68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

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Karl Heidenreich
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68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:46 am

An interesting action full of controversy: a week from D Day the British were pushing Monty's plan to get Caen so they had to take Villers Bocage town. A full armored Brigade with the support of 60 tanks (Shermans, Cromwells and Fireflies) got there on July 13th.
The Germans had portions of a Heavy Tank Battalion consisting in Tigers I and PZ IV. One of them under the command of the tank ace Michael Wittman who conducted what could be the most famous and lethal piece of tank combat in WWII history.
This combat has been regarded as indecesive or a plain German operational victory. The town was only taken on August 4th after the general German retreat. However during the June 13th combats the allies lost 200 men and 25 tanks against some 23 German men lost and 12 tanks damaged or destroyed. Wittman himself is credited with the single handed destruction of 14 tanks, 2 AT and 15 vehicles in 15 minutes. Allied historians as Carlo D' Este regards this as "one of the most amazing engagements in the history of armoured warfare" ; Max Hastings calls it "one of the most devastating single-handed actions of the war"; and Anthony Beevor claims it was "one of the most devastating ambushes in British military history". Hubert Meyer goes even further, attributing Operation Perch's failure solely to Wittmann's "courage, his tactical and technical abilities and [...] the valor, the expertise and the camaraderie of his Panzer crew". Others are moderate in supporting this claims or completely are against them, even German military historians. However the very important Schneider analysis is favorable in the handling of the combat by Wittman.
Anyway, 68 years ago History was being done.
I think those interested may enjoy this links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spTd0BWsANo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6np6l_7d ... ure=relmfu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6np6l_7d ... ure=relmfu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exF1YMKfzTg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_2PrPEmmqk
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:03 am

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby alecsandros » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:19 am

Hi Karl,
great battle there,
I guess it's one of those actions that made Tigers legendary ?

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:01 pm

Alex,

By June 1944 the Tigers had already been in combat for a couple of years, since 1942. They were already involved in operations such as the third battle of Kharkov and Kursk where despite the outcome of it the Tigers gave a show of battlefield proficiency. For example at Prokhorokva the Germans lost 6 tanks and some 60 damaged whilst the russian "allies" lost 334 tanks destroyed and 420 damaged. I think Wittman was also there.
According to US Colonel Glantz it was in the East, and not in the West where the burden of History was decided and we must acknowledge that when Ike's boys hit the Normandy beaches the Russians where already pushing the Germans back. The main idea of the western front was to pin down as much troops as possible to let the communists defeat Hitler (and maybe to take as much eastern europe territory as possible).
When Villers Bicage happened the Tigers were already legendary, it was only confirmed against western forces. There are other episodes even more dramatic where the Tigers took 400 Shermans in a single action.

Regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby alecsandros » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:32 pm

Yeap, pretty much,
But many Allied soldiers didn't encounter the Tiger until Normandy, and I guess V-Bocage was a nice opportunity to get to know each other :D

My opinion is that Schneider is a bit harsh on Wittman. He says that Wittman's attack was wrong - and that only after the entire heavy ank battalion was assembled the attack should have proceded. However, this would take time, and the British positions may have been reinforced in that time.

The damage done by a single tank pretty much speaks for itself... 12 tanks or so singlehandedly? And allmost 30 in the entire day, after the rest of the battallion attacked... Pretty good.

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby frontkampfer » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:53 am

The allies knew of the Tiger having come up against it in North Africa and Italy. The case was the same. The reputation of the 88 and its reach was always in the front of their minds. Granted, there was Allied numerical superiority but who wants to be one of the many victims of a Tiger while the rest pack tries to take it from the side or rear, especially if air cover or arty was not on call.

Finally, saw accounts that when Wittman started coming down the road shooting up the column the British crews at the other end of the road were starting to bail out of their vehicles before he got to them. One tank commander pulled his tank into a side road or yard and Wittman passed him by. He then pulled out trying for a rear shot which did not work. He was blown out of the tank turret and was lucky to survive!
"I will not have my ship shot out from under my ass!"

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:39 am

frontkampfer wrote:The allies knew of the Tiger having come up against it in North Africa and Italy.

I know;
But many of the divisions that landed in Normandy did not engage previously in North Africa and ITaly.

If I understand correctly, one Cromwell fired 2 shots from 50 meters away, both shells ricocheting from the front hull. Good Lord !

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby steffen19k » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:10 pm

To paraphrase a favorite song...

10,20,30,40,50 & more,

The Bloody Tank Baron was rolling up the score...

Hundreds of men died trying end the spree of the Bloody Tank Baron of German-eeee...

Michael Wittman probably deserved to have his Tiger painted up in the same livery as Von Richthofen's Triplane.
Here is everything I know about war: Someone wins, Someone loses, and nothing is ever the same again. Here is everything I know about life: The only certainties are death and taxes.
The enemy of freedom are those who proclaim only they can uphold it.

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby frontkampfer » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:12 am

It wasn't even his tank. It was one that was available and he took it. His gunner Bobby Wohl was very good at his job!
"I will not have my ship shot out from under my ass!"

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Re: 68th anniversary of Villers Bocage combat

Postby aurora » Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:45 pm

Early on the 8th August,Battle Groups Waldmuller and Krause of 12th SS Panzer drove into action around FALAISE. It was amidst the fierce fighting which had developed that Hauptmann Michael Wittman,the German hero of Villers-Bocage; and one of the greatest tank aces of the war;at last met his end- in the thick, concentrated shellfire from a group of Canadian Shermans.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim


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