Tank Crews

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Belgian Dave, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  2. Belgian Dave

    Belgian Dave Well-Known Member

    Yes, I saw it when looking over your site, great stuff.

    I was supprised how much detail there is in the 1RTR wardiary, it even mentions the names of Troopers. Do you know if its the same throughout all the diaries?
  3. jjrc1991

    jjrc1991 Junior Member

    Thanks for the link, it's fantastic!

  4. Belgian Dave

    Belgian Dave Well-Known Member

    Was the evacuation of a tank practised?
    Each type of vehicle must have its own peculiarities regarding the most speedy method of getting out? Which was the worst to get out of? Did a certain position give you an advantage over the other members of the crew?
    I have a feeling that some of the veterans may well say 'as quickly as you could', and that there was no time to practise such things, but knowing the British way of life, I can imagine someone in an office writing a 'Evacuation manual'!
  5. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson Member

    Talk to the wife. :rolleyes:
    - Sounds like someone here needs a nice vacation at a good Tank Museum... :)

    I'm sure Commonwealth crews were just as likely as American to watch these training films in the latter years of the war.
    Again, a word of thanks must go out to all the people who are committing time, money and equipment to preserve these films. :salut:


  6. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson Member


    Belgian Dave likes this.
  7. Jen'sHusband

    Jen'sHusband Punchbag

    Yes, tank crews did practice evacuation.

    It depended on what tank you were in as to how you got out. A 75m/m eqiupped Sherman, for instance, usually had only one turret hatch, meaning the commander bailed out first, then the gunner, then the loader - all through the one hatch!

    Churchills had sponson doors to facilitate escape whilst Shermans and M3 Grants/Lees had a door in the floor, I believe.

    Bailing out of a tank was serious business from the War Department's point of view - tanks can be replaced with (relative) ease, trained tank crew could not!
  8. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    I'm currently reading Professor John Buckley's 'Monty's Men'


    He discusses that according to Operational Research Shermans - in particular - could 'brew up' [catch fire] after a hit in about six seconds (this is attributed to poor/open ammunition storage, not the usual surmising that it was bad fuel storage). Thus, by July many commanders would travel with hatches open both for this reason and for better visibility - the trade off being an increase in tank commander casualties.
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  10. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    I'm biased - he's my PhD Supervisor - but as I said to him yesterday, I am really enjoying this book but don't want to be considered a sycophant... "Oh, please, sycophant away" came the chuckling response.

    Yes. It is a must read. Takes the battle back to Hastings and D'Este etc. etc. for their dismissive treatment of the British Army in NWE.
    von Poop likes this.
  11. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Then allow me to say: You lucky bastard! (Probably...)
    (And pass on some further Sycophancy from me - his 'British Armour In Normandy' is still probably my favourite bit of WW2 History writing. Required reading on Normandy in particular, & that 'reputation' thing in general).

    Sorry chaps, drifting off - having stared at the traditionally somewhat narrow hatches on British tanks, I'm often amazed anyone got in or out in a hurry or not. All I can say is that Tom, Gerry and their mates must have been skinny buggers on the whole.
    (Though doubtless a hole in the side, a bit of spalling, or a fire, lent just the merest tad of 'urgency' to bailing out. Obviously I can't ever visualise it, but I know I climbed ten foot fences in a single bound when being chased by casuals round Pompey in the dim & distant - amazing what the body can do unthinkingly under pressure.)
    Taurus Pursuant likes this.
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Obviously the more holes there are, the better it is getting out. In response to your body accomplishing previously unthinkable feats, I agree.

    I bailed out of dicey situation on afternoon in a manner I probably would not have been able to accomplish were we merely training but I was more amazed by what the nozzle man I was with did to keep himself from falling down through a collapsing floor into a basement and using only one arm to do it. He was like an Olympic gymnast when he caught the window sill with his right hand as he began to drop and one-handedly vaulted himself back up and out through a partially opened window wearing turnouts and an airpack (about 75 additional pounds). He took the lower sash of the window with him as tumbled out and landed on the ground outside unhurt. Had he fallen down into the basement, it would not have been good for I doubt that we would have ever gotten him out the way that fire was rolling down there.
  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I think the Fireflys had another hatch added for either the gunner or loader or both. Which guy was on the 'wrong side' of the 17 pounder?
  14. Belgian Dave

    Belgian Dave Well-Known Member

    A good response so far, thanks all.

    Im sure I have read somewhere about the driver having problems getting out if the turret was rotated in a certain position, cannot remember which tank it relates to though. Anyone know?
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    BD - most likely the Sherman

    VP - don't know about being skinny back then…..we didn't practice getting out as it was never going to happen ……when it did though - the force of the 88mm hitting just behind me - knocked me to

    the turret floor of my Churchill and as I hit the floor….. I heard Trevor shout " bail out "..and from the floor I was out in one mighty bound without touching anything it seemed- and as I

    passed I noted that the engine had stopped and the Exhaust was perpendicular..as I landed the second shot penetrated the Turret at about the spot I would have been standing…..then the rotters

    opened up with everything they had - Spandaus- Schmeisers - Nebewefers..not at all nice people those paras…One good thing though - I spent the winter in a warm toasty clean bed whereas

    the lads spent their winter knee deep in mud on the Senio as Infantry…..yuk yuk yuk...

  16. Belgian Dave

    Belgian Dave Well-Known Member

    It was the Sherman Tom. I found this account of one being hit:


    Heres the relevent excerpt:

    "When I hit the ground I crawled to the back of the tank since we were receiving machinegun fire. When I reached the back, the driver started backing the tank since he could not get his hatch open because of the gun tube. I had left the controls in power traverse and, as the tank backed up, the gun traversed to the left and he was able to open the hatch and get out."

    Frightening to think the Driver relied upon the Gunner in such a way. Surely there must have been another way for him to get out in that situation?
    Taurus Pursuant likes this.
  17. Jen'sHusband

    Jen'sHusband Punchbag

    The Firefly and some 'normal' Shermans had an extra hatch added in the turret roof. It made no sense to have a single hatch and the British must have regarded it as a design flaw - most, if not all late war British tanks had two hatches in the turret roof.
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Obscure detail: the 14-man Composite Ration Pack included 84 sheets of toilet paper - that's 6 sheets per man per day!
  19. Combover

    Combover Guest

    Idler, the sheets aren't what you can compare to more modern varieties.
  20. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I don't doubt that for a moment.

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