Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Real life Reaper Medal

Michael Wittman, now there's a name to conjure with. I'm sure you're all familiar with his exploits. Wittman has risen to fame, much like Von Richthofen from the First World War. Just like Von Richthofen he has utterly eclipsed the stories of others who had adventures just as startling or heroic. For example how many of you, without googling, can tell me the name of the second highest scoring ace in World War One, or how many victories he had?
Suddenly Von Richthofen’s achievements (impressive though they are) look different. Wittman is the same, he eclipse’s all other tank stories. So to redress the balance, here's the story of 4th troop, "A" squadron, 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards Vs the Panzer Lehr.

The day after Wittman made his charge at Villers-Bocage the Durham Light infantry (DLI) and the 4th/7th Dragoons captured the village of Lingerves. One troop of three tanks from the Dragoons was in the village helping the infantry. The Firefly of that troop was still operational. Its commander was Sergeant Harris, with his gunner Trooper Mackillop. Off in the distance Sgt Harris spotted a Panther tank, and Tpr Mackillop quickly destroyed it.

The DLI had lost their 6 Pounder guns in action earlier, and so Sgt Harris moved up to cover them, and now was pointing down the main road. Suddenly a tank was seen charging down the road towards them. Luckily Sgt Harris identified it as a Sherman before shooting. As it passed the infantry, it turned off to the side. Behind it, chasing the Sherman was another Panther! The Firefly snapped off a shot that disabled the Panther by knocking the track off. This caused the Panther to swerve off into a bush, and out of sight. The DLI's commander, Major Mogg grabbed a PIAT and went after it,. quickly finishing it off (Yes, the Major was armed with a PIAT).

Elsewhere in the village, upon hearing tanks a Sherman, commanded by Corporal Johnson, from B troop went to investigate. Only to be knocked out by shells and several of the crew wounded or killed. The radio operator, Lance Corporal Draper, after bailing out and getting to cover, realized that the driver was still trapped inside by the turret position. Draper raced back across the open ground and rotated the turret and hauled out the wounded driver. He did all this while in full view of the enemy who had knocked out his Sherman.

Corporal Johnson's tank:


The fighting lasted all day, and the two remaining tanks of the troop began to run low on ammunition. So Sgt Harris left the battlefield to resupply. When he returned he faced the Germans final attack.  Parked next to the Church, Sgt Harris looked down the main road to see 4 Panthers approaching! One was destroyed by a shot to its flank from the Squadron's 2IC, immediately the remaining Panthers gunned their engines and charged. Sgt Harris knocked out the first with a well-placed shot, the second and third Panthers swerved round their destroyed colleague. The Second Firefly shot knocked out the second panther.

Panthers Three and Four.


The Third panther raced into the village. Now Sgt Harris had to stalk the Panther through the streets of the village. He eventually managed to get behind it as it entered the main Square of Lingeveres. The tank was destroyed just in front of the villages war memorial, which still stands to this day pitted with bullet holes and shrapnel from this battle.

The Final Panther.


(The war memorial's railings can be seen in the lower left of this picture)


In one day the Germans had lost 5 Panthers, 4 of which to the sharp shooting of one firefly gunner. Sgt Harris was awarded a DCM and MacKillop got a mention in Despatches for destroying 4 Panthers with as many shots. At this time, I haven't been able to find out what (if any) awards L/Cpl Draper received.

31 comments:

  1. Tactical and technical details combined with that heroic/intense story-telling method about WWII. I love it.
    Please post as often as possible this kind of encounters.

    PS as far as i remember, Michael Wittman is kind of a taboo subject in WoT. I think its a banned name from the game.

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    1. BTW Did you see this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6LqB-RYUvY
      Its amazing how they filmed it back then, showing the cruel side of tank warfare...

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    2. Wittmann was soldier of Waffen-SS so his name rather can't be part of the game cause in some countries it can violate laws that forbid Nazi propaganda. WoT is an entertainment product, so it has in that case much more strict rules then historical books or films, which are exceptions from this laws.

      This is why Wittmann lost his WoT medal (in case you are fresh player I will add that Wittmanns medal was once most precious medal in the game and it was later renamed into Bolter, who was also German tank ace, but from Wehrmacht).

      In WoT we also do not see swastikas, SS armored divisions decals and so on. All because of that anti-Nazi propaganda laws.

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    3. I want to live, when the sins of the Sovietunion will be acknowledge, like the "Nazi's".

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    4. I dont want to start it, but it just a game, its okay to not let people use names like Nazi, Hitler. But Wittman really? Its just a game with tanks. I think this is hypocrite.

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    5. We really don't have to start it all over again, since we all know that both communism and capitalism actually did more crimes against the humanity than the National-Socialists they were fighting.. ;)

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    6. Christian,

      it's only because his participation in Waffen-SS which was declared a criminal organisation. Nothing personal.

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    7. TimmaC, Too bad the nice Nazi guys didn't win the war then?

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    8. Here's another version of the video mentioned by Petro at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=Jt5bJQOkI1g&NR=1 it includes comments from the gunner from the Pershing, it certainly makes you think. There's also a comment from WOT player QuickyBaby in the top 2 comments.

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    9. There's also a great video by Jeremy Clarkson about another Major armed with a PIAT in action at the battle of Arnhem, he ended up being awarded a well deserved Victoria Cross. It's the first part of a double length video almost 2 hours long but well worth watching.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRaU1HqC9kY&list=FLYCgPN7_U6wDRKFcK3-na7g&feature=mh_lolz

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  2. Well, considering the fact that by that time the German military was practically defeated and German soldiers driving the Panthers were often green recruits with almost no training, I imagine the outcome of the battle was not as surprising as when a German tanker shot up a veteran British unit.

    Still, to defeat 5 Panthers like this is quite a feat. Hmmm... I wonder though: were at that point the German soldiers aware of the 17pdr Shermans, or did they consider all Shermans to be equal?

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    1. 1944, before Falise the Germans were still well trained and experinced. Plus this is Panzer Lehr, the people doing the training. The Falise was where they lost a large chunk of their experienced personnel.

      Yes the Germans Knew about Fireflies.
      This Firefly is reported to have been used by German forces defending Caen.

      http://www.achtungpanzer.com/images/fot07.jpg

      http://www.achtungpanzer.com/images/firefly_3.jpg

      Hence why the Firefly crews took to putting the white paint on their gun barrels.
      (Idea for WOT: Have the Fireflies display the same tag in game HUD as the M4 Sherman, so you have to see the Firefly to spot the long gun barrel, or the Radio box. :D)

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    2. Now you made me wonder why didn't WG add a German captured Sherman Firefly as a premium tank instead of the fugly Pzkpfw IV Schmalturm which was no more than a paper project. It would've been in German colours and markings, but it's a Firefly nonetheless.

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    3. Wolcott: Because premium and captured vehicles are two different categories, following different principles (just like premium and promo tanks are different). Developers mentioned that they will make a special mechanism for captured tanks (no details), but not in 2013.

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    4. Wait wait wait...Panzer Lehr was made up of the greenest recruits and the most expirienced commanders IIRC, and not only by veterans/instructors.

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    5. >>(Idea for WOT: Have the Fireflies display the same tag in game HUD as the M4 Sherman, so you have to see the Firefly to spot the long gun barrel, or the Radio box. :D)

      And make M10/Panther display the same tag as Wolverine :) . And even better, make enemy M10/Panther always display green outline instead of red :P ...

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    6. I think SerB or Storm wrote that the Ersatz Panther will get the US star actually.

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    7. AFAIK, there are plans for a fifth customization ability for tanks. This might be it.

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    8. Star is only eyecandy, it's over target markers and players list that are important to gameplay.

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  3. Sound Nice....wanna try it in WOT :D
    Wait.....where is the Firefly in WOT ;D

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    Replies
    1. It's going to be added soon(TM).

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    2. Yea, like in Valve Time? https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Valve_Time

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    3. "It's not going to be added anytime soon(TM)". Fixed!

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  4. Off the top of my Head
    Mannock and Bishop 72 kills

    Conte_Vincero

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    Replies
    1. Think there was a French Ace with 75.

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  5. If the Sarge got a DCM, the TRP could've gotten some shiny or at least a promotion, instead of a "mention in the Despatches", imho :) No gunner, no kills after all.

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  6. Nicely written and presented. Was skeptical about non-Overlord content, but this is a good start. =)

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  7. Interesting article, as expected from Listy.
    However, I see something incomprehensible in the Panther's behavior.
    Like many wot noobs, did they not realize that the length of metal sticking out of their turret was a gun that could shoot for over 2km? Why did they charge at the sight of the firefly instead of aiming and shooting at the target? And finally, the final engagements was three panthers vs one firefly. Why did their trained crews all head in the same direction, directly into the firefly's line of fire? At least one of them should have taken another direction, no?

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    1. Well, in WOT parlance they were probably NOOBs.
      This article would have been better if the opposing viewpoint could have been given as well.
      But then the Victors write the History don't they.

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  8. The troop was supporting the infantry in the town, so by this I presume they were using their cannons to knock buildings down in support of the infantry advancing from street to street.
    What I find interesting is that they sent the Firefly to resupply the other Shermans.
    Yes they were normal Shermans according to Wikipedia (armamanet 76 or 105 cannot tell).
    But what is most interesting is that Harris knocked out 5 Panthers with 5~6 rounds. impressive shooting. They must have had a front mounted transmission. (ha ha).

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