Photo ID: British M10 Tank Destroyer in Normandy

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by EKB, Sep 14, 2021.

  1. EKB

    EKB Member

    Hello, this is my first visit. Not sure if I'm in the right forum, but I was told that this might be a good place for answers about the photograph below. Presumably, the M10 belonged to the 20th Anti-tank Regiment RA, British 3rd Division. There appears to a number 29 within a small circle on the transmission cover (don't know the significance).

    British M10 in Normandy copy.jpg

    Does anyone here know the serial number, battery number, names of the crew or other people on the scene. Anything else of interest about the time and location would be helpful.

    I asked this question on the Axis History Forum and received a few bits of information:
    Photo ID: British M10 Tank Destroyer in Normandy - Axis History Forum
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  2. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    This is a well known official photo taken by Sgt. James Mapham on D Day. Others from the still roll and movie film are on the in the Imperial War Museum archive. It would be worth having a look at the other images for more details - look up the catalogue numbers before and after.
    The yellow disc is the 'Bridge Classification Number' indicating the potential weight of the vehicle.
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  3. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    This may not add much for you good folks, but hopefully of interest to others who happen along (only put up on YT a couple of days ago)

    Kind regards, always,


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  4. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

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  5. EKB

    EKB Member

    Thanks all for the replies. IWM Cinefilm A70 23-3 taken at Gosport, showing an M10 Tank Destroyer from 20th Anti-Tank Regiment loading on LCT 853 (216). The TD carries the number 31678 on the front fender. One of the M10s later seen on the beach has the fender marked as 36350. What is the significance of these numbers?

    Also wondering why the disc-shaped marker displaying a 29-ton load rating is missing on M10/31678. The M5 light tank is marked with a number 64, for reasons unknown to me.


    M10 S.P. loading on LCT 853 (216) A copy.jpg M10 S.P. loading on LCT 853 (216) B copy.jpg M10 S.P. loading on LCT 853 (216) C copy.jpg M10 S.P. loading on LCT 853 (216) F copy.jpg
  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Quick answer.

    The tempory markings on the front identify the individual landing craft and the vehicles to be carried. In the first photo of your Post 5 the number 216 is the craft and 31678 its load.

    The landing tables for Sword identify this vehicle as belonging to the SP troop of 45 AT Battery RA. The other vehicles belong to a variety of units but all are carried on the same craft.

    You can find much more in the thread on Sword Beach posted by Trux. Type that into the Search box.

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  7. EKB

    EKB Member

    OK Thanks, I'll read some of the other threads. The M10 on the beach (IWM / B5086) also has a number 219 on the fender and I assumed that was the load. Next to the TD is the AVRE called "Cheetah" and so far this the only vehicle on the scene where I was able to identify the serial and name issued by the crew.

    Close-up fender of M10 on Sword Beach copy.png
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
  8. 216 (and 219 etc.) is the Craft/Ship Serial or Landing Table Index Number, and represents (in the Eastern Task Force) both a craft and her load. A craft load was (usually) made up of elements from several different units. By the way, Serial 216 was LCT(4) 790, not 853 which was Serial 215.

    31678 and 36350 are the Unit Mobilisation Serial Numbers, here 45 A Tk Bty RA and 67 A Tk Bty RA respectively.

    The number 64 on the Stuart III (US designation: M3A1) is a chalked number used for embarkation, indicating the embarkation sequence (not always strictly followed). Here they run across the various LCT in the same Group 7, which carried the four 3" A tk SP M10 (not "tank destroyer", which is a US designation) from the SP Troop in 45 A Tk Bty ("I" Troop, guns I1 to I4) and the four from the SP Troop in 67 A Tk Bty ("E" Troop, guns E1 to E4).

    Like its comrade E1 on B5086, the M10 in the first photo above (IWM B5088 - hi res version here) belongs to E Tp, 67 A Tk Bty RA.

    Location is somewhere along the second lateral road (today's D514) west of Wn.20 (Strongpoint COD), with the M10 facing west (see B5078 (hi res), B5081 & B5084 (hi res) for comparison).
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
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  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    The "load rating" - actually "bridge classification" which indicated the standard of bridge required for river crossing - was somewhat hit and miss as to which vehicles it was applied to. It's still odd if they were in the same unit.
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  10. Quite right Chris. It also depends what one calls a "unit". In this case, it seem that 67 A Tk Bty applied it but not 45 A Tk Bty (or at least, not in a way that we can see it).
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  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    That's true. For all we know, they painted them on the back but not the front.
  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Th 64 on he carrier is the arm of service marking for an Independant Machine Gun Company. It was part of the same craft load as the M10.

    Well done Michel. I was just about to sit down and study this matter. I can have a rest now instead.

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  13. EKB

    EKB Member

    Thanks again to everyone for input, but Michel that is one fine piece of detective work. Props!

    The classic shots from the camera of Sgt. James Mapham gives a more accurate story than some of the captions. In many cases, the locations given on the card are questionable. That and a few gaps in the photo record makes it difficult for un-informed readers to follow the flow of traffic correctly, and pinpoint routes of the light railway lines. Buildings and roads in Hermanville were often attributed to Lion-sur-Mer.

    The pictures tell me that Mapham landed with elements of RHQ and ‘C’ Squadron 13th/18th Hussars from LCT 610 (212) out of Gosport. I looked unsuccessfully for a set of oblique air photos or a progress map documenting the exact route taken from beach to highway.

    In photo B5043 the motorcyclist next to the tracks blocked a full reading of the road sign, but photo B5080 might show the location of where the path of Mapham’s Bren carrier merged with the M10s from E troop of 67 Battery. The other two M10s seen on the beach might have been the same vehicles later photographed on the highway.

    Imperial War Museum : B5038 : B5043.jpg Imperial War Museum : B5080.jpg Imperial War Museum : B5095 .jpg Imperial War Museum : B5093 .jpg
  14. Mapham's B5082 should give you a hint: :D
  15. I am intrigued. I do not think I have ever seen a Bridge Class sign on the rear of a vehicle. Do you have a photo showing this?
  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    No, honestly I can't think of one.
  17. EKB

    EKB Member

    Want to know if someone can identify this piece of kit.

    @ IWM B5086 M10 No. E1 (E-troop:67th ATk battery) Queen Red Beach.jpg
  18. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    'Morning EKB,
    I'm not an expert by any means but this looks very much like a Cooker Portable No. 2: No 2 Petrol Cooker Dixie

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  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  20. EKB

    EKB Member


    When I started with the picture in the first post, I wasn’t sure if the non-standard gauge railway was a factory line or part of a big network. From the photos, I cannot tell if the tracks near the beach joined with the east/west mainline further inland, where the M10 moving west drove on the tracks with the main gun pointed south.

    Unless I misinterpreted the pictures, after Mapham’s Bren carrier departed the beach the driver followed a rail line westward on the Rue du Dr Turgis and stopped at the intersection with a road now called the Ave. du 6 Juin. There Mapham photographed the southbound traffic and a parked AVRE.

    On some of the photos, I’m not sure if the tracks ran east/west or north/south. And it looks like there might have been breaks in the line.

    Traffic moving west to first busy intersection.
    PIC 01.jpg

    Westbound traffic turning south.
    PIC 02.png

    Not sure if these tracks are going east/west or north/south. Rails appear to end at the intersection.
    PIC 03.png

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