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

    The entry in their War Diary does not say that. You could at a stretch take it to mean they destroyed it but the evidence (the photos) show it was not destroyed. The photos show a Tiger wrecked by its own internal charges . It is not a Tiger that has been demolished by engineers. It could be that it was knocked out first and then had to be abandoned and they blew up but for sure it was the Germans who finished off that Tiger themselves.
    All types of tank were blown up to make them easier to remove but they would be stuffed with HE. One of the Tigers at Villers was filled with lifted mines and then exploded.

    The evidence is not enough to be definitive. All the accounts contradict each other in some of the details.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  2. Little Black Devil

    Little Black Devil Active Member

    Thanks to Michel Sabarly.
    Semken's recommandation is, as the WDwas, crystal clear.
    Major Semken was leading his Squadron through Fontenay in order to reach the SL.
    When passing through a narrow street, (the same one mentioned in the SRY WD, next to the corner where SRY HQ was located, see the map I posted before) HE CAME FACE TO FACE WITH A TIGER TANK.
    Then during the second phase he and his Squadron were about to relieve 'C' Squadron which was involved in supporting the 7th Bn. DWR's 2nd attack on the Ferme Saint-Nicolas.
    2/Lieutenant was among 'C' Squadron at this moment so he never saw the action as he was further south, fighting.
    'A' Squadron then supported 7th DWR to capture the Ferme Saint-Nicolas, let the infantry to consolidate 500m south of the farm and then launch the attack on Rauray. Semken and his men were not able to capture the tank as no infantry was in support so they withdraw to Point 102 near Boislonde.

    As we do all agree now, Fontenay Tiger is the Tiger which faced J. Semken in Fontenay.
    As there is no mention of a second fight between Semken and a 2nd Tiger.
    => What happened to Tiger 114 ? Who has stopped/bumped it in the hedge?
    => Why is there no mention of it? Is it because Möbius wasn't involved in the battle on June 26th but was involved in the fight that took place the day after, on June 27th ?
  3. Please excuse again my probably stupid question, testimony of my near complete ignorance on the subject of this thread:

    How do we know for sure that Möbius was in Tiger 114 and Amselgruber in 334, as per LBD's Post #31?

    If using the original text in his Post #98 alone, I would have concluded that it was the other way round (Möbius in 334 and Amselgruber in 114). I suppose there is other hard evidence available?

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  4. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    We don't know.
    What is happening is 'Tiger was in 2nd kp therefore it must have had a commander from 2nd kp' deduction. When it was only 3 Tigers it was simple because the 3 accounts in Agte were from 3 Officers, one each from 1st, 2nd and 3rd kp. I don't think it was simple. None of the accounts/dates in Agte match what we know anyway and they are the 'we fought dozens of Shermans and knocked out many before we were overwhelmed' version.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  5. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Whilst we are talking about Fontenay the 'smoking' Panther footage is not quite what it claims to be.
  6. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The WD transcription:

    The attack was to start at 1730 hrs. At 1700 hrs the CO was sitting in the middle of Fontenay inside his tank with a raincoat over the open turret to keep out the rain which was falling incessantly. He was speaking to Bde HQ on the air and the leading tank of A Squadron, John Semken himself had just gone past and up a very narrow street. No sooner had he passed than around the corner approaching from the opposite direction came a Tiger tank. Fortunately John Semken had an AP round in his 75mm which he released immediately followed by x (6?) others. Most of the shots hit the front of the tank but did not penetrate but eventually he scored one on the turret ring which made the crew bale out.

    SRY  26th c   lge-vertq.jpg

    No position is given for the CO (Christopherson) and that is an assumption made from a previous entry:

    X(?) had a conference with the Inf Bde and the gunners CP in order to make such a plan. He had to do this at Inf HQ in Fontenay which was under heavy mortar fire at the time

    sry 26 june a crop.jpg

    sry 26 june a-vertyuvi.jpg
  7. I was indeed fearing that this very reason was the only one behind the matching, by various authors, of identified commanders with individual Tigers!

    I gather that in the event such allocations were somewhat aphazard during the hectic days of the Battle of Normandy, what with crews and tanks being put out of action at an alarming (from the German side) rate, so I do not know that such a logic holds much water under the circumstances. It seems that the highest ranking officer just chose his mount first among the few still battle worthy, and that considerations of who was originally in which Kompanie did not mean anything anymore when just 3 (or 4) tanks remained in the entire outfit...

    To pursue this matter of who were the actual commanders of Tigers 114 & 334 at Fontenay, the Heimdal book states that these 2 tanks, together with the 3 Panthers captured intact at Rauray, were sent to the Gunners Park at Shoeburyness for testing. Has anyone been able to trace the reports of these tests, which must have included an incoming inspection with a thorough recording of the damage (or lack of it) observed on these tanks on arrival?

    We can see the many impacts on the photos of 114, but as Michael also pointed, 334 seems to exhibit no visible damage, which if confirmed would better fit Möbius being its commander (according to his own account) than Amselgruber – and vindicate the slightly disparaging wording in Sgt Birch's Recommendation for Award that the German crew of the Tiger he scared off with just two shots had 'deserted'!

  8. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    There is a report on the firing test on 3 Panthers and another on Tiger 334. The Panthers were not documented in any way other than for damage from hits and they even managed to swap the turrets on two of them.Tiger 114 was not documented and all we have are 6 photos of it being used as a test load for the Coles trailer being developed to move the Tortoise around and it exhibits damage which looks like it had been used for mining trials. It also features very briefly in a Technical Report on the Trailer which simply mentions it was easily moved around on winding hill-roads in Wales.
  9. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Dear LBD,

    Well, clearly we don't all agree. It is also rude to assume!

    It seems to me that there are several points that could usefully be clarified:

    1. At 1700, where were the SRY tanks south of Fontenay and why weren't they deployed to cover the main road north into Fontenay?
    2. Why does the WD state that John Semken was in the leading tank of A Sqn when David Render describes there being at least one troop (plus others) 500 yds south of Fontenay already.
    3. If a Tiger was knocked out in the northern sector of Fontenay at 1700 (ish) on 26 June how did it get there and is it's arrival recorded in any other British units war diary.
    4. If a Tiger was knocked out in the northern sector of Fontenay at 1700 (ish) on 26 June how did the crew get out, then (seemingly) blow their own demolition charges and then escape from a village despite the presence of infantry from 7 DWR?
    5. Why does the 7 DWR history record the final successful attack south to St. Nicholas Farm and beyond starting at 1550 hrs whereas the SRY seems to have it happening over an hour later?
    6. Who moved the Tiger?

    It would be interesting to see the MM recommendation for L/Cpl. Dodd of the 7 DWR.


  10. You mean this?

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  11. There's also Sgt Saunders' from the SRY, mentioning St Nicholas Farm, if it's any use.


    Attached Files:

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  12. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    That's great, thank you.

    In the DWR Regimental History they record Dodd's tank being a Panther but the details match up otherwise. I note that the tank is recorded knocked out in a "sunken road" which does match David Render's account of seeing the head of a German tank commander moving north along the road over the hedge from the field in which he and his troop were deployed. Of course there is then a worry about how a Tiger made it up past the Mark IV/Panther if it was indeed knocked out on a "sunken road"!

    There is also a mention of Padre Chase's MC for recovering 7 DWR wounded that morning from the open fields.

    Can you let me know how to find these medal citations? Are they on the UK National Archives website?


  13. Tom,

    Some (not all) WO 373 files are available for free download at TNA:


    Just scroll the right column until you find the one you want, for example WO 373/53, click it and you’ll get this page:

    then click “Details” to obtain this page:

    and click “Add to Basket”

    (if instead of this you get "Go to browse" under "This record has been digitised as part of multiple records", it means only the individual records with the watermark are available, and not the complete file)

    When you’ve finished shopping just check out and you’ll get the download links. One Ref is usually split into several sub-files because they are big.

    If you have the full Acrobat (not just Reader) software or any equivalent tool, you can then extract any number of pages you wish from the large pdf files.

    In order to easily find the Recommendation of a given individual inside the large pdf file, go to its webpage (by searching for "Recommendation for Award" plus his name and unit,and the webpage will give you the folio number(s) which you can then use to locate it witihin the large file.

    Reading the large files in sequence is also quite informative!

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  14. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    thanks again,


  15. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    This is how you demolish a road-blocker


    screenshot.2018-10-31 (3).jpg

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  16. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

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  17. Little Black Devil

    Little Black Devil Active Member

    Rude is not the right word to be honest. I am not assuming anything but every single argument or explanation I give has no credit for you. Thing is you refuse to give credit because it's easier to stand firm on a myth every time something new emerge from a source or new study about a subject.
    Anyway, I'll answer in a polite way though.

    1. The 7th DWR Infantry Bn eventually took the Ferme Saint-Nicolas (500m south of Fontenay on the road to Rauray) after a day of fighting and 2 attacks along with 'C' Squadron. The position was difficult to control. 'C' Sqn is on north east of the farm but the unit spent the whole day on the field.
    At 17.00 to 17.20 (time varies for a source to another), 'A' Sqn has received order from Lieutenant-Colonel S.Christopherson to carry on supporting 7th DWR to consolidate the position on the farm and 500 more hundred meters further south.
    2. SRY and most of the 8th Armoured Brigade units are stationed on Point 102 and Point 103 (north of Saint-Pierre - Fontenay). Most of the time, Armoured units left the battlefield at night to get back to their harbors to refill (gas, ammo etc). Any, check this out in the WD's but pts 102 and 103 are the locations of the harbors for armoured units of this Brigade.
    David Render (Troop Leader) and his troop (n°5 Troop), 3 Sherman in total, are there as liaison for the 'A' Sqn, scouting. They have to report any german movement in the area.
    So, when Semken is asked to get downtown Fontenay to reach la Ferme Saint-Nicolas, he has to drive from Point 102 through Fontenay to go further south to the Ferme St-Nicolas. Knowing the fact one out of his five Troops is there, searching for any German tank in order to avoid trouble to the main body of the Squadron.
    3. This sector ain't North of Fontenay, it's South-East of Fontenay.
    How did it get there?
    Quite easy actually, driving straight from Rauray where SS-Pz-Regt 12. HQ is stationed (in le Château de Rauray).
    7th DWR suffered a lot of casualties that day, there are no other unit involved in this action except 'C' Sqn SRY. And the Tiger destroyed two Sherman of this Squadron while carry on driving straight to the crossroad in south-east Fontenay.
    It's arrival recorded in any other British units war diary
    Only recorded in SRY WD + Semken recommendation (that's all...)
    4. The crew might have vanished. I don't know, never heart about it. They could have reach their own lines. Same question has been asked about the crew of the Panther KO in Bretteville-l'Orgueilleuse during the night of 8th to 9th June. Canadians mentioned one or two may have been killed or wounded but nobody knows really. No information in the Canadian archives or sources nor in German (12th SS) ones as well...
    And those demo charges? It's all about them... and what? What proof do you have about them? There's a WD, the one of the 756th Fd Coy that mentioned "1 Tiger Tank destroyed in Fontenay" as the unit has received order to clean the streets up in the eastern part of Rauray on June 28th...
    5. Because German defense has started to wake up as it's mentioned in the 49th Div HQ WD. And anyway the objective is not la Ferme Saint-Nicolas, the objective of the day is and remains RAURAY. So 'A' Sqn as fresh unit ('B' fought the day before with the 11th RSF and 'C' fought since the morning of this day).
    6. Really ? If you don't try to start thinking 756th Fd Coy RE is an option I can't do anything.
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  18. Maybe there were houses nearby not yet completely demolished, and the sappers took pity on their owners...

  19. "1 enemy tiger tk destroyed in FONTENAY" does not necessarily mean that 756 Fd Coy destroyed it themselves, although it is likely that if they found it already destroyed, they might have written it differently, maybe "1 enemy tiger tk found destroyed in FONTENAY", or "1 destroyed enemy tiger tk in FONTENAY". They would however have used the original wording if they had witnessed the destruction of the Tiger by someone else.

    756 Fd Coy is an option, but is just that. Additionally, I do not see the relevance of this particular point in the ongoing argument about who shot it when and where?

    On this latter issue, the only valid answer seems to be that we do not know for sure, and that there are too many unknown and/or unresolved conflicting parameters for us to decide which is the more probable option. And 'probable' does not mean 'proven'... :D

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some 24th L War Dairy.... (usually there are only a few lines in it for each day - but in describing the extra detail here it shows how complex and fluid everything was)

    25th June 1944 (There's a bit before this bit it continues)....

    Throughout the day the Regiment experienced very heavy and intense mortar fire on its positions and sustained casualties. ‘B’ Sqn on the right constantly engaged German Tanks seen moving 2000 – 3000 yards West of the position, while ‘C’ Sqn maintained its protective role on the left flank and engaged suitable targets in the area South and S.E of Fontenay.
    ‘A’ Sqn were responsible for the right rear of the position and also the road running East and West , previously described. One incident is worthy of record, in which Lieut. Hart of 4th Troop, ‘A’ Sqn observed three tanks in the village of Fontenay itself and succeeded in knocking one of them out. He describes the episode in his own words as follows:-

    Hervieu - 25/6/44 “ My troop was sitting astride the Fontenay – Juvigny road facing East when the CO of the Hallams came up to me and said that a Panther in the village of Fontenay was holding up his advance. I accordingly dismounted and went with him into the village where I saw this tank hidden by a wall of a house thus obscuring my view and preventing me from obtaining a good fire position. I went back to my tank and driving it into the village, knocked down the wall which was hiding the Panther. At this moment however, two more Panthers appeared just south of the road. I knocked one of them out and the other withdrew. Unfortunately in the meantime the original Panther had also withdrawn to position behind some trees, and I was unable to get a good shoot, so I went back to my original position.”

    Just before last light, all objectives having been reached and the infantry firmly consolidating their positions in Tessel Wood, the Regiment less ‘C’ Sqn, withdrew to a position just North of the Fontenay Road. ‘C’ Sqn were given the task of protecting the right flank and remained on the Western edge of the wood overnight. The Regiment in their position North of the road were forced to move further back into some orchards on the forward slope overlooking Fontenay, owing to some heavy and well directed enemy mortar fire which was causing casualties.

    Darkness finds the Regiment therefore in leaguer, and 1/4 Bn, KOYLI, ‘C’ Sqn, 24L, Recce Troop 24L and 6 MICs holding Tessel Wood Feature.

    Just before darkness, OC ‘C’ Sqn went one of his troops to cover an infantry patrol to the SE corner of the wood. The wood was found clear but the troop was attacked by three Panthers. A further troop was sent up and in the resultant battle one of the Panthers was destroyed for the loss of one of our tanks. The other Panthers withdrew after being repeatedly hit by our gun fire.

    Tessel Wood - 26/6/44 At 2230 hours some Panthers stalked ‘C’ Sqns position from the East, coming very quickly up hedgerows. The Sqn deployed into suitable concealed positions and switched all engines off. By the time the Panthers were within range it was too dark to use the sights. Finally, one Panther was blown up by one of ‘C’ Sqns tanks at a distance of only 25 yards. The Sqn opened fire on what tanks they could see but the darkness prevented any accuracy and the remainder of the Panthers slipped away. For the remainder of the night, the Sqn remained in close leaguer and at first light it was discovered that snipers had worked their way into the hedgerows round the position. The first hour was spent in getting them out with our machine gun fire. Meanwhile, at first light, the remainder of the Regiment moved up again to positions just north of Tessel Wood. The plan was for ‘A’ Sqn to exploit South Eastwards towards Le Manoir and Tessel Bretteville in support of the 12 KRRs. ‘B’ Sqn was to take up a protective position behind ‘A’ Sqn facing East while ‘C’ Sqn were to remain on the Western edge of Tessel Wood observing to the West.

    Fierce fighting went on throughout the day and the Regiment found it impossible to advance further than a few hundred yards due to the enclosed nature of the country East of Tessel Wood and the resultant complete lack of observation. ‘B’ Sqn engaged targets to the East and succeeded in destroying two Tigers. ‘C’ Sqn remained in observation and had little to report from the right flank apart from small packets of enemy infantry repeatedly penetrating the position, firing their machine guns and then making off.

    Tessel Wood - 26/6/44 It is difficult to describe the nature of the fighting in which ‘A’ Sqn engaged in their projected advance to Le Manoir, little by little the hedgerows were cleared to enable our infantry to take up their positions, but most of the day was spent in observing and engaging enemy tanks and SP guns in the area. A suitable picture of the fighting can be obtained by the following report given by one of ‘A’ Sqns Troop Sergeants.

    “ On Monday 26th June, at approx 0900 hours I was given orders to take 5th Troop down the road which runs to the East side of Tessel Wood. Telling my troop to follow me, I advanced down the road until I met Capt.Voller of the Recce Troop. He gave me orders to continue down the Road until I could cover the cross roads at 868654. To do this I had to get within 40 yards of it to obtain a clear view. At 1000 hours I spotted a German tank making its way towards the cross roads from West to East. I allowed it to get within 40 yards of the cross roads before I opened fire. The tank then moved S-Eastwards and finally stopped on the road South of my position. I again fired at it and the second shot set it on fire. In the meantime one of my tanks behind me reported that he could see another German tank, a Panther coming along the same road as the previous one, I traversed to 3 o’clock and saw it and fired but could not see whether I had hit it, as we were hit ourselves in the rear at the same time and had to evacuate the tank.”

    In the late afternoon it was decided to abandon this direction of attack as being unprofitable and the Regiment accordingly moved back and round to the left flank, leaving ‘C’ Sqn still in its positions on the Western side of Tessel Wood. On the left flank the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry were putting in an attack on Rauray. The Regiment moved up behind them in support but it was found to be unnecessary as the attack was going well and later in the evening the Regiment withdrew to a defensive position in the area Parc de Bois Londe.

    Parc de Bois Londe - 27/6/44 ‘C’ Sqn still on the Tessel Wood feature were relieved by ‘B’ Sqn in the early morning. The remainder of the Regiment remained in the Parc de Bois Londe area.

    Les Hauts Vents - 28/6/44 In the afternoon, Recce Tp moved out to the Tessel Wood feature and ‘B’ Sqn returned to the Regiment which moved to a fresh defensive position in the Les Hauts Vents area. Recce Tp maintained wireless touch with the Regiment in case the Regiment should be needed to engage the enemy counter attack on the Tessel feature. During the day, Officers and men of the Regiment took the opportunity of examining a Tiger and a Panther tank which had been captured intact by the Sherwood Rangers.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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