September 10, 2014

The Battle of Villers-Bocage

This post presents photographs of tanks and other vehicles that were knocked out during the battle of Villers-Bocage. The photos are grouped together in relation with the time and place each vehicle was knocked out. An overview of the battle can be found here.

Before the Battle

A Tiger crew of the 2nd Company, schwere-SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101,
performing some maintenance, after they had camouflaged their tank. 

Wittmann’s Attack

Destroyed M5 half-tracks
2. As Wittmann, with his Tiger, advanced towards the town, he destroyed a number of M5 half-tracks, belonging to “A” Company of the 1st Rifle Brigade. 

Anti-tank section with four Loyd Carriers and two 6pdr guns
3. After “A” Company’s half-tracks there was an anti-tank section with four Loyd Carriers and two 6pdr guns.

Destroyed Loyd Carriers
4. Another view of the destroyed Loyd Carriers.

Lieutenant John Cloudsley-Thompson’s knocked out Cromwell
5. Lieutenant John Cloudsley-Thompson’s knocked out Cromwell, at the eastern entrance of the town. Lt. Cloudsley-Thompson was leading the Regiment’s Headquarter Troop, which consisted of four Cromwells. After finishing off the infantry carriers Wittmann entered Villers-Bocage and began shooting at 4th CLY HQ vehicles and AFV’s. Cloudsley-Thompson tried to reverse his tank, but Wittmann was only 40 yards away. The British crew survived the hit and made it to friendly lines. 

Knocked out Cromwell of the RHQ Troop
6. Another knocked out Cromwell of the RHQ Troop. The tank belonged to the Regimental Sergeant-Major Gerald Holloway.

Observation Post tank
7. Behind the Cromwells of the RHQ Troop were two Observation Post tanks of the 5th Royal Horse Artillery. Major Dennis Wells was “K” Battery’s commander and his OP Sherman was the first of the two. Major Wells’ tank didn’t escape from the Tiger’s main gun.

The Sherman as an OP tank carried a wooden gun
8. The Sherman in its role as an OP tank was unarmed and carried a wooden gun. 
In this close up the wooden gun can be seen lying shattered in front of the Sherman.

Captain Paddy Victory’s Cromwell
9. The second OP tank was Captain Paddy Victory’s Cromwell. Captain Victory almost managed to escape, but his tank became stuck and was finished off by Wittmann. Victory’s crew successfully bailed out just before their tank was hit. The driver left the Cromwell in such a hurry that he crashed through a glass shop door.

Captain Pat Dyas' Cromwell
10. Captain Pat Dyas was the Regimental adjutant and he was riding in one of the four Cromwells of the RHQ Troop. When he realized what was going on, he backed off away from the road and landed into a garden. While doing so he received small arms fire from German infantry and was wounded in the eye. Wittmann passed Dyas without spotting him, but Dyas’ gunner was not in his tank and a chance for a shot on the Tiger’s side was missed. Dyas decided to follow the Tiger and hit it from the rear. Unknown to Dyas, Wittmann had gone almost as far as the western edge of the town, where he exchanged a few shots with a Sherman Firefly turned his Tiger and retreated. So Dyas instead of coming up with the rear of the Tiger he suddenly faced its front. Nevertheless, he remained in his place and fired two times, which did no damage to the German tank. The shot from the Tiger throw Dyas from the turret, but he was alive and managed to report to Colonel Cranley on the situation.

The antitank gun that immobilized Wittmann’s Tiger
11. In all probability this was the antitank gun that immobilized Wittmann’s Tiger. Sergeant Bray, of the anti-tank section, made use of one of the two 6pdrs and scored a hit at the Tiger’s running gear. Wittmann, with his crew, bailed out and headed towards Panzer-Lehr’s headquarters.

The Situation at Point 213

Two Cromwells of “A” Squadron
12. Two Cromwells of “A” Squadron, at the southern edge of Point 213. “A” Squadron tanks were engaged by the rest of Wittmann’s Tigers.

“A” Squadron Cromwells at Point 213
13. “A” Squadron Cromwells at Point 213. In the photograph German soldiers, after the battle, collect anything useful from the knocked-out tanks.

Another knocked-out Cromwell at Point 213
14. Another knocked-out Cromwell at Point 213.

Sherman Firefly of “A” Squadron
15. A Sherman Firefly of “A” Squadron being inspected by German soldiers.

“A” Squadron tanks at Point 213
16. Another view of “A” Squadron tanks at Point 213. The Germans tried to bring them in serviceable condition.

 “A” Squadron Cromwells
17. Another pair of “A” Squadron Cromwells.

OP Cromwell
18. An OP Cromwell, belonging to Captain Roy Dunlop. 
It was knocked out while en route to Point 213.

Villers-Bocage, the Second Attack

Knocked out Tiger I and PzKpfw IV
19. The Germans were reinforced with Tigers of 1st Company, schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101, and PzKpfw IVs from Panzer-Lehr-Division. British tanks and tank-hunting infantry teams knocked out a number of them. The two tanks seen in the photograph were knocked out in the town’s center by Lieutenant Cotton’s troop (B Squadron).

Knocked out Tiger I
20. Another Tiger of 1st Company was knocked out further down the road.

Knocked out Tiger I
21. A close up of the same Tiger.

Knocked out Tiger I
22. A Tiger knocked out by the 1/7th Queens (Infantry Battalion).

PzKpfw IV knocked out next to Pat Dyas’ Cromwell
23. A PzKpfw IV knocked out next to Pat Dyas’ Cromwell. The number in the turret of the German tank indicates that it was the fourth tank of the 3rd Platoon, of the 6th Company.

After the Battle

Tiger 211 towing away Tiger 231
24. Tiger 211 towing away Tiger 231. Tiger 211 was the 1st Platoon’s commander tank. The officer seated on the right in overcoat is Untersturmführer Georg Hantusch, while standing on the left is Sturmmann Erlander.

Bernage, George. The Panzers and the Battle of Normandy. Bayeux: Heimdal, 2000.
Forty, George. Battle Zone Normandy - Villers Bocage. Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2004.
Taylor, Daniel. Villers Bocage through the Lens of the German War Photographer. London: After the Battle, 1999.

Photos attribution
1. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-10/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
2. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-23/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
3. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-11A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
4. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0267-21A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
5. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-20A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
6. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-20/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
7. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0267-28A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
8. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0276-35A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
9. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0276-25A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
10. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-18A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
11. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-12A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
12. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-25A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
13. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-04A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
14. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-37A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
15. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-03A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
16. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-02/Grimm/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
17. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-26A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
18. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0269-07/Grimm/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
19. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-08A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
20. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-12A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
21. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-14A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
22. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-494-3376-05A/Zwirner/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
23. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0273-01A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons
24. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-738-0275-10A/Grimm, Arthur/CC-BY-SA-3.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons

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