Rescuing a C squadron 24th Lancers tank in no-man’s-land Normandy June 1944

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts.' started by Ramiles, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Well-Known Member

    Rescuing a C squadron 24th Lancers tank in no-man’s-land Normandy June 1944

    I have the following account by my granddad (Tank commander in the 2nd tank of the 1st troop of “C” squadron 24th Lancers – at this point) and have only a vague idea of an approximate date, but hopefully it will be of interest anyhow. I've kept in the bit about the K.O'd Lancer tank, the tank ditch or railway line and the German in the orchard as this might locate it in the area of Putot-en-Bessin, however certain aspects of it are also at least to me reminiscent of the approach to Cristot (not the railway, the tank obstacle bit anyhow!), all the best, Rm.

    "Whoever was in the village knocked out one of our tanks on my left and then we came up against some sort of obstacle, might have been a tank ditch or railway line about 200 yards from the village and that distance was covered by orchards. On my tanks I had kept the 0.5 machinegun mounted on top of the turret, these guns were a nuisance. The commanders had too much to do to shoot machine guns. However I kept mine and it was ready to fire. Without any target in sight I sprayed the apple trees with a nice long burst and a German dropped down. This surprised and fascinated me, I watched him pick himself up and with his arms raised come running towards me, no more than 30 yards. Suddenly he hit a single strand of wire about chest high and fell base over apex backwards; however he picked himself up…

    …and came on. I had hit him in the right hand. I signalled for him to pass behind me and away he went (later I enquired and was told he was alright and that he was in the bag). At this point we were told to withdraw so we pulled back only to hear on the radio that one tank had stalled and wouldn’t start, I expect the driver was punching the panic button, out in the open with a stalled engine can be nasty. I knew exactly where he was so came up on the air and said not to worry I’d pull him in. Giving my driver instructions to turn and be on his toes for a while we doubled back. Looking back now it’s queer to think that we were pulling each other to pieces with jokes while we hitched up the tanks in full view of the Germans, but I find that the immediate problem is the one that counts not what might happen. Needless to say that tank* started up right away and gave no more trouble during its very short life."

    Nb. Rm. This tank* was I surmise the tank of Sgt. Taylor (nickname Spud) who was the Tank commander in the 2nd Tank of the 3rd troop of “C” squadron 24th Lancers. Sgt. Taylor was wounded in the arm a few days after this and repatriated to the U.K. He came back into service after his wound healed after the 24th Lancers had been disbanded at the end of July 1944 and went I believe into the first troop C squadron of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry B.L.A . As he and gd. seem to have kept in touch.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Well-Known Member

    I thought I would see if there was some stock footage of a Sherman tank pulling another Sherman tank around and found this:

    M4 Sherman Tank towed by another Sherman at edge of river during Reconnaissance Patrol in Korea. (Stock Footage)

    "Reconnaissance Patrol in Korea. M4 Sherman Tank towed by another Sherman at edge of river. Bogie wheels of M4 Sherman Tank bogged down in water. United States soldiers remove equipment from tank. Location: Korea. Date: March 19, 1951."



    Not perhaps the "best example" with which to compare to the above (post#1) - but I just wanted to see the process of hitching it up and how long it might have taken someone to manually do this there, as well as the process and speed of getting it moving etc.

    By the sounds of gd's account "Needless to say that tank started up right away" - was this perhaps due to the towed tank's movement effectively enabling a push start?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jump_start_(vehicle)#Push_starting

    (i.e. via cut'n'paste - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jump_start_(vehicle)#Push_starting )

    Or perhaps the engine was flooded - which the tow out someway helped to clear?
    Flooded engine - Wikipedia

    Not quite sure how reliable the Sherman engines were, but in general most of the accounts I have seen suggest that they were pretty good, and did not often tend to mechanically break down.

    All the best,

    Rm.

    Ps. By coincidence I saw that there was another example of a Sherman that had "stalled" to recount, this one in NHL (starting on page 91) and dated 11/6/1944. (Page 92) A low battery was presumed to have been the cause there. Captain Kenneth Gill's tank went to the rescue there, and the affected tank seems to have been one of those in the 24th L Regimental H.Q. Fighting troop. The tow rope was attached "within seconds" and the tank was "pulled off a bank" which "started it", then within a few seconds the rope was unhitched. All of which happened during one of the German attacks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Well-Known Member

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