September 12, 2014

Collision

A British Sherman rams a King Tiger

A British Sherman rams a King Tiger on 18 July 1944, during Operation Goodwood. The Sherman was commanded by Lieutenant John Gorman of the 21st Irish Guards Armored Regiment, while the German tank was commanded by Feldwebel Gerber of the 1st Company, 503 schwere Panzer-Abteilung. Each side gave its own version of what happened.


The British version
During the fight Lt. Gorman spotted o King Tiger just 200 yards away on his left. His gunner traversed the turret quickly and placed a round on the front of the Tiger. The 75mm projectile was unable to penetrate the Tiger’s heavy armor and it bounced off. On top of that the gun inside the Sherman was jammed. While watching the Tiger’s long gun swinging towards his direction Lt. Gorman decided instinctively to ram the enemy tank. After the crush both crews bailed out and looked for cover, because the place was heavily shelled. One crew-member of the Sherman actually shared the shame trench with the German crew. Lt. Gorman returned with a Sherman Firefly and knocked out the King Tiger. He then arrested the German crew and left.

The German version
The gunner of King Tiger 122, Hans-Joachim Thaysen, stated that his commander, an inexperienced newcomer, panicked during the fight and ordered the driver to reverse. While on reverse the Tiger ran into a Sherman and halted. Simultaneously the Tiger was penetrated by a German anti-tank gun that was firing at the Sherman. The crew bailed out, only to find out that their British colleagues were already around them. After a moment of indecision both sides looked for cover; then each side tried to convince the other that they were prisoners. That didn’t work and the two crews departed for their units.  

Lieutenant John Gorman was awarded the Military Cross for this action, while his driver, Lance Corporal James Baron, received the Military Medal.


Bibliography
Lochmann, Franz-Wilhelm, Dr., von Rosen, Richard Freiherr and Rubbel, Alfred. The Combat History of schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503 – In Action in the East and West with the Tiger I and II. Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz, 2000.



Photo attribution
Philippe Winton collection, via Wikimedia Commons