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Panzers & Armored Divisions & Tank War

Panzers, Crews, Armored Divisions and Tank Warfare.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: RC panzers, Russian tanks, German tanks, WW2 Tanks: T34, Panther, King Tiger, Nazi Uniforms, Medals: Most Decorated Soldiers, Military Models, British Tanks.

The P26/40 Tank Was the Italian T-34
Italy was not renown in World War II for its tanks, which tended to be light and poorly used on the battlefield. But the Italian arms industry did produce interesting designs, some quite formidable. The Carro Armato P26/40 was a rare example of an Italian medium tank—the Italian army referred to it as a heavy tank, as it was heavy in comparison to Italy`s other vehicles, but it was roughly similar to America`s M4 Sherman, the Soviet T-34 and the German Panzer IV medium tanks.

German Tiger tank veterans give their side at special exhibition set for Bovington's Tank Museum
GERMAN Tiger tank veterans who fought the Allies in World War Two received special packages from Hitler himself, they have recalled. Speaking ahead of an exhibition set for The Tank Museum, Bovington, the former Tiger tank crewmen revealed how they were made to feel superior to other soldiers in the German army. One veteran, Wilhelm Fischer, said: `Every month I got four packages from Adolf Hitler - they had chocolate in, cigarettes, sausage, we even got cured sausage every now and then. It was only the tanks. The infantry didn`t get anything, they just lay in the mud.` The Tiger Tank Collection exhibition, with the German veterans` stories, includes the museum`s own Tiger 1, its two King Tigers and its Jagdtiger. There will also be an example of the German Elefant, a 65-tonne tank destroyer which is back on European soil for the first time since the end of the war.

Alone in a burning tank in WWII, Herbert Hoover Burr kept fighting
Herbert Hoover Burr, a Kansas City house painter, went to Europe in World War II and received the Medal of Honor and several other medals. After Burr's tank was hit, he got in the driver's seat and took out a German 88 mm antitank gun by running it over, and then he led medics to wounded comrades.

German Panzer Ace Otto Carius, who won the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, passes away at 92
Otto Carius, a World War II German panzer ace credited with destroying more than 150 enemy tanks, mostly on the Eastern Front, has died at 92. He was drafted in 1940 as an infantryman and volunteered for a tank unit, according to his autobiography, "Tigers in the Mud." Eventually promoted to 1st lieutenant, he was wounded multiple times and received several awards, including the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. In the foreward to his book's 2003 edition, Carius defended his service to Nazi Germany, saying combat troops shouldn't be painted with the broad brush of guilt.

Remains of Kurt Knispel, the highest scoring WWII tank ace, located in a grave the Czech Republic
The remains of the world's greatest ever tank ace have been found in a grave the Czech Republic. The remains of Kurt Knispel were found by historians at the Moravian Museum in Vrbovec lying in an unmarked grave for German soldiers at a cemetery in Znojemsko. With 168 confirmed and 195 unconfirmed kills Knispel was by far the most successful tank ace of the Second World War, even knocking out a T-34 at 3,000 metres. He fought in every type of German tank as loader, gunner and commander, and was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class, after destroying his fiftieth enemy tank and the Tank Assault Badge in Gold after more than 100 tank battles.

Hobart's 79th Armoured Division at War: Invention, Innovation and Inspiration by Richard Doherty
For anyone with an interest in British armour of World War II, then the 79th Armoured Division, often just referred to as "The Funnies", will be a well known organisation. By the end of the war, as the book points out, the division fielded over 1400 tracked armoured vehicles, far more that the little over 300 in a standard British Armoured Division at the time. Using lots of personal recollections, the book tells the stories of the involvment of the Funnies in the Normandy landings of 1944, going on to their use in liberating the Channel Parts and the gun positions on the Pas de Calais, then going on to work in Holland and finally Germany and the Rhine Crossing.

Freeman Barber served as a gunner and radio operator on Sherman tank
Freeman Barber recalls his time in a WWII Sherman tank: "Only the tank commander with his head popped up from the top hatch knows what's going on." The 4-man crew - tank commander, driver, assistant driver, and gunner - used an unreliable intercom system to communicate. Even when it did work the noise level forced the crew to improvise: "We tied a rope to the driver and steered him like a horse. Pull left to go left, right to go right, pull back to stop, and kick him in the back to go forward." Sherman tankers soon realized they were out-gunned by the heavy German panzers: "Their shells ripped right through us. Ours just bounced off the panzers. The 88s were also deadly. Thankfully, our speed and maneuverability saved a lot of lives."

Amos Cambron drove a Sherman tank and avoided snipers in World War II
After Amos Cambron was drafted, a captain at Camp Cook took a look at him and said: "You got long legs, we're going to make you a motorcycle rider." At Pine Camp, N.Y., the U.S. Army took away his motorcycle and put him in a tank and assigned him to the 5th Armored Division... At Utah Beach, Cambron's tank just made it ashore, as waves rocked the LST and water filled the tank. He put the pedal to the metal and got it on solid ground, just before a shell blew up the LST. Later he was filling the tank with high-octane fuel when a sniper fired at him. Cambron dived for a trench, ducking from the sniper alongside another GI, who told he was going to take out the sniper. The GI rose up for a look and got a bullet in the head.

American WWII tank commander Bill Pospisil recalls advancing into Nazi Germany with the 3rd Army
Bill Pospisil, who was assigned to a specialized unit of the 748th Tank Battalion which developed tank night-fighting tactics, rose to the rank of sergeant and became a tank commander. Pospisil said Sherman tank commanders were well aware of the odds they faced if they engaged German tanks: "We knew they had a better tank than we did, and they had a better gun than we did. If those Germans would have had the money and the materials we had available in the U.S., we never could have whipped them." The combat risks caught up to Pospisil in April 1945 during the fight for the city of Neumarkt: "We were at an intersection, and there was another tank a block away, and a German 88 got us both."

Henry Metelmann: German tank driver who fought at Stalingrad before turning peace activist
Henry Metelmann, who has passed away at the age of 88, fought with the Wehrmacht during the second world war, but later became a communist and peace activist in Britain. He served in the 22nd Panzer division at the Battle of Stalingrad. The shock of that defeat, and the long retreat out of the Soviet Union across eastern Europe, opened his eyes to the reality of nazism and led him on a lifelong journey of atonement.

Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions 1939-1945 : An Essential Tank Identification Guide
"Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions" - a guide to Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions - is a good groundwork for any military modeler. In addition to the unit histories, the book covers insignia and the equipment that Panzer divisions had at these various times. Illustration includes WWII photographs and colour profiles of the different bits of kit that they used at different times.

Curtis Grubb Culin III invented WWII "Tank Tusks" to break through anti-tank obstacles and hedgerows
Curtis Grubb Culin III invented the item that helped Allied tanks plow through the German anti-tank obstacles and the hedgerows of Nazi-occupied Normandy. He devised a modification to go on the front of the Sherman tank, enabling it to drive through the hedgerows - instead of going over the hedgerows and revealing the tank's vulnerable underside. Sgt. "Bud" Culin developed the modification, demonstrated them to his captains, and then saw his plans spread to over half of the American tanks. Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley stated it would revolutionize warfare, and ordered as many "Culin Cutters" as possible be made.

The Kangaroos: 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment
Jim is a gentleman who doesn't speak much about what took place over half a century ago when he was sent into a strange and harsh world 4,000 miles from his home, a world at war. Jim and his comrades in the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment (1CACR, a specialised armoured unit equipped with Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers) are the last living element of a noteworthy chapter in Canada's military history. Jim is a Canadian Kangaroo, a WWII veteran who served in the only fighting regiment in Canada's history that was formed, went into battle and was disbanded, without ever setting foot on Canadian soil.

Documentary film claims: Joe Ekins knocked out Michael Wittman and his Tiger tank
Evidence has emerged which shows gunner Joe Ekins fired the shot which ended the reign of terror of the Black Baron - Nazi Germany's most feared tank gunner Michael Wittmann. Historians with Battlefield History TV spent two years researching "Wittmann v Ekins: Death of a Panzer Ace". They say Ekins was the only gunner within range of the Black Baron's Tiger tank - and his Sherman Firefly tank was only one fitted with a gun which could take out the Tiger tanks. The Black Baron was a Nazi war hero and household name in Adolf Hitler's Third Reich after taking out 138 Allied tanks and 132 anti-tank guns.

A Marine Corps amphibious tank was his first vehicle
When the son of an Arkansas small farmer found himself in the driver's seat of a Marine Corps amphibious tank – the first vehicle he had ever driven – the excitement was unparalleled. The year was 1944 and Eldon Wheeler was 17yo, and the anger towards the Japanese unrestrained. "I was thrilled," he recalls, of the amphibious training with the 2nd Marine Division. "I just wanted to know what (the tank) could do. Man, I'd find the roughest terrain I could get and try to wreck the thing." He recalls the first day in combat. He maneuvered his tank from the landing ship and ... as the tank climbed up on the sand in Okinawa, it came under fire.

Photos of camouflaged WW2 tanks and military vehicles -thread in Axis History Forum
Photographs of camouflaged World War II tanks and military vehicles thread in Axis History Forum.

Colonel Roy Moss commanded a squadron of the Churchill Crocodile flame-thrower tanks
Colonel Roy Moss commanded a squadron of the Churchill Crocodile flame-thrower tanks in World War 2 and won a Military Cross and an American Bronze Star. Moss, commissioned as a captain into 141st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps, was one of the key commanders of the famous "Playboys" squadron, so named after it had 7 days' leave in Antwerp whilst the rest of the regiment was deployed. His squadron was equipped with one of Major-General Sir Percy Hobart's modified tanks. Under Hobart's leadership, these "Funnies" (as the specialized armoured vehicles were called) were built from October 1943 to undertake tasks that were outside the scope of the normal equipment.

Led Soldiers - World War II diary posted online
Led Soldiers re-creates the authentic diaries a member of the tank regiment, the 15th /19th King's Royal Hussars. These diaries present a day-by day account of Douglas Mayman's conscription, induction and military training, leading up to his experiences under fire as his regiment battled their way through France, Belgium, Holland and into Nazi Germany. The Led Soldiers blog consists of day-by-day entries taken from the diaries and covering a period of 18 months - The last entry Mayman made in his war diary was on 21st April 1945. The diaries are also available in book "Led Soldiers".

Sherman tank driver Don Nelson - 714th Tank Battalion, 12th Armored Division
64 years ago Don Nelson climbed aboard a Sherman tank for the ride of his life. 5 months later his tankcrew had made history by fighting their way across Nazi Germany and leading General George Patton's drive to the Rhine River. In spite of many close calls, Nelson survived WWII without injury, but he lost his best friend along the way. "Herrlisheim we'll never forget, because that's where we took a beating." Intelligence said there was a small German force, in reality there was two panzer divisions. Later the 12th Armored was loaned to Patton's Third Army. "They called us the Mystery Division, because we had to take all our insignia off of our tanks..."

M4 Sherman tank commander Cecil Taylor - 740th Tank Battalion
The morning fog had reduced visibility to near zero as the M-4 Sherman tank commanded by Cecil Taylor crossed the Rhine River on a pontoon bridge near Siegen, Germany. He knew bridge crossings were risky, particularly when German 88mm artillery pieces were in range. As Taylor's tank reached the far side of the river, the visibility was so bad he had no choice but to stick his head out of the tank's turret. "They trained us to stay buttoned up, but I had to find out where we were, and there was no other way to do it." Almost as soon as Taylor's head appeared, a German artillery shell exploded, sending shrapnel through his face and neck.

Nicholas Wide: Fighting 88mm anti-tank guns with driverless Sherman tank
Nicholas Wide, a troop leader with C Squadron of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, won a Military Cross in action at La Rivière, Gold Beach on D-Day+1. Sent on ahead of the squadron, his Sherman tank was hit twice by 88mm anti-tank gun near Audrieu railway station. His driver and co-driver were killed, but the tank moved on, out of control, nearing a railway cutting. Despite all this Wide engaged the enemy gun with high-explosive shells. Just before the cutting rest of the tank crew bailed out, making their way back to their squadron. Wide ruefully recalled his colonel's enthusiastic reassurance that they would have a new Sherman tank for him by morning.

Battle tanks: Obsolescent or still important - Lessons from World War II
Even after the Nazi blitzkrieg victories, the use of battle tanks was badly understood by the Allied militaries. British generals attempted to use tanks as independent "land cavalry" forces - As a result, tanks fell victim to German 88mm guns. Bernard Montgomery was the first Allied commander to integrate the use of tanks with artillery and infantry, as the German blitzkrieg generals Erich von Manstein and "Hurrying" Heinz Guderian had done. A classic example of the abuse of tanks was Herman Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army at Stalingrad in 1942. Hoth's previously invincible tanks were destroyed by General Vassily Chuikov's 62nd Army in close quarters fighting in the ruins.

Stolen World War II tank - Bulgarian army major, 2 Germans arrested   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Bulgaria's authorities apprehended two Germans and a Bulgarian army major over illegally taking a vintage Maybach tank. In November the group dug up the old German battle tank from the time of the World War II, put in the ground near the southern Bulgarian border in order to be used as a stationary gun. In December they attempted take another buried up Maybach near the town of Yambol but the authorities stepped in. Military experts said there are few tanks of the same type in the world still outside the military museums and the raiders could gain a good profit by selling the machines to collectors.

Tank veteran's memories
Louis Baczewski keeps his faded WWII tank driver's license with him all the time. His memories are tied to it. On Veterans Day, he dons his U.S. Army dog tags and wears them proudly, remembering a younger man who achieved the rank of sergeant and drove a tank with the 3rd Armored Division, 33rd Armored Regiment, D Company. He survived the Battle of the Bulge when many others didn't, including his tank commander - and his assistant driver got killed by a German sniper. During the Battle of the Bulge his unit lost 15 battle tanks. The entire 3rd Armored Division lost 163 light and medium tanks. He saw a tank in front of his explode, burning the men inside to death.

World War II Sherman tank gunner   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Ross Parsons operated both the 17-lb big gun and a 300 Browning machine gun - and he was one of the fortunate ones. Many of his army comrades lie in military cemeteries, victims of World War II tank and infantry battles of 1945. His battle tank, a Sherman, never got hit. "We were very lucky." The push into Nazi Germany started in Feb. of 1945. The German resistance stiffened as they pushed for the Rhine River. They fought through two forests, the Reichswald and the Hochwald, facing artillery and even naval guns mounted on rail cars. "That Hochwald was a dirty business. They shelled us with 10 inch naval guns. It was pretty hard on the infantry."

Veteran recalls the Normandy Invasion - Amphibious Sherman tank   (Article no longer available from the original source)
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, Stanley Maher was in a life and death struggle. He was an Intelligence Regimental Non Commissioned Officer for the Fort Garry Horse 10th Canadian Armed Regiment during the amphibious phase of the Normandy invasion. "I was put into a Sherman tank that had been rigged with a snorkel, so ... it could roll along the bottom and still breathe, but it could only go in 8 feet of water." The Allied ships pulled as close to the beaches as possible, opened up their bellies to let dozens of tanks roll into enemy waters. "The ramp opened up, we hit the bottom of the ocean and the next thing I knew water was pouring into the tank from everywhere..."

Neville Smith: wargames with RC panzers [scale model of a WWII tank]
Neville Smith has spent $11,000 on 11 radio-controlled tanks to use in scaled-down World War II themed battles. His tanks range from the famous German Tiger 1 to the American Sherman. Each 1/16 scale model costs $1000-$2000 and takes weeks to assemble. "I guess the fact you can shoot one another and play games with the tanks won me over." When he isn't assembling tanks Smith spends hours fashioning toy soldiers and artificial trees to use on the battlefield. Those come in handy at gatherings of radio-control tank lovers. The group was formed by Smith and has 20 members throughout New Zealand. Auckland enthusiasts meet regularly to battle their tanks in wargames.

Drive tanks at Europe's only "Panzer School"
The lanes around the tank school in the Brandenburg countryside bear huge track incisions. Eager tank crews slide through the narrow hatches of vehicles with armour plating. Surveying the scene co-owner Axel Heyse struck a military pose: "I was in the East German army 1978-1988, as a tank driver then an instructor. It is... fun to drive tanks, but it's not possible to do it anywhere in Europe outside the military, so we created this place." The Heyse brothers have amassed 7 T55 and 5 BMP armoured personnel carriers. And so close is the German frontier with Poland, that waving off her husband one woman joked: "Turn back before you cross the border."

George Jenkin won Military Cross within 24 hours of Normandy landing
In June 1944 the East Riding Yeomanry (ERY) were among the first armoured units in action on D-Day. The next day 3 Troop, B Squadron, commanded by George Jenkin, was supporting a company of 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) in an attack on Cambes-en-Plaine. On the way there his troop was engaged by a Mark VI Tiger Tank and two Mark IVs. After one of them had been knocked out, he advanced towards the village... "The place was swarming with Germans." He destroyed a half-track, an AA carrier, 3 ammunition lorries. Later Jenkin dismounted from his tank, but could not return because of snipers. While talking to anti-tank officers, he spotted 2 Mark IV tanks...

Midnight breakout out from WWII Budapest in King Tiger tank   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Joe Senzig served as tank commander in the Wermacht's Panzer command: first of a Panther medium tank, then later of 63-ton King Tiger tank. In the wake of the loss at Stalingrad, German Panzer units struggled to retreat across eastern Europe, pursued by Soviet soldiers. Finally, encircled by Soviet armored units at Budapest, 13 battle tanks attempted a daring midnight breakout toward the American 3rd Army. Senzig's Tiger tank would emerge as one of 4 tanks to complete the 15-mile run for survival. The burning wreckage of the 9 tanks lighted the roadway like bonfires at a Nuremberg rally. He survived the war, including a Soviet sniper's bullet which grazed his head.

Kiwi tank men came close to success at Cassino in World War II   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Ron Crosby's book "Albaneta; Lost Opportunity at Cassino" details a little-known opportunity for C Squadron of the 20th Armoured Regiment to launch a surprise attack on the Germans, and seize the monastery on Monte Cassino. The reason Operation Revenge was not successful was because the tanks were not supported by infantry and armour. "There is no doubt that the Germans were initially taken by surprise, but without the infantry they (the tanks) were a sitting duck." The C Squadron tanks, with the aid of the 4th Indian Division, managed to build a road that would carry battle tanks to a strategic position overlooking enemy-held territory.

134th Ordinance Battalion: Keeping Patton's tanks rolling in WWII   (Article no longer available from the original source)
John McNaull was a new recruit when the 12th Armored Division was formed at Camp Campbell, Ky., in 1942. The new unit was shipped out to England. "All our tanks and equipment were sent ahead to France, but General George S. Patton grabbed them. So we had to be re-equipped." McNaull, a sergeant overseeing an 18-man maintenance team in the 134th Ordinance Battalion, said his part was simple: "Keep 'em running. Any way you can." The tank mechanics worked under appalling conditions - welding under canvas so German fighter plane pilots wouldn't spot the sparks. Sometimes they did. So did enemy gunners with their 88s: "You could hear those things coming."

Spearheading the 12th Armored Division's drive without insignia   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Dolore "Bus" Trudeau had firsthand knowledge of what Gen. George Patton was up to in World War 2. Trudeau and his fellow soldiers were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for spearheading the 12th Armored Division's drive across the Saar Palatinate to the Rhine River in March of 1945 as part of General Patton's plan to halt the German advance and secure a bridge. Secret mission: Patton ordered that soldiers remove all shoulder patches and vehicle markings and were thereafter known only as the Mystery Division. The battle began at Trier on March 18 "with orders to leave "enemy strong points for the infantry to mop up.

Interview with World War II Panzerman from 2nd Panzer Division
Service in the Panzerwaffe would ensure that Rolf Hertenstein would work with engines and be a member of an elite branch of the service. He was assigned to the 2nd Panzer Division, commanded by Major General Heinz Guderian. He was part of the armored force that rolled across the Polish border in Sept 1939 and demonstrated the power of Germany's mechanized tactics. After the lightning campaign of conquest in the 4th Panzer Regiment, he attended officer training school in Wünsdorf. In an interview with World War II Magazine, he discusses his days with the Panzerwaffe and the Wehrmacht's first victories.

The map of the route his tank company took after D-Day
Floyd Rice was a part of Company F, 36th Cavalry Recon Squad, an armored company with 17 battle tanks. On the D-day beach the commander advised to dig foxholes. The ground was hard and the foxholes were only a few inches. When the German forces bombed the area, the men took shelter under the tanks. "We dug no more foxholes." During the first days the company lost 13 of their 17 tanks in battle. Later a sniper shot one of his men in the arm when he was standing in the tank turret. When he replaced the wounded man, he was grazed by a bullet. At that point, he cut loose with the 50 caliber machine guns and "quieted the snipers down."

The soldiers of the 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion played an important role in beating the Nazi regime Southern Bavaria and Austria. Along the way, they apprehended gestapo agents, recovered Nazi loot, fired 76,231 rounds of ammunition, destroyed 106 enemy weapons, neutralized 137 strongpoints, and earned 525 decorations and awards. The men of the 629th were trained on M-10 tanks, but switched over to M-36 tanks, which had greater accuracy and "hitting power," and was the most powerful anti-tank weapon in the U.S. at the time. Each tank held five men who rotated positions of driver, assistant driver, gunner, assistant gunner, and tank sergeant.

The hero who wiped out Hitler's tank ace Michael Wittmann
As a German war hero, he was in a deadly class of his own - having destroyed nearly 300 enemy panzers and guns. So astonishing were Michael Wittmann's exploits that he was feted throughout the Third Reich by the Nazi propaganda machine. So when the highly-decorated Waffen-SS tank ace met his death in the Normandy in August 1944, several Allied units claimed the distinction of having killed him. But now the man who really finished off the most successful tank commander of the Second World War has finally been revealed - Joe Ekins. Astonishingly he had only ever fired five practice rounds before the encounter with Wittmann near St Aignan de Cramesnil.

WW2 Red Army: Female T-34 tank driver in the battle   (Article no longer available from the original source)
When the war began Alexandra Rashchupkina volunteered, but she was rejected. She had her hair cropped, put on man’s uniform and applied again - passing. After driving course she was moved to Stalingrad where she learned to drive a tank. She survived her first air raid: "Instead of being happy to be alive I was worrying about my new uniform, all turned to rags," she smiles. No one in her regiment ever suspected a thing: "You don’t get undressed often on the frontline." In Feb 1945 her secret was revealed. The Soviet tanks were ambushed by Nazi troops. Her tank caught fire, she wounded and a serviceman saved her from the burning machine.

King Tiger tank from the Normandy campaign arrives Museum
A rare German tank - a veteran from the Normandy campaign of World War Two - has gone on public display at the Tank Museum for the first time since its capture. The German King Tiger (Sd Kfz 182 Tiger II) was captured after a tank battle in Nothern France in August 1944. It was issued to 1 Kompanie of SS Panzer Battalion 101 in the summer of 1944 and was commanded by an Obersharfuhrer Franz. The King Tiger was the largest and most feared German panzer of World War II. It gained a fearsome reputation as a formidable opponent: Mounting an 88mm gun and with virtually impenetrable armour to its front it has since become recognised as the most powerful tank of the war.

Combat hero Dietz : Sherman tanks and panzerfaust squads
Elements of the 38th Infantry Battalion, spearheading the 7th Armored Division, approached the town of Kirchain. GI Jankowski in Dietz's 12-man squad was aboard the third Sherman tank in a line when a German soldier "stood up and fired a bazooka at the lead tank. We all scrambled off the tanks. Then I saw Dietz running and firing into the foxholes. He was grabbing the mines and throwing them off the bridge. As he stood up to signal that the route was clear he was killed by an shot from the left flank." Medal of Honor citation credits Dietz with wiping out 3 two-man panzerfaust (bazooka) squads and leaping into the water to disconnect explosives wired to the bridge.

Canadian soldier taking on three Panther tanks in Italy
Oct 22 1944, the right flank of Seaforth Highlanders company came under attack from three Panther tanks of the German 26th Panzer Division. Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith, armed with a PIAT anti-tank weapon, gathered up his team and took up a position alongside the road. The PIAT was a highly effective "tank-stopper", but only at close range. As the Panther advanced, its machine guns raking the position with fire, Smith's companion was badly wounded. Smith stood up and fired his PIAT, stopping the Panther in its tracks. A group of 10 German soldiers leapt from the tank and attacked Smith's position with machinegun fire and grenades.

Diary of a 10th Armored Division veteran
"What was it like in combat?" The three "Fs" come to mind: Fatigue, frustration and fear! Fatigue from lack of sleep because it was almost impossible to find a comfortable place to sleep. Add to this the enemy harassment and fire, every half hour all night long. Only 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night drained one’s stamina. For me, it caused headaches. Frustration: Everything you do is stymied by mud, snow, fog, wind, rain, freezing cold or intense heat. Fear: We all agonized over the possibility of death. Men had legs and arms blown off, received wounds and lost their sight or hearing. Those killed instantly were the "lucky" ones. Fear shadowed us constantly.

Stopping Rommel's Panzer divisions - Brigadier Sir Rainald Lewthwaite
Brigadier Sir Rainald Lewthwaite had a distinguished career with the Scots Guards. At the start of March 1943, the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards formed part of a slender line of troops which had been hurried forward to face a counter-attack by Rommel's Panzer divisions at Medenine. The battalion position extended for 2,000 yards with the ground rising for about 300 yards in front. There had been no time to lay a minefield. The aim of Rommel's Panzer divisions was the high ground behind the battalion position, dominating the Medenine plain. If they took it, the 8th Army's position would be indefensible; if they failed, the days of the Afrika Corps might be numbered.

Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Gibbon: Leading a tank attack near Tobruk
Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Gibbon was awarded a DSO for leading a tank attack near Tobruk in 1941, and a Bar for escaping from a German PoW train in 1943 and leading a group of officers to safety in Yugoslavia. On Nov 29 1941 Gibbon was commanding "A" Squadron of the 44th Royal Tank Regiment, attached to the New Zealand Division. As part of the first phase of Auchinleck's "Crusader" operation, which lifted the siege of Tobruk, the New Zealanders joined the garrison and were soon deployed on the gravel ridge of Sidi Rezegh; they were attacked from three directions by the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions and an Italian unit.

The Real Rommel - Bio of Panzer commander "Desert Fox"
Erwin Rommel, the "Desert Fox", was a German war hero whose exploits during the WWII are the stuff of legend. He appears to have been the archetypal "good German", an apolitical soldier and cunning military genius. But he had a secret love affair that almost ruined his career – and he was more political than his fans would like to believe. In 1937, Rommel published The Infantry Attacks, a book based on his war experiences. It appealed to Hitler, and Rommel was put in charge of his bodyguard. In February 1941, after the successful campaign against France, Rommel was sent to northern Africa, and led the Afrika Korps.