Early war Shermans in North Africa

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by PriadofDamocles, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. Hi folks,

    Long time reader of WW2 talk but only recently registered as a forum member.

    This question may have been asked previously - searching didn't yield an answer though!

    I understand the basic differences between Sherman marks and the British nomenclature (M4, M4A1, M4A2/Sherman 1, 2,3 etc), however I was wondering when (or if) the M4 was supplied in any great numbers to British armoured regiments in North Africa?

    From my research there is a fair amount of evidence for the Sherman II (M4A1) and later for the Sherman III (M4A2), however evidence for the M4 is far rarer (especially as many simply refer to all Shermans as 'M4's).

    If anyone would be able to tell me if the M4 model was used in any great numbers I would be very grateful.

    Thank you in advance,

    Kind regards,
  2. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I think the batch of Shermans (don't know the number) that was was destined for the first Americans in North Africa was either diverted to the British or reassigned from the Americans to the British. I'll look for more info on that. They were probably M4s though.

    Welcome, by the way :)
  3. Very kind of you! Any info greatly appreciated : )
  4. Wessex_Warrior

    Wessex_Warrior Junior Member


    The first Sherman's to see action were used by the British at El Alamein (October 1942) and were Sherman II (M4A1) with their distinctive cast hulls.

    According to the Sherman Register 2093 Sherman I were supplied to the British and these were probably used in Italy because by the time of D Day the majority type in British use was the Sherman V.

    Google Sherman Register and Sherman Tank El Alamein.

    As you say the designation M4 was used and the variant type was not really of much interest to soldiers since the ammunition was the same.
    Not helped by the fact that M4 and M4A1 were produced concurrently at different factories.

    All the best,

  5. Hi Will,

    Thanks for the info and the suggested searches.

    Certainly most of the references for El Alamein refer to Sherman II's and I just wondered if any of the early welded hull models (i.e. Sherman I) had arrived in time for the North African campaigns - your post has helped answer that question!

    Many thanks and kind regards,
  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Yep. I was wrong. They were M4A1s.

    Here's a wiki entry:

    North Africa
    The first Shermans to see battle were M4A1s with the British Eighth Army at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. The tanks had been supplied in a hurry from the US which had removed them from their own units. They were then modified to British requirements and for desert conditions.[5] Over 250, in 12 regiments, started the battle. They formed the "heavy squadrons" (16 tanks in each) of one brigade in each division of X Corps and some other squadrons of the other units taking part; the other heavy squadrons were still equipped with Grants and light squadrons were equipped with 'Honey' Stuart and Crusader tanks. The Shermans were still "outclassed" by the long gunned Panzer IV "Specials"[citation needed] but the British still carried the battle. The Sherman units were not involved to a great extent in the subsequent pursuit of the German tanks. The Sherman was able to tackle enemy rearguard units by using HE fired indirectly whilst the German 5 cm Pak 38 anti-tank gun was only effective against the Sherman if it could engage it from the sides. More of the units in North Africa were converted to Shermans, including Sherman III though the infantry tank units retained their Churchills.

  7. Wessex_Warrior

    Wessex_Warrior Junior Member

    I have been looking for evidence of where these British Sherman I went

    www.172shermans.com/markings_UK.htm lists examples of them being in Normandy and curiously no Shermans in Italy.
    British did prefer diesel tanks whereas the Sherman I's were gasoline so they may have been palmed off to the Canadians in Italy.
    I am away from home at the moment so will make that my next investigation.
    I would expect an entire Regiment would field the same type for fuel supply expediency but even in the 1980's we still had a mix of Diesel and Petrol vehicles in the same unit.


  8. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    At 23/10/42.

    5 R/T/R. 10x MkII.
    3 Hussars. 12x MkII.
    3 R/T/R. 12x MkII.
    47 R/T/R. 31x MkIII.
    45 R/T/R. 31x MkII.
    41 R/T/R. 31x MkIII.
    Warw Yeo. 13x Mk?
    Staff Yeo. 10x MkII.
    Notts Yeo. 11x MkII.
    2 QODG. 28x MkII.
    9 QRL. 28x MkII.
    10 Hussars. 27x MkII.
  9. Hi folks,

    Thanks for the additional info:

    Dave 55 - Thanks for the wiki post - very informative.
    Will - Really good point about the gasoline/diesel as this would have made a big difference, especially North Africa with long supply lines.
    DavidW - Great info, may I ask what your source is? I havn't seen that level of detail before!

    Thanks all!
  10. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member


    It's almost all from Dennis Oliver's excellent book "Codename Swallow".

    It's available on Amazon.

    I tried to post a link, but couldn't paste it onto this page.
  11. Cheers DavidW. Looked online - looks like a really interesting book.

    Thanks for posting the details for us.

    Kind regards,
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Away from my books at the moment, but if you're seriously interested in this subject I second the recommendation of the codename Swallow book.
    Though it appears to have entered the slightly silly price bracket that niche armour books tend to drift towards. might be on Abe or similar for less. (Or maybe Mushroom might reprint it again soon. Think the last was c.three years ago and while out of stock it's still listed on their site.)
  13. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    How were you able to post the link?

    I can't paste into this text box.
  14. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Same copy/paste/insert link issue drove me spare for a while too, David! Turns out you just need to click on the icon in the top left hand corner of the tools, immediately left of the eraser and above the Bold letter B. The text loses format, but you can paste a link or text, then click back on same icon to format stuff again.

  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Did that on a phone, and Ctrl+c etc. Should still work.
    All part of the reason we're looking at changing software.

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