That particular part of the forest that interests us might have been cut. Every book confirms that there was a forest immidiatelly norhteast of Quesnay village (let alone an original military map from that period).
Now a couple of things that I've noticed recently.
One can plainly see that the terrain level is decreasing in the picture. This is correct with my theory. Just take a look at the map (either mine or Michael's).
If my version is correct the terrain level should also be decreasing behind the Tiger in the direction of woods (but more slightly). It is.
Furthermore there should be a plain in front of the Tiger. In one photo posted by Michael one can see that there is no forest in front of it.
Now a couple of words about the actions of 24th Lancers Regiment on 9th August.
The regiment was attacking southwards in the genaral direction of La Croix and Estrees la Campagne (La Croix is a tiny village southwest of Estrees la Campagne; this information is true for 100% despite the fact neither my map nor Michael's shows that village). The 2nd squadron was engaged in a fire fight several kilometres north of Estrees (Mark IVs and Jagdpanzers firing from Soignolles). Only one platoon of that squadron managed to reach Estrees on that day only to discover that the village is held by the German infantry and anti tank guns (could be some stragglers from 89 ID or Krause's grenadiers). 3 tanks were destroyed and one damaged due to the fire from Soignolles. Among them was the one carrying special radio equipment and the contact with the brigade was cut. The regimental commander assumed that the squadron had been completly destroyed and ordered the 1st squadron to follow the 3rd squadron which was attacking on the right flank. The both squadrons passed by Bretteville-le-Rabet and reached La Croix in the afternoon. Then an order came to make a push in the direction of Quesnay woods. Both squadrons attacked along the country lane that interests us in the southwesterly direction. According to the original regimental documents 6 Tigers and at least 2 Panthers were encountered. The 1st sqadron lost 3 tanks and the 3rd 2. The tanks retreated around 21:00. At least one Panther was knocked out (there is a very good description of how that particular tank was knocked out).
I've checked the original English version of the Polish 1st Armored Division's operational report. The kills are as follows (I've already wrote about that but there are some things I'd like to add):
- 4 Mk IV destroyed;
- 1 Mk V destroyed;
- 1 Mk VI destroyed;
- 1 Mk VI damaged.
It's very funny (or weird) stuff as the kills mentioned in the Polish version of report are different:
- 4 Mk VI destroyed;
- 1 Mk V destroyed;
- 1 Mk IV destroyed;
- 1 Mk VI damaged.
For this moment I have only one explanation.
During the time when the report was being written (by General Maczek) the battlefield was held by the Germans. It was impossible to check the wrecks. Probably the majority of the crews that destroyed German tanks didn't have any witnesses to confirm a kill (the area was wooded so this wouldn't be surprising). It's also possible that some of the information about knocked out German tanks were based on the radio contact only (note that 5 Shermans were lost; perhaps some of the people that managed to destroy German tanks didn't survive the battle). I think that General Maczek found the report about knocking out 4 Tigers unlikely and changed it for Mark IV (in the English version). On the other hand the "Mk IV" was replaced with "Mk VI".
Now, I have an information that one Mark IV was destroyed by the 1st Armored Regiment on that day (near Soignolles). Another Mark IV was "hit" but it wasn't set on fire. This information is for sure (I can even tell you the names of the shooters).
I think that the Mark IV mentioned in the Polish version of report is the Mark IV knocked out near soignolles. I also believe that the " damaged Mk VI" was in fact the Mark IV that was "hit" near Soignolles (misspelling - "VI" and "IV"). So the 24th Lancers must have destroyed the following vehicles:
- 4 Tigers;
- 1 Panther.
The Panther mentioned in the report is probably the one knocked out by staff sargeant Kosciukiewicz (as I've already mentioned). Now, what about the 4 Tigers?
Hubert Meyer (basing on original documents) says that the I SS Corps had 15 Tigers in the evening of 9th August. Michael Reynolds says that 13 of those were from the 102nd Tiger Battalion (7 from the 2nd Company and 6 in both 1st and 3rd Companies). The 7 Tigers of the 2nd Company were immidiatelly sent to support 271st ID. Meyer says that there was another report which mentioned 8 Tigers in the evening of 9th August (the 7 tanks supporting 271st ID were skipped in that report).
15 - 13 = 2
8 - 6 = 2
So I think we can be sure that the 2nd Company of 101st Tiger Battalion had 2 Tigers in the evening of 9th August. Both positioned in Quesnay woods. Now a question appears: how many Tigers were los during the day?
Michael Reynolds says that 2nd Company had 5 to 10 Tigers on 9th August. Kurt Meyer who accompanied the company during the attack on the Worthington Force wrote that there were 5 Tigers. I find his statement very likely as he was personally on the spot and suggest to bear in mind that there were indeed 5 Tigers in the 2nd Company in the morning of 9th August. As I'm going to show in a minute this version appears to be the most probable.
I know that one tiger was destroyed by the Worthington Force.
Now, let's assume that Poles knocked out not 4 but 2 Tigers on that day.
5 - 1 - 2 = 2 (as in the German operational reports)
But what about the other vehicles knocked out by 24th Lancers? I mean the remaning two "Mark VIs".
I think those were Panthers in fact.
Brian Reid wrote that the Canadians attacking west of Route Nationale knocked out one unidentified tank positioned in the quesnay woods. This was in the afternoon. Bearing in mind that the Tigers were engaging the Polish Shermans at the same time I think it's safe to assume that this unidentified tank was a Panther.
2nd Comapny of 12th SS Panzerregiment had 9 Panthers on 6th August (the Kampfgruppe "Olboeter" had another 7 but it was acting in the Vire sector attached to the IInd SS Corps; it arrived in the Falaise sector during the night 9/10 August).
So we have 9 Panthers under command of 12 SS positioned in the quesnay woods ni the morning of 9th August.
9 - 1 (knocked out by the Canadians) - 3 (knocked out by 24th Lancers) = 5
The original German documents (Zetterling, Meyer) say that there were 5 operational Panthers in the evening of 9th August!
The Tiger "211" was knocked out from a very close distance. The frontal armor of the turret could by penetrated from a distance shorter than 700 metres (17 pdr gun - Firefly). The frontal armor of the hull could be penetrated from a distance shorter than 600 metres. This is correct with my version. The engagement from 9th August was a close combat (you may check in the map - a couple of hundred metres).
My version is that 24th Lancers knocked out 3 Panthers and 2 Tigers in the Quesnay woods. One of the Tigers was that "Tiger from Potigny" number 211. But what about the other one? I have one guess.
I'm also thinking about the photo posted by Michael (another one made by that Czech).