Barkmann's Corner

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
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Pips
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Barkmann's Corner

Postby Pips » 06 Aug 2009 08:06

Just read a fascinating account of Ernst Barkmann's amazing action near the French village of Le Lorey on 27 July, 1944. Easily rates as the equal to Wittmann's famous encounter with 22nd Armoured Brigade at Villers-Bocage.

Here area couple of links to the action. The first is a great site on Barkmann.
http://www.geocities.com/alkantolga/panzerace/ernst.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Barkmann

Oddly enough though the article on Wiki (after describing the battle) makes the following statement.... "However there is not a single US account that mentions this action. There are no American reports of a hold up or any form of delay caused by German defenders."

Is it known which US armoured unit was involved in the battle with Barkmann's Panther?

Larso
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Larso » 06 Aug 2009 08:56

I think this Max Hastings writes of this incident in his book 'Overlord'. Doesn't Barkmann say that he sat there feeling like 'Seigfried'?

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby RichTO90 » 06 Aug 2009 18:50

Larso wrote:I think this Max Hastings writes of this incident in his book 'Overlord'. Doesn't Barkmann say that he sat there feeling like 'Seigfried'?


I suppose I have to post again, despite my misgivings about the recent tone at AHF.

The "tank" unit that Barkmann "delayed" was Troop A, 4th Cavalry Squadron (Mecz), reinforced by one platoon of E Troop (two M8 HMC) and one platoon of F Company (five M5 Light Tanks), reinforced by Battery B, 391st Field Artillery (correction: that should have been six M7 GMC). The troop was screening the flank of the southward advance by the 1st ID and CCB, 3rd AD on Marigny and southwest to Coutances and wasn't very interested in advancing due west. There was no record of air support being available and none was called for so if Barkmann was attacked by aircraft it was by accident.

1st Platoon lost four "vehicles" including two tanks and 3rd Platoon lost all its 1/4-ton GP. So Barkmann's score was actually two M5 Light Tanks, two M8 AC or GP, and six GP; ten vehicles in total. At least he got the numbers close to correct.

By that evening Marigny had fallen and the advance by the 1st ID and CCB continued west along the Coutances-Marigny Road with little interference, well south of La Lorey, turning north in the afternoon and seizing Comprond, well behind Barkmann. I'm not sure I could characterize his actions as a delay, let alone as significant, since A Troop accomplished its mission successfully.
Last edited by RichTO90 on 06 Aug 2009 23:02, edited 1 time in total.

Michael Kenny
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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Michael Kenny » 06 Aug 2009 20:24

You better have the documents to back all that up-this is not going to be accepted without a fight!

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Pips » 06 Aug 2009 23:46

Thanks Rich, that clears it up nicely. :)

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby RichTO90 » 07 Aug 2009 01:16

Michael Kenny wrote:You better have the documents to back all that up-this is not going to be accepted without a fight!


Why? It's always struck me as rather cut and dried.

The only possible units with Shermans that can be considered are the 745th Tank Battalion, which reported no tanks of any kind lost or damaged on 27 July and that reported only one write-off for the month, or CCB, 3rd AD.

Supposedly Barkmann was north of the N172 on the dirt road from Le Neufbourg to Le Lorey, but CCB motored down the N172 after bypassing Marigny to the west starting at late morning, advanced without significant opposition about four miles and then turned north and seized Camprond and Hill 177 at 1540.

I have found no record of major losses to the division. They reported 104 M4 Medium Tanks and 9 M5 Light Tanks damaged and lost 2-23 July. The number written off is difficult to be certain, Steve Zaloga gives 40 M4 Mediums lost for July, while the divisional Ordnance Maintenance Battalion gave 52 tanks of all types written off for the month...including apparently some lost in their initial action on 30 June. But total tanks reported operational at 2200 on 27 July were 399, exactly the same as there were at 2200 on 23 July. At 2200 hours 30 July, when the next report was made, there were 393. The 32nd Armor didn't report significant tank losses, although the 33rd had at least two M4 Mediums knocked out...at Quibou.

Nor were there excessive personnel casualties reported on that day, just 91 for the 3rd AD and 93 for the 1st ID.

There simply aren't any other units that reported significant opposition near where Barkmann supposedly was on that day. The only other candidates are B Troop and the 16th RCT, but they were along the D53 attacking south southwest from northwest of Marigny when they encountered resistance. The actions of 3rd/16th Infantry could fit, except that they were just 1/2 mile west of Marigny, had no tanks, and just one company of TDs, none of whoch were lost, when they were counterattacked by an estimated 100 Germans supported by a single tank. Possibly Barkmann, but not alone, and no armored vehicles at all lost.

So who else is left? :roll:

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Michael Kenny » 07 Aug 2009 04:13

Let us close off a few options.
Are CCA completely out of the picture?
Confirm that 4th AD did not stray into the area.
Explain the make up of 'B Troop' and the '16th RCT'.
Are you saying 3rd AD lost no tanks between 23rd July and 22:00 hours on 27 July?

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby RichTO90 » 07 Aug 2009 05:34

Michael Kenny wrote:Let us close off a few options.
Are CCA completely out of the picture?
Confirm that 4th AD did not stray into the area.
Explain the make up of 'B Troop' and the '16th RCT'.
Are you saying 3rd AD lost no tanks between 23rd July and 22:00 hours on 27 July?


Why yes, CCA attacked south southeast, away from Marigny and Barkmann's supposed position.

Er, 4th AD wasn't committed until 28 July, moving from Periers to Coutances, and was nowhere near the putative scene of this action.

B Troop was a Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mech) comprised of three platoons of M8 AC and 1/4-ton GP. It was also reinforced by a platoon of light tanks and a platoon of assault guns. CT 16 comprised the 16th Infantry, 7th FA, B Battery, 103rd AA, A Company, 1st Med, A Company, 1st Engineers, detachment, 1st Signal Company, Reconnaissance and A Company, 634th TD Bn (SP), A Company, 635th TD Bn (towed), and A and B Company, 87th Chemical Mortar Bn.

No, but it is unlikely they had any write-offs, and I can find no accounts of any major losses occuring. That a battery of the 391st FA, which was attached in direct support to CCB, fired in support of A Troop, 4th Cavalry, is rather indicative that the most serious fighting was to the flank. There are also accounts of some of the cannoneers taking up small arms to help repel the German infantry assault and of the crew of an SP AA mount, probably apocryphally, "blowing the wheel off a German "Panther tank" with a hand-set charge of TNT. Frankly, I give that last story about equal weight in terms of absolute accuracy as i do Barkmann's.

Mind you, that doesn't mean that I disbelieve Barkmann, rather I disbelieve the exact accuracy of his account and suspect that in fact he was engaged heavily on that day, just not with significant numbers of American medium tanks, nor did he inflict significant casualties, nor did he fight a "lone battle" against "incredible" odds (except that he did fight with his back to the wall, as did all those trapped by the American advance, who most certainly were collectively badly outnumbered in an operational sense.


BTW, do I win a cookie for answering your demands?

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Larso » 07 Aug 2009 06:56

I'm impressed - thanks for your efforts!

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Cannonade » 03 Feb 2010 23:24

RichTO90 wrote:
Larso wrote:I think this Max Hastings writes of this incident in his book 'Overlord'. Doesn't Barkmann say that he sat there feeling like 'Seigfried'?


I suppose I have to post again, despite my misgivings about the recent tone at AHF.

The "tank" unit that Barkmann "delayed" was Troop A, 4th Cavalry Squadron (Mecz), reinforced by one platoon of E Troop (two M8 HMC) and one platoon of F Company (five M5 Light Tanks), reinforced by Battery B, 391st Field Artillery (correction: that should have been six M7 GMC). The troop was screening the flank of the southward advance by the 1st ID and CCB, 3rd AD on Marigny and southwest to Coutances and wasn't very interested in advancing due west. There was no record of air support being available and none was called for so if Barkmann was attacked by aircraft it was by accident.

1st Platoon lost four "vehicles" including two tanks and 3rd Platoon lost all its 1/4-ton GP. So Barkmann's score was actually two M5 Light Tanks, two M8 AC or GP, and six GP; ten vehicles in total. At least he got the numbers close to correct.

By that evening Marigny had fallen and the advance by the 1st ID and CCB continued west along the Coutances-Marigny Road with little interference, well south of La Lorey, turning north in the afternoon and seizing Comprond, well behind Barkmann. I'm not sure I could characterize his actions as a delay, let alone as significant, since A Troop accomplished its mission successfully.


Battery B, 391st Armored Field Artillery was firing a support mission for the 3rd Armored Division's Combat Command B when the engagement with the 4th Cav units became known to the battery. According to the division history, "Spearhead," Battery B sent only one M7 to assist the 4th Cav units along with all available men. This M7 engaged in direct fire against the German positions. The battery's other 5 M7s continued to fire missions in support of CCB. CCB was advancing to the west-south west. CCA was advancing to the south.

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Cannonade » 03 Feb 2010 23:36

RichTO90 wrote:
Michael Kenny wrote:You better have the documents to back all that up-this is not going to be accepted without a fight!


Why? It's always struck me as rather cut and dried.

The only possible units with Shermans that can be considered are the 745th Tank Battalion, which reported no tanks of any kind lost or damaged on 27 July and that reported only one write-off for the month, or CCB, 3rd AD.

Supposedly Barkmann was north of the N172 on the dirt road from Le Neufbourg to Le Lorey, but CCB motored down the N172 after bypassing Marigny to the west starting at late morning, advanced without significant opposition about four miles and then turned north and seized Camprond and Hill 177 at 1540.

I have found no record of major losses to the division. They reported 104 M4 Medium Tanks and 9 M5 Light Tanks damaged and lost 2-23 July. The number written off is difficult to be certain, Steve Zaloga gives 40 M4 Mediums lost for July, while the divisional Ordnance Maintenance Battalion gave 52 tanks of all types written off for the month...including apparently some lost in their initial action on 30 June. But total tanks reported operational at 2200 on 27 July were 399, exactly the same as there were at 2200 on 23 July. At 2200 hours 30 July, when the next report was made, there were 393. The 32nd Armor didn't report significant tank losses, although the 33rd had at least two M4 Mediums knocked out...at Quibou.

Nor were there excessive personnel casualties reported on that day, just 91 for the 3rd AD and 93 for the 1st ID.

There simply aren't any other units that reported significant opposition near where Barkmann supposedly was on that day. The only other candidates are B Troop and the 16th RCT, but they were along the D53 attacking south southwest from northwest of Marigny when they encountered resistance. The actions of 3rd/16th Infantry could fit, except that they were just 1/2 mile west of Marigny, had no tanks, and just one company of TDs, none of whoch were lost, when they were counterattacked by an estimated 100 Germans supported by a single tank. Possibly Barkmann, but not alone, and no armored vehicles at all lost.

So who else is left? :roll:


According to the 3rd Armored Division history, Spearhead, on 28 July CCB was ordered to return to the area near Comprond to assist a regiment of the 1st Infantry Division in reducing a German strongpoint. In his book Breakout and Pursuit, Blumenson mentions that 15 American tanks were lost in this engagement which held up the advance of the 16th Infantry regiment. Seven of the tanks were mediums. The advance was held up for hours by the German defense, and according to Spearhead, CCB did not make contact with the 16th Infantry until around mid-night. Comprond is just west-southwest of Le Lorey. The date is wrong, but given the fog of war, maybe this is the actual site of Barkmann's amazing tale.
Last edited by Cannonade on 04 Feb 2010 01:46, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Cannonade » 03 Feb 2010 23:56

RichTO90 wrote:
I have found no record of major losses to the division. They reported 104 M4 Medium Tanks and 9 M5 Light Tanks damaged and lost 2-23 July. The number written off is difficult to be certain, Steve Zaloga gives 40 M4 Mediums lost for July, while the divisional Ordnance Maintenance Battalion gave 52 tanks of all types written off for the month...including apparently some lost in their initial action on 30 June. But total tanks reported operational at 2200 on 27 July were 399, exactly the same as there were at 2200 on 23 July. At 2200 hours 30 July, when the next report was made, there were 393. The 32nd Armor didn't report significant tank losses, although the 33rd had at least two M4 Mediums knocked out...at Quibou.

So who else is left? :roll:


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.

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby Cannonade » 04 Feb 2010 00:45

RichTO90 wrote: There are also accounts of some of the cannoneers taking up small arms to help repel the German infantry assault and of the crew of an SP AA mount, probably apocryphally, "blowing the wheel off a German "Panther tank" with a hand-set charge of TNT. Frankly, I give that last story about equal weight in terms of absolute accuracy as i do Barkmann's.


The gunners in question were, according to Spearhead, the 3rd Armored Division history, from Battery B, 486th Armored Anti-Aircraft Battalion, not "the crew of a SP AA mount, probably apocryphally." The history records that "Captain Philip Shaw, commander of Battery B, 486th Armored Anti-aircraft Battalion, and two of his men calmly placed charges of TNT on the bogey wheels of a Panther tank they found near their position at night. Then, when the crippled Panther began to rumble into action, Shaw killed its crew by tossing grenades into the open turret." This story does not appear to be apocryphal.

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby RichTO90 » 05 Feb 2010 22:02

Cannonade wrote:Battery B, 391st Armored Field Artillery was firing a support mission for the 3rd Armored Division's Combat Command B when the engagement with the 4th Cav units became known to the battery. According to the division history, "Spearhead," Battery B sent only one M7 to assist the 4th Cav units along with all available men. This M7 engaged in direct fire against the German positions. The battery's other 5 M7s continued to fire missions in support of CCB. CCB was advancing to the west-south west. CCA was advancing to the south.


Good catch, I was overthinking it when I first posted this. I had originally said one, thus my "correction" in red to six. A quick recheck had made me think I had read the one originally in error since I was being hasty and didn't see it in the passage the second time around. Sigh...

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Re: Barkmann's Corner

Postby RichTO90 » 05 Feb 2010 22:15

Cannonade wrote:According to the 3rd Armored Division history, Spearhead, on 28 July CCB was ordered to return to the area near Comprond to assist a regiment of the 1st Infantry Division in reducing a German strongpoint. In his book Breakout and Pursuit, Blumenson mentions that 15 American tanks were lost in this engagement which held up the advance of the 16th Infantry regiment. Seven of the tanks were mediums. The advance was held up for hours by the German defense, and according to Spearhead, CCB did not make contact with the 16th Infantry until around mid-night. Comprond is just west-southwest of Le Lorey. The date is wrong, but given the fog of war, maybe this is the actual site of Barkmann's amazing tale.


Yeah, I didn't think to look at the day after.

Except it's not only the wrong date according to Barkmann, it's the wrong place according to Barkmann (again, not on a road where it runs into the N172, i.e., a "corner" that could be "Barkmann's"), and it's versus an enemy coming from the wrong direction, attacking from SSW to NNE instead of approaching from E to W.

And, further, if the AAA gunner's did disable a Panther there, was it Barkmann's? Why didn't he mention this little nightime action? In an action he says that occurred in broad daylight. If it wasn't his, then Barkmann wasn't fighting a "lone battle" there was he?

A few more holes than a wrong date.


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