Battlegroup Fehrmann Tiger v. three British Comets, 3RTR

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by SDP, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Mapping web site is outstanding. Although I had some of the 1944 series for the Rethem area I had not seen others for elsewhere.

    It's a military truism that you will always fight on the join of one or more maps. The Essel area being on the join of 4 maps must have driven 1 Cdo Bde potty!
     
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  2. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Steve - below is a link to a film clip entitled 'TANK CREWS OF THE 3RD ROYAL TANK REGIMENT CARRY OUT ROUTINE MAINTENANCE ON THEIR COMET TANKS AT SCHWARMSTEDT, GERMANY'. According to the IWM record it was filmed on 13 April so is presumably of B Squadron (?) as I think A and C Squadrons were already across the Aller by this date. Pity, as it would have been wonderful to have had a chance to identify Celerity and even more wonderful for you to have been able to spot your father. I have no idea how long the clip is but you might like to follow up with the IWM. Perhaps the copying costs are prohibitive. Anyhow, it might be of interest.
    [TANK CREWS OF THE 3RD ROYAL TANK REGIMENT CARRY OUT ROUTINE MAINTENANCE ON THEIR COMET TANKS AT SCHWARMSTEDT, GERMANY] [Allocated] | Imperial War Museums

    best wishes
     
  3. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    I have no idea how long the clip is but you might like to follow up with the IWM. Perhaps the copying costs are prohibitive.

    Not if you are a veteran. Copying costs for them are much much smaller than standard rates.
     
  4. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Steve - below is a link to a film clip entitled 'TANK CREWS OF THE 3RD ROYAL TANK REGIMENT CARRY OUT ROUTINE MAINTENANCE ON THEIR COMET TANKS AT SCHWARMSTEDT, GERMANY'. According to the IWM record it was filmed on 13 April so is presumably of B Squadron (?) as I think A and C Squadrons were already across the Aller by this date. Pity, as it would have been wonderful to have had a chance to identify Celerity and even more wonderful for you to have been able to spot your father. I have no idea how long the clip is but you might like to follow up with the IWM. Perhaps the copying costs are prohibitive. Anyhow, it might be of interest.
    [TANK CREWS OF THE 3RD ROYAL TANK REGIMENT CARRY OUT ROUTINE MAINTENANCE ON THEIR COMET TANKS AT SCHWARMSTEDT, GERMANY] [Allocated] | Imperial War Museums

    best wishes

    Excellent find! There is an image (or two?) on a similar topic in the IWM photo collection so could be the same location. I believe the image caption includes the crew names. As you say, not likely to be 'A' Squadron.

    There might be a chance of spotting Celerity elsewhere; in your book 'No Triumphant Procession' there is an IWM photo showing the 4KSLI being ferried across the Aller on 11th April. There is also an image in Ulrich Saft's book 'Krieg in der Heimat' showing more ferrying activity and a part-constructed Bailey Bridge in the background; I assume this must have been taken on 12th April. Do you have any idea as to the IWM reference numbers for those phohographs because, if they are part of a series of photographs spread over those couple of days, there is a chance there could be one entitled "First tanks over the Aller"....in which case Langdon and Elstob (Celerity) could be on them. A shot in the dark but, hey, that's how lots of 'Eureka!' moments start anyway.

    Thanks again and Best Regards
    Steve
     
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Not if you are a veteran. Copying costs for them are much much smaller than standard rates.

    How about 'Veteran's son'.......? :unsure:
     
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  6. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    How about 'Veteran's son'.......? :unsure:

    I am sure you know a vet who can order for you..............

    Interesting spare wheel on this Cromwell by the way


    detail from IWM BU434 September 1944


    [​IMG]
     
  7. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Steve - I have seen the photos to which you refer but I'm afraid I don't have the ref nos. They should be relatively easy to obtain from the IWM. I have photos of Comets and Cromwells crossing the Weser at Petershagen in a book by Hermann Kleinbenne entitled 'Kriegstage in Petershagen' (Days of War in Petershagen) which Hermann wrote in 1994. The book covers the fighting in the Petershagen area and I gave him some help in the early 90s when I was stationed in Minden, which is on the Weser just to the south of Petershagen. The photos are IWM copies and 15/19H and 2 FF Yeo are mentioned in the captions. I also have a photo (also IWM) in another book showing soldiers of 1 Herefords being carried on Comets of 3 RTR. So, there are photos taken at the time and you might just be lucky.

    Incidentally, back in the early 1980s 3RTR were in the same armd bde (7th) as my battalion (3rd Bn The Queen's Regiment) and we exercised frequently with them. The Armoured Farmers were an excellent regiment and it is very sad that they no longer exist.

    Good luck hunting the photos
     
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  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Steve - I have seen the photos to which you refer but I'm afraid I don't have the ref nos. They should be relatively easy to obtain from the IWM. I have photos of Comets and Cromwells crossing the Weser at Petershagen in a book by Hermann Kleinbenne entitled 'Kriegstage in Petershagen' (Days of War in Petershagen) which Hermann wrote in 1994. The book covers the fighting in the Petershagen area and I gave him some help in the early 90s when I was stationed in Minden, which is on the Weser just to the south of Petershagen. The photos are IWM copies and 15/19H and 2 FF Yeo are mentioned in the captions. I also have a photo (also IWM) in another book showing soldiers of 1 Herefords being carried on Comets of 3 RTR. So, there are photos taken at the time and you might just be lucky.

    Incidentally, back in the early 1980s 3RTR were in the same armd bde (7th) as my battalion (3rd Bn The Queen's Regiment) and we exercised frequently with them. The Armoured Farmers were an excellent regiment and it is very sad that they no longer exist.

    Good luck hunting the photos

    John: thanks for the feedback.

    I'm currently doing a cut-and-paste of the four maps so as to produce a map with no joins and which would have been of much more use almost 67 years ago 12th April 1945! I will then use it to produce my take on the Aller Bridgehead Battle. Might also be useful for your Battlefield Tour later this year. The cut-and-paste is very time consuming because each map comprises lots of image 'tiles' and they don't line up perfectly, especially between the four maps.
     
  9. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    It's a military truism that you will always fight on the join of one or more maps. The Essel area being on the join of 4 maps must have driven 1 Cdo Bde potty!


    These are the four maps!
     

    Attached Files:

  10. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    These are the four maps!

    ....and specifically the four corners where the Aller action took place....
     

    Attached Files:

  11. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    ....and specifically the four corners where the Aller action took place....


    ....and here is the area where the action took place 67 years ago precisely 11-13th April 1945.

    1st Commando Brigade had moved across the river and were to be joined by 4KSLI and, on the morning of the 12th April 1945, by the Comet tanks of 1st Troop 'A' Squadron 3RTR followed immediately by the remainder of 'A' Squadron. These Comets were to be ferried across the River Aller on a type 40 Bailey Raft pending completion of a Bailey Bridge. The confrontation with the Franzen Tiger F01 of Tigergruppe Fehrmann occurred later on the 12th.

    I had intended to post this message tomorrow (OK, I know very geek/anorak style, but I am now otherwise engaged tomorrow i.e. 'out'....but then so was Dad albeit 67 years ago!). The map is still work-in-progress but gradually getting there.....
     

    Attached Files:

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  12. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Steve - well done with the maps. That couldn't have been easy. You can see very clearly the track that Sgt Harding must have used which provided him with such a nice defilade shot on F01. I will check out the track when I'm there in the summer and take some photos.

    I have always been a bit puzzled why C Sqn took such a wide detour (ie via Engehausen) before heading North then West to hook back to the road. Perhaps they wanted to give a very wide birth to the focus of the fighting in the area of the road bridge over the Aller. Easy to be puzzled in 2012 but I'm sure in 1945 there were reasons enough!

    I hope to be going to the National Archives later this month. Anything you want me to look up?
     
  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    I hope to be going to the National Archives later this month. Anything you want me to look up?


    Oh what a lovely open question.....a copy of Langdon's original report about the action would be nice! Peter Brown was at Kew a few weeks ago and looked up the 3RTR War Diary but it doesn't appear to contain a copy of Langdon's report which I had hoped would have been attached as an Appendix. Either he missed it or it is somewhere else or become detached?

    I'm continuing to tidy up the map and am nearly finished with possibly only another hour or two left to go. I'll post it here when task is done. Only thing I'm struggling with (and therefore which I've currently not added to the 'new' map) are the map references which seem to have no correlation with those in the 3RTR War Diary.
     
  14. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Sorry to hear that you are having problems with GRs. I have just noticed that there are 3 different eastings and northings for each of the 3 map editions I have of the area, which might be the cause of your difficulties! Taking the bridge over the Esseler Kanal as the datum point, I have a 1990s !:50,000 map which has it at 446400; the 1:25,000 map I posted on this thread would have it at 445398; while the 1:25,000 you so proficiently compiled would have it at 445401 (or 445400)! In a sense it doesn't matter and you should be able to translate the 3RTR GRs using the Esseler Kanal bridge as your startpoint - as long as you don't change maps!

    That's probably clear as mud but good luck!
     
  15. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Sorry to hear that you are having problems with GRs. I have just noticed that there are 3 different eastings and northings for each of the 3 map editions I have of the area, which might be the cause of your difficulties! Taking the bridge over the Esseler Kanal as the datum point, I have a 1990s !:50,000 map which has it at 446400; the 1:25,000 map I posted on this thread would have it at 445398; while the 1:25,000 you so proficiently compiled would have it at 445401 (or 445400)! In a sense it doesn't matter and you should be able to translate the 3RTR GRs using the Esseler Kanal bridge as your startpoint - as long as you don't change maps!

    That's probably clear as mud but good luck!

    Ouch! That sounds quite a challenge because I want all the lines and grid references on the map to correspond precisely to the 3RTR War Diary because that is what 'they' will have had.

    I'm having to edit the map almost by the pixel to get everything to line up properly because the original maps must have twisted slightly when they were scanned but I'm nearly there. Murphy's Law dictates that, as soon as I've finished, a full set of the original 1945 maps of the Essel area will come up on ebay for a Fiver!

    Must plod on; 'the impossible simply takes longer'. Or, more militaristic, "We will either find the way or make one"
     
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  16. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    I'm currently looking into the 'Then' and 'Now' aspects of the battle area. Absolutely typical, they replaced the bridge over the Aller with a new one last year by the looks of it. At least they kept the small road down which 1st Troop would have passed to get to the river bank onto the Class 40 Raft......

    I should have done this research and visited the area years ago but the source information (Langdon's book) simply was not available to me.
     

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  17. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Murphy's Law dictates that, as soon as I've finished, a full set of the original 1945 maps of the Essel area will come up on ebay for a Fiver!

    Absolutely typical, they replaced the bridge over the Aller with a new one last year by the looks of it.

    Steve - Murphy possibly lives! Although not the 1944 edition, I have just been sent hard copies of the 1954 1:25,000 maps from which you so laboriously produced the combined map! Not sure if it would assist but let me know if it would help if I scan the 4 corners!

    Sorry to hear about the bridge. Thank goodness I took a snap of its predecessor. Progress has affected Rethem too: the railway was not only closed by 'von Beeching' but the railway sidings where once stood 10.5cm railway flak have been ripped up and replaced by a DIY supermarket; and to my horror I notice on Google Earth that someone has plonked another complex plus car park right on the fields where the marines of Mar.Gren.Rgt.II./5 dug their trenches to defend Route 209 into the town. Ho hum.
     
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  18. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Steve - ....Not sure if it would assist but let me know if it would help if I scan the 4 corners!.....

    Sorry to hear about the bridge...... Ho hum.

    John

    'Murphy Rules OK!'. My map is nearly finished; I'm currently removing the 'modern' grid lines to produce a 'clean' map. I will then produce a second version showing the WWII era grid lines, that is when I've got definitive information as to where precisely they should be! Of course scans of the 4 corners would still be welcome to add to the collection.

    Progress is a wonderful thing but always a shame when old historic features get built over by 'von B&Q' or 'herr Tesco'; at the same time we must not live in a museum. I have some experience when, a number of years ago I worked on an industrial estate in Compiegne near Paris. There was a comparatively modest yield of WWI munitions when the building foundations were going in, only a half dozen or so live morter bombs and grenades etc.......sometimes 'progress' is a good thing! Also worked at a dairy near Ypres; amazing what was always being dug up!
     
  19. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Steve - I have a 1944 series map for Rethem and I could easily do a comparison for a spot like a church or cross-roads which would then provide the formula for converting GRs on the 1954 1:25,000 series to 1944 GRs. Let me know if this would help.
     
  20. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Steve - I was at the National Archives yesterday and downloaded the pages for 3 RTR for the Essel battle - see attached. If you have an intention to publish them as part of your research you would need to check out Crown Copyright regs. Anyhow, not sure if you had seen them before so here they are....

    3RTR_5 is the casualty log. It doesn't look too accurate to me as they surely lost more than the 2 items of eqpt (presumably tks) shown for 13 Apr?

    John
     

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