Analysis: Operational use of Churchill Crocodile flame throwers, NW Europe, June-October 1944

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  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    TNA Catalogue Reference: SUPP 15/36

    Courtesy of Drew
     
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    TOP SECRET
    Downgraded to RESTRICTED 29 August 1957

    ANALYSIS OF OPERATIONAL USE of CHURCHILL CROCODILE FLAME THROWERS in N.W. EUROPE June - October, 1944.

    Petroleum Warfare Department


    NOTE: The analysis of actions is based on personal experience and collected notes. It is not official or necessarily comprehensive.

    The questionnaire and comments are personal and not official.



    INDEX

    1. Analysis of Actions

    2. Questionnaire and Answers by R.A.C. User Officer
    - Section 1. FUEL and GAS
    - Section 2. GUN and EQUIPMENT
    - Section 3. FIRE RISK
    - Section 4. TACTICAL and GENERAL

    3. R.A.C. User Officer's Summary

    4. General Commentary
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    ANALYSIS OF ACTIONS


    DATE: 7 June
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CREPON (Hedgerows)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 2
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 8 shots
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 150
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Beach defence but above average
    REMARKS: Impromptu plan. Flame caused surrender. Scratch Infantry collected. (Misc. R.A. and R. Sigs.)


    DATE: 14 June
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: SENAUDIERE (Village)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 2 out of 3
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/8 of a trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Nil
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good
    REMARKS: Infantry over a mile behind (50 DIVISION)


    DATE: 26 June
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: North of CHENY (Hedgerows)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/8 of a trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 50 approx. next morning
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Mop up to get snipers out of hedgerows. Prisoners of War came in next morning - 1 or 2 with burns (Misc.)


    DATE: 26/27 June
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: ST. MAUVIEU (Village)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 5 on 3 occasions
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: A few to Infantry
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Mop up to get snipers out of houses. Lack of Infantry Support. Good flaming showing how houses can be burned by CROCODILES (15 S DIVISION)


    DATE: 27 June
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CHATEAU LANDEL (Wood)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Not known
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good
    REMARKS: Failure. Bad plan - bad tie up with Infantry. Far too few CROCODILES for large objective. Good job for a Squadron which wold have saved many Infantry lives (3 BRITISH DIVISION)


    DATE: 2 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: RAURAY (Hedgerows)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 3 estimated
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 5
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Small job. No Infantry. Snipers "flushed out". (49 DIVISION)


    DATE: 3 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CARPIQUET (Trenches)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 4 (omits 2 small actions)
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 25 approx.
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 5
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: A half Squadron of CROCODILES found itself among Germans who had not run away. No Infantry in support. (3 CANADIAN DIVISION)


    DATE: 8 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: LA BIJUDE - CAMBES (Trenches)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 6
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Not known. Believed some to Infantry.
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: The CROCODILES got the Infantry through in the evening after they had had two failures. Too few CROCODILES - should have been a Squadron in early morning. (59 DIVISION)


    DATE: 8/9 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: SENAUDIERE Area (Hedgerows and Woods)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3 on 4 occasions
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each in all
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 5 - 10 estimated
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 100 estimated
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Well-planned and carried out. Infantry followed up well. Tank support good. Small operations showing how CROCODILES can be invaluable to Infantry. (50 DIVISION)


    DATE: 9 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: PT. 112 Near EVRECY (Hedgerows)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3 out of 6
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 to 1/2 trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 3
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Small mop-up of snipers in Hedgerows. (43 DIVISION)


    DATE: 11 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: East of HOTTOT (Hedgerows, Woods and Houses)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3 on 3 occasions
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each in all
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 5 - 10 estimated
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 100 estimated
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Well-planned small operations. Well carried out. (50 DIVISION)


    DATE: 15 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: BON REPOS (Hedgerows, Trenches, House)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 6
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: Full trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Some to Infantry later
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Very well-planned and carried out. Difficult approach for Infantry carried out without casualties, thanks to CROCODILES. Fine flaming by all 6 tanks. (15 S DIVISION)


    DATE: 17 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: Road Triangle South East of ESCOVILLE (Hedgerows, Trenches, odd House)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 12
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Quite a lot probably 20 - 40
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 200 - 300
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good
    REMARKS: Very well-planned and carried out. Continuous employment more or less for 5 hours. CROCODILES invaluable. Ideal use. (51 DIVISION)


    DATE: 22 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: NOYERS (Hedgerows, Wood, Houses)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3 on 4 occasions
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each average in all
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Some to Infantry
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Three of these were well-planned small jobs. One was a failure. Infantry did not come. (59 DIVISION)


    DATE: 24 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: BON REPOS (Hedgerows, House)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 5 out of 7
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each average in all
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 16
    PRISONERS OF WAR: About 30
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Very well-planned "shock" raid. Good artillery and tank support. Infantry followed up well. Fine flaming a big success. (53 DIVISION)


    DATE: 31 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CAUMONT (Wood)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 4 out of 7
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 10 - 20
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Fair
    REMARKS: Well-planned and carried out. Little opposition in the event. Good flaming. (15 S DIVISION)


    DATE: 31 July
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: ST. GERMAIN D''ECTOT (Hedgerows, Houses)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3 twice
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each average in all
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: About 20
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Fair
    REMARKS: Small operation. Flame valuable. (50 DIVISION)




    DATE: ? August
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: ? (East of TILLY) (Hedgerows and Ditches)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 4 out of 6
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/5 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Nil known
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: The barrage was lost. The Infantry were pinned. The Tanks failed to support the CROCODILES. Disappointing. (15 S DIVISION)


    DATE: 8 August
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: MAY-SUR-ORNE (Village)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 9 out of 10
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/3 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 100 approx.
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good S.S.
    REMARKS: Quick simple plan. Infantry tired and disheartened - had just been driven out. Behind the CROCODILES they had no casualties and retook the town. A flame-thrower triumph. All 9 CROCODILES in line. Ideal use. (2 CANADIAN DIVISION)


    DATE: 8 August
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: SECQUEVILLE A LA CAMPAGNE (Hedgerows, Wood)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 9
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/6 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 50 approx.
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Poor
    REMARKS: Good plan. Strong artillery and tank support. Good Infantry who followed up well. Enemy had been heavily bombed. Attack overwhelmed a weak defence. (51 DIVISION)


    DATE: 14 August
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CHATEAU 155478
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/6 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: Nil known
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good
    REMARKS: Small operation. Flame helped Infantry - saved casualties. Restored momentum. (2 CANADIAN DIVISION)




    DATE: 10 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: HAVRE (Woods, Concrete defences)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 8
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: Full trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 16 estimated
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 200 - 300
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Fair
    REMARKS: Very well-planned. Boldly carried out by CROCODILES, who improvised their Infantry and Tank support during the battle. Fine flaming. Ideal use. (49 DIVISION)


    DATE: 11 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: Area HAVRE (Hedgerows and Buildings)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 3
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/2 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: -
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 200 - 250
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Fair
    REMARKS: [Remarks as for 10 September]


    DATE: 14/16 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: FORT MONTBARREY BREST
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 1
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: Full trailer
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 122
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good
    REMARKS: Rest of CROCODILES held up by mines. (U.S. ARMY)
    [ Crocodiles at Brest ]

    DATE: 14/16 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: (Fort) [As above]
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 9
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: Full trailer
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Some
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 80
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Good
    REMARKS: Well-planned. Fine Infantry support. Excellent use of flame. (U.S. ARMY)


    DATE: 20 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: BOULOGNE MONS LAMBERT (Concrete defences) Omits 2 small actions.
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 1
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/6 trailer
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 200 (800 in all)
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Poor
    REMARKS: A poor enemy ready to "pack in". Defence virtually collapsed when CROCODILES lead attack. (3 CANADIAN DIVISION)


    DATE: 27 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CALAIS (Concrete defences)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 5
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 400 estimated
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Poor
    REMARKS: Well-planned, but Infantry 2 hours late. On CROCODILES flaming, white flags appeared. (3 CANADIAN DIVISION)


    DATE: 30 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CALAIS FOR NAPIN (Fort)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 4
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 150 estimated
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Poor
    REMARKS: Although the flame could not quite reach the fort the enemy surrendered when flaming started. (3 CANADIAN DIVISION)


    DATE: 28 September
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: CAP GRIS NEZ (Concrete defences)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 12
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1/4 trailer each average
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 1 - 5
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 1,000 (2,000 in all)
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Poor
    REMARKS: CROCODILES led the attack all along the front of the two attacks. When flaming started enemy surrendered in each position in turn. (3 CANADIAN DIVISION)



    DATE: 22/25 October
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: Approaches to HERTOGENBOSCH from East (Copses, Hedgerows, Villages)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 6
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: 1 1/2 trailers each average. Used 3 times in 2 days. Also used at least twice more from 26 - 31 October.
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: 10 - 20 estimated
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 300 estimated
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Fair
    REMARKS: Good planning by Infantry who knew how to work with CROCODILES. Good artillery and tank support. Most successful in every way. (53 DIVISION)


    DATE: 22/25 October
    PLACE & PLACE OF OBJECTIVE: Approaches to HERTOGENBOSCH from South-East (Village, Hedgerows)
    NUMBER OF CROCODILES: 7
    QUANTITY OF FUEL USED: Full trailer each
    ENEMY KILLED OR SHOT WHEN RUNNING ABOUT WHEN ON FIRE: Nil known
    PRISONERS OF WAR: 50 estimated
    QUALITY OF ENEMY: Fair
    REMARKS: Good planning. Good co-operation with Infantry. CROCODILES well used. (7 ARMOURED DIVISION)



    'B' Squadron also flamed South of SCHELDT with 9 CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE (S.D.G's) on about 19th October. (Against a Village).

    'A' Squadron also flamed S.S. East of HERTOGENBOSCH on about 24th October with 51 DIVISION. Believed successfully. (Against Woods).

    'C' Squadron also used flame across a canal to burn enemy out of trenches, on about 2nd November.


    TOTAL: 50 - 55 (possibly 60) flame actions.

    TOTAL Actions without flame - about 20 - 30.
     
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Section 1. FUEL and GAS

    1. Estimated proportion of cases where 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of fuel was used.

    Used 25% or less - 60% of flame actions.
    Used 50% approx. - 30% of flame actions.
    Used 100% approx. - 10% of flame actions.
    75% seems rarely to occur.
    Recently much more used, as employed more suitably.
    Trend expected to continue. Results over last 3 weeks will be interesting.


    2. Was fuel generally satisfactory?
    YES - in every way.


    3. How was refuelling in action generally arranged?
    Tanks withdrew to some reasonably safe place where Squadron fuel lorries met them.


    4. Would it have been an advantage if the refuelling could have been done more simply or more quickly?
    YES


    5. Would a system of using dried powder with motor spirit have had any advantages?
    The F.T.F. Heavy fuel is - to the best of my knowledge - perfect for attacking the enemy. If dried powder and motor spirt reduced bulk for carriage, gave speedier refuelling and simplified supply problems, it would of course be very much better - always provided it gave the same "rod" and burning power, or better.


    6. Was the system of replenishment of gas supplies satisfactory?
    YES. It works out at about 18 bottles of gas to 1 trailer fill of 400 gallons F.T.F. in practice or action to date. This ratio should come down to 12 (or even 9) to 1 fill.


    7. Would smaller and lighter cylinders have been welcomed?
    YES - but not vitally important.


    8. Is there any advantage in having -

    (a) a longer burning fuel?
    NO - Helpful, but not necessary.

    (b ) a fiercer burning fuel?
    NO - Helpful, but not necessary.

    (c ) a smokeless fuel?
    Difficult to be definite. Smoke would come almost at once from anything flamed, e.g. bushes, houses etc., even if smokeless fuel used.
    The smoke does occasionally blind the commander and gunner, but not for long.
    It can also protect them to some extent.
    On the whole would not say vitally important.
     
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Section 2. GUN and EQUIPMENT

    9. Did nozzle dribble give any trouble?
    Only to a very minor extent. Virtually no.


    10. Was ignition system reasonably dependable -

    (a) in normal conditions?
    YES. Very good.

    (b ) in very bad weather?
    YES. Know of no trouble.


    11. Was any difficulty experienced through -

    (a) lack of traverse?
    In many operations, like assaults on edges of woods or hedgerows - NO; but obviously this is a weakness and for clearing the edges of woods, copses, village streets, hedgerows, etc. a greater traverse would be an immense help. This point is the most important of all if ay improvements are being made.

    (b ) lack of elevation?
    Not really. A little more elevation would be welcome for attacking chateau and larger houses in villages.


    12. Is sighting satisfactory?
    YES

    Would it have helped to have it geared to the periscope?
    Difficult to answer this, as it depends on gearing and whether easily manipulated etc.
    A trained gunner is perfectly happy as he is re sighting, but the flame gun is definitely unwieldy and anything that makes for increased accuracy must be good, especially if less unwieldy.
     
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  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Section 3. FIRE RISK

    13. Any cases where jettison gear proved -

    (a) useful?
    YES. The jettison gear was valuable in tactical situations to enable the tank to operate separately.

    (b ) essential?
    Not often; but feel tank commanders would like to keep it.
    The trailer has been able to go virtually everywhere the tank went. The tank has not had to discard the trailer and goon on as a gun tank as yet; the tanks have always brought the trailers out still attached for refilling.


    14. Was armouring of trailer generally sufficient?
    YES.

    How many known case of penetration leading to a fire or disablement?
    Cannot give exact number.
    Not more than 3 set on fire I think - possibly only 2.
    These were due to 88 mm. and 75 mm., both of which penetrate the CHURCHILL Mk VII (and therefore no use considering armour to keep them out) in say, 4 - 6 cases.
    Three cases due to mortars.
    Only one or two cases due to shell fire.
    Cannot recollect any due to small arms, but there may have been one or two.
    Spaced amour versus Bazookas might be considered, if casualties from these became frequent.


    15. What number of fires are known to have been caused inside the tank by damage to -

    (a) fuel system?
    Would estimate about 8 - 12. The tank goes up in a flash after being hit and penetrated by 88 mm's, 75 mm's and Bazookas.
    Any penetration of the Driver and Co-driver's compartments, or the turret, seems to mean an immediate blaze. Shots in the engine and gear box compartments have strangely enough not always meant a brew-up.

    (b ) ammunition first, then fuel?
    Think only one.


    16. Were the fuel fires of immediate intensity?
    The fire from the fuel is instantaneous and terrible. It is more than lucky to save three of the crew - usually 2, and sometimes only one.


    17. What is the crews' views of fire risks?
    Higher than anyone else if hit, and less chance of getting out owing to instantaneous tremendous heat, but in normal assaults should have R.A. and tank support to a greater extent. Casualties about 160 - 180, not unduly high for 5 months' fighting. Accepted philosophically, not mentioned much; does not affect their courage and dash.

    Do they ask for any further protection?
    No, but we considered extra armour for protection against Bazookas - this only requires relatively thin armour and an air space.
    A sloping glacis plate on the CHURCHILL Mk VII would have saved, say 4 - 6 tanks and about 8 - 12 lives.


    18. Would the dead man switch have proved effective?
    Discussed this and would like further information as to exactly how it will operate.
    All tank crews very much in favour.
     
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  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Section 4. TACTICAL and GENERAL

    19. Would longer range have proved useful and, if so, in what circumstances?
    YES. In assaults on hedgerows, copses, entrenchments, edges of woods, on Forts (Fort NAPIN and Fort BARREY especially), and across canals and rivers - in fact everywhere except in close street fighting and even then it would have helped when rounding corners.
    Provided the "rod" remained concentrated, a longer range is most desirable.


    20. Was there any difficulty in reversing the trailer?
    NO. It is not a quick business but is quite easy.


    21. Was ignition system or front of gun often damaged by enemy fire?
    NO. Very rare. Possibly once or twice. This excludes of course complete "brew-up".


    22. What type of shot was most used in action?
    (a) less than 1 second.
    (b ) 1 second.
    (c ) 1 1/2 seconds.
    (d) longer.
    Almost always shots were 3/4 second. This is the most powerful and best. Very occasionally a long shot of over 2 seconds when burning a house or concrete defence FROM CLOSE UP.


    23. Does the Tank Commander or the Flame Gunner select targets and control fire?
    The Tank Commander. (Only very occasionally does the flame gunner fire a shot or two on his own).


    24. Is it usual for the main armament and/or the Besa Gun to be used simultaneously with the Flame Gun?
    YES, ALWAYS.


    25. What is the relative importance of -

    (a) an accurate point of aim?

    (b ) a wide field of vision?

    It is presumed that (b ) also includes a wider arc of fire. Difficult to answer, as at present there is a small arc of fire and a small field of vision, - but there is accuracy and the commander can swing the tank as he has a wide field of vision.
    If there is to be a wider field of vision, but no increased arc of fire and a loss of accuracy, the gain would be little - if any.
    If there is to be a wider field of vision and a wider arc of fire, but a loss of accuracy, for the flame gunner there would be on the whole a gain as by practice the flame gunner would soon become accurate, if only by correction from initial shots. If there is also to be considerably longer range then accuracy would become more important again, if the enemy had any "morale" and tank killing weapons.


    26. Does the periscope become obscured frequently?
    It is blurred by rain and affected by mud, but the flame does not affect it as far as is known.

    Is the target usually obscured by flame and smoke?
    After one or two shots there is smoke, but it soon clears - it is not obscured by flame.
    Even if obscured by smoke a new shot lights it up clearly and is followed by a second accurate shot at once.


    27. In what order do you place the following as ideal flame targets?

    (a) troops in the open?
    (b ) troops in slit trenches?
    (c ) troops in houses?
    (d) troops in emplacements?

    1. Troops in houses (especially when not in a big town).
    2. Troops in pillboxes.
    3. Troops in open (very rare - difficult to hit - but one shot would scare them out of their wits).
    4. Troops in slit trenches.

    Is equipment used at all as an incendiary for demolition or destruction purposes?
    Not so far.


    28. Is it customary to open fire with flame before the CROCODILE is within effective flaming range? If so, at what range?
    If sudden shock assault wanted, then answer is "No". Every effort made to obtain maximum shock and surprise especially against determined enemy.
    If operating against an enemy of very low morale who is expected to surrender at first opportunity, then the flame may be fired at about 180 yards while the CROCODILE is moving fast in to the effective range of round 100 yards to 120 yards.
    On normal occasions most CROCODILES will be firing at 120 yards especially of wind not strongly against or across.
     
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    R.A.C. User Officer's Summary


    1. On only two occasions have the CROCODILES failed to get our Infantry in and either rout, kill or force the surrender of the Germans no matter whether S.S. or normal troops.

    Of these, CHATEAU LE LANDEL was badly planned and executed in the early days. The other, East of TILLY was a "mess-up" and no-one came with the CROCODILES.


    2. They always operate with those divisions which are leading the army attack and therefore have not yet the intimate co-operation which comes from fighting regularly with the same Infantry, tanks and gunner.


    3. The retention of the 75 mm. gun (or better) is essential versus the Germans.


    4. Their use by the CANADIAN 3rd DIVISION was unusual and unorthodox. The weak morale of the enemy in the CHANNEL PORTS proved this to be justified. The more normal employment by the SECOND ARMY at the end of October gets full use of the flame.


    5. There is still a tendency to "give a few" to each Division and this prevents the employment of whole Squadrons, or even the Regiment on worth-while objectives with full support of other arms. Two Squadrons of CROCODILES flaming at once on a relatively narrow front would strike terror in anyone's heart.


    6. There is no real connections between CROCODILES on the one hand and "flails" or "A.V.R.E's" on the other. CROCODILES can be used almost endlessly and always with Infantry. The other two are only required on special occasions.


    7. Technical troubles have been decreased by recent modifications and will improve even more. Spares are the main difficulty.


    8. The trailer has been "holed" on occasion, and has also suffered from mortar bombs, but on the whole it has been rarely hit, and no extra armour appears vitally necessary in the light of experience to date versus the Germans in N.W. EUROPE.


    9. The link has been excellent.


    10. The Quick-Release Gear has rarely had to be used. If the tank has been properly hit by 88 mm., 75 mm. or Bazooka fire it has "brewed-up" so quickly that the trailer could not be released. Only recollect two cases of a trailer going on fire and being released. Would not be without Quick-Release Gear, nevertheless.


    11. A longer range of shot is still to be desired.


    12. An increased arc of fire for the flame-gun is still desired, but not at the expense of the 75 mm. gun. For real street fighting the present CROCODILE is not much good with its small "arc of flames" and the difficulty of manoeuvre with the trailer in streets often full of debris.

    For jungle fighting an all-round traverse for the flame gun might well be essential. It would also be helpful in street fighting. CROCODILES when flaming have to point the entire tank at their objective.


    13. Only recently has the capacity of the trailer been really used. Anticipated that the next few months will show that the full 400 gallons had been required over and over again.
     
  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    GENERAL COMMENTARY.

    The value of the CROCODILE is greatly enhanced by the tremendous effect of flame on enemy morale. It combines the armour and hitting power of the CHURCHILL tank with the additional threat of death by flame.

    In the 31 actions herein described the casualties inflicted on the enemy are given as 154 killed by flame, to 5.425 who gave themselves up. In many of the actions the opening of the flame attack caused an early collapse of enemy resistance and its use must therefore have saved our troops many casualties. This is especially marked, of course, where the enemy is of poorer quality and it follows that as the strain on German man power increases the value of flame attack will also increase. Again, the earlier in the action this threat is applied, the fewer casualties will be suffered by the attacking troops.

    Perhaps the main disadvantage under which the CROCODILE has to work at present is that in order to apply its flame it must close to within 80 - 100 yards of the enemy. It follows therefore that longer range would be a great asset. This necessity for closing with the enemy also demands close support from Tanks and Artillery to ensure that the CROCODILE can advance to fighting range, with the Infantry right up to take immediate advantage of any break in enemy resistance.

    The greatest value appears to be achieved when "combat team" technique is employed. This requires training and working together which obviously cannot be done when the few CROCODILES available have to be transferred from formation to formation. The unit whose actions are described has been used in action with every formation in the British and Canadian Armies and sever times with the U.S. Army.

    It would also appear that the employment of CROCODILES in small numbers does not get the full use out of the weapon. This wold no doubt be obviated and improvement in training and working together be able to be made when further CROCODILE units become available.

    F.T. equipment in the CROCODILE comes out of the report with flying colours and it is interesting to note that the trailer with its light armour is seldom destroyed by penetration and the main use of the jettisoning gear is to enable the CHURCHILL to go off and fight as a gun tank occasionally.

    Apart from the question of longer range already mentioned the most urgent requirement appears to be wider traverse for the flame gun. This difficulty may be aggravated in jungle warfare where it may be more difficult to manoeuvre the Tank.
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Well done Di :)
     
    dbf and von Poop like this.
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thank you for the 'forum freebie'.
     
  12. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Fascinating summary. Thanks Di and Andy.
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Plenty more to come :D
     
    Paul Reed likes this.
  14. Combover

    Combover Guest

    OUTSTANDING! Thanks for doing that, it makes excellent reading.
     
  15. grahame569

    grahame569 Junior Member

    I really enjoyed reading this - thank-you.
    My Grandfather drove a Crocodile - 141 RAC 8 Troop 'B' Squadron.
     
  16. rick wedlock

    rick wedlock Member

    very interesting reading, thanks for taking the time to post it on the forum.

    rick
     
  17. recce103c

    recce103c Junior Member

    Great Read and very informative; thanks for sharing!
     
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Diane
    I can see where I missed a lot of fun just having a Churchill gun Tank albeit just a 6 pndr
    Cheers
     
    dbf likes this.
  19. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Tom,

    I am sure that you would have preferred a Churchill with a 17 pounder!

    Regards
    Tom
     
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    TCS -
    T'was not to be as the Turret ring was too small - and the rectification was too late for the war and the Comet and Challenger 1 filled the need

    Cheers
     

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