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"France 1940: Tank V Tank" Topic


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837 hits since 29 Oct 2017
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Comments or corrections?

christot30 Oct 2017 3:16 a.m. PST

Can anyone point me in the direction of any accounts of actions where British tanks actually went toe to toe with German tanks during the 1940 campaign? Could be that my search ability is not that great (highly likely), but I can't find any.
I'm fairly sure British and German tanks didn't actually get to fight each other at Arras or Abbeville, but I'm happy to find out otherwise.

Andy ONeill30 Oct 2017 4:09 a.m. PST

I think you're looking at what ifs.

AFAIK british tanks fought infantry and guns. 1AD took heavy losses from atg screens on several occasions.

Their armour was very light stuff with insufficient to no infantry support and committed before being properly organised.
I'd suggest them as a good candidate for what ifs because they had armour could take on tanks without being impervious. Even the light VIc could stand a chance against most german armour with it's 15mm besa.

Personal logo Vis Bellica Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2017 5:00 a.m. PST

Try the fighting around Calais.

3RTR fought a German motorised column including tanks at Hames Boucres.

C Squadron, 3RTR then encountered more tanks as they escorted a convoy towards Gravelines.

steamingdave4730 Oct 2017 6:33 a.m. PST

link

This link suggests that there was some " tank on tank" fighting at Arras, with 25th Panzer Regiment engaging the surviving Matildas. No idea as to reliability of this site

"Rommel recounted that when his 6th Rifle Regiment failed to stop the British tanks with its anti-tank guns and began to take heavy losses, his divisional artillery intervened, bringing the attack to a stop and destroying 28 tanks. His 88mm anti-aircraft guns eliminated another seven light tanks and one heavy tank. Finally Rommel's 25th Panzer Regiment joined in taking the British in the flank and rear. Seven more Matildas were knocked out for a corresponding loss of three Panzer IVs, six Panzer IIIs and a number of light tanks in the resulting tank battle. This action caused the Germans much greater concern than the 19 May attack of de Gaulle's armored division, even though the latter could have inflicted more serious damage if it had succeeded in cutting off German supply lines."

Martin Rapier30 Oct 2017 11:07 p.m. PST

As above, 1st Army Tank Brigade engaged 7th Panzer at Arras, and 3rd RTR engaged 10th Panzer outside Calais.

There is a very decent scenario covering the latter in the Tac publications Blitzkrieg scenario book.

deephorse31 Oct 2017 6:31 a.m. PST

This link suggests that there was some " tank on tank" fighting at Arras, with 25th Panzer Regiment engaging the surviving Matildas. No idea as to reliability of this site
"Rommel recounted that when his 6th Rifle Regiment failed to stop the British tanks with its anti-tank guns and began to take heavy losses, his divisional artillery intervened, bringing the attack to a stop and destroying 28 tanks. His 88mm anti-aircraft guns eliminated another seven light tanks and one heavy tank. Finally Rommel's 25th Panzer Regiment joined in taking the British in the flank and rear. Seven more Matildas were knocked out for a corresponding loss of three Panzer IVs, six Panzer IIIs and a number of light tanks in the resulting tank battle. This action caused the Germans much greater concern than the 19 May attack of de Gaulle's armored division, even though the latter could have inflicted more serious damage if it had succeeded in cutting off German supply lines."

I have the English translation of the book that the map in the link was taken from. It is "The Blitzkrieg Legend" by Karl-Heinz Frieser, and it is the official German history of the 1940 campaign. Interestingly, this map alone tends to argue against any meeting of British and German tanks. You can see that the British armoured attack is turned back by around 16:00 to 16:20 hours, yet Pz.Rgt.25 does not arrive on the battlefield until on or after 22:00 hours. When it did arrive it fought against French tanks that were withdrawing north, and not the British, who had already left the battlefield (such as were still capable of so doing).

The only mention of British tanks being engaged with Pz.Rgt.25 is in one sentence. 7RTR basically got lost on the move south and got into a brief fight with French tanks at Duisans. It then had an exchange of fire with the rearguard of Pz.Rgt.25 which had already pushed well past them to the north. Now what exactly would constitute the ‘rearguard' of Pz.Rgt.25 is not mentioned? The final, telling, sentence to take from this book about Arras is "The so-called tank battle of Arras had been decided long before the German Panzers in darkness arrived at the battlefield that the British tanks had already left."

Two further sources I have, "The 7th Panzer Division" by Hasso von Manteuffel, and "Panzer Divisions : the Blitzkrieg Years" by Pier Battistelli, make no specific mention of German and British tanks engaging each other, just German and French machines.

christot31 Oct 2017 12:18 p.m. PST

That had always been my understanding of Arras.The times don't add up, and that the German tank losses were inflicted either by French tanks, or British ATG's.
Which is why I posed the question, I'm still seeking an AAR which specifically mentions German tanks engaging British (or vis-versa.

deephorse31 Oct 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

Well Mr Frieser had access to all the surviving German records and, recognising that many records had been lost/destroyed, he also interviewed many veterans of the campaign. Clearly he didn't find any record of a British v German tank action.

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