Whose Tiger is it?

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Cyprek
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Whose Tiger is it?

Post by Cyprek » 17 Mar 2006 17:35

Image

This tank was destroyed by a Polish Crowell tank (:lol: funny stuff but that's the way it is) from 10th Mounted Rifles on 15th August near village called Jort.

To tell the truth I've found the same photo in a stark better quality in one book . The tank was destroyed when a shell from Cromwell's 75 mm gun penetrated throught the hatch in the back of the turret (yes, the tank was attacked from behind). If you pay a look you may notice a hole in the hatch (in may book it's better visible). And one more thing to be specific: there is no hole in the radio box (I guarantee as a person who posess a better copy of that photo; the picture I'm showing you is a one that I found in the Internet some time ago - a preferred not to scan and spare my time - my scanner is terrible :( ).

Now my personal guess. 3 Tigers (according to Brian Reid: von Westernhagen's, Hoflinger's and Heurich's; if that's wrong correct me; I've already noticed that it contradicts with what H. Meyer wrote: that von Westernhagen wasn't present on the battlefield on that particular day due to some illness) were all that was left from Wittmann's 3rd Company of 101st battalion after the battle on 8th August. All these tanks cooperated with Kampfgruppe "Waldmuller" throught some further days. Probalby on 9th August they acted along with Prinz's Mark IVs somwhere in the vicinity of Soignolless. Then (still attached to the Mark IVs) they probably moved to the woods near Le bu sur Rouvres. This version is supported by the fact that one Polish veteran saw a knocked out Tiger (it must have been a Tiger; the description is accurate) in that sector on 11th August (probably it was destroyed by the 33rd Armored Brigade on 10th). So we have 2 operational Tigers in the 3rd Company. My guess is that bothe were attached to 12 SS Panzer Division's panzerjager battalion.

According to H. Meyer 12 SS' anti-tank battalion was in action exactly near Jort. Zetterling says it had 5 operational Jagdpanzer IVs on the day before. Furthermore Polish veteran Liutenant Gutowski in a very good description of the fighting says they were facing 7 enemy vehicles among witch some were Tigers and some of an unidentyfied mark (the Tiger is also described in detail; the tank had only minor damages - the shell killed the crew but Tiger was still fully operational; Gutowski drove it to the Polish lines). This supports my version about the 3rd Company of 101st Battalion as we have 2 Tigers + 5 Jagdpanzer IVs = 7.

On the other hand the number "214" suggests 2nd Comapny but Meyer wrote that 3rd Company used some vehicles which had marking of the 2nd.

102nd Heavy Tank Battalion was in action in the vicinity of Soulagny which is in a quite long distance from Jort so it appears unlikely that this Tiger is from that unit (Meyer even asserted that "it's impossible that Poles were facing Tigers on that day!!!"; here you've got a proof Mr Meyer 8-) ).

But still even bearing in mind that my version is correct I don't know whose Tiger it is. Perhaps some of you may know that.

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Post by Cyprek » 17 Mar 2006 17:38

Ohh, one more thing. Isn't it the only time during the Normandy battle when a Tiger was knocked out by a Cromwell tank? Correct me if it isn't.

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Post by Cyprek » 18 Mar 2006 19:55

I have also another version. Gutowski wrote that he spotted 4 Tigers (including the one captured). He didn't menage to identify other three vehicles (nearly all vehicless were well camouflaged). My idea is that 10th Mounted Rifles didn't face a single Jagdpanzer IV on that day and all the vehicles were Tiger Is. This is backed by an information that Meyer provides. He says that Jagdpanzer IVs were in action around Epaney on that day (that is more than 5 kilometres from the spot were Tiger "214" was caprured). 12 Jagdpanzer IVs fought in the vicinity of Epaney (funny stuff - according to Zetterling they had only 5 Jagdpanzer IVs operational the day before).

I have an information that 2nd Company of 101st SS Tiger battalion had 5 operational Tigers on 9th August. 3rd Company had 3 vehicles and nearly for sure lost one during the fighting around Le Bu sur Rouvres. Now, bearing in mind that 2nd Company didn't sustain any casualties in the next couple of days we have 7 Tiger Is in the 101st battalion on 15th August. This fits the Gutowski's statement that German detatchment had 7 vehicles and 4 of them were Tigers.

So I think that the Tiger is from 101st SS Tiger battalion and 10th Mounted Rifles were facing 2nd and 3rd Companies of that battalion on 15th August. 5 Tigers in the 2nd Company and 2 Tigers in the 3rd Company.


The way the battle ended is very interesting. Two Tigers drove out of some woods where they had been attacked from behind (as we know one had been demaged due to this attack). They were withdrawing in front of an entire Polish tank squadron. Gutowski said that was the only time in his entire soldier's career that he had such a target. He hit one Tiger for more than 10 times with no result! The Tigers joined other 4 vehicles without interference and they cointinued fire fight during witch 3 Cromwells had already been destroyed. At that moment Gutowski ordered using anti - infantry shells witch created more splinters and made more noise. It worked! All 6 tanks withdrew and a bridgehead over Dives river could be created. Seem like German crews underestimated their own power... If they hadn't there could have been another Villers-Bocage!

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Matt Gibbs
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Only tiger casualty.

Post by Matt Gibbs » 18 Mar 2006 20:42

I don't know IF it was the only Tiger casulaty to a Tiger bit if so thats an impressive statistic. Is it more because there were not so many Tigers around or something else..? Very impressive if so.
There was in December 1944 the following Cromwells in service declared as "fit"
75 mm - 620
95 mm - 64

In Feb 1945 there was the following holdings:
75 mm - 823
95 mm - 110

So there was plenty of Cromwells out there! Source Public Records Office files WO 219/3352.
Regards
Matt Gibbs

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Post by Michael Kenny » 19 Mar 2006 08:19

The Tiger is from SS 101. The number '4' they used is distinctive.
There is another view of this Tiger (always described as in 'Bois du Quesnay') from a Polish book showing the Tiger from the other side. It was taken at more or less the same time as the photo in the first post. Do you have any info on the photo below?
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Post by bryson109 » 23 Mar 2006 04:55

I agree it is s.SS.Pz.Abt 101, Tiger at War by Trojca and Munch says Tiger '214' was commanded by Uscha.Karl Heinz Warmbrunn.

-Bryson

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Post by Cyprek » 24 Mar 2006 19:44

Thanks a lot for your posts! Great info!

Now, answering Matt's question. For whole I know the only tanks those 7 Tigers were facing were the Cromwells of Gutowski's 2nd squadron (It should have had 16 tanks but it is possible that some of them had been destroyed before the discussed engagement; as I wrote 3 Cromwells were knocked out by the Tigers) BUT there were also some tank destroyers - M10s. Gutowski states that M10s caught up with his squadron during the fighting. He doesn't specify the number. Some 15 M10s were cooperating with 10th Mounted Rifles on that day. No detalis about the actions of those vehicles are available. So we have some 13 Cromwells or less facing the Tigers and a maximum of 15 M10s.

The attack from behind was a total coincidence. First Liutenant Swiercz's platoon (3 Cromwells) had a breakdown of the radio and in result followed 1st Squadron which attacked Jort (there it was fighting PAKs, grenadiers of 85th Infantry and osttruppen). They somehow menaged to fix the radio and contacted Gutowski who ordered them to join the rest of the squadron fighting the Tigers south of the town. In some strange twist of fate Swiercz's platoon passed by the German tanks and attacked the 3 Tigers hidden in a forest on the eastern flank. So seems like you're right saying that the bigger number of Polish tanks was the crucial factor that allowed Swiercz to attack from behind. But at the same time 2 Tigers of the 102nd heavy tank battalion menaged to fight off an entire Sherman squadron near Soulagny! So I think that the outcome could have been stark different.

Now Michael's question. Great picture! I'm sensing some sort of deja vu when looking at it but I don't have it in any of my books. All that I can tell you is what you probably have already figured out. This is the same Tiger. The same positioon of the turret and the anti-aircraft tank standing on the left indicates that. The picture was made at the same time as mine. It's very likely that by the same photographer. The capturing a Tiger in Jort is mentioned in nearly every book concerning 1st Polish Armored. They say that some of the soldiers were allowed to drive the Tiger for fun in the end of the day. The Tiger is said to be a regiment's reserve later. 10th Mounted Rifles had an anti-aircraft platoon with 6 tanks so maybe that's where the tank seen in the picture comes from. Where did you find that picture? 8O

I include a better copy of the picture. The hole in the hatch can be easily seen now. Just like in Gutowski's description. A little dish on the hatch suggests that it was hit twice! One can also see the tiny holes made by the splinters (especially on the radio box).


Image

Image

Gutowski mentions finding three bodies in the vehicle.

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Post by Michael Kenny » 26 Mar 2006 00:53

Cyprec perhaps you would like a photo of another Tiger lost on 8/8/44. It is an unknown 2nd Kp. Tiger and no one has yet claimed it.
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Post by 101yann » 26 Mar 2006 17:54

This SS101 Tiger 214 was indeed Uscha. Karl-Heinz Warmbrunn's official mount as of June 6. 1944.
However, Warmbrunn had to leave the Normandy Front as early as July 18 as he was injured in the eye as a gunner when the then 2.Kompanie CO Obersturmführer Helmut Wendorff took over command of his tank on that day so Warmbrunn's Tiger had to be another 2.Kp CO's mount on August 15.

I have looked in the German sources I know of again to see what losses are given for the 2.Kp/SS101 on Aug. 15 and there is no recorded Tiger loss for that day (only 2 wounded enlisted men) but that doesn't mean there were none.
However, Uscha. Kurt Sowa (official mount as of June 6. 1944 : Tiger 222) is said to have lost an arm in the fighting south east of Sassy (could be Jort then !) on August 15 so are we looking at his Tiger here ??? The fact that it is 214 and not 222 is of little relevance as by then CO's would swap mounts rather frequently due to heavy losses and shortages.

Interestingly, the photo Mick posted shows a 2.Kp/SS101 Tiger that was lost/abandoned near the La Jalousie/Hill 117 late on August 8 during a counter attack led by 3 SS101 Tigers after the demise of Wittmann's group earlier in the day. This Tiger has a combination of features such as a large muzzlebrake, a binocular sight and a 40mm turret roof which is rather unusual..the only known eg. within 2.Kp that sported such 3 features is...Tiger 222 so this could be 'it' potentially.
If true, this would mean Sowa had to use another Tiger after August 8 so 214 could have been an option !

Another 2.Kp Tiger loss that springs to mind is that of Obersturmführer Helmut Wendorff. He was killed along with 2 other crew members on August 13 but farther north west about 3 km south west of Maizières.
This happened too far away from Jort and not on the same day so probably not connected to the Polish accounts you gave but I thought I would mention it since you said 3 bodies were found in Tiger 214.

Yann

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Post by Cyprek » 29 Mar 2006 18:13

Very interesting thesis Yann. This is the information that I've been looking for!

Are you sure that the Tiger in Michael's second picture was destroyed near La Jalousie? I'm asking becouse Polish also claimed one Tiger destroyed on that day. It was knocked out by staff sargeant Wojtynowski (Sherman Firefly) from 24th Lancers Regiment. The tank was destroyed some 1000 metres south-east from St Aignan de Cramesnil. This information is based on an original document.

I believe that this particular Tiger is mentioned in Hubert Meyer's book about the 12th SS. A German veteran wrote that one Tiger from the 2nd company was some 1,500 away from the wrecks of the tanks destroyed by the British along the Route Nationale. I'm 90% sure that it was the Tiger destroyed by Wojtynowski.

The Tiger from Michael's picture could be the one destroyed by wojtynowski in my view. The route seen in the picture can be the lane from St Aignan to Robertmesnil.

Now something a little bit off the law.

On 9th August one Polish veteran (Liutenant Kazimierczak) paid for walk along the route from St Aignan to Robertmesnil. In his statement he mentions three destroyed German tanks (he doesn't specify the mark) and lots of bodies in black tank troop uniforms. One officcer in a black jacket looked as if he was alive so he scared Kazimierczak at first. Kazimierczak described this officcer as Rudolf Valentino look alike (check some Valentino's photo!). The officcer was holding a letter to his mother in Berlin.

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Post by Michael Kenny » 29 Mar 2006 18:22

This is the only unidentified photographed SS 101 Tiger somewhere south of Caen. It is known a norman farmer took the photo but not when he took it. It is two Tigers made into one as the turret is not what should be on this chassis. Probably two damaged tanks made into one. The numbers are bigger than normal and are probably 1st or 3rd Kp. numbers painted over.
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Post by Cyprek » 29 Mar 2006 19:15

Wojtynowski's Tiger was knocked out in quite a wooded area. This Tiger is in a plain.

According to the war diary of 1st Polish AD some Tigers were knocked out on 9th August. For whole I know 2nd company of 101st battalion was the only unit in that sector that had Tigers on that time (102nd battalion arrived in the evening). This one could be one of them but I think the case needs better research. Are you 100% sure that it's from 101st battalion?

I suggest to adopt a rule: any time somebody includes a photo he writes where he took it from.

Here are some photos that I've found on the forum.

The guy who posted this one said that the Tiger seen in the picture had been destroyed near Potigny.

If so it must have been betwen 8th and 14th August.







Image


I believe the same Tiger is in the picture below.

Image

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Post by Michael Kenny » 29 Mar 2006 19:33

The 2 Tigers posted are not the same. The first is a 1 st Kp. Tiger. Second obviously a 2nd Kp.
The photo I posted can only be SS 101. Heer 503 and SS 102 did not have this early style of turret on their Tigers.

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Post by 101yann » 29 Mar 2006 23:10

The Tiger "in the plain" Mick posted above has to be SS101 as it carries spare track links across the front plate (here partially collapsed) which was a habit for most SS101 Tigers - not seen on SS102 and 503 Tigers at Normandy;

As Mick says, it is a combo : late Prod. hull + Mid Prod. turret. (see loader's hatch with centered handle and pistol port plug.
Must be a field mod.

The photo of the Tiger facing by the side of a road comes from the Canadian Archives - can't find the online link right now. Location is said to be in the vicinity of Potigny indeed (?).

The photo of 211 you posted I understand was taken by a Czech vet called Milan Friedler. Location is rather vague : "north of Falaise".

The book by J. Restayn "Tiger I on the Western Front" has another shot of 211, as does Agte.
Restayn's book has more shots of the 'Potigny Tiger', including a rear one.

The Tiger "in the Plain" can be found in Restayn's book too, as well as in the small book called "Falaise" by Jean-Luc Leleu.

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Post by Cyprek » 30 Mar 2006 14:21

I've come to a conclusion thats the Tiger lacking a track from the photo that Michael posted can't be the tank knocked out by Wojtynowski. According to the description of the German veteran from Meyer's book that tank showed no damage to the tracks.

Those are the characteristic features of the tank destroyed by Wojtynowski:

1)The tank had a marking of the 2nd company;

2)It was in a very good state. As I wrote - no damage to the tracks. According to the Polish sources both the Tiger and the Panzer IV were destroyed by Wojtynowski in a couple of shots so we could expect one or two penetrations. But there also could have been no penetrations at all (the German veteran wrote he couldn't find any). The tank coud have been "dead" due to the destruction of the electric installation. I believe it was that way.

3)It was destroyed several hundred metres north or nortwest of Robertmesnil in quite a wooded area.

4)The wreck could be somewhere close to a country lane (from Robertmesnil to St Aignan).


For me the Tigers from the photos I've posted look identical. The turret and the barrel are in the same position. All the hatches that are opened in the Tiger number one are also opened in the second Tiger. What is more the terrain appears to be identical.

I think I know which tiger it is. In my opinion this Tiger number 211 is the Tiger knocked out by the British 33rd Armored Brigade near La Bu sur Rouvres on 10th August. The Tiger destroyed by the British was one of the 2 vehicles of the 3rd company that survived 8th August (Heurich's and von Westernhagen's). I think that they were attched to the Prinz's Mark IV battalion from 12 SS and together with it acted in the sector of 272nd ID.

Of course my version contradicts with the information that the wreck was somewhere in the vicinity of Potigny but there is a simple way it could be checked (bearing in mind you have some good photo of the front of the Tiger). The Tiger from Le bu sur Rouvres had a penetration in the front of the hull (very low, close to the floor; it was made by Firefly's 17pdr gun ). There were also some scars in front of the turret made by shells from Cromwell's 75mm gun (two or three; Liutenant Polozynski thought that Tiger was operational :lol: ). If the Tiger 211 has those features it is the same Tiger (for 90%).

All I've written above is bearing in mind that it's the same Tiger (in the photos I've posted).

Now, let's say that Michael is right and they aren't the same.

According to Brian Reid Colonel Worthington's force destroyed one Tiger on the hill 140 on 9th August (it must have been from the 2nd Company of 101st battalion - it was the only unit in place at the time). for whole I know this is the only Tiger claimed by the Canadians in those days (9-13 August).

The War Diary of the Polish 1st Armored says that casualties were inflicted as follows (on 9th August):

- 4 Mark IV destroyed;
- 1 Panther (Mk V) destroyed;
- 1 Tiger (Mk VI) destroyed;
- 1 Tiger (Mk VI) damaged.

My own experience tells me that one can't trust those figures. Probably the only safe thing to say is that 6 tanks of three various marks were destroyed and 1 damaged.

According to the war diaries of the specific Polish units 1 Mark IV was destroyed and 1 damaged (near Soignolles) and 1 Panther (near Quesnay woods).

The war diary of 24th Lancers Regiment (the unit that attacked Quesnay woods on 9th August) says that 6 Tigers in hull-down position and some Panthers (they don't specify the number) were encountered. They say that one Panther was knocked out. For whole I know there were 5 Tigers from the 2nd Company 101st battalion and 9 Panthers of the 3rd Company of 12 SS in the Quesnay woods on 9th August.

The "damaged Mark VI" mentioned in the divisional report is probably the Mark IV from the 12 SS that was damaged during a clash with the Polish 2nd Armored Regiment (note that another Mark IV was destroyed in the same clash).

6 destroyed tanks - 1 destroyed Mark IV - 1 destroyed Panther = 4 destroyed tanks

Some Tigers of the 2nd Comapny might have been among those 4 tanks. Quesnay is in quite a short distance to Potigny. The "Tiger from Potigny" may be one of those 4 knocked out tanks.

Now I have a question to Yann. What do your sources say about German casualties from 8th to 15th August?

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