help with research 5th anti tank regiment

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CJS_Sergeant
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help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by CJS_Sergeant » 01 Mar 2019 23:33

August 10th 1944
Fifth Anti Tank Regiment RCA suffers heavy lose at Quesnay Wood.

My Fathers troop of four M10 17pdr. tank destroyers gets knocked out approx. 200 yards before the wood on the Caen Falaise hwy. This was a result of the lead troop Sgt. not reading the map correctly, missed a turn off and headed straight into enemy territory. All four M10s were destroyed and many men died. My father lost 3 of "his boys" that day. This all happened around mid day and my father was taken prisoner. If anyone reading this knows more about how I would research what German unit was involved in this engagement please let me know or PM me. I want to trace his path from capture to the prison he was in at Fallingbostel. Thanks so much

P.S. if you want to read more about this event, Go to Maple Leaf Up forum and search M10 17pdr S237818

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Kingfish
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by Kingfish » 02 Mar 2019 13:04

Quesnay Woods was held by the 12th SS Panzer regiment

An excellent source to reference is Brian Reid's book "No Holding Back" which covers Operation Totalize in detail.
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MarkN
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by MarkN » 03 Mar 2019 16:14

It would be wrong to limit research to SS.Pz-Regt.12. The remnants of Stab./SS.Pz-Regt.12 and a handful of their tanks (probably less than 10) were indeed in and around Quesnay Wood at the time, but they were but one of the various German units represented there.

Quesnay Wood at the time was in the AO of 12.SS.Pz-Div. So elements of other parts of the division would certainly have been present. For example, SS.Flak-Abt.12 had set up around the location as had the remnants of Luftwaffe Flakkampfgruppen 11070 (part of III.Flak.Korps) - both with 88mm guns. There were also infantry of KG Krause (which would also include stragglers from 89.Inf-Div) and the last handful of Tiger tanks of s.SS.Pz-Abt.101. Jagdpanzer of both 1./ and 2./Pz.Jag.Abt.12 were within the vicinity and the remaining PaK40 gun(s) of 3./Pz.Jag.Abt.12 was there too. There may well have been elements of Werfer Regiment 83 (part of Werfer Brigade 7). One could go on even longer, but this is off the top of my head and limited only to the elements which may have engaged the M10s of L troop.

There are several books detailing the exploits of 12.SS.Pz-Div and SS.Pz-Regt.12 for this day. None will give you precise confirmation of the specific event you are looking for. They do, however, provide a good background to German movements on and around that day.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 03 Mar 2019 17:34

Hi,

I've got a copy of the war diary from the UK National Archives but looking at your page on the Maple Leaf Up forum it looks like you have it already. That's a fascinating page though:

http://www.mapleleafup.net/forums/showt ... hp?t=10550

It's fantastic that you have found out so much - did the Canadians produce similar "Missing" Files to those that exist for British regiments. Many contain snippets of information on the exact circumstances which lead to a soldier being reported "missing" which add intriguing details to the more impersonal regimental and battery diaries.

Good luck with your research.

Regards

Tom

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Kingfish
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by Kingfish » 03 Mar 2019 21:00

MarkN wrote:
03 Mar 2019 16:14
It would be wrong to limit research to SS.Pz-Regt.12. The remnants of Stab./SS.Pz-Regt.12 and a handful of their tanks (probably less than 10) were indeed in and around Quesnay Wood at the time, but they were but one of the various German units represented there.
Note that by 10th August KG Wunsche had redeployed from the Grimbosq area and it had its center of gravity around Quesnay woods. It included the Panthers of I/12thSS Pz as well as Tigers of the 102nd. Although some were committed to wiping out Worthington Force, I suspect a bit more than 10 were available.
Quesnay Wood at the time was in the AO of 12.SS.Pz-Div. So elements of other parts of the division would certainly have been present. For example, SS.Flak-Abt.12 had set up around the location as had the remnants of Luftwaffe Flakkampfgruppen 11070 (part of III.Flak.Korps) - both with 88mm guns.
They had redeployed north of Potigny to cover the Caen-Falaise road and act as a backstop. I could be wrong but I doubt they had a clear LOS to the area north of Quensay.,
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by MarkN » 03 Mar 2019 22:09

Kingfish wrote:
03 Mar 2019 21:00
MarkN wrote:
03 Mar 2019 16:14
It would be wrong to limit research to SS.Pz-Regt.12. The remnants of Stab./SS.Pz-Regt.12 and a handful of their tanks (probably less than 10) were indeed in and around Quesnay Wood at the time, but they were but one of the various German units represented there.
Note that by 10th August KG Wunsche had redeployed from the Grimbosq area and it had its center of gravity around Quesnay woods. It included the Panthers of I/12thSS Pz as well as Tigers of the 102nd. Although some were committed to wiping out Worthington Force, I suspect a bit more than 10 were available.
Which elements of SS.Pz-Regt.12, and thus number of pantsers, can you place in Quesnay Wood?

I can place only the remnants - probably 3 or 4 Panthers - of 3.Kp, the pantsers of stab I./SS.Pz-Regt.12 and stab SS.Pz-Regt.12. I calculate that to be less than 10 in total.

I can place 1.Kp, 2.Kp, 4.Kp, 5.Kp, 6.Kp, 7.Kp, 8.Kp and stab II./SS.Pz-Regt.12 elsewhere.

The 8 remaining Tigers of s.SS.Pz.Abt.101 I have mentionned separately.
Kingfish wrote:
03 Mar 2019 21:00
Quesnay Wood at the time was in the AO of 12.SS.Pz-Div. So elements of other parts of the division would certainly have been present. For example, SS.Flak-Abt.12 had set up around the location as had the remnants of Luftwaffe Flakkampfgruppen 11070 (part of III.Flak.Korps) - both with 88mm guns.
They had redeployed north of Potigny to cover the Caen-Falaise road and act as a backstop. I could be wrong but I doubt they had a clear LOS to the area north of Quensay.
Have you considered that since Quesnay Woods is about 3km north of Potigny that guns "redeployed north of Potigny" could be sited in or around Quesnay Wood?

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by Kingfish » 03 Mar 2019 23:53

MarkN wrote:
03 Mar 2019 22:09

Which elements of SS.Pz-Regt.12, and thus number of pantsers, can you place in Quesnay Wood?
In or in and around? We both mentioned the latter.
Have you considered that since Quesnay Woods is about 3km north of Potigny that guns "redeployed north of Potigny" could be sited in or around Quesnay Wood?
I suppose they might have - but Reid has them "astride the Route national north of Potigny to destroy any tanks that had broken through" Perhaps your interpretation is different than mine, but I read it as a backstop.
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by MarkN » 04 Mar 2019 11:18

Kingfish wrote:
03 Mar 2019 23:53
MarkN wrote:
03 Mar 2019 22:09
Which elements of SS.Pz-Regt.12, and thus number of pantsers, can you place in Quesnay Wood?
In or in and around? We both mentioned the latter.
I use the phrase in and around in this context to be inside and within a few yards of. In otherwords, pantsers hiding inside the wood itself; AA/ATk guns sited on the edge of the wood but slightly outside.

How do you use the phrase in and around?

On the evening of 9 August, 12.SS.Pz-Div reported 10 Pz.IV, 5 Panther and 8 Tiger pantsers fit under their command. The Tigers were the remains of s.SS.Pz.Abt.101. Of those 10 Pz.IV, at least 6 (probably 7) were in the area of Soignolles 4-5km to the NE of Bois de Quesnay (the remains of KG Prinz: stab.II.Abt, 5.Kp and 7.Kp). I therefore suggest that the SS.Pz.Regt.12 pantsers (ie. not including the subordinated Tigers) in Bois de Quesnay on the morning of 10 August was probably eight (3 Pz.IV and 5 Panther). It is possible that there were additional broken, non-operational pansters also in the Bois de Quesnay.

There were other SS.Pz.Regt.12 pantsers which still existed (Panthers of 2.Kp part of KG Olboeter, Pz.IV of 8.Kp attached to 271.Inf-Div and those in werkstatt) some of which were returned to operational status or came back under command of 12.SS.Pz-Div during 10 August. But they were not in Bois de Quesnay.
Kingfish wrote:
03 Mar 2019 23:53
Have you considered that since Quesnay Woods is about 3km north of Potigny that guns "redeployed north of Potigny" could be sited in or around Quesnay Wood?
I suppose they might have - but Reid has them "astride the Route national north of Potigny to destroy any tanks that had broken through" Perhaps your interpretation is different than mine, but I read it as a backstop.
I have a poor level of regard for Reid's analysis and accuracy.

III. Flak Korps had Sturm Flak Abteilung whose role was primarily Flak defence. They were generally sited behind the frontline but were able to double up where necessary in the ATk to deal with a breakthrough. Sometimes, they were ordered into the frontline where necessary.

At the same time, III. Flak Korps had also set up a number of Flakkampfgruppen whose sole role was ATk defence. The 88mm guns of the Flakkampfgruppen often had no sights or equipment to deal with air targets. These were sited in the frontline. There were two Flakkampfgruppen facing the British/Canadians/Polish during Op TOTALIZE: 13300 and 11700.

The 88mm guns of divisional level Flak Abteilung were, more often than not, used by the division as ATk guns rather than Flak. This was very evident in the use and siting of SS.Flak.Abt.12 as well as III./Art.Regt.189 who were very often the first line of ATk defence.

I have no doubt 88mm guns were sited around Potigny AND around Bois de Quesnay.

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by CJS_Sergeant » 04 Mar 2019 19:29

Thanks so much to Kingfish, MarkN and Tom from Cornwall

This is all very helpful info. and will take me some time to work through it. I do have Reid's book on Operation Totalize, it has lots of info but what I find is that the Anti-tank units were often used in a support roll and attached to other units therefore not much gets written in the history books. On the day my fathers unit was knocked out they were attached to the South Alberta regt. Thanks so much for this info, I will keep you all posted on my progress. Cheers!

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by MarkN » 04 Mar 2019 20:03

CJS_Sergeant wrote:
04 Mar 2019 19:29
Thanks so much to Kingfish, MarkN and Tom from Cornwall

This is all very helpful info. and will take me some time to work through it. I do have Reid's book on Operation Totalize, it has lots of info but what I find is that the Anti-tank units were often used in a support roll and attached to other units therefore not much gets written in the history books. On the day my fathers unit was knocked out they were attached to the South Alberta regt. Thanks so much for this info, I will keep you all posted on my progress. Cheers!
Regarding Normandy, very little German original documentation survived the war and thus historians have had to rely on post-war personal accounts and memoirs which, by definition, tend to be tainted with a good dose of bias. To add to that, there has been an explosion of literature trying to 'glorify' the efforts of the SS at the expense of historical reality.

There are not a large number of candidates as to who pulled the trigger. But the confusion and muddle in the German lines caused by the Allied offensive, and lack of source documents to give us hints, means that it is unlikely you will pin down the exact culprit. There is almost nothing written about III.Flak Korps let alone its subordinate units, some of whom are prime candidates. What may be useful is that a chap on this forum a few years ago advertised he was writing a book detailing the exploits of SS.Flak.Abt.12 in Normandy. That is another key candidate and, if the book made it to print, would be worth chasing up. Try the forum's search to see if it pops up.

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by Kingfish » 05 Mar 2019 02:23

MarkN wrote:
04 Mar 2019 11:18
I use the phrase in and around in this context to be inside and within a few yards of. In otherwords, pantsers hiding inside the wood itself; AA/ATk guns sited on the edge of the wood but slightly outside.

How do you use the phrase in and around?
I would expand it a bit further to include any unit(s) within range and capable of smoking the aforementioned Achilles troop.

BTW, what is a "pantser"?
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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by MarkN » 05 Mar 2019 16:11

CJS_Sergeant wrote:
04 Mar 2019 19:29
Thanks so much to Kingfish, MarkN and Tom from Cornwall
I originally assumed that the engagement was conducted at long range and thus probably by 88mm big guns.

However, I've now visited the link and read what you have to say and then watched the video. That all puts a completely different complexion in things. If a German news crew was able to film your father that soon after the event, then L Troop wasn't hit by getting too close to the German position, it means they drove right into the German lines - so deep that even a news crew can get there in a couple of minutes and feels safe enough to set up their cameras etc!!!

In otherwords, the list of candidates for trigger puller gets increased significantly as we have to add just about every infantry section with a couple of panzerfausts.

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by CJS_Sergeant » 05 Mar 2019 23:53

MarkN wrote:
05 Mar 2019 16:11
CJS_Sergeant wrote:
04 Mar 2019 19:29
Thanks so much to Kingfish, MarkN and Tom from Cornwall
I originally assumed that the engagement was conducted at long range and thus probably by 88mm big guns.

However, I've now visited the link and read what you have to say and then watched the video. That all puts a completely different complexion in things. If a German news crew was able to film your father that soon after the event, then L Troop wasn't hit by getting too close to the German position, it means they drove right into the German lines - so deep that even a news crew can get there in a couple of minutes and feels safe enough to set up their cameras etc!!!

In otherwords, the list of candidates for trigger puller gets increased significantly as we have to add just about every infantry section with a couple of panzerfausts.
Thanks Mark for reading through my thread over at Maple leaf up, Yes I agree with you on your analysis of the engagement, it makes good sense to me. There is more info I have discovered that tells me L troop was having difficulties with proper reading of the grid maps. I'm sure those German troops were a bit surprised to see these four M10s rolling into their area. The scene in the film that comes right after my fathers is of a German officer, I'm wondering how I might go about identifying him? All the best, Thanks

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by MarkN » 07 Mar 2019 17:48

CJS_Sergeant wrote:
05 Mar 2019 23:53
Thanks Mark for reading through my thread over at Maple leaf up, Yes I agree with you on your analysis of the engagement, it makes good sense to me. There is more info I have discovered that tells me L troop was having difficulties with proper reading of the grid maps. I'm sure those German troops were a bit surprised to see these four M10s rolling into their area. The scene in the film that comes right after my fathers is of a German officer, I'm wondering how I might go about identifying him?
Having reviewed the Canadian war diaries, I'd suggest you consider the idea that the event didn't even take place in the Bois de Quesnay but about 3km away to the northwest. That would rule out all of the German units previously mentionned. However, there was clearly a problem with map reading in the Canadian Army at the time which creates problems for us trying to patch together the events today - not to mention your father's own mishap.

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Re: help with research 5th anti tank regiment

Post by CJS_Sergeant » 13 Jun 2019 05:44

Hello MarkN
Thanks again for your continued interest in my family WW2 history search. Sorry I haven't responded sooner. Has the forum been down for a while? I remember not being able to access it a short while ago.

Yes I see your point about the location being different than Quesnay due to some of the diary entries, however I do have the personal account of this story from both the commanding officers memoir and the hand written letter from the sergeant of L2. They both place it on the main road leading into the wood. It would be nice to pin point the exact location however its not as important to me as the film footage. It is truly a spectacular find and astounds me every time I view it. Thanks again MarkN and please let me know if you you have any more info.

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