A Tiger in Fontenay-le-Pesnel !

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

  1. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The book Major Cotterell at Arnhem has a chapter on his ABCA War article of his time with a tank crew at Fontenay le Pesnel. He took the role of bow gunner in a Bde HQ Sherman that initially accompanied B Sqn SRY before switching to to C Sqn SRY in the late afternoon. I don't think it is a full transcript as there are author interjections but there are a couple of Tiger references:

    25 June: coming upon an infantry anti-tank gun and detachment: "The infantry men pointed out through a gap in the hedge a German Tiger tank engaged in towing a fellow Tiger which had been knocked out." Cotterell's tank got a couple of shots off at - one assumes - the lead vehicle with a possible hit on the suspension and a definite but otherwise unspecified hit.

    26 June: the author says "Around lunchtime, he called Anthony [Cotterell] up to see a Tiger tank. There was a little square yellow box of turret showing just to the right of a pylon", 300 yards away behind a hedge.The services of a nearby Firefly were obtained but the fun was spoiled when it was realised that the Tiger had already been KO'd.
    Tom OBrien likes this.
  2. Excellent find idler! The plot thickens! Maybe the towed KO'd Tiger is the one later photographed in Fontenay? At the very least this shows there were Tigers in the area as early as on 25 June.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  3. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    I always believed the best possible solution (one that fits most of the versions) would be Semken turning a corner being startled by a Tiger and instantly firing at it-not realising it was already abandoned and blown up.
    The time/date of these pics would be very useful

    Panther   Fontenay v.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Unfortunately, there isn't enough information to work out Cotterell's movements.

    Another puzzle is how the Germans managed to find time to unhook the lame Tiger, set the charges and get away in the middle of the battle.
  5. I wonder how we could interpret the fact that on the rear view of the Tiger in Fontenay (as posted by Michael in post #9), the engine deck covers are piled on the ground next to the tank, whereas the tracks are nowhere to be seen:
    Tiger Fmmmmm.jpg

    It might mean that the Tiger was first towed and/or pushed to its current position (minus both its tracks, which might thus have been the original cause of its abandon) and then blown up.

    Or maybe the covers, already unhinged by the demolition blast, simply fell off when the tank was pushed into the corner.

    Another detail is interesting: both exhaust covers are deformed into what looks very much like the contours of a dozer blade, which would confirm that it was pushed into this corner by a dozer rather than by a tank or another type of heavy duty vehicle.

  6. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Any trackless tank has been moved from the position in which it was stopped. That is a given. A tank that is scrapped in its original location will still have bits of track under the road-wheels.
    There is a wall in front of the Tiger so it could not have been towed there. It must have been pushed in.
  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Gentlemen this has become a game of ping pong with a rally that can never end. It is a feature of small but savage actions that nobody, not even the participants, can be absolutely clear what happened. I'm reminded of when I wrote my dissertation some years ago I analysed an action in front of Kut in WW1. I had the Official History, the battalion war diary of one of the Indian Army units that played a major part, the report of a war correspondent (who was also a trained historian of some repute) who had accompanied the attack and the personal diary of a staff officer who participated. Three of these had been written up on the same evening and they all differed markedly from the Official History - however they all differed from each other as well. I had had the benefit of visiting the location some years before I did my analysis and the locations described rang true but who reached which location, in what order etc all varied. I had to come to the conclusion that we will never be sure what happened and even if we could summon the dead back with their memories intact we still wouldn't. I rather fancy the same applies to Fontenay-les- Pesnel
    ecalpald and Ramiles like this.
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY


    Sherman Firefly vs. Tiger (Normandy 1944) - Stephen A Hart (Osprey Paperback – 10 Sep 2007)
    - focuses quite a lot on Wittman, it is part of Osprey's "Duel" series. And studies the various stories / histories of that event in a similar way.

    e.g. Osprey Duel Books - Osprey Publishing

    Incidentally ;-) It does have IWM B6155 on p21 - referencing the Zimmerit paste (to protect them from infantry delivered magnetic mines)



    And the IWM "attached" card/notes has...

  9. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The above Tiger has burned so the number is missing and the location is not recorded. It has lost the RH sprocket/track and has a mix features that would make it easy to pick out in a line-up. Despite that nothing is known about it other than this and another pic taken at the same time. The photographer was one of 3 who were all present in Rauray together (their photos show common subjects/events) but he wandered away from the others and only he saw and photographed this Tiger. There is a strike dead centre of the upright hull front (masked by the headlight) and it might be this Tiger from the Liaison Letter:

    Next he took on a Tiger at 1400 yds just outside Rauray. He fired 6
    shots of which 4 hit and the last one brewed it up. Tp. Cmdr. thought he had
    missed it and only hit the wall behind. Sjt. Dring's next shot brought the
    sparks and the remark "You don't see a brick wall spark like that".
    This tank has been seen and is much shot up. It now has one scoop in front
    vertical plate, five penetrations in rear, four strikes with no penetrations in rear,
    plus a scoop and one plate of engine hatch smashed.

    The 9 hits in the rear is puzzling
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
    Ramiles likes this.
  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I'm sure most of us already realise that accounts can be conflicting. But that'll always be the general point in favour of discussing varying merits of source material: to point out inconsistencies, in order to make better sense of what happened.

    We've been a little shy of any debate on the forum of late. Makes this place a little duller.
    stolpi likes this.
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    As far as the infantry are concerned, the threat appears to be to the left. That's consistent with the Tiger withdrawing (they don't retreat, obviously) and presenting its rear to the oncoming Tommies.
    I take it no-one's been able to put the shots in order and trace Handford's route from a known point to the Tiger?

    2nd Kensingtons' war diary is online and offers:

    26 June:
    28 June:
    2nd Battalion, Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment War Diary - June 1944 - 70 Brigade
  12. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

  13. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    A70 58-12 is Fontenay 26-6-44 but not online. It is the first minute of this AP film

    The start is the men at the top blue arrow on the map above. They are coming in on that road The wrecked M4 is just visible directly in front of the carrier at 0:20.
  14. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    this will help with map numbers. For 875 you start at the '87' line and move right. For 663 you would start at the '66' line and move up.
  15. This whas not my point Michael. I was not trying to reinvent the (road)wheel. :)

    My point was to try and see whether the details on that photo could tell us more about at what stage the Tiger was scuttled and by what veh it might have been pushed...

  16. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I'd be happier if I could see a wall in the photo!
  17. A surviving Tiger found in Fontenay-le-Pesnel!
    Ghislaine ULEYN (TIGER)

    Sorry for the bad joke guys, I just couldn't resist :D
    Little Black Devil likes this.
  18. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    We might see a wall if we find out exactly where it is.
  19. karlmcd

    karlmcd Junior Member

    Who did David Render say were the others on 114?
    I'd be interested to know as I may have identified them myself.

  20. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    I think that you might have got the 66 + 67 lines one too far up on your map! :D

    That confused the hell out of me. ;)



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