Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

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Michael Kenny
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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 03 Mar 2016 14:35

Wiki gives him 26 kills in 5 days.
The Polish Armoured Division had the following total losses 1944-45

Polish 1st Armoured Division August 1944-April 1945

Tank Losses

Sherman 172
Cromwell 51
Stuart 35
Command Tanks 7 = 265 tanks

Seems this man accounted for 10% of the Division all by himself.......................

Michael Kenny
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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 03 Mar 2016 15:13

Tieke page 164:

August 7 1944, at 23:45, the 9. SS-Panzerdivision gave the the
final report of successes to the II. SS-Panzerkorps by teletype.
The message was received at 01:05.
It read:
"In the attack battles of yesterday and the combats of today, the
following were destroyed by SS-Pz. Rgt. 9: 7 tanks and 3 armored
cars; Heavy SS-Pz. Abt. 102: 20 tanks and 2 ammunition trailers,
of which 11 tanks were knocked out by one vehicle alone (in this
report the last 4 kills by Tiger Fey were not included); 2./SS-Pz.
Pi.Btl. 9: 8 tanks in close combat. Of these, SS-Unterscharfuhrer
Hans Leykauf alone took out 4 tanks (he is recommended for naming
in the Ehrenblatt and for mention in the military commentary on the
radio news); K. Gr. Olboeter: 6 tanks; SS-Pz. AA 9: 2 tanks in close
combat; Pi. Btl. 600: 1 tank in close combat."
The English lost 48 tanks and 3 armored cars in two days in the
combat around Chenedolle.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Shermaninterest » 03 Mar 2016 16:10

The to&e of a British Armoured Regiment is 72 tanks including 12 light tanks? Is this correct? Reading the entire war diary for this periord during Bluecoat the Fife and Forfar mentioned "only" 14 tank casualties including the 5 from 7th August. If the Regiment was down to 25 operational tanks at the end of Bluecoat out of a possible 72 this indicates 47 casulaties of some form. Thats +3times the number mentioned directly in the war diary. Maybe the war diaries didn't include most lost tanks in their war diaries? Is the number of lost tanks known for this Regiment during Bluecoat. Or the Division? Stephen Napirs book Armored Campaign lumps the numbers for VIII Corps together sadly.

Over the entire Operation the regiment reported 58?!? personnel casualties of which 16 were on the day in question. ~28%

But i agree with Kenny an incident of this size would certainly sound different in a unit diary.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by pintere » 03 Mar 2016 16:20

Michael Kenny wrote:Wiki gives him 26 kills in 5 days.
The Polish Armoured Division had the following total losses 1944-45

Polish 1st Armoured Division August 1944-April 1945

Tank Losses

Sherman 172
Cromwell 51
Stuart 35
Command Tanks 7 = 265 tanks

Seems this man accounted for 10% of the Division all by himself.......................
This is simply an appeal to incredulity, and does nothing to discredit what my claim was, that he shot 13 tanks in one day.

On August 8th the Polish lost 40+ tanks to German fire, 31 of which were total losses. The next day they lost 37+ tanks, for a total of 66 total tank losses and 5 SPGs during Totalize. Almost all (if not all) were lost on those two days. With this in mind, it is hardly inconceivable that the two Jagdpanzer commanders were able to knock out so many tanks. As for the 26 kills in 5 days, if one remembers that not all of these were from the Polish armoured division, it doesn't look nearly as unbelievable.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 03 Mar 2016 16:42

pintere wrote: On August 8th the Polish lost 40+ tanks to German fire, 31 of which were total losses. The next day they lost 37+ tanks, for a total of 66 total tank losses and 5 SPGs during Totalize. Almost all (if not all) were lost on those two days. With this in mind, it is hardly inconceivable that the two Jagdpanzer commanders were able to knock out so many tanks.
66 tanks ((I have not checked) across 4 Armoured Regiments. Did all 4 line up in one confined space and take on these ' two Jagdpanzer commanders' in single combat whilst every other German Unit ceased fire and enjoyed the spectacle?

The following can not be called 'confirmation':
German soldier A claims 20 Kills,
Allies lose a total of 50 tanks during entire operation,
German soldier A is confirmed to have knocked out 20 tanks.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Shermaninterest » 03 Mar 2016 17:10

Michael Kenny wrote:
66 tanks ((I have not checked) across 4 Armoured Regiments. Did all 4 line up in one confined space and take on these ' two Jagdpanzer commanders' in single combat whilst every other German Unit ceased fire and enjoyed the spectacle?
.
The 2nd Tank Regiment reported most of those losses within a short amount of time. Even Polish sources describe the 2nd tank regiment as "mauled". This short action is in the area which the Germans claimed. This was the first action of Polish tanks in Normandy. The opposing units were experienced at this point after weeks of combat. This incident could be explained by lack of experience and unknown terrain.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Miles Krogfus » 03 Mar 2016 21:07

Here are details concerning the Fey kill claims question. I didn't see his garbled list of kills and the units involved when I proofread part of Fey's book or I would have said to my friend John F. "Hey wait a minute . . ." Earlier Fey asked me to supply him preliminary info on the British units he may have faced on the tank kill dates list he gave me, but when I wrote back giving possibly this or that unit on some of these days, he did no archive checking as I guided him to and carelessly lumped British units for these individual days together. Two British authors caused him to change dates and places of combat. First Alexander McKee in "Caen: Anvil of Victory" in 1964, using Trautmann's diary and other 102 SS vets info. He checked certain British unit histories and unit combat reports and gave the info they contained to Fey and other 102 SS Tiger crewmen. After reading 2 German books that mentioned 102 SS Tiger combats in Normandy, Major J.J. How, first in "Normandy: The British Breakout," then in "Hill 112," also gave Fey and his 102 SS Komp. pals more book and researched data, showing many tanks shot by Germans at Hill 112 and in and around Vire and Chenedolle, and thus seemingly proving that yes, Fey probably did shoot a lot. A 1976 letter from How that I have reveals details of his connection with British and German vets in order to gather specific information. The II SS Pz.Korps report of destroyed British tanks does not specifically mention Fey scoring 11 kills, but comments from 102 SS vets that I and others received indicated that this was him. Fey did have a less than clear memory, used others material for his own ends, but did not make things up from nothing as regards his Normandy combats.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 03 Mar 2016 21:49

It is important to understand the terminology. 29th Armoured Brigade(3 Tank Regiments) is the 'tank' element of 11th Armoured Division. It is not however the complete tank strength of 11th AD. There was a 4th tank regiment in 11th AD, the Recce regiment. Thus though 11 AD tank strength is 4 Tank Regiments 29th Armoured Brigade strength is 3 tank Regiments.
Here are the last light (end of day numbers) for 29th Armoured Brigade for late July/early August.

Fit only, in repair tanks not included. Stuart light tanks excluded as well. M4 75mm/17 pdr only .
July
26 = 164
27 = 162
28 = 171
29 = 169
30 = 139
31 = 141

Aug.
1 = 145
2 = 114
3 = 110
4 = 119
5 = 120
6 = 158
7 = 134
8 = 143
9 = 145
10 = 152
11 = 164
12 = 167

They landed in June with 198 M4

The biggest hit on 27 AB was August 2nd when 31 tanks dropped from the fit totals.
30 July saw a 30 drop. Aug 7 saw 24 casualties.
Obviously replacements tanks were recieved by some units on Aug 6th which complicates things.

The 'drop' in numbers is the number of tank casualties. It is not the number of total losses.
12 of the casualties on Aug 2 were classed as 'repairable in under 24 hours' as were 12 on July 30.
29 AB were heavily engaged in this period and it would be folly to assume 1 or 2 Tigers bagged a whole days losses all by themselves.
I do not even understand the issue here because I thought it was a proven/accepted fact tank kill claims are always higher than actual losses.







.
Last edited by Michael Kenny on 04 Mar 2016 14:36, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 03 Mar 2016 21:53

Miles Krogfus wrote:. Fey did have a less than clear memory, used others material for his own ends, but did not make things up from nothing as regards his Normandy combats.
So apart from the dates, the location, the units he engaged and his number of kills everything he claims is factual?

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by pintere » 03 Mar 2016 23:58

Michael Kenny wrote:66 tanks ((I have not checked) across 4 Armoured Regiments. Did all 4 line up in one confined space and take on these ' two Jagdpanzer commanders' in single combat whilst every other German Unit ceased fire and enjoyed the spectacle?

The following can not be called 'confirmation':
German soldier A claims 20 Kills,
Allies lose a total of 50 tanks during entire operation,
German soldier A is confirmed to have knocked out 20 tanks.
Incredulity alone is not cause for dismissal. I can cite my sources whenever you want them, but I'll give a run-down of what I do know. In Totalize the allies lost (completely) about 180 tanks, of which 66 belonged to the Polish division. In that time period their principal opponents, and the ones who ended up claiming most of the kills, was 12th SS Panzer Division. Their kill claims can be found in Szamvebers book on the subject, but in a nutshell SS Panzerjager abteilung 12 claimed about 70 tanks destroyed in the time period, SS Panzer Regiment 12 about 80. The only other major German armoured units were the Tigers from battalions 101 and 102. I would also suggest reading Napier's chapter on Totalize. In a nutshell though, when one takes into account tanks the Germans knocked out but did not completely destroy, these claims seem pretty close to what the allies lost.

As for Eckstein, my specific argument was that he destroyed 13 tanks on a single day (9 August). The disposition of German units, and the losses of allied tanks in the area, all suggest this claim is accurate. There is no way to really know specifically when and where each German tank destroyed which allied tank. If you're looking for that kind of confirmation, it is impossible. You need to either show allied losses were not high enough for the claim to be true, or that German claims were too inflated across the board to cast reasonable doubt on this claim. As things stand, this kill claim seems to be just about as confirmed as one can expect it to be.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Miles Krogfus » 04 Mar 2016 00:51

The information British vets and authors obtained and shared helped to correct Fey. They accuse no one of blatantly making things up. In the above post I have given AHF members the titles of the exact books, regardless of their ultimate tank kills accuracy, that they can study (checking the books' lists of sources) if they desire to better understand the situation of Fey and reality. These are the books to see how the Fey Tale evolved in relation to his writings, since these authors and 102 SS vets worked together. However to consider him simply as a con man and writer of fiction is not valid. No official DK in Gold, no official RK for him. But I do not feel contempt for a man who had skill in shooting opposing tanks, that would be petty.
Regarding Michael's statement that it was a proven/accepted fact that tank kill claims are always higher than actual losses, what we accept, what we suppose sometimes turns out to be wrong. While "proven" means just that. It is proven using German/Russian records that at some July 1943 Operation Zitadelle combats, the Soviets lost more armor than German units claimed.
Last edited by Miles Krogfus on 04 Mar 2016 19:57, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 04 Mar 2016 00:53

Just had a quick skim through Tieke. For August 2 -7 II SS Pz Korps claimed 104 British tanks knocked out. An impossible total given the 11th AD tank states I posted earlier. .
What I also noticed is the way Meyer and Teike reference each other and Fey and how they both use How as their main British source. Quite a close knit self-reinforcing group it seems.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 04 Mar 2016 01:03

Miles Krogfus wrote: I have given AHF members the titles of books they can study (checking their lists of sources) if they desire to better understand the situation of Fey and reality.
I am currently checking 2 works you mentioned along with Teike and Meyer. I also have a substantial body of British sources to compare the two sides. I have to say though that these books (Alexander McKee in "Caen: Anvil of Victory"/ Major J.J. How "Hill 112,") would be far down the list of anyone seeking solid reliable information on tank losses.
I also have Szamvebers book and note how he is (mistakenly) almost totally reliant on Reynolds for his 'confirmation' of British tank losses

I think my understanding in this area is 'quite good' to say the least!

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Miles Krogfus » 04 Mar 2016 01:58

Michael, how many tanks do you suppose Fey actually shot around Vire and Chenedolle, also for his entire Tiger career in France? He claimed 3 tanks near Soulangy on August 14, 10 on the 15th around Soulangy and St. Pierre. If one says he does not and cannot know Fey's correct kill total, than comments about Willi simply faking it melt away like a rare summer snowfall . . .
Last edited by Miles Krogfus on 04 Mar 2016 19:37, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Will Fey and the 14 Shermans he claims for 7/8/44

Post by Michael Kenny » 04 Mar 2016 02:45

pintere wrote:
As for Eckstein, my specific argument was that he destroyed 13 tanks on a single day (9 August). The disposition of German units, and the losses of allied tanks in the area, all suggest this claim is accurate. There is no way to really know specifically when and where each German tank destroyed which allied tank. If you're looking for that kind of confirmation, it is impossible. You need to either show allied losses were not high enough for the claim to be true, or that German claims were too inflated across the board to cast reasonable doubt on this claim. As things stand, this kill claim seems to be just about as confirmed as one can expect it to be.
There is a book 'Black Devils March' which is a history of 1st Polish AD but concentrates on 10th Mounted Rifles as the author's father was in that unit. Pages 22-23 deal with the attack mentioned in Szamveber's book (page 171)

Here are the 2 accounts. They can not be reconciled. Clearly one version bears no relation to the real events.


The German version:
Hpool Portrait290.jpg

The Polish version:
Hpool Portrait291.jpg
Hpool Portrait292.jpg
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