A Tiger in Fontenay-le-Pesnel !

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Little Black Devil, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    That is Tiger '114' and this is the 'Tiger and the Panther'. Note the scoop on the front of the Panther

    Tiger-114-Rauray-captured (5).jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  2. Little Black Devil

    Little Black Devil Active Member

    And yet Hill is the only one who wrote about the damaged visor. That is proof he saw the Tiger or spoke to someone who saw it. Hill also mentions 2 knocked -out Shermans and named the casualties which are confirmed for June 26th. So far Hill's account is the only one that can be said too have been fact-checked and his book is the proof Tiger '114' was hit on June 26th. The film was shot the next day June 27th.

    Damaged visor? Hill wrote his memoirs a long time after the war. He even mismatched the two dates : 25th and 26th. It was his first battle. His account is really interesting but there are more sources. And you do not pay attention to them.

    Only if the knew where the charges were normally placed in a Tiger and decided to do exactly the same. Engineers carried around their own explosives and there is a massive difference in the damage done by the small devices carried in a Tiger and the way an Engineer would stuff it and make sure it was blown into little pieces.

    British Engineers weren't stupide... They could have inspected the Tiger and understood the way demo charges would have exploded... AND anyway the Tiger's location matches the SRY War Diary so it's Semken's victory mentioned by :
    -The official WAR DIARY.
    -David Render, one of his Troop Leader PLUS a witness of the scene.

    If you blow up a tank to make it easier to remove then you blow it into small pieces. You do not just destroy the engine and crack the hull.

    They destroyed them as a precaution, in case of German counterattacked... 756th Fd Coy RE put it our of the street on June 28th as their WD said.


    Anther tank. It was done all the time.

    Oh really? Do you really think 'B' Sqn of the Sherwood Rangers had the time, on the morning of the big attack for Rauray, to remove a Tiger tank?
    Did they ask the Germans for a little break to remove their Heavy Tank off the road because it was a tad annoying for their own attack to drive off the road which leads to Rauray?
    They lost 13 Sherman plus a lot of men inside those tanks! It's a black day for 'B' Squadron!
    They had better fish to fry to bump this Tiger of the Road.


    There is not the slightest doubt Tiger '114' was knocked out on Monday June 26th. and not June 27th. If a Tiger is knocked out by a Sherman then there is a Sherman there to push it out of the way.

    As I already said :
    -No mention in 11th DLI records (WD + CO's report)
    -Doesn't match with Möbius' and Amselgruber's accounts

    Not obvious to me. In fact there is not enough detail to be able to say anything for certain but the Sherman is not rammed into the side of 114. It is not even possible to confirm they are touching each other.

    Obvious to a Tiger tank driver... a friend of mine showed him the photo and asked him what happened with the tightness of the track.
     
  3. Little Black Devil

    Little Black Devil Active Member

    Mickael, you didn't answer this one. I put it back.

    Capture d’écran 2019-11-10 à 14.25.06.png
     
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There are a lot of "Tiger" ref's in NHL / None Had Lances - The Story of the 24th Lancers -

    NHL_Tiger_refs_244.jpg

    ....far too many to quote - including a "Tiger night" for example, that was not, but a large number, I hazard, are used basically in the context of "a large threatening tank" i.e. not necessarily actually a "Tiger" as such.

    p60 of Kevin Baverstock's "Breaking the Panzers" has a section on "German Armoured Fighting Vehicles at Rauray" - and "talks" about all of the Tiger sightings for 1st July - for example - and the lack of evidence etc. though for such then, despite much, and ever ongoing further research.
     
  5. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    He did not mismatch the dates. The account on page 103 of his book starts 'at 03:30 hours on Sunday June 25th............
    He runs through the action that day and the night attack that cleared Fontenay. Then he writes:
    at 0400 hours next morning June 25..........
    so it is clearly an error and should read June 26th. The fact that he means June 26th is confirmed by the dates for the casualties he gives for the 2 Sherman that you also mention. Difference being that Hill knows the names of the crews and you didn't. Hill clearly is describing what happened on June 26th and he has confirming facts.
     
  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi,

    In David Render's Introduction to "Tank Action" he makes a point of saying that he didn't make a diary during the war, that he has used official documents including the war diary to help his memory, and that "my recall is less than complete". He clearly had a copy of the war diary as he quotes from it.

    Intriguingly, whereas the war diary says that the leading tank of A Sqn was commanded by John Semken, Render's account has him passing his CO at the crossroads first with his troop and then travelling 500 yds south towards Rauray, before deploying in a large field on the "right hand side" of the road (although in his map he shows himself and his troop deployed to the left of the road). More of the squadron then arrive, before they notice a Tiger moving up the road towards Fontenay (a road strangely undefended?!). This then proceeds to bump into Semken, and then the engagement is much as described by the war diary. There would have been no time for the German crew to set off their demolition charges (Render says that he followed it back up the road towards Fontenay) but Render does describe it as being up against a large farmhouse wall. He also states that it was the first Tiger to be captured "intact" in Normandy - which doesn't make sense either.

    It is also worth noting that the war diary would not have been written by the CO of the regiment, but by the Intelligence officer or Adjutant. So when it says that:

    "John Semken had just passed me up a very narrow street" that doesn't necessarily mean that he had just passed the CO sitting under his raincoat in the middle of the village.

    It is also worth noting that John Render's book was produced in 2016 whilst Stuart Hills' book came out in 2002.

    All in all, I would suggest that the Tiger in Fontenay remains an enigma and that there is certainly no certainty over how it came to be there. There certainly seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there, and so it would not be at all surprising that which Tiger Major Semken knocked out that day has been somewhat confused over the years.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  7. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    It would also help if you posted up the war diary of 756th Field Coy. They could have just been reporting that there was a "destroyed" Tiger in Fontenay, rather than claiming that they destroyed it. I also don't see the war diary extract you posted actually stated that they moved it. Are we sure that it wasn't moved to the main road by the Germans and then destroyed by them as they realised that Fontenay was about to be lost?

    Regards

    Tom
     
  8. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    I said this before but that book is a personal account short on detail and another person has read all the contemporary accounts and inserted that detail into the narrative. to give it an authentic period feel.

    Anyone with relatives in the SRY - Sherwood Rangers - on here?
     
  9. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    If it was blocking a road the German would not have moved it. We do not know where it was before it was bulldozed into that corner. The tracks have gone so it was moved from somewhere else. Because there is no track under the wheels there is no possibility that is where it was stopped. It had tow cables connected to the front so it was pulled forward. If it was stopped in a narrow street by a facing tank then the only way to get it out would be a rear tow. An attempt to get an ARV and Tiger to do a U turn in a narrow passage is unthinkable
     
  10. Little Black Devil

    Little Black Devil Active Member

    "John Semken had just passed me up a very narrow street" that doesn't necessarily mean that he had just passed the CO sitting under his raincoat in the middle of the village.

    All in all, I would suggest that the Tiger in Fontenay remains an enigma and that there is certainly no certainty over how it came to be there. There certainly seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there, and so it would not be at all surprising that which Tiger Major Semken knocked out that day has been somewhat confused over the years.
    [/QUOTE]

    It means exactly that John Semken passed the CO sitting in his tank. Knowing the HQ is north of rue Massieu (see map page 2 of this thread).

    The Tiger in Fontenay doesn't remain an enigma. I think I cited enough sources.
    You will need to listen to John Semken's oral history when it'd be available to believe that he destroyed this Tiger downtown Fontenay.
     
  11. Little Black Devil

    Little Black Devil Active Member

  12. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    I do not use Render's book as a source but he uses a still from the film of Christopherson sitting on Tiger 114 (pg 132-133) and calls it 'Semken's Tiger'. He also claims he came up behind the Tiger and that it was 'captured intact'. With every account comes new contradictions. We are not even sure where 114 was stopped. The film of it on June 27 could just be where it was at that time. It was being driven around so it is possible it was stopped in Fontenay. The fact is there is insufficient evidence to place 3 of the known Tiger wrecks with any certainty. All we can say is between Fontenay and the far side of Rauray 4 Tigers were hit/immobilised/captured. There could be more because for sure 2 were sitting in a field south of Cheux at the end of July.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  13. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Thanks, that was kind of you. So it doesn't say whether they themselves destroyed the "Fontenay Tiger" nor whether they actually moved it. Is that right?

    Well we've certainly all quoted enough sources, but the problem is they all remain somewhat confusing and full of discrepancies.

    BTW how narrow was the road from Fontenay to Rauray in June 1944?

    Michael,

    Well maybe, but then David Render's book records that he drove up behind it!

    Which way is the "Fontenay Tiger" facing - south towards the central crossroads and towards Rauray or east on the main road looking towards Caen?

    Regards

    Tom
     
  14. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Dave55 likes this.
  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    I'm confused a little by this post. D7s commonly pushed Tigers off the road in Normandy, didn't they?

    Here's one pushing a King Tiger later in the war.

    upload_2019-11-10_13-55-42.png
     
  16. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Michael,

    Thanks. That's a sobering piece of film. I haven't often seen UK film or photos showing British dead.

    Again, the flatness of the fields and road in that film don't really tally with David Render's account of a "high banked hedge that flanked the road" and prevented him seeing the Tiger as it moved north towards and into Fontenay.

    Can you help me with which road the Tiger is pictured on and in which direction it is pointing? Is that British lorry heading down the "narrow street" towards Rauray?

    Fontenay Tiger WW2Talk.PNG

    When the SRY were attacking south on the evening of 26 June, wasn't the village occupied by British infantry - no anti-tank guns? The history of the 1/7 Dukes suggests that they had cleared the village by the morning of 26th June and launched an unsuccessful attack south that morning.

    This is all very peculiar!

    Regards

    Tom
     
  17. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    David Render also made an oral recording which is available on the IWM website:

    Render, David Desmond (Oral history)

    Again a slightly different account...but again Major Semken versus a Tiger at close range.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  18. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Can anyone identify the buildings in the background here?

    Fontenay in Background - query..PNG

    Are these the fields south of Fontenay?

    Regards

    Tom
     
  19. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The N-S (green to red) road does a slight dog-leg behind the Tiger and then continues down to Rauray. The green road (where it is said the Tiger was knocked out) disappears northwards between the two large buildings behind the Tiger The lorry is heading to Rauray. The pink line is the road to Caen (east) fas.jpg
     
  20. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Michael,

    Great, thanks. I'll have another look on street view.

    I noted that in Norbert Szamveber's book he has the war diary of II/SS Pz Regt 12 saying that preparations were made for a counter attack with Tigers on the afternoon of 26 June north into Fontenay but that it didn't happen and the Tigers were called away to other more pressing areas. It's not entirely clear (what a surprise) but their account has the German infantry in Fontenay retreating after the successful beating off of a British attack south. Could that be the morning attack described in the 7 DWR account? Wouldn't that be a good time for a Tiger crew to blow it's demolition charges when they realised that the village was definitely lost?

    Regards

    Tom
     

Share This Page