversary.

“In rapid succession”, the tank destroyer then knocked out the 20mm flak wagon and a halftracked prime mover. As before, we think that the 20mm flak wagon had been put out of action by the paratroopers earlier and that the tank destroyer probably only wanted to make sure it would stay dead. There was an Opel Maultier with a 10,5cm howitzer still in tow (see DITM 2, p. 128) on the right side of the road and another one stranded in a small lane just opposite the Boutet House on the left side (see DITM 2, p. 130). Could it be that the modification to its rear was done by the tank destroyer? We probably will never know.

What followed next ties in well with our own narrative. When the paratroopers had reached and consolidated their positions at the Boutet House, a Sd.Kfz. 251/17 prevented any further move down the road into the village. The LMG platoon was brought up, only to be shot to pieces. We think that this actually prompted a very angry battalion commander to get back to the tank destroyers and kick them in their backside (DITM 2, p. 138). If so, the real moment of glory for the tank destroyer crew was still to come. What happened now is quite interesting. Apparently, the halftrack was partially obstructed by the Gaspard House and the tank destroyer, being road bound in difficult terrain, couldn’t move into a good fire position. “Therefore, the next best choice was made- to knock away the protection and then go after the vehicle.” APC BDF ammo was used to blast away the wall and then to destroy the vehicle. Indeed, the Narrative of Action of the First Battalion, 504th PIR officially credited the tank destroyer with knocking out the “self-propelled 20mm gun” with two rounds. The tank destroyer AAR continues with two more halftracks being driven out from their hiding places behind [other] buildings and destroyed while attempting to retreat down the road. We haven’t been able to find any traces of these halftracks so far. The next wrecks on the road were yet another Opel Maultier in the process of pulling out a 10.5cm howitzer from cover and a Sd.Kfz. 10/5 (see DITM 2, p. 182 ff).

This conciliatory outcome surely helps to restore the reputation of the tank destroyers, wouldn’t it be for Pvt Kinney (see DITM 2, p. 137, Fn 457), having a well-deserved smoke in the backyard of the Gaspard House after knocking out a very troublesome German halftrack with his hand grenades and being scared to death by some tank destroyer suddenly firing into the house!

When on the next day, the paratroopers launched their attack, the tank destroyers were given the mission to drive through the village, “clearing out whatever they could find” until meeting with the flanking force. When the attack started, one tank destroyer almost immediately knocked out a 105mm gun and prime mover, thereby blocking the road which made it necessary to find an alternate route. Clearly we have arrived at the situation just described above (see DITM 2, p. 183 ff). The tank destroyers would move “cautiously through farmyards and alleys” while their infantry support mopped up pockets of resistance behind them. They finally joined the flanking force and by 2100, CHENEUX was cleared. Setting up a road black in the eastern portion of the village, during the night the section destroyed another flak wagon which had remained in concealment and tried to escape across the river towards LA GLEIZE. The next morning, 22nd Dec. 1944, the two other tank destroyers joined the section and provided anti-tank protection to the eastern approaches. In the afternoon, the platoon was ordered back to BRA into divisional reserve and would stay there till 24th Dec. 1944.

We think this is a perfect example that like coins, stories have two sides. We have learned that in a lot of cases, it’s almost impossible to get at the truth. Narratives are made by humans, not film cameras or recorders, and narratives of war are made by humans experiencing some of the most demanding situations of human condition, often overwhelmed by them. In the end, it’s up to reader to make up his own narrative and his own truth. We only strive to give him as much input as we can with prime sources.