A story of 105 AT Reg't action - I'm stumped

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Chris C, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    Bryan Perrett's "Allied Tank Destroyers" (Osprey) describes the following incident in Italy:

    "During this same period an engagement took place when sharp eyes in one of 314 Battery’s Archers detected a Tiger and the 17-pounder lashed back. The round missed narrowly, but the crack of heavy, high-velocity shot is instantly recognizable, and the German tank commander at once swung his vehicle out of sight behind a building. Unfortunately for him the Tiger was spotted by a Lysander Air OP, which signalled its whereabouts. The Archer fired again and the 17 pounder shot slammed straight through the building and the tank’s thin side armour as well. It was with considerable pleasure that the gunners inspected the wreck some days later."

    I haven't been able to corroborate this yet. I have the WD's of 105 AT Regiment and didn't find anything. 314 Battery first received Archers in October 1944, but didn't see action in them over the winter. At the end of February 105 AT Regiment's batteries were split up and 314 Battery came under the command of 13 AT Regiment. I have that WD as well, but also, still no mention. I would have thought that taking out a Tiger might be worth a note.

    There are also some details of the story which I'm unsure of. First of all, I don't know how Lysander Air OPs were used, but presumably they communicated with the CRA of the division? If so it seems like it would have taken a number of radio "hops" to communicate the information to the Archer. Did Lysanders ever "net" their radios to more specific unit bands?

    Secondly, surely the Tiger's side armour wasn't exactly thin - I wonder if there's any chance this was a Panther instead of a Tiger.

    But, on the other hand - Allied Tank Destroyers has a photo of 314 Battery with its Archers from after the hostilities, so he must have had some additional source of information - possibly a veteran of the unit? I just wish I knew what that source was.
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello Chris
    at that time I'd guess that the AOP was an Auster not Lysander. But just a guess.

    Juha
     
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  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I'm a clot as far as armour etc goes, so just going by language alone - perhaps this was intended to mean thinner side armour, ie relative to frontal ?
     
  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Yeah, that could be. It was somewhat thinner.
     
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Anyway, if anyone has any ideas on where I might hunt for more information, please post your thoughts. :)
     
  6. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    There were only two Tiger battalions in Italy (504 and 508) the latter withdrawing from Italy in February 1945. The last one from 504 lost to enemy action was on 18th December 1944.

    I would say the tank is question was highly likely not a Tiger, but probably a Panzer IV.
     
    Chris C likes this.
  7. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Ooh, that's very helpful! Thanks, Gary! (I assume that none from the unit that withdraw in February lost any tanks in January as they would not have seen any action?)

    I hadn't thought of trying to research things from the German side...
     
  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Gary, George Forty's Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II says that the 508th handed over its remaining Tigers in February to 504th and that 504th lost its last Tiger on April 28th '45. Is this book now out of date?
     
  9. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Air OP and tanks rang a slight bell, and I found this reference;

    From page 238 of "The development of artillery tactics and equipment" the War Office 1950; The Air OP in the pursuit

    "Throughout this period the versatility of the Air OP had continued to grow. It had already been used to shoot medium artillery against the enemy delaying SP guns and the efficiency of this system was now increased by the addition to the partnership of a SP anti-tank gun. The latter would be tuned in on the Air OP net , so that it could be sent to intercept the enemy after he had been flushed from cover by the gun fire and thus make sure of the kill."

    footnote - RCA, 1 Cdn Corps, rpt on ops 25Aug-28Oct 1944

    Gary
     
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  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Fantastic! So that knocks out that objection to the story. Thanks, Gary :)

    Have any books been written on air OPs? They're pretty interesting...
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Unarmed into Battle is their 'unit' history but there are a number of memoirs and squadron histories out there as well.
     
    Chris C likes this.
  12. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Chris,

    Below is the list of schw. Panzer Abteilung 504 losses. Most were destroyed by crews after running out of fuel or being unrecoverable...although bizarrely one was knocked out by German infantry on 15th April! First column is losses, second inventory of tanks.

    There were no losses for schw. Panzer Abteilung 508 in November, December, January or February.

    504.jpg
     
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks very much for that! Is that from one of the "Tigers in Combat" volumes? I take it that the first column is losses and the second is remaining strength.

    Actually that is VERY interesting, from the point of view of having read vaguely about Tigers breaking down or not being able to get sufficient fuel, to see almost 3/4 of them falling to that sort of failure.
     

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