Allied armour ace! Help!

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Allied armour ace! Help!

Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 09 Jun 2006 07:34

Hi!

Who can help me with list of US, UK, Canadian, French, Polish, Czech tank ace for Western front in 44-45?

Best regards from Siberian Republic!

Gaijinaho
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RE: Allied armour ace! Help!

Post by Gaijinaho » 11 Jun 2006 08:29

Here is a link. I tried posting it earlier on another thread and managed to NOT post it until just a few moments ago.

http://www.3ad.org/wwii_heroes/pool_laf ... nance1.htm

Later, Gaijinaho

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KalaVelka
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Post by KalaVelka » 11 Jun 2006 09:22

viewtopic.php?t=56865&highlight=lafayette so much about the great american tank ace.

/Kasper

crapouillot
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Post by crapouillot » 11 Jun 2006 20:57

On the French side, the ace was the TD M-10 "Siroco", of the Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins (Armoured Rgt of Marine Infanterie) of the 2nd french Armoured Division. It was commanded by second-maître Krokenberger :

http://www.chars-francais.net/archives/ ... siroco.htm

The TD destroys 9 german tanks during the campaign of the division. For exemple, 3 Panther of 112 Panzerbrigade were destroyed in Dompaire, 13th september 1944.
Rings on the gun are symbols of these (right photo).
It still exist in the Saumur Museum, and work every year during the Carrousel exhibition of summer :

http://community.webshots.com/photo/295 ... 7170bLZaLD

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Wolfkin
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Post by Wolfkin » 12 Jun 2006 08:36

Hello!

Here are a few Allied Armour Aces that I know of:

-Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams, commander of the 37th Tank Battalion of the U.S. 4th Armoured Division. Credited with knocking out approximately 40 German tanks and assault guns.

-Major Sidney Valpy Radley-Walters, commander of A Squadron of the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment of the Canadian 2nd Armoured Brigade. Credited with knocking out approximately 18 German tanks and assault guns.

-Staff Sergeant Lafayette Pool, tank commander in the 3rd Battalion of the 32nd Armoured Regiment of the U.S. 3rd Armoured Division. Credited with knocking out approximately 12 German tanks and assault guns.

-Sergeant Robert Fitzgerald, tank commander in B Company of the 37th Tank Battalion of the U.S. 4th Armoured Division. Credited with knocking out 2 German Panther tanks in one engagement on December 6, 1944 during the Battle for Singling.

-Trooper Joe Elkins, gunner in a Sherman Firefly in A Squadron of the 1st/Northamptonshire Yeomanry of the British 33rd Armoured Brigade. Credited with knocking out 3 German Tiger tanks on August 8, 1944. Tank commanders were Sergeant Gordon then Lieutenant James and Squadron commander was Captain Boardman.

I hope this helps!

Cheers,

Wolfkin

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 12 Jun 2006 10:04

crapouillot wrote:On the French side, the ace was the TD M-10 "Siroco", of the Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins (Armoured Rgt of Marine Infanterie) of the 2nd french Armoured Division. It was commanded by second-maître Krokenberger :

http://www.chars-francais.net/archives/ ... siroco.htm

The TD destroys 9 german tanks during the campaign of the division. For exemple, 3 Panther of 112 Panzerbrigade were destroyed in Dompaire, 13th september 1944.
Rings on the gun are symbols of these (right photo).
It still exist in the Saumur Museum, and work every year during the Carrousel exhibition of summer :

http://community.webshots.com/photo/295 ... 7170bLZaLD


Merci!

Si la biographie de cet as est connue ?

Regards!

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 12 Jun 2006 10:09

Wolfkin wrote:Hello!

Here are a few Allied Armour Aces that I know of:

-Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams, commander of the 37th Tank Battalion of the U.S. 4th Armoured Division. Credited with knocking out approximately 40 German tanks and assault guns.

-Major Sidney Valpy Radley-Walters, commander of A Squadron of the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment of the Canadian 2nd Armoured Brigade. Credited with knocking out approximately 18 German tanks and assault guns.

-Staff Sergeant Lafayette Pool, tank commander in the 3rd Battalion of the 32nd Armoured Regiment of the U.S. 3rd Armoured Division. Credited with knocking out approximately 12 German tanks and assault guns.

-Sergeant Robert Fitzgerald, tank commander in B Company of the 37th Tank Battalion of the U.S. 4th Armoured Division. Credited with knocking out 2 German Panther tanks in one engagement on December 6, 1944 during the Battle for Singling.

-Trooper Joe Elkins, gunner in a Sherman Firefly in A Squadron of the 1st/Northamptonshire Yeomanry of the British 33rd Armoured Brigade. Credited with knocking out 3 German Tiger tanks on August 8, 1944. Tank commanders were Sergeant Gordon then Lieutenant James and Squadron commander was Captain Boardman.

I hope this helps!

Cheers,

Wolfkin



Thanks! Perfectly!

This that that I waited!

What is known about biographies of these aces? Where they destroyed tanks of the enemy? Who from them was in Africa?


Regards

crapouillot
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Post by crapouillot » 12 Jun 2006 18:17

Sorry, I don't have it....
But on the French side, it seems that the tank is the reference more than the crew !
I wait for some info from french forum
Regards

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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 13 Jun 2006 14:36

crapouillot wrote:Sorry, I don't have it....
But on the French side, it seems that the tank is the reference more than the crew !
I wait for some info from french forum
Regards


S'il y a une information sur les membres de l'équipe В1bis "Sousse" ? - il a supprimé 7 tanks allemands dans la bataille pour Flavion.

Regards

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 13 Jun 2006 16:29

Hello,

The Renault B1bis "Sousse" (B1bis n°283, 1/28e BCC) destroyed 7 German tanks (3 with the 47mm SA35 turret gun and 4 with the 75mm SA35 hull gun) on May 15 during the battle of Flavion (in Belgium). The tank is knocked out during this same day.
Crew of the Renault B1bis "Sousse":
- Commander: Sous-lieutenant Louis Latapie
- Driver: Sergent Fiat
- Assistant Driver: Chasseur Robert
- Radio operator: Chasseur Vallet

On May 16, the Renault B1bis "Eure" (Lieutenant Bilotte) pushed in the town of Stonne. He attacked a German column of Pz.Rgt.8 and destroyed 2 PzIV, 11 PzIII and 2 3.7cm PaKs. The first shots destroyed simultaneously the first (with the 47mm turret gun) and the last tank (with the 75mm hull gun) of the column. The first German tanks were at less then 50m range. The armor of the B1bis is scattered with 140 impacts, none of the projectiles penetrated the armor. One can see here a kind of small 'Villers Bocage'. It is nonetheless possible that several of these 13 German tanks were wrecks of tanks knocked already on May 15. The Renault B1bis "Eure" will be scuttled in June 13.

The battle on the Aisne River lasted from May 17 to June 11. The 14e DI illustrated itself by resisting to all the German attacks and it even took some 800 German POWs around Rethel. De Lattre requisitioned 3 replacement B1bis tanks from the 8e BCC ("Villers-Bretonneux", "Téméraire" and "Lunéville") under the command of Sous-lieutenant Robert to defend the bridges in Rethel. After 5 days of combats (May 17-21, 1940) the area was still under French control and these 3 B1bis tanks had destroyed 20 tanks (including 5 Panzer IV), 9 armored cars, 12 motorcycles / side-cars, 10 cars and 16 trucks. It is nonetheless to mention that several of these victories are probably to share with AT guns from the French infantry. I don't know of the victories are shared between the B1bis tanks.

On May 17, the Renault B1bis "Mistral" and "Tunisie" from 3/15e BCC (3rd company of the 15th tank battalion - 2e DCr) attacked the German troops at Landrecies, south of the Mormal Forest. Advancing between two columns of armored cars, few light tanks (Panzer I and Panzer II) and probably armored personnal carriers (Sd.Kfz.251) they slaughtered around 50 German vehicles of all kinds in 20 minutes.
The testimony of Sous-lieutenant Gaudet, commander of the B1bis "Tunisie" enables to tell the story from the French side. Initially 2 B1bis tanks were to attack but shortly before one of them experienced a mechanical breakdown. During there movement towards Landrecies they stayed camouflaged and immobile during about 45 minutes since the Luftwaffe was strongly bombing the towns around.
The "Tunisie" (Sous-lieutenant Gaudet) and the "Mistral" (Lieutenant Pompier) stop at the entry of Landrecies, at the crossing of the roads to Ors and Avesnes-Le Cateau. A French convoy is completely abandoned beside the road. It is 12h00 and Landrecies seems unoccupied.
The "Mistral" moves on among the French abandoned vehicles and is followed by the "Tunisie". Several streets and squares are crossed without noticing something interesting. Suddenly the "Mistral" stops and opens fire with its 47mm turret gun and its 75mm hull gun. The "Tunisie" moves to the left but the intense smoke prevents him to see what is happening in front of the French tanks. The "Mistral" goes on, fires several times and moves towards the center of Landrecies. The "Tunisie" is following 100m behind. Suddenly, sous-lieutenant Gaudet discovers what was targeted: many German armored cars and light tanks parked on both sides of the street and very close to each others. The "Mistral" turns in an adjacent road 150m in front of the "Tunisie". At the end of the road, on the church square, several German armored cars are burning after the action of the "Mistral". The "Tunisie" starts to fire meticulously and systematically on each German AFV in the street. The "Tunisie" moves two times all along the eastern part of Landrecies, firing on each spotted target.
The "Tunisie" has lost visual contact with the "Mistral" of the company commander and avoids to cross the bridge on the canal in Landrecies, assuming that the core and heavy elements of the German Panzerdivision are deployed in the western part of Landrecies. Nonetheless, two 3.7cm PaKs are defending the bridge. They fire on the French B1bis without effect and are quickly destroyed.
In Landrecies itself, Sous-lieutenant Gaudet says that there were probably about 200 various vehicles. He destroyed two 3.7cm PaKs (for a total of 4) and many (armored) vehicles. He saw very few German soldiers in the street except AT gunners. All the crews fled and were hidden in the houses. The various hits on the turret of the B1bis tanks showed that the Germans fired also with AT rifles but they did not damage the tank. On the other hand, the machineguns of the B1bis tank penetrated easily many German armored cars and put them on fire with AP rounds.
Fearing a counter-attack and without having achieved a complete destruction of the enemy vehicles, the "Tunisie" moves back. The streets are full of burning vehicles whose ammunition is exploding. Sous-lieutenant Gaudet estimated that perhaps about 100 German vehicles were burning or out of use. The "Tunisie" alone had fired 8 shells of 75mm, 27 shells of 47mm and 3 MG magazines (450 cartridges).
At 12h25, 20 minutes after being entered in Landrecies, the "Tunisie" moves to Ors on an empty road. Sous-lieutenant Gaudet meets 3 French soldiers who were POWs in Landrecies and managed to escape during the attack. In Ors the "Tunisie" meets the "Mistral" (Lieutenant Pompier) but also the "Tornade" (Sous-lieutenant Rival), the "Vosges" (Lieutenant Willig) and the "Nantes" (Sous-lieutenant Phelep), which arrived in reinforcement. The "Mistral" is covered by many hits but remains undamaged. Lieutenant Pompier has been back from Landrecies 10 minutes before sous-lieutenant Gaudet. He tells that he has destroyed two AT guns and many armored vehicles.
In about 20 minutes these 2 B1bis tanks have destroyed 6 AT guns and about 50-100 vehicles. Different sources mention the terrific number of 100 destroyed "AFVs" but sous-lieutenant Raiffaud, commander of the B1bis "Indochine", also from the 3/15e BCC, speaks about 50 destroyed AFVs (armored cars, light tanks, APCs etc.), which remains nevertheless a significant number.
The real number of destroyed German vehicles is of course probably closer to 50 than to 100 vehicles. This number includes armored cars, armored personal carriers and a few light tanks. Nonetheless, the core of these destroyed vehicles consists probably in various softskins.

Regards,

David

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 13 Jun 2006 16:46

Great Post! Thanks David!


Whether have data about the French tank aces 1944-1945?

Regards

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C.GILLONO
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not in books-articles I read

Post by C.GILLONO » 13 Jun 2006 18:14

Not in books or articles I read.
Maybe David?
Would be interested too.

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 14 Jun 2006 00:28

Hello,

I will not be very helpful for 1944-1945 since I am more focused on the 1935-1940 period of time. I know about the already mentioned M10 tank destroyer "Siroco", which scored many kills ... but for other examples we would have to look in the war diaries of precise units probably.

For sure many of the French tankers who manned their Shermans and M10 in Italy, France and later Germany and Austria (3 French armored divisions + other armored elements) were well experienced but there were also green crews. I can give you elements about the men who played a role in the Frencht tank units of 1944-1945 as well as elements about French tank units fighting the axis already in 1941-1943 also.

Three officers of the 3e DLM who fought against the German tanks during the battle of Hannut (May 12-14, 1940) will play a role in the next part of the war:

- Colonel Leyer, future commander of the 4e DLM in June 1940, will command the Vichy French cavalry in Morocco. In 1942-1943, he will be one of the main actors of the creation of the French armored arm.

- Squadron commander Touzet du Vigier had in charge the "armored cavalry" course in the cavalry school at Saumur from 1931 to 1934. During his teaching and in various conferences in 1937-1938 he proved very open to the innovative ideas concerning the tanks. His teaching influenced many officers like Capitaine de Hautecloque (as known as Leclerc). Already in 1914, he led a cavalry raid deep behind the German lines during 5 days. In 1937, he took part to the writing of the cavalry doctrine with General Flavigny. In 1940, Colonel Touzet du Vigier commanded the 2e Régiment de Cuirassiers (3e DLM) and fought during the battle of Hannut. He commanded the 2nd motorized cavalry brigade in North Africa until 1942-1943. In 1944, he became commander of the 1st French armored division (1e DB) included in the First French army.

- Colonel de Vernejoul, commander of the 1e Régiment de Cuirassiers (3e DLM) in 1940 will be commander of the 5th French armored division (5e DB) in 1944.

One could also mention Lieutenant-Colonel Baillou, who was tank commander in the 3e DLM in 1940. He will command the "escadron hors-rang" (headquarters squadron) of the 12e RCA (Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique), a regiment of the 2nd French armored division (commanded by Leclerc, who was captain in 1940) in North Africa and France. He will be instructor in France from 1945 to 1950.
Baillou explained that in 1943-1945 the situation was reversed compared to 1940: they were more experienced than most of the German crews they met which on their side had better tanks (Panthers in his explanation). They also took advantage of a drawback of the Panther: when the slope was to important in a hilly countryside, the turret became too heavy to be rotated for the Panther, they had to turn all the tank.
The French transposed the cavalry spirit of the French cavalry corps of 1940 to the French armored division of the liberation, and many officers were veterans from the DLMs, applying the cavalry speed and tactics but this time with the Sherman which had an intercom system and a radio. Often they checked the range of a target by firing tracer rounds with the coaxial machinegun. They had observed that until range X it corresponded roughly to the ballistics of the main gun. Many French tankers and commanders who were defeated in 1940 were again in armored units for the liberation and drew their tanks in the heart of Germany and Austria.

On June 10, 1940, capitaine de Hautecloque (as known as "Leclerc" and future commander of the French 2nd armored division) led part of the groupement Maître for the northern French counter-attack on the Annelles - Perthes axis (elements of the 3e DCr: 17 Hotchkiss H39, 9 Renault B1bis and the 3 infantry companies from 16e BCP). He walked in front of the infantry and the tanks with his famous stick. 12 tanks were lost but the German advance was delayed. The 16e BCP managed to take Perthes and to rescue the French 127e RI still fighting in the town. Together they defended the town until 22h00 when they received the order to pull back. Thanks to this attack the 14e DI (General de Lattre, future commander of the French 1st Army) could retreat in good conditions. Capitaine de Hautecloque is an example of a captain in 1940 becoming commander of an armored division. Leclerc's column took the Koufra oasis (and the El Tag fort) in Lybia to the Italians in 1941 and all the Fezzan area (south-west Lybia) between March 1942 and January 1943. Leclerc’s force quickly crushed the Italian defense in southern Libya and marched 1,500 miles north, reaching Tripoli on January 23, 1943 just as the British arrived from Egypt. Leclerc placed himself under the command of Field Marshal Montgomery and his corps played a major role in the advance of the 8th Army in Tunisia. He was promoted General on May 5, 1943 and ordered to Morocco to form the 2nd French armored division.

A) The first French tank unit after the fall of 1940 is the 1st Free French tank company. It is in fact the 342e CACC originally sent in Norway with its Hotchkiss H39 tanks. This company will never stop fighting the axis and will join the Free French immediately. It will then see action in Gabon, move to Cameroun and Palestine, be engaged against the Vichy French troops in Syria and Lebanon in 1941. It is then transfered in Egyptia, where it will continue the combat and will be equipped at first with Crusader tanks.

B) In Tunisia, the ex-Vichy tanks fought quickly against the Axis forces, for example the old Renault D1 tanks.

After the Armistice 107 Renault D1 remain in North Africa. The battalions are disbanded and part of the tanks (20) is hidden to the Axis while part (87) is stored and under control of the Italians.
After negotiations in 1941, 62 of these tanks are at first given back to the Vichy, officially for the defense against the allied attacks. A few months later the creation of the tank squadrons is authorized by the Italians, officially only 2 squadrons in the 2e RCA but additional squadrons are formed secretly.

The Renault D1 tanks in the Vichy Army in North Africa can initially be found:
- In the 2e RCA (45 tanks)
- In the Hussein-Dey cavalry school at Algiers (probably 2 tanks)
- In the 4e RCA (15 tanks)
- In the 5e RCA (20 tanks) – grouped secretly

1) The 2e RCA is composed by:
- 1st mechanized squadrons group: 1st and 2nd reconnaissance squadrons (18 Laffly 50AM armored cars and motorcycles)
- 2nd motorized infantry squadrons group : 3rd and 4th motorized infantry squadrons
- 3rd tank squadrons group: 5th and 6th tank squadrons forming the so-called GEC (Groupe d'Escadrons de Chars) with the tanks from the ex-65e BCC and its 45 Renault D1 tanks

The 2e RCA is part of the BLM (Brigade Légère Mécanique) of Algeria to continue eventually the war. This BLM from Colonel Touzet du Vigier consists initially in:
- 2e RCA
- 9e RCA (4 motorized infantry squadrons) *
- 1 motorized artillery group from 68e RAA
- 1 engineer company
- Signals and services
* formed on 1 July 1941 with the 3rd groups (2 motorized infantry squadrons) from 3e RCA and 5e RCA.

Between November 8-10, 1942, the regiment fought against US troops landing near Oran. Only a reduced squadron of the 2e RCA (6th squadron with 10 D1 tanks) took part to the combats against the Axis forces in Tunisia. The tank component of the BLM is therefore rather weak but on November 14, 1942 the BLM is reinforced by the D1 squadrons from 5e RCA. These Renault D1 tanks will operate on the frontline from December 1942 to February 1943. The BLM was e.g. engaged in the battle of Thala on February 23, 1943. The first actions of Renault D1 tanks are nonetheless to be credited to the 15 tanks of the 7th squadron of the 4e RCA in mid-November 1942. The BLM is assigned to the reserve of the French Army Corps in March 1943 for instruction/training on Valentine tanks. After the Tunisian campaign, 10 Renault D1 tanks remain in the 1st squadron of the 8e Groupe de la Garde in Tunis. This will be their last assignment.
Finally, the 2e RCA becomes part of the 1st French Armored Division (1e DB) with US tanks (1 light tank squadron and 3 medium tank squadrons). The 1e DB will land in southern France and takes part to the battles in France, Germany and Austria in 1944-1945. Tanks from the 2e RCA (detachment of Lieutenant de Loisy) are the first allied ground troops reaching the Rhine on November 19, 1944 (at Rosenau, north of Huningue, next to Mulhouse).

2) The 4e RCA (Colonel Le Couteulx de Caumont and Lieutenant-Colonel Jousseaume de la Bretesche on February 1, 1943) is composed by:
- 1st mechanized squadrons group (Chef d'escadrons Klobukowski): 1st and 3rd reconnaissance squadrons (15 Laffly 50AM, 15 Laffly 80AM armored cars and motorcycles)
- 2nd horse mounted cavalry squadrons group (Chef d'escadrons de Lambilly): 2nd and 3rd horse mounted cavalry squadrons
- 3rd horse mounted cavalry squadrons group (capitaine E. Pinsard): 5th and 6th horse mounted cavalry squadrons
- 7th tank squadron (15 Renault D1 tanks) and 21st motorcycle squadron. A 4th squadrons group is formed in March 1943 with the 7th tank squadron alongside 21st motorcycle squadron.

The 4e RCA is the only regiment that still contained elements of horse mounted cavalry. As said before, the 4e RCA is also the first former Vichy Army in North Africa armored unit to fight the Germans during the battle of Medjez-El-Bab on November 19-20, 1942. The regiment also took part to other battles: Djebel Mansour, El Aroussa (December 18, 1942), Siliana (January 20, 1943), Ouenza (February 25, 1943) and Gambetta (April 17, 1943).
The regiment leaves his horses in March 1943. In late 1943 the regiment is used to recover enemy equipments in the Cap Bon and is later reorganized in a tank regiment with 1 light and 3 medium tank squadrons with US equipment. The regiment is assigned to 3rd French Armored Division (3e DB).
The incomplete 3e DB is disbanded on September 1, 1944, with elements dispatched to France shortly afterwards as reinforcements and replacements for the 1e DB. The 4e RCA becomes in September 1944 the tank training centre for the French 1st Army (Centre d'Instruction de l'Arme Blindée de l'Armée B). In November this CIAB/1st Army is transferred to France. The 3e DB will be formed again in May 1945.

3) The 5e RCA is composed by:
- 1st mechanized squadrons group (Chef d'escadrons J. Rouvillois): 1st and 2nd reconnaissance squadrons (9 Laffly AM50 armored cars, possibly 10 Renault AMR33 light tanks and motorcycles)
- 2nd mechanized squadrons group (Chef d'escadrons Roullins): 3rd reconnaissance squadron (10 P16 Mle1929 armored cars) and 4th reconnaissance squadron (motorcyles)
- 3rd tank squadrons group (Chef d'escadrons Grosjean): 5th and 6th tank squadrons with initially only 20 Renault D1 tanks apparently and crews from the ex-61e BCC. Apparently the strength might have increased to 35-40 tanks.

The 5e RCA is garrisoned in Algeria. A "détachement de marche" was formed with the 1st and 3rd groups under command of Chef d'escadrons J. Rouvillois and moved to Tunisia with the BLM end November 1942 This detachment fought at djebel Zaghouan in April-May 1943 before returning to Algeria.
In March 1943, the tank group receives Valentine tanks. Reorganized in June 1943, the regiment is equipped in October 1943 with US tanks and has 4 squadrons (1 light and 3 medium). It is part of the 5th French Armored Division (5e DB). The regiment lands in southern France in August 1944 and takes part to the liberation of France and the combats in Germany.


C) If you read the Trackstory booklet about the Somua S35 you will find information about Somua S35 tanks used in Tunisia (initially Vichy French) as well.

After failure of the Free French to rally Senegal to their cause in 1940, the Vichy French Army succeeded in convincing the Germans forming part of the Wiesbaden "Commission d'armistice" (created to deal with the truce terms) of the need for a modern tank squadron in Africa to defend the Empire against the Allies next attack.
The Germans saw it as reinforcement for the Dakar out-post against the Gaullist threat. But for the French, the true aim was to create a battle worthy amored unit away from the eyes of the Axis.
The 12e GACA (Groupement Autonome des Chasseurs d'Afrique) is created on September 1, 1941. The first elements of what will eventually become the 12e RCA (Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique) on February 15, 1942, unload in Senegal in November 1941. The nucleus is a motorcycle squadron built around a HQ and 4 platoons of 13 side-cars emanating from the 2e RCA and 5e RCA. But before that, the 23 Somua S35 tanks earmarked for the unit have already been released from France and unloaded on the Senegalese port of Thiès on July 19, 1941. In fact, they were first delivered to Oran in Algeria and loaded on a train to Casablanca where they were brought to operational status after such a long lull since 1940, and the crews trained.
Much time was spent peacefully in Senegal (more than a year), but the 12e RCA moved back to Oran on January 21, 1943 and later to Algiers on February 8, 1943. On February 20, the 2nd tank squadron, commanded by capitaine Gribius, was sent to the front in Tunisia where it was integrated in the 19e GBF (Groupement Blindé Français) as the 7th squadron from the 12e RCA.

The French Army in Africa was then in full metamorphosis and its armored corps consisted in heterogeneous units:
- Valentine tanks in the 1st squadron of the 5e RCA
- Somua S35 tanks in the 7th squadron of the 12e RCA
- M10 tank destroyers in the 4th squadron of the 9e GACA
- a Stuart light tank company

The group fought during the last phase of the Tunisian campaign, beginning with the attack on Gafsa on March 17, 1943. The Somua squadron got its last mission in May 1943: help the 8th Army, coming from the south, to cut the Cape Bon peninsula where 200,000 German and Italian troops were concentrated, hoping for an improbable evacuation by sea. The Somua squadron began its attack on May 9, 1943, and initially meet no serious opposition. A second platoon followed the first one 2 km behind. Their crews were the helpless witnesses of the fate of the mates, slaughtered by the guns of camouflaged Panzer IVs. They later counted up to 12x 75mm shots on one of the 2 destroyed Somua S35 tanks. The 3 other tanks of the platoons escaped thanks to their speed. On May 11, the French troops in the 19th Army Corps crushed the remnants of the 21.PzD, and 2 days later the capitulation of the Axis forces in Africa was signed.
During these exhausting battles, the Somua S35 tank has once more displayed its inherent qualities. A total of only 4 were lost in combat. Capitaine Gribius wrote then: "the Somua tank can still be counted as one of the best of the mechanically, with the speed, range, reliability and simplicity of the best US tanks to date. But its inferiority lies in the insufficient armament, lack of communication equipments, in its well designed but not thick enough armor, and in its internal layout in the crew compartments (ergonomics) that is no more suited to the present tactics (1943)".
Among the 19 surviving tanks, 17 will be kept in the 1st squadron of the 7th Régiment de la Garde to show the flag in this part of the French Empire. But before leaving their tanks, the crews pulled away the embossed "SOMUA" plates and welded them on the Shermans received from the new US ally. Thus keeping the memory of the tank all of them saw as the best tank in the world !"



D) The French Army armored divisions in 1943-1945 (the designation "free French" is not is use anymore after 1943, it is simply the French Army):

--> 2nd Armored Division
The core of the Free French troops (Leclerc column, L force etc.) began conversion into the 2nd Free French Division in May 1943. Thanks to Leclerc it was converted to 2nd armored division). An already forming 2nd armored division was then named 5th armored division. Unlike other armored troops, the 2e DB was transferred from French North Africa to Great Britain, missing the campaigns of the French 1st Army in Italy and in the Mediterranea. The division landed in Normandy in August 1944 and liberated Alençon, Paris and participated in the battles in Alsace and the liberation of Strasbourg. In 1945, the 2e DB was transferred to the Atlantic coast to assist the FFI troops (including re-captured Somua S35 and Renault B1bis tanks) in reducing the last German pockets like in Royan.

--> 1st Armored Division
The French 1e DB was raised in May 1943, based on Colonel Touzet du Vigier's "Brigade Legere Mecanique" which had served in the Vichy French garrison of North Africa and fought against the Axis in the Tunisian campaign. As part of French 1st Army, the division sailed to Southern France and landed during Operation Anvil-Dragoon. It then took part in the campaigns in France and Germany with the French 1st Army, often dispersed and supporting French infantry divisions.

--> 3rd Armored Division
The French 3e DB was initially assembled in Tunisia in June 1943 from elements of various formations on hand at the end of the Tunisian campaign. Not until September was it formally activated, and in October it transferred to Morocco to be nearer its source of newly arriving American equipment. The incomplete division was disbanded on September 1, 1944, with elements dispatched to France shortly afterwards as reinforcements and replacements for the 1e DB. In May 1945, the 3e DB was reborn in the area of Limoges in the French 12th Region Militaire, but it did not see action before the end of the war.

--> 5th Armored Division
The original French 2e DB, formed on May 1, 1943, was redesignated 5e DB on July 16, 1943 (thus allowing 2nd Free French Division to convert to 2e DB) in North Africa. Originally comprising a tank brigade and a support brigade, the 5e DB was re-equipped and reorganized to American standards with three combat commands which were commonly detached to support French infantry divisions. The division arrived in France in August-September 1944 and took part in the battles for Belfort and reduction of the Colmar pocket, then spent time in reserve before supporting the French crossing of the Rhine in March and participating in the final campaign in Germany.


E) In Italy in 1943-1944, the French Expeditionnary Corps had no French armored division as such. These divisions were forming and training in North Africa.
Nonetheless, the French in Italy had 6 armored regiment (4 reconnaissance regiments and 2 tank destroyers regiments). The reconnaissance regiments had 3 armored cars squadrons and 1 M5 Stuart light tanks squadrons. The tank destroyers regiments had each 4 squadrons of M10 tank destroyers.


F) The French armored divisions as such were engaged actually in France in 1944.
The 2e DB was assigned to Patton’s US 3rd Army and landed in Normandy on July 23, 1944. The unit saw its first action in the effort to close the Falaise pocket and liberated Argentan on August 12. The French 2e DB led the drive towards Alençon and Paris.

The 1st French Army with the 1e DB and the 5e DB landed in southern France during operation Anvil/Dragoon.

The 2e DB made junction with the 1st French Army on September 12, 1944. On September 13, 1944, combat commands from the 2e DB (GT - Groupement Tactique - Langlade) supported by P-47 fighter bombers from the USAF (406th Fighter Bomber Group, XIXth Tactical Air Command, flying 5 missions over Dompaire) met the 112.Panzerbrigade (45 Panthers and 45 Panzer IVs) next to the village of Dompaire.
On evening, 65 (several sources indicate 69) of the German tanks had been neutralized: 59 destroyed and 6 abandoned. Among the German losses there were also 3 dozens of various vehicles and 24 towed or self-propelled guns (including 2 150mm howitzers and 2 88mm FlaK). The German sustained 350-400 KIAs and about 1,000 WIAs. There were also several hundreds of POWs. The French lost 7 tanks (including 5 medium tanks), 44 KIAs (including 6 officers) and several WIAs. The 112.Panzerbrigade met his doom during the first engagement with the enemy, although they outnumbered the enemy.
On October 30, 1944 during the battle at Baccarat a German strongpoint with a dozen of 8.8cm FlaK and several Panthers and Panzer IVs is destroyed by elements of the 2e DB.

I guess there were probably French tank "aces" among the men involved in these battles and probably men who fought already in a tank in 1940 like Lieutenant-Colonel Baillou.

Except this battle, the role of the French tanks during the liberation until VE day was mainly infantry support. They met also German tanks of course but there were no big tank battles AFAIK. There was also a good cooperation between the tanks, the infantry, the artillery and the air force, limiting the efficiency of the German tanks. These German tanks were often manned by green troops even if the tanks by themselves were often better.

After the junction of the French troops landed in southern France and those landed in Normandy came the battles in north eastern France. Liberation of the Belfort area, and then especially in Alsace: Colmar pocket, liberation of Strasbourg and all the battles during operation Nordwind. French ground forces were the first reaching the Rhine (not crossing it) on November 19, 1944 (the 2e RCA from the 1e DB at Rosenau, north of Huningue, next to Mulhouse). The French troops entered then in southern Germany and Austria: Kehl, Karlsruhe, Neckar, Pforzheim, Tübingen, Stuttgart, Rottweil, Uberlingen, Sigmaringen, Bregenz, Bludenz etc.


In 1944-1945, after the landing in France the French tank losses are:
- 549 light and medium tanks
- 95 tank destroyers
- 134 combat cars
No tank was put out of action by enemy air action.
The tanks immobilized by mines could be repaired in hours.
The "real" losses (definitely destroyed) were due to artillery and hollow charge weapons (Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck), but in very small proportions from the latter weapon.
These numbers are given according to "Survey of Allied tank casualties in World War II" (Alvin D. Coox and L. Van Loan Naisawald) - Operations Research Office, Johns Hopkins University, Fort Lesley J. McNair (1951) based on data provided by the SHAT (Service Historique de l'Armée): "Notice relative aux destructions d'engins blindés au cours de la guerre 1939-1945", received by Office of the Army Attache, American Ambassy in Pairs, in reply to an Operations Research Office request of August 4, 1950. (Acknowledgment to William Schneck who provided a copy of the original unclassified US document)

Regards,

David

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Wolfkin
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Post by Wolfkin » 14 Jun 2006 09:52

Hello Alex!

I am sorry I do not know much more about the aces that I mentioned, only what I did mention. As far as I know they all served in the Northwest Europe Campaign. The enemy kills described are tanks and assault guns except where specific types are mentioned. I wish I could be of more help.

Cheers,

Wolfkin

jp.négre
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Posts: 11
Joined: 28 Jun 2006 10:42
Location: France

Allizd tank aces

Post by jp.négre » 28 Jun 2006 11:01

Hello!
I'm new on your forum and I'm sorry for my poor knowledge in english.
I just wanted to add some names of allied tank aces:
* On he 7 february 1940, at the battle of Beda Fomm, the crew of a british Matilda II (Lt norman Plough, Tpr elfred Hughes and Tpr "Topper" Brown) accounted for the destruction of 20 italian M13.

Regards.

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