dieseltaylor wrote:The US Army was offered, pre-invasion, items from 79th Armoured - Hobarts Funnies, which could have made life much easier. Unfortunately, as in refusing the 17pdr, there was a certain arrogance in believing that good old American smarts would see them through.
Sorry, but I am afraid that is, to put it mildly, bollocks.
In fact, it is the story passed from Hobart to Chester Wilmot postwar and is incorrect in virtually all particulars. I cover the mythology behind the "offer" and "refusal" in my new book, but briefly the "offer" was actually a request by ETOUSA that simply couldn't be fulfilled within the time constraints of the invasion schedule. As it was, the British Royal Engineer assault units were barely equipped in time for the invasion. To have enabled American forces to have been equipped on the scale found on the Commonwealth beaches would have required a reduction in the scale provided for the Commonwealth forces along with a reallocation of landing craft and simply wasn't going to happen.
Always an excellent source.
Among the many specialist vehicles and their attachments were:
* Crocodile - A Churchill tank modified by the fitting of a flame-thrower in place of the hull machine gun. An armoured trailer, towed behind the tank, carried 400 Imperial gallons (1,800 litres) of fuel. The flamethrower had a range of over 120 yards (110 m). It excelled at clearing bunkers and it was a strong psychological weapon (see Flame tank).
Only six landed on D-Day on GOLD, none of which got into action. Had no effect on the bocage battles, but was effective versus fixed fortifications. Requested for use by American forces in February 1944.
* AVRE - Armoured Vehicle, Royal Engineers was a Churchill tank adapted to attack German defensive fortifications. The crew included two Royal Engineers who could easily leave and enter the tank through its side hatches. The AVRE had the main gun replaced by a Petard Spigot Mortar. This fired a forty pound (18 kg) HE-filled projectile (nicknamed the Flying Dustbin) 150 yards (137 m). The "Dustbin" could destroy concrete obstacles such as roadblocks and bunkers. This weapon was unusual in that it had to be reloaded externally - by opening a hatch and sliding a round into the mortar tube from the hull. AVREs were also used to carry and operate equipment such as:
o Bobbin - A reel of 10-foot (3.0 m) wide canvas cloth reinforced with steel poles carried in front of the tank and unrolled onto the ground to form a "path", so that following vehicles (and itself) would not sink into the soft ground of the beaches during the amphibious landing.
o Fascine - A bundle of wooden poles or rough brushwood lashed together with wires carried in front of the tank that could be released to fill a ditch or form a step. Metal pipes in the center of the fascine allowed water to flow through.
o Small Box Girder was an assault bridge that was carried in front of the tank and could be dropped to span a 30-foot (9.1 m) gap in 30 seconds.
o Bullshorn Plough. A mine plough intended to excavate the ground in front of the tank, to expose and make harmless any land mines.
Yep. More details may be found in my book on the numbers deployed on D-Day and their effectiveness.
o Double Onion two large demolition charges on a metal frame that could be placed against a concrete wall and then detonated from a safe distance. It was the successor to the single charge device Carrot.
None were ever used. The framework of the device was used however, to mount the "twin Boase Bangalore" designed to open gaps in the dunes. The most prominant result of its deployment was the death of Colonel Cocks, CO 5th Assault Regiment RE, who was killed when a German mortar round set off the Bangalores mounted on his AVRE, killing him and his Sergeant Major.
* ARK - Armoured Ramp Carrier was a Churchill tank without a turret that had extendable ramps at each end; other vehicles could drive up ramps and over the vehicle to scale obstacles.
Not deployed until late 1944.
* Crab - A modified Sherman tank equipped with a mine flail, a rotating cylinder of weighted chains that exploded mines in the path of the tank.
* DD tank - from "Duplex Drive", an amphibious Sherman or Valentine tank able to swim ashore after being launched from a landing craft several miles from the beach. They were intended to give support to the first waves of infantry that attacked the beaches. The Valentine version was used only for training.
The DD tank was used by American forces on D-Day and was the only item of special equipment requested by ETOUSA that was actually supplied for their use by British forces.
I do believe that some of those like the Onion and the Bullshorn Plough were later "invented" again by the US. The Cuilin plough particulalry being great propaganda when the Allied home front needed some good news. The Crocodile and AVRE I am sure in the very small fields of the bocage been very effective. It was rather that the Army with the gadgets was in the wrong sector - however on reflection at that stage of the war the US anti-tank capability was not so good either.
As it happens the fighting close to the beachheads minimised the Allies transport/supply movement and maximised the Germans so perhaps there was a silver lining for being under-prepared for the bocage.
The Onion was never used, the Bullshorn was ineffective and was apparently not used again after the ten deployed for D-Day. The Culin device was not a mineclearing device but was rather a specialized device for the bocage. In the end it was probably unneccessary and was rarely used. The Crocodile and AVRE were rarely used in the bocage since they had no more utility in that environment than a standard tank.
Unfortunately fighting close to the beachheads also increased the logistical problems encountered by the Allies. The constricted beachhead badly affected transportation and communications and limited manuever.