Barkmann's Corner

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 06 Feb 2010 00:50

Rich,

Sorry, I did not make this clear. The German defensive line appeared to have been aligned roughly north to south near Comprond. The 16th Infantry was attacking towards the west-southwest following in the wake of CCB attack the previous day when they were held up by this German defensive line. Hearing about the 16th Infantry’s plight, CCB turned around, and moving from a generally opposite direction (east-northeast) hit the German defenses from the rear along its southerly flank.

There seems to be nothing that suggests Capt. Shaw and his men attacked Barkmann’s Panther since they killed the crew. This happened at night, and as you point out, Barkmann says his action occurred in daylight. I believe this must have been a different tank entirely, otherwise, Barkmann would not have lived to tell his tale, tall or true. In fact this event might not have occurred anywhere near Barkmann or his corner.

I think Blumenson makes the comment that individual Panthers were encountered during this time period, but none did much to hinder the overall advance. If he is right, there were some lone Panthers roaming around the area. One of them might have belonged to Barkmann.

There seem to be several possibilities. The first is that Barkmann made the whole thing up; second, he was wrong about where he was, and had the date wrong (these two errors are common on the battlefield (and tend to increase over time as memories fade and change), and was Barkmann either unaware or unwilling to admit (and share the credit) he was part of a defensive line, however thin it might have been; thirdly, he was telling the truth, and no one has pinned down the proof just yet? On this latter possibility, it is reasonable to remember that large elements of at least two American divisions, along with an unknown number of attachments, and VII Corps units passed through this area during the time in question, and it is perhaps better to keep an open mind on the subject until more research is done. For example, which American unit or units lost the 15 tanks near Comprond? Were they from the 745th which was attached to the 1st Infantry Division, or maybe some came from the 3rd Armored Division’s CCB, which was also attached to the 1st ID. Finally, could Barkmann have knocked out some tank destroyers and thought they were tanks?

From a broader historical perspective, it doesn’t really seem to matter very much (to me at least) if Barkmann was telling the truth or not. First Army did its job, and Cobra was a success. All I wanted to do was point out the 3rd Armored Division was losing tanks during this time period, add a few new details, and mention there was one place nearby where 15 American tanks were reported knocked out, although on the next day. However, it is kind of fun to kick this sort of thing around.

Cannonade

Michael Kenny
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Michael Kenny » 06 Feb 2010 02:07

Barkmann was in Coutances on July 28th. The various accounts claim from 7-14 Shermans for the 2 days he was adrift from his Unit (26th/27th)
This 'action' was mentioned in his August 27th citation for a KC.

RichTO90
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by RichTO90 » 06 Feb 2010 04:28

Cannonade wrote:The status reports do not appear to account for replacement tanks received by the 3rd Armored Division between reports. The division G-3 supplement shows 31 tanks were lost in June. Between 9-15 July the division lost another 52 tanks, but on the 25th reported a tank strength of 96.5% of authorized levels after "refitting." As of 12 August tank strength was 93.5% of authorized levels, with the attendant note; "Again supply and replacements had worked miracles to achieve a comeback." From this it appears that the division was receiving replacement tanks on a regular basis. Further back, the G-3 supplement states that stated losses do not include battle damaged vehicles, "temporary losses," that were repaired and returned to the division's combat elements.
Now it starts to get tricky. :D

Daily tank status reports according to the administrative SOP in effect were actually kept in terms of three categories:

Operational or operational in under six hours
Non-operational but repairable in under 24 hours
Non-operational and not repairable in under 24 hours or knocked out

The last category was supposed to be reported only once and then those counted there would be dropped since it was considered that category would be handled by echelons above division. Unfortunately those rules weren't always followed.

So divisions actually did not necessarily report write offs or losses, they reported changes in operational and non-operational status. Usually at the end of the month they reported the totals "destroyed and abandoned" and evacuated for the month. It is only in the unit AAR that we will occasionally find ambiguous refeences to tanks being "knocked out".

Otherwise, write offs were reported by the First Army (later 12th Army Group) Armored Section for irregular periods and for the army/army group as a whole. So, for example, for the period 220023-220029 July losses were:

79 M4 (75mm)
12 M4 (76mm)
1 M4 (105mm)
38 M5

Nor were arrival of replacement tanks tracked that well and no consolidated list was ever completed as it was for losses. What we are left with is a rather complicated set of figures. The first is the number of tanks available.

As of 30 May there were 2,331 M4 (75mm) (including DD tanks) on hand with troops and another 640 M4 (75mm) and 113 M4 (76mm) in depot reserves in England, against a T/E requirement of 1,765 and a reserve requirement of 309. However, only 43 more M4 (75mm) and 40 M4 (76mm) were “afloat” – that is, en route to England. Thus, total ‘resources’ were 3,167. However of those 338 M4 (75mm) were committed as theater Lend-Lease transfers to Britain and 100 M4 (75mm) were committed to conversion as flame-throwers, reducing the total actually available to US forces to 2,729.

Another 678 M4 (76mm) had been approved for release but had not yet left the US.

By 23 July 223 replacement tanks had arrived, the 83 en route as of 30 May and 143 others (probably all M4 (105mm), the 126 required for TO&E issues and the remainder reserve issues). So the total available for filling TO&E slots in units, not counting losses, was:

1,936 M4 (75mm)
153 M4 (76mm)
143 M4 (105mm)

Write off losses from 6 June to 23 July totaled 316 M4 (75mm). Leaving:

1,620 M4 (75mm)
153 M4 (76mm)
143 M4 (105mm)

But unfortunately there was a requirement in the seven divisions and 11 medium tank battalions in theater at that time for:

1,898 M4 (75mm or 76mm)
156 M4 (105mm)

Not counting any reserves. So what they did was delay deployment of three divisions (5th, 7th, and 2nd DB) to August to keep their requirements temporarily low, with the expectation that the tanks approved for release would start arriving. By the end of August another 143 M4 (76mm), 51 M4 (75mm), and 20 M4 (105mm) had arrived.

That gave just enough to fill all TO&E slots for 105mm, but not nearly enough for maintaining the other slots. The long and short is that at this time what the units had was basically what was available and that changes in on hand are a pretty good general indicator of losses.

Unfortunately during this period unit report are spotty. From 24-31 July there are few records.

In the case of the 745th Tank Battalion we have a pretty good idea of what went on. At 220023 July they had 53 M4 (75mm) operational and one non-operational and not repairable in under 24 hours or knocked out. Except that it probably wasn’t knocked out since on 220027 July 54 were reported operational so likely it was repaired and returned. Then on 28 July 4 were knocked out and 1 on 29 July. On 30 July 2 replacements from Ordnance were received. No others were reported damaged. No losses in M4 (105mm) occurred and 2 M5 were lost on but was replaced by 1 August.

2nd AD was actually slightly over strength as of 220023 July with 185 M4 (75mm) and 51 M4 (76mm) (they had exchanged 51 M4 (75mm) between 18 and 23 July for the M4 (76mm), probably the 75mm had gone into reserve for First Army); total 236 versus 232. Their next report was as of 220001 August. They had 171 M4 (75mm) operational, 3 operational in under 24 hours, and 6 in over 24 hours or knocked out. So a net decrease of 5 from 23-30 July. The M4 (76mm) operational were 45 with 7 in over 24 hours. It’s impossible to be certain, but it appears probable all 12 M4 (76mm) reported lost 23-29 July were by 2nd AD. However, since the available 51 had been distributed throughout the division evenly, with roughly 4 per medium company, it seems unlikely they were all lost at the same location. Otherwise, the division reported losing 45 M4 in July. At least 15 M4 (75mm) can be accounted for 6-10 July, 6 on 31 July, and at least 5 23-29 July. With the 12 M4 (76mm) lost another 7 M4 (75mm) are unaccounted for.

As far as other tank battalions go in this period I can account for:

70th TB 1 M4 (75mm) 27 July
709th TB 10 M4 (75mm) on 25 July and 2 more on 26 July
741st TB 8 M4 (75mm) on 26 July and 2 more on 27 July
743rd TB 3 M4 (75mm) on 25 July and 3 more on 29 July

That leaves the loss of 40 M4 (75mm) unaccounted for 23-29 July. With losses in the other seven battalions negligible only the losses of 3rd AD remain a real mystery.

Sorry for the long aside, but it’s an interesting subject for me.

The long and short is it can’t be the 745th Tank Battalion, which leaves the sole candidate CCB, 2nd AD. It is possible that as many as 24 were lost by the division 23-29 July, but if 15 were lost on 28 July only nine at most could be lost 27 July. And I still can’t find any account of an action that matches for that day.
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 06 Feb 2010 18:31

Rich,

Wow ! That is a lot of great information. It gave me a little headache trying to understand it, but it is obviously the result of a lot of hard work and thought. I had no idea that tracking tanks lost and damaged was so difficult.

Cannonade

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 06 Feb 2010 18:39

Michael Kenny wrote:Barkmann was in Coutances on July 28th. The various accounts claim from 7-14 Shermans for the 2 days he was adrift from his Unit (26th/27th)
This 'action' was mentioned in his August 27th citation for a KC.
Interesting, and thanks for the clarification.

How far is Coutances from Comprond? 4-5 miles? How much further to LeLeroy? 1-2 miles? If these distances are approximately correct, doesn't this mean Barkmann was never more than an hour or so away from any of these points between 27 and 28 July? If this is close to right, even with a wider margin of time, Barkmann could have been almost anywhere in the area at almost any time? Right?

Cannonade

RichTO90
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by RichTO90 » 06 Feb 2010 20:45

Cannonade wrote:Rich,

Wow ! That is a lot of great information. It gave me a little headache trying to understand it, but it is obviously the result of a lot of hard work and thought. I had no idea that tracking tanks lost and damaged was so difficult.

Cannonade
It's even worse than it looks. For one thing, the most critical documents to understanding what happened, the vehicle loss reports, were destroyed rather than archived. Which, unfortunately, is true of too many records kept by the US Army; the vehicle serial number records for the M4-series were apparently also destroyed as were the battery firing records of the field artillery. Even the division and battalion records are spotty when it comes to issues such as recording the loss of vehicles and the receipt of replacements. So, I realize I did go off on a bit of a tangent, but thought it might help with an understanding of my reasoning. Fundamentally, the only candidates for losses in the event are the 745th Tank Battalion or CCB, 2nd AD. But there is noting in the 745th AAR, which is very detailed, that could fit...none of their elements were anywhere near Camprond or Le Lorey or engaged in such an action. Nor have I ever been able to find an account from 2nd AD, CCB, or the 67th Armor that matches or places them there? CCB, 3rd AD is a better candidate in terms of location, but it is even more difficult to establish that they suffered any significant losses. Steve Zaloga thinks that the three tanks knocked out on the N172 on 27 July was "Barkmann's Corner"...but that entire action probably took no more than 15 minutes and resulted in no significant delays. Others attiribute the action on the 28th at Camprond to Fritz Langanke and the mass of troops and vehicles that were trying to escape from Roncey running into CCB there.

None of it fits with the classic Barkmann account of a lone fight against odds that resulted in the destruction of XXX American tanks.

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 06 Feb 2010 22:07

Rich,

It certainly looks like you have covered all the bases from an armored unit standpoint. Have you examined the 1st Infantry Division reports for the time period? As the controlling unit for CCB, 3rd Armored Division and the 745th Tank Battalion, they might contain some helpful information. I also wonder about the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which was also attached to the 1st ID at the time, as well as the two companies from the 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion.

From what little I know about the 2nd Armored Division's actions at the time, it seems they were too far east and south to have been involved in the engagements in question.

Regardless, I look forward to reading what you come up with, whenever that might be.

Cannonade

RichTO90
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by RichTO90 » 07 Feb 2010 15:07

Cannonade wrote:Rich,

It certainly looks like you have covered all the bases from an armored unit standpoint. Have you examined the 1st Infantry Division reports for the time period? As the controlling unit for CCB, 3rd Armored Division and the 745th Tank Battalion, they might contain some helpful information. I also wonder about the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which was also attached to the 1st ID at the time, as well as the two companies from the 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion.
There isn't much point in checking the 1st Division AAR since I've checked the unit AAR's involved. I don't have a copy of that for CCB, 3rd AD to hand now, but don't recall anything there that fit the bill, while that of the 745th emphatically has no account that matches. The 703rd TD Battalion might be a possibility - I'm sure Harry Yeide has a copy, but made no mention of such a dramatic action occurring in Tank Killers. Finally, the postwar monographs by the 4th Cavalry Group are available at the Manuever Center of Excellence online library and do include an account of the action at Le Lorey that I already recounted, but no lone Panther... :D

Regarding my use of apochryphal to describe the disabling of the Panther by the men of Battery B (minor correction, it was the 486th Antiaircraft Artillery (SP), the vehicles were lightly armored halftracks, but they were not given that desgination), I was questioning how they would do such a thing? Why would an antiaircraft unit have explosives, who would be competent to use them, and why would they be attached to a roadwheel instead of tossed into the vehicle? Further, I doubt that blowing a roadwheel off would have disabled or even discomoded a Panther. That was part of the reason for the suspension design. If they did have explosive and did disable a German vehicle with it then it seems much more likely it was something other than a Panther.
From what little I know about the 2nd Armored Division's actions at the time, it seems they were too far east and south to have been involved in the engagements in question.
I agree...I just like them and it's easier to discern their tank losses. :D
Regardless, I look forward to reading what you come up with, whenever that might be.

Cannonade
Thanks.
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 07 Feb 2010 20:52

RichTO90 wrote: There isn't much point in checking the 1st Division AAR since I've checked the unit AAR's involved.
At the risk of speaking out of turn, I suggest that you will not have covered all the possibilities until you have examined the various reports from the 1st Infantry Division. From my own, admittedly limited experience, I have found surprising bits of information in reports that at first blush might be considered extraneous. However, it is your research, and I leave it to you to conduct it as you see fit. :)

Thanks again for taking the time to discuss this with me.

Cannonade

RichTO90
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by RichTO90 » 07 Feb 2010 21:57

Cannonade wrote:
RichTO90 wrote: There isn't much point in checking the 1st Division AAR since I've checked the unit AAR's involved.
At the risk of speaking out of turn, I suggest that you will not have covered all the possibilities until you have examined the various reports from the 1st Infantry Division. From my own, admittedly limited experience, I have found surprising bits of information in reports that at first blush might be considered extraneous. However, it is your research, and I leave it to you to conduct it as you see fit. :)

Thanks again for taking the time to discuss this with me.

Cannonade
Oh, I understand what you mean and in general would agree. However, in this case when specifically looking for tanks/armored vehicle engagements that might fit the bill it is a bit redundent really to look at the 1st Division AAR, since the reports of those actions would simply be filtered bits from the accounts of the attached units that actually had the tanks/armored vehicles. The divisional G-3, regimental/battalion S-3 accounts would probably relate instances where 1st Division units supported by the 745th TB or CCB, 3rd AD, but they would of neccessity be second hand accounts from those attached units reports. If we were looking for an account of a single Panther engaging and repelling a mass of infantry then of course the place to look would be the 1st Division and its subordinate assigned infantry units AAR's.

Do you see what I mean?

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 07 Feb 2010 23:10

RichTO90 wrote: Oh, I understand what you mean and in general would agree. However, in this case when specifically looking for tanks/armored vehicle engagements that might fit the bill it is a bit redundent really to look at the 1st Division AAR, since the reports of those actions would simply be filtered bits from the accounts of the attached units that actually had the tanks/armored vehicles. The divisional G-3, regimental/battalion S-3 accounts would probably relate instances where 1st Division units supported by the 745th TB or CCB, 3rd AD, but they would of neccessity be second hand accounts from those attached units reports. If we were looking for an account of a single Panther engaging and repelling a mass of infantry then of course the place to look would be the 1st Division and its subordinate assigned infantry units AAR's. Do you see what I mean?
Yes, I think I understand what your are saying. It was my thought that the tanks were attached to the infantry regiments, and with the exception of CCB, 3rd AD they were advancing with the tanks or rather the tanks and tank destroyers, etc. were advancing with them. Then the relevant infantry reports from various levels would be no less second hand than those of the independent tank battalion, and would offer a different perspective on the same actions.

With this in mind, would'nt it be more thorough to examine the reports of the component units of CCB, 3rd AD, rather than just that of the combat command or division?

I don't know, perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way somehow. As I said before, the Barkmann question itself does not seem to me to be of great import, but I am very interested in your research process, and am eager to hear what you uncover. :)

Cannonade

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 08 Feb 2010 19:10

Finally, the postwar monographs by the 4th Cavalry Group are available at the Manuever Center of Excellence online library and do include an account of the action at Le Lorey that I already recounted, but no lone Panther...

Rich,

Your posts peaked my curiosity about the 4th Cavalry Group, but I could only find one monograph at the Maneuver Center of Excellence online library, and it did not mention the action near Le Lorey. I know you are very busy, but was hoping you could point me to the other monographs you mentioned.

Elsewhere online, I found a copy of the 4th Cavalry Group unofficial unit history, and it mentioned running into stiff resistance near Le Lorey, but I don't think it mention any losses, and did not reference getting reinforcements from the nearby field artillery battalion.

I assume the official reports of the 4th Cav and its subordinate units are at NARA. Is that correct?

Thanks,

Cannonade

RichTO90
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by RichTO90 » 08 Feb 2010 20:28

Cannonade wrote:Rich,

Your posts peaked my curiosity about the 4th Cavalry Group, but I could only find one monograph at the Maneuver Center of Excellence online library, and it did not mention the action near Le Lorey. I know you are very busy, but was hoping you could point me to the other monographs you mentioned.

Elsewhere online, I found a copy of the 4th Cavalry Group unofficial unit history, and it mentioned running into stiff resistance near Le Lorey, but I don't think it mention any losses, and did not reference getting reinforcements from the nearby field artillery battalion.

I assume the official reports of the 4th Cav and its subordinate units are at NARA. Is that correct?

Thanks,

Cannonade
Sorry, they aren't well indexed at MCOE. IIRC it is actually the report of the 38th Squadron you are looking for. B Troop was the one at Le Lorey.

Yes, the AARs and Unit Journals for all units that are extant are at NARA, Archives II, RG 407, Entry 427.

Cannonade
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by Cannonade » 08 Feb 2010 20:55

RichTO90 wrote: Sorry, they aren't well indexed at MCOE. IIRC it is actually the report of the 38th Squadron you are looking for. B Troop was the one at Le Lorey.

Yes, the AARs and Unit Journals for all units that are extant are at NARA, Archives II, RG 407, Entry 427.
Rich,

I've looked for the 4th Cavalry Group and 38th Cavalry Squadron monographs at the Maneuver Center for Excellence on line until I'm blue in the face, and still nothing, except the one I mentioned previously. Maybe they removed the monograph/s you were talking about for some reason. Then I checked the Armor School Library catalogue only to draw another blank regarding the 38th Cavalry Squadron. USAMHI doesn't show a monograph for the 38th Cavalry Squadron either, but they do have a 41 page unofficial history, and one for the 102d Cavalry Regiment that includes information about the 38th Cavalry Squadron. :(

Will keep looking.

Cannonade

RichTO90
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Post by RichTO90 » 09 Feb 2010 00:45

Cannonade wrote:I've looked for the 4th Cavalry Group and 38th Cavalry Squadron monographs at the Maneuver Center for Excellence on line until I'm blue in the face, and still nothing, except the one I mentioned previously. Maybe they removed the monograph/s you were talking about for some reason. Then I checked the Armor School Library catalogue only to draw another blank regarding the 38th Cavalry Squadron. USAMHI doesn't show a monograph for the 38th Cavalry Squadron either, but they do have a 41 page unofficial history, and one for the 102d Cavalry Regiment that includes information about the 38th Cavalry Squadron. :(

Will keep looking.

Cannonade
Gack! I think the cold is turning my brain to silly putty...

It was the 4th Cav Squadron at La Lorey not the 38th, nor was the 38th part of the 4th Cav Group. They have a number of mongraphs at MCOE, but all from earlier periods. The account I read of the La Lorey and Marigny action on 27 July is in the 1st Division monograph.

I'm afraid I don't have the 1st Division AAR for the period and little intention of treking north through the snowy wasteland anytime soon to pick it up. :D But I will eventually since I will need it for other work and also because rereading the monograph makes me fairly certain the action of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry is most probably "Barkmann's Corner", but it was on the 28th, not the 27th, it was much further west near Cambernon (basically astride the D141 AFAICT) and nowhere near the N172, and he almost certainly wasn't alone. Aside from that it's exactly as he described it. :lol:

Okay, a little more digging into the 745th AAR for the 27th and 28th. Basically on the 27th Company B supported the 18th Infantry in clearing Marigny from 0700-0800 with one man LWIA and no vehicle losses. The Bn HQ and A and B Company remained with the 16th Infantry, and C Company with the 26th Infantry. At 1707 A Company with the I Company, 16th Infantry riding, left an assembly area off the D29 1,600 meters north of Marigny and headed for Coutances, skirting west of Marigny and being delayed by "many halts due to pockets of enemy resistance and heavy traffic" finally going into an assembly area between Camprond and Belval-Gare at 0030 28 July. At 0815 the 3rd Bn, 16th Infantry with the Bn HQ and A Company continued southwest towards Coutances. Just west of Cambernon they encountered elements of "2nd Panzer Division" (they don't say, but probably 2. SS-Panzerdivision) with 3 Mk 5 and 1 Mk 4 SP (possibly from 17. SS-Panzergrenadierdivision?). They were heavily engaged there until 1809 when they pulled back to let artillery and air pound them. The battalion losses were 4 M4 and 2 M5 (from D Company with the 1st Bn, 16th Infantry about a km south) knocked out, 1 KIA, 5 WIA, along with 2 M10 of the attached 634th TD Bn and 3 KIA, 2 WIA, and 1 MIA. They reported destroying two of the Panthers. Total 1st Division casualties for 27 July were reported as 13 KIA, 40 WIA, and 4 MIA and on 28 July they were 16 KIA, 186 WIA, and 6 MIA, with all three regiments engaged to one degree or another.

That also could be "Barkmann's Corner". In which case he knocked out four M4. Assuming the other two Panthers and StuG-IV weren't really there or didn't hit anything.

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