Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

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W. Tadellöser
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Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by W. Tadellöser » 26 Sep 2019 10:09

Right now I am having a discussion in a facebook group about the fighting at De Koevering (near Veghel, the Netherlands) on 25th September 1944. It is about the destruction of a Sherman of the 44th RTR by a German Tiger or Königstiger. I doubt if a Tiger/Königstiger was responsible. Two sources have been quoted during the discussion. First, the well-known book “Band of brothers” by Stephen E. Ambrose in which it says; “Winters ran back to the tank. He climbed on the lead tank "to talk nose to nose with the commander." He pointed that there was a Tiger Royal dug in on the far side of the road.”. And second the Regiment’s history of 44th RTR which states: “'B' Squadron had been halted in their short left hook by a multitude of Tigers and Panthers, who appeared from behind every bush, and their leading Troop No.4 or what was left of it, was definitely foxed, as also were the Infantry, by small-arms fire.” Now. in my opinion, these are not reliable sources since time and time again Allied soldiers wrongly reported the presence of Tiger tanks. But just to make sure I need to know:
1. Were there any of the German heavy tank battalion (Schwere Panzerabteilung) near Veghel around the 25th September 1944? (a list of the whereabouts of all German heavy tank battalions around that time would be nice)
2. What German armoured units, if any, were active around Veghel around the 25th September 1944?
3. Any sources/links concerning the fighting at De Koevering (the Germans blocked the main route, nicknamed Hell’s Highway, from Eindhoven to Nijmegen) around the 25th September 1944 are welcome.
4. Any sources/links concerning wrongly reported presence of Tiger tanks by Allied soldiers are welcome.

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jpz4
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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by jpz4 » 26 Sep 2019 13:49

I can highly recommend the book 'Autumn Gale'. If you can, get a copy now it is available again. It is well researched using original records and eyewitness accounts. I see no need to go over all of that yourself. http://www.autumngale.com/nl/

I've taken a quick look which tells me this: The 506pir faced KG Huber, which was supported by three Jagdpanthers from 1./s.Pz.Jg.Abt.559. The book mentions the loss of two Shermans. The first, the lead vehicle of No.4 Troop was KO'd by a Jagdpanther at about 11:30. Another tank (that of Sgt. Newman) from No.5 Troop was KO'd in a face to face battle with a Jagdpanther at about 12:30.
________
Never trust the identification of enemy armor and artillery in period records, unless you have good reason to do so. In similar fashion: enemy strength is mostly overestimated as are their losses.
Last edited by jpz4 on 26 Sep 2019 15:15, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by Stiltzkin » 26 Sep 2019 14:21

https://de.scribd.com/document/31498648 ... gen-Betuwe
http://www.pegasusarchive.org/arnhem/order_lxxxviii.htm
South of Veghel bridge (~ 51°37'N 5°30'E), 1 Coy, with 4 Jagdpanthers. The Royal Tigers and Tigers must have been around Elst-Oosterbeek (s.Pz.Abt. 506 and Kompanie Hummel). I would not factor out the Flak 18s as potential candidates either.
https://de.scribd.com/document/314985775/Arnhem-Sector
http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/ba ... rnhem.html

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by W. Tadellöser » 26 Sep 2019 21:02

Thanks jpz4 and Stiltzkin,

I found some more information. Jack Didden (co-author of Autumn Gale) wrote a thesis in 2012: “Fighting Spirit Kampfgruppe Chill and the German recovery in the West between 4 September and 9 November 1944, a case study” And he writes about the fighting at De Koevering: “The attack started at 08.30 hours and initially it went fairly well. LaPrade’s 1st battalion slowly advanced down the main road while Horton’s 3rd battalion walked down some sandy lanes, the Shermans of No.2 and No.4 Troops of the 44th RTR in support. As this force was getting closer and closer to the wood at Logtenburg small arms fire rapidly increased in volume. The advance began to slow down. At about 11.30 hours the leading Shermans of No.4 Troop were fired on by one of the Jagdpanther of 1./schwere Heeres Panzerjäger-Abteilung 559 on the southern edge of the wood. The first tank brewed up, killing three crew members. Two more Jagdpanther were spotted and No.4 Troop was effectively pinned down. A foot reconnaissance was made which confirmed that it would be impossible for the American Paratroopers to cross the road either, owing to the large amount of small arms fire which the Germans could send directly up the main road.
This forced Colonel Sink to come up with another plan. He decided to try a repeat of the attack which had led to the capture of Eindhoven a week earlier. Strayer’s 2nd Battalion was to proceed down the same sandy track as 3rd Battalion. However, instead of turning right when they were level with Logtenburg, they would proceed another kilometre along it before turning west. Hopefully they could outflank the German position in this way. The attack was to be supported by No.5 Troop of the 44th RTR. Without wasting time Strayer’s battalion set off. Once they had reached the hamlet of Hoogebiezen the Paratroopers turned right. It was now 12.30 hours. All the time the Americans were subjected to withering small arms fire. Still, determined as ever, the Paratroopers entered the woods to clear them. The three British tanks drove on in search of targets. Sergeant Newman’s tank, moving to the left of the wood, turned a corner and found itself facing a Jagdpanther. The gunner immediately fired and scored a direct hit, but with absolutely no effect. The gunner of the Jagdpanther responded just as quickly and the 88 shell penetrated the codriver’s seat. Still, the driver managed to reverse the tank back into cover only to receive two more direct penetrations in the turret. The Sherman caught fire and three crew members, Sergeant Newman among them, were killed while the other two were wounded. The other two tanks, trying to help, faced some steep dunes which they could just climb, but once at the top they found that they could not depress their guns sufficiently to engage the Germans and so they remained where they were.”
Didden uses the war diary of 44th RTR as a source, but he remarks rather laconic in a note "The Jagdpanther are alternately referred to as Panther, Tiger or simply SP."

You can find the thesis here https://repository.ubn.ru.nl/bitstream/ ... /98661.pdf

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by jpz4 » 26 Sep 2019 23:08

I'll have to check but that seem to be what is written in the book, almost word for word. Of course that's no surprise since the book was preceded by the thesis.

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by Cult Icon » 26 Sep 2019 23:42

jpz4 wrote:
26 Sep 2019 23:08
I'll have to check but that seem to be what is written in the book, almost word for word. Of course that's no surprise since the book was preceded by the thesis.
is there a material difference between the book and the thesis? (outside of format, pictures?)

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by jpz4 » 27 Sep 2019 01:26

The book is absolutely loaded with photos and good quality colour map maps. (there are preview pages on the website it linked to). I assume the structure is somewhat different since a thesis and book are two different things. The excerpt itself is nonetheless identical to what's in the book on p.261-262

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Sep 2019 02:59

Thanks. I recently got the other book (KG Walther) and didn't get Autumn Gale as I had the thesis- wondering if the text was almost the same.

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Re: Tigers at Hell's Highway (Veghel, the Netherlands) 25th September 1944?

Post by aghart » 28 Sep 2019 16:19

Below is from a retired RTR officer who is also a Military Historian. He is currently giving daily updates on facebook about the Royal Tank Regiment in 1944
This his daily brief for 25th September.

Late on 24 Sep the Germans had cut the road between St Oedenrode & Veghel - Hell’s Highway (see maps). C Sqn 44 RTR had tried to open it but they were sent forward without infantry & were unsuccessful so 2nd Bn 506th PIR were moved SW from Uden with the intention of attacking with 44 RTR on 25 September.
By 6am it was clear that there were at least 5 tanks & SP guns astride the road and that the road was mined. The plan was therefore for B Sqn 44 RTR and 2nd/506th to move south of the road and then swing left to attack. They set from Veghel off in poor visibility (the photo shows 44 RTR in Veghel). They were soon alerted to an armoured column heading south from St Oedenrode. After much “dial searching” they found what was obviously an Armd Regt on the move & using veiled speech regarding the colour of their hats, contact was made with the 8th Hussars who were heading to Schinjdel.
By this stage 2nd/506th had spotted Tigers & Panthers in the woods south of the road. Capt Winters (yes, THAT Capt Winters, the commander of Easy Company) alerted the lead B Sqn Sherman to their presence. It moved slowly forward, out into an open area. It was soon hit by a 75mm Panther round (Ambrose's book says it was a 88mm Tiger). The driver put the tank into reverse but it was hit a second time, penetrating the Sherman and setting it on fire. The comd, LSgt Tommy Newman, was desperately trying to bail out but the first shell had blown off his hands. A third 75mm round hit the tank. The tank went up in flames and Tommy & 2 of his crew were killed and the other 2 died later that day. The road was cleared of tanks and mines that night and early on 26 Sep – the battle of “The Road” was over. A memorial to the 3 men killed sits at the spot at which the tank was hit.
The same day 3 RTR were heading north to the east of 44 RTR. They reached Oploo by early afternoon and then pushed on to cover the western, northern, and north eastern approaches to St Anthonis. At 1630 the Bde Comd & Bde Maj met with CO 3 RTR & CO 3rd Mons in St Anthonis. They heard vehicle movement/firing but ignored it until the Bde Comd recognized the sound of German MGs. A half-track came racing toward them. Lt Col Silvertop, CO 3 RR was killed on the spot. Lt Col Orr, CO 3rd Mons, was seriously wounded and died later that day. David Silvertop was highly regarded. Originally a cavalryman he’d been CO of the 3rd since Feb 43. He was awarded the MC for his actions in N Africa and the DSO for his leadership during Op Goodwood. He was known as Liberator of Antwerp and the city named a street after him.

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